Well, I couldn’t make it a concise ten tracks so eleven will have to do. None of these songs listed ever got an official UK release, much to my dismay. So, even though there are many more than just eleven, here are those eleven. Anyone else who wants to do this feel free to do so in the comments box or your own blog, it’s entirely up to you. They can be tracks from a past album, or one that is currently being promoted. 🙂
11. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZweDwbJ_Ic|Florence + the Machine – ‘Howl’]]
Another all-guns-blazing, stomping drums, wailing vocals-y track from the welsh songstress. A gothic, gory tale of hunting your loved one after being turned into a “beast”: “If you could only see/The beast you’ve made of me” is the opening couplet, instantly inforning the listener Florence is a bit miffed and things may need to get shouty.
With fast-paced verses with quickfire, descending lyrics (adding a sense of sadness) and a chorus that litrally is just Florence ‘howling’ (in tune of course), this song has drama like no other on Florence’s début album ‘Lungs’. Florence’s vocals gradually change from dulcet tones into angsty, full-to-the-brim with emotion, near angry claims that she’s hunting for you “with bloody feet across the hallowed ground”. This song features one of Florence’s best gradual crescendo’s and toward the end it modulates… Ooer! (camp squeal) nothing adds to the drama quite like modulation.
10. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYtF0HxVQUE&feature=related|Pet Shop Boys – ‘Pandemonium’]] (fan-made video)
After only releasing two UK singles from tenth album ‘Yes’, the East-End of London duo seriously mis-stepped in not releasing this dynamite track. Starting off by introducing the beat, it gradually gets louder and louder, introducing the bouncy bass-line and then exploding into the typical Pet Shop Boys production, only this echoes more of their earlier stuff. Neil Tennant‘s icy voice actually shows some emotion during the chorus, which is as catchy as they come. The uplifting synth-brass section and the short verses pave the way for an audio feast.
“Oh now, look what you’ve gone and done/You’re creating pendemonium”, brilliant pop lyrics backed up with plenty of falsetto ‘Oooh’s make this a toe-tapper as well as bona-fide dance-floor anthem. And come on, Neil’s managed to fit a five syllable word into one line. That surely deserves another BRIT Award doesn’t it? Oh, bravo Neil!
9. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raq9iEx02vI|Michael Jackson – ‘Ghosts’]] (not full video, just full song)
Released as a double A-Side along with ‘HIStory’, ‘Ghosts’ deserved an official release because of it’s stunning video. Armed with 4-part mini-movie that could make ‘Thriller’ freeze in it’s pants, which sees Michael smash his face into the ground only to crumble into dust as well as himself dressed as a fat man, and just goes to show GaGa‘s got a long way to go before can each even say Michael’s name. ‘Ghosts’ is the epitome of songs in which the vocalist layers in more than one emotion; something today’s manufactured stars can’t even do with one emotion.
This song comes off very much on the offense with the shouty shouty “HO!!!” moments just on the right side of plenty, but with lyrics that actually felt like someone driving a needle into your heart – “What gave you the right to kill my family?/And what gave your the right the shoot my baby? She needs me…Oh, baby tell me: are you the ghost of jealousy?”. This would’ve been another hit to his back catalogue should a proper release have materialised.
8. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiIiR-fG4UQ|Coldplay – ‘Lovers In Japan (Osaka Sun)’]]
Receiving only promotional release, this one of Coldplay’s more upbeat moments, this is the Live version of ‘Lovers In Japan’, which features on the band’s fourth album ‘Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends’. It can be found on the ‘Prospekt’s March EP’ and the ‘LeftRightLeftRightLeft EP’. Starting with an eight chord intro on a tack piano (Coldplay’s own invention) this song quickly erupts into an uptempo, uplifting track with one of guitarist Guy Berryman‘s best guitar hooks yet. It also showcases Chris Martin‘s brilliant way with a tune and his low pitch voice blends seamlessly into the rousing production that’s not too different to Stuart Price‘s work.
Toward the end, the song evolves into a souring, towering, U2-esque guitar driven crescendo that last for a healthy minutes or so for full enjoyment and elation. It constantly adds suspense until the song actually feels like it may explode, just at that critical moment it returns to the fast-paces tack piano intro before an imperfect cadence (that’s not a negative, it’s the actual term) ends the song suddenly. And then you find yourself pressing the repeat button.
7. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRHSBZZtUq0|Little Boots ft. Philip Oakey – ‘Symmetry’]]
Little Boots (a.k.a Victoria Hesketh) was horribly cheated by her label – only being allowed to release three singles from one of the best LP’s of 2009, ‘Hands’. This song, a duet with Human League’s Philip Oakey is a perfect one-on-one love song about living in “perfect symmetry”, and how one of them has the answer to all the other’s problems. Little Boots sounds like a female version of Neil Tennant with her icy/silky vocals and Philip‘s super-deep contrasting vocals create a beautiful heart-felt conversation between the icy pop princess and the dance-pop veteran.
The song is introduced with a pulsating melody, with electronic hand-claps and soon Little Boots arrives listing everything Philip Oakey is to her “You’re the night to my day, and the left to my right/The shadow I cast and the black to my white”. The production is very laid back so far, but then you hear a gradual ‘woosh’ and then the song explodes into an icy, electropop, would-be classic. Philip and Victoria‘s vocals mesh together to create a beautiful yin and yang concept.
6. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqX0YoMcxQQ|Mika – ‘My Interpretation’]]
This, I like to think as the rock/pop version of Lily Allen‘s colourfully titled ‘F*** You’. It’s a brilliantly composed song which really showcases Mika’s versatility as an artist as well as flaunting his song-writing abilities. Being a rock/pop song, he trundles along very happily, listing off the problems with someone who has wronged him – “I don’t need an alibi or for you to realise/This things we left unsaid, are only taking space up in our heads”, before becoming a fully fledged song where the lyrics now show some anger in Mika’s voice – “I don’t care if I never talk to you again, this is not about emotion”.
With the big old chorus and the absolutely stunning middle eight, this song does for him what none of his singles since ‘Grace Kelly’ have done – the srieking has been reigned in, the heartbreak and sensibility shine out, and were this release, it would mean the public would see a side of Mika that’s far darker than his jazz-hand weilding self. ‘My Interpretation’ is a song that would show the masses Mika can hold-back his falsetto, and still belt out a song that wouldn’t look or sound out-of-place of place on a Take That record.
5. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esY96NNdJaQ|Alexandra Burke – ‘The Silence’]]
This song deosn’t just remind you why it was the far superior Alexandra Burke that won the X Factor 2008 and not the comparitively flimsy JLS, it get’s out a power drill it bought at discount price from BidTV and drills in into your cranium without hesitation. It echoes an 80’s power ballad, with modern day production to go with massive electronic snare drums, electric keyboards and cascading drums.
Being RedOne‘s first ballad, this song starts with synthesised drones, then Alexandra enters with beautifully breathy vocals with just enough angst to come across as credible, then the pace quickens slightly in the bridge with even more heart-felt lyrics – “It’s like I’m walking on broken glass/I wanna know but I don’t wanna ask”. Then you hold your breath. The music disappears with a sudden woosh and then what was once a reserved Alexandra, to afraid to even ask something, is now vocal powerhouse, fearlessly belting out “So say you love me/Or say you need me/Don’t let the silence do the talking”. Something tells me there was a brain behind the lyrics on this one.
4. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftY2DW6tlfQ&feature=related|Plan B – ‘Welcome To Hell’]]
The London-born rapper turned soul singer Ben Drew (Plan B to you and me) shows his softer side on reflective ballad ‘Welcome To Hell’, where prison is the metaphor for hell. Starting with a singular, mournful guitar, the whole band then enter with Ben‘s smooth and surprisingly warming falsetto guiding you gently through the course of his hard times – “Welcome to hell/Welcome to hell, that’s what I heard ’em say”.
The slow tempo and vulnerabilty of the song are beautifully matched with the strigns, the guitars, the drums, everything asbout this is screaming to be released from the #1 album ‘The Defamation of Strickland Banks’. The unquestioned highlight of the song is the middle eight, where the gospel choir really shines through to heighten the sadness – “Do not know, do not know, do not know/Just how low, just how low, just how low/I’m falling down, ’cause there is no way out”. A stand-out track from the album; the musicality, the production, the lyrics and the vocal performance from Plan B make this song a credibly heart-breaking listen from the intro to the “Put my brave face on/Can’t let ’em know that I’m scared” outro.
3. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFwIL5whx3M|Mika – ‘Touches You’]]
Ever heard of George Michael? Well Mika has. This song is proof. This is easily one of Mika’s most upbeat songs, yet there’s something about that so straightfoward; it’s not particularly camp, it’s just.. happy. Sounding shockingly like a cross between ‘Father Figure’ and ‘Freedom’, this song starts with an instantly energetic piano intro with two loud chords signalling the introduction of Mika’s falsetto vocal’s, descending and quick-fire to match the tempo. The bridge sees his vocals become husky, á la George Michael (surprise surprise) and then one single glockenspiel strike singals the intro of a chorus that will get stuck in your head faster than an egg can fry on a car bonnet (about 5 seconds on a hot day ;)).
The tempo never lifts up and whilst it may appear as just another immature Mika song, it’s unusually straightfoward; in struture, in lyrical content, and in production. This is dying to be released for the end of the summer. And with the crescendo end (which also features that lovely jubbly modulation) – “This isn’t the perfect love/What am I guilty of?/What am I supposed to do?/Can’t seem to leave you alone/Touchin’ me, touchin’ you”, the song is one of Mika’s best and least annoying songs.
2. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp-vj35i1U8|Paloma Faith – ‘Play On’]]
Criminally under-rated Paloma Faith never got to release this song, which was a big mistake as it’s an orchestral, vocal, audio masterpiece. Starting á la ‘Alejandro’, with a singular, weeping violin, it moves into a soulful/jazz meets orchestra number driven by Paloma’s rich and powerful vocals and piano. Then deep strings and brass scale downwards for the bridge and backing choirs join the angsty going’s on, then where you think the song can’t get any bigger, Paloma’s vocals become multi-layered and sing in chorus the words “Play On, keep me dancing in the air/(Play on) No-one else they can compare/(Play on) To the harmony of our sweet rapture”.
The lyrics are beautiful, the song strikes many a heart-string, and Paloma’s sexy voice smothers you in a blanket of pure silk as she takes you through the clunking piano chords and dissonant strings. This is a wonderfully single-worthy track, an epic album closer and phenomenal showcase of Paloma’s singing and songwriting abilities.
1. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhEMxle0yEY|Lady GaGa – ‘Speechless’]]
Words fail me. The story behind this song is enough to merit it the reason to be released as the fourth single. It’s stunning. A departure from her original sound, this song echoes the sound of a proper Queen-esque rock ballad, with twangy (?) guitars, thumping drums and a beautiful piano section. The lyrics show that GaGa can indeed write a proper song where the lyrics have a deep meaning as well as write music for piano, guitars, and violins. Oh yes, the string section added over the Live record production adds another sense of sadness because of the high pitch of the violins.
Lyrics like “I’ll never talk again/Oh friend, you’ve left me speechless, so speechless” and the fact that GaGa sings the song with so much emotion it’s hard to imagine that she could give anymore. But she does. On the last verse – one of the hardest-hitting, most shocking lines in any song of recent years – “Will you ever talk again?/Oh boy, why’re you so speechless? So speechless/Some men they follow me, but you choose death then company/Why’re you so speechless?” A truly moving song where the intrusments, as oomphy as they sound, can’t help but shed tears all over the song, forcing the listener to do the same.