Saturday, January 16, 2016

ABC covers Radiohead's "High & Dry"

Although I did buy their "pick your own price" album in 2007, I never got into Radiohead. I'm a sucker for interesting remakes, though, so ABC's cover of "High & Dry," part of the recent 80's Re:Covered album with "80s" artists doing other people's later songs, brings the 1995 single to my attention. Like Beethoven flogging a Blur album track, ABC pulls out all its trademark New Romantic flourishes for the slow-paced alt-rock tune, which was a high point for Radiohead in terms of commercial exposure. It's a fantastic cover; ABC sounds as vital as ever, and it begs the question why they haven't released an album since 2008.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Kylie Minogue's "Only You" with James Corden

One of the last things you'd expect on a Christmas album is a cover of a Yaz (Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet) tune, but that's what Kylie Minogue served as the first taste of her Christmas album in a surprising (in several ways) duet with James Corden, the Brit host of The Late Late Show on CBS. Who knew that Corden could sing? He acquits himself better on this lush cover of the 1982 synthpop classic than he does as a late-night host. The Christmasy-orchestral makeover of the bouncy original lends heart to the lovelorn lyrics, making for a welcome gift to 80s fans from the enduring Aussie.

Favorite songs and album of 2015: The Weeknd and Madonna

SONG OF THE YEAR: Can't Feel My Face • The Weeknd // This is the one that stopped me in my tracks the first couple times I heard it to say, Who is that? Those moody, ominous synths and dark lyrics had me at, "And I know she'll be the death of me, at least we'll both be numb. And she'll always get the best of me, the worst is yet to come," which make me smile. I was surprised to find that Max Martin is one of the songwriters, given his pedigree, but this one could earn him a slot in my top 10 of the decade.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Rebel Heart • Madonna // With some careful editing of the track list, we get the best Madonna album since Ray of Light — a worthy successor loaded with mature and sophisticated pop songs like the title track and the brilliant stomper "Devil Pray." It figures that the only song from the album to crack the Hot 100, "Bitch I'm Madonna," is the first I excised from my iTunes. Now that radio has fully dismissed her, it's time to leave those pandering efforts behind and grow old gracefully with the rest of us.

Fifteen more favorite songs released in or around 2015, not necessarily in order of preference:

Ghosttown • Madonna // My most-played song of the year, this scorched-earth ballad would have been number one for weeks during her imperial years.

Rebel Heart • Madonna

High on Love • Class Actress

Hold Tight • Madonna

Devil Pray • Madonna

Déjà Vu • Giorgio Moroder (Featuring Sia)

Living for Love • Madonna

Talking Body • Tove Lo // Hypnotic and blissful pop.

Geronimo • Sheppard

Dead Inside • Muse

Boom Clap • Charli XCX

Baby Don't Lie • Gwen Stefani

I Can Change • Brandon Flowers

Recreational Love • The Bird and the Bee // Sounding nicely like an extension of their Hall & Oates tribute.

Can't Deny My Love • Brandon Flowers