Showing posts with label kimbra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kimbra. Show all posts

Sunday, May 20, 2018

the top ten best hit songs of 2012 (REDUX) (VIDEO)


And now to get back on schedule. Lots to do, folks, stay tuned!

the top ten best hit songs of 2012 (REDUX)

So this top ten list is going to be a little different than the previous few I've put together - mostly because I've made it before.

So let's back up a little - as many of you know, I started on YouTube in July of 2013, but I had begun writing about music a good two years earlier, first on Facebook and in 2012 on my personal blog, where I started by assembling my list of the top ten best hit songs of 2012. And while I've made reference to that year on Billboard BREAKDOWN and in year-end lists, I've never actually converted that list to video, which is what I'm going to be doing today... with a twist. See, my opinions have evolved and changed over the past six years and I figured it wouldn't be a bad step to revisit the year-end Hot 100 of that year and see if my greater critical acumen and hindsight had shifted my opinion... and while for the most part it hasn't, I am going to making a few changes from that original list, so there's no guarantee you'll know what shows up here.

But if there is one thing that has been solidified by this relisten, it's that 2012 stands head-and-shoulders above the majority of this decade with some of the best hit songs of the 2010s. Pop was still riding out the club boom to a fair amount of success, country was only in the early years of the growth of bro-country and landed some real quality on the charts, R&B was notching some genuinely forward-thinking tunes, and hip-hop... okay, maybe more of a transitional year overall, but there were highlights. But what makes the 2012 chart so vibrant was the indie boom, a flashpoint of out-of-nowhere crossovers from indie folk, pop and rock that for a brief shining moment redefined what a hit could be in the mainstream. And while it's dispiriting how much of it would fizzle away in the coming year - and indeed, if we're looking at a theme for this list it would be high points of potential never quite achieved again - it still left us with a list of tracks where I actually had to cut some great songs, something you can't say about years like, say, 2016. So as always, the rules are that the song must debut on the year-end Hot 100 in this year, and let's get started with...

Thursday, April 26, 2018

video review: 'primal heart' by kimbra

Well, this was a pretty damn good record, definitely enjoyable and recommended!

And hopefully on a similar note to handle some long-overdue business... stay tuned!

album review: 'primal heart' by kimbra

Man, it's been a while since I've had such mixed feelings going into a review.

And to explain why, we need to go back to 2012 - the pop charts are being overrun with out-of-nowhere indie breakthroughs, and 'Somebody That I Used To Know' is becoming one of the biggest sleeper hits of the 2010s. But Kimbra had gotten her start earlier with an off-kilter brand of indie pop that took old school glamour and spent an album driving noisy spikes into it. Occasionally unsettling but frequently compelling, Vows was a really damn potent indie debut, and her collaboration with Gotye seemed to give Kimbra the opening she needed...

And then in 2014 we got The Golden Echo. Now I'll freely admit my review of that record is not one of my best, but the record as a whole didn't hold up then and four years haven't improved it. Critical and commercial momentum hit a brick wall as her characteristically unstable and overwrought production collided with R&B and 90s pop-inspired tones, muddying her usually sharp satirical edge, and her choice to stick almost entirely with her cooing upper register made an already overlong record a chore to get through. Now don't get me wrong, there were some high points that made it compelling, but it's a little understandable it's been four years since that release, and there were major shakeups in the production staff, bringing on John Congleton as a major co-producer and also nabbing credits from Natasha Bedingfield and Skrillex. And considering how often this record had been pushed back, I didn't really have high expectations but I at least hoped Kimbra could make a return to form, especially as Vows has held up to this day. So alright, what did we get with Primal Heart?

Monday, August 18, 2014

video review: 'the golden echo' by kimbra

Well, this was... odd. I wish I liked the instrumentation better, but Kimbra's got some solid thematic arcs here that are definitely worth some consideration.

Next up... okay, apparently Dragonforce dropped an album in 2012 that I didn't know about, so I need a little more time for them. In between...

Chase Rice. Oh fuck.

album review: 'the golden echo' by kimbra

In 2012, the world was rocked by a surprise indie hit that soared up the charts and remained there for months on end, a song that would ultimately become the #1 song of Billboard's year-end charts of that year, capping off a year in pop music that has held up surprisingly well upon re-examination. It was a level of success previously unknown to the artist and his collaborator, the former who had spent the previous decade quietly making very solid indie albums that had garnered him a fair amount of respect and critical appreciation.

Of course, the singer-songwriter I'm talking about in this case is Gotye, and the song is 'Somebody That I Used To Know', a song to this day I really like and yet can say it's not even the best song on that third album Making Mirrors. But while he works on his next record, let's talk about his collaborator on that song and the real reason why it works as well as it does: Kimbra, a New Zealand singer-songwriter who had released her debut album Vows in 2011. And having revisited that record... well, it's odd. Kimbra's blend of retro-glam breathy vocals was an odd fit against the aggressively chipper jazzy indie pop and over-expansive production, and when you throw in lyrics going for cooing lounge singer entreaties with a subversive feminist edge and an undercurrent of brittle instability, you got a unique and decidedly memorable performer. And despite a few missteps, I really dug the mess of contradictions that coalesced on that record, mostly because Kimbra was the sort of singer who I could still pull together a melodically interesting and lyrically nuanced track. 

So you can bet I was intrigued about her newest album The Golden Echo, especially considering the early buzz suggested the album was even more of a mess than its predecessor. So I took a look: what did I get?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

the top ten best hit songs of 2012

I've got to be honest here - when I wrote about the worst songs of 2012, I couldn't write about them all in one sitting. And it wasn't just because it was long and I needed a break - it was more because I got some damn depressed trying to parse my way through the worst of 2012's pop music that I needed some kind of break - any kind of break - just to reinvigorate my spirits.

Fortunately for me, I don't think I'll have that much of a problem here, because today we're going to look at the best of 2012 - which, if I'm being completely honest, was a really great year for the pop charts. It's not hard to see why, particularly if you look at the year in context with 2011. I've written before on the twin axes of pop music (here, if you're curious), which are maturity and intelligence. And while material tends to travel up and down these 'axes' in parallel, the collapse of club music in 2011 showed the first sign of a divergence in the pop music scene: music that was mature and intelligent, and music that was immature and stupid. 

Now, let me make this absolutely clear: you can have great pop music that is both immature and stupid, but in general, you tend to see greater quality, innovation, and interesting breakthroughs with music that's smarter and more mature because the subject area is broader and the people crafting the music tend to be more insightful. And I'm not confining this to genre either: just because an act is country or crunk doesn't mean they don't have some wry intelligence, and just because an act is indie rock doesn't mean they're all that deep or insightful or mature.

And since I'm a fan of great pop music, I was thrilled to see this axis divergence, and even more thrilled to see a ton of great pop music spring up from the doldrums of the club music scene. And as much as I'd like to shout praise to the heavens for the indie rock explosion that saw plenty of extremely solid acts rocket to the top, I can't help but acknowledge that there were great country, hip-hop, rap, and even mainstream pop acts that surprised me with their quality.

But before I get in all that deep into the material from this year, let's quickly revisit my list of best hit songs from 2011:

10. 'Jar Of Hearts' by Christina Perri
9. 'Fucking Perfect' by Pink
8. 'Coming Home' by Diddy - Dirty Money ft. Skylar Grey
7. 'All Of The Lights' by Kanye West
6. 'The Show Goes On' by Lupe Fiasco
5. 'You And I' by Lady Gaga
4. 'Fuck You' by Cee Lo Green
3. 'Rolling In The Deep' by Adele
2. 'Someone Like You' by Adele
1. 'Colder Weather' by The Zac Brown Band

And, as usual, upon reflection, I'd probably make a few changes to this list:

10. 'Jar Of Hearts' by Christina Perri 'Stereo Hearts' by The Gym Class Heroes ft. Adam Levine
9. 'Fucking Perfect' by Pink 'Back To December' by Taylor Swift 
8. 'Coming Home' by Diddy - Dirty Money ft. Skylar Grey 'Blow' by Ke$ha
7. 'All Of The Lights' by Kanye West
6. 'The Show Goes On' by Lupe Fiasco
5. 'You And I' by Lady Gaga
4. 'Fuck You' by Cee Lo Green
3. 'Rolling In The Deep' by Adele
2. 'Someone Like You' by Adele
1. 'Colder Weather' by The Zac Brown Band

Huh, not that many changes, really. Part of that is an indictment on how great all of these songs are, but part of it is also the fact that all of these songs represented the best of their genres and the best of growing trends on the charts. 

And if I'm being completely blunt, I don't know what part of my mind thought it was a good idea to put both 'Jar Of Hearts' (a song I've really soured on in recent months) and 'Fucking Perfect' (which has worn out a fair bit of its welcome) on the list, and it wasn't hard to swap them out for 'Stereo Hearts' (a song that grew on me due to some clever metaphors and an incredibly catchy chorus courtesy of Adam Levine at his best) and 'Blow' (a song that has problems, to be sure, but builds surprisingly well and is punchy enough to be a damn great dance/work-out track). And really, 'Coming Home' isn't a bad track in the slightest, but 'Back To December' is really so much better, and probably Taylor Swift's best song by far.

And with that, let's proceed to 2012, and some Honourable Mentions: