The Rise and Rise of Alesha Dixon

As regular readers know, I sometimes stray away from the mainstay topic of this blog — film — into music of all kinds. Obviously, the two have been tied since film’s birth. One aspect of both industries that has fascinated me for some time is the odd relationship between the U.S. and the U.K., our highly influential older siblings with the cool accents, who seem to have even cooler record collections, more avant-garde taste in movies, and cutting-edge fashion senses. And yet, for every British artist in any medium that slays Stateside, either by popularity or influence — and the list of those is endless — there are some, for whatever reason, that just don’t click. This is also true of celebrity/entertainment culture in general…some U.K. celebs cross the pond to become household names in the U.S….and others just don’t catch on here. For every Graham Norton or Ricky Gervais, there’s a Cheryl Cole or Robbie Williams.

I’m not sure which category Alesha Dixon will fall into, or if she’s even interested in U.S. success, but at the moment, she is one of the most recognizable women on U.K. television. As an admired presenter and judge on prime-time shows, she’s known to millions of viewers, as well as being a talented singer and dancer, lending her more versatility and overall credibility than many others in the “unscripted” field.
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Top 30 (more or less) tunes of 2013

I had a lot of fun doing the 2012 year-end music post so here’s the 2013 edition. These are songs that I loved this year; though some were released in previous years, almost all of these reached triple-digit plays (source: my iTunes). In most cases, I’ve had to link to remixes, but you can still listen or download for free. And yeah, YouTube ads are still a drag.

Tracks

  • The Wire” – Haim
  • Pumpin Blood” – NONONO
  • Shelter Song” and “Prisms” – Temples If you like the early Beatles, you’ll dig it.
  • These Shadows” – Wooden Shjips
  • Summertime Sadness” (Cedric Gervais Remix) – Lana del Rey
  • “Shot at the Night,” “Just Another Girl,” and “Read My Mind” – The Killers Two are new and I’m obsessed with the other. “The stars are blazin’ /Like rebel diamonds/Cut out of the sun…”
  • “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” and “Alone Together” – Fall Out Boy One of the better live shows I’ve ever seen. Ever. All the sweeter because I thought they were broken up for good and I’d never see them live.
  • “Roar” – Katy Perry If you are about to dive into a swimming pool that only has about a foot of water in it, “Roar” is the track to have around. Katy says it’s like armor and I agree.

  • “California Blue” – Roy Orbison Orbison’s last album was released in 1989 shortly after he passed away. But I never let that stop me. “One sunny day/I’ll get back again/Somehow someway/But I don’t know when…”
  • “Don’t,” “It Feels So Right,” and “I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell” – Elvis Presley I hear the greatest new-to-me Elvis tracks on Sirius channel 19.
  • Kansas City” – Wilbert Harrison Another Sirius find, this one from ’50s on [channel] 5.
  • Pompeii” – Bastille
  • Ways to Go” – Grouplove “Tongue Tied” is a forever love but this one is pretty good too.
  • “Dancing On My Own,” “Hang with Me,” and “Call Your Girlfriend” – Robyn I don’t know how many times I’ve asked this and I still don’t have a good answer: why isn’t Robyn more popular? She kicks so much @$$. Sigh.
  • “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk You knew this would be on here…right?
  • Don’t Swallow The Cap” – The National
  • “Royals” and “Team” – Lorde So sue me. They’re catchy and smart songs.
  • “Do I Wanna Know?” – Arctic Monkeys This witty little ditty will drill itself into your brain. Really weird video too. No, they aren’t Northern, they’re from Sheffield. Anyway. Song of the year honors.

Albums

  • Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend Sing along everybody!
  • Battle Born and Direct Hits – The Killers. This band is DEADLY live, I lost my mind and my voice at their show. If you haven’t seen them, do whatever you have to get there next time. You will not regret it.


  • Cut It Out EP – Kitten
  • Crazy for You – Best Coast
  • Only in Dreams – Dum Dum Girls
  • Static – Cults
  • The Bones of What You Believe – Chvrches, everything except “The Mother We Share.” I liked that track when it came out, but it is possible to overplay a good thing.
  • Observator – The Raveonettes
  • Move in Spectrums – Au Revoir Simone
  • Days of Being Wild soundtrack – Music from Wong Kar-Wai’s 1990 film. It seems to be quite rare. I’ve assembled most of the Xavier Cugat tracks from Emusic, but I’m missing the title track, Anita Mui’s Cantonese version of “Jungle Drums.”

Top 30 Tunes of 2012

My Top 30 Tunes of 2012

As I mentioned in one of my award posts, music is a close second to movies as my favorite thing. This year I decided to compile my Top 30 or so tunes, based on iTunes’ play count. Since January 1, 2012, I’ve given all of the following songs more than 30 plays, and in some cases, more than 50. There were a few surprises…I like a good hook I guess. So sue me…

These are in no particular order. Click through to listen, or maybe even download legally and for free! Yep, I hate YouTube ads too, but someone’s got to pay for all this.

  • “Tongue Tied” — Grouplove Probably my favorite song of the year.
  • “Video Games” and “Born to Die” — Lana Del Rey Exact same number of plays. Even before i saw this clip for The Smiths/Lana mashup “This Charming Video Game,” her vocal style reminded me of Morrissey.
  • “At Home” – Crystal Fighters It’s just awesome. 
  • “To Win Your Love” – Dominique Pruitt Winner of the 2012 “Every Breath You Take” Stalker Award. Sample lyric: “I know you don’t realize / How much you love me too / So open up your eyes and see that / You’ll be mine before I’m through.” This one was a late entry, I think I first heard it in September or October, but it’s just as much of an earworm as “Call Me Maybe” or “At Home.” And it is not country. It’s Americana. I swear.
  • “Punching in a Dream” and “Girls Like You” – The Naked and Famous They’re from New Zealand, these songs are approximately two years old, and they rock.
  • “Let’s Go” – Matt & Kim Perfect for a Monday or a Friday.
  • “Midnight City” – M83 Pure bliss
  • “Lights” (Bassnectar Remix) – Ellie Goulding I’ve been a fan of Goulding’s for a year or so, on account of she was on some chat show with Tom Hardy.
  • “Hold On” – Alabama Shakes  Actually I highly recommend the whole album this comes from, it’s called Boys & Girls, and if you like ’60s soul, it’s a must. $7.99 on iTunes until Jan. 7. No one is paying me to say that.
  • “Loca People (What the F*ck)” – Sak Noel What can I say…it’s good to work out to. And who among us hasn’t wondered about their fellow human beings?
  • “I’m Always In Love” – Wilco Yes, this little slice of pop heaven came out in 1999 on the album Summerteeth, but I never appreciated it properly until this year. It sounds just as fresh.
  • “Madness” – Muse The only Muse song I like. It’s sort of operatic, like a lost Queen track.
  • “Come Home” – CHAPPO I’m not yelling, that’s how they write it. This song is actually 2 years old and it’s like the first day of spring.
  • “Most Wanted” “Go Outside” “You Know What I Mean” – Cults This band does sweet finger-snapping Sixties bubblegum pop with a darker undertone via the lyrics and minor chords.

http://vimeo.com/9658516

  • “Everybody Talks” – Neon Trees Seriously, this will drill itself into your brain. All you can do is submit. Another Morrissey-influenced act. Great video as well.
  • “Simple Song” – The Shins This song starts slowly but it builds into a sweet little hook. “Remember walking a mile to your house / A glow in the dark…”
  • “I Want Your Love” – Chromatics I can’t describe it. I just love it.
  • “Marooned (Lassi Remix)” – Adventure Galley Peppy little rock tune remixed into something else; I love both. Their 2010 EP The Right Place To Be is good too.
  • “Deadlights”Myths Another song I can’t really describe accurately. Check out this remix of another of their tracks, “Horizon.”

Most listened-to albums
CoexistThe xx If you want some cheap thrills, watch a silent movie and put this on in the background. Just try it.
DaysReal Estate
Boys & Girls – Alabama Shakes
Star of LoveCrystal Fighters
Passive Me, Aggressive YouThe Naked and Famous
CultsCults

I know I missed some other good music this year…what were your favorites?