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Best of 2010: Arjan's Top 25 Songs of The Year


Following my list of favorite albums of the year, I've also put together my 25 favorite tunes of 2011. It is a diverse bunch of tunes that either were included on a fantastic album or represent a flash of pop brilliance that stands gloriously on its own. 

The list ranges from the sunny vibes of Dragonette's "Volcano" to the grand, uplifting sonics of Reni Lane's "Place For Us," to Matt Morris' inspiring "Live Forever" to the humble songwriting of Bruno Mars. Janelle Monae's "Cold War" is a powerful call to action that continues to inspire me. Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" is effortless pop that represents the entire triumphant "Body Talk" project perfectly.

My Top 25 Favorite Songs of the Year

25. Katy Perry "Teenage Dream" (link)
24. Jessie J "Do It Like A Dude" (link)
23. Robyn "Hang With Me" (Starsmith remix) (link)
22. Penguin Prison "Something I'm Not" (link)
21. Die Antwoord "Rich Bitch" (link)
20. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros "Home" (RAC Remix) (link)
19. Goldfrapp "Rocket" (link)
18. Scissor Sisters "Invisible Light" (link
17. Matt Morris "Live Forever" (link
16. V V Brown "Shark In The Water" (link)
15. Hurts "Stay" (link)
14. Marina & The Diamonds "Shampain" (link)
13. Ellie Goulding "Your Biggest Mistake" (link)
12. Kylie Minogue "Get Out Of My Way" (link)
11. Gyspy & The Cat "Jona Vark" (link)
10. Bruno Mars "Grenade" (link
9. Reni Lane "Place For Us" (link)
8. Dragonette "Volcano" (link)
7. Sky Ferreira "One" (link)
6. Chiddy Bang "Opposite of Adults" (link)
5. Far East Movement feat Dev & The Cataracs "Like A G6" (link)
4. Brandon Flowers "Only The Young" (link)
3. The Naked & The Famous "Young Blood" (link)
2. Janelle Monae "Cold War" (link)
1. Robyn "Dancing On My Own" (link)

December 31, 2010 | Permalink

Best of 2010 - Arjan Chats with Nelly Furtado

In addition to introducing you to great new alternative pop in 2010 on this blog, I had lots of fun conducting my video interviews this year. Casual and candid, the video interviews have become a staple feature on ArjanWrites.com that spotlights artists in a unique, unscripted way.

I do very little edits on these videos because it is important to me to show an artist as they are. I don't want to just feature soundbytes or juice it up in any way. My goal is to tell the artists' story. They are front and center.

I conducted dozens of video interviews this year. From Far East Movement to Chiddy Bang, and from Natalia Kills to Hurts. One of my favorite video interviews was my chat with Nelly Furtado last month. We spoke on the day of the release of her Greatest Hits album, which followed her Latin GRAMMY only days earlier.

Totally fun interview. Very Nelly. Especially towards the end of the interview when we got disconnected for a moment. You can't fake this stuff. It is like The Cataracs told me yesterday, nothing beats improvisation, nothing. One of the best of 2010.

December 30, 2010 | Permalink

Best of 2010 - Arjan's Top 10 Albums of The Year


Many great, worthy albums, singles and songs were released by both familiar artists and exciting newcomers this year. Putting together my end of year album list was hardly an easy task. I ended up picking albums that I thoroughly enjoyed listenting to, but also albums that I believe will stand the test of time, and/or marked the poppin' sonic climate of 2010. 

Many promising new trends emerged in 2011. One of the most exciting trends was the growing impact of alternative pop acts in the charts. Take for example La Roux. Bloggers went mad over the hair-whipping duo in 2009 and this year "Bulletproof" was all over mainstream radio. Seriously, that's an alt-pop victory introduced by bloggers everywhere. I'm confident that the success of artists like La Roux has paved the way for more great alt-pop acts to break through in 2011. 

My Best Albums of 2010

10. Erik Hassle "Pieces"
Erik Hassle's international debut LP is one of the most underrated records of the year. Filled with hooky tunes, his songwriting defines great Swedish pop - infectious melodies, relatable sentiment and killer, heartfelt vocals. (Buy)

9.  Die Antwoord "$0$" 
Die Antwoord's "$0$ is by far one of the most refreshing records of year. Raw, abrasive and in your face, Die Antwoord will have your dizzy on your feet from beginning to end. Genius production. (Buy)

8. Kelis "Fleshtone"
Kelis took dance and pop music to a new level of brilliance with the hard-hitting and gritty "Fleshtone." Unfortunately, the album failed to achieve momentum in the charts, but she made legions of new fans while maintaining her artistic integrity. (Buy)

7. Scissor Sisters "Night Work"
After their lackluster second album, the New York five-piece returned strong with a fusion of dance, pop and disco that was sexy, slightly raunchy but always right on point. Hopefully, their support slot for Lady Gaga's U.S. tour dates next year will introduce their down and dirty sound to many more people. (Buy)

6. Far East Movement "Free Wired"
"Free Wired" is not only an album title, it is a vision, a movement. It is about breaking down barriers and creating a sound that cannot be defined as one single genre. "Free Wired" is a super slick, tightly packaged effort filled with hits that is very now, very fresh. (Buy)

5. Gypsy & The Cat "Gilgamesh"
When I saw Gypsy & The Cat perform at One Movement in Australia, I was blown away by the lush, dreamy and hyper melodic qualities of their songs. This Aussie duo is one of the most exciting new acts to look out for in 2011. 

4. Ellie Goulding "Lights"
Masterfully produced by Starsmith, Ellie Goulding's "Lights" is a warming, energizing and touching blend of folktronica that is dominated by Ellie's one of kind vocals that get me every time. 

3. Hurts "Happiness"
The duo of Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson were able to package doom and gloom, and turn it into a moving synth pop sound that fit the times. Comparisons with Erasure and Pet Shop Boys aside, Hurts delivers an introverted synth pop sound that is distinctly different and uniquely their own.

2. Janelle Monae "The ArchAndroid"
I remember seeing Monae perform for a crowd of 20 people almost three years ago and I was convinced I was looking at one of the biggest new stars of our time. After her taste-making EP, she finally released her debut LP that is nothing less than phenomenal. It's a perfect marriage between style and substance that is truly one, singular experience. In a time when the emphasis on singles seems to be the norm, Monae delivers an album journey that will move you. (Buy)

1. Robyn "Body Talk"
In 2010, Robyn returned to the scene with more spunk and gusto than ever. Universally-loved and critically-adored, Robyn's triumphant "Body Talk" has solidified her position as the reigning Queen of Alternative Pop. Her bittersweet lyrics, hyper catchy melodies and multi-layered, crisp productions expose one of the most innovative artist of our time who is not afraid to take chances. She's a role model in more than one way who never ceases to amaze me.  (Buy)

Honorable Mentions

V V Brown "Travelling Like The Light"
Reni Lane "Ready" 
Bruno Mars "Doo-wops & Hooligans"
Electrolightz "It Happened Over Night" 
Lissie "Catching A Tiger" 
Duran Duran "All You Need Is Now"
B.o.B. "The Adventures of Bobby Ray"
Kylie Minogue "Aphrodite" 
Diddy - Dirty Money "Last Train To Paris" 
Fitz & The Tantrums "Picking Up The Pieces"

December 30, 2010 | Permalink

Listen to New Dev "Killer" (Produced by The Cataracs)

Dev and production outfit The Cataracs (aka David and Niles) have been holed up in their downtown L.A. studio to cut tracks for Dev's forthcoming debut LP. Most of you will know Dev as the auto-tuned vocalist featured on Far East Movement's "Like A G6" that is flying up the charts around the world. (Yes, she is the girl who has made "blizzard" and "slizzard" sound legendary.)

In my recent video interview with Dev and The Cataracs, Niles explained that the sound of Dev as a solo artist will feature more than the slappin' bounce of "Like A G6." A new Dev track has leaked on YouTube that is a good example of that. "Killer" is a hooky pop-rock track with subtle synth stylings that shows off a different side of Dev. Promising new pop for 2011.

And on a related note, if you have not seen my video interview with Dev and The Cataracs then you must. It is one of my fave video interviews of the year. Epic! Make sure to watch it all the way to the end for all the good stuff.

December 29, 2010 in The Cataracs | Permalink

Watch P Martell feat. Signals "Please Don't Leave Me" Debut Video


After the success of his remix for Florrie's "Call 911," emerging dance pop maestro P Martell (aka Steven Siegel, picture above) teamed up with his two Michigan high school pals to produce the video for his debut artist single "Please Don't Leave Me." The high-grade video was directed by Sam Lemberg and prominently features lead man Zack Bobowski who brings a chiseled Hollywood look to the video. 

The nocturnal quality of the "Please Don't Leave Me" video perfectly captures the atmospheric sensibilities of the song. Lush and beautifully crafted, the track is a glowing slice of downbeat dance pop that matches the class and sonic intensity of work by Starsmith, Fred Falke and Alan Braxe.

The Emory University sophomore got inspired to create "Please Don't Leave Me" when he was interning at Atlanta's famed Tree Sound Studios where he had frequent run ins with people like Justin Bieber, Yelawolf and Usher.

Martell explains, "I had just gotten back from Tree Sound Studios a little earlier than usual, like 3 a.m. I'd been on a all night schedule for much of the summer. I hadn't been able to see a lot of my friends or work on my own stuff so when I brought out the Microkorg, I just hit on this particular sound that seemed to sum up how I was feeling at the time (. . .) The chords just came because I had this yearning feeling at the time."

That emotionally-honest sentiment shines through in the track and perfectly fits the story of heartbreak and longing that ensues in the video. Watch it below. For more information about P Martell make sure to follow him on Facebook. Download the track on SoundCloud.

December 29, 2010 | Permalink