Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Favorite Music Tracks of 2015

Here are the 25 pop tracks that kept me sane and hopeful this year. The ones that made me run a little further each morning, inspired my writing, made me sweat or marked a (bitter) sweet moment. I’ve ranked them by pure awesomeness, play frequency and personal relevance (it’s quite scientific).

Enjoy. Happy 2016!

#25 — “My Brother Taught Me How To Swim” — Passion Pit

#24— “Want To Want Me” — Jason Derulo
Hello again, 1985.

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#23— “Gone” — Monogem

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Favorite Singles & Tracks of 2014

Every year deserves a soundtrack. And here are my favorite tunes of 2014. The ones that carried me through, brought me back, crushed me, soothed me, lifted me, pushed me past mile 5 and generally made me look like a crazy person on NYC sidewalks. Enjoy the countdown and Happy 2015!

25. "Red Eyes" - War on Drugs

Must have made The Boss proud this spring. My best air guitar moments.

24. "Bassically" - Tei Shi

Like Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" on acid.

23. "Pocketknife" - Mr. Little Jeans

Best dance song.

22. "I Love You" - Woodkid

French video director makes an incredible album.

21. "Hideaway" - Kiesza

Hello again, 1993...

20. "Gods & Monters" - Lana Del Rey

Elsa Mars brought me here.

19. "Blank Space" - Taylor Swift.

No, you are not too cool for Taylor Swift. And definitely not too cool for this video.

18. "Happy Idiot" - TV On The Radio

These indie rock dudes made one of the catchiest songs this year.

17. "Dark Horse" - Katy Perry

Surprising move that paid off. 

16. "Classic" - The Knocks

Best summer song.

15. "Hidden X's" - Fuck Buttons

Rich, atmospheric, soundtracky gem.

14. "Chandelier" - Sia

There's life after 40 on pop radio... and best video of the year. 

13. "Stay With Me" - Sam Smith

When radio gets it right.

12. "Take Me to Church" - Hozier

That voice. And yeah, about religion...

11. "From Eden" - Hozier

"Babe, there's something tragic about you. Something so magic about you. Don't you agree?"

10. "Living For Love" - Madonna 

First time she really nails it since 2005.

9. "I'm Not The Only One" - Sam Smith

Burn it. Burn it all down.

8. "Partition" - Beyonce

Too cool for America's Disneyfied radio.

7. "Looking Too Closely" - Fink


6. "Queen" - Perfume Genius

Subversive. Best rock song. My new favorite artist.

5. "Seasons Change" - Future Islands

Best Melody. "But I've grown tired of trying to change for you"

4. "Boom Clap" - Charli XCX

Great pop. The bad girl touch makes all the difference.

3. "Gold" - James Vincent McMorrow

Made me smile each time.

2. "In These Arms of Love' - Cut Copy



Favorite tune of the year. Soul, Disco, Magic. I want to live inside this one. Just perfect.

HAPPY 2015!

Monday, December 15, 2014

My 5 Favorite Albums of 2014

Thought I'd share my favorite 5 albums of 2014. Pass the goodness. Fantastic year.


Feels like Lynch, feels like Broadway, like a nightclub from a pre-Bloomberg NYC with balls, like a torch song, queer, rock n'roll... like nothing I've heard this year. Thank you.

2. 'Our Love' - Caribou

And I thought they couldn't match the perfection of 2010's Odessa. Hypnotic. My little escape.

3. 'Beyonce' - Beyonce

Well... duh. Flawless.

4. Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence

Anyone who can say FUCK YOU to radio at the height of her career deserves respect.

5. 'In the Lonely Hour' - Sam Smith

He just gets me. He really gets me.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Favorite 22 singles of 2013

This year the industry showed signs of life again - rewarding some bold moves (Macklemore's DIY success, Beyonce's secret album.... and can we say Miley was a risk taker? I think so) and punishing those who played it safe (Sorry Britney Army, KatyKats and Little Monsters).

But business aside, when I reflect on 2013 it will be through the music itself - each big memory trapped in a song, video or live performance.

Here is my year, boiled down to the 22 brilliant pop ditties that shaped it.

... happy 2014!

macklemore hair cut thrift shop


#22 "There Goes Our Love again" - White Lies

What if you threw in some New Wave + Emo + Bro Music + The Killers in a blender? 

#21 "Madness" - Muse

Muse does Queen ...with a healthy dose of pheromones. 

#20 'Miracle' - Sir Sly


#19 "Walking Lightly" - Junip

Scandinavian pop brilliance.

#18 'The Way We Touch' - We Are Twin

Soulful Pop.

#17 'Darkness' - Du Tonc

Best Video of the year. Brings back story telling. Very sweet.

#16 'Elevate' - St. Lucia

I only have so much room for trendy hipster pop  (Sorry CHVRCHES, Haim, Say Lou Lou).

#16 'When the Night is Over' - The Magician

Favorite dance tune of the year.

#15 'Hanging On' - Active Child


#14 'I need Your Love' - Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding

Infectious. Although, Dear Calvin, time to take a year off or you'll end up as tired as Guetta.

#13 'Cups' - Anna Kendrick

No matter what your day threw up in your face, it's kinda hard to stay angry after listening to this.

#12 - 'Carried Away' - Passion Pit.

Manic pop. Last of the hipster pop entries.

#11 - 'Promises' - Presets

This will probably hit a radio near you in a few years (Following the trend set by Capital Cities and Gotye)

#10 - 'Can't Hold Us' - Macklemore

Epic Attitude. My pick for Sexiest Man Alive... move over Adam Levine.

#9 - 'Hunger' - Born Gold

"My bones are bending from how sick you've kept me love"

#8 - 'When I Fire Starts to Burn' - Disclosure

I didn't care for 90's house when it first happened, and I don't care for it now. The album everyone gushed about put me to sleep. But this propulsive song was just strange enough and fun enough to make a strong dent in my summer.

#7 - 'Stay' -  Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko

Rihanna is one uncanny sci-fi miracle. A sexy, lifelike robot created by record labels to crank out 20 hit singles per minute . 90% of its output is understandably putrid. But occasionally, it/she strikes gold and... feels almost human.

#6 - 'Afterlife' -  Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire prove they can rule the dance floor too.

#5 - 'Do What You Want' -  Lady Gaga

If she only stopped trying so hard..... the most straightforward and best song on ARTPOP.

#4 - 'Casino Lisboa' -  Dirty Beaches

I want to live inside this song.

#3 - 'Headshake' -  Saturday, Monday

Best summer song. And you can't have a decent 'best of' music list without Swedes on top.

#2 'Fall'

Dance pop perfection.


Best pop tune of the year. It was the rarest of things...a catchy song you're not ashamed to hum in public. Anti-bling and full of humor....  'Probably should have washed this, smells like R Kelly's Sheets... pisssssssss...'

A must if you're going to hole up in the Catskills for an icy winter.

Happy new year everyone!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

My 5 Favorite albums of 2013

After sifting through over 100 CD's (I still buy those.. why are you looking at me funny?), I've landed on my favorite albums of the year.  2013 saw established artists - and a couple of brave newbies - experiment,  go rogue and annihilate some of pop royalty's most overblown yet dull offerings (Gaga and JT - I'm looking at you, snooze).


1. BEST ALBUM OF 2013: "Drifters/Love is The Devil" - Dirty Beaches

The most original album of the year.  A surreal, David Lynchean blend of  love poems and seedy, dangerous energy. One track sinks you with longing, the next flicks you into a NYC nightclub circa 1983: smoke... shadows...  possibility. I want to turn this album into a movie. Alex Zhang Hungtai, get in touch with my people.

Tracks: "Au Revoir Mon Visage", "I Don't Know How to Find my way Back To You" 

2.  "Random Access Memories" - Daft Punk

Alors, you think you can blend Moroder, Panda Bear and Nile Rogers into one seamless electro odyssey? And succeed? Ah, the French...pfft.

Well, Daft Punk have made some of the best music this side of 2000. Hell, Kanye West owes his entire, tacky career to their 2001 "Harder, Faster, Stronger". Their Tron soundtrack cemented their versatility and musicianship.  And here -  their crowning achievement to date - they showcase their inspirations, past and present, and own them (who's your master? whip!).  How to top this next year? Answer: by possibly being in charge of Madonna's new album.... (and making my brain explode into all sorts of skittle colored mania)

Tracks: "Doin' it Right", "Contact"

3. "Trouble Will Find Me" - The National

This album doesn't break new ground. And why should it? Beautiful, poetic, full of insights into the way we live and love. A non nonsense kind of album. These guys can do no wrong in my book.

Tracks: "Hard To Find",  "Don't Swallow the Cap"

4. "The Heist" Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Rebels. They took on big labels by recording and distributing this themselves.  They turned hip hop  -  a genre steadily rotting in its own homophobia, sexism and materialism -  into an effective vehicle for a gay rights anthem -  'Same Love' - and anti-bling humor with "Thrift Shop".  And yeah, fuck labels.

Tracks: "Thin Line", "Jimmy Iovine"

5. "Shaking The Habitual" - The Knife

Low on the hooks, high on the unsettling. Together with Crystal Castles - they bring much needed experimentation and mystery to electronic music.

Tracks: "Without You My Life Would be boring", "Full of Fire"

Next up... my favorite 20 singles of 2013... stay tuned... JAPG

Sunday, December 30, 2012

22 Favorite Singles of 2012

Musically speaking, 2012 was one for the records - offering us stellar new outings from Dragonette, Madonna, Crystal Castles and - after much waiting - the first official albums from Tanlines and Niki and The Dove. It was also the year that Canadians rivaled the Swedes in pop excellence.

But many of us also seemed to mix up 'inspiration' with plain old plagiarism... people ate up Justin Bieber's note by note rendition of that other - much better - Justin; they turned Bruno Mars' Police rip-off into a number one hit...and yes, millions still praised Gaga's shameless Madonna karaoke act. What happened to new thinking? Do we really believe, as one young Youtuber recently posted, 'everything has been done already so it's ok to copy'? Does pop music have to equal recycled crap? The answer - clearly - is NO ...and the  proof is below.

So next time you are about to waste your $1.49 on a Demi Lovato song - consider any of these 22 singles. The best of the year in my opinion... in descending order for a little suspense. Happy New Year everyone!

22. ‘Golden Light’ – Twin Shadow

From the Dominican Republic. Yes, really. I dig people who break negative stereotypes (Pitbull and J-Lo– can you retire now and stop embarrassing an entire community with your artless, tacky crap?).  This guy writes music for film, has created awesome remixes for people way more famous than he is and – in my opinion – was the best male artist this year.  By the way.. is that the theme of 1987’s vampire flick ‘The Lost Boys’ buried in the chorus? I wouldn’t put it past him.

21. 'You Stood Me Up' - DWNTWN

Just because I'm a sucker for 80's style synth...

20. 'Paddling Out' - Miike Snow

Always fun. Always off beat.

19. ‘Put Me To Work’ – PAPA

What if Bruce Spingsteen had sprung from 2012 Brooklyn instead of early 80’s New Jersey?

18. ‘All Of Me’ – Tanlines

Timeless pop. Could have been a hit anytime between1981 and today.

17. 'Up All Night' - Oliver Tank

Let's get it on...

16. ‘We Are Young’ - Fun.

 Well done American radio listeners. I sort of forgive you for all of the other crap you request. Sort of.

15. 'Sweet Nothing' - Calvin Harris Feat. Florence Welch

This Brit does with Florence Welch what he did with Rihanna last year: he recruited a so-so lady and turned out a golden dance track. One of the best videos of the year.

14. ‘Ghosts’ – ON AND ON

Fresh out of the oven. No album yet. Band to watch in 2013.

13. ‘Time To Dance’ – The Shoes

Irresistible chant-along-indie-dance-track! Now, there’s a micro category for you. Plus, Jake Gylenhaal as a mass murderer in the video? Bring it

12.  ‘Catch My Breath’ – Kelly Clarkson

With 3 big radio hits, this was the year of Kelly Clarkson. What I still love about her – 11 years after I kept voting for her On American idol (TMI?) - is that she can rule the airwaves with unforgettable pop songs , with one of the best voices out there,  and manages to feel very much under the radar. Here’s to the constant underdog.

 11. ‘Days’ – The Drums

Any band that uses Amanda Lepore in their video deserves to be on the best of list. Plus, it’s a kick ass song.

10. ‘Plague’ – Crystal Castles

From the best album this year; it’s also the track with the best video this year. I couldn’t have picked a better film to complement the creepy vibe of this song than 1981’s “Possession” with Sam Neil and Isabelle Adjani.

 9) 'Summertime Sadness’ – Lana del Rey

Finally! A summer song for those who appreciate a little misery with our sunshine. Del Rey’s magic trick is to add gloss, allure and sex appeal to tragedy. Very Hollywood.

8) ‘Dj Ease My Mind’ – Niki and the Dove

Disco renaissance done right.

7) ‘Closer’ – Tegan and Sara

These twins came up with the catchiest , most awesome chorus this year. Canada strikes again!

6) ‘To You’ – Young Wonder

I was hooked with the Eastern Undertones on this one. A song of mourning that manages to uplift.  ‘See you, See you in the next life’…

5) ‘212’ – Azealia Banks

Is it fair to compare women just because they’re female rappers? Who cares? I’ll do it anyway. Ms Banks’ chops and gritty feel make Niki Minaj feel as vapid and gimmicky as Lady Gaga. Her EP was huge. Another one to watch next year.

4) ‘Dig Into the Waves’ – Freelance Whales

Yup, Hipster world circa 2008 is still very much alive in this nostalgic tune about relationships that are worth saving.

3) ‘Anything could happen’ – Ellie Goulding

Sonic Prozac.

2) ‘Steve McQueen’ – M83

The best track of 2011’s brilliant ‘Hurry Up We’re Dreaming’. Like the album, it captures the thrill of being a nine year old: That mixture of awe and horror at your newfound powers.


My pick for best track of the year backs up this blog's premise: you can be unapologetically pop and mainstream and still have a soul and some originality. Here’s a love song that’s so well crafted that it makes me wish I wasn’t so damn single every time I hear it … at least for three and a half perfect minutes.

Happy 2013!!!