Our Picks for Top Singles of the Year 2011

December 20, 2011

Although comprising our list of top albums of the year was relatively painless, narrowing our list of singles, was daunting. It is purely a subjective list, captured at this moment in time (We are fully aware that if you asked us a month from now, the list may change). This list is also very personal. Since we started the bop2pop blog last March, we have covered nearly 300 singles, a few concerts and caught up with a few of our 80s idols. All of these songs are winners in our book, so to narrow the list to 20, exlcuding some in order to place others, was often very painful. But we had to do it, so like it or not (most likely you will not agree with everything or anything on our list), here are picks for top singles of the year.

20. Simulover: Tourniquet
Squeaking in on our list is the debut single by Simulover, the brilliant collaboration of SIRPAUL and Alex Lauterstein. We confess we love the S/M theme, which makes us feel oh so slightly dirty.

19. Holy Ghost: I Wanted To Tell Her
Our favorite remake of the year by Brooklyn duo, Holy Ghost which we like better than the original. Check out the really RAD video.

18. Fil OK: Fall In Love
We fell in love with this haunting ballad that sounds like the twisted love child of Felt Mountain era Goldfrapp and Marc Almond at his most ironically sleazy

17. Tie: The Good Natured: Video Voyeur / Icona Pop: Manners
We group these two bands together because they both bring an energy to their stage presence and we predict great things next year. The Good Natured’s Video Voyeur kind of reminds us of early Missing Persons (which is a very good thing) and they are a band to watch out for. We are including Icona Pop’s neontastic Manners video which seems inspired by the 80s cult film, Liquid Sky.

16. Tie: Garcon Garcon: Stay In Touch / Patrick Wolf: Together
We love this Garcon Garcon video that looks like something director Derek Jarman would create if he wanted to create an early Erasure video. Also stunning is the new Patrick Wolf single.

15. OMD: History Of Modern
Taken from last year’s album of the same name, this was the song OMD should have released first since it is the track that most captures the spirit and energy of OMD’s heyday.

14. Tie: Penquin Prison: Fair Warning (Oliver Mix) / Starlings – Sirens (Sanfernando Remix)
Two great songs made brilliant by simply stunning remixes. We will be featuring Sanfernando soon on our 2011 remix recap.

13. Electric Youth: Fade Away
Our top b-side pick by the band that got major exposure by appearing on the Drive soundtrack. Pure pop bliss!

12. Tie: Johan Agebjörn: The Last Day of Summer / Queen of Hearts: Where Are You Now
Both tracks simply sublime. Johan Agebjorn you may recognize from his work with Sally Shapiro and as for Queen of Hearts, she is our pick for breakout artist and who, in addition to creating great music herself, has collaborated with a who’s who at bop2pop (Johan Agebjorn, The Sound of Arrows, Monarchy, Fear of Tigers, Bright Light Bright Light)

11. Lana Del Ray: Video Games/Blue Jeans (Nikon Remixes)
Regardless what the cynics say, these are two beautiful songs made even more so by the gorgeous remixes by Nikon.

10. Beth Ditto: I Write the Book
Why did it make our top 10? Because Beth Ditto is fierce and she completely reinvented herself for the dance floor and outshined Madonna – Got to love it.

9. Monarchy: I Won’t Let Go
Our favorite track off of one of our top albums of the year, I Won’t Let Go updates the classic Chris Isaak track, Wicked Games (also check out number 11 which does the same).

8. Washed Out: Amor Fati
chilled synthpop at it’s finist (think A-Ha on Vicodin), we adored this track off of Washed Out’s Within and Without album. Best of all, he gave away the single for free!

7. Queen of Hearts: Freestyle
This was the song that started our love of all things Queen of Hearts and it is still our favorite. Queen of Hearts, if you are reading us, you enticed us with a fantastic video teaser, but then broke our hearts by never releasing the full video. Can we have a full video please?

6. Hurts: Sunday
Sunday was the last single taken off of the excellent debut album by Hurts. It’s our favorite track off the album and the video is simply stunning.

5. Marsheaux: Can You Stop Me
We think Marsheaux could record them practicing scales and it would still make our list. Can You Stop Me was a change in direction for Marsheaux (kind of a “harder” synthpop sounding Delerium) and we love it. We were hoping for an album, but alas it has yet to materialize.

4. Sound of Arrows: Nova/My Shadow
We would include the new version of Into the Clouds and M.A.G.I.C., but they both made our lists in previous years. Their debut album, Voyage, made our choice for album of the year.

3. Mirrors: Into The Heart
We loved, love, loved this single by Mirrors that should have gotten more exposure and been a bigger hit. Recent lineup changes had us a little worried about where the direction of the band would be going, but a couple of new tracks prove they are still the ultimate conveyors of quality synthpop.

2. Daybehavior: Silent Dawn
Simply epic track by a band we have been eagerly awaiting their new third album, Follow That Car, for awhile now. For the unconverted, Daybehavior incorporates cinematic dreamscape vocals and haunting melodies that would fit comfortably in a french 1960s spy film soundtrack. Their last single, It’s a Game, got remix treatment by our faves, Marsheaux.

1. Kid Kasio: Over and Over
Sounding like something Howard Jones would come up with if he was comissioned to write Depeche Mode’s Shake the Disease, Over and Over, tugged at our heartstrings and was the track, more than any other, we played…over and over. Kid Kasio promises his debut album will be out next year.

The Best of the Rest
Arcade Fire presents Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Austra – Spellwork
Bachelorette – Polarity Party
Bunny Lake – Young Lovers
Charli XCX – Nuclear Seasons
Chart Music – All My Life
Citizens! – True Romance
Class Actress – Weekend
Computer Magic – The End Of Time
Faker – Dangerous (CSS remix)
Fiorious – I’m In Love With A German Film Star
Florrie – I Took A Little Something
GusGus – Over
Human League – Sky
Icona Pop – Nights Like This
Jessica 6 Prisoner Of Love (ft. Antony)
Johan Agebjörn & Le Prix (Feat. Fred Ventura & Sally Shapiro) – Alice (Energy Mix)
John Maus – Head for the Country
Kites – The Disappearance of Becky Sharp (The Sanfernando Sound Remix)
Ladytron – Mirage
Mint Julep – Why Don’t We
Miracle – The Visitor
Mirrors – Shooting Stars
Neon Indian – Polish Girl
Nightlife – On the Run
Niki & The Dove – Mother Protect (Goldroom Remix)
Northern Kind – Dreams
Northern Kind – Euphonic
Oh Land – Sun of a Gun
Queen of Hearts – Shoot The Bullet
Rimer London – Put Your Gun Away
Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend
Ronika – Only Only (Fear Of Tigers Remix)
Selebrities – Surrounded By You
Sisely Treasure – That You Like
Soft Metals – Psychic Driving
Space March – American Girl
Space March – Space Cowboy
Starlings – Dark Arts (The Sanfernando Sound Remix)
Starlings – Sirens (Sanfernando Remix)
Tesla Boy – Waste My Body
The Golden Filter – Mother (Cosmonaut 3AM Remix)
The Good Natured – Wolves
The Opiates – Anatomy of a Plastic Girl
The Scientists of Modern Music – Because If I Die
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Trouble
Vanbot – Make Me, Break Me (Video)
Voltaire Twins – Animalia
Will Young – Jealousy
YELLE – Safari Disco Club
YELLE – Le Musique
Yuksek – On A Train

Where Are They Now – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD)

April 7, 2011

Then: The story of OMD is sadly, a familiar one. Although OMD have enjoyed commercial success in the UK since 1980, in the US, like many quality UK electronic acts from the decade, OMD’s prominence in American culture began and ended with one hit single, 1986’s, If You Leave. It was this song that defined the teenage angst of the x- generation from its inclusion in the seminal John Hughes movie classic, “Pretty In Pink.” Whereas the US audience finally took notice, a backlash began in the UK as fans dismissed their new sound for being “watered-down”. This new found success in the US was fleeting, however, and although they a spattering of other minor hits, they never recaptured their orignal glory. The price for this new commercial sound, however would have disasterous consequences in the UK. Fans dismissed what they felt was a betrayal of their roots and in 1996, OMD called it a day.

Now: Everything changed, however, last year, when the now classic BBC documentary Synth Britannia, which recognized the band as true pioneers of electronic music. Buzz formed and last year, after a nearly 15 year hiatus, OMD reformed and released the critical successful, History Of Modern.

Read my review of the show

Marsheaux – Summer

March 10, 2011

I am escaping NYC this weekend and its miserable weather and heading to the Caribbean with my family to celebrate my mother’s 65 birthday. I will be gone for a week, but promise to return refreshed and mostly likely burnt to a crisp. To get me in the proper mood, I am playing on loop this classic Marsheaux track from their 2009’s brilliant album, Lumineux Noir. Summer is a blissful track, and the video perfectly personifies my days lying on the beach as I duck to avoid all those pesky flying stingrays.

Rumor has it, that the new Marsheaux album is coming out later this year and I am stoked! This will undoubtedly be one of the top albums of the year. If you like classic Ladytron and Client, you’ll LOVE LOVE LOVE this Greek band.

To tie us over for the new album, I am also going to let my readers preview and download a mix of the new track by Rolla Scape, Heaven Is Real with features vocals by Marsheaux.

On a side note, I was just want to thank NewNowNext for posting my review of the OMD concert on Tuesday. It means a lot to me that a band I love and care about so much can reach tens of thousands of readers through my review, many of whom may be discovering them for the first time.

Go to the review on NewNowNext, read my article and see some great concert shots

I am leaving for holiday on Sunday and won’t have access to new music, nor my computer, so this will be my last post until I get back (about 2 weeks) so for the 3 of you reading my blog (and 2 of those are coming with me), please be patient and I shall reward you plenty when I return.

OMD Concert – Epilogue

March 9, 2011

March 8, 2011

OMD have made their OMG return to a synthpop obsessed sold out crowd last night at Terminal 5 in NYC. Although many in the audience were likely fans during their heyday, there were a significant number of younger converts, who were introduced by the praise of recent synthpop artists like La Roux, Robyn and Hurts, who name Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (or OMD as they are more commonly known) as their main musical influence. This was the first time OMD had performed in the US in 23 years and it was a serious gamble for them to invest on a tour here, but when the evening finally ended, lead singer Andy McCluskey, who was physically shaken by such an enthusiastic reception, vowed to return.

The story of OMD is sadly, a familiar one. Although OMD have enjoyed commercial success in the UK since 1980, in the US, like many quality UK electronic acts from the decade, OMD’s prominence in American culture began and ended with one hit single, 1986’s, If You Leave. It was this song that defined the teenage angst of the x- generation from its inclusion in the seminal John Hughes movie classic, “Pretty In Pink.” Whereas the US audience finally took notice, a backlash began in the UK as fans dismissed their new sound for being “watered-down”. Sadly, they never recaptured their initial critical and financial success on both sides of the Atlantic and in 1996, OMD called it a day. Everything changed, however, last year, when the excellent BBC documentary “Synth Britannia”, finally gave OMD the recognition as true pioneers of electronic music and the momentum surrounding this band has been building ever since.

My friends and I decided to meet for cocktails at Hell’s Kitchen bar, Industry prior to the show. One cocktail led to another, and as I am sure you have already gathered, by the time we left, opening act Oh Land had already gone on stage. We ran to the venue and were able to catch their closing, Son Of A Gun, an extremely catchy single that sounds vaguely like Adele if she embraced electronics. The crowd was clearly impressed and I predict great things from them. You can catch them when they perform at the NewNowNext awards coming April 11, 2011 on LOGO.

OMD finally took the stage shortly after 9pm and opened with an obscure track off their latest album, which created nice atmosphere, but didn’t get the crowd going. This was ok, though, because I was immediately taken by how well lead singer Andy McCluskey had aged. Now over 50, he looks hot! But I digress. The crowd found their footing with third song Messages and the momentum kept up while they played such classic hits as Tesla Girls, Forever Live and Die, So In Love and Joan Of Arc. It soon became clear OMD knew their target audience and weren’t going to alienate old fans with all new material, a point that Andy McCluskey actually joked about early in the evening.

If I were to identify a lull moment in the show, I would have to say it were the few songs performed after crowd pleaser, Maid of Orleans. This was confirmed when at one point Andrew himself seemed bored and sat down on stage while singing. Things picked up again with Locomotion and the show continued to build for the rest of the evening. Crowd favorites included Souvenir, Maid of Orleans, Enola Gay, If You Leave and the encore performance of Electricity.

When it was finally over, you could see that Andrew has moved by the reception. They hadn’t toured the US in 23 years and were told that there wasn’t a market for their sound in the US, but that this sold out crowd had proved his naysayers wrong. Because of our love and enthusiasm, he promised to return and this is something this fan is holding him to.

I just to give a special shout out for my sister Allison and bestest friend Jason for making this such an incredible evening.

OMD Concert – Prologue

March 8, 2011


Our story begins as a young teenager who has yet to realise that the alienation he feels yet can’t explain would be understood once he came out, and who is fascinated by all things new wave (and perhaps slightly unhealthy addiction to Rock Over London), purchases a cassette that would forever change his life. Ironically it would be from the ultimate uncool label K-Tel (“As Seen On TV”) and called, “The Beat”. Never has an album contained such a roster of yet to be established musicians who would later define the new wave and synthpop genres. Artists like Depeche Mode, OMD, Duran Duran, Kim Wilde, Thompson Twins, Go Go’s and Split Enz. This cassette contained their very first recordings, way before they filled stadiums and became household names (at least to alienated youth throughout the USA). Not a dud on the entire cassette (well, except for Graham Parker, but I digress). I immediately fell in love with the OMD track, Joan Of Ark and followed their career religiously which culminated in seeing them live in the US in 1985. The venue was small since this was Syracuse, New York, a town on the forefront of absolutely nothing. It was also at an underage dance club; their target audience were teenagers who knew them from their song, “If You Leave”, a massive teenage anthem, which reached mass appeal after it was included on the soundtrack to the John Hughes film, “Pretty In Pink”. They played an amazing set of synthpop bliss. Afterwards they signed autographs and were very gracious to me as a bent over and had them sign a tour t-shirt I had just purchased. Never had a band been so accessible, and it is still a fond memory I hold to this day. Now where is that shirt?!

The Beat Track List
flock of seagulls: “i ran”
kim wilde: “kids in america”
haircut 100: “love plus one”
sparks: “i predict”
thompson twins: “in the the name of love”
graham parker: “you hit the spot”
the waitresses: “i know what boys like”
the go-go’s: “we got the beat”
bow wow wow: “i want candy”
duran duran: “girls on film”
split enz: “i got you”
depeche mode: “dreaming of me”
omd: “joan of arc”
billy idol: “hot in the city”

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