20. Gossip – Move in the Right Direction
Whether you know it or not, pop producers Xenomania have been responsible for more addictive tracks than Courtney Love’s arm. They have almost single-handedly made sure that Girls Aloud are referenced more for credibility than shagability, giving us iconic single (Biology), after iconic single (Call the Shots.)
Switching effortlessly from gossip rag fodder to indie-rockers The Gossip, Xenomania have enabled Beth Ditto to get her disco on, something which she toyed with on her solo EP. Move in The Right Direction suggests that the right direction is wherever ABBA is playing.
19. M.I.A – Bad Girls
M.I.A has struggled with the balance of being a badass Bollywood bohemian and top-of-the-pops Timbaland tart. Her first album was ground-breaking, yet alienating, while her second proved to be surprise hit, with her Clash-sampling Paper Planes assaulting the US charts. However her third album, Maya, received tepid reviews and failed to achieve airplay (because well, it was a giant wank.)
With Bad Girls, it appears M.I.A has nailed the happy medium. The Eastern influence is as undeniable in the tune as it is in the video, but the hip-hop percussion is Americanised enough to hear it in retail stores globally.
A welcome return to form.
18. A-Trak, Mark Foster & Kimbra – Warrior
Part of Converse’s consistently amazing Three Artists, One Song campaign, Warrior brings together Mark Foster (Foster The People), A-Trak (Duck Sauce) and Kimbra for an 80s synthed ménage-a-trois. Sounding like some sort of sequel to Mark Ronson’s Bang Bang Bang, Warrior might just be the finest addition to the Converse campaign yet.
Between Kimbra’s sensational debut Vows, her scene stealing spot on Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know and her career peak of Miami Horror’s I Look To You, she can barely put a foot wrong. Ditto Mark Foster, for while this pushes the envelope on Foster the People’s sound, still has his fingerprints all over it.
Belligerently appealing, the track has that kind of indie-electro feel that is heroin to hipsters.
17. Ellie Goulding – Lights
Ellie Goulding had already ridden a giant wave of success in the UK, but there was something missing from the formula to keep her from world success. Though likeable, Ellie’s reputation as being about as boring as Amish pornography meant being confined to success only in her homeland.
In saying that, her remake of Your Song was so amazing that the royal couple asked her to perform it at the wedding, when they could have easily asked the queen (by that I mean original artist Elton John.)
However it was Lights, a scorching hot synth-popera with a dark twist that led Goulding to take over the US Charts, where her song has now gone double platinum for sales of two million copies.
Ellie’s real achievement though is managing to justify dating a man with zero talent – Skrillex.
16. Ed Sheeran – Small Bump
Fifteen years ago, a video clip emerged of a foetus singing the lyrics to an accompanying song. That song, Teardrop by Massive Attack, went on to become my favourite song of all time.
When dealing with a topic as sensitive as a miscarriage, there are only two possible outcomes: contrived soppy shit or epic ballad that draws on raw emotion. The success of Small Bump stems from Ed Sheeran’s genuine lyrics that reflect on a close friend’s miscarriage, “You were just a small bump unborn for four months then torn from life. Maybe you were needed up there but we’re still unaware as why.”
After all, there’s only one thing sadder than a miscarriage and that’s a ginger pop star.