Swear I'm not Paul: 13/12/2009

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Friday, December 18, 2009

List: Top 10 Irish Songs of 2009

I originally posted this on Nialler9's blog as part of his readers' poll for the best Irish albums and songs of the year. Well here's my top 10 Irish songs of 2009, complete with videos. Enjoy!

1. The Holy Roman Army – Stagger Gently Home

What a fantastic video, created by the kids at Drumphea National School in Co. Carlow. Plus the song itself is amazing.

2. David Geraghty – Tuesday’s Feet
(No video, not even a live one online)

3. 202s – Ease My Mind

4. Duckworth Lewis Method – Jiggery Pokery

5. The Holy Roman Army – Elegy

(Recorded by 2uibestow)

6. CODES – This is Goodbye

7. David Geraghty – Watch Her Win

(also recorded by 2uibestow)

8. Super Extra Bonus Party – Comets

9. The Chapters – Videotapes

10. I am Not Lefthanded – Everybody Sleeps

Thursday, December 17, 2009

List: Best Albums of the Decade 10-1

The final part of my countdown of the top 110 albums of the decade. Do you agree with some of the choices? Or do you think they stink to the high heavens? Please let me know, one way or another. You can find 110-101 here, 100-91 here, 90-81 here, 80-71 here, 70-61 here, 60-51 here, 50-41 here, 40-31 here, 30-21 here, and 20-11 here. Finally, here's the most important piece of the puzzle:

10. Joanna Newsom - Ys (2006)
The first time I heard this album, I couldm't get enough. I thought it was the best thing ever. The most gorgeous album ever made. I've lessened the hyperbole a little since, but I still love it. A fantastic album, but not for everyone. Features excessive harp playing and shrill vocals. Be warned!

9. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America (2007)
The best bar band in America hit the big time with this album. It's a record by guys nearing forty who act like they are eighteen. Thus it appeals to the kid inside all of us. But it's the lyrics that get you to stay around. Intelligent stories that are much more than mere tales about getting wasted and going to parties. They feature excellent characters who live vividly exciting lives. We're all jealous.

8. Jason Isbell - Sirens of the Ditch (2007)
Jason Isbell's first solo album was recorded while he was still a Trucker, but it shone in so many ways. Who could argue with the blistering rock and the excellent lyrics? Take 'Dress Blues' for example. Has there been a better song written about the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq? Somehow I doubt it. Bitterly beautiful. It also helps that Jason himself is one of the best guitarists around.

7. The Strokes - Is This It (2001)
A lot was written about the Strokes when they first came on the scene. They've tried to repeat the success of this since, but neither their band albums or solo projects have matched the suckerpunch that was Is This It. Straight-up rock like this just can't be messed with.

6. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (2005)
A concept album about the American state, this was so much bigger than Stevens' first attempt, Michigan. It features the slogan "Come on Feel the Illinoise" on the cover, which just lets you know what kind of album this is going to be. Fun and egotistical, it's Stevens' masterpiece.

5. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)
Forget about the method of payment (you downloaded it illegally even though you could get it for free, didn't you?). This album was so much better than anyone could have expected. It's probably their most accessible album, and as a result it's their best work since OK Computer. Some of the songs are a little overblown, but who cares? That's the Radiohead style. We love them all the more for it.

4. Ryan Adams - Love is Hell (2003)
Ryan Adams has never got on well with labels. They didn't even want to release this album, so he gave them the decent Rock N Roll instead. But it was this combination of two EPs, the first which came out in 2003 that was the real success. His best work so far, it's a gorgeous album of mellow, poignant tunes. Some may not stand out on first listen (some not all), but when you let them seep in, you'll realise the glory. Phenomenal.

3. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells (2001)
No, it doesn't have a single like 'Seven Nation Army'. Few albums do. What this has is much better: Sixteen urgent quickfire songs, each one a standout on a marvelous album. It was hard to believe that only two people were involved in this record, and that there was no bass guitar in sight, but when you're as fine a guitar player as Jack White is, you need little else.

2. Drive-By Truckers - The Dirty South (2004)
The best album to come out of the confederacy since... well, ever. It's a tribute to southern United States, and an absolutely magnificent one at that. It's full of marvellous stories and imagery, such as the splendid 'Carl Perkins Cadillac' and 'Danko/Manuel', which are touching songs about the legendary musicians. The album sealed the Drive-By Truckers status as modern American legends, and is a stunning collection of songs. Simply amazing.

1. Mic Christopher - Skylarkin' (2001)
My gorgeous other half, Gill, asked me why I love this album so much. I couldn't give her a decent answer. I don't think there are words strong enough to describe the connection I have to this album. I can't help but be captivated by its beauty every single time I put it on. Released after Mic's tragic death in 2001, this was the finest hour of one of Ireland's greatest ever songwriters. Together with his work with the Mary Janes, Mic was carving out a career up there with Van Morrison's. Sadly, following a show in Holland in 2001, Mic had an accident, falling down a flight of stairs and hitting his head. He never regained consciousness and died a few days later. It was the biggest loss to the music world since the death of Jeff Buckley four years earlier. Skylarkin is just as good as Grace, if not better. The best album of the decade.

Download: Fight Like Apes - Live at Eurosonic

Today is MayKay's Birthday (got to love Christmas Birthdays), so Fight Like Apes have released their Live at Eurosonic via Soundcloud for free download. So we're getting a present for her birthday. Excellent.

You Are The Hat
Do You Karate?
Jake Summers
I'm Beginning To Think You Prefer Beverly Hills 90210 To Me
Lend Me Your Face
Lumpy Dough
Tie Me Up With Jackets

Full Show

More info:

List: 10 Reasons not to buy RATM this Christmas

SimplyZesty's Niall made an article yesterday about the importance of Blockbuster posts on your blog. It's posts like these that get the most hits, and thus the most feedback and comments. This is what I hope this post to be. One of those that generates a lot of feedback (in this case, I expect a lot of you to disagree with me!)

If you don't already know, there's a battle, nay, war going on. For control of the coveted position of the Christmas Number 1 in the singles charts (in both the UK and Ireland). It's been trending all week on twitter, as music fans "angry" at te state of the charts today make a stand against Simon Cowell and X Factor. I'm here to ask you to put down your weapons mouse, and to not buy Rage Against the Machine's 'Killing in the Name' this Christmas. Here's ten reasons why.

1. It's a One-Week Thing
The Christmas number 1 single is only for one week. What will knocking Joe McElderry achieve? One week of dominance for RATM, that's it. Are the people who are out there buying their single going to keep on clicking and buying it next week? Somehow, I doubt it. At which point, Joe McElderry will be guaranteed top spot in the singles chart. Are you going to keep buying RATM or NIN or whoever every week to stop crap songs getting to number one? Not a hope. It's a good idea, but it's a one-week special offer rather than a complete overhaul of the charts.

2. Can you name any other of this year's number ones?
Face it, you're not the kind of person who listens to BBC Radio 1 or 2fm each week to listen to the countdown of the week's top singles. You probably couldn't name more than ten chart toppers from this year. Sure Lady Gaga and Rihanna must have been up there, but who else? It's not like the charts are something you've cared passionately about before. So why become a vegetarian just for Christmas when all that uneaten turkey is lying around anyway?

3. You're facing a losing battle.
Rage Against the Machine may be ahead of Joe McElderry today, but the gap is closing. Physical CD copies of the winner's single have gone on sale, which are sure to sell like hotcakes. Especially tonight and on Friday when people get paid from work and give their kids the weekly pocket money. Even with all this campaigning, I can still see Joe being #1 this weekend. The bookies are just being cautious. They're going to lose money either way. So of course they're going to stop taking bets.

4. It's more money for Sony.
That's not really sticking it to the man (or in this case: machine), now is it? Both Joe McElderry and RATM are signed to Sony, so all you're doing by buying Rage is lining the pockets of Simon Cowell's peers. You may be annoying him, but a hell of a lot of other "suits" are profitting from your campaign. Come to think of it, it may have been some clever intern in Sony that came up with the idea of RATMforXmas anyway.

5. Why Rage? Why not someone else?
Rage Against the Machine are a well-established band. How about next year, instead of this, we take some unsigned or unknown act under our collective wings and try to make them number one. Zach de la Rocha needs neither the money or the attention (although he has to be enjoying Christmas a little more than usual this year). Imagine what it would mean to some act that usually plays to a crowd of 40 in local pubs. That would really show Sony and the major labels. They'd get none of the profits.

6. Actually, you're giving Simon Cowell more money.
You may think you're actually stopping Simon Cowell and his SyCo label from making money, but actually you're not. Has your campaign stopped any teen from buying Joe? No, you haven't changed their mind. They haven't had that "eureka" moment, where they sat up and said "I hate this pop nonsense, how about some hard rock instead?". If anything, these people who bought Joe anyway may well buy a second copy of the single or maybe even a third to counteract RATMforXmas. And who gains from that? Simon and Sony.

7. It could be worse...
You may not think it, but there are far worse things that could be number one at Christmas. Remember Bob the Builder a few years back? Mister Blobby? Even that Gary Jules' 'Mad World' nonsense. But even the most fervent Simon Cowell/reality TV hater has to admit that Joe's cover of Miley Cyrus's 'The Climb' is a million times better than Nizlopi's 'JCB Song'. Has there ever been a worse line than "I'm Luke, I'm five, and my Dads Bruce Lee"?

8. This kid doesn't deserve it.
Simon Cowell may deserve your hatred and your outrage, but does the young guy actually singing the song? Definitely not. He seems like a nice fella. He's just trying to make a living, trying to follow his dream of being a singer. Have you heard him? He's actually a damn good singer. Not an entertainer like Robbie, or Zach de la Rocha, but a great singer. He doesn't deserve your anger.

9. It's not allowing RatM to progress.
Instead of going out and creating new music, which admit it, you'd love, Rage Against the Machine are resting on their laurels. This song that you want to send to number one this Christmas is an old tune: seventeen years old, in fact. If you really want to buy a Rage song, it should be a new one. Anyone who already likes Rage will definitely have a copy of 'Killing in the Name' already. Why do you need another? You don't. A new song would be far more interesting. That's what they should be doing instead.

10. It's Christmas, save your money
Christmas is a tough time for a lot of people. Not Zach de la Rocha, not Tom Morello, not Brad Wilk, not even Tim Commerford. They're all wealthy due to touring and back catalogue sales. Instead of spending 50p/60c/whatever on downloading their song, give it to charity. Those people deserve your money. Zach has enough already. Try www.concern.net, www.trocaire.org, www.oxfam.org, or perhaps even www.bothar.ie

Give your money to someone who deserves it this Christmas. Not Cowell, not de la Rocha.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Live: 2UIBestow Christmas Party

Never mind that shoddy work Christmas Party, the real parties are ones with live bands. Luckily enough, the 2UIBestow Christmas Party features three such artists.

There's Alphastates, Junah and Declan De Barra. All worthy of your attention. What's better is the fact that it's free in.

It's on this Friday at 9 p.m. in Boyle's in Slane and is sure to be jampacked. A great night will be had by all.

More info:

List: Best Albums of the Decade 20-11

The penultimate part of my countdown of the top 110 albums of the decade. You can find 110-101 here, 100-91 here, 90-81 here, 80-71 here, 70-61 here, 60-51 here, 50-41 here, 40-31 here, and 30-21 here. Now, here's 20-11...

20. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - Cold Roses (2005)
The first of Ryan Adams' albums in 2005, and also his first with backing band the Cardinals. Sadly today, Chris Feinstein, bassist with the Cardinals died. Chris wasn't involved with this album, but became a Cardinal later after Catherine Popper left the band. This is a double album with a fantastic first side. The first two songs are over five minutes each but never drag on. It's Adams' lengthiest album, but it's also the best of the 2005 trilogy.

19. Damien Rice - O (2002)
The best Irish debut this decade, Damien Rice will never make another like it. Rice's Juniper work was much more raw and aggressive, but here he paired up with Lisa Hannigan to make gorgeous slow moving songs. It's a long swoonsome listen, but every song is a classic. It's not just about the singles, but other songs such as 'Amie' and 'Cold Water' are beautiful too. Vyvienne Long's cello throughout is amazing.

18. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit (2009)
His second solo album since leaving the Drive-By Truckers, Isbell also gave his backing band lead billing. The 400 Unit are a stellar band and add a lot to his fantastic Americana. Isbell is fantastic solo, but the rest of these guys add an extra, louder dimension to his fantastic lyrics. One of the finest songwriters of our generation.

17. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins (2008)
I wrote this blurb for a forum I frequent as part of their best albums of 2008 list. It was my favourite album of the year due to its brilliant melodies and fantastic lyrics. But rather than talk about that, just enjoy this: http://swearimnotpaul.blogspot.com/2009/12/blurb-okkervil-river-stand-ins.html

16. Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog (2007)
Sam Beam's best work so far, it was the album Bon Iver fans should've been listening to instead. (I've said that a few times now.) It has some beautiful love songs, and some outrageously gorgeous ballads.

15. Bell x1 - Music in Mouth (2003)
Bell x1's second album outdid their debut in every way. The lyrics became much more outrageous. I mean who could forget a line like "No you're not Maud Gonne" or the brilliant wordplay of 'Snakes and Snakes' and 'Alphabet Soup'. It's so much more than 'Eve, the Apple of My Eye' (originally a Juniper song 'Never' anyhow, like 'Tongue').

14. Drive-By Truckers - Decoration Day (2003)
Named after Memorial Day in the US, the Drive-By Truckers' fourth album is another tribute to southern America. It was the first album with Jason Isbell on board, which brought a fantastic new dimension to the band. His songwriting here is flawless: check out the fatherly advice of 'Outfit', but his involvement allowed Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley to reach new levels also.

13. Whiskeytown - Pneumonia (2001)
The swansong of Whiskeytown, this was released after the band had broken up. Like Fleetwood Mac's Rumours without the marital strife, it's an essential band breakup album. Some people may argue that their earlier work was better (although none of it is from this decade), but for me, this is the essential Whiskeytown album. It starts off brilliantly with 'The Ballad of Carol Lynn' and 'Don't Wanna Know Why', but it reaches its highpoint midway through with the phenomenal one-two punch of 'Under Your Breath' and 'Mirror Mirror'.

12. Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (2005)
Conor Oberst's Bright Eyes released two albums simultaenously in 2005. One was an out-there electronic album, and the other was a stripped-back acoustic led record. The softer, more mellow one was the better. By a comfortable margin. Skip the random monologue at the start, that's just Oberst being pretentious. The rest of the record never exceeds itself. It's Oberst at his most reflective, where he just makes music without ego.

11. Ryan Adams - Gold (2001)
It's impossible to forget that video for 'New York, New York', filmed in front of the World Trade Center on 7th September 2001. The song became an obituary to the city as well as a gorgeous tribute (up there with Bruce Springsteen's The Rising). Aside from that, there was so much to savour. Even the shortest track, 'Gonna Make You Love Me' is a winner. But it's 'When the Stars Go Blue' that'll keep Adams' pockets lined. has he ever written a better song?

The Countdown continues tomorrow...

Blurb: Okkervil River - The Stand Ins

My 17th Best Album of the Decade. Here's why.

Just print out and play...

Download: David Geraghty - Thank God It's Christmas

David Geraghty's Victory Dance was my favourite Irish album of 2009, filled with gorgeous melodies. As a special thanks to all his fans who bought the record, he has covered Queen's 'Thank God It's Christmas'. It's a fantastic cover, which I recommend you download!

David Geraghty - 'Thank God It's Christmas'

Album News: Sam Amidon - I See the Sign

Some artists start off good and then hit a rough patch, however Sam Amidon is the exception to most rules, he gets better and better with each album. I See the Sign will be his fourth album, and comes out on March 1st, 2010. It's an album of traditional folkie tunes, and even includes a duet with Neko Case. Nice! You can also sample an mp3 of the opener 'How Come that Blood' below.

01 How Come That Blood
02 Way Go Lily
03 You Better Mind
04 I See the Sign
05 Johanna the Row-di
06 Pretty Fair Damsel
07 Kedron
08 Rain and Snow
09 Climbing High Mountains
10 Relief
11 Red

Sam Amidon - 'How Come that Blood'

Setlist: The Swell Season, Vicar Street, 15 December 2009

Thanks to Peter over at 2uibestow for the setlist, he'll have a full review of the gig up tomorrow. (He loved it!) The show was a mixture of Glen solo, Glen & Marketa, The Swell Season, and the Frames (Peter also has those exact details, if you're dying to know).

Fallen From The Sky
Low Rising
Feeling The Pull
In These Arms
The Rain
The Moon
If You Want Me
Fantasy Man
Say It To Me Now
Paper Cup
Astral Weeks
When Your Mind's Made Up
Falling Slowly
High Horses
Star Star - O Holy Night - Christmastime in the Mountains
The Stars Are Underground
God Bless Mom
Lay Me Down
The Parting Glass

No videos yet, but here's Glen covering Will Oldham's 'New Partner' from a few years back:

Live: Brendan Benson at the Button Factory

I haven't seen too much about this gig online since it was announced at the end of last week, so I thought I'd help spread the world.

Pop-maestro Brendan Benson will be coming to Dublin to play the Button Factory on March 2nd. Tickets will cost €17 and go on sale this Friday, the 18th of December.

Watch 'Metarie', one of his best:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

List: Best Albums of the Decade 30-21

Part Nine of my countdown of the top 110 albums of the decade. You can find 110-101 here, 100-91 here, 90-81 here, 80-71 here, 70-61 here, 60-51 here, 50-41 here, and 40-31 here. But for now, here's 30-21...

30. Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat (2006)
We always knew former childstar Jenny Lewis had a certain sparkle, but it wasn't until her solo debut (away from Rilo Kiley) that she really shone. Together with the statuesque Watson Twins, she soothed us with this collection of 11 (technically 12) beautiful songs. The finest part was their cover of the Traveling Wilburys' 'Handle With Care', which actually outdid the stellar original.

29. PJ Harvey - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000)
The best work of Harvey's career, Stories from the City... is a strangely dark but uplifting album. Not a description you hear everyday, it's an urbane record but filled with a vivid nightlife feel. Thom Yorke appears as a guest, but never overshines the artist herself. How could anyone improve on 'The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore'? I doubt it's possible.

28. Kanye West - The College Dropout (2004)
Kanye West's debut was the best thing to happen to hip-hop since the arrival of Jay-Z on the scene. It featured a massive amount of guests (none of which were major stars at the time, but are now), but it was West's fantastic rhymes which made this record. West was injured in a car crash during pre-production, and felt this album was his second chance at life. His ego has overtaken since, but with songs like 'All Falls Down' and 'Jesus Walks', isn't he entitled to be proud?

27. Johnny Cash - American III: Solitary Man (2000)
It doesn't get the same attention as the fourth - there's no 'Hurt' on here - but overall it is a marvellous collection of songs. He reinvents the title track, originally by Neil Diamond, as well as Tom Petty's 'I Won't Back Down', but the highlight has to be his take on Will Oldham's 'I See a Darkness'. Cash's finest hour.

26. The Libertines - The Libertines (2004)
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat's second album (strangely the self-titled one is the second, not the first) raised the bar even higher after their splendid debut. Sadly it was their last album together, and neither have matched the dizzy heights of the Libertines since. It was the songs the pair wrote together that really shone: 'What Became of the Likely Lads', 'Can't Stand Me Now', 'Road to Ruin', and 'The Man Who Would Be King'. The Doherty penned ones were good, but Barat added an extra dimension which is much needed now.

25. The Postal Service - Give Up (2003)
Ben Gibbard's other project was much better than his main career. They've only made one album so far, but what an album it was. Created via Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello sending each other songs for the other to finish through the mail system, they came together under the obvious title of The Postal Service. But a backstory does not an album make, and it's thanks to songs like 'Such Great Heights' and the gorgeous 'Clark Gable' that this makes the list.

24. Seth Lakeman - Kitty Jay (2004)
For me, this album arrived out of nowhere. I hadn't heard Lakeman's debut Punch Bowl or his work with Equation, but when I read that a folk album had made the Mercury shortlist after its creator had paid the entry fee, I knew I had to listen. Nothing prepared me for how gorgeous it turned out to be. Filled with Dartmoor legends, here was an album that had imagery as good as any Neil Gaiman short story, and combined it with fantastic fiddle and tenor guitar playing. Fantastic.

23. Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker (2000)
The debut of the Whiskeytown frontman announced the arrival of the decade's best alt.country brat. He's been known for his tantrums ever since, but this album was a lesson in break-up albums. A bitter heartbreak record, it's filled with gorgeous tunes and some of Adams' best singing, it's a smoke-filled masterpiece.

22. Justin Timberlake - Justified (2002)
I should fell guilty ranking a former boyband member's album ahead of Ryan Adams' debut, but I don't. This album is a gorgeous danceable pop record. Immaculately produced, it features some of the finest dance-floor fillers ever. You just can't argue with 'Senorita', 'Like I Love You', or 'Rock Your Body'. Then there was the brilliant 'Cry Me A River'. The new Michael Jackson had arrived.

21. The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan (2005)
The fifth White Stripes album was yet another departure from their ouevre. Acoustic guitar and piano replaced electric guitar at the centre and gave it a less aggressive, softer feel. It was also quite funny, have a listen to the hilarious 'My Doorbell' if you don't believe me. Singles 'Blue Orchid' and 'The Denial Twist' were as good as anything they've done, but 'Take, Take, Take' was the album's glorious highpoint. Fantastic

The Countdown continues tomorrow...

Live: Laura Marling at the Academy

UK folkie Laura Marling is to return to Dublin to play the Academy on April 10th, 2010. She last played here in 2008, when she put on a fantastic show in Whelan's (one of my highlights of the year) with Marcus Mumford supporting. Somehow I doubt he'll be supporting her next time around. She'll be here promoting her upcoming second album (expect it March-ish), and I urge you not to miss it.

Tickets go on sale this Friday (fantastic film blogger Niall's birthday), the 18th at 9 a.m. and cost €18.50. Bargain!

Watch her new single (which sadly won't be number one this weekend) 'Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)':

Download: Drive-By Truckers - two live songs from The Big To Do

You've probably read the tracklist for the new Drive-By Truckers album The Big To Do, what you may not know is that they have already played some of these new songs live. On the 29th of August 2009, they played two new tunes at the Visulite Theatre in Charlotte on their two-night stand there. The first 'Get Downtown' is a Mike Cooley penned song, and is track 8 on the new album. The second, 'I Told You So', or '(It's Gotta Be) I Told You So' is one of the songs bassist Shonna Tucker takes the lead vocal on, and is track 10. You can get them both here as mp3s, or else go over and get the entire bootleg in a zip file as mp3, flac, or ogg, whichever you wish!

The Drive-By Truckers - 'Get Downtown'
The Drive-By Truckers - '(It's Gotta Be) I Told You So'

Full Show

Single Review: Joe McElderry - The Climb

Joe McElderry - The Climb

Rage Against the Machine for Christmas number one? The early week indications aren't looking so bad, you know? They're ahead in a few places (Amazon, iTunes all due to mp3 downloads), but when the physical CD from the X Factor winner is released on Wednesday, it'll be a very different story. Expect them to fly off the shelves to be buried deep in stockings on Friday week.

'Killing in the Name Of' won't be number one, nor will the Muppets covering 'Bohemian Rhapsody', so I thought I'd take some time to have a look at, and a listen to what will be the Christmas Number 1 for 2009.

Some people have said "who cares about the Christmas number 1 anyway?" Obviously a lot of people do, as evidenced by the facebook RATM campaign, and the fact that Joe McElderry will go on to sell nearly a million copies of his debut single, 'The Climb'.

I listed the original version of the song as one of my top pop songs of the decade, and rightly so. It's not a song aimed at those of you who love the anti-war lyrics of Rage and the growl of Zach De La Rocha, it's aimed at tweens, teens, and mums. If you like Westlife, you probably love Joe McElderry, the cutie-pie dimpled teen who won this year's X Factor with almost two-thirds of the final vote. Sunday's final had ten million votes or so, which means almost seven million of those were for GeordieJoe [sic]. Say half of them rang in twice for him, bringing that number down to somewhere nearer five million (before you correct my maths here, by half I mean 50% + (50%/2) = 75%, which I then rounded down, just in case they voted a third time). If one in five of those then buys the single, it's a definite number one. Any week of the year. The phonecall itself cost 80p, and the single £1, so I'm being very conservative. Forget about Rage Against the Machine, Joe McElderry will be number one. Definitely.

But is the song any good? Sort of. It's probably better than runner-up Olly didn't win and have to sing it, it's not his kind of tune (he'll be dancing up the charts next year, mark my words). Joe's version is everything you'd expect it to be. As clean and toothpaste. Joe is a return to the non-threatening High School Musical ideals rather than 2008/9's weird Twilight phenomenon with its sexual undercurrents.

Joe, whose sexuality has been of much interest to the internet (and gossip magazines), is almost asexual. He's non predatory, the kind of guy your grandmother would like. A total softie. Don't get me wrong, he seems like a nice guy, really humble and grateful, but his imminent Christmas number one suffers because of this: it's decidely middle of the road. Even when the choir kicks in at the end.

I never thought I'd be saying this, but Miley Cyrus's version is better. Much better, a million times better. Her voice isn't as polished and smooth as Joe's (who is always note perfect, check out his performance after the results where he came back perfectly despite being interrupted by the awful Rachel Adedeji). Miley has a gruff, raw edge to her voice which really brings something to the song - about a difficult journey - something you can believe she has had. Joe's most difficult journey on the other hand was probably down to the shop and back in his hometown of South Shields.

Judge Dannii Minogue said about his performance on the night "It was a beautiful performance and it was effortless. it was beautiful. Something happens when you hit those top notes... I get tingles." For once, Dannii is totally right, she didn't realise it, but she's right. One word: "Effortless". That's what the song lacks. Urgency. It's a great song, fantastically written, but Joe's take on it is just too easy. It's like being massaged into submission. But then again, that's what a lot of people want. A young sexless crooner for the masses? If he doesn't find some edge with his next few songs, and with his album, that's what he'll be. The adoptive child of Daniel O'Donnell and Cliff Richard.

Watch Joe McElderry singing 'The Climb' on Sunday's results show:

Album News: David Byrne and Fatboy Slim - Here Lies Love

No sign of a Talking Heads reunion, but David Byrne is keeping busy nonetheless. His collaboration with Brian Eno last year was fantastic, and next year he's teaming up with Fatboy Slim and a whole host of guest stars for a concept album about Imelda Marcos and Estrella Cumpas, the woman who raised her.

The double album is due on February 23rd, 2010, and is called Here Lies Love. Looking at the tracklist, I wonder does Steve Earle feel a bit out of place. Maybe Byrne actually wanted Stevie Nicks?

Track List:

CD 1
1. HERE LIES LOVE Vocal by Florence Welch (Florence + The Machine)
2. EVERY DROP OF RAIN Vocals by Candie Payne & St. Vincent
3. YOU’LL BE TAKEN CARE OF Vocal by Tori Amos
4. THE ROSE OF TACLOBAN Vocal by Martha Wainwright
5. HOW ARE YOU? Vocal by Nellie McKay
6. A PERFECT HAND Vocal by Steve Earle
7. ELEVEN DAYS Vocal by Cyndi Lauper
8. WHEN SHE PASSED BY Vocal by Allison Moorer
9. WALK LIKE A WOMAN Vocal by Charmaine Clamor
10. DON’T YOU AGREE? Vocal by Róisín Murphy
11. PRETTY FACE Vocal by Camille
12. LADIES IN BLUE Vocal by Theresa Andersson

CD 2
1. DANCING TOGETHER Vocal by Sharon Jones
2. MEN WILL DO ANYTHING Vocal by Alice Russell
3. THE WHOLE MAN Vocal by Kate Pierson
4. NEVER SO BIG Vocal by Sia
5. PLEASE DON’T Vocal by Santigold
6. AMERICAN TROGLODYTE Vocal by David Byrne
7. SOLANO AVENUE Vocal by Nicole Atkins
8. ORDER 1081 Vocal by Natalie Merchant
9. SEVEN YEARS Vocals by David Byrne & Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond)
10. WHY DON'T YOU LOVE ME? Vocals by Cyndi Lauper & Tori Amos

Monday, December 14, 2009

List: Best Albums of the Decade 40-31

I don't know if you're as excited as I am! Part Eight of my countdown of the top 110 albums of the decade. You can find 110-101 here, 100-91 here, 90-81 here, 80-71 here, 70-61 here, 60-51 here, and 50-41 here. But for now, here's 40-31...

40. Sigur Rós - Takk... (2005)
I said it before - Sigur Rós won't match Agaetis Bryjun, well they didn't in the 00s anyway. But they did craft a magnificent selection of songs with Takk.... 'Hoppipolla' (translated: "hopping into puddles") is the best, a glorious uprising of a tune, that has been used to soundtrack hope in a lot of tv shows. No wonder tis album is called 'Thanks'.

39. Neil Diamond - 12 Songs (2005)
Not to be confused with the Randy Newman album of the same name, this return to form for Neil Diamond was as fun as Newman's best work. And with the helming of Rick Rubin, it was dark and gorgeous like Johnny Cash's American Recordings series. All the songs were penned by Diamond, there was no covers, and it showed how great a songwriter he is, and always was. The special edition duet with Brian Wilson, 'Delirious Love' was gorgeous too.

38. The Decemberists - Picaresque (2005)
The best work of Colin Meloy's super-twee outfit the Decemberists, Picaresque is a fascinating and enchanting record. From the opener, 'The Infanta' through 'Sixteen Military Wives' to the clever 'Of Angels and Angles', it's a bright shining album filled with fantastic melodies.

37. Alcest - Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde (2007)
Originally a black metal band, this was a huge departure from Alcest's previous work. They took all they learned from their aggressive EPs and toned it down into this gorgeous album. It's like the dirtiest soundtrack you've ever heard, but is irresistable in every way.

36. Gillian Welch - Time (The Revelator) (2001)
Gillian Welch's third album is one of the best alt.country albums ever. It gets better and better with every listen. It's nigh on impossible to turn away from the charm of Welch's voice and the intricate guitar work of David Rawlings. Imagine if Ryan Adams had been female. This is what he'd be writing. Wonderful.

35. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
This decade, was there a better nonsense lyric than "Her name is Yoshimi..."? If so, I can't recall it. This was Wayne Coyne's breakout album, and is also his best work. Forget about the aural nonsense of Zaireeka, this was what the Flaming Lips were destined to do. The most pyschadelic experience of the 00s, and a damn good album too.

34. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006)
What a debut. An overnight success, the Arctic Monkeys arrived with fantastically rocking singles. The riffs were addictive and the lyrics witty. All together, it was brilliant. Who hasn't bounded and jumped around to 'I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor'? Go on, admit it. You have, and you will again too.

33. Yeah Yeah Yeas - Fever to Tell (2003)
"They don't love you like I love you." It's true, Karen O. Not enough people love you. Well not on this side of the Atlantic anyway. It's a shame that Kate Nash and the like get airplay, but you'll never hear the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. A major injustice. I mean, you just can't argue with songs like 'Y Control' and 'Maps'.

32. Fight Like Apes - And the Mystery of the Golden Medallion (2008)
The best Irish debut of the decade, it heralded in a new age in Irish pop-rock. The music is glamourous and sexy, but packs a fierce punch. Clever and wry, it's the most fun anyone had in 2008. And when they quit the swearing, they got on the radio. 'Jake Summers' is one of the best singles this decade, and it's not even the best thing on here.

31. Kate Bush - Aerial (2005)
Double albums are tricky things. There's always one side that gets favoured over the other. But sometimes, like on here, that can be a good thing. The two discs are hugely different, allowing you to choose which ever one suits your particular mood. The first is a random collection of Bush oddities, and the second is a concept album centred around a birdsong suite. They are both amazing, and who else could get away with a song about a washing machine, or one which recited the numbers of Pi?

The Countdown continues tomorrow...