Although iTunes was far and away the biggest online retailer in Australia in 2010, other MP3 stores like BigPond Music and Bandit.fm were giving it their best shot at stealing market share. I recall receiving ridiculously generous offers in 2010 to sign up to both services - and who was I to say no to cheap music?
|Wait long enough and everyone reforms... as Take That proved in 2010|
Ultimately, iTunes was unassailable and I've just noticed that BigPond Music is going to close down in December this year. It would take another couple of years and an entirely new music proposition altogether - streaming services - for iTunes' stranglehold on music consumption to be seriously challenged. Speaking of music consumption, let's pick up with my top 50 track for 2010...
Number 50 "Just The Way You Are" by Bruno Mars
Number 49 "History" by Groove Armada featuring Will Young
A decade earlier, along with The Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx, Groove Armada had been one of the big names in British dance music, but following their 2007 collaboration with Mutya Buena (coincidence?) the hits had dried up for Andy Cato and Tom Findlay. Not even the presence of Will Young on this fourth and final single from 2010's Black Light album could turn things around - despite it being one of their best songs.
Number 48 "Through The Night" by Grum
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 47 "Starry Eyed" by Ellie Goulding
Following in the footsteps of Adele, Ellie Goulding's burgeoning career received an almighty boost when she won both the BBC's Sound Of... poll and the Critics' Choice BRIT Award in early 2010. By year's end, she'd placed two singles in the UK top 5, including this second cut from her debut album, Lights.
Number 46 "The Flood" by Take That
A reunion 15 years in the making, "The Flood" was the first single to feature all five members of Take That since "Never Forget", with Robbie Williams returning to the boy band that'd made him a star following a cease-fire between him and Gary Barlow. The ground was laid in the 2006 documentary, Take That For The Record, which saw the reunion of the other former members of the group and a video message to them from Robbie delving into past frictions. Four years on, with the reformed Take That bigger than ever, Robbie and Gary finally buried the hatchet - and recorded a duet, "Shame", for Robbie's In And Out Of Consciousness retrospective that was released two weeks before "The Flood". Naturally, the two singles flew to almost the top of the UK chart, both reaching number 2 - with "The Flood" being the most commercial single from the experimental (for Take That) and aptly named album, Progress.
Number 45 "We Rule The World" by Dragonette
Not chosen as a single from Fixin' To Thrill, this was one of my favourite album tracks from the Canadian synthpop band, who were solidifying their position as one of my favourite acts of the late '00s/early '10s.
Number 44 "Promise This" by Cheryl Cole
While there was still no sign of another Girls Aloud album, Cheryl Cole quickly followed up her debut album, 3 Words, with a second offering, Messy Little Raindrops, from which "Promise This" was lifted as the lead single. Unlike 3 Words - which featured three hit singles and album track "Stand Up" (number 58 on this list) - Messy Little Raindrops only yielded this one major hit (her second UK chart-topper), with second single "The Flood" landing at a miserable number 18 in the UK.
Number 43 "Umbrella Beach" by Owl City
Although it appears here on my year-end chart for 2010, "Umbrella Beach" isn't the song that prevented Owl City's Adam Young from being a one-hit wonder. That status would stand until 2012, with this final single from Ocean Eyes one of several singles between "Fireflies" and Carly Rae Jepsen duet "Good Time" to bomb on international charts. I liked it, though.
Number 42 "Grenade" by Bruno Mars
Just when it seemed like musicians had lost the ability to write a song with an old-fashioned sing-along melody, along came Bruno Mars with singles like "Just The Way You Are" (number 50 on this list) and "Grenade" to prove that was still a market for well-crafted tunes and not just club tracks. That said, the Hawaiian singer who burst out of nowhere to become one of the year's biggest new acts was just as adept at penning a killer hook for a hip-hop track, with his contributions to B.o.B's "Nothin' On You" and Travie McCoy's "Billionaire" two of 2010's most memorable collaborations.
Number 41 "Alive" by Goldfrapp
Number 40 "Bittersweet" by Sophie Ellis-Bextor
After she guested on their 2009 single "Heartbreak Make Me A Dancer", production duo Freemasons returned the favour and co-wrote and co-produced this pop gem for Sophie Ellis-Bextor, the third single from her fourth album, Make A Scene. Not a very sizable hit, "Bittersweet" was yet another overlooked single Sophie released at this point in her career.
Number 39 "Rocket" by Goldfrapp
I knew I was going to love Goldfrapp's Head First album before I'd even heard a single second of it. The fact that it was set to take the electronic sound of their Supernature album in an even poppier direction was music to my ears, as was the fact that '80s releases from Pat Benatar and Van Halen were name-checked as influences. The results lived up to my expectations, especially the singles "Rocket", "Alive" (number 41 on this list) and "Believer" (number 102), and album track "I Wanna Life" (number 71).
Number 38 "Lights Down Low" by Kim Wilde
Four years after her return to recording music, Kim Wilde released another new album... in Europe. Newly signed to Sony Germany, the British singer unleashed Come Out And Play, her 11th studio album and her first since 1995's Now And Forever with a completely original tracklisting. Lead single "Lights Down Low" sounded like classic Kim - a punchy dose of power pop that wouldn't have been out of place on one of her early '80s albums but still sounded fresh enough for 2010.
Number 37 "Always Up With You" by Alphabeat
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 36 "Poison" by Nicole Scherzinger
Her first attempt at a solo career away from Pussycat Dolls had been a disaster, so it was back to the drawing board for Nicole Scherzinger's second try. Instead of the lightweight R&B of songs like 2007's "Baby Love", Nicole took a leaf out of Lady Gaga's book and worked with producer RedOne on this furious blast of pop/dance. While America remained immune to Nicole's charms, Europe took the bait, with "Poison" hitting the UK top 3.
Number 35 "I Am Your Skin" by The Bravery
So far had The Bravery fallen off the radar that it wasn't until I heard this track on an episode of spy comedy Chuck that I knew the American band even had a new album out. "I Am Your Skin" was taken from Stir The Blood, the band's darker third album, which brought an end to their short-lived recording career.
Number 34 "Way Back Home" by Bag Raiders
The Australian dance act behind 2009's "Shooting Stars" released their debut self-titled album in 2010, as well as this under-rated single, which once again missed the ARIA top 50. On the upside, the album managed to peak at number 7.
Number 33 "Higher" by Taio Cruz featuring Kylie Minogue
Why release one version of a song when you can release several? Originally included on the first revision of Taio's Rokstarr album as a solo recording in mid-2010, the song was re-recorded as a duet with Kylie Minogue and released towards the end of the year as a single - but only in some countries. In the States, a version featuring a rap by Travie McCoy was issued instead, while a version featuring both Kylie and Travie also did the rounds.
"Higher" was apparently considered by Kylie for her own Aphrodite album, which was released in 2010 and featured the singles "All The Lovers" (number 88 on this list), "Get Outta My Way" (number 9) and "Better Than Today" (number 95).
Number 32 "All Night Long" by Alexandra Burke featuring Pitbull
Number 31 "Dancing On My Own" by Robyn
Mentioned in Part 4
Number 30 "On And On" by Agnes
Now that Swedish star Agnes Carlsson had one international hit under her belt ("Release Me", which we saw in my top 100 for 2009), her UK record company tried to turn her previous single "On And On" (originally the first release from the Dance Love Pop album) into a success. But, neither that nor "Love Love Love" (number 67 on this list) made much impact outside continental Europe.
Number 29 "DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love" by Usher featuring Pitbull
Besides the mega-hit "OMG", Usher's Raymond V Raymond album had been a bit of a disappointment when it came to delivering hit singles - just as his previous album, Here I Stand, had. So, Usher called on the services of super-producers Max Martin and Shellback for this pop anthem and, with the obligatory input from Pitbull, it restored him to the upper reaches of global charts. Included on a revised version of the album, "DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love" and the RedOne Jimmy Joker remix of "More" (number 77 on this list) established that it was bangers and not ballads that worked best for Usher at this point in his career.
Number 28 "Broken Heels" by Alexandra Burke
Speaking of RedOne (and it was seemingly mandatory for artists performing a song produced by him to actually utter his name in the track as well), the man behind Lady Gaga's biggest hits was behind this single by the winner of the UK version of The X Factor, who also called in the big guns (i.e. Pitbull) on the follow-up, "All Night Long" (number 32 on this list). Both singles were taken from Alexandra's debut album, Overcome, which also featured the odd big ballad - like the title track (number 63).
Number 27 "Dance In The Dark" by Lady Gaga
Here's Lady Gaga herself - with one of the tracks included on The Fame Monster that actually wasn't produced by RedOne. Not an official single, it received enough radio play in Australia to peak at number 24 on the singles chart, but then, at this point in her career, Lady Gaga could probably have sneezed and released that as a single and it would've flown up the chart.
Number 26 "Love Part II" by Bright Light Bright Light
Like Owl City, Bright Light Bright Light is a one-man synthpop operation - Welshman Rod Thomas, who took his stage name from the line uttered by Gizmo in Gremlins. Debut single "Love Part II" was a promising start, but it would take until 2013 and "An Open Heart" from the In Your Care EP for Rod to make another appearance in my year-end top 100.
In Part 4: three acts that dominated 2010 for me - two synthpop bands and a Swedish songstress who had everyone dancing. Plus, the last hurrah for one of my favourite bands of all time.
MY YEAR-END CHARTS