Jark's 2020 in Music (soon-to-be-completed EOY countdown)

Discussion in 'Pop' started by Jark, Dec 6, 2020.

  1. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    02. Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia



    you want a timeless song
    , sings Dua Lipa on the opening line of Future Nostalgia, I wanna change the game. at the end of a 2020 which feels like it lasted about 36 months, it's almost surreal to think that this time last year, Dua was only on the cusp of being a megastar. it's hard to think of another popstar who has played her cards so right in recent years. in March, faced with a decision to make about whether to release an album that might be impossible to promote for several months, she and label Warner decided to bring it forward a week and hope for the best. that might be the best decision of her career—she probably didn't know it, but the public's appetite for dance music during a shitty summer spent stuck at home was strong, and she was the first to feed it.

    none of this would have mattered if Future Nostalgia was average, or shit, or if Don't Start Now was a freak mutation. but what might've been a good call revealed itself to be a great one when we actually heard the album. at just 11 tracks and 37 minutes long, it's short and sweet. and 2 of those tracks, in a freak display of bad taste, are also utterly unusable, rendering this is in effect a 30 minute pop record. and you will not hear a more thrilling 30 minutes of pop music... perhaps ever. across 9 sparkling, thoroughly relentless dance-pop tracks—each written and produced to the very highest possible standard, delivered with vocal gusto and imbued with such insane replay value that they sound fresher 9 months and 150 plays later than they did on day one—Dua shimmies on the dancefloor and commands you to move with her.

    this is pop from a student of the genre. Dua's references, ranging from the '90s funk of Jamiroquai to the '00s glitz of Fever-era Kylie, by way of Donna Summer and Gwen Stefani, are impeccable proof of her love for the game. they speak to somebody who has loved and studied the Kylies, the Madonnas and the other pop queens in the way that we have, and then decided to get up there and do it herself. it's almost whiplash-inducing to witness the glow-up from the awkward breakout star, just turned 21, who "danced energetically.gif" in New Rules, to the confident young woman who commanded the stage at the 2019 EMAs, busting out some seriously HOT CHOREO to Don't Start Now in a perf of life that snapped my neck and rudely snatched the weave from my head.



    isn't this what pop music is all about? that rush of seeing it done so well, so right, that in your own, slightly hyperbolic way, you feel like you're literally watching history being written?

    that's how Future Nostalgia feels to me. it feels like reliving Kylie's Fever era, years after having made peace with the fact that there'd never be anything else like it. for that, I'm beyond grateful to Dua. and for crafting a series of bangers which have not just met the moment but utterly transcended it, sometimes achieving the miracle of making 2020 feel like a joyous time to be alive, I feel it's not too soon to say that an icon has been born. if nothing else, this era will go down as a major classic. in 5 years, I can confidently say that the giddy euphoria of Hallucinate will not have become passé. Pretty Please will still have me singing along to the amazing bit where the post-chorus layers itself over the original chorus in a breathless call-and-response that's totally outrageous, as though it were the greatest thing ever happen to mankind. and Levitating willl still be carrying me to a higher consciousness.

    one day far in the future, I'll look back on this record and this period in time with nostalgia, and think how cool it was that she actually changed the game.
    :disco:

    best singles—Physical, Don't Start Now
    maxest tracks—Love Again, Levitating, Hallucinate, Pretty Please, Break My Heart
    hottest remixes—Levitating (KUU), Hallucinate (Tensnake), That Kind of Woman (Jacques Lu Cont)
    further goodies—Don't Start Now (Live in LA), Fever ft. Angèle

    joanne score93
     
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  2. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    [​IMG]


    20. Troye Sivan - Easy
    in a different and better world, this second single from Troye's In a Dream EP might have become his signature song. it's a big, warm hug of a melancholy dance-pop number that sounds like somebody wrapping their arms around you and telling you it's all gonna be OK, somehow, maybe. a tasteful sprinkling of vocoder adds just a touch of desperation when Troye sings please don't love me on the outro. and who would ever want to?


    19. Tei Shi - Die 4 Ur Love
    equal parts grimy and sparkly, this midtempo banger from the immensely talented Tei Shi finds the Colombian-Canadian chanteuse exploring a sound that's more pop than her first two albums. needless to say, she makes the transition with aplomb. each section of Die 4 Ur Love is 100% hooks and pure charisma, all tied together with a propulsive sense of forward motion that's difficult to resist. when she sings I'm broken in two, apocalypse, she may be referring to the seismic collapse of a relationship—but if this song were to soundtrack humanity's final minutes on Earth, I don't think I'd be one bit made about it.


    18. Jessy Lanza - Anyone Around
    Jessy Lanza was another of my big discoveries of the year—her album All The Time is basically one long love letter to '90s Janet, through a lens of '10s alt-pop, all dreamy atmospherics and chopped n' spliced vocals. Anyone Around clocks in at just 2:49, which I would normally hate, but in those 169 seconds this track achieves everything it needs to—entering the room, pulling you under its spell, and then elegantly gliding away as if carried forward on a cloud to some other room where it will seduce some other unsuspecting soul. summer is long gone, but I'm still sipping on this delightful tonic.


    17. Foxes - Friends in the Corner
    the return of Foxes this year, after forever away doing god whats know what, probably should have felt like a bigger moment than it did. everything about this drip-drop singles campaign has felt borderline apologetic, which is a shame because some of the tracks, like this one, are right up there with the best music of her career. Friends in the Corner, with its explosive, stadium-singalong chorus, is drenched in melancholy—the lyrics tell the story of a friend who committed suicide. looking back on their youth, she reminisces: we were younger then, we were half the age / we could see it all through a careless lens. but, ultimately, those memories will always be tainted by sadness. this is beautiful stuff.


    16. Róisín Murphy - Murphy's Law
    Roisin came to stake her claim as disco's most left-field champion in 2020, and it felt in many ways like a victory lap, a return to the accessible, still slightly quirky electronica that won her such a loyal fanbase with Moloko in the 90s and then solo in the 00s. Murphy's Law is a slinky, sexy track which throbs along on such a breezy, feel-good groove that when it ends after four minutes, you feel slightly robbed. like, is that it? we want more! but Ro is good to us—the album versions an extra 2 minutes for vibing purposes.
     
  3. Beryl

    Beryl Boy stop, step awaaaaay.

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    I listened to your top 60 on my drive back this afternoon. I had already heard a fair few but there were some excellent additions and it’s made me go and have a listen to the Dagny album this evening, so good job!
    Looking forward to the rest of the top 20.
     
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  4. Iguana

    Iguana How much longer til you completely absolve me?

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    @Jark The Herald Angels Sing I've started listening to the Tame Impala album inspired by your album ranking (I've never listened to him before) and OMG this is so good!!
     
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  5. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    oh darling that's so exciting. he's such a great artist. it's a real slow burn record. I still discover new details every time I listen. if you're listening on Spotify I recommend looking at the little stories for each song, it's super interesting.

    you should check out 'Cause I'm A Man after, from the previous album, it's his best song :angel:
     
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  6. Iguana

    Iguana How much longer til you completely absolve me?

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    Ooh ok, l'll look at the Spotify stories next listen. I love albums where you discover new things on every listen! Thanks beb
     
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  7. OutSynk

    OutSynk Born to dare

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    Ok but what about the Parade of Planets album.
     
  8. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    the what now

    RECOMMEND A SONG
     
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  9. OutSynk

    OutSynk Born to dare

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  10. OutSynk

    OutSynk Born to dare

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    The rest of OutSynk’s 2020 Best to follow in this thread imminently.:disco:
     
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  11. Iguana

    Iguana How much longer til you completely absolve me?

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    It is on my list. How would you rate it out of 10?
     
  12. OutSynk

    OutSynk Born to dare

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    It’s a bit difficult to rate as an album for me because three tracks were already released previously and there’s an intro and outro so that’s 6 brand new “proper” tracks. I highly recommend Voyager (80s synthwave with a key change), French Kiss (chemsex banger) and Insomnie (another chemsex banger). A couple of cute ethereal ballads too. 8.5/10 for now.
     
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  13. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    Ou Est Ton Amour is some TRASHY FUN EN FRANCAIS À JEUDI.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2020
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  14. KindaCool

    KindaCool Kick Rocks. Eat dirt.

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    Love FN. Such a fabulous album. Such a deserved placement
     
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  15. RJN

    RJN User

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    Murphy's Law is the best Roison song since the Overpowered album.

    @IguanMoreSleep You should listen to the last Tame Impala album (Currents) when you have the time
     
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  16. Iguana

    Iguana How much longer til you completely absolve me?

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    Will do! I saw Jark mentioned that was like a sister album to the new one
     
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  17. Pipo

    Pipo The devil's in the details

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    ok but where is Lindsay in your playlist?
     
  18. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    15. Lady Gaga - Free Woman
    what a journey i've been on with this song this year. first it leaked in the days leading up to Chromatica's release, and I thought, wow, how lovely of Gagger to go full NINETIES HOUSE on our gay asses. then the album hit and we heard the final version in all its Kygo 2016 realness. I can't lie—this was a shock to the system. it took me a little while to acclimatise. however Free Woman has some of the greatest melodies and hooks of her CAREER, not to mention a vocal that absolutely soars above the whole song and TAKES YOU TO CHURCH every time, regardless of your personal belief system, so eventually everything else fell into place and I love this track unreservedly now. it's sad we never got a video, but nonetheless she delivered perhaps the closest thing to a Gaga classic to stand with the best of 'em, and to that I say... BE FREE. :disco:


    14. Harry Styles - Golden
    Harry's second album was basically a massive revelation to me in the last 12 months. the sheer glow-up from whatever that first album was! it's been exciting to have two "big pop boys"—he and The Weeknd—who totally get it, operating in totally different lanes and both giving us something to stan for. Golden is the first and the best track on Fine Line, a glorious opener that sounds like the first or the last days of summer. it's swimming in easy melody, and Harry's vocal starts out almost lethargically, as if he's just having a little sing in the sun. by the final chorus, though, it kicks up a gear into a belt (or something close), and to hear him going for it is actually quite a thrill. I was pretty pleased Golden got its moment in the sun as the album's fifth single, and I'm curious about what's next.


    13. Halsey - you should be sad
    during the dry spell at the beginning of this year when new music was thin on the ground, Halsey released her third record Manic, and it was this song which really opened the door to my appreciation of her and the album. for a while it was my fave of the year. I love the mellow, almost bittersweet acoustic vibe of the verses which rolls into the chorus with venom and all the benefit of hindsight ("I'm so glad I never ever had a baby with you"—a lyric which should not work even half as well it does). a few electronic flourishes begin to creep into the production as the song goes on, and the whole thing feels like therapy—the lament of somebody who looks back with pity, scorn and "just a little bit of regret". the truly absurd Shania-homaging video is the icing on the country-pop cake.


    12. Dua Lipa - Levitating
    I'm not sure what's left to say that I didn't cover already in my 5000 word thesis on Future Nostalgia, but needless to say Levitating (WOOOO!) is some good old fashioned POP IN SPACE NONSENSE. a song that doesn't take itself at all seriously, but pops off in all the right places and, generously, comes pre-loaded with not one but two huge proper choruses. isn't that just the Dua way? the contrast between the sugar rush of the 100mph verses and the dark n' dirty "you can fly away with me tonight" hook is just too delicious. can't wait to be a slut to this next Hallowe'en when such possibilities exist again. please don't try to reach me until then—busy renegading. X


    11. Kylie Minogue - Magic
    Kylie stans are pretty SPLIT on Magic—some have adopted it as the new religious text in the church of Minogue (@dUb Actually) while others have slandered it as a tired rehash that isn't even among the best tracks on Disco. but it is among the best tracks on Disco—it is the best, the embodiment of the spirit of disco and as such the perfect opening track and the ultimate manifesto. the luxury of that long, slow-burn chorus—"You got me started / ain't nothing on Earth can stop it"—is unparalleled in the way it gets under your skin, and by the time the outro comes along, peppered with strings and horns for the full disco shebang, the whole thing is cruising along on pure jubilation. four minutes feels barely enough.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2021
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  19. KindaCool

    KindaCool Kick Rocks. Eat dirt.

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    Free Woman is a bop and a half, but I still liked the leaked version better.

    Gaga is always best when she's leaking.
     
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  20. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    I'm so desperate to finish this now.

    I wonder if I actually will?
     
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  21. OutSynk

    OutSynk Born to dare

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    Your posts.
     
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  22. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    CAN I DO IT @KindaCool?

    I just can't bear the shame of giving @Pingu something to GLOAT ABOUT.
     
  23. RJN

    RJN User

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    Magic, Levitating and Golden are some of the best songs of the year for sure. After a year I’d say Golden is the high point of the Harry Styles albun
     
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  24. RJN

    RJN User

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    I say stop now out of spite
     
  25. OutSynk

    OutSynk Born to dare

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    I think you’re TEMPTING FATE by going back to the singles list just before revealing the #1 album.:kim:
     
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  26. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    that's what I did LAST year just before the top 10 :D I'm not sure my REPUTATION (my reputation's never been worse so~) can take the HIT.
     
  27. KindaCool

    KindaCool Kick Rocks. Eat dirt.

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    Everything from Dua, Kylie and Mariah are 10s.
     
  28. KindaCool

    KindaCool Kick Rocks. Eat dirt.

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    You certainly chose a good year to do it! We're not gonna be short on 10s.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2021
  29. Pipo

    Pipo The devil's in the details

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    I love Golden but I'm more of an Adore You kinda gal :disco: of course Levitating and Free Woman were life reaffirming anthems of 2020.
     
  30. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    10. Jessie Ware - The Kill
    what a song. there is artistry to this track, the penultimate cut on What's Your Pleasure, in the way it spends three minutes as an icy, dark and ultimately quite emotionally heavy affair, before the brass comes in and suddenly a crack appears in the clouds, and then it's as if the rug has been pulled from under your feet without you realising and the whole atmosphere has shifted. it feels like seeing the light, a quasi-religious experience, and it resolves itself in a place that feels like a soulful precursor to Remember Where You Are. these two tracks are total sister songs, but it's The Kill which edges it for me. on an album full of high-energy or high-ecstasy anthems tailor made for the dancefloor, it's this subtle, slow-burn pleasure that most takes the breath away.


    09. SG Lewis ft. Robyn & Channel Tres - Impact
    somebody STRIKE THE GONG because this is A MASSIVE BANGER—not the last that will feature in this top 10, and perhaps not even the filthiest, but possibly the song I'm most keen to lose it to in a club when the time comes. I had just started getting into SG Lewis when news of this collaboration hit, and it's fair to say it did not disappoint—a proper groove with a dark n' dirty bassline and verses from Channel Tres, master of the spoken word house track, which PURR in a way that's borderline UNREASONABLE ("I put my guard up on you, hit you with the stick" - oui, s'il vous plaît). but of course it's Robyn's stratospheric chorus ("oh, you move my spirit / you make me hit that high, and I like it") that really turns Impact up to 11. in a year in which we were starved of new music from Sweden's all-time finest export, at least this track impacted our bussies.


    08. Taylor Swift - the last great american dynasty
    here's a slightly expanded version of what I wrote in my write-up of folklore:

    Taylor imbues the last great american dynasty with sharp wit to tell the story of Rebekah Harkness: "Bill was the heir to the Standard Oil name, and money / and the town asked, how did a middle class divorcée do it?". when the middle 8 comes around, she reveals with a wink that she's now resident in the dead woman's house, neatly drawing a parallel between Rebekah and herself as women who "had a marvellous time, ruining everything." as well as being my favourite track on folklore, I also think it's the catchiest and most fun, a very welcome and quite pointed reminder that one can be a serious artiste and light-hearted songwriter at the same time. clearly taking great pleasure in diving into the stories of others, it will be interesting to see if Tay continues in this vein, and perhaps unseats Lana as the reigning queen of Americana.


    07. Lady Gaga - Stupid Love
    my housemate hates this song. I don't think she would have strong feelings one way or another, but I played it multiple times a day for at least four months straight including as a staple of my notorious shower karaoke sessions, and now she would like to never succumb to its stupid love ever again. personally speaking, I'm still very much ON THE TRAIN. as with Magic among Kylie fans, Stupid Love seems to split the stanbase—many have consistently and vocally called it her worst lead single. in a world in which that dirge Perfect Illusion exists?! I THINK NOT. I will concede that Stupid Love coming packaged with a DROP where the chorus should be felt a little... basique. un peu passé. but there is so much energy and bombast in this song. the verses are where it comes alive, and the immaculate production of her vocals there (along with the slight hints of BowieGa resurrected from Applause) is really something to behold. I'm not sure she has ever sounded better on an uptempo. Rain On Me was the song which made a success of this era, but this was the correct lead single—the perfect statement of intent for her grand return to stupid pop.


    06. Christine & The Queens / Caroline Polachek - La Vita Nuova
    new music from Christine & The Queens was a lovely surprise in 2020, and how better to return than with a lovely bilingual/bisexual moment of flirtation with Caroline Polachek? i'm pretty sure Caroline's Italian is not actually up to much, but nonetheless this is a sexy song with a highly addictive chorus, and I merrily used/abused it for much of the year. the Italian lyrics of this track translated into English are iconic, by the way:

    I want you to touch me with your anger
    I want you to touch me with your fury
    This is the renunciation of your shame
    I want to make love to this song


    that's some HOT CATHOLIC SHAME! the best thing about La Vita Nuova is the way that, when the second chorus hits, it just repeats over and over and over until it's all descended into the absolute chaos of Caroline getting lost in her not-quite-human mermaid adlibs and Heloise kind of just of stuck on an "ah, uh, oh yeah" loop, like being in the presence of somebody as gorgeous as Caroline SAPPED HER ENTIRE VOCABULARY. eventually the song splutters out. it's dirty, it's debauched, it's everything.
     
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  31. RJN

    RJN User

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    Impact is such an amazing song and that writeup is 100% correct about it
     
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  32. KindaCool

    KindaCool Kick Rocks. Eat dirt.

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    Stupid Love though? Really?
     
  33. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    YES QUEEN! it's my #3 most played of the year so I actually DID IT DIRTY.
     
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  34. RJN

    RJN User

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    I like Stupid Love, and it reminds of reminds me of late February/early March when I could still go out, but its definitely one of the weaker songs on the album for me
     
  35. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    any guesses on top 5 contenders/WINNER? :eyes:
     
  36. Diddy

    Diddy Rice Queen

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    You’re doing surprisingly well :o

    btw is the Number 1 album being saved for the end?
     
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  37. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    I'll do number one album and then end it with number one song :disco:
     
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  38. OutSynk

    OutSynk Born to dare

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    I hear some people are still waiting for the real version of Stupid Love with the chorus added.:disco:
     
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  39. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    a little interlude before I GET ON with the TOP 5...

    [​IMG]

    Top 5 remixes of 2020
    05. The Knocks & Foster the People - All About You (Tensnake Remix)
    04. LA Priest - Beginning (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs Remix)
    03. Mason - Drowning In Your Love (Mark Knight Remix)
    02. Kasper Bjørke - Seabird (Tensnake Remix)
    01. Faze Action - Sununguka (Alan Dixon Italo Mix)

    WHAT A YEAR FOR REMIXES! I've put 44 of my faves into a nice PHAT 3 hour playlist, but these five in particular had me grooving in my bedroom during the latter months of this year. Tensnake, who's always on top form, knocked it out of the park with a mix of The Knocks & Foster the People's All About You, built around a big ol' funky bassline that's a complete behemoth. He also did a great job with Kasper Bjørke's Seabird, transforming it into a light groove that floats and shimmies and brings all the G&T-on-a-sunny-afternoon vibes.

    Mark Knight did killer work on the GAY AS HELL Drowning In Your Love, which I believe our very own revered house correspondent @funky actually labelled his best remix of 2020. Jem Cooke's diva vocal on this track is sublime and Knight's disco flourishes and spacey SFX bring the heat—this is one to pop your you-know-what to (@OutSynk) when the clubs reopen. and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (who had an amazing year, and also did a really transformative remix of Jessie Ware's Spotlight) construct a deliriously funky, quasi-psychedelic bassline for LA Priest's Beginning.

    but just taking the crown for me in 2020 was Alan Dixon's 7-minute "Italo mix" of Sununguka by Faze Action. there's something very right about this hybrid of western beats and African rhythms, and with the assistance of some hot handclaps and majorly shimmery synths this track hits its sunny climax early, and then just keeps on going, and going, and going. it's an absolute dream of a banger and, like the entire of this playlist, brought me loads of joy in 2020. thank GOD for house music, honestly.



    anyone who's enjoyed a Jark.FM this year (all five of you!) might like to have a dip into this playlist. it might make cleaning the house a bit less tedious if NOTHING ELSE!
     
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  40. Jark

    Jark I... know... how bad you want this

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    BACK TO IT!


    05. Sam Smith - Diamonds
    Sam really needed a track like this. Diamonds feels like a natural evolution from the boppy as fuck midtempo smashes of Dancing With a Stranger and How Do You Sleep?—somebody, I think a Pitchfork critic, described it as "Gloria Gaynor in divorce court", which seems pretty apt. this track is stacked with contempt for a shallow soon-to-be-ex ("take all the money you want from me / show me how little you care"), and whether or not Sam "always knew", it's clear that they're done. the vocal is restrained but dripping in disdain, and the song builds beautifully to its kiss-off climax. this track endured really well for me across the last few months of 2020, sounding as hot when winter came around as it did at the tail end of summer, and it feels like the perfect direction for Sam to follow next as they enter a new phase of their career.


    04. Jessie Ware - What's Your Pleasure?
    ugh. this song. I actually wasn't sure what to expect from this album, the singles being as diverse as they were, and Spotlight being borderline adult contemporary. so imagine my DELIGHT to discover the title track was a big dirty-minded SEX ANTHEM. it's basically the sound of Jessie going cruising through the sleazy corridors and dark rooms of an everybody-welcome gay party, all deranged industrial synths and licks that crash in at random intervals in a kind of controlled chaos. I think it's fair to say queen knows her audience. by far the most streamed track on the record aside from Spotlight, the whole song feels like a deliberate act of putting her MUMSY MOR TENDENCIES (or her kids) to bed... and then going out to get some. :disco: YES MOMMA.


    03. Dua Lipa - Love Again
    my #3 of the year and the top-placed album track in this list, Love Again was one of those immediate faves that jumped into my consciousness the second I heard it during my first play of Future Nostalgia. it pulls you in instantly—the slow, mournful string intro, into that brief White Town sample, before the richly produced verse hits, a deep groove that recalls ABBA and the disco peak of the late '70s. one of the amazing things about this song is the way it begins as a slow-burn but continually kicks the drama up a gear, adding new layers of disco strings or drum beats that eventually construct this intricate, beautiful cacophony of sound. if there's something slightly ridiculous about a 25 year old singing "I used to think that I was made out of stone / I used to spend so many nights on my own", at least it's delivered with a wink, and when Dua's vocal drops into its deepest register for a throaty "GOD damn!", we're just putty in her hands. this is masterful pop music, and while I'm sad it hasn't received a single release (I will be needing a video), it almost feels like a good thing that the Karens haven't got their paws on this one. Love Again?—keep it for the gays. :disco:
     
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