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100 songs of the decade [Top 10]: 9. Dark Side – Kelly Clarkson

‘Even if I try to push you out, will you return?’

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Written by: busbee and Alexander Geringas
Produced by: Greg Kurstin
Album: Stronger
UK release: June 2012
UK chart peak: 40

How blessed we are that 17 years post-Idol, Kelly Clarkson is still very much booked and busy. But of her three best-known hit singles this decade – Stronger, Underneath The Tree and Piece By Piece – none of them are quiiiiite up there with her very best, if you ask me.

That title ‘imo’ goes to Dark Side; which had the unfortunate honour of following monster smash Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) as the third single from the album of the same name. Thematically, we’re on familiar territory with Kelly – ‘angsty’ – but there’s a vulnerable and hopeful edge to this one. It’s about warning a new love interest that they haven’t seen you at your worst yet, and they may well wanna run for the fucking hills when they do. As someone with a partner who is RENOWNED for being an all-round good person and ray of sunshine, I found this particularly relatable. “I’m more of a dickhead than you, is that OK?”

Greg Kurstin’s production is epic, and Kelly – obviously – sings the absolute shit out of the vocal. The “tell me that you will stay-yaaaay-yeaayyayYEAAAH” bit in the middle-8 and the “nobody’s a PIIIICTURE PERFEEEECT!!!!” bit in the final chorus are truly two of my favourite ever moments from her. Dark Side isn’t up there with her best-known or best-selling classics, but in terms of the stuff she’s put out this side of 2010, it’s easily my own fave.

  • I’ll be writing about my favourite 100 pop songs of the decade; one a day for the last 100 days of 2019. They’re in no particular order, except the Top 10.
  • See the full list so far here.
  • You can follow the rolling, daily-updated playlist below, or here.

Music

Playlisted 2020, week 3: At least this hellish month is delivering bops

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Q1 is truly the new Q4, it seems: there was a lot of good stuff out this week, not just in terms of singles but albums too (Halsey, Louise, Gabrielle Aplin), though I haven’t really deep-dived (deep-diven? deep-dove?) into those just yet.

Anyway here are the eight, yes eight!!!, new songs I’m adding to my rolling all-important (…) 2020 playlist this week. Said playlist is here if you want to keep track (it’s also embedded at the bottom of the post), and here’s the best from last week.


Bikini Porn – Tove Lo

Sun-soaked hedonism is a strange flavour for bleakest January but obviously I’m more than happy to gobble up anything Tove Lo serves, and this is possibly my favourite new track of the week. Co-written and produced with Finneas O’Connell, I love the slightly dark edge the production gives the otherwise fun lyrics – thanks mainly to that thick vocoder-heavy backing vocal. Addictive.


Disco – Cheerbleederz

A song that rivals Staying Up Late for the title of Cheerbleederz’ Best Song Yet, Disco’s topline is its greatest asset; a charming melody + lyric combo supported by gorgeous harmonies and windows-down-wind-in-your-hair guitars.


In The Afternoon – Josef Salvat

Not to be dramatic but after the incredible Modern Anxiety, this is simply another completely lush, bullseye-hitting assault on the SOUL. In The Afternoon – which is fantastic in either its English or French carnations! – has an absolute butterfly-rush of a chorus and Josef’s voice sounds dreamy on the higher ad-libs towards the end.


New Me – Ella Eyre

‘Lol’ that I first heard this on Thursday and dismissed it as an overly chaotic mess, and then spent most of yesterday getting my fucking life to it. The post-chorus bit is just great, isn’t it?! I really can’t call if New Me will be a hit or not (for all her success, Ella has never reached the Top 10 on a song that’s not a collaboration), but I hope it is. 2020 marks five years (!!!) since the Feline album and I’m ready for her to start regaining some serious momentum.


Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys) – Rina Sawayama

For anyone uninitiated, this is a great Rina gateway song, and I say that because… it was my Rina gateway song. I finally gave her a proper look after seeing people rave about her on the ol’ Twitter timeline, and friends, I was not disappointed (although loads of her past stuff is ringing bells so I must have checked her out before and forgotten, who knows). This is the sound I think Dua Lipa’s gunning for on her new era, but I have a suspicion – quality-wise, at least – Rina will out-do her.


Me & You Together Song – The 1975

We’re back in Chocolate-style territory here; a ballpark that Lawson wouldn’t have turned their nose up at eight years ago. The melody on the verses is actually a bit What I Go To School For-y, isn’t it? It’s nice to hear a sugary, uplifting, American Pie soundtrack-friendly love song from this lot; a much-needed shot of heart after a hellish couple of weeks in Global Events.


What A Man Gotta Do – Jonas Brothers

Sucker was huge for the reformed JoBros last year, and while I highly doubt What A Man Gotta Do will hit the same heights, it more than justifies the guys’ potential for a serious long-term comeback. The brilliant Jess Agombar of ex-Parade fame is on the writing credits, and I am very happy to generate her some streaming royalties!


Bury Us – The Naked And Famous

TNAF are one of those acts who never come to mind when I think of my favourites, but I’m always very pleased to hear from them. Bury Us isn’t quite as incredible as I thought it might have been after the intro and first verse, but it’s still a very welcome return.


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Playlisted 2020, weeks 1 and 2: Here are the first nine decent songs of the decade

Q1 is the new Q4

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I tried this in 2019 but I had too many plates spinning to keep it up beyond early March… so let’s see how we get on in big old 2020 (I managed to see the 100 Songs of the Decade thing through to the very end, right?!?!)

As I know many people do, each year I start a playlist on Spotify on which I add any and all good pop songs as-and-when they’re released. It comes in very useful in December when trying to remember the year-end best-of, I tell ya.

So once again I’ll try and get into the habit of writing every weekend about the songs that I’m adding; which I’m sure some weeks will be just one song and others will be fucking tonnes, but who doesn’t love unpredictability?!?!

You can follow Playlisted 2020 on Spotify here if you so choose. Last year I added 183 songs to the 2019 one, so be warned IT’LL GET LENGTHY!

I didn’t even think to kick this off last weekend (lol, good start) so strap in; we’re doing Weeks 1 and 2 in one post. Here are the first good songs of 2020, and the first to qualifty for THE PLAYLIST. Firstly, the two I would have written about last weekend if I had my wits about me:


Miss You 2 – Gabrielle Aplin and Nina Nesbitt

I ended the decade being much more ~into Gabrielle Aplin and Nina Nesbitt than I ever would have expected when they first came “on the scene”; Gabrielle winning me over with Waking Up Slow and Nina delivering one of the few genuinely great pop albums of last year. And while I’m actually not familiar with the original Miss You, this sequel(?) is a great little moody, waft-a-long semi-ballad that packs an effective electro-oriented edge whilst keeping the trusty piano front-and-centre. I can’t say I’ve had this on repeat since it dropped last week but I’ve certainly enjoyed it while it’s been on, yaknow?


Wrong Direction – Hailee Steinfeld

Can you believe it’s nearly HALF a DECADE since Hailee’s debut single; fifth best song of the decade Love Myself? Frustratingly, it still doesn’t feel like she’s gained much ongoing momentum, and 2019 was especially quiet for her music-wise – but Wrong Direction’s appearance on New Year’s Day indicates that maybe 2020 will be more fruitful.

It’s not a banger, of course, and if it’s not about Niall Horan then someone somewhere certainly knew what they were doing with that title. I also don’t really see how it’s going to do the business numbers-wise (perhaps Lose You To Love Me was the blueprint), but I think Hailee’s vocals are delivered beautifully and it’s my favourite release of hers since Colour. It’s really clicked with me in the last few days.


And now to the best of this week’s crop:

Make U Cry – Torine

Here it is! The first all-out bop of the decade. I don’t think I’ve come across Torine before – Spotify says this is only her third single – but you can bet I’ll be going back to catch-up now, yessir!!

I love the topline on this, and the way the first chorus effectively edges you right up until you’re half-way through it. Comparisons are lazy, I know, but if you need a quick sell: it’s Sigrid meets Sorry I’m Late-era Cher Lloyd, while vocally we’re not a million miles away from HRH Zara Larsson.

I’m obsessed with this; my first Repeat One direct-hit of the year.


Diamonds – Megan Thee Stallion & Normani

Hope it’s not too reductive to compare the Birds of Prey soundtrack to the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack considering they are similar projects for similar-genre movies – but if you were to compare Diamonds to Don’t Call Me Angel, this would be an EASY win.

I’m so excited for both of these artists, especially Normani, to completely conquer the year ahead; and this is a fantastic start. I had this blasting in the car to Tesco’s yesterday (yes, I’m a local, what of it!!) and WHEW!!!

Also: a VIDEO.


You Should Be Sad – Halsey

Halsey’s new album Manic is out next week and you can count me very much in as far as excitement is concerned. This song is a big, big mood; I love all the harmonies, the little topline flourishes, the jarring blast of synthesised guitar over the otherwise simple acoustic-led backing… excellent work from Greg Kurstin, and eeeeexcellent work from Halsey. Props also for the Shania leopard-print outfit in the video.


Rare – Selena Gomez

The title track (and latest single) from the first blockbuster pop album of the year, Rare returns us to the sparse Bad Liar type of pop Selena has proven form with. And as with the likes of Bad Liar, the lyrics are witty and quirky (“Saw us getting older, burning toast in the toaster”) – and now there’s even what sounds like a dobro wailing away in the background. It’s Very Selena Gomez, and it’s Very Good.


24 Hours – Georgia

Georgia also has an album out this week, and 24 Hours doesn’t – on first listen, anyway – quiiiiite smash the bullseye in the same way as About Work The Dancefloor, but I love the slightly woozy chorus and the pulsating production. I haven’t properly deep-dived into the album yet but… well, it’s hardly gonna be shit, is it?


Better Off Without You – Becky Hill feat. Shift K3Y

The chorus is a bit of a sledgehammer to the face after the sweet promise of the intro and verses, but I really like this from Becky Hill; who now seems to have found her home in reliable, enormous dance music. As a pop subgenre, This Sort Of Thing isn’t necessarily my favourite, but I’m always rooting for Becky and I hope this is a big hit for her.


Stop This Flame – Celeste

The BBC Sound of 2020 winner will have a lot of eyes on her now, and Stop This Flame is an irresistibly rousing track to introduce those who are just getting to know her. The iconique oneofthosefaces NMF round-up yesterday said this is the stuff of Jools Holland – not in a bad way! – which is spot-on. As such I’m not sure if it’s the kind of thing I’ll come back and actively seek out over the next week, but goodforher.gif.


Here’s the playlist, btw:

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100 Songs of the Decade

The best bops, bangers and ballads from 2010-2019

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What are we even calling this decade? The tens? The teens? In 2009 some madmen were floating “the tenners” but… I mean that was never a thing, right?

Whatever it is, I’ve marked it by doing the only two things I can do: be extra, and make a list.

If you’ve just joined me: one song a day for the last 100 days of the year, I’ve written about my personal favourite pop singles from January 2010 to the present. Mostly in no particular order, except the Top 10. Follow the Spotify playlist here, and there’s also one on YouTube here.

Click through the list below for “thorough” “analyses” of the songs covered.












Here were the first 90 songs, delivered in no particular order:

You can follow the rolling playlist on Spotify here.

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