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100 songs of the decade: What The Hell – Avril Lavigne

‘Honestly, I just need to be a little crazy’

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Written by: Avril Lavigne, Max Martin and Shellback
Produced by: Max Martin and Shellback
Album: Goodbye Lullaby
UK release: January 2011
UK chart peak: 16

Nearly four years on from the massive Best Damn Thing era, Avril Lavigne finally launched her fourth album campaign with this absurdly infectious Max Martin/Shellback-produced bop; deploying similar clap-along/chant-a-long moments to the likes of Girlfriend but steering more to the pop side of Avril’s trademark pop-rock sound.

Given how the Goodbye Lullaby album was delayed so much, and the fact that much of it is made up of the more thoughtful songs she penned with ex-husband Deryck Whibley, it feels a bit like maybe tracks like What The Hell were added by the label in a bid to give the era its potential radio hits. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s… not one of Avril’s own favourites.

But for me, this remains one of her best (and most under-rated) singles from one of her best (and most under-rated) albums: playful, effervescent, and filled with that trademark Lavigne Attitude. It’s still so uplifting to hear.

  • 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 – which will (obviously) come in late December.
  • See the full list so far here.
  • You can follow the rolling, daily-updated playlist below, or here.

Music

100 songs of the decade: On A Mission – Gabriella Cilmi

‘I never miss a trick just like a magician’

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Written by: Gabriella Cilmi, George Astasio, Jason Pebworth and Jon Shave
Produced by: The Invisible Men
Album: Ten
UK release: March 2010
UK chart peak: 9

The pressure to sex up her image was gross, but the actual music Gabriella Cilmi was divvying up during the Ten era was exciting, immaculate electropop; led by this Invisible Men-produced first single.

On A Mission is an 80s-tinged femmepowerment banger that packs – and I cannot stress this enough – one of the best spoken middle-8s of the decade. Whenever it’s on, I HAVE to chant along. I just HAVE to, it’s the law.

Gabriella didn’t stay in this lane for long: since she’s gone down a more independent route, her music has returned to the ~earthier vibe of her debut, which has been great (especially some of the stuff she’s put out this year). But! I will aaaalways have a massive soft spot for this brief moment when she was the under-rated Queen Of The Disco.

  • 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 – which will (obviously) come in late December.
  • See the full list so far here.
  • You can follow the rolling, daily-updated playlist below, or here.

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Music

100 songs of the decade: Don’t Hold Your Breath – Nicole Scherzinger

‘A bad movie ends and the screen fades to black’

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Written by: Josh Alexander, Billy Steinberg and Toby Gad
Produced by: Carl Falk, Steve Angello and Rami Yacoub
Album: Killer Love
UK release: March 2011
UK chart peak: 1

Remember that brief, divine period in UK history when Nicole Scherzinger could score a solo Number One single in the UK? Halcyon days!

Where the excellent Poison is a glass-shattering, absolute-racket-in-a-good-way banger, its follow up Don’t Hold Your Breath is… a glass-shattering, absolute-racket-in-a-good-way ballad. Scherzy sounds full of tear-stained resolve, and the full-pelt fist-pumpy production feels like stepping into a time machine to the turn of the decade.

Like Alesha Dixon, I’m happy Nicole has managed to remain a successful part of celebrity culture, but – even though this track in particular was a chart-topper – listening back to the likes of DHYB and Your Love just makes me sad that we didn’t give her more success when she was churning out the hits.

  • 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 – which will (obviously) come in late December.
  • See the full list so far here.
  • You can follow the rolling, daily-updated playlist below, or here.

Continue Reading

Music

100 songs of the decade: Blank Space – Taylor Swift

‘Got a long list of ex-lovers – they’ll tell you I’m insane’

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Written by: Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback
Produced by: Max Martin and Shellback
Album: 1989
UK release: November 2014
UK chart peak: 4

An exhilarating play on the media’s idea of Taylor Swift The Man-Eater, Blank Space was a big ~Moment from the 1989 era, and rightly so. With the production taking its cues from Lorde’s breakthrough the previous year, lyrically this is Taylor at her best: biting, satirical, with a knowing wink to camera.

It’s also irresistibly catchy, with an instant hook (obviously – look at the three writers!). There are so many golden flourishes: “Darling I’m a nightmare, dressed like a daydream”, the pen click, the unintentional “Starbucks lovers” mix-up, basically the entire video…

Blockbuster Taylor is fully activated, and completely on top of her game, in this modern classic.

  • 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 – which will (obviously) come in late December.
  • See the full list so far here.
  • You can follow the rolling, daily-updated playlist below, or here.

Continue Reading

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