Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Top Albums Of 2006

The music of 2006 was up & down. Many of the albums I was waiting for from artist like Robbie Williams and Scissor Sisters were OK but did not blow me away. A few veteran artists like Elton John & Lionel Ritchie surprised me with stellar albums. I did manage to find a few new dance acts, the Brit born German act Cascada and the Danish group Infernal who burned up the dance floor with their hit "From Paris To Berlin". While Elton's "The Captain & The Kid" was my favourite disc it was hard to place an order to the other albums.

Some of the big Pop artists of the year included Nelly Furtado, Justin Timberlake bringing Sexy Back, Sean Paul, Gnarls Barkley & the Pussycat Dolls burning up the charts. My discovery of 2005 Brit singer Natasha Bedingfield broke into the US charts with her top 5 hit "Unwritten", the song ended up being # 6 on Billboards top songs of 2006. Canadian Daniel Powter scored the # 1 song of the year in the US with "Bad Day", thanks to American Idol who played the song every week after a contestant got booted off. Speaking of Idol winner Carrie Underwood had the biggest album in the US with "Some Hearts". In The UK the Scissor Sisters scored big with a # 1 album and single.

The Worst: don't "Wind It Up", someone please tell Gwen Stefani that "The Lonely Goatherd" from the "Sound Of Music DOES NOT make for a good pop song.

Top Albums of 2006

01The Captain & The Kid--Elton John
In my opinion, one of his best albums. Part 2 to his 1975 classic "Captain Fantastic and The Dirt Brown Cowboy", it continues the story of Elton's & Bernie Taupin's rise to success. The music however sounds more like a homage to the "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road " album with shades of "Candle In The Wind". The album blast off with "Postcards From Richard Nixon" (the best cut) that give me chills every time I hear it. It puts you right in '75 when Elton & Bernie visit America for the first time. Another favourite "Tinderbox" recalls the split between the 2. Every track is great which culminates in the autobiographical title cut.

02 Taller In More Ways--Sugababes
UK Pop/R&B girl group follows in the steps of Banarama. Like the "Nana's" they were school friends who started a singing group and they co-write most of their music. This is their 4th studio album and their best with great pop tracks like the #1 "Push The Button" and "Ugly" written with Dallas Austin. The girls team up with dance producers Xenomania for the fab "Red Dress" & Ace Reject. Originally released in 2005 the album was re-released in 2006 with a new member Amelle. Unfortunately only one original member is left and this could spell the end of the group.

03 Everytime We Touch--Cascada
Brit born/German singer Natalie Horler joins forcers with DJ/producers Yanou and DJ Manian to produce a great club/dance album. The single "Everytime We Touch" goes mainstream and break into the US top 10. My only complaint is that the album sounds all the same, there is one exception the great ballad "Another You' which showcase Nathalie's vocals. Favourite tracks include the Roxette cover "How Do You Do" and Kim Wilde's "Kids In America".

04 Coming Home--Lionel Richie
Lionel Richie puts the young guys to shame as he shows them how it should be done. Still sexy & cool with funky tracks like "Up All Night" & "All Around The World" that will keep you dancing on the ceiling and beyond. He slows it down with the hit "I Call It Love", the haunting "What You Are" and my favourite "Coming Home". Don't forget a bit of reggae with "Stand Down". A great album that will keep you up all night.

05 Rubebox--Robbie Williams
After a disappointing melancholy album last year Robbie is back with "Rudebox". This definitely a more upbeat dance album but I'm not a fan of all the rapping he does. The best tracks are the 2 "Pet Shop Boys collaborations, "She's Madonna" and "We Are The Pet Shop Boys". I wish he would have done a full album with them. The rest is kind of hit and miss. The song "The 80's" is cute but the follow up "The 90's isn't as much fun. "Never Touch That Switch & the cover "Lovelight" are dance floor fun.

06 Ta-Dah--Scissor Sisters
I love the lead single "I Don't Feel like Dancing" which collaborates with Elton John, maybe that's why I find the rest of the album a bit disappointing, it's very different. The album has a "vaudeville circus" sound. The tunes aren't as catchy or disco-y as their debut effort.

07 Fundamental--Pet Shop Boys
The Boys are back with 80's producer Tevor Horn. While it's not my favourite album of theirs (I find it a bit too subdued) they are still masters at dance music and synthesizers. Best tracks are "The Sodom & Gomorrah Show", "Integral", and the Dianne Warren penned epic ballad "Numb".

08 Never Say Never--Kim Wilde Remember British singer Kim Wilde? She hit #1 with "You Keep Me Hanging On" in the 80's, in the UK she had a long career of hits. I'm not usually big on artists covering their own songs but I love this album. The new rock version of "You Came" is so cool. Only 6 out of the 14 songs are remodelled covers the rest are all new songs and they are as good if not better then her old hits. The new single "Perfect Girl" rocks on. "Together We Belong" and "Forgive Me" will burn up the dance floor while & "Baby Obey Me" & "Fly" is perfect "pop". Too bad the album has only a limited release in Germany and some parts of Europe .

09 Loose--Nelly Furtado
The biggest Canadian success story of 2006 with # 1 mega singles in the UK ("Maneater") and the US ("Promiscuous"). Nelly is turning into a truly worldwide artist, but is it at the price of selling out as she teams up with Justin Timberlake's producer Timbaland? Other stand out tracks are "Glow", and the hit "Say It Right".

10 Back To Bedlam--James Blunt
The Brits are back with breakthrough artist James Blunt and his mega #1 hit "You're Beautiful". Love him or hate him the album has great tracks like "High" and "Wiseman". It will be interesting to see where he goes from here.

11 From Paris To Berlin--Infernal
Danish dance act consisting of Lina Rafn & Paw Lagermann. This is actually their 3rd album which was propelled into international status when their hit "From Paris To Berlin" started burning up the dance floors. The song was even re-recorded as "From London To Berlin" for the 2006 World Cup. The album is one big clubland and a touch of Europa with tracks like "Fairytale", "From The A To The B" and "Keen On Disco". Look out for the Australian Tour Edition which come with a bonus CD of live tracks and remixes.

12 Somewhere Else--Eva Avila
She could be the first Canadian Idol success story. Her first CD delivers with an R&B pop feast of songs. Stand out tracks include "Some Kind Of Beautiful" which is screaming to be released, "Old Love Song" and the Alicia Keys like "Weak In The Knees". Looking forward to see what she does next.
Honorable Mentions

Singles of the year
01 Unwritten--Natasha Bedingfield
02 I Don't Feel Like Dancing--Scissor Sisters
03 Red Dress--Sugababes
04 Jump--Madonna
05 Everytime We Touch--Cascada
06 From Paris To Berlin--Infernal
07 You're Beautiful--James Blunt
08 The Bride--Elton John
09 I Call It Love--Lionel Ritchie
10 What's Left Of Me--Nick Lachey
11 Lovelight--Robbie Williams
12 Promiscuous--Nelly Furtado

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