Sydney, Australia electronic dance music duo PNAU lands its first homeland Top 10 hit with “Chameleon”. Around since 1999, Peter and Nick have been mentored by Elton John who was impressed with their music. Nick also serves as one-half of another duo, Empire of the Sun. The music video for the track is a feast for the eyes with a rich presentation of kaleidoscopic colours.
It’s time to talk about Indonesia, one of the world’s most populated countries with well over a quarter billion people. The people there serve the hottest spicy food in the world. And, yes, the collection of islands makes good music! Sheryl Sheinafia has just released her 2nd album, ii, and it’s the top album at iTunes Indonesia by a homegrown artist. From Jakarta, Sheryl, is the baby among a family of 5 siblings. She has vocals as sweet as honey and makes soft, acoustic pop or adult contemporary. Sheryl is both a songwriter and musician, handling both piano and guitar. She is also an actress. We have embedded the MV for “Kutunggu Kau Putus” which has been out for a while and is the closing track on the new album.
Japan’s One OK Rock is a four-member rock band from Tokyo. The first album from the group appeared in 2007, but it was not until the fourth album in 2010 that superstardom came. The group has released its eighth album, Ambitions. The album is doing very well internationally. It sits in the iTunes Top 10 in both Canada and the United States, and is #1 in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and not surprisingly Japan itself. Track “Take What You Want” features Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer and track “Listen” on the Japan edition of the album features Canadian superstar Avril Lavigne. We have embedded the song below.
Janice Vidal is one of the bigger names in Cantopop. The Hong Kong based singer has topped the iTunes chart in the SAR with her fresh 2017 single “Wounded”. Its beautifully shot music video is embedded below. Janice is very special for a couple of reasons. She is of maternal Korean and paternal Filipino ancestry. Janice was born in Hong Kong with her twin sister Jill. She has been active as a recording artist since 2005 and has recorded songs in Cantonese, English, Mandarin, and Japanese.
“Come to Zom Zom’s, a place to eat like it was built in one day. You can watch the humans trying to run.” Although radio in the United States and Canada aired only one of his songs (“Cars”) which became a huge international hit with a performance on Saturday Night Live, in his native UK, Gary Numan has scored 24 Top 40 hits, 7 Top Tens, and two number ones. His first came in 1979 thanks to “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” with his band Tubeway Army. It topped the British charts and arguably began the electronic rock or synthpop wave which flourished in the early 1980s. The new sound started by accident as he bumped into a Moog synthesizer in the recording studio and asked for permission to give it a go. Its powerful sounds blew him away, so he tacked synthesizer sounds onto the punk music his band was making. Numan was also inspired by early Ultravox. “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” was discovered by influential BBC Radio One DJ John Peel. He gave it a spin, and to use a modern expression, the song went viral.
From there, electronic rock and synthpop acts flourished, especially from the UK: The Human League, OMD, Simple Minds, New Order, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones, and so on. Many modern artists cite Gary Numan as a big influence. He is considered by some as the godfather of electronic rock. He wasn’t the first but was arguably the one who launched its popularity and as such might be credited for “inventing” the 80s music-wise. These days, more into industrial music, Gary is currently working on a new album. Below we have embedded a high-resolution video from a concert in Hammersmith, London in 1980. This is “Down In the Park” from album Replicas. The amazing performance was way ahead of its time with spectacular colourful light panels, dry ice, and a joystick-controlled mini automobile. In a recent interview at Moog Fest in the United States, Numan responded to the compliment that his performance was brilliantly intense by saying that he was actually afraid he wouldn’t see the edge of the stage from all the dry ice and fall off.
From the market town of Framlingham, England, champion of musical minimalism Ed Sheeran has released two new ditties—”Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill”. They are currently #1 and #2 respectively at iTunes UK, Canada, Australia, and US. The copper top, muppet man has been releasing albums titled after the symbols of the elementary, mathematical operations of arithmetic. There are only 4 of them (+, -, x, ÷) so we’re not sure what he’ll do for his fifth album. His first album was + and second x. The new singles herald his upcoming 2017 album, ÷. Good luck making the symbol with your computer keyboard (hint: alt+0247).
The land down under seems to have a fondness for bands that promote tar sucking behaviour. The top song in Australia for 2016 was “Closer” by American duo The Chainsmokers. The top Australian song, at 4th of the year on the ARIA chart, was “Never Be Like You” by Flume of Sydney which features Canadian singer Kai. The song has been nominated for a U.S. Grammy award. Have a listen to the song below.
Girl power is on full throttle in the world’s second largest music market, Japan. Girl group AKB48 completely slayed the country’s charts in 2016. On the year-end Billboard Japan chart, four of the Top 10 songs were from the group, including #1. And that chart topper was “Tsubasa wa Iranai” meaning no wings are needed. According to Oricon, it sold one and a half million copies. View the MV below.
The UK Official Singles chart published a year-end chart for 2016. Canada’s Drake is #1 of the year with “One Dance” which interestingly is a reworking of British song “Do You Mind?” from Crazy Cousinz and Kyla. The top homegrown act on the chart is EDM specialist Calvin Harris with “This Is What You Came For” which features the vocals of Barbados’ Rihanna. Harris currently holds the record for the most top 10 songs from one studio album on the UK Singles Chart with nine. He was born in Dumfries, Scotland. Watch the music video below.
The Billboard Canadian Hot 100 year-end chart for 2016 tells us that the most popular Canadian song as judged by Canadians themselves was “Sorry” by Justin Bieber. It came out at the end of 2015 and was the second single off his Purpose album, so most of its chart success was in 2016. An interesting note is that most Canadians pronounce sorry as rhyming with story as opposed to starry, but Justin opted for the less common pronunciation when singing the song. Justin Bieber is from Stratford, Ontario and relatively quickly became a global teen sensation in 2009. To date, he has sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide. The Biebs holds a number of records, one of which is that he became the first artist to surpass 10 billion total video views on Vevo. So … let’s watch the music video for “Sorry” below which has racked up over 2 billion views to date.
What better way to determine the most popular American song of the year than by looking at the American charts. Let the Americans be the judge of their own music. According to the Billboard USA Hot 100 year-end chart for 2016, which combines digital sales, radio airplay, and streaming data, the #1 song of the year in the country was by a Canadian artist. In fact, the top four songs were by non-American artists. “Love Yourself” from Justin Bieber was number one, and his “Sorry” was #2. Drake, also Canadian, was #3 with “One Dance”. At #4 is Barbados’ Rihanna with “Work” which features Drake. The saying goes that Canadians prefer British music, the Brits prefer American music, and the Americans prefer Canadian music. Yes, the grass is always greener on the other side of the … border, isn’t it. The top American artist entry on the chart is “Stressed Out” from Twenty One Pilots at #5 of the year. This is a rap-pop duo from the U.S. city of Columbus, Ohio. The duo has been around since 2009 but had a massive breakthrough with its fourth album.
There is really no official top 100 songs of the year chart for China. Throughout the greater Chinese region, various radio stations may publish charts, various karaoke chains publish most called up songs. Websites like KKBox and Baidu track stats for songs streamed or downloaded. Since 1998, the Hit FM radio network on the island of Taiwan (the city of Taibei is pretty much the world’s main music hub for Mandopop) has published lists of the year-end top 100 songs. It is at least something to go on, and it is agreeable that the songs on the chart are among the more popular through the year. The 2016 year-end chart is here (easier for Chinese language readers). At #1 of the year is not a Chinese national but a Singaporean artist named JJ Lin. His English name is Wayne. The JJ is an abbreviation of his Chinese name Junjie. He has somewhat of a unique sounding voice which some may like and some not. The top song from a homegrown artist is adult pop ballad “When You Are Gone” from Hebe Tien. This is a song of hers as a soloist. She is also 1/3 of extremely popular girl group S.H.E. We have embedded the MV below.
While beautiful, powerful adult contemporary love songs are having a hard time making it in the West these days, in the Orient they are full of life. South Korea’s Lyn definitely has *the gift*. She released her 10th album last year and is dazzling us all with her gorgeous new song “Love Story” from the official soundtrack of The Legend of the Blue Sea, a fresh Korean TV series in the romantic comedy and fantasy genre. It is based on a classic Korean tale of the romance between a fisherman and a mermaid and the schemes of a con artist in modern times.
It’s time to focus on the world’s sixth largest music industry (of roughly 200 countries) which recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of its flagship awards ceremony, the ARIA awards. We’re talkin’ Australia. Following the release of a covers album dedicated to The Carpenters earlier this year, Australia’s Dami Im is back with new music: a fresh single called “Fighting for Love”. For those who really want to dance, their is as well a 7th Heaven remix of the song available. The track is exquisitely injected with EDM flourish and at the core of course are Dami’s exquisitely soaring vocals. Have a look and listen at the MV embedded below.
A famous sculptor, France’s Richard Orlinski has stepped into music with a little help from Dutch singer Eva Simons. The result of the collaboration is delicious EDM track “Heartbeat”, and it has topped the charts in France. Simons previously made a splash in Europe with her song “Policeman”. She is a fabulous singer as you can hear from the “Heartbeat” MV below.