When I was a teenager browsing the aisles of record stores, I never would have imagined the day that millions of songs would be available to us at the push of a button, at any time and at any place. Even 10 years ago I don't think many of us could have imagined the ease with which we can get our hands - and ears - on new music! There's so much music now that it's pretty impossible to hear all of it - but that doesn't stop me from trying. As we transition into 2013 and leave 2012 behind, I'll be taking much of the music from the last year with me. These are the songs that rocked 2012 for me.
The Singles - The Best of Pure Pop
Rihanna - Diamonds: I recently read a New York magazine article about the state of the music industry and a profile of the band Grizzly Bear. One of the facts that I found so interesting is that "since 2008, there have been 66 No. 1 songs, and six artists are behind almost half of them." Rihanna is one of those six artists and she alone can claim nine of those No. 1 songs. Diamonds is her latest hit and I love it. Her voice and he style is so unique, which makes her instantly identifiable, which in this day and age is critical!
Fun - We Are Young ft. Janelle Monae: voted the most popular song of 2012 on Facebook and why not? I just feel happy when I hear this song - even though I'm not so sure about that first verse. It's got the chorus, melody and hooks that get inside your head. The chorus captures the joy and simple freedom of youth.
Bruno Mars - Locked Out of Heaven: Easily one of my favourites because of the richness of this track. It's a masterpiece, arranged to perfection and more than that, it bridges the gap between and sounds like today and yesterday (the music of my youth) at the same time. It's that convergence that I am drawn to. He is the real deal, in the mould of the old-school writers like Ashford and Simpson, Neil Diamond, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Smokey Robinson, Neil Sedaka, etc. Bruno Mars, along with Cee Lo Green and Ne*Yo are carrying on the legacy of these hit makers.
The Lumineers - Ho Hey: I can't resist this song. It's stripped down folk with a killer hook that's simple and brilliant at the same time. "I belong with you, you belong with me. You're my sweetheart"... it's a classic love song and it's infectious.
Labrinth - Express Yourself: Another brilliant convergence of old school and new school. Express Yourself samples a "take me to church" funk/soul song and adds a young, new, fresh spin. It reminds me of the sound that first inspired me as a young girl in Glasgow. It does more than make me want to get up and dance; it lights the fire in me!
Olly Murs - Troublemaker - I've loved Olly Murs since Dance With Me Tonight. Plain and simple, this song is a great collaboration between Olly and Flo Rida, who both bring their different styles to the table to make a great song.
Adam Lambert - Trespassing: Speaking of voices, it doesn't get much better than my friend Adam Lambert. Trespassing is a driving, dance, anthem with attitude, a mean beat and Adam's incredible voice.
Bobby Womack - The Bravest Man in The Universe: I worked with Bobby Womack on my album Together in 2002. We recorded the song I'm Back for More together, and then performed on television together a number of times. Working with Bobby was one of the highlights of my career. I have always held his talent in such esteem, and was so grateful to have the chance to work with him. His is one of the most soulful and unforgettable voices of the last fifty years. His latest album has reflective, confessional overtones and takes soul music to new heights. The production, samples and the arrangements are modern and fresh, but Bobby's voice is raw, true, pure soul. I can feel his emotion in my own heart throughout the album.
The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter: I first heard the Avett Brothers following their 2009 album, I And Love And You and was captivated by the haunting title song. This year's album, The Carpenter was produced by Rick Rubin. The whole album is solid from first track to the last, but if you only check out one song, give Live and Die a listen. The song is like a sunny day.
Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls: When I first heard lead singer Brittany Howard's tough, soulful voice, it caught me a little off guard! It's unexpected, but a very pleasant surprise. Alabama Shakes have a hybrid sound that calls to mind Motown, 60's soul and classic rock & roll. My favourite track on the album is the anthem Hold On and I love to sing along.
Bonnie Raitt - Slipstream: I've been a long time disciple of Bonnie Raitt and have a deep appreciation for the way she's evolved over the course of her career. She's a true artist who has paid her dues; she's studied, she's lived, she's worked hard and her style, interpretation, her voice have all benefited. She is one of the most talented slide guitarists (male or female!) who has ever lived! Her passion shines through on this album. Her voice conveys heartache like nothing else! I love her take on Gerry Rafferty's Right Down the Line. She reinvents the song with a modern, reggae twist.
Anastacia - It's A Man's World: Back in 2009/2010 I toured with Anastacia and Chaka Kahn and had an amazing time sharing the stage with these incredible singers. Anastacia's vocals are so powerful and she sings with such abandon - so much so that she calls herself a "freak". Her release It's A Man's World is a collection of songs made famous by male singers, which she interprets in her own unique and incomparable way. This album is a step closer to what Ana should be, which is the lead singer in a killer rock band, with Slash or Jimmy Page behind her.