Chart for stowaways – 6 January 2018

Here are the week’s top ten singles:

  1. Sparks – Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)
  2. Saint Etienne – Dive
  3. Yazoo – Only You
  4. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – What Have We Done
  5. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – As We Open, So We Close
  6. Fever Ray – To the Moon and Back
  7. Sparks – I Wish You Were Fun
  8. Pet Shop Boys – Christmas
  9. David Bowie – Beauty and the Beast
  10. Erasure – Make It Wonderful

The Updated Top Twenty BRIT Award Artists

It’s really difficult to work out what the most successful BRIT Awards artists of all time are, so this took me several hours, and I’m still not too confident in the results. But anyway, here it is – an updated list of the top twenty artists at the BRIT Awards.

The number of wins and nominations are shown in brackets, and I’ve ranked the people who won them first higher on the list.

  1. Robbie Williams (13-12)
  2. Coldplay (9-17)
  3. Adele (9-3)
  4. Take That (8-10)
  5. U2 (7-19)
  6. Annie Lennox (7-5)
  7. One Direction (7-5)
  8. Prince (7-4)
  9. Arctic Monkeys (7-2)
  10. Oasis (6-12)
  11. David Bowie (6-8)
  12. Michael Jackson (6-2)
  13. Björk (5-5)
  14. Blur (5-12)
  15. Elton John (5-10)
  16. Paul Weller (5-4)
  17. Spice Girls (5-4)
  18. Phil Collins (4-6)
  19. Eminem (4-6)
  20. Ed Sheeran (4-6)

Just for the record, the next few are: R.E.M.Manic Street PreachersFoo FightersEmeli SandéThe BeatlesDidoGeorge MichaelKylie MinoguePet Shop Boys, and Beck.

Air – Moon Safari

Can this really be true? Can Air‘s hugely acclaimed debut Moon Safari really be twenty years old? Apparently, yes.

Of course, it wasn’t really quite their debut – the preceding three years had seen the release of a number of one-off singles and the compilation EP Premièrs Symptômes, but it was the sudden success of Sexy Boy that would cast them into the limelight in early 1998.

The album opens with the glorious La Femme d’Argent, a seven-minute Hammond organ-driven instrumental that drops us gently into the album. There’s really nothing to fault here – the jazzy bassline and sampled vocals come together perfectly, and I suspect you might find you’re in love with this album barely half way into the first track.

The lead single Sexy Boy was all over the charts in early 1998, so by the time you heard it on the album, you would have known it well already. Honestly, despite a pretty good level of French, particularly back in 1998, I’ve never really had much idea what they were singing about, but it’s a catchy song nonetheless.

I think my favourite track on here is the third single All I Need, with its stunning vocals from Beth Hirsch. It’s beautifully laid back, but also sweet and deeply meaningful.

The singles were essentially all the uptempo tracks – or as uptempo as anything on here is – so it’s hardly surprising that we get through them all in one go. Second single Kelly Watch the Stars is next, a particularly daft vocal coupled with an exceptional instrumental which somehow really comes together rather well.

After all this energy, it’s time for something a little more laid back. The beautiful Talisman is next, slowing things down beautifully, and is followed by an adorable vocal track Remember, the first track on here that could perhaps be faulted for being a little on the bland side.  But not by much.

Then Beth Hirsch is back for another adorable track, You Make it Easy, a slow, catchy piano piece which has been transformed into a gloriously chilled out song. Honestly, if you’re less than a little obsessed with this album by this point, you really do have no soul.

So of course, Ce Matin Là is fantastic, and New Star in the Sky is a sweet, adorable lullaby – there may be few surprises left at this end of the album, but that’s hardly what you want at this stage. This is an album which has spent 110 weeks on the UK chart in the last two decades, so I think it’s fair to say that there’s some consensus on this matter.

Air‘s career may have taken some slightly eccentric twists and turns, but in the early stages, they were truly brilliant. Moon Safari is as close to flawless as you could ever hope to get, and strongly deserving of the two years it’s spent on the charts.

Ideally, you want the multi-CD anniversary version, which gets you a disc of rarities and a DVD with all the videos, but you can get most of the pieces separately. Start with the main album here.

Preview – Yazoo

I know this made it onto our 2017 countdown as a late entry, but I wanted to share this rather lovely video for an entirely lovely new version of Yazoo‘s Only You, which came out as a single again just before Christmas:

Albums chart of the year 2017

It’s been a great year for reissues, so it’s no surprise to see a few on the 2017 top twenty. Here’s the full list:

  1. Depeche Mode – Spirit
  2. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène 3 [number 21 in 2016]
  3. Saint Etienne – Home Counties
  4. David Bowie – Legacy [number 27 in 2016]
  5. Kraftwerk – 3-D Der Katalog
  6. Pet Shop Boys – Release [released in 2002]
  7. Goldfrapp – Silver Eye
  8. Erasure – World Be Gone
  9. The Human League – Anthology – A Very British Synthesizer Group [number 37 in 2016]
  10. Pet Shop Boys – Nightlife [released in 1999, number 89 in 2004, number 177 in 2005, number 83 in 2006]
  11. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon [released in 1973, number 34 in 2014, number 20 in 2015, number 42 in 2016]
  12. Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental [released in 2005, number 5 in 2006]
  13. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment of Luxury
  14. New Order – Lost Sirens [released in 2013]
  15. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène Trilogy [number 40 in 2016]
  16. Pet Shop Boys – Yes [released in 2009, number 172 in 2015, number 171 in 2016]
  17. Dusty Springfield – Reputation [released in 1990, number 35 in 2016]
  18. C Duncan – The Midnight Sun [number 12 in 2016]
  19. Gorillaz – Humanz
  20. Pet Shop Boys – Elysium [number 2 in 2012, number 14 in 2013, number 179 in 2014, number 120 in 2016]