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So it’s the start of a New Year, so what better time to look back at some of the great music 2011 had to offer us.  Here are my top 10 songs of the year (I made a rule of only one song per band to make it fair), be sure to vote for your favourites and have your say!

10. Coldplay – Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall

As the first single from Coldplay’s fifth studio album ‘Mylo Xyloto’, ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ is your standard Coldplay song. Like many of their previous hits it sounds big and anthemic, which don’t get me wrong is great, if a little predictable.

9. Ed Sheeran – The A Team

Ed Sheeran really captured the nation’s hearts last year with debut single ‘The A Team’. It’s subtle melodies and soft vocal make the track easy to listen to.

8. Elbow – Open Arms

This track from Elbow’s fifth studio album ‘Build A Rocket Boys’ is such an uplifting and powerful song, of which there is unfortunately very little of in UK music charts today.

7. Clare Maguire – The Shield and The Sword

It was a great year for singer-songwriter Clare Maguire, releasing her debut album ‘Light After Dark’ in February last year. This was my favourite track from the album, the electro-dance melody beautifully compliments her strong vocal on the track.

6. Adele – Someone Like You

I had to include this song, as one of the best-selling and most played of the year. It’s a beautiful ballad, guaranteed to tug at the heart-strings on every listen.

5. Take That – The Flood

The Flood was the first single from the album ‘Progress’ and served as a promising preview for what the album was to bring. It’s catchy, it’s dramatic, it’s cheesey – everything you need from a Take That record. It’s just a dreadful shame that the rest of the album didn’t quite live up to this potential…

4. Snow Patrol – This Isn’t Everything You Are

I feel like this song manages to encapsulate Snow Patrol at their best. For me it falls somewhere between ‘Chasing Cars’ and ‘Crack The Shutters’, capturing a perfect balance between the emotional extremes of melancholy and hope.

3. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Dial My Number

Written about a text stalker, this track from Sophie’s fourth studio album ‘Make A Scene’ simply defies you not to dance. It was difficult to pick a favourite from the album, ‘Off & On’ and ‘Starlight’ were also strong contenders, but ‘Dial My Number’s killer riff won out in the end.

2. Sinead & The Dawnbreakers – Don’t Pretend

I have had this song on repeat for months! Their 60’s-esque style makes them pretty unique on the current music scene and this track is really upbeat and fun – guaranteed to make you smile.

1. The Feeling – Say No

My number one track of 2011 has to be ‘Say No’ from The Feeling’s third studio album ‘Together We Were Made’. From the moment I first heard this song live I adored it, and the final recording keeps all of the emotional build up, heightened by the additional vocals of Sinead Quinn. If ever there was a perfectly crafted song, this is it!

Well I’ve had my say, now it’s your turn – vote now!

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The news broke today that Mercury Records are to stop making physical CD singles.

Mercury records manage artists such as The Killers, Arcade Fire and U2.

Ian McCann of Record Collector magazine has said ‘Major labels have struggled to find a way of coping with the relatively small runs that a physical single entails’.

There has also been speculation that data from streaming sites may be incorporated into the charts in future.

Personally I’m a big fan of the CD. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s just something so much more special about owning a physical CD than just a digital download. The day a new single comes out from your favorite band, you have the excitement of going out to the shop specially to buy it. Or if you’ve ordered online, you spend all day hoping and praying that it turns up on time! It’s just something I’m not quite prepared to be without.

But that’s just my opinion, why not have your say? You can vote in the poll below, and be sure to leave your comments on the matter.

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It has today been announced that The Feeling’s upcoming single titled ‘Set My World On Fire’ will be available on iTunes from 14th March 2011.

The track has already been selected to be used by the BBC for its coverage of this year’s Cricket World Cup, which begins on February 19th.

Make Your Own kind Of Music are very excited about this new single release and indeed the album which will follow soon! You’ll be kept updated with news from the gigs next month.

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I know we’re nearing the end of January now – but I thought I’d take this opportunity to take a look back on 2010 to give you my thoughts on last years musical offering. I’m also very interested in your opinions, so do be sure to leave a comment.

January brought us the wonderful ‘dream-pop’ of Owl City’s ‘Fireflies’, a single which really captured the hearts of the nation. It was refreshing to hear something a little bit different, not just the same R&B and Dance music that’s been dominating the charts for so long. Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s place, but I just prefer to have more diversity in the charts. And no, I’m not referring to that dance group off ‘Britain’s Got Talent’…

However last January also brought the unbelievably irritating noise of Justin Bieber into our charts, who’s songs are just another bit of the same old stuff, except in a higher pitch. And this of course lead into more insufferable singles from the X-Factor manufactured JLS.

Rant over, I bring you to quite possibly my favorite month for music last year – May. At the beginning of the month we were treated to, in my opinion the best single 2010 had to offer, Sophie Ellis Bextor’s ‘Bittersweet’.  We also had ‘Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)’ by the phenomenal Muse, released as part of the ‘Twilight: New Moon’ soundtrack.

But most importantly for me, May was the month that brought my favorite gig of the year. It was of course The Feeling at The Water Rats on the 5th of the month. The band took the gig as an opportunity to preview some of the new material for their upcoming third album (expected May/June this year) to their fans. It was the place they were first signed from, so it was also a nice chance for the band to go back to their roots. Read the full review of the gig here.

The summer brought us the care-free tones of Eliza Doolittle’s ‘Pack Up’, Katy Perry’s ‘California Gurls’ and Example’s ‘Kickstarts’, along with one of the most infuriatingly catchy tracks in all of history, ‘We Speak No Americano’. Scouting For Girls even bothered to write us a few new songs, unlike their debut album, which was full of remixes of the same song.  How thoughtful of them!

August brought us an eagerly anticipated follow-up to ‘The Trick To Life’ from The Hoosiers. ‘The Illusion Of Safety’ is full of instantly catchy tunes to really get you dancing. Initially I thought it may even be better than their debut,  but in retrospect, I feel it  just lacked something the first album had. But still a brilliant second album from them.  I Am Arrows released their debut album ‘Sun Comes Up Again’ which became Radio 2’s album of the week, and subsequently ended up being the soundtrack to my holiday!

In September, The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers went solo with ‘Flamingo’. I really feel this album was overlooked a little in the media. I would personally have said that it was the best album of the year, but if an album isn’t given the right media coverage, it just doesn’t get very far in this business. Shame.

Muse also played two nights at Wembley in September. I was at the second, which, for a big Muse fan was great as they played a few older tracks which are virtually unheard of these days; the likes of ‘Citizen Erased’ and ‘Bliss’. It was a shame that they were at the expense of more recent tracks ‘Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)’ and ‘I Belong To You’ which they had played the night before, but hey, you can’t please ’em all. A stunning performance as always.

Take That re-united with Robbie Williams this year, releasing ‘Shame’ in October. Understandably, many of us didn’t know what to make of this. Anyone can see that musically the song wasn’t brilliant. But do we just take this as a send-up? Or is this really the level we can expect from Take That and Robbie in the future?

This of course lead into Take That’s ‘Progress’ at the end of the year. Take That back as a five piece, there was so much hype surrounding this phenomenon, but does it really live up to the hype? I’m aware I may alienate a lot of people with what I’m about to say, but it’s just my opinion, please hear me out.

In my opinion, ‘Progress’ just doesn’t match up to the heights of  it’s predecessors ‘Beautiful World’ and ‘The Circus’ – both albums full of beautiful song-writing and lyrical genius. There are some stand out tracks for me ‘The Flood’ ‘What Do You Want From Me?’ and ‘SOS’ spring to mind, but the majority of them just haven’t got me hooked yet. You can say it’s a grower, but by now I would have expected it to have grown on me. It just hasn’t. And where the Hell is Gary Barlow on this album?! He only sings one song! The majority are sung by Robbie – I may aswell have purchased a Robbie Williams album!

Now I’m not saying by any stretch that it’s a bad album (and by some of the standards of recent times, it’s positively amazing!) but it’s just not up to the quality of Take That music that I’m used to. I don’t know if it’s down to Robbie, or whether (and I suspect the latter) they simply didn’t put the effort in. ‘Hey, Robbie’s back in Take That. Don’t worry, people will buy the album anyway.’ I really hope this isn’t the case, because this is not like them, but the whole album, to me, just looks like a big publicity stunt.

December also brought us a tour from Squeeze, and Sophie Ellis Bextor’s first solo tour in over three years. She did not disappoint! All of her new songs sounding fantastic leaving me very excited for the album (currently scheduled for March). Read my full review of the Sophie gig here.

And unfortunately Christmas was once again ruined by The X-Factor and Matt Cardle. It’s such a shame. Biffy Clyro’s ‘Many Of Horror’ is an awesome tune, but now it’s just another song added to the long list of X-Factor victims. It’s been given the typical X-Factor (verging on Westlife) treatment, of that generic, diabolical key change to signal the final chorus. But perhaps the most unforgivable of these sins is the name change to ‘When We Collide’. It’s unnecessary. It’s an insult to its audience really, as if to say they wouldn’t know the song if they gave it its proper title.

Is it really too much to ask to get a CHRISTMAS song to number one next year? It’s not as if no-one’s writing them! Last year we had some fantastic offerings from both The Killers and Coldplay. Rage Against The X Factor worked a treat, lets do that again but with an actual Christmas song. Now that’s something to aim for.

So what’s happening in 2011?

So, what can we look forward to this year? Well, we can expect albums from The Feeling, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Florence + The Machine, Lady GaGa, Adele, Britney Spears, R.E.M and Elbow over the coming months.

The new artist I’m most excited about for this year, and my ‘one to watch’ as they say, has to be Clare Maguire. I first discovered her when ‘You’re Electric’ was made iTunes single of the week. Since then I’ve been hearing so much about her and listening to more of her material. You can download ‘Strangest Thing’ for free from her Facebook page. Her debut album ‘Light After Dark’ will be released 28th February.

Well I’ve had my say, but now it’s your turn. What are your favorite and least favourite tracks, albums and gigs from the last year? What are you looking forward to this year?

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From the start of next month two of the UK’s major record labels will make singles available to buy from the day they are first aired on the radio.

Universal Music UK chairman, David Joseph has said: ‘On Air, On Sale is good news for any music fan and exciting for our artists who can now go into the studio knowing they don’t have to wait weeks, or sometimes months, to see the music they have created go on sale.’

The scheme may also help to cut down on music piracy, which is good news for artists. Jessie J tells her fans: ‘I’ve had a lot of people rip music off YouTube but I won’t be able to make another album if no one buys this one.’

However, there is some concern that without radio air time leading up to a single’s release, there will be less public awareness of the single. This could particularly affect new artists who don’t already have much of a following.

Let me know what you make of this new development. Will the decision help or hinder the music industry in the long-term?

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Fairshare Music is a music downloads site, which donates half  its profits from each sale to a charity of your choice. Music lovers can download fantastic tracks, knowing that by doing so you’re helping others – what could be better?! I really think this could be the next big thing for music downloads.

Fairshare have teamed up with a large number of charities such as Amnesty International, Oxfam and The British Heart Foundation.

Homeless charity for young people, Centrepoint, today released an album of covers from the year 1969 (the year they were founded) – ‘1969 Key To Change’ – with Fairshare, featuring artists such as The Feeling, Hard-Fi and Jools Holland.

You can Download the album here – so get Donating!

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My album of the month for October is another new release. It just goes to show that there really is some fantastic music coming out at the moment.

So October 2010’s album of the month is…

Brandon Flowers – Flamingo

Flamingo’ is The Killers’ frontman, Brandon Flowers’ debut solo album, released last month. From first listen, several of the songs have stayed with me, the most notable being ‘Was It Something I Said?’ ‘Magdalena’ and lead single ‘Crossfire’. For me this really is the mark of a great album – songs which easily enter your head, but don’t become irritating.

The album very much has a feel of The Killers, there’s a lot of synth, but perhaps less rock influence, certainly than The Killers’ older albums. You can tell a lot of it was initially meant for The Killers, but that’s hardly surprising as obviously that’s just Brandon’s writing style. Of The Killers’ albums ‘Flamingo’ is definitely most like ‘Day & Age’, but in places there’s also influence from ‘Hot Fuss’  – for example ‘Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas’ has some similarities with ‘Glamorous Indie Rock And Roll’.

Another notable song for me is ‘Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts’. In classic Killers’ style, it has a belter of a chorus, and fitting with the Vegas theme of the album, expertly uses gambling as a metaphor for love ‘Why did you roll your dice, show your cards’.

Brandon has been blessed with a powerful and distinctive voice. There is no way you can hear any of his songs and not know that it’s Brandon Flowers!

This is another fine example of an almost perfect album. There is not a single track that I dislike, and for me only a few other albums have truly managed to do this  – most notably The Feeling’s ‘Twelve Stops And Home’, Muse’s  ‘The Resistance’ and Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s ‘Trip The Light Fantastic.

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