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Presenters’ Picks – 2018


Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite albums and tracks of the year …

Ben Simmons

Album: Various Artists – The Greatest Showman: Reimagined

Loved all the original songs but particularly like these with a twist, especially Years and Years and Jess Glynne’s version of Come Alive.

Track: George Ezra – Shotgun

Love the bass in this track.

Bob Simpson

Album: George Ezra – Staying at Tamara’s

I don’t buy much new music nowadays. My biggest delight this year was a great new album from Paul McCartney – Egypt Station, his best album for two decades, but rather than dwelling for too long in the past I thought I would choose George Ezra. Staying At Tamara’s is his second album and it’s even better than his first. Full of catchy songs and with his great distinctive voice I think this talented young man is going to be around for many years to come.

Track: James Manners – Hell On High Water

James is an unsigned artist from Newark on Trent. He draws his inspiration from a vivid cross section of artists. This soulful well crafted song deservedly made it on to the Phoenix FM A list in November and became an instant hit with me!

Chris Hood

Album: Dorja – Gemini

It felt like I had been waiting for this album for an age, but finally it was released back in the Summer thanks the help of a number of generous crowdfunders (myself included). Of course it would be nothing without the amazing ladies of Dorja and their individual and collective class. Each track on this album is a rock stunner, but the title track has to be my favourite.

And where can you get this album you ask…well, apart from gigs you’ll have to wait until the ladies get a distribution deal. Sorry, ’cause it really is that good.

Track: Lady Gaga – Always Remember Us This Way

Well, this will be a left field choice for anyone who has followed my selections over the past few years, but Gaga is a little bit of a guilty pleasure for me, and the film from which this song appears, A Star is Born, should be picking up multiple awards, it really is my film of the year.

An amazing, heartfelt song, showing another facet to Stefani Germanotta that you may not know from her main popular output, this is on constant rotation for me and buzzing around in my head the rest of the time.

Courtney-Lee Collins

Album: Various Artists – The Greatest Showman: Reimagined

I am a huge musical theatre fan so when the film came out at the beginning of this year and I heard that Pasek and Paul were composing the songs I knew that they would be good. Musical theatre with just enough pop sound to be relevant to people who don’t like musicals. However I was really excited when Reimagined dropped as some of my favourite pop stars put their own spin on the songs from my favourite film of the year.

I particularly loved Panic! At The Disco’s Version Of The Greatest Show, Pentatonix’s version of The Greatest Show, Pink’s Version Of A Million Dreams, Years and Years and Jess Glynne’s Version Of Come Alive, Craig David’s Version of Come Alive and James Arthur & Anne-Marie’s Version Of Rewrite The Stars. Overall, an amazing album that I think everyone on it should be proud of it.

Track: 5 Seconds of Summer – Youngblood

I’ve been a big fan of 5SOS since back in the days where they used to open for One Direction on tour and have loved them ever since and something about this song just stuck with me. It’s catchy, the perfect blend of slow and upbeat when the chorus kicks in and it’s also got a great beat behind it, one of my favourites to play on my show as it sounds great on air too. Definitely a song I want to sing along to every time I hear it, well done boys you did it again, they smashed it well and truly!

Jon Good

Album: Take That – Odyssey

This album is a re-imagined greatest hits album that takes you on a journey through the last 28 years. For me, they just get better and better.

Track: Liv Lawrence – So Fine

Liv is only 13 years old when she released this track in August 2018 with Bad Influence Productions. The track is very uplifting and almost makes me feel young again. I play it in the car all the time, and I’m so pleased when it makes it into The Sunday Sessions Chart Show.

Josh Fowler

Album: First Aid Kit – Ruins

It hasn’t been a stellar year of music for me, with the biggest disappointment being the Arctic Monkeys latest release. But a diamond in the rough was the latest released from First Aid Kit way back in January. I was lucky enough to see the Soderberg sisters in the summer and they were the highlight of my festival weekend. It’s A Shame and Fireworks are stand out tracks, but the whole thing is a folky dream. Perfect to kick back and dream of warmer days.

Track: Superorganism – Everybody Wants To Be Famous

This song has a euphoric feeling that I can’t help but be infected by. The group, a mish-mash of nationalities, are as unconventional as their musical techniques. A particular highlight in this song is the use of a fizzy drink being opened and poured – as well as the psychedelic use of slowing and speeding the vocals. If nothing else, I think this song should be classified as a legal high.

Matt Hines

Album: The Breeders – All Nerve

Sublime. Wait In The Car is a standout on a delightful album.

Track: Boy Azooga – Loner Boogie

Infectious, delicious and cool.

Michelle Ward

Album: José James: Lean On Me

A beautifully crafted album by an incredible vocalist who combines jazz, soul, drum’n’bass and spoken word.

Track: Rosie A Webb – Summertime

With so many tracks to pick from and an incredible amount of unsigned original talent I have picked Rosie A Webb with her track Summertime. Rosie is a local singer/songwriter who came in and blew my mind with her incredible soulful voice.

Rosie also talked about her work with Key Changes who provide music engagement and recovery services in hospitals and the community for young people and adults experiencing mental health problems.

Mike Jones

Album: Paul Weller – True Meanings

Never been a huge Weller or Jam fan but just loved this album. This is the record he always wanted to do and it’s 100% him – totally exposed and vulnerable and a master storyteller. His voice improves with age and so does his songwriting. Runners up – The Screens and Mumfords.

Track: The Screens – Mirrorball

Tough to pick a track from the most original album of the last ten years but Mirrorball has it all. With wonderful vocals from Colin Wade and our very own Michelle Ward it’s a must-listen and deserves a huge audience. The band already have a massive following on Independent Radio across the world.

Mike Porter

Album: George Ezra – Staying At Tamara’s
Track: George Ezra – Shotgun

George Ezra is my favourite artist of 2018. Shotgun is great and his new album is fantastic.

Nigel Fitzmaurice

Album: Jeffrey Osborne – Worth It All

Such a splendid album with soul and uptempo tunes and his usual style of 80s soul.

Track: Calvin Harris and Sam Smith – Promises

An unusual pairing but an infectious tune – I love it!

Patrick Sherring

Album: Will Hoge – My American Dream

Nashville’s Will released an album full of songs protesting at the way American society has developed. Every contemporary issue is addressed in hard-edged lyrics within a musical style critics have labelled rock-country. I saw Will preforming this year with a set that pulled no punches. This album will certainly keep your attention and challenge you to think about how you view 2018 America.

Track: Sophie Griffiths – Maybe

Ingatestone’s own Sophie released this soulful single in 2018. Sophie has come into Phoenix FM to sing solo and also as part of the band Breaking 3. This track demonstrates her unique vocal talent and the ways she is able to portray emotion. With a stylish backing, this track is a highlight of the year.

Paul Golder

Album: Dream Wife – Dream Wife

Debut album from the Anglo-Icelandic trio which came out in January and has just about fought off allcomers! It’s a great album in the tradition of old school punk with pop music sensibilities, albeit with very 21st century subject matter. They’re an amazing live draw too – not to be missed if you get the chance to see them on stage.

Track: Salad – The Selfishness Of Love

A comeback track from a band who had some success in the 1990s on the coat-tails of Britpop, and who we’ve featured a lot over the last couple of years as they build their way back to regular touring and recording again. It has a quirky, angular feel which wouldn’t be out of place on their top 20 album Drink Me, and that’s no bad thing.

Rob Harvey

Album: Promenade Cinema – Living Ghosts

I have to say I couldn’t wait to hear this album after the first few singles from Promenade Cinema, and this debut delivered. The warm dramatic stories and heart felt lyrics, were spotlights shine though the brooding melodies and dynamic soaring synths. Each song had its own character from Polaroid Stranger to widescreen emotional masterpiece that is Norway; I have to admit that track always brings a tear at it’s very intro. This debut album is a firm favourite for me and feels like it has been made by two Timelords, who fell in love at a gothic cinema, where Lady Gaga sold ice creams in the interval as John Foxx shone a torch to seat spirits, as they muse at the dramatic mystery of the Living Ghosts.

Track: Strange Eyes – Black Heart

A simply beautiful debut with all the fine drama and mystery of a classic horror love story, set as a time travelling seductive vendetta, a track dripping in lush haunting synths and an etherial dark hearted lyric. This spellbinding song kept me emotionally connected; add to this, a stunning video that delivers on the story that will draws you to the light.

Spencer Carter

Album: Judie Tzuke, Beverley Craven and Julia Fordham – Woman To Woman

The standout album of the year for me. Bringing together these three powerhouses behind some of the most lyrically blessed tracks over the past 40 (yes, you heard right, 40) years is a stroke of genius.

From Judy’s career spanning back catalogue, to Beverly’s emotional and poignant songs (made even more powerful by her current health struggles) to Julia’s intricate song writing and vocal interpretations, this album is a masterpiece in musicality.

The first single – Safe – takes you to a place that is comforting, emotive, warm and, well, safe. You would have to be made of stone to fail to be moved by the sentiment and emotion behind it. Other standout tracks include “A Photo Every Christmas” and “If (when you go)”.

If you haven’t bought it yet – do so. And if you have, then play, play and play again.

Track: Kylie Minogue – Dancing

Tough choice, as there has been some superb music out this year. I could pick at least five or six tracks that immediately spring to mind (Johnny Marr, Everything But The Girl, The Fizz) but a stand out single for me is “Dancing” by the rather awesome Kylie.

Constantly reinventing herself, taking the country music route was always going to be a risk but I think she pulled it off with great aplomb, bringing what could be described as a dated genre (don’t shoot me Nashville fans!) kicking and screaming into today’s music seen with edgy basslines, sparingly eclectic guitar solos and breathy vocals. All done to a disco beat which is no mean feat.

As you enter your 51st year Miss Minogue, and your 30th in your recording career, take a bow.

Steve Davis

Album: Magma – Marquee Londres 17 mars 1974
Track: Magma – Köhntarkösz

A live album released in August 2018 of the French prog band’s seminal 70s show.

Steve Robertson

Album: Chvrches – Love is Dead

Going by the album I’ve listened to the most this year, the third LP from the Glasgow-based band has to be my choice for 2018.

Track: Sam Fender – Leave Fast

After seeing him play at this year’s Standon Calling, I’ve been listening to a lot of the BPI Critics’ Choice Award winner. Just over three minutes long, this single has a simple acoustic feel and carries a message for these times.

Tony Smith

Album: Cardi B – Invasion Of Privacy

We were also up to our ears in film soundtracks this year, with songs from The Greatest Showman dominating the charts like no album since Adele’s. It spent almost half the year at number one in the UK, was released again with new versions of the songs by the likes of Pink and Kelly Clarkson, and was joined in the top five at one point by the soundtracks to films Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born.

But according to Spotify, rap ruled in 2018 – so for me the artist who cemented her place among Rap’s elite and has my vote for the best album of the year is Invasion Of Privacy by Cardi B.

Track: Janelle Monáe – Make Me Feel

Another big year for a lot of the top artists, but the best stand out single for me was the infectious dance track Make Me Feel from Janelle Monáe. There’s such an ease and a fluidity to the song, just like Monáe’s public persona. A perfect blend of smart, sensual lyrics and physicality that can’t do anything but make you feel … good!

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