Top Pops: Featuring Kanye West

As well as being a Beatles admirer I’m also a big Kanye West fan.  This one’s a little more controversial because he’s obviously a complete idiot, but that doesn’t stop me enjoying his unique brand of hip-hop.  Most of his albums so far have been superb, but today I’ve decided to go a little outside the box and look at my favourite songs including Kanye as a featured artist (thus also excluding anything from 2011’s Watch the Throne as well as Cruel Summer from the Kanye-led collective GOOD Music.). Kanye is a popular featured performer as he usually adds something different while bringing some much-appreciated star power.  I’m sure there are a few that I don’t know, but these are my favourites of the ones I do:

#7 E.T.  (Katy Perry, Teenage Dream, 2010)

Teenage Dream is an album I like a lot, and although in my opinion E.T. is probably the least remarkable of the five singles I still consider it worthy of inclusion as one of the most successful songs of 2011.

#6 This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race (remix) (Fall Out Boy, 2007)

This one is included more out of sentiment and suspicion than merit if truth be told.  I still don’t really know why Fall Out Boy collaborated with an artist of such a different style, but I think it’s an intriguing song that captured my attention a long time ago.

#5 Make Her Say (Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, 2009)

This song is a lot of fun; originally called “I Poke Her Face” Cudi was coerced into renaming it to make it radio-friendly.  It also features Common and an acoustic sample of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”, around which the chorus is based.

#4 Run this Town (Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3, 2009)

Into the more serious contenders comes “Run This Town”.  Kanye and Jay-Z are long-time friends and collaborators, and this song, also featuring Rihanna, was a big success.  Kanye’s verse is good enough that it’s even been criticised for overshadowing the rest of the song.

#3 Supernova (Mr Hudson, Straight No Chaser, 2009)

Far more successful in Europe than the US, Kanye’s collaboration with British artist Mr Hudson is a song I have a lot of time for.  Hudson was signed to Kanye’s GOOD Music label the year before and the two wrote “Supernova” together.

#2 Knock You Down (Keri Hilson, In a Perfect World…, 2009)

This song, from Hilson’s debut album, is very close to being my favourite.  Hilson, West and Ne-Yo come together to create an R&B classic about love and heartbreak that I really enjoy.

#1 American Boy (Estelle, Shine, 2008)

In truth, “American Boy” was always going to be top of my list.  Estelle’s vocals mix perfectly with Kanye’s humorous verses and the song was a big hit across the world, being nominated for the Grammy for Song of the Year and winning Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.

So it appears that for four years from 2007-2010 Kanye West entered a golden age of collaborations while releasing two excellent albums of his own (and one mediocre one – no prizes for guessing).  2009 in particular was a standout year and the songs from that year take me back to a time in my life I enjoyed; a lot of people don’t like the guy, but he was undoubtedly a big part of my teenage years.

Top Pops: Songs about Mondays

So as I don’t believe I’ve mentioned yet, beyond music and films and books and the like I have a passion for listing, categorising and cataloguing everything I can. In this blog I intend to have an occasional (i.e. when I’ve been too busy to truly pay attention to anything) segment in which I reel off some of my favourite “pops” according to whatever criteria I feel like at the time. I almost called this “Top of the Pops”, but that was too easy (as well as being frankly ridiculous). As such, I’m settling on “Top Pops”, which is less plagiaristic. I’m also not going to commit to a specific number of items in any given post, as I don’t want to call it my top 5 and have to cut out something I actually like, nor do I want to scrape a top 10 from the bottom of a barrel every time. So I’m listing as many as I want to.

And as I’m writing this on a Monday morning (mostly), and Monday morning is always a hot topic, here are my top five songs about (you guessed it): Mondays.

#5 New Order – Blue Monday

I’m including this song because I like it, it’s catchy, and it has good memories for me. Oh, and it has the word “Monday” in the title. However, I’m yet to be convinced that the song really has anything to do with this most miserable of days other than assuring us in the title that they can be, yes, Blue.

#4 Fleetwood Mac – Monday Morning

A nice upbeat song about Monday for once, representing the first day of the week as fresh and exciting. As the opening track on the first album featuring the band’s classic lineup, this song certainly signals the start of something remarkable for me.

#3 The Mamas and the Papas – Monday Monday

This song is a traditional depressing M&Ps number, and although it does give a true impression of how most people feel at the start of the week (slightly melodramatically), listening to this tune isn’t going to help anybody get out of bed.

#2 The Bangles – Manic Monday

A ballad to the archetypal Monday, on which everything goes wrong. As opposed to #3, this song makes me think “It may be Monday, but my day’s not going nearly as bad as hers”. But still. I wish it was Sunday too, girls.

#1 The Boomtown Rats – I Don’t Like Mondays

Well, it had to be this really. The song that (as far as I’m concerned) is the only reason Bob Geldof is actually famous in the first place. Does anybody know another Boomtown Rats song? This one sums up my feelings towards Mondays perfectly, with an almost humorous annoyance. Of course we all wish we could get rid of them altogether, but they’re not the worst thing in the world (ironic, perhaps, that the song was apparently written about a girl who went on a shooting spree and explained herself with the titular phrase). Nobody likes Mondays. The charitable saint that is Bob Geldof doesn’t even like Mondays. And guess what?

I don’t like Mondays either.

Dan