Tag Archives: 15

Festive 15 – music to save lives

Award winning music journalist, Dr Jonathan O’Shea, kindly agreed to share his top 15 tracks of 2015 with Kureen – let us know your thoughts in the comment section below the article. 

Chemical Brothers

The Festive Fifteen, my favourite tracks of the year, has become an accidental annual tradition (I think this is the seventh one) and was initially inspired by John Peel’s Festive 50. Like pointless paper crowns, turkey incineration and being derisive about sprouts, this is one seasonal routine which is set to continue ad infinitum.

Between Christmas and the New Year, I like to pore over the music that’s been pumped into the ether over the past twelve months and somehow make sense of it all by pointlessly ranking it. Then I present it to the world in classic chart countdown style: 15 to 1 (not to be confused with William G Stewart’s bad-ass 90s game show).

So here’s the Festive Fifteen ’15;

15. What Went Down – Foals

Pulsing, persistent beat and increasingly frenzied lyrics from the inappropriately-named indie rockers.

14. Leaving the City – Joanna Newsom

The planet’s most unique and oblique pop-harpist takes a leap into new, questing territory, with a less sparse, more densely developed sound than usual.

13. Mr Noah – Panda Bear

Some pretty weird-ass stuff here, about a dog being bitten on his leg…? Sounds like it was recorded on a demonically distorted hurdy-gurdy in 2048 and sent back in time through a subterranean vortex.

12. Go – Chemical Brothers ft. Q-Tip

Begins amid frantic bongos and slashing light-sabres (honestly); Q-Tip’s muscular rap provides the backbone for a Daft Punk-style synth-a-thon.

11. Go Out Blur

The kind of swaggering anthem Damon & co relentlessly pumped out in their prime.

10. Singularity – New Order

One of the darker tracks from Music Complete focuses on dissatisfaction with everyday inertia and mourns the loss of ex-bandmate Ian Curtis.

9. Tutti Frutti – New Order ft. Elly Jackson

Could easily be filed under ‘90s nostalgia, but a beguiling duet with La Roux’s Elly Jackson elevates this playful track to something more airily uplifting.

8. Detroit – Gaz Coombes

Probably the finest moment of the ex-Supergrass frontman’s solo career. A tale of longing for home while in a distant land: effortlessly melodic, with a soul-stirring arrangement.

7. City – Spring King

Breathless stomper; designed to thrash about in the dark to. Repeat: “Who am I? What does it matter?”

6. Strange Combinations Teleman

Gently insistent and mildly hypnotic stuff. Perhaps the strangest combination here is the electro beat and mild-mannered vocal style, but it works wonderfully.

5. Borders – M.I.A

Controversial subject matter – the refugee crisis and a ‘f*ck the system’ message – delivered in typically laconic style. Sure, it’s a little lyrically banal, but at least she seems to stand for something.

4. Bodies – Farao

Totally irresistible combination of plaintive Scandinavian vocalist and inexorable rhythms.

3. Swords (Matahdatah Scroll 01 “Broader Than A Border”) – M.I.A.

Opens with the rhythmic clashing of swords and a pulsing beat which underpins a culture-clash classic. Check out the genuinely awesome M.I.A-directed double video for this new track and 2013’s ‘Warriors’.

2. Dreams – Beck

Reminiscent of his upbeat ‘Guero’-era danceable demi-anthems, this track – devoted to the restorative power of dreams – is thickly layered with catchy aural confections…it’s surely the funksome highpoint of Beck’s meandering later career.

1. Don’t Breathe Out – Roots Manuva.

soul-stirring sample of portly baritone Barry White’s ‘Honey Please, Can’t Ya See’ forms the unlikely bedrock of this gloriously gospel-tinged track. The Walrus of Love’s slightly sickly love letter morphs into something altogether more mystical and compelling under the spell of Stockwell’s philosophical wordsmith.


Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

Top 15 Countdown: Female Rappers

Welcome to the first of a regular series on Kureen called the Top 15 Countdown. This week we look at the 15 greatest female rappers ever to spit bars.

15. Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes

Despite enjoying a successful solo career and three No. 1 hits as a member of TLC, Lopes’s personal life was marred by her rocky relationship with American football player Andre Rison, and in 1994 she was arrested for burning down his home. Lopes died in a car accident on April 25, 2002, in Honduras at the peak of her powers.

14. Yo-Yo

Yo-Yo (born Yolanda Whitaker) is among the most sophisticated and unpredictable female rappers of all-time. Despite refraining from an overtly feminist tack, she dealt with issues of sexual restraint and self-worth in young women.

13. Rapsody

With her polished and distinct style, Rapsody’s wordplay and flow are virtually unparalleled in both delivery and execution. Still only 27 years old, the North Carolina resident remains one of the most promising forces on the contemporary hip-hop landscape.

12. The Lady of Rage

Though she had made more than a dozen appearances on soundtracks as well as albums from her Death Row Records cohorts from 1988 onwards, the Lady of Rage didn’t release an album until 1997; the explosive Necessary Roughness was worth the wait.

11. Foxy Brown

Diminutive Brooklyn-based MC, model and actress whose brash style helped mould a generation of sexually-activated female rappers. First hit the scene in 1989, aged just 15.

10. Salt-N-Pepa

All-female rap crew from Queens whose assertive rhymes, topped with a dollop of feminism, earned them worldwide success. The group, consisting of Cheryl James, Sandra Denton and Deidra Roper, was formed in 1985, peaking a year later with the release of seminal album Push It.

9. Bahamadia

Philadelphia rapper whose unique monotone delivery and crafty rhymes wooed critics in the 1990’s, Bahamadia rose to prominence on the hip-hop scene as the female protégée of Gang Starr’s Guru, and lent her smooth-flowing lyrics to a variety of projects during the latter part of the decade.

8. Eve

Former member of the Ruff Ryders crew, her photogenic looks and impudent rhymes, Eve was number 48 on VH1’s “50 Greatest Women of the Video Era” list. Another female rapper to seamlessly transition into acting.

7. Da Brat

Chicago-based spitfire who burst onto the mid-’90’s hip-hop scene with her bold, defiant delivery.  Her debut album, Funkdafied, sold one million copies, making her the first female solo rap act to go platinum.

6. Missy Elliott

Individualistic female MC who altered the hip-hop landscape with her eclectic, innovative, sexually charged rhymes, buoyed by Timbaland beats. Recent Bestival headline set was a noteworthy example of effectively keeping a large audience on a short leash.

5. Lil’ Kim

Fiercest, most provocative, and most infamous female rapper of the late-1990s, Kim lost steam as her career entered the 21st Century, but her legacy remains pivotal in the evolution of female hip-hop.

4. Nicki Minaj

First stepping into the spotlight as an affiliate of Lil Wayne, the quirky, cool Minaj went from mix-tape queen to bona fide superstar with a string of successful releases. Regular surgeries have rendered her barely identifiable in a physical sense when placed alongside the Minaj of the late 2000’s, but her rap game remains tight.

3. Queen Latifah

One of the first politically conscious female rappers, selling nearly two million records worldwide as she feuded with Foxy Brown. She later became better known for a successful acting career and talk show.

2. MC Lyte

Trailblazer who came to the fore in the late 1980’s, becoming the first solo female rapper to release a full album with 1988’s critically acclaimed Lyte as a Rock. MC Lyte has long been considered one of hip-hop’s pioneer feminists.

1. Lauryn Hill

Singer, actress, songwriter, rapper and producer best known for being a member of the Fugees and for her brilliant solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Has become a virtual recluse in recent years, distancing herself from the music industry excepting the occasional low-key venue.

 Agree with the list? Think we missed someone out? Let us know in the comment section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

The Festive 15. Part 3: 5-1

2015 is upon us, and despite Marty McFly and Doc Brown’s claims to the contrary, we’re still not floating around on hover boards and there hasn’t been a peep yet about the production of Jaws 19

Something that can be relied upon is Jonathan O’Shea’s Festive 15. In the first editions we counted down from 15th  to 6th, now witness the top five singles of 2014 in all of their glory! 

5. Love Letters – Metronomy

Surely a day never goes by without this group seeing the word ‘retro’ written about them, but this is an authentic old-time hip-shaker of a tune. Video by Michel Gondry.

4. La Vérité – Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains

French is my second language of choice, so I can confidently decode at least 38% of this. But that matters not a jot, ‘cause it’s catchy as f*ck!

3. Sisters – Cate Le Bon

Perfectly demented. What an outro!

2. Rule Number One – Telegram

Swirling, controlled chaos. Sounds a little bit like a futuristic Status Quo fronted by Stephen Hawking’s voice box, but don’t let that put you off.

1. Europa Geht Durch Mich – Manic Street Preachers

Such a succinct, politically acute and inexorable blast of polemic. Killer cowbell too.

What do you think of Jonathan’s Festive 15? Not a whiff of Justin Bieber, Wand Erection or Union J! Let us know which tracks you would have selected in the comments section below, and, as always, please share the article and invite friends to ‘like’ the Kureen Facebook page!

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

The Festive 15. Part 2: 10-6

Guess who’s back, back again; Jon O’s back, tell a friend… Seriously – tell a friend and let’s get some new viewers for Kureen! In this second edition of the Festive 15 Jonathan O’Shea reveals the tracks that make up the first half of his top 10, narrowly missing out on a slot amongst the elite quintet.

10. Ghost Rider – Anna Calvi

Breathy vocals and discordant pangs of guitar knitted together by an insistent beat. The dark queen of alt-rock smothered this Suicide cover with characteristic high drama.

9. Would You Fight For My Love? – Jack White

It’s all laid out on the line by a mildly hysterical Jack White, beseeching his beloved to show him his/her balls (metaphorically speaking).

8. Luke Warm – Brockley Spears

Luke Warm – Brockley Spears on MUZU.TV.

You can never be sure exactly where this slinky, hypnotic track will wander next. A genre-spanning aural confection: try not dancing to it.

7. Blue Moon – Beck

Touches again on Beck’s classic ‘Sea Change’ era (as does the lovely recent ‘Say Goodbye’). Heartfelt and melancholic, yet strangely uplifting.

6. Verano – Linda Gulilala

Builds into something equally melodic and euphoric with a little early-Ash feel. Lyrics about a plasticine sea lion’s trip to the roller disco (I’m guessing, it’s all in Spanish innit.)

Tune in again tomorrow, when the make up of top five shall be removed from lock and key, and just who the heck will gain the coveted award for the best release of 2014 (a packet of lima beans and the charred remains of a 1989 UB40 goodie bag received from Going Live.)

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

The Festive 15. Part.1: 15-11

Jonathan O’Shea returns to share his top fifteen tracks of 2014 over the course of the next three days. In this inaugural instalment, the 2011 ‘Midlands rear of the year’ nominee counts down numbers 15 through 11.

Gruff Rhys

The Festive Fifteen, my favourite tracks of the year, is on the way to becoming an annual tradition (I think this the 6th one).

Each Christmas holiday, I like to review the great new music that’s been produced over the past twelve months and make sense of it all by pointlessly ranking some of it and then clumsily boxing it up like a scraggy bundle of deep-fried chicken. Then I present it to the world.

Here, in the first slice of a triple-header, I give name five of the past twelve months’ stand out releases that narrowly missed out on top ten honours.

15. Temporary Ground – Jack White

Straying across archetypal White Stripes slide-guitar territory, and lending brilliant use of Lillie Mae Rische’s ethereal vocals, this song even has a gleefully ghoulish whistling bit halfway through.

14. Talking Backwards – Real Estate

For anyone who’s endured the silent torture of time spent with a loved one who only ever hears their own version of events. A delightfully dreamy way of airing a universal frustration.

13. Government Trash – Death From Above 1979

Sonic assault on…well, everything (I think). Three minutes of relentless ass-kicking anti-authoritarianism. “Nothing is free/Call the police/They dress to kill/I dress to die!” You get the idea.

12. Liberty (Is Where We’ll Be) – Gruff Rhys

Builds from a shuffle into a strident, if typically wry, ode to freedom (and Welsh pioneers.) Glorious pedal-steel guitar too.

11. Archie, Marry Me –  Alvvays

Instant indie classic. Melancholic Camera Obscura-esque vocals, wonderfully witty wedding-related lyrics about floral arrangements and bread-makers, and lilting 90s guitars.

Remember to tune back in tomorrow to find out which tracks made the cut for positions 10-6. If you do we’ll save a puppy, if you don’t we’ll slump into rice milk addiction and over zealous bouts of tea bag folding.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.