Van Halst’s 2016 album ‘World of Make Believe’ is a reasonable slab of rock. It’s by no means an essential record, but its ten songs combine a semi old fashioned metal style with occasional gothy elements to create something that isn’t always a million miles away from the likes of The Pretty Reckless, often with half-enjoyable results. What seems pretty obvious, though, is that the album’s material wasn’t always given the best send off. On the title track, in particular, she’s presented quite low in the end mix, which results in some of her bigger notes not having the desired impact – especially compared with something similar from Nightwish and their ilk – and on the moodier ‘Questions’, her lower registers really don’t have much of a presence at all.
With debut albums from Crowded House and The Housemartins standing alongside massive hits from Madonna, a-ha and Red Box, 1986 would already have a strong enough grounding to challenge 1984 as one of the decade’s finest years for music. With Huey Lewis’s ‘Fore!’ challenging 1983’s as his masterpiece, a strong AOR debut from Robert Tepper and Jackson Browne’s ‘Lives In The Balance’ channelling a very commercial sound, it was also very much a year for great Transatlantic AOR and sounds that now seem so entrenched within that decade, you can’t help but love them.
Few people could argue against 1984 being one of history’s finest years for pop music. Above all else, the mighty Frankie Goes To Hollywood came and gave pop a hefty kick up the arse with a combination of great tunes and greater controversy. They were the first band since the 60s to score three #1 hits in a row, but each one – ‘Relax’, ‘Two Tribes’ and ‘The Power of Love’ were deserving of their success. Each one sounds as good as ever and in the case of ‘Two Tribes’, there’s still a real edginess you’d think would be long gone.