Top 50 Songs of 2016

 

 

 

 

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

It’s here! Chuck those negative opinions aside as for the next week we’ll be counting down my musical highlights of the year. While 2016 was full of many negative events (US election, multiple celebrity death, suicide squad, damn daniel etc.), on the other side of the coin music was as entertaining and fascinating as ever. Hip-hop continued to demonstrate its creative power while rock and other genres revitalised themselves to provide us with some of the best singles of their respective artist’s careers.

As always we have the staple “this is my opinion” placeholder to insert before we get cracking on so if there are any songs you think are missing or should be placed higher/lower then keep in mind that this is my list. Since there are 50 tracks to go through, I’ll speed through the first 25 or so and go into a bit more detail as we reach the top 20 picks. With that being said, let’s get the ball rolling…

50. Glue 70 – Casin

49. Crywank – Love

48. Vistas – Sign Language

47. Brand New – I Am A Nightmare

46. Boston Manor -Lead Feet

45. Kevin Devine – Instigator

44. SBTRKT – Let Them In

43. Run The Jewels – Talk To Me

42. Fake Boyfriend – Bumtown

41. Parquet Courts – Dust

40. Pale Kids – Not Listening

39. Blink-182 – Cynical

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC97caHUgKk

38. Weezer – Jacked Up

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJOsRoY-na0

37. Frightened Rabbit – Die Like A Rich Boy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es8wQcKrrhA

36. Jamie T- Tescoland

35. Hovvdy – Try Hard

34. Honeyblood – Love Is A Disease

33. Skepta – Man

32. Metallica – Spit Out The Bone

31. Young Thug – RiRi

30. Enter Shikari – Hoodwinker

29. Touche Amore – Displacement

28. Kendrick Lamar – untitled 03

27. Biffy Clyro – In The Name Of The Wee Man

26. Sweet White – Genine

https://soundcloud.com/sweet-white/genine-1

25. Joyce Manor – Eighteen

24. Death Grips – 3 Bedrooms In A Good Neighborhood 

23. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dark Necessities 

22. Twin Atlantic – Gold Elephant, Cherry Alligator

21. Mean Jeans – Michael Jackson Was Tight

20. The 1975 – Somebody Else

Trust me, I’m just as surprised as you that The 1975 are making an appearance on this list. Whilst their latest album was a double-edged sword, only just managing to provide more killer than filler, when the band delivered something good it was really fucking good. See Somebody Else for example, a song that dabbles into the topic of modern day romance that frontman, with the hand of some vocal manipulation, executes brilliantly.

19. Charli XCX – Trophy

The ultimate pump up song of 2016, Charli XCX continues her reign as one of the most likeable female vocalists in music right now with a fantastic combination of 00’s club music and peculiar beats.

18. Radiohead – Daydreaming

Beautifully minimalistic and driven solely by piano alongside some glitzy chimes with a Jamie XX flare to them, Daydreaming was the standout track on Radiohead’s triumphant return A Moon Shaped Pool: a calm, borderline lullaby that dips its toes in fearsome waters before diving head first into them during the climax.

17. Bon Iver – 33 “GOD”

Showing off the majority of 22, A Million’s religious subtext, 33 “GOD” is a showcase of Bon Iver’s experimental take on their latest record packaged alongside the delicate rock they’ve mastered since their debut For Emma, Forever Ago.

16. Blood Orange – Best To You

Providing some of the best R&B in recent memory, Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound hit its peak four tracks in with Best To You. Featuring a stunning vocal performance from Empress Of, Dev Hynes showed off just how good he is at mixing production and songwriting together.

15. Real Friends – Mess

A pop punk song that has lyrics that manage to be fresh for the act due to being about something other than a break up?! Revolutionary! All jokes aside, the crisp production value along with a catchy as all hell chorus makes the track feel like Real Friends have been working hard on their songwriting capabilities since their debut record and, despite what they’re saying in the public eye, are making efforts to progress as a band.

14. Codist – Puddle

Glasgow band Codist came out with their debut record all the way back in January and continued to be one of my favourites throughout 2016. My personal favourite track off of Nuclear Family had to be Puddle that harks back to Blackened Sky era Biffy with some equally beautiful lyrics about “why you can feel your insides glow”.

13. Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things

The shortest track by far on this list, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s titular theme tune to Netflix’s surprise hit series Stranger Things is, much like the show itself, a total love letter to 80’s electronica with ominous synths lulling you into a sense of dread.

12. American Football – My Instincts Are The Enemy

Showing that the band still had what it takes to retain relevance in a genre that has long since evolved since their one and only record, American Football showed they deserve all the praise they get with their second LP. My Instincts Are The Enemy is a testament to the intricacy this band can provide with just three instruments, pulling off smooth and satisfying tempo changes and delivering beautiful lyrics as if they had never been away.

11. Schoolboy Q – Groovy Tony 

Schoolboy Q may have given us a pretty lacklustre LP in 2016 but he made sure we weren’t left empty handed with Groovy Tony, drenched in eerie production and driven by one of the most aggressive sounding flows in hip-hop.

10. Frank Ocean – Nikes

WE IN THE TOP 10 NOW BABY! The musical Where’s Waldo Mr Frank Ocean returned this year with his long awaited Blonde that kicks off with one of the strongest tracks of his career. Nikes modifies Ocean’s vocals into unrecognisable territory, delivering lines about lost ones and consumerism with a minimalistic background which needs to be listened to for it to be fully experienced.

9. Danny Brown – When It Rain

Not only did Detroit’s prodigal son Danny Brown deliver the best record of his career, arguably one of the greatest hip-hop albums in the past decade, but he managed to shake up his tried and tested sound on top of that. Much like Groovy Tony, When It Rain cranks up that ominous notch up to 11 and packs the visceral imagery to back it up.

8. Moose Blood – Knuckles

Arguably the best track Mooseblood have delivered thus far, Knuckles embodies everything the band have been great at since their debut: providing a killer hook with beautiful lyrics and vocals. While the majority of the band’s sophomore effort is far more grounded in pessimism, Knuckles seems to hit a major realist chord and wonderfully so.

7. PUP – DVP

Unlike other acts of the genre who do a lot of rocking but very little growing up, PUP manage to nail the topic of maturity on DVP which flows seamlessly on from the aforementioned If This Tour… into an even more anthemic style on record The Dream Is Over. Addressing how they handle issues, in this case getting “so drunk that I can’t speak”, as well as others telling them to grow up, the track manages to keep a positive vibe going in its instrumentals whilst juggling some of the darker lyrics on here.

6. James Blake ft Bon Iver – I Need A Forest Fire

While James Blake’s latest record was sub par at best, there was a diamond in the rough in the form of I Need A Forest Fire. Combining Bon Iver’s beautiful vocals alongside Blake’s versatile singing is a genius concept and is wonderfully executed, managing to explore the .topic of new beginnings with total ease.

5. Chance The Rapper – Blessings

It’s hard to argue that 2016 belonged to anyone but if I had to place a bet on it, my money would be on Chance The Rapper. Colouring Book was one of the most enjoyable listens of the year with bucketloads of optimism and hope in a year that very much needed it. Blessings pretty much embodies the album’s core message better than any other track does. A gospel influence is felt not only in its sound but its lyrical content: lines about redemption, fatherhood and faith are subtle with the main hook from Jamila Woods being infectiously catchy.

4. Childish Gambino – Redbone

No artist this year transformed quite like Childish Gambino. Swapping out hip-hop for funk/soul/R&B music is an impossible risk but Gambino somehow survived the transition, quality intact. Redbone shows this perfectly, displaying a wonderful use of vocoder and the aforementioned funk element that made Awaken My Love one of the most refreshing listens of 2016.

3. David Bowie – Lazarus

The loss of David Bowie was one of many celebrity deaths to occur in 2016 but was the one that no doubt hit the hardest. Lazarus pretty much acts as a foreshadowing to it all with lyrics such as “look up here, I’m in heaven” managing to evoke a tear or two out of even the most casual Bowie fan. While it may be a difficult listen considering the context, Lazarus stood out well before the passing of Bowie, providing the perfect balance of instrumentals and Bowie’s unique vocals.

2. The Weeknd – Starboy

Before we get into the top pick of this list, we have but one more track to praise, that being The Weeknd’s Starboy which features on the RnB superstar’s eponymously titled record. Featuring a backing beat that sounds like a less feisty but equally enjoyable Yeezus feature, the partnership with Daft Punk means it’s no real surprise that Starboy finds itself so high up on a best tracks of 2016 list.

1. Kanye West – Real Friends

While The Life of Pablo was an enjoyable albeit messy release, it undoubtedly features the best song Kanye West has released since Runaway. Real Friends puts Mr West in his most vulnerable position since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as he voices his guilt regarding friends and family over a beautifully tragic sounding beat. Think Aphex Twin entwined with heartbreak. The song ends with a poignant howl that evokes the same sadness and, in a way, isolation that we have become accustomed to with Kanye’s more personal tracks. Sources say that when the track was first released, the title was missing the word “friends”. In a twisted way, it’s both a relief to hear Kanye sounding the most real he has in years whilst it’s also uncomfortable to witness the inner turmoil he’s experiencing that has only since got worse with his recent inauguration into a psychiatric ward.

 

 

 

 

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This Week In Music: 12th – 19th March

Covering the biggest music stories of the past seven days to keep you in the know!

Death Grips open up about Bottomless Pit

After stating that their 2015 release Jenny Death would be the band’s last, Death Grips quickly followed up that news with the announcement of Bottomless Pit and last night we got our first details.Album artwork was unveiled by the band on Twitter, featuring a woman with a fairly ominous smile, along with the back cover that had the words “very shallow listening” written on it. The tracklist was also shown off and is as follows:

01 Giving Bad People Good ideas

02 Hot Head
03 Spikes
04 Warping
05 Eh
06 Bubbles Buried in the Jungle
07 Trash
08 Houdini
09 BB Poison
10 Three Bedrooms in a Good Neighborhood
11 Ring a Bell
12 8080808
13 Bottomless Pit

Whilst there’s no firm release date, anyone with very little Death Grips knowledge will know fans can expect to see it launched in yet another unconventional way.

Rumour has it festival goers are split over Glasto announcement

Pop juggernaut Adele yesterday confirmed that she will headline Glastonbury’s Saturday night. The Hello star, the final headliner for the festival, will be joining Muse and Coldplay who will headline Friday and Sunday respectively. Twitter was split right down the middle about the news, opinions ranging from furious to delighted:

Despite the mixed reception, Adele has hit back out at those who think she is too dull to headline the festival:

“And to the people who say I am too boring to headline, you’re more fucking boring for moaning about me headlining”

Fans Biff out over Scottish rockers headline show

Biffy-Clyro-1.jpg

In a week full of teasing from the band over their upcoming LP, Scottish three piece act Biffy Clyro have announced their biggest headline show yet. The band, who have already been announced as headliners for Reading + Leeds, will play at Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park alongside support act Fall Out Boy on August 27th.

The band have released several teasers over the past week that have lead to speculation over their new album, the follow up to 2013 double LP Opposites, being released as soon as this month. Annie Mac will be showcasing the band’s first single Wolves Of Winter off their new album as her Hottest Track In The World on Monday, tune into Radio 1 at 7:20PM to hear their Death Grips and Tears For Fears influenced sound!

Kanye breathes new life into Pablo

Despite being released just last month, Kanye is still tweaking his seventh LP The Life Of Pablo. Earlier this month, ‘Ye tweeted, “excited to see my family and finish the final mixes of the Life of Pablo and keep working on Turbografx 16 and Season 4” and fans on Tidal witnessed these changes this week.

Some changes are more obvious than others with Wolves tweaks being the most obvious, incorporating vocals from Sia and Vic Mensa as well as some simple touches like echoed lyrics. As well as this, an extra track was added by man in hiding Frank Ocean though it’s essentially just the outro to the aforementioned Wolves. Many commentators are describing this as an evolution for albums, making comparisons to other entertainment such as video games that are at an advantage thanks to things like DLC and patches.

RUMOURED: LCD Soundsystem and Radiohead to headline Lollapalooza

Another week, another festival announcement, this time for Chicago fest Lollapalooza who are set to celebrate their 25th birthday in a big way. While the organisers haven’t announced any of the lineup, Consequence of Sound reported that LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead and Red Hot Chili Peppers will be headlining.

These aren’t totally unbelievable predictions considering all three acts are expected to release new music this year. This news comes just a few weeks after Reading + Leeds had their lineup leaked just a couple of days before they were expected to announce it, showing the difficulties organisers face when keeping their festival secret.

Watch The Throne 2.0? Drake and Kendrick collab rumours

It may be a case of enemies turned partners if rumours are to believed about a potential Kendrick Lamar X Drake collaboration project. The two rappers have had some very public beef, usually in the form of tracks such as Compton that has resulted in a tense relationship. Rumours have plagued the internet however, suggesting that the two might bury the hatchet.

Instagram photos surfaced from Drake’s account showing a stack of $2 bills which fans think is no coincidence when considering that Kendrick posted a video on snapchat of him counting bills. While nothing may come of this, the fact both artists are currently making new music means there’s definitely some subsistence to this story.

No Surprises: Radiohead Gigs Sell Out Within Minutes

Following the announcement of a world tour, tickets for Radiohead’s big comeback following years of no activity sold out almost instantaneous. While details about the new album are still non existent, 20 minutes was all it took for the three headline shows in London to sell all tickets available.

Though it is an impressive achievement, many fans were left disappointed and empty handed due to the massive demand, least of all frontman Thom Yorke:

Yorke also warned fans about paying extravagant amounts of money for tickets off of second hand sites, stating that they may not be valid for entry due to the tickets being tied to the person who bought them and their ID.

R.I.P DJ Derek

A post mortem test concluded that remains of a body that were found by police belonged to Bristol DJ Derek Serpell-Morris. Although he was 74 years old, he didn’t retire until 2013 after starting from playing small clubs and pubs to regularly appearing at huge festivals like Glastonbury. Known for playing mainly black artists from various genres including reggae, DJ Derek stood out amongst the rest and will be greatly missed.