28 December 2016

top 50 of 2016 | 20-11

20. Mitch Murder - "Call Waiting"

The intersection I've been waiting for between two of my favorite nascent genres: synthwave and vaporwave. Sweden's Mitch Murder found (what is to me) their crosspoint, and it is this song. It works as well for a montage as it does putting on makeup as it does over an educational video of how fruit roll-ups are made. It is everything warm and comforting.

19. Sunflower Bean - "Easier Said"

There isn't much rock music that's doing it for me these days, but every now and then something like this comes along and perfectly scratches the itch. The layered vocals are so beautiful, and that guitar is just deliciously '90s alt-rock.

18. D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty - "Broccoli"

Is there any more appropriate way to describe how so many of us are feeling these days than "beyond all that fuck shit"? I'm willing to look the other way on so many other terrible lyrics (such as rhyming "slogan" with "Hulk Hogan") because it's just too goofy not to love. I can't not love a mindless party jam, and that's exactly what this is. The recorder motif might as well be straight out of EarthBound.

17. Carly Rae Jepsen - "First Time"

With the release of last year's Emotion, Jepsen solidified her spot as the queen of modern mall-pop. (Malls aren't much of a thing anymore though; Amazon-pop just doesn't have the same ring.) This year, Carly (in true mall-popper fashion) gave us an album of b-sides (!), headed by this brilliant saccharine romp.

16. Mike Posner - "I Took A Pill In Ibiza (SeeB Remix)"

Genuine vulnerability is hard to pull off when you're a famous person, especially if you haven't earned it through some sort of publicity crisis. Posner hasn't had one of those, but he comes across in this track like a friend you haven't seen in a few years who's sitting on your couch and telling you what he's been going through and why he hasn't been around. It moved me because I can't recall the last time I saw this kind of humanity lain on the table so voluntarily and so thoughtfully.

15. Daya - "Sit Still Look Pretty"

The "I'm (not) gonna be a good girl" song is not a new thing, but previously it's been generally presented as a way to please a man, usually a boyfriend or a dad. Not Daya though, she's not here for anyone but herself, and I like that girls of this generation are growing up hearing what she's saying. Killer production

14. Oshwa - "Ultraflourescent"

I go absolutely gaga for that warm 1988 garage rock / 2005 indie rock distorted guitar sound. Chicago's Oshwa nails this ode to loving everything about yourself with a quiet, confident coolness that's impossible not to smile at.

13. Adele - "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)"

Though her very devoted fanbase seems to feel differently, to me, this is the most interesting single Adele has ever released. The snappy production is uncharacteristically sleek, despite the percussion coming from little more than a drum machine's kick and what sounds like a fist pounding on an acoustic guitar, with some claps peppered into the choruses and bridge. It relies on this push-pull mixing rather than her powerful voice to drive the song; the fact that she sings with noticeable restraint shows that she knows this and truly has the mind of a producer.

12. FM-84 ft. Ollie Wride - "Running In The Night"

This is such a flawless pop song on so many levels. The hook is instantly singable, the drums make it a toe-tapper throughout, and the vocal performance is spot on. Check out this random YouTuber's addition of a guitar track -- good stuff.

11. Fifth Harmony ft. Ty Dolla $ign - "Work From Home"

It would be hard to argue anything else as the Top 40 jam of the year. I don't know anyone who didn't immediately dance and/or sing along when this came on at the bars. Seriously though, what the hell is that weird toddler whine / dog squeak thing we start hearing in the second verse?