24 December 2016

top 50 of 2016 | 40-31

40. Ariana Grande - "Side To Side"

Top 40 didn't do much for me this year. Most of it seemed unusually uninspired and formulaic, and this is coming from someone with a deep, deep love for pop music. This track, however, stood out. Grande is uncharacteristically restrained, which fits the chill nature of the track. And there is pretty much no song that isn't improved by a Nicki Minaj verse.

39. Moby & The Void Pacific Choir - "Hey Hey"

I'll be totally honest; this is the first Moby album I've ever listened to, and boy was it a pleasant experience. I don't know enough about his career to know why he decided to essentially assemble a band and release an album with them (all while in the same calendar year releasing a free album of gorgeous ambient tracks), but it seems like a tribute to early new wave. I'm here for it.

38. Lost Years - "The Connection"

Lost Years was the artist who got me into the (still sort-of nascent?) synthwave genre a few years back when he released his brilliant sophomore album Amplifier. I still think he does it better than pretty much anyone else in the game (I say that knowing full well that there are two synthwave artists higher than he on this list), and his third album Venom was proof of that. This track was my fav from that release. It's a midnight chase through a neon city in pursuit of Carmen Sandiego.

37. CL - "Hello Bitches"

I'm honestly not sure why KPop hasn't fully crossed over in the United States. I really thought Psy's breakthrough a few years ago would be the final breaking down of the barrier, but it wasn't. This one had that same chance. CL is part of South Korea's (arguably) best-known pop group, 2NE1, but has consistently released solo material for the last few years. She's a solid enough rapper that even if you don't speak the language in which she's flowing, you have to nod your head. Bitches.

36. Jessy Lanza - "VV Violence"

I'm a sucker for a singer who can control their high register. This track combines sweet, high vocals, vintage drum machine sounds, and lyrics about confronting someone who's too cowardly to talk shit to your face. Gotta love it.

35. Lady Gaga - "A-YO"

Whether you were into it or not, I think every Gaga fan would agree that Joanne was not the album anyone was expecting for her 5th release. This is one of the album's best, a line-dance-pop hootenany that is somehow still perfectly in Gaga's sultry style.

34. Shura - "Touch"

A deceptively complex production consisting of a drum machine clap, warm synth pads, and a beeping little motif, all tied together with breathy, whispered vocals. It's as sexy as it is beautiful.

33. Kanye West - "Fade"

Probably the most talked-about music video of the year served as the in-your-face delivery of West's ode to the classic Chicago house sound. It's Flashdance meets Cats, starring Teyana Taylor!

32. The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk - "Starboy"

You can put this collab on the list of "stuff you didn't know you wanted to happen until after it happens." It's odd for Daft Punk to take a backseat like they do on this track, but it works. It's hard not to imagine that The Weeknd was more than a little self-referential when writing the lyrics, but you have to appreciate that level of self-awareness. Few celebrities have that kind of control over their own egos.

31. Volbeat - "Seal The Deal"

I happened across this rock-o-rama on a "New Music Friday" playlist back at the beginning of summer and immediately started headbanging along with it. How the hell can you not? This is everything I love about a great rock song. The lead singer's hyper-affected delivery really - if you'll pardon the expression - seals the deal.