It’s become an annual tradition… let’s take a look at the best music of 2016!
SONG OF THE YEAR:
Shura – What’s It Gonna Be
Whilst perhaps not the most famous of Pop songs released this year, this perfect Pop track was undoubtedly one of the musical highlights of the year. It’s a fizzy, endearing ’80’s-influenced Pop track about high school crushes full of essential repetition and a dizzying chorus. Shura’s almost whispered vocals are not dissimilar from Janet Jackson’s and it’s just a brilliant, brilliant record. Check out the incredible video too.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it.
A lost rested on this highly anticipated second album from The 1975. After months of being promised brilliant things from Radio 1 & NME alike, in addition to Matt Healy boasting ‘the world needs this album’, the album finally arrived back in March and it was no disappointment. A beast of an album at 17 tracks and over an hour of music, it genre-hops frequently but it doesn’t disrupt the flow or brilliance of the album. There’s something for everybody – there’s the 80’s-influenced Pop-rock moments the public are familiar with from radio airplay, acoustic tracks, instrumental tracks, hell – even a huge D’Angelo-influenced gospel track!
There is not one dud moment on this album and it’s particularly brilliant during it’s ‘dream sequence’ section in which Healy documents losing his mind through a brilliant assortment of songs – beginning with ‘If I Believe You’ and finishing with the stunning ‘Somebody Else’. A brilliant, brilliant album.
TOP 10 SINGLE RELEASES OF THE YEAR
Shura – What’s It Gonna be?
See above for why we’ve chosen this track!
The 1975 – The Sound
To be honest, we could include any single from the band’s ‘I like it when you sleep…’ album – ‘A Change of Heart’, ‘Somebody Else’ etc – they are all just as brilliant as each other but we’ve chosen this, the biggest hit from the album. It’s everything Pop music should be – memorable, catchy, a little bit naughty lyrically and an absolute feel-good classic.
Christine & The Queens – Tilted
100% the most endearing song of this year. Less is often more and this repetitive but effortlessly catchy and funky Pop track is so endearing, it still sounds brilliant after being played EVERYWHERE. We need more Popstars like Christine – talented individuals who write their own music, have artistic vision and stay loyal to it.
Zayn – Pillowtalk
It’s been played to death but this track made a huge, bold statement upon its release at the beginning of 2016. Zayn’s entire ‘Mind of Mine’ album is a work of art, utilising frolicking synthesizers and alternative R&B miles removed from the sound of One Direction. There’s better songs on the album but it’s foolish to leave this huge hit from our list.
DNCE – Cake By The Ocean
Yeah, yeah, it’s been played to death but this funk-pop track with its metaphors and Joe Jonas’ smooth falsetto vocals is undoubtedly one of the catchiest, best pop songs of 2016.
Usher – Crash
The best songs often emphasise that less is more. This brilliant, subtle & moody R&B track avoids using an assortment of instruments and instead relies on Usher’s gorgeous falsetto reverberating into eerie synthesizers and a gentle dance beat. Usher at his most underrated is Usher at his best.
Robbie Williams – Love My Life
I’ve seen Mr Williams and this song get a lot of stick since its release & throughout its promotional process. I understand – Robbie’s vocals aren’t as sturdy as they once were and yes, lyrically, the song is a little ‘Tumblr’. That being said, there’s no denying this is a beautiful ballad with a lovely message. Those delicate piano chords are reminiscent of those on ‘Feel’ and this song deserved to fare just as well in the charts.
All Saints – One Strike
It takes guts for a band to make not one comeback but TWO. Their previous comeback achieved a successful single but the accompanying album flopped. This time, they returned with a scorching hot album (which reached the Top 3 of the album chart) and this fierce single. This single deserved better than its #115 position but then the single charts this year hasn’t necessarily represented good music (*ahem* One Dance being number one for 15 weeks…)
Mollie King – Back To You
Another hideously overlooked song this year. Mollie King, better known as a member of The Saturdays released this stunning, sultry electropop ballad as her debut single.
Before You Exit – When I’m Gone
Another underrated Pop smash from this year. These boys (the McDonagh brothers) deserve far more recognition. On first look, they may look like a generic boyband but they write and produce their own music. The glitchy electro production on this and the boys’ powerful vocals make it perhaps the most overlooked song of this year.
SINGLE RELEASES OF THE YEAR (LONGLIST)
Here is the long list of the best single releases of this year. We have loved, and been obsessed with every single one of these songs at some point of this year. Narrowing these down to the Top 10 above was incredibly hard but we think the Top 10 are representative of this year in great Pop music. Enjoy each of the rest of these songs!
- Alicia Keys – Blended Family (What You Do For Love)
- Before You Exit – When I’m Gone
- Beyonce – Sorry
- Blossoms – Charlemagne
- Busted – On What You’re On
- Charlie Puth & Selena Gomez – We don’t talk anymore
- Christine & The Queens – Tilted
- Craig David – When the bassline drops
- DJ Snake & Bipolar Sunshine – Middle
- DNCE – Cake by the Ocean
- Drake – One Dance
- Drake & Rihanna – Too Good
- Ellie Goulding – Army
- Ellie Goulding – Still Falling for You
- Emeli Sande – Breathing Underwater
- Frances – Borrowed Time
- Gwen Stefani – Make you like me
- James Arthur – Say You Won’t Let Go
- Jesse Ware – Till the end
- John Mayer – Love on the Weekend
- Justin Bieber – Company
- Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling
- Little Mix – Touch
- Louis Berry – Restless
- Lukas Graham – 7 Years
- Mac Miller – Dang!
- Mollie King – Back To You
- MUNA – Loudspeaker
- Nick Jonas & Tove Lo – Close
- Nothing But Thieves – If I Get High
- Raleigh Ritchie & Stormzy – Keep it simple
- Ratboy – Move
- Rebecca Ferguson – Bones
- Rick Astley – Dance
- Rihanna – Kiss it Better
- Rihanna – Work
- Robbie Williams – Love My Life
- Selena Gomez – Hands to myself
- Shura – Touch
- Shura – What’s It Gonna Be?
- Sons of Sonix & Melanie C – Numb
- The 1975 – A Change of Heart
- The 1975 – Somebody Else
- The 1975 – The Sound
- The Chainsmokers & Halsey – Closer
- The Fray – Singing Low
- The Last Shadow Puppets – Miracle Aligner
- The Weeknd – I Feel it Coming
- TIEKS & Dan Harkna – Sunshine
- Tom Chaplin – Quicksand
- Usher – Crash
- Viola Beach – Cherry Vimto
- Wet – Deadwater
- Wet – Weak
- Zayn – Pillowtalk
- Zayn – Like I Would
- Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
TOP 10 ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
All Saints – Red Flag
This album SO deserves its Top 3 album chart position. It’s a fierce album full of well written songs, slick production and a contemporary sound. These ladies deserve all the success in the world.
Busted – Night Driver
This album has been criminally overlooked this year. Many fans have complained of it being too ‘different’ from the sound they became famous for but music evolves through time. Busted made the right decision to leave the teeny-bopped pop-punk in the early noughties and try something new. The result is this stunning, atmospheric album on which the boys borrow sounds and elements from the best music of the 80’s. A brilliant album.
Frank Ocean – Blonde
This album is certainly worthy of the hype. It’s a moody and intriguing album which, whilst many of the songs feel like rough, unfinished ideas, it works.
Raleigh Ritchie – You’re a Man now, boy
Another hideously overlooked album from this year. This album gained a warm critical reception but this was not reflected in its chart position. It’s a lengthy album but one which is engaging throughout and its sound is quirky and fresh.
Rihanna – Anti
For an album that seemed to carry so much expectation then waves of anti-climax, reaction to this record was unfair. Sure, it’s not Rihanna at her commercial best but that’s why it’s so engaging and brilliant. Up ’till this album, Rihanna was the life of the party. On this album, she’s the life of the after party. It’s a moody, brooding and dark album but one which works perfectly.
Shura – Nothing’s Real
This is a stunning Pop record from start to finish, borrowing elements from Janet Jackson, Blood Orange and Madonna amongst others. Shura writes, produces and performs her own material and she’s hugely talented.
The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it
This mammoth, genre-hopping, bold and brilliant album has won countless awards throughout the year and deservedly so. Every song is incredible, well-written and fantastically produced.
Tom Chaplin – The Wave
Tom Chaplin is better known as the frontman of Keane. Upon their hiatus, he relapsed into drug addiction, the recovery process of which became the inspiration for this gorgeous album. It’s a hopeful album full of inspiring Pop music with the odd trickle of electronic production.
Wet – Don’t You
This indie-pop album is subtle and low-key but gorgeous throughout.
Zayn – Mind of Mine
Expectations were high for Zayn’s debut solo album and he did not disappoint. It’s a world away from the cheesy-pop of One Direction and instead turns to sultry alternative-R&B. It’s engaging and triumphant.
ALBUM RELEASES OF THE YEAR
Here’s the longlist of the best albums of 2016!
EP’S OF THE YEAR
Before You Exit – All The Lights
Brilliant electropop album written, produced and performed by the McDonagh brothers. Think One Direction but with more talent.
Liss – First
Quirky Pop EP which borrows lots of electronic elements and 80’s pop-influenced production. Definitely a band to watch.
MUNA – Loudspeaker EP
This American band are going to be huge next year. The Loudspeaker EP is full of soaring and confident electropop with great lyrics and fantastic guitar-work.
The Japanese House – Swim Against The Tide
The 1975’s label mate Amber Bain, better known as The Japanese House delivered another great EP this year. This is arguably the best of her 3 EPs, with more engaging and uptempo material.
ALBUM TRACKS OF THE YEAR
Here’s a list of album tracks – songs that have missed out on true exposure as they haven’t been released as commercial singles – from albums released this year.
- Alicia Keys – The Gospel, She Don’t Really Care_1 Luv
- All Saints – One Woman Man, Who Hurt Who, Fear, Red Flag
- Allie X – Never Enough
- Barry Gibb – Grand Illusion, Star Crossed Lovers, Cross to Bear,
- Birdy – Keeping Your Head Up
- Bruno Mars – Perm, Versace on the Floor, Straight Up and Down, Too Good to say Goodbye
- Busted – Night Driver, New York, Thinking of You, Without It, I Will Break Your Heart, Easy, Out of Our Minds, Those Days are Gone
- Christine & The Queens – It, Science Fiction, Half Ladies, Night 52,
- Craig David – Louder than Words, What If, No Holding Back
- Drake – U With Me?, Feel No Ways, Summer’s Over Interlude,
- Emeli Sande – Right Now, I’d Rather Not, Lonely
- Frank Ocean – Nikes, Be Yourself, Solo, Self Control, Close To You, Seigfried, Godspeed
- Gwen Stefani – You’re my favourite, Where Would I Be?, Truth,
- Jack Garratt – Breathe Life, The Love You’re Given,
- James Arthur – Safe Inside, Can I Be him, Sober, Let me love the lonely, Sermon, Phoenix
- Kanye West – Waves, Ultralight Beam, Father Stretch My Hands Part 1, Real Friends, Frank’s Track, No More Parties in LA, Fade
- Lady Gaga – A-YO, Joanne,
- Liss – Sorry, Good Enough,
- Little Mix – Nobody Like You, Nothing Else Matters
- Melanie C – Dear Life, Anymore, Room for Love,
- Michael Buble – I Believe In You
- Nathan Sykes – Freedom, Twist,
- Nick Jonas – Bacon
- Olly Murs – Predictable, Deeper, 24hrs, Read My Mind, Better than Me,
- Raleigh Ritchie – Werld is Mine, Never Better, Cowards, A Moor, Young & Stupid, The Last Romance
- Rebecca Ferguson – Hold Me, The Way You’re Looking at her, Pay For It
- Rick Astley – Let it be tonight, This old house,
- Rihanna – Same ‘Ol Mistakes, Desperado, Close to You
- Robbie Williams – Sensitive, David’s Song, Hotel Crazy
- Ryan O’Shaughnessy – The News, Entertainment & Warmth, Hold Me Now, No Need to worry, Supermodel, Got this feeling, Waste another day
- Shawn Mendes – Ruin, Patience
- Shura – Kidz ‘N’ Stuff, What Happened To Us
- The 1975 –She’s American, If I Believe You, Please Be Naked, Lostmyhead, I like it when you sleep…, This Must Be My Dream, Loving Someone, Paris, Nana
- Tom Chaplin – The River, I Remember You, Hold Onto our Love, Solid Gold, See it so clear
- Tom Odell – Here I am
- Usher – Missin’ U, FWM, Need U
- Wet – It’s all in vain, Don’t wanna be your girl, Island, All The Ways, Move Me
- Zayn – It’s You, She, Drunk, Intermission: Flower, Truth