2016

Opinion
By James Pavel

20. One Dance – Drake feat. Wizkid & Kyla

Nobody matters more in rap music than Drake. Kanye has finally had his Britney Spears moment and it would be wise to not hold our breath anticipating past greatness upon his return. Drake has been the ultimate 6 man for what must be at least four years running, and has made the duties of a DJ remarkably simple in 2016. Drake followed by Drake followed by Drake featuring Drake. The song was only for one dance, but Drake got about nine out of you before the night was all set and done.

19. Waste a moment – Kings of Leon

Their biggest premier single off an album since ‘Sex on Fire.’ All the ‘ooohhs’ a KOL fan could hope for plus a stupidly fun guitar riff that a 12-year-old could play.  The Kings like to tell stories of cowboy renegades, almost living out southern fantasies they were never quite able to dream about while under strict Christian rule as youths. “Take your time to waste a moment,” was the second-greatest life mantra of 2016, falling only behind Donald Trump’s slightly altered “Grab life by the pussy.”

18. Kids – One Republic

They refuse to apologize for staying longer than their suggested five minutes. There is a spiritually, uplifting vibe that One Republic always manages to achieve, no matter the year. There are many things taken from us, but being a kid may be the greatest.

17. Ooh Love – Ria Mae (Neon Dreams remix)

Roller-skating in the summer licking ice cream is what ‘Ooh Love’ was made for. This song should not be listened to in the peak of winter as it may lead to false hope and empty promises.

16. TerraForm – Sam Roberts Band

Sam Roberts is what it sounds like to drive through the Canadian Rockies. He’s what it feels like when you first enter the city of Toronto. He’s what it looks like when the sun sets in Quebec. ‘Terraform’ is a Canadian escape, a new chapter for the band and the soundtrack for adventure for new listeners. The Tragically Hip has unfortunately signed off as Canada’s band, and Sam Roberts Band is running for office.

15. This is what you came for – Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna

Now, we talk about the accolades of Beyoncé and the never-flailing popularity of Taylor Swift. But in 20 years, what we may look back on when discussing female vocalists, is the ridiculous number of hits that Rihanna had during the stretch of the 2000s. A greatest hits performance by her is essentially a tour of what people were listening to on popular radio in the new millennium.

14. Secrets – The Weeknd

The Weeknd drops the single ‘Starboy’ and it was..meh. This is the same dude that dropped the hottest song of 2015, right? Turns out, the album is constructed around the idea of being a ‘Starboy,’ and not to worry because upon album purchase, you immediately become swim-fan obsessed with track six.  He takes a famous Romantics’ idea, ‘secrets in your sleep,’ and gets all iconic MJ on us.  If you can finally feel your face again, Abel Tesfaye is about to enter your dreams and hear all your secrets.

13. Love on the Weekend – John Mayer

It’s a simple song, but by a complex man. John Mayor is a self-healed egomaniac going back to the basics. He’s managed to nail every celebrity south of Seattle and now seems ready to get back to the organic details that make relationships special.

12. The kid who stays in the picture – Hot Hot Heat

They announced it is their last album and then manage to release the single that might just lift them from obscure Canadian band to just obscure band.  The song sounds familiar, likely because it is a clear demonstration that Las Vegas group The Killers have begun to rub off on predecessors. The irony is that this is the exact sort of track the Killers could use to find a home again on pop radio.

11. Never be like you – Flume feat. Kai

Points for being the most original-sounding track of the year. The base vibration takes the listener on a bumpy journey with this successful Australian/Canadian collaboration.

10. Black Beatles – Rae Sremmurd feat. Gucci Mane

If you didn’t freeze frame with your homies at some point in 2016, then you just weren’t paying attention. ‘Black Beatles’ became the mannequin challenge anthem, the latest trend in Internet mind-numbness. We’ve planked, we’ve dabbed and now we’ve remained in pause while appearing to be in the middle of an everyday task. The memories and function of this song will forever trump the sound and any sort of appeal the track ever had.

9. Pillow Talk – Zayne

Zayne needs no directions when it comes to the bedroom, at least per ‘Pillow Talk.’ There has been nothing released by One Direction that comes even remotely close to as modern as Zayne’s successful attempt at pop glory.

8. Can’t stop the feeling!- Justin Timberlake

The most universally-liked entertainer, maybe in history, makes detention halls, senior homes and prison yards brush off their dancing shoes. The track was almost as contagious as the Zika virus in 2016, but for JT, we welcomed its global dominance.

7. Daddy Issues – The Neighbourhood

What initially sounds like a love song is a letter to the ghost of Daddy. Daddy wasn’t there, but that’s okay because the Neighborhood is.  Dependence, promiscuity, and yes-pure craziness, can derive from daddy issues. If there were ever a song to unite strippers worldwide, this may be the one. We know the power of a mother’s touch, but the presence of Daddy can also become one of the defining sensations in a child’s life.

6. Too Good – Drake feat. Rihanna

The most hyped album of the year by Toronto’s hype man didn’t quite live up to the mmm hype. Rather than deny the “too soft” complex that haters have and will continue to spew, Drake made an album loaded with slow-dance material, none better than ‘Too Good.” Drake and Rihanna is hip-hop’s most functional non-couple. They are a pair that may or may not have slept together, but for a refreshing first, audience are more concerned about what their next single will sound like and not when their next photo op will be.

5. Ful Stop – Radiohead

Radiohead have the rare ability to make any noise, any glitch, or any bleep sound remarkable. They rejoice in the ugly and linger in the unnatural.  No one seems to care less about how they are perceived, maybe because their legacy as one of the greatest bands of the past 25 years has been so firmly established. They are our version of Bob Dylan, but without any backlash and with instruments from outer space.

4. Threat of Joy – The Strokes

Julian hasn’t sounded this blissfully romantic since 2014’s ‘Chances.’ It is not the lyrics of music alone that create that warm sensation in our souls. It’s the words, it’s the synth, it’s the timing, it’s the syntax and it’s the drums.  ‘Let’s get into trouble, be there on the double’ is so simple and easy, but when heard on ‘Threat of Joy’ it sounds like Mark Twain with the warmth of Turks and Caicos.

3. Wow – Beck

Beck cools it on the country folk and drops a pound of shrooms for his latest endeavor. His eyes are as big as pool balls and all he can muster out is a resounding ‘Wow.’ Nobody likes to get weird like Beck and nobody made psychedelic rock music feel important in anyway in 2016 except for this American chameleon.

2. In a world possessed by the human mind – The Tragically Hip

In a country called Canada we were possessed by a live concert that showed an emotionally vulnerable, eccentric, sobbing lead singer muster his way through the hits for one last time before the world’s last greatest mystery takes hold. The live Hip show on the CBC was unquestionably the concert event of the year.

1. Don’t let me down – The Chainsmokers feat. Daya

Electronic dance music found a friend in Emo and managed to give soul to a genre crucified for being made for distracted robots incapable of comprehending or caring for lyrical-based content.

Chainsmokers have now been inescapable for two full years. Along with Drake they have held dance floors ransom, with no bidder in sight.

‘Don’t let me down’ separates from the pack because as much as it is a dance song, it is a song with human vulnerability. Sure, Calvin Harris’ monotone voice has attempted to inject a soul into what is predicted as a fleeting musical fad, but it took the smoke pit to successfully perform the procedure. The sign of a genre with legs is when the rest of music begins to incorporate its signature sounds rather than vice versa. Rap music has unquestionably fallen for years and rock music seems to have almost completely fallen out of grace with anything resembling the masses.

The Chainsmokers create music for a generation of debit tapping, snapchattting, Insta-filtering megalomaniacs that need a soundtrack that speaks to them with mechanical vigor, yet with straight-forward text-friendly lingo.

‘Don’t let me down’ has a star-gazing wanderlust buildup before a cliff-diving drop into a chorus that begs not to be disappointed. We welcomed the track’s inescapable methods and for this alone, it was the defining track of 2016.

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