Archives for category: Music

blog2018

Opinion
James Pavel

 

20. Psycho – Post Malone

He makes the rise of Slim Shady seem like last page news. Where Slim was at least marketable because he looked like hundreds of other white kids looking for validation, Post Malone is an unremarkable, Amish-looking fella that could be mistaken for Weird Al if this was 20 years ago (which based on this year’s music, it felt like it was.) What Post has is undeniable flow – he walks the fine line with mumble rap and coherent rap so if he can keep the number of skittles in his grill to a minimum, he may have a long rap career ahead of him.

 

19. Sicko Mode – Travis Scott

If your head aint’ bobbin, get off your iPhone and pay attention. Travis Scott takes full advantage of Drizzy’s campfire heat and makes sure he puts out a banger while he has hip hop’s full attention with the King of the 6 on the track.

 

18. 99 – Barns Courtney

Sounding like Kings of Leon’s long-lost son, Barns Courtney puts out a non-cheesy throwback track to the caveman ages of 1999. It is a bit concerning how 1999 is being perceived by pop music now, as if it were some lost-oasis of the past that can never be retrieved. To refresh everyone’s memory, it was an era of shockingly bad music (Backstreet Boys, rap/metal hybrids), and an era on the verge of wild discoveries. Downloading music wasn’t thought of as stealing yet, and we were doing it by the boat load. It was a period where our greatest global concern was computers not being able to recognize the three zeros in year 2000, and everything would shut down for God knows how long – Now that I think about it, 1999 doesn’t sound so bad anymore.

 

17. Saturday Sun – Vance Joy

Banjo/camp fire music took a backseat this year, so it was either a pick up your busking gear and move on to the next train station or show some grit. Vance Joy has proven there is much more to his mojo than a Riptide or two and put out a song yearning for the heat waves of the West Coast and all the special women to be found along the way.

 

16. You Worry Me – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

It’s an old timey, crunchy rocker fitted for a blues can pub down the road. It sounds 100 years old, or at least 10, or whatever the year is that we can agree on that rock n’ roll officially died in the realm of pop culture. Rock n Roll will never completely die, but it is having a hell of a time discovering relevance in an increasingly complicated world that doesn’t seem to have time for a set of drums and a guitar.

 

15. Say Something – Justin Timberlake feat. Chris Stapleton

Bringing sexy back and helping people fall back in love with only a mirror took a toll on JT as his fourth solo album was unfortunately a flop. But with any great artists, there is always a diamond in the rough – That shiny rock was ‘Say Something’ a country song we all know Justin has been dying to do for ages.

 

14. OTW – Khalid feat. 6lack & TY Dolla $ign

You’re welcome – Drake. Gangster dudes singing their hearts out has been made globally acceptable by Young Money’s finest and now wise men such as Khalid are reaping the benefits. Enough about Drake and more about Khalid and his Uber driver anthem that gave all women confident that their distracted men were indeed just around the corner. The song wreaks of 90s RnB, to the point where you’re almost waiting for K-Ci and JoJo to belt out the final chorus.

 

13. Underline the Black – Metric

Their last album was a disaster. The magic of Metric seemed to have vanished somewhere in the Ontario Lakes, but then came the first single reminiscent of the hungry and tenacious days. The group played a set at the Danforth Hall in Toronto and immediately it was clear that fresh ideas had forged, and the new material would put the band back in Canada’s top five groups of the moment – ‘Underline the Black’ is one of the many gothic, sexy and near-perfect tracks on the transcending album.

 

12. Yikes – Kanye West

The most polarizing, bipolar, political pollster hanging from a Donald Trump flagpole of an artist was at his wildest and albeit, most concerning in 2018. He spoke 70 per cent crazy and 30 per cent genius this year and ‘Yikes’ would be an appropriate response to that sort of divide –

“Russell Simmons wanna pray for me too
I’m a pray for him ’cause he got #MeToo’d
Thinkin’ what if that happened to me too
Then I’m on E! News”

-Most definitely the 30 per cent genius portion.

 

11. Saturdays (feat. HAIM) – Twin Shadow

The most spoiled day of the week receives yet another tribute. If Saturday isn’t your favourite jour then quit your day job immediately, especially with Twin Shadow singing its praises. The way Shadow and Haim’s voices unite with such familiarity, it’s a surprise the sisters haven’t pitched adopting him as a late comer to the brood.

 

10. When we Drive – Death Cab for Cutie

Nobody’s lyrics matter more to a song than Ben Gibbard’s. It’s his fault that since the beginning of time, he has made every word of his feel like 80-pound weights on our hearts. Where other bands take the subject of a road trip and make a mockery of the event, Gibbard can give perspective on how to sit in a car with one person for hours, even days, represents a special kind of affection. The ability to remain silent, to appreciate the quiet moments and the stressful moments, are all noted by Death Cab for Cutie.

 

9. Delicate – Taylor Swift

The minute you think she must be certified crazy, she puts out a track that makes one wonder if she is the most relatable female artist around. Based on the mind games we saw from Ariana Grande this year, maybe Swifty ain’t so bad after all. She’s sexy, but never over the top, she is honest, but never to the point of overbearing – maybe, like so many other times in life, we must see beyond the exes, the whispers and decide for ourselves if Taylor Swift should remain the poster on our bedroom walls.

 

8. Uproar – Lil Wayne

Weezy pickpockets G-Deps 2001 semi-hit ‘Special Delivery’ and spits purple syrup all over the beat. Weezy is having a barrel of fun, despite the shit show getting this album out was. Whether he has been in a half-decade fog or refuses to allow contractual frustrations play into his music, fans proved they had not forgotten about Lil Weez in the grand scheme of rap. Weezy is the ultimate 6th man, every year he is the comeback player of the year as nobody as improved as drastically as he has as a rapper year after year after year.

 

7. Four stars out of Five – The Arctic Monkeys

The Monkeys finally made their experimental, acid album. It sounds a bit MGMT but with less weed, and more red wine and cigarettes. Turner transforms into the most eccentric hotel manager the hospitality world has come across, and he will be damned if the world doesn’t know how proud  he is of their near 5-star review.

 

6. A Good Night – John Legend

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend seem like the happiest couple on the planet. I can’t remember ever looking at a couple this way, so I can’t begin to imagine how Legend feels when he looks at his wife. We get a mild idea from this marriage proposal dance-athon, easily one of the most genuinely cool songs of 2018. John Legend doesn’t appear to have a negative bone in his body and is a refreshing example of a GQ dude that is proud to rock a wedding band and not sweat the coulda, woulda, shouldas.

 

5. Love it if we Made it – The 1975

It sounds like we are being yelled at for two straight minutes by an incoherent pretty boy, until the chorus drops, helping us realize we are hearing daunting fantasies read aloud. Some of them fluid vision, some dark reality, all notable commentary from some English lads not afraid to point out some of the deeply concerning and strange events that transpired this year.

 

4. Summertime Magic – Childish Gambino

Glover is the black Justin Timberlake, in the sense that he seems capable of everything that falls under the realm of entertainment. He can make you laugh, make you think, and most definitely, make you dance. ‘Summertime Magic’ was this year’s ‘Can’t Stop Feeling,’ a song put out precisely to enjoy the infinitely-long evenings in those precious four months.

 

3. I like it – Cardi B feat. Bad Bunny & J Balvin

With all the 90s nostalgia taking over 2018, it made sense that the Latino Heat movement came back in full force. This time it’s not Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca, it’s Cardi B blazing through with Bad Bunny & J Balvin, parking the low-riders and hosing down the year with Patron tequila on one of the biggest bangers of the year.

 

2. All the Stars – Kendrick Lamar feat. Sza

Two stars that went from nobodies to two of the biggest household names in the world in the span of a half-decade, put out the score to 2018’s most ground-breaking film ‘Black Panther.’ ‘Black lives Matters’ was one of the most prevalent discussions in 2017, and of course there is discourse that remains, but with the success of this super hero black movie it hopefully helped show that not only do they matter, but black stories resonate with Americans. The #MeToo movement will undoubtedly be forever linked with 2018, the year that enough was enough, but maybe it can dove tail with the story line that black musicians, black actors and a black movie dominated pop culture this year.

 

1. God’s Plan – Drake

He is as omnipresent in music as the CN Tower is in the City of Toronto. Drake Mania has surpassed Hulk-a-mania levels and it has been three years since this blog predicted its halt, and no such stop has happened. He even stumbled publicly this year with the news of a bastard child to be paired with a heavy serving of beef with Pusha T and the unpredictable Kanye West. But what Pusha and most definitely Kanye lack, is the charm of the 6 King. Drake smiles. Drake cares. Drake thinks he’s cool, but not too cool. He made a rap video about helping people. This hasn’t happened since Tupac. Fans forgive Drake for anything that they aren’t trained to think of as ‘real hip-hop’ because he has transcended every definition of what a rapper is and how they are supposed to behave.

Drake sees nothing wrong with the many hats he wears because in 2018 the ancient adage ‘You can grow up to be anything you want to be’ is most possible in today’s world. A white Jewish dude with face tattoos named Post Malone is one of the most prevalent pop stars there is. A TV show celebrity host with no political experience is the President of the USA. A drama teacher with a famous Dad is the Prime Minister of Canada. A man has never had an easier time becoming a woman and vice versa. With these incredulous moments all transpiring, is it a big deal that Drake chooses to be a wholesome basketball ambassador and then a violence-threatening gangster in the rap studio? He does not.

But don’t you dare give him all the credit because according to him, this is all God’s Plan.

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20171219_084737

Opinion
By James Pavel

  1. What Lovers Do – Maroon 5 feat. Sza

Pop/rock is currently defined by one band – Maroon 5. Radio advertises mega stars, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, etc., along with one face standing among the crowd as the sole survivor of pop/rock – the dude with a tiger wrapped around his arm. The track is an overdose of morphine gone horribly right. Maroon 5 knows their role and they play it perfectly – keep it simple and keep it fun. Mission accomplished this year.

  1. Telefono – Phoenix

Thomas Mars grumbles aloud about the paranoia surrounding a long-distance relationship with Sophia Coppola. He ponders her latest casting decisions and perhaps he is merely old news. He pines in French and in English, the transition between languages perfectly reflecting his wishy-washy emotions. Phoenix remains one of the quintessential bands of the summer and will forever define July/August skies.

 

  1. The Man – The Killers

In case you didn’t realize the Killers were all about Brandon, you do now. Brandon is at his ego maniacal finest, swinging his dick around the casino table like an elephant swinging its trunk at an opponent. At first listen, it’s the worst song the Vegas group has ever released. Second hearing demonstrates a humorous side to the track. Finally, after three or four re-starts, the heavy bass and thundering drums become the center pieces, and the genius of ‘The Man’ ensues. It has David Bowie at his funkiest with Brandon’s unmistakable showmanship all tied into a fancy bow on a brand-new Cadillac.

 

  1. Bad Ones – Matthew Dear feat. Tegan & Sara

Tegan and her sister team up with what sounds like a Calvin Harris fill-in, for what was a sneaky treat for us in 2017. It showed the strength of the two sisters harmonizing together with a beat that couldn’t be better for their range and overall sound.

  1. Slide – Calvin Harris

The world’s house DJ was at it again in 2017, this time pairing with the mysterious Frank Ocean. If you didn’t enjoy the song, you were shipped off to the insane asylum or declared deaf. Hearing people yell ‘I might’ in the voice of an 8-year-old grew annoying after a while, but it was all in good taste.

  1. Unforgettable – French Montana feat. Swae Lee

    Heavy bass paired with soulful vocals is always going to be a smash. French Montana has a cool name, but he could use a few dope tracks to back up the title. He managed to do just that in 2017, pumping out one of rap music’s go-to joints.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTFtOOh47oo

14. Call me Pretty – Alexander F

An Apple iPod commercial waiting to happen. This song is practically bursting at the seams by the time the chorus explodes into a thousand multi-colored balloons blasting out into the sky. The 80s’ hyper-synth mashed with 50s’ doo-whop, made fans grab for their comb and quickly transform it into a pretend microphone.

  1. Passionfruit – Drake

We might officially be Drake’d out. He still runs the 6, he is still the Toronto Raptors head cheerleader, and he was still able to put out one of the hottest numbers we heard all year. But I swear we have had it up to our nostrils with Toronto’s finest. That is, until the next banger comes out. Here we go 2018.

  1. In Undertow – Alvvays

Ever wonder what hipsters dream about? Look no further, Alvvays captured it on camera. So shoe-gazey, so synth-warming, so ridiculously hipster. Oh, did I mention it was a fantastic song? That too.

  1. Congratulations – Post Malone feat. Quavo

Welcome to emo-rap. No genre is more self-indulgent than rap, and this song doesn’t help that reputation. Malone congratulates himself for working so hard, that he forgot how to book a flight to Mexico. A life-time of back-slaps would not suffice, and only a brilliantly-constructed rap banger would suffice for one of the new faces of hip-hop.

  1. You’re the best thing about me – U2 vs. Kygo

If Coldplay can mash with the dance scene, why not U2? Bono and company recruit one of dance music’s hottest acts and dare him to go toe-to-toe with planet Earth’s greatest band. It’s Bono at his cheekiest and most self-deprecating, a man who refuses to stop smiling regardless of how any haters try to tear down his walls. The ‘Songs of Innocence’ and now the ‘Songs of Experience’ albums, mark a new era of U2. The band recognizes that they aren’t supposed to matter anymore, but when did Bono ever listen to anybody?

  1. Gravity don’t pull me – Rostam

Rarely do we hear a love song so blatantly gay. But here we are, and it’s a beautiful thing. Vampire Weekend sidekick Rostam, delivered one of the boldest albums of the year, with ‘Gravity don’t pull me’ being one of many highlights. The closing dub-step portion magnifies the heart-break while elevating the overall track’s significance.

  1. Creature Comfort – Arcade Fire

If social media could provide one PA message for the entire world, they need to recruit Arcade Fire. ‘Some girls hate themselves, stand in the mirror and wait for the feedback,’ – Is that not everything wrong with the selfie/social media culture in one carefully-crafted verse? No band is as conscious of the times we live in, exemplified by yet another thematic album, ‘Everything NOW.’ Instant gratification is our motif, regardless of the suicidal consequences.

  1. Sign of the times – Harry Styles

    Styles does what we did not necessarily expect. It would have been an obvious step for him to go the route of a Justin Bieber of Nick Jonas. But Styles has decided to show off his true colors, which look and sound remarkably like a young David Bowie. ‘Sign of the Times,’ was a total throw-back, an almost miracle that it was given proper airplay. Only someone of Styles magnitude and promise could pull off releasing an instant-classic sounding hit made for the 70s and get away with it in the generation that has the attention span of a puppy.

     

    6. Wild Thoughts – DJ Khaled feat. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller

If there ever was a guitar slaying that deserved repeating, it is Santana’s ‘Maria, Maria.’ If you remember when Santana’s song was originally released, you my friend, are officially getting old. The good news is that Rihanna managed to somehow turn what was a classy dame of a song, into a sultry, half-drunk senorita begging for trouble. Basically it’s ‘Maria, Maria’ on Cialis.

  1. Slow Hands – Niall Horan

Easily the sexiest song of the year. Fast hands are overrated, and even criminal, in 2017. ‘Take it slow’ remains advice to be taken seriously. The song hovered over the summer like California smoke. We spent half the year enjoying the best offering from One Direction and the other half trying to determine if, after all this time, dirty laundry is an aphrodisiac.

 

  1. Too good at goodbyes – Sam Smith

He looks a little thinner, but he sounds even more powerful this year. How could you follow up such an insanely successful first album? Passing this exam is always a sign of the greats. George Michael left a massive role for an English bloke to fill, and Sam Smith already seems on his way to trumping any of Michael’s greatest feats. While most of us are pathetic at saying goodbye, Smith has mastered the art as a twisted defense mechanism. It likely helps that he can sing his way out of any pain or emotion, a tactic that hopefully continues for the decades to come.

  1. Prisoner – Ryan Adams

A refreshing metaphor for love encapsulates the most recent dish served up by Adams. If love is a crime, then Adams is a brutal and sadistic prisoner, worthy of the electric chair. It’s an exceptionally beautiful concept and perhaps the premier album of the year. Adams songwriting and harmonica abilities make him a less grumpy version of Neil Young.

  1. Something just like this – Coldplay feat. The Chainsmokers

Could the biggest band in the world somehow remain relevant in an EDM-obsessed planet? Of course they could. In the ultimate case of ‘if you can’t beat em, join em,’ Coldplay joined forces with the dark side and put out, incredibly, one of the biggest songs of their career. While the other tracks to contend for their best offering are funeral-ready slobber fests, this song is a bombastic, bouncy castle of fun.

  1. Humble – Kendrick Lamar

In the year of fake news, ‘Show me something natural like ass with some stretch marks,’ was the realest shit said all year. Kendrick is real news, and we’ve never needed a subscription this badly. Do you want to see a pack of teenagers go bonkers? Surprise them by blaring ‘Humble.’ It sounds like a beat by Dre for millennials, by the closest rapper we will ever see that could be considered the resurrection of Tupac. Substance and clear-sounding, Lamar is the greatest rapper today. While Drake may finally be suffering from over-saturation, Lamar has managed to strategically pick his spots and maintain integrity with the hip-hop hardcore, and yet appease the pop masses.

 

 

 

 

 

liam-gallagher

Opinion
By James Pavel

Going solo was always going to be easier for Noel. He was the songwriter and the soul of Oasis and his individual creations versus Liam’s in the post-breakup era have been comparable to a Manchester City versus Crystal Palace matchup. But despite Liam’s Beady Eye shortcomings, more is still expected. He is, after all, the primary voice of the greatest British insurgence outside of Beatle mania.

So here in 2017 arrives yet another kick at the can from Liam, but this time ensuring no confusion over who or what is behind the project.

‘Greedy Soul’ is immediately forgettable and comes across as a Beady Eye B-side. ‘When I’m Need’ demonstrates what quitting cigarettes and alcohol can do for the system. Liam reaches notes he hasn’t hit in decades and the determination pays off. It’s the song John Lennon would have made in his last days if he hadn’t been too busy rolling around naked in the hay with his little China girl.

‘Wall of Glass’ has that grimy, down in the allies of England feel to it. Do you secretly hope to hear Noel come raging in for the chorus? Absolutely. But Liam holds his own on this one, making it arguably the first proper single he has put out, post-Oasis.

The gem of the album is ‘Chinatown.’ It captures Liam in a state of reflection, a song that finally displays who he really is – a man who has seen and been through some shit. It features instrumentation potentially viewed as too soft for an Oasis bloke, but not in 2017. ‘Show me that you’ve seen some places,’ dares Liam, as if he couldn’t fathom another individual matching his singular experiences.

‘I’ve all I need’ is Liam at his most honest, and honesty serves him well in his now advanced age. It sounds as though he has reconciled any angst or sourness with his brother, yet is still profoundly aware that their relationship is beyond repair. ‘There’s no time for looking back,’ he exclaims, which is true for both parties as Noel prepares to release his latest material. Some situations are meant to remain unresolved and we are better off going our own way – This track may be Liam’s way of convincing himself.

Liam and Noel could both wait for the next wave of 90s nostalgia to grasp the youth and cash in on an Oasis reunion. But they are both too stubborn, too bull-headed, but also too ambitious. Liam knows and believes he is a rock n’ roll God and that music still needs him. It’s that faith in one’s self that seems to define the greats. While many bands are happy to play the hits, Liam finally punches out a solo project that refuses to be dismissed.

Opinion
By James Pavel

The Killers announced this week that not only will their bass guitarist Mark Stoermer not be touring with the band on their upcoming venture, but lead guitarist Dave Keuning will also sit this one out. The Killers release their 5th studio album this month, but only their second since 2009. After a bustling start to their career, the band’s material has slowed and unfortunately, so has their popularity. The two guitarists have done next to nothing compared to what lead singer Brandon Flowers has done during the band’s extended hiatuses. Rather than helping revive the group and planning a tour stronger than ever, the two guitarists seem to have zero interest in taking the band to the next level.

Even watching the two on stage, it seems that the life has been sucked of them. They have not been anywhere near as excited as they were prior to the Day & Age tour and now seem to almost dread appearing on stage with the other two members. Watching Dave perform at this year’s Lollapalooza was a clear indication that he no longer believes in the spirit of the Killers. The most energy he conveyed during the show was when Flowers announced they would perform a cover of Muse’s ‘Starlight.’ He is constantly dead-panning the audience and seems content with shoe-gazing during the entirety of live shows.

Stoermer has always looked like the weak link in the group and now his desire to not tour at all has made this suspicion valid. If you can’t tour and promote the new material, their shouldn’t be any room for this sort of negativity and failure to remain united.

Brandon and Ronnie have already announced their replacements and they have already proven to be more than up to the task.  Ted Sablay and Jake Banton will officially take over the roles of the two lost souls that once made up the Las Vegas quartet. Ted has already taken on the majority of the backup vocals from Dave and seems poised to take over the role completely. Jake has been Brandon’s right-hand man since his solo debut ‘Flamingo,’ and appears to be much more engaged and enthused with performing.

If Dave and Mark can’t help the group on their biggest tour in years, it should serve as a clear indication to Brandon and Ronnie that it’s time to make some serious adjustments to the starting lineup.

 

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.

drake2

Opinion
By James Pavel

No rapper in hip hop embodies the quintessential modern-day word smith like Aubrey Drake Graham.

Drake is less gun play more word play.

He proves that in the modern era, one exerts more swag by wearing a well-tailored suit on the cover of GQ rather than throwing up esoteric gang signs on the cover of XXL or The Source Magazine. Drake’s upcoming album ‘Views from the 6’ is the most hyped album of the year by a titanic size. Drake’s stake with the Toronto Raptors features a role that rappers a mere 15 years ago openly fantasized about without a notion that it would one day be possible for an MC from Canada.

It is too early to deliver a verdict on ‘Views from the 6’ but the fact that it has become such a centerpiece of music conversation for such a lengthy period of time speaks to the influence that Drake controls. Yes, Kanye West’s new album has gained plenty of attention but partially because Kanye is such a desirable centre of ridicule. West admitted that 2014 was the year of Drake and not of Mr. West. The problem for ‘Ye’ is that he has yet to reclaim the throne from the Canadian MC. Jay-Z jumping on a track every time a Drake album drops places a clear stamp of approval on Drake’s Toronto forehead regardless of how differently Drizzy nay-sayers or even Kanye, may feel.

Along with Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan, Drake is the face of the Toronto Raptors. Yet as you obviously know, Drake does NOT play for the Raptors. Think about that. He has actually made a Raptor hat more famous than a Raptor can. Drake sits court side because he can afford it but mainly because he is the official ambassador of the Toronto Raptors. Sure, he slaps hands with Steph Curry and Lebron James when they are in town because who the hell wouldn’t?

Drake reigns supreme because he’s reppin’ a city that never has been repped outside of Canada. And folks, he’s not just rapping about it. He’s singing, he’s crooning and he’s dancing inside glowing fluorescent cubes without a care in the 6.

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Opinion
By James Pavel

5. Let me Blow Ya Mind – Eve feat. Gwen Stefani

It was widely recognized that Gwen Stefani was one of the most talented and desirable women in rock n’ roll, but she had yet to be used in any context outside of No Doubt. That all changed in 2001 when Stefani collaborated with Moby on ‘Southside,’ and then more impressively, with Eve for the Dr. Dre/Scott Storch produced ‘Let me Blow your Mind.’ It was the whitest of the white girls tag-teaming a Dre banger with a black woman who had bear paws tattooed on her ta tas. It proved to be a beautiful contrast. Dre teaming with Gwen was surprising, but it helped him broaden his talents and made an even wider group of club-goers bounce to his music without them immediately recognizing that one one of their favourite pop stars was singing to beats conceived by a hip-hop icon.

 

 4. Who Am I? (What’s My Name?) – Snoop Dogg

It is one of his most raucous and heavy sounding beats of the 90s. ‘What’s my Name?’ was a child of the ghetto wailing proudly for the cities of Long Beach and Compton to boogie to. The beat was pure gangster-funk, a term Dre’s cousin Warren G would come to further define and utilize throughout his successful 90s career. Nothing sounded better in your friends Acura Integra bolstered with amps or in 2016, in your signature Dr. Dre headphones.

3. Nuthin’ but a G thang – Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg

It was that siren spinning through the introduction, like a snake slithering its way over Dre’s Compton keyboards that helped transfix fans with this song from 1993 til’ infinity. It’s G-Funk for the California beaches because hey, gangsters need to lounge too. This track would signify the beginning of the true domination of Dre-produced tracks, an era that would launch the career of Snoop Dogg and then several years later, the real Slim Shady.

 

 2. In Da Club – 50 Cent

In an interview accessible through YouTube, 50 Cent’s nemesis Ja Rule describes his reaction to when he first heard the thunderous boom of ‘In Da Club.’ – Oh Shit. Ja Rule, Murda Inc. and the rest of the hip-hop world would be at the mercy of Fiddy after he dropped a track that featured Dre’s most pulsating and intimidating beat of his career. One could argue that this release was the pinnacle of rap music in terms of sheer popularity. There was no mass EDM scene, rock n’ roll was going through its most awkward phase of its existence and country music remained loyal to true cowboys and cowgirls. Dre’s production juxtaposed perfectly with Fiddy’s monstrous size and legendary survival tales. It would mark yet a fourth rapper that had their career grossly augmented by a superb beat via the Doctor of hip hop. This track had originally been bookmarked for Dre’s elusive and essentially mythical album ‘Detox,’ but he decided it would better serve the 50 Cent agenda. We can only hope that Dre receives annual Christmas Cards from the G-Unit household.

1. Still D.R.E. – Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg

Green, neon goosebumps. It’s the sensation every rap head aged 12-30 experienced when this G’d up piano with bandanas falling off its keys absorbed our living rooms and our mental soundtrack for the entirety of 1999. This track roared that Dre’s not just back, he might even be better than he was back in 1993. He made Snoop Dogg relevant again after his ill-advised stint with No Limit Records, and he reminded everyone what California Love sounded like, with one of rap music’s defining orchestras.