Nir Netz ’19
2016 was a stressful year for a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean this year was all bad. In fact, the music industry was great… excluding pop music (HA!). This list counts down my top 10 favorite songs that came out this year. I hope you enjoy it and maybe it will get you interested in something new! My only rule for this list is that I’m excluding songs by any musician that appeared on my “Top 30 Musicians I Discovered in 2016” list, just for the sake of not being repetitive. Also, links to each song will be provided in the heading title so you can listen to them. Finally, keep in mind that this is a favorite’s list, so this is all based on my personal opinion, not the charts. If there’s a song that you love that isn’t on this list, tell me in the comments below and I may listen to it. Well, let’s get started!
10. Are We Ready? (Wreck) – Two Door Cinema Club
• Genre: Indie Rock
• Album: Gameshow
I wasn’t that impressed with Two Door Cinema Club’s recent album Gameshow; I found it to be generic and boring. However, one song really struck a chord with me, and that was “Are We Ready?,” A.K.A. “Wreck.” The song’s lyrics provide deep questions about consumerism, such as: are corporations taking advantage of you? The vocals are calm and high pitched, but loses points for using some autotune. The instrumentals are fast and have a retro feel to them. Not to mention, the music video for this song is clever, symbolic, and crazy.
9. Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With That – The Marcus King Band
• Genre: Blues
• Album: Self-titled
What a beautifully composed song! “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With That” is a joy to listen to from start to end. The horns are loud and comforting, the guitars and bass are smooth and funky, and Marcus King’s vocals are confident and booming. Although the lyrics are a tad cliché in describing a deteriorating romance, it’s a great song and deserves a spot on this list.
8. Superhero Showdown – Blue Stahli
• Genre: Industrial
• Album: Premonitions
Much like Gameshow, Blue Stahli’s new album Premonitions didn’t appeal to me that much. Unlike Gameshow, this album had a few songs that could’ve been on this list. For example: “Superhero Showdown.” This song lives up to its’ name, as it suits a fight between two super powered characters. The guitars are heavy and intense, and are accompanied by loud synths and snare kicks. This song combines aspects of metal, industrial rock, techno, and even trap music, and ends up with a surprisingly creative combination.
7. On an Evening in Roma (Sott’er Cleo de Roma) – Michael Bublé
• Genre: Swing
• Album: Nobody But Me
Michael Bublé’s new album Nobody But Me is a powerhouse of all sorts of genres, like jazz, pop, and rock. Out of all the songs in the album, I decided to pick a calmer song to be on this list: “On an Evening in Roma (Sott’er Cleo de Roma).” This cover of Dean Martin’s classic is wonderfully calming. Michael’s vocals are soothing, and listening to his voice is like drinking a silky glass of milk. Accompanying Michael are mellow instrumentals with beautiful strings and soft drums. Not to mention, the blending of Italian and English lyrics is something to be admired. Though get ready, for this isn’t the last song with foreign lyrics on this list…
6. You Bring the Summer – The Monkees
• Genre: Bubblegum Rock
• Album: Good Times
Anyone remember The Monkees? You know, the popular band back in the mid 60’s that had their own TV show? Well, they’re back and better than ever! With their new album Good Times, the musical style is completely new, but they still grasp that happy summery vibe – especially in “You Bring the Summer.” Listening to this song reminds me of my favorite memories from previous summers, and this joyous feeling grows inside me. The moral of this happy-go-lucky song is that you can turn any gloomy moment into a gleeful one. While I have some problems with that message, it’s cute and innocent, so I shouldn’t really complain. As for everything else, the vocals are laid back and the instrumentals are upbeat. The only complaint I have is that the music video is abysmally animated.
5. AMORE – BABYMETAL
• Genre: Power Metal
• Album: Metal Resistance
This isn’t just my favorite 2016 song with foreign lyrics, but it’s also the best female-made song of 2016 I’ve heard. I learned about the Japanese idol band BABYMETAL in late 2015, but I didn’t think much of them at first. However, once they started gaining more attention in the west, I revisited their music and OH MY STARS, THEY ARE AWESOME. If you want to know why, listen to their song “AMORE” and you’ll understand. While the vocals are astounding and clear, and the lyrics are emotional and loving (when translated), what really steals the show is the instrumentals. The guitars in this song remind me of DragonForce, my all-time favorite band, and it’s not hard to see why. The guitars are fast-paced, energetic, powerful, and adrenaline-pumping. Even if metal isn’t your cup of tea, you should check this song out, as well as BABYMETAL’s other music. Also, they have an animated series coming soon, so keep that on your radar.
4. Whole Lotta Love vs. 5th Symphony – 2Cellos
• Genre: Contemporary Chamber
• Album: Single
I’m a big fan of Beethoven’s work, and why not? It’s influential, groundbreaking, and astonishing. However, I can’t say the same for Led Zeppelin. Even though classic rock is my favorite music genre, I can’t get into this band. I’m not sure why. However, what happens when you take their song “Whole Lotta Love,” combine it with Beethoven’s “5th Symphony,” and reduce all the instruments and vocals to two singular cellos? Something amazing. I’ve always admired 2Cellos and their astounding covers of songs, but I never thought they would get this creative! 2Cellos manages to combine both songs in such a way that I can’t help but bob my head. Towards the end, both of the songs fuse together. Now that’s awesome! While it’s not my favorite song of theirs, it’s the best they made in 2016.
3. Blackstar – David Bowie
• Genre: Avant-Garde
• Album: Blackstar
David Bowie’s Blackstar album is simply heartbreaking. It tackles various themes including death, loss, and sorrow. As we all know, two days after this album was released, Bowie died at age sixty-nine. Now, I feel like this entire album was a message made to send him off at the brink of death. Any song from this album could’ve made it onto this list, but I think my favorite is the titular track: “Blackstar.” This ten minute song is ingeniously experimental. The drums are fast and steady, the horns are sporadic and haunting, and Bowie’s vocals are beautifully depressing. Then there’s the lyrics, OH BOY, the lyrics. I don’t need to explain why these lyrics are astounding; this is David Bowie we’re talking about.
Poly’s Dollhouse – arai tasuku
• Genre: Ambient Breakcore
• Album: Piece of Scenery
To me, “Poly’s Dollhouse” is utter perfection. The song begins in a disturbing fashion, with a haunting violin accompanied by a toy piano, along with some sudden electronic riffs. The song itself sounds twisted, yet childish and courteous. Then suddenly, the song transitions from a dark ambient track to a melodic breakcore song once the electronic drums and snares kick in. The song continues to evolve into a crescendo of cluttered noises until it reverts back to the ambience from the beginning, but with a layer of static. I think this constantly-changing song is completely underrated, as well as the rest of Arai Tasuku’s music. Although this song is great, there’s still one more song to cover…
1. We Are the People – Ziggy Marley
• Genre: Reggae
• Album: Self-Titled
You know what I don’t hear that much of any more? Reggae music. The genre is incredibly influential, but new releases of reggae music are becoming less frequent. Still, there was one reggae artist that stood out last year: Ziggy Marley. With his new self-titled album, he’s reviving reggae with tropical instrumentals, clean and calm vocals, and lyrics that hold important morals. One of the songs from this album is called “We Are the People,” and frankly, it’s the best song I heard from 2016. While the instrumentals sound relaxing and soothing and the vocals are beautiful, what truly makes this song is the lyrics. Similar to the hippie ballads of the 60’s, this is a protest song, but unlike those songs, the message is not related to war. The message of this song is that every individual is unique in their own special way. People aren’t “robots” or “corporations,” and shouldn’t be judged by their sex, race, age, class, ability, religion, region, sexual orientation, or political beliefs. Everyone should be treated equally, and be recognized for who they truly are. This moral is so touching that I can’t think of any other song this year that made me feel so warm inside.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this list. Let’s hope 2017 isn’t as bad as last year. Good luck to you all, and enjoy yourselves!
- I Don’t Know My Name – Grace VanderWaal: consider this number 11 on this list
- Wancore – Sonnie: it’s absolutely insane and I love it for that
- Raise Your Flag – MAN WITH A MISSION: a fun song that combines metal and hip hop
- I’m Gonna Miss You – Interstate 10: a heartfelt song dedicated to deceased soldiers
- Huginn Og Muninn – ÝRÝ: unique and eerie
- Earthbound – Bury Tomorrow: intense and booming
- Tree of Life – Dark Oath: slow, but brutal and loud
- Cryoshock – Mechina ft. Mel Rose: amazing instrumentals and vocals, iffy lyrics
- Femen – Crystal Castles: a unique witch house song, which is actually ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ in reverse!
- Bottomless Pit – Death Grips: technically, this is my favorite song of 2016, but the top 30 rule prevents it from being on this list (WARNING: INCLUDES FOUL LANGUAGE)