2016 has been a bit of a funny year for music; a few eccentric entries, a large total of deep house bangers, some swift one-hit wonders and catchy-as-hell hooks and moments. Whilst the year has brought us many tears and utter gut-wrenching moments with the loss of several music legends such as David Bowie, Prince, Lemmy, amongst a gigantic number of other icons, 2016 has also been a great year of success to many newcomers and current musicians. So, for every December 1 of each year (yes, I know… I’m a day late… give me a break!), I will be conducting a year-end list that compiles some of the best work in a glorious 365 day streak. But don’t worry December numbers, you will get your chance for next years inclusion… or will you? (Nah, I’m just kidding, of course you’ll get the opportunity… or will you?) ALSO, there is not particular order, although in alphabetical structure, just plain inclusions of some moments. So, without further-ado, here we gooooooooo…
Adele — Send My Love (To Your New Lover)
After a successful comeback last year with her smash single “Hello” and the infamous record 25, British queen of soul Adele decided to amp up the tempo with a swifty pop moment titled “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”. A bittersweet tale of a split between her and her ex-lover, the single saw a new direction of the single, adding in some charming synths, subtle guitar riffs and poppy background elements.
Ariana Grande — Into You
Ariana Grande has been a spotlight darling this past year, whether it’s bad or good, but that doesn’t discredit (or win her, positively) the singers ability to make some pretty dope tunes. Sliding through several genres on her record Dangerous Woman, her winning moment was the infectious love anthem “Into You”, which showcases a more low-tempo EDM sound that lingered a bit through her early work.
Bruno Mars — 24k Magic
Ahhhhhh, the sound of Bruno Mars… like a moth to a flame… in the, how you say, more addictive and positive way (just scrap that piece). The artist smeared the charts with his slick, clean beats and 80s-infatuated sounds on the massive hit “24k Magic”. Yes, a comeback indeed.
Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna — This Is What You Came For
After a controversial buzz around the single’s songwriting and production, Calvin Harris still knew how to bring out the goods with his EDM hit “This Is What You Came For”, which featured the Barbados beauty Rihanna. Filled with sensual hooks and more stripped musical elements that his previous work, the first listen of this track was sure to make a wave in the charts there and far.
Desiigner — Panda
Even though the track was released in late December last year, “Panda” may have been your typical hip-hop anthem by American rapper Desiigner. But with its spooky elements of trap music, almost cryptic lyrical content in some moments, and catchy title phrase, the single was bound to make a huge impact.
Drake feat. Wizkid and Kyla — One Dance
Definitely one of Drake’s more pop-friendly hits, “One Dance” showcases softer vocals from the rapper with additional vocals by Wizkid and Kyla. It’s tender, incredibly catchy and a well-executed pop–hip-hop anthem.
Flume feat. Tove Lo — Say It
Australian producer and DJ Flume has been making some waves overseas for his extensively creative editing on current EDM genres such as trap, house and hardcore sounds, especially with his hit with Kai, titled “Never Be Like You”. However, it was his collaboration with Swedish singer Tove Lo that got me quite excited; a rhythmic and futuristic EDM anthem that expressed a very dark and serious tone with its love-infused songwriting and production.
Jonas Blue feat. Dakota — Fast Car
At first, the cover of the classic anthem “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman was a worry for me, knowing that it’s a heartfelt ode to the singer’s background and life growing up. But Jonas Blue and Dakota managed to executve their version quite finely; it sizzles a deep house element with downtempo tones, but Dakota’s vocals gives it that contemporary flavor to carry it to further heights.
Justin Bieber — Company
There’s no denying that Justin Bieber has been making some pretty lit music in the past year, especially with his trailblazing “Where Are U Now?” and infectious “What Do You Mean?”. But this year, he spread his deep house elements like butter on bread with “Company”, another hit from his album Purpose.
Justin Timberlake — Can’t Stop the Feeling
Justin Timberlake, or simply known as JT, has managed to bust out some sleek acting performances in a variety of movies and other shows throughout the years. But after becoming a father and scoring a deal with the movie Trolls, the singer belted out the theme song “Can’t Stop the Feeling”, a funky uptempo number that, without a doubt, cemented his musical geniuses.
Kings — Don’t Worry About It
New Zealand group Kings have managed to seize pop stations around the West with their hit single “Don’t Worry About It”, which borrows the deep house sound with some slick production and additional tribal-esque echos. Expect a lot more from the group, as it sounds like their music is getting off with a good start.
Lukas Graham — 7 Years
A heartfelt ode about his adolescence and growing up, Lukas Graham has gained some legion of fans with his personal efforts such as “Mama Said”, and working through his debut record. But “7 Years” really managed to raise some hairs, a tender ballad that showcase some shining vocals by the singer.
Major Lazor feat. Justin Bieber & Mo
Justin Bieber just can’t stop belting out hits, can’t he? This time round, he teams up with Major Lazer and singer Mo (both whom had worked together on their incredibly dope hit “Lean On”) to sing on the track “Cold Water”, a blend of folk music and deep house music hindered in the background. Their vocals complement each other, which is yet another bonus to the songs inclusion.
Marc. E Bassy feat. G-Eazy — You & Me
American singer Marc. E Bassy had started his career years ago with a series of mixtapes, but found his way to international stardom with his hit with American rapper G-Eazy, titled “You & Me”. An infectious reggae hit that incorporate some stellar vocals by both parties, the recording seems to just be the beginning of the songwriter (and also gives some credit to G-Eazy for belting out yet another strong number).
Maroon 5 — Don’t Wanna Know
The American band seems to be severely bringing out some seriously catchy tracks in recent years (although their earlier career still sizzles nicely in the back of my head), but one of their most impressive entries has to be their deep house ride on “Don’t Wanna Know”. A more subtle and collective track, the band also managed to collaborate with rapper Kendrick Lamar in a special single version, adding a bit of spice to this sugary number.
Namie Amuro — Fighter
Even though this Japanese songstress has been bringing out some of the most polished and dopest pop entries in recent Japanese music, Namie Amuro sure cemented her international appeal with the single “Fighter”, a powerhouse full of EDM synths and hooky moments during the chorus. Bow down to yet another single from one of the longest surviving pop stars in Japanese history!
P!nk — Just Like Fire
An aggressive tale of love and camaraderie (even throughout its epic music video, which is pure gold), American artist P!nk sure knows how to sell a hit. As it was used in conjunction with the film Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass, “Just Like Fire” really made both ends meet in the most glamorous and rockin’ way.
Rae Sremmund feat. Gucci Mane — Black Beatles
What was so striking about this singles sound was the immense mixture of iconic elements such as classic hip-hop beats with some spooky film score appeal and pop-friendly synths. The deliveries from Rae and Gucci make it even more mysterious, but belt it out like there was not threat in the Billboard charts. Get ‘em!
Rihanna — Love on the Brain
At first, I assumed it to be some typical entry from a Meghan Trainor record; sizzling those slow jam tempo rhythms and soulful yet jazzy beat (no shade against Meghan, but… yeah, slightly predictable). But once Rihanna sung those notes (all different notes), I was shook. She took me took some 1960s diner store with each worker dancing and shaking to this anthem whilst I’m having my pancakes with extra butter and whipcream (mhhhhhmmmmm….) It’s such a transcending anthem that really brought out Rihanna’s experimental side yet again.
Rihanna feat. Drake — Work
But of course, no list would be complete with Rihanna’s iconic hit “Work”… or, shall I say, “work work work work work work”. The hook had anyone, including me, literally hooked to the track. It’s that… how should I say it… a “hook hook hook hook hook hook” (ehh, doesn’t appeal as much does it). Nevermind, it’s just a catchy dancehall-influenced jam.
Sia — Cheap Thrills
The Australian songstress has been the invisible hero when it comes to some of the world’s most incredible and successful singles in modern music history, but when it comes to her own music, she shines with not only her song writng, but her production and strong vocals. “Cheap Thrills” managed to get her to number one in the charts, but it really made her a huge international start with its fun and quirky production and pop-influence.
Snakehips feat. Tinashe & Chance The Rapper — All My Friends
A nightclub-esque anthem that details about people throughout the party lifestyle, these three artists managed to sizzle some incredible R&B-influenced beats to create yet another smashing entry into the list. Filled with bizarrely fun song writing and warm vocals, the chorus boosts off to the stars and beyond. Good job, Shakehips, Tinashe and Chance!
The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey — Closer
The EDM duo that possibly released one of the year’s most successful singles, “Closer” was a smoking blend of unique trap-inspired music that also boasted some sheer qualities of EDM and chillout sounds. But of course, the vocalists (including the talented Halsey) are not to go without; they sold the entry from start to finish, tying all the strings together to make it sound consistent and listenable.
Twenty One Pilots — Heathens
Like many entries on here, Twenty One Pilots have been another newsworthy act that combine a wide range of musical genres and some rather personal, theatrical and dramatic lyrics to make some impressive music. One of these examples was “Heathens”, which is a dark alternative number that sizzles some quirky vocal deliveries and brilliant instrumentation.
Zara Larrson — Ain’t My Fault
The Swedish beauty has been yet another artist that has been in the game for a bit, releasing some hits such as “Never Forget You” and “Lush Life”. But after that, the singer decided to amp up some fierceness, attitude and spunky realness in the agile teen anthem “Ain’t My Fault”. Also, check out the singers awesome rapping interludes throughout the verses; this chicks got the entire package.
- Blackpink — Playing with Fire
- Calum Scott — Dancing on My Own
- DJ Snake feat. Justin Bieber — Let Me Love You
- Gnash feat. Olivia O’brien — I Hate U, I Love U
- Neiked feat. Dyo — Sexual
- Nevada feat. Mark Morrison and Fetty Wap — The Mack
- Sia — The Greatest
- The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk — Starboy
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