Top 5 and Bottom 5 of 2016

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

Admittedly, with all the political distractions and the seemingly endless parade of people shuffling off this mortal coil, I listened to so much less pop radio this year, and found little bombarding me in either a good way or a bad way. There was no stupid love/hate novelty record, and the biggest record of the year, Drake’s “One Dance,” was only notable in that its 15 weeks atop the UK charts almost tied the all-time record set by Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do (I Do It For You),” a song that seems downright exciting in comparison. Otherwise, it was just the same assemblage of DJ’s coupling with a usually obnoxious female singer or Justin Bieber, who actually had a couple tunes early in the year that I liked!  Because I listened less to Top 40 radio this year, I had less exposure to what was out there, thus could really only come up with a top 5 in each category.


5. Dance – Rick Astley (didn’t chart in UK or US) – Yes, THAT Rick Astley! I spent a great deal more of my radio listening to Old Fart BBC Radio 2 this year, which played this tune rather continuously for a couple months, but it wasn’t gonna cross over to the younger folks, probably because it didn’t have a guest vocal by Sean Paul (Why does this one-note wonder continue to be everyone’s go-to guy?). Rick went to the same formula that worked for him nearly 30 years ago, and produced a singable, likeable tune.

4. Sunshine – TIEKS feat. Dan Harkna (#15 UK, didn’t chart US) – By the skin of its teeth this one made it into my top 5 because it had a really nice riff that they almost repeated to where I lost interest. Good soul singing, and listening to it now, it’s still holding up.

3. This Girl – Kungs vs. Cookin’ On Three Burners (#2 UK, #26 US) – What this tune did for me was make me aware of a wonderful record released in 2009 by an Australian R&B group that goes deeper into old school soul music than Bruno Mars could ever imagine. What the French DJ Kungs (né Valentin Brunel) did with the groove was speed it up without taking away from the original song’s feel, plus that guitar riff is pretty cool, even after the 100th repetition.

2. Seven Years – Lukas Graham (#1 UK, #2 US) – Sappy, probably, but a song with some kind of heartfelt message that goes beyond ” I want your body.” Plus, it’s an actual band, not just somebody in their bedroom on a laptop.

1. Human – Rag n Bone Man (#2 UK, hasn’t charted US yet) – I was seeing a lot of the American jazz & soul singer Gregory Porter this year, so I assumed this was his song. I sure wasn’t expecting it to be a white UK Northerner with the real name Rory Graham. I usually hate white folks trying to sound black, but in this case, I make an exception, and since the tune came out late this year, I feel a very cautious optimism that maybe the market will open up again for genuine Singers.

MY BOTTOM 5 OF 2016:

5. Sexual – NEIKED feat. Dyo (#5 UK, not charted in US yet) – On the reverse of Rag n Bone Man is a black singer sounding like Ellie Goulding on helium, and if that’s not enough, Swedish producer NEIKED (né Victor Ampstrom) decides to mix the voice an octave higher, while spewing out the same annoying subservient message of a few thousand other hits.

4. Panda – Desiigner (#7 UK, #1 US) – Not sure what this dude is on about, other than the trite “I’m a bad ass mo’ fo’ ” and the seemingly meaningless, mostly unintelligible imagery that might mean something to someone other than Desiigner (real name Sidney Selby III). Seems like whenever he runs out of things to say, he keeps murmuring the title, and I don’t think it’s about saving endangered species.

3. Work – Rihanna feat. Drake (#2 UK, #1 US) – Toward the end of the song, RiRi appears tired of the 500 or so times she must repeat the title, and reduces it to “wa wa wa wa.” I’m reminded of a 2002 song “Purple Hills” by a rap group D12, led by Eminem. One of the rappers, in his solo verse, runs out of things to say, and finishes by just going “n sa, n sa, n sa.” In that case, it was funny; this one was not.

2. I Hate You, I Love You – gnash feat. Olivia O’Brien (#7 UK, #10 US) – The song’s only saving grace is the opening verse is sung by the adequate Ms. O’Brien. After that, the legacy of Drake takes ahold in the three-note vocal range of gnash (real name Garrett Nash). Another example of what there is to hate about white guys trying to sound black. Rag n Bone Man pulls it off, but not this guy.

1. Pillowtalk – Zayn Malik (#1 UK, #1 US) – Oh, the anticipation of the first solo effort from Zayn, who jumped One Direction’s sinking ship a year before the rest of them bailed. Not! This jumbled mess reminds me that 1D was formed out of five guys who weren’t good enough on their own, but the sum could be greater than the parts, which it turned out to be. Zayn’s voice grates from the moment he enters the upper register of such a badly written tune, it can’t even figure out its own title. It settles on “Pillowtalk” when it could just as easily be “Better Days,” “Paradise,” or “War Zone.” It came out early this year, and continued to annoy for the remaining 11 months.

Best to all of you in the new year, and let’s hang tough. We got a lot of challenges to our well being.

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