Thursday, December 8, 2016

50 Favorite Songs of 2016 (Part One)

50. "No" by Meghan Trainor

JUDGE ME. DO IT. JUDGE ME LIKE JUDY. I DARE YOU. While Meghan Trainor has been thrown into quite a negative light since her debut, I'm not afraid to admit her "No" wears its early 2000s pop sensibility on its sleeve and throws us Millennials on one hell of a nostalgia trip. (Yes, before you ask, I know "Me Too" is kind of garbage. Let's just not talk about it, okay? Focus on this track's greatness.)

49. "Make Me..." by Britney Spears feat. G-Eazy

Britney Spears abandoned her theme of opening her album eras with an upbeat pop gem, instead aiming for smooth, sensual vibes with "Make Me." I wasn't crazy (as in "(You Drive Me) Crazy," of course) about it at first, but after a few listens, it was quite easy to get entranced by its chorus as it reaches a peak of euphoria, with her "ooh"s buried in a pool of dreamy synthesizers. This song is definitely a grower, not a shower. (We could all certainly do without G-Eazy, though... and we could definitely do without that "Me, Myself, and I" interpolation from the MTV Music Video Award, but I digress.)

48. "This is What You Came For" by Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna

The third collaboration between Calvin Harris and Rihanna is about as half-assed as they come, but quite frankly, I don't give a damn. Starring Rihanna and an unaccredited Taylor Swift, this track is a pre-packaged party in a box. Yes, most of it is a sliced-and-diced stem of "ooh"s and a loop of electronic magic, but it's just that infectious. Fight me on this one, if you'd like.

47. "Final Song" by MØ

The trajectory of MØ's career in the wake of her Major Lazer-fueled success has been a bit strange, hasn't it? She shook off the oddities of her debut album, leaning towards a mainstream, marketable approach without a defined sonic direction. Even still, it's mainstream music with grit. Co-written by Noonie Bao and produced by MNEK, "Final Song" finds her encapsulated in a bouncy party song. It strays from the East Asian intentions of "Lean On" and "Kamikaze," giving her another new perspective for her upcoming album.

46. "In My Mind" by Maty Noyes

When she appeared opposite of The Weeknd on the closing track to his sophomore album last year, Maty Noyes became a subject of interest. This year, she dropped her solo extended play and debut single, "In My Mind" – an anthem for the girl whose guy is hung up on her past. The smooth sulk of her collaboration with The Weeknd has shape-shifted into a sexy pout over standard (yet addictive) drum machine-reliant pop production. (P.S. – That little "dah-dah-dah-dah-dum" hook gets me every time.)

45. "SOS (Overboard)" by Joseph

Marketing at its finest, folks: After seeing the three lovely ladies of Joseph on YouTube ads, beside more well-known artists at Target, and at the top of Urban Outfitter's online vinyl store, I finally decided to give them a chance. And it's a good thing I did. An acoustic hybrid of pop and folk is their thing, and they do it quite well. "SOS" is perhaps their liveliest selection, kept alive by an organic drumbeat and guitar strums.

44. "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)" by Adele

So listen, I was a bit rough on this song when I reviewed Adele's 25; it was too far from what we were used to hearing from Adele, and my ears just weren't ready for it. But after the tenth listen, I couldn't get enough; I changed my mind. Sue me. Now if you don't mind, I'm going to go twirl and brush my shoulders alongside Adele as I karaoke this shit like a pro.

43. "Gold" by Kiiara

If Kiiara and Terror Jr. taught us one thing in 2016, it's that their mutual producer Felix Snow is a one-trick pony, but the former's "Gold" was the first to capitalize on that one trick. It thrives in its simplicity; reeking of effortless swagger, Kiiara transforms the drum machine reliance of Lorde and FKA twigs into a confident, club-ready tune with a chorus that begs to be sang alongside  even if the vocal sampling makes it nearly impossible.

42. "Close" by Nick Jonas feat. Tove Lo

I smelled some record label pressure from the very beginning when I heard that Nick Jonas and Tove Lo paired up for this track, but who knew they would have this much chemistry? With those two begging to be as close as physically possible, this track is so hot that it drips in sweat; there's even an unexpected authenticity behind Jonas' cries of "close, ooh, oh so close."

41. "Starving" by Hailee Steinfeld and Grey feat. Zedd

I was a bit worried about Hailee Steinfeld post-"Love Myself." While "Rock Bottom" was sufficient, nothing on her short extended play quite matched the heights that her debut single did. "Starving," however, puts her back in line for pop greatness. Building off a single guitar riff, the track somehow blossoms into an electronic dance track by the middle-eight in a much smoother fashion than expected.

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