Year in Music 2016: Top 30 Most Listened to Songs

obsessively compiled and curated by me.

30. LIVE, SIK-K, PUNCHNELLO, OWEN OVADOZ, FLOWSIK – EUNG FREESTYLE (응프리스타일)
This was good driving music. I enjoyed the interplay between the rappers, and the beat is sick.

29. M83 – Go! (feat. Mai Lan)
(16th favorite song of 2016)
Lots of radio play, and consistent listens throughout the year.

28. Operators – Mission Creep
I listened to a lot of Blue Wave in spring and early summer. This was one of my favorites from that album.

27. Operators – Rome
Another favorite from Blue Wave.

26. The Smashing Pumpkins – Cherub Rock
I was on a huge Siamese Dream kick this year. The CD didn’t leave my car stereo for a good three months. This song, in particular, is one of my very favorite songs ever.

25. Bring Me the Horizon – Avalanche
I like this song. So sue me.

24. mewithoutYou – Red Cow
(12th most listened to song of 2015, 2nd favorite song of 2015)I’m still listening to this. Hell, this could be on next year’s chart.

23. Car Seat Headrest – Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales
(11th favorite to song of 2016)

22. White Lung – Face Down
Before Paradise came out, I hyped myself up by listening to some of White Lung’s older albums. This song never left the rotation thereafter.

21. Tame Impala – The Less I Know the Better
(favorite song of 2015)
That bassline, am I right?

20. Grimes – Kill V. Maim
B.E.H.A.V.E. AGGRESSIVE!

19. Porches – Be Apart
(27th favorite song of 2016)
I’m actually sort of surprised I listened to this song this much.

18. Harakiri For the Sky – Thanatos
(7th favorite song of 2016)
Another car favorite. Not so much with Caleb in the car, though.

17. Cold War Kids – First
I mean, this is a good song and all, but…isn’t the twinkly guitar melody stolen basically not for note from “The Funeral” by Band of Horses? I should listen to “The Funeral” more next year.

16. Bring Me the Horizon – Doomed
I also like this song. *shrug*

15. Bon Iver – 22 (OVER S∞∞N)
This song’s playcount was heavily helped by the fact that it was one of the two that was on the advance single 22/10. It’s not one of my favorites on 22, a million, but I was ready for some Bon Iver, and this filled the void.

14. Pinegrove – Then Again
(9th favorite song of 2016)This was the first song to catch my ear. The rest of it came along soon enough, but this one was always there.

13. White Lung – Hungry
This was the lead song off Paradise. I actually liked three or four others on the album more.

12. Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker – Shipwreck
This song sort of annoys me. On the one hand, it’s really catchy and filled with punchy fist pumping moments (“I can feeeel it COMING“), on the other, there’s some pretty “meh” lyrics, and I absolutely hate when a song wastes lines in the chorus, and this is one of the most egregious examples I can remember. I listened to this a lot while wishing that it was a better song.

11. Zara Larsson – Lush Life
Number one guilty pleasure of the year by a mile. Would’ve been my favorite “hit song” of the year, but it didn’t really last on the Hot 100 for some reason. I can’t quite put my finger on why this is different from Larsson’s other stuff, but I don’t really like any of that other stuff, and I love this.

10. Falling Up – Flora
(11th favorite song of 2015)
I listened to the Falling Up album a lot this year, and I had this one on the Hotlist all year. Still a great tune.

9. Bon Iver – 10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄
(6th favorite song of 2016)
The other half of 22/10, and by far the better song.

8. Massive Attack – Voodoo in My Blood (feat. Young Fathers)
(8th favorite song of 2016)

7. White Lung – Dead Weight
(14th favorite song of the year)
Lead track off one of my favorite albums of the year. ALso one of my favorite songs of the  year.

6. The Strumbellas – Spirits
I listened to this song a ton when it first came out. Soon enough, I sort of got tired of it, but it was on the radio enough to buoy its playcount.

5. White Lung – Kiss Me When I Bleed
(4th favorite song of 2016)
My favorite song from one of my favorite albums. It’s short, it’s punchy, and it begs to be listened to over and over again.

4. Radiohead – Burn the Witch
(4th favorite song of 2016)
I had to have listened to this at least a dozen times the first week I heard it. This song caught my fancy in a way that few have in quite a while.

3. Operators – Cold Light
(2nd favorite song of 2016)
This song slays live.

2. Mitski – Your Best American Girl
(favorite song of 2016)
I said my piece about this song yesterday. It is fairly impressive that it was able to pull down this many plays when I didn’t listen to the album all that much, though. Anymore, I listen to albums more than individual songs, usually (this song and “Spirits” are the only two in the top 10 that I didn’t care for the albums). It’s a special song.

1. Grimes – Flesh Without Blood
(9th favorite song of 2015)
I knew that this was going to be number one from about January 10th. My enjoyment for Art Angels kept going up, and I never stopped listening to it, or this.

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Year in Music 2016: 30+ Favorite Songs

The yearly tradition continues! Here is a Spotify list with the Top 30.

First, we have our “honorable mentions”. These aren’t numbers 31 through 40 or anything. Just some other songs that I like and want to bring attention to. YouTube links for these.

  • Annabel Jones – Happy (k?d remix)
  • The Avalanches – Subways
  • Caveman – Never Going Back
  • Chance the Rapper – All Night (feat. Knox Fortune)
  • Deftones – Rubicon
  • Forndom – Den grymma hästen
  • Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things
  • Lucy Dacus – Strange Torpedo
  • mewithoutYou – Red Cow (Golden Calf Version)
  • Mind Spiders – Cold
  • Rihanna – Same Ol’ Mistakes
  • Strumbellas – Spirits
  • The xx – On Hold

(more…)

Year in Music 2016: The 10 Worst Songs of the Year

Not all of them are hits. All of them are songs that I hate.

10. Maroon 5 – Don’t Wanna Know (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
Years and years after the last vestiges of anything resembling guitars or “interesting music” has fallen away, I still don’t exactly hate Maroon 5. Sure, they’re a soulless hitmaking machine, but…I suppose this sort of statement asks for some sort of positive here, but I’m coming up empty, so…anyway… This isn’t the most boring song on this list, but it’s damned close. Man, I hope Kendrick got paid good for this one.

9. Chris Brown – Back to Sleep
I hate Chris Brown. This song is an excellent primer for the type of nonsense that makes me hate Chris Brown. The only reason it’s not higher on the list is that I didn’t hear it very much.

8. Shawn Mendes – Treat You Better
The mewling, computerized “BBYYYETTER THAN HE CAN” at the end of each hook is my least favorite moment of pop music this year. It’s grating, and the song itself is whiny and passive-aggressive.

7. Charlie Puth – We Don’t Talk Anymore (feat. Selena Gomez)
While I certainly didn’t like “Marvin Gaye”, but honestly, this song drives me more nuts. It’s one thing to be slow, it’s another thing entirely to be this utterly boring. There’s nothing here. And again, whiny.

6. Charli XCX – Paradise (feat. Hannah Diamond)
A lot of people I know love this song like it was a part of them – a deeply erogenous part. I tried. Literally everything about this song annoys me. The weird, mechanical clunk with the hypercaffeinated shrieks, the pitch shifted, overly chipper chorus, just….everything. This song is the final nail in Bubblegum Bass’s coffin for me.

5. Luke Bryan – Huntin’, Fishin’, Lovin’ Every Day
This gets a lot of play in the bars around here, it’s almost as if the people feel a certain kinship with….OH MY GOD I LIVE IN HICKVILLE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE SOMEONE PLEASE HELP

4. Dirty Projectors – Keep Your Name
Admittedly, I haven’t heard this a great deal, though it does keep coming on the radio. The reason for that is that I turn the channel before I can hear this utterly annoying song. I get that Dirty Projectors are an acquired taste, like Lutefisk, or Cilantro. I really liked “Stillness is the Move”, but when the weird rhythmic almost-rapping bridge happens….gethtefuckouttahere.

3. The Chainsmokers – Closer (feat. Halsey)
I never have to hear this song again. I hear it in my head, even now. I honestly think that The Chainsmokers cracked the code to simplistic, utterly asinine melodies that lock themselves into your head and stay there. I’m convinced that in 60 years, when I’ve gone senile and have forgotten even my closest loved ones, I will still hear that awful chorus. So-bay-bee-pull-me-clo-ser-in-the-back-seat-of-your-ro-ver

2. Gnash – i hate u, i love u (feat. Olivia O’Brien)
No, like… for real. What is this? There were a lot of songs that I just didn’t get this year (a bunch of them are on this list!), but I could sort of squint and screw my face up and think “okay, I guess I could see where a person who listened to this and liked it could be coming from”. I am totally lost with this one. The hook is sorta okay. I guess I would listen to more by Olivia O’Brien, maybe? But “gnash”? Who is listening to this guy for pleasure? He falls off the beat constantly. He tries to cram seven syllables into a space that only holds three, and he’s not good enough to pull any of it off. Plus, again….WHINY.

1. Florida Georgia Line – H.O.L.Y.
Notes on the worst song of the year:

* THAT IS NOT AN ACRONYM. WHAT THE FUCK?

* An unholy combination of schmaltzy crossover-country and CCM? Come on. This is a batting practice fastball for the “Worst song of the year” lists, and as such, many of them will be placing it in the top 5 before giving the “honor” to a different song. Needless to say, this is a mistake. There were no songs worse than this one in 2016.

* If I am to give Florida Georgia Line any credit at all, it’s that they know how to pander to people outside their base. You had people who don’t actually like bro-country bro’ing it up when “Cruise” came on. Maybe it’s that they almost exist in state that transcends mere “crossover”, but every song they come out with far exceeds the Hot 100 play of even the current titans of crossover country like Luke Bryan, et al.

* The influences that spring to mind when you hear this are Michael W. Smith and Avalon. This song hails from that very specific niche and that very specific era. It’s almost eerie. I had flashbacks

* It was weird how many people used this as a wedding song. I mean, kind of not, considering that it practically begs for that treatment but it’s weird how many people thought that this was some sort of “churchy” song. One wedding I went to even had a comment from the pastor about how the song “really perfectly describes the holy matrimonial love between a man and a woman†. My wife and I dreaded this song, and will continue to dread this song for years to come.

† Emphasis his. He went on to mention how distraught he was that feminists and the like hate that one passage that orders wives to submit to their husbands. Well, no kidding you homophobic, misogynist dipshit.

Year in Music 2016 Top 20 Favorite Hit Songs

I like pop.

I mean, I dislike the vast, vast majority of pop songs, but every year, a handful of them catch my ear, and I can’t deny them.

This year wasn’t great for pop music. Even hitmakers that I like like Drake and Rihanna didn’t release stuff that interested me too much, and Kendrick’s new stuff, while fantastic, wasn’t really “Hot 100” material. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of good here.

To qualify for this list, a song had to have debuted on the Hot 100 this year and stayed on that chart for at least 5 weeks. This sadly weans off a couple of songs that hit the chart that I really liked, but them’s the rules.

On with the countdown!

(more…)

Year in Music 2016:

A few little mini-lists that don’t have a better place.

Top 3 Albums I Should Have Loved Last Year

3. Falling Up – Falling Up / Grimes – Art Angels
But both of these were actually on my year end countdown!

Yeah, but they were really great albums that would’ve ended up even higher on the list. Art Angels, in particular, I listened to more this year than any other album. It’s great.

2. Deerhunter – Fading Frontier
…and I didn’t really give it a shot this year, either. Maybe 2017?

1. Will Bedford – Sublevel Zero Soundtrack
This soundtrack is decent. The game it attached to is decent, but more importantly, it’s the closest thing to Descent I’ve seen in a long time. The soundtrack is pretty awesome in context, and I’m glad I paid the bit of extra money to get the soundtrack download when I purchased the game. I don’t know that it would’ve made any sort of actual list, but I’ve put it on for good background music a number of times.

Top 3 Albums I’m Already Regretting Not Giving Their Due This Year

3. Swans – The Glowing Man
I certainly know why this is. The Seer and To Be Kind are deeply awesome albums, but they also (for the most part) need to be taken as a whole, and every time I thought “ooh! I should listen to that new Swans album!” that thought was followed up with “but I don’t have two freaking hours”. Maybe next year.

2. Frank Ocean – Blonde
I don’t know why I didn’t seek this one out a little harder. It’s going to happen next year.

1. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
This would’ve been top ten, easy. I only listened to it for the first time last week, though, so it just hasn’t had long enough to make its way in. Lots of great songs on here.

Top 3 Artists That I Love That Came Out With Albums That I…Didn’t

3. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
I’m still counting Kanye as an artist that I love, because the dude can make some excellent music. Here, though, just like his last couple, there are parts that blow you away, and parts that make you go “goddammit, Kanye.”

2. The Joy Formidable – Hitch
They continued in the direction of Wolf’s Law – huge sounds, long songs, epic everything. Unfortunately, Hitch tipped the scale from “epic” to “meandering” in ways that lost my attention every damned time I listened to it.

1. M83 – Junk
My thoughts after two listens:

“Whoa, this is… VERY cheesy. Not that his other stuff hasn’t been, but this is a whole new level of cheese. Not sure I can deal.”

Spoiler Alert: I couldn’t.

Top 3 Songs That I Burned Out On After Listening to Them a Bunch Last Year

3. Doomtree – Final Boss (6th place last year, 2 plays this year)

2. Carpenter Brut – Division Ruine (22nd place past year, 1 play this year)

1. TV on the Radio – Happy Idiot (15th place last year, 1 play this year)

Top 3 Songs I Disliked From Albums I Liked

3. Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Hawkins
It picks up a little toward the end, and it’s used fine in the show, but on the album, it’s pretty much an ambient momentum killer (and five minutes long, to boot).

2. Mitski – Once More to See You
The lyrics are good and heartbreaking and all. I just never felt the music.

1. Bon Iver – 715 – CR∑∑KS
This would be such a great song if not for the massive slathering of vocoder. I don’t even hate the effect. I liked “Woods”, but on this song, it just ruins everything.

Top 3 Albums I’m Awaiting Next Year

3. The War on Drugs – tbd
Theoretically, this should be number one, but I don’t really know anything about it yet. The fact that it’s above possible returns from Arcade Fire and a very tangible album coming out from Japandroids shows that I’m very excited for this.

2. Run the Jewels – Run The Jewels 3
The early stuff has sounded good. I haven’t given a listen yet (it’s technically out now, but for purposes of this blog, I’m counting it as a 2017 release), but I’m hyped.

1. The xx – I See You
All hail the return of Jamie and the xx’s!

Year in Music 2016: The Year I Finally Got Old

2016, the year I finally got old.

In theory, I’ve been old for a while. I’m not the target audience for most new music anymore and haven’t been for a while now. But this year was the first year where I finally started to understand why the previous generation wanted all these damn kids off of their lawn.

Each week for the last three years*, Linds and I have been watching a series on YouTube that condenses the Billboard Hot 100 chart down to twenty minute videos. Now, as stated, I’m not really the target audience to begin with, as my tastes haven’t skewed “pop” or “R&B” for….just about forever. Nonetheless, it’s a kind of fun and interesting way to keep up to date on what music is popular without having to, you know, turn the damned radio on.

* Ever since VH1 canned Jim Shearer from the Top 20 Video Countdown. It was an obviously horrible move. None of the hosts they had on the show had even half of Shearer’s charisma, and the format turned from the often-interesting “guy on the street” to the ever-boring “people sitting in a studio sound stage”. The most obvious thing about the whole story was when the show got cancelled.

This year, more than ever, it all sounded so…played out. Generic trap rap might be my least favorite thing ever*, but it wasn’t just people like Future becoming legitimate stars and formerly kind of interesting people like Drake latching on to worst impulse trends with reckless abandon, everything just sounded generic. From Maroon 5 (dude, Kendrick… what??) to a good 60% of Alt Nation’s newer playlist, nothing really stood out.

* Weirdly, it will be fairly underrepresented in my “Least Favorite Songs” list. To some degree, that’s because I don’t really listen to it, but also, it’s a little more “boring and monotonous” than “actively bad”.

And even if it did, for some reason, it felt like I didn’t have any chance to listen to it. I ended up listening to nearly 80 new albums this year, but that’s down from other years, and I straight up missed stuff from so many artists that had been meaning to check out that it’s sort of surprising that I did end up coming up with a fairly solid top 20.

A lot of that was the new normal of my life. Pre-fatherhood, Linds and I would end up going off and doing our thing in separate rooms after dinner pretty often. This was when I would usually listen to new music. For the last ten years, the Internet has been (by FAR) the place where I find the most music. That was still the case this year, obviously, but there was one huge difference. In the past, I would be surfing the net in my office, find a band or album that seemed interesting, and pull up whatever music I could find by them immediately. This year, I’m doing just as much digging, but Linds and I usually sit in the living room to unwind a bit after Caleb goes to bed. Instead of listening to something right away, it goes into the “That sounds kind of interesting, I’ll listen to that later” queue. That was a queue that did nothing but get bigger and bigger this year.

I definitely don’t mean for this to come off as complaining, even if a readthrough of this is certainly giving off that vibe. It just means that next year, I’m going to have to structure my time a little differently. I should probably do that anyway.

Anyway, even though I didn’t find quite as much new stuff as I usually do this year, there was still a treasure trove of music to be found. That’s what this week is about! We come to praise 2016’s Music, not bury it.

Let’s do this.