Sunday, December 4, 2016

my 16 favorite songs of 2016

SPOILER ALERT: this list does not include that terrible song that glorifies mattress theft. now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get down to always, you can listen to all of these via spotify playlist as well.

16. bent shapes - "new starts in old dominion" 

let's start things off local. now that my former #1 hometown act, the barbazons, have disbanded, bent shapes has risen to the top. this upbeat, jangly gem was my favorite from their 2016 release, wolves of want. unrelated, but i got so damn excited by all of the boston love in this music video, from the MIT station on the radio to that very somerville-esque apartment to that scene where he's walking by the driving school -- which was shot on my street in my town! anywho, great tune.

15. fifth harmony f/ ty dolla $ign - "work from home"

as i believe i tweeted at some point, it blows my mind that no one had thought to write a song about "working from home" as sexual innuendo. the lyrics are so ridiculous yet clever, and i'll be damned if you aren't hearing "you don't gotta go to work, work, work, work, work, work, work" in your dreams after listening to it once. the perfect example of a dumb, sugary pop nugget. and then ty dolla $ign rolls in, telling her to make it clap with no hands and look back at it. a modern shakespeare!

14. car seat headrest - "fill in the blank"

will toledo was basically the pitchfork darling of 2k16, and i'd get any cred i had revoked if i didn't include at least one his songs. this rollicking, lo-fi number got my attention, and i especially like the tough-love lyrics: "you have no right to be depressed/you haven't tried hard enough to like it....stop your whining, try again/no one wants to cause you pain." listen up, fellow millennials.

13. sia - "cheap thrills"

just a really good time with a pretty simple, straightforward message: when the company and music are good, who needs moolah?

12. snakehips f/ ZAYN - "cruel" (jay pryor remix)

maybe it's because this version was my first exposure to the song, but it's so much more fun than the sloooowed dooooown original, IMO. zayn's sexy "pillow talk" was also a contender, but it didn't turn my car and cubicle into tha club like this one did. and when that beat drops? ohhh, dayum. i do believe this is the first remix i've ever featured on this list, so you know it's gotta be good.

11. tancred - "bed case"

a few weeks ago, while watching the 1994 cult classic reality bites (again), it occurred to me that if this song existed back then, it would probably fit nicely on the soundtrack alongside juliana hatfield, lisa loeb, and dinosaur jr. given that it has that early-90s veruca salt vibe. the solo project of jess abbott from the band now, now, tancred makes catchy, fierce indie rock with sweet vocals, handclaps, and lyrics about boys and ... well, boys. what more could you want?

10. two door cinema club - "gameshow"

i never paid much attention this band; just your standard background indie pop music as far as i was concerned. but i happened across this one on a new music friday a few months ago, and it had the darkness and edginess i'd been missing from them previously. the desperate "nobody wants meeeee!" scream is my favorite moment. pro tip: use the arrows in the top-left corner to see a full 360 view of the performance. whooooa.

9. father john misty - "real love baby"

ohhh, father john misty. the famously salty, bearded troubadour took a break from his onstage rants and all-caps tweets to record this adorable, no frills appeal to the object of his affection. aww.

8. heavy hearts - "bliss"

it's been so long since i've heard a song that really captures the energy and sound of the pop-punk/post-hardcore music that i loved back in high school and college, but "bliss" gets it just right. catchy as hell, too.

7. the 1975 - "the sound"

a synth-pop banger with an ear worm of a chorus that wouldn't sound completely out of place in the mid-80s, "the sound" makes me think of one of the times when i'm the happiest, which is letting loose with people i love on the dance floor at a wedding. not that i've ever danced to this song at a reception, but i'd really like to because the song seems destined for that ... in the best sense. just listen and you'll see what i mean.

6. twin peaks - "walk to the one you love"

if you know me at all, you know that i love me some twin peaks. like a fine wine, they just keep getting better with each album, though it did take me a bit of time to adjust to the bluesier, stonesier vibe of down in heaven as i'm partial to the raw garage feel of their sophomore effort, wild onion. while there are plenty of songs to love on the new one, i kept coming back to this for the groovy riff and the understated vocals. can't wait to see them this week for the 3rd time (and 2nd time this year), because the only thing better than their music is their live show. aw, yeah.

5. DNCE - "cake by the ocean"

now, i'm not saying that this is better than "call me maybe" in terms of pop song perfection, BUT i will say that i still get as giddy every time i hear the opening notes. sure, there are the ridiculous "AYAYAYAYAY-AH"s and the lyrics about licking frosting from your own hands and a promise ring-free joe jonas dropping the f-bomb. but i'm equally in love with the backstory about the title, which is supposedly the result of the band's swedish producers continually confusing the phrase "sex
on the beach."

4. pete yorn - "i'm not the one"

can we talk about how underrated pete yorn is? he's been quietly making killer songs since the early oughts, but always sort of flies under the radar. i wasn't the biggest fan of his latest album, arrangingtime, but this track immediately jumped out at me as the highlight. between the lovely melody and relatable lyrics (YES of course i tear up almost every time), it's just a gorgeous few minutes.

3. catfish and the bottlemen - "soundcheck" 

it's been so cool to watch these guys go from relative unknowns, performing to a crowd of 30 or so at great scott in 2014, to rocking a packed house at royale last year, to this year -- inevitably -- the house of blues :(. i'll always be partial to their debut album, but i was obsessed with this song for a good portion of the year. the quiet, crunchy chug of the pre-chorus leads into an epic, triumphant romantic declaration. then after the bridge, everything blows wide open and it almost turns into a completely different (but equally fantastic) song. 

2. the hunna - "we could be"

this year's biggest fuck-yeah-chorus comes to us courtesy of yet another british rock quartet, the hunna. their songs all kiiiind of sound vaguely the same, but it's okay because they all kind of sound like this one, which is great. strong vocals, anthemic refrains, great production. the other thing i really like about the tune, though, is that it's a total "fuck you!" to some record company who apparently passed on them. WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?!

1. SWMRS - "figuring it out"


shout out to spotify on this; it was actually one of my discover weekly picks early this year, and i immediately fell in love with its massive "oh-oh-ohhh"s, shreddin' guitar solo, and quirky lyrics about pop rocks, cherry cola, and waking & baking on wednesdays. a little bit of punk, a little bit of pop, a whole lot of fun. the band members are already cooler at like, 19 years old than i am at 30, but that's probably because the drummer's dad is billie joe armstrong from green day. spitting image, right?

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