Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Top 20 Songs of 2016

This is a super late post from an article mostly written at the end of 2016. I like to post the Big Sexy songs of the year. The internet deserves to be filled with this kind of knowledge. Plus, it's a handy place to find the best songs and videos when I'm killing time somewhere. Without further ado, here's what you need to know. 

Fave lyric: "I’ll be dancing like an uncle at a wedding." OR "Doing the running man until my chest hurts."

I love Rizzle Kicks! They have been leaking singles out this year for what I assume is a forthcoming album. Or maybe this is just how all the hip, young Brits release content nowadays. This is such a fun video for such a fun song. Killer movie clips along with some viral clips intermixed with the Rizzles themselves. Outside of that, the song is just happy and upbeat like most Rizzle Kicks songs. Good beat, funny lyrics with a cool English accent. This is right up my alley. Just outside of the Top 20 is another Rizzle Kicks song with another great video, Always Late. I thought the chorus was a little too repetitive to overcome my prejudice of having the same band landing 2 songs in the top 20. But still, check it out. Very few bands are doing funny, story videos.

Fave lyric: "Oh gimme some time. Show me the foothold from which I can climb."
Or "Gimme my, Gimme my, Gimme my, Gimme my, Gimme my way."

This band is a great example of what is wonderful about exploring new music. I had never heard of Foals before this song was performed on Stephen Colbert at end of 2015. However, they have been a very successful band in England. A country I love. A country I mine for new music. How did I miss these guys? There previous album was the NME best album of 2013 topping AM by The Arctic Monkeys, one my two favorite albums of that year. (QOTSA!) This songs builds to a superb crescendo at the end. Feels like we reached the top of the mountain. The album What Went Down also finished in the BS top 5 albums of the year.

Fave Lyric: "I need you like bacon needs eggs."

I am such a sucker for a great bass line. This is a full-on retro-funk number about, well, I never really thought much about it. This song just brings a smile to my face and a swagger to my hips. Maybe it’s just me, but I always bite my lip and give my head the front circle move when I am cruising along. Not bad for a bunch of white guys from Austin. White Denim almost made this list in 2013 with At Night in Dreams.  I was also a big fan of another song off this album, Had 2 Know (Personal).  A little less funky, a little more southern rock, but still cool.

They had a wonderful Grammy performance of this song and the Grammy’s suck they they ditched it off YouTube.  Here’s the actual song.

Fave lyric: "And me? I’m the damn fool who shot him."

No art lit my fire nearly as much in 2016 as the musical Alexander Hamilton. And I haven’t even seen it! I have listened to the cast album a thousand times. I have dissected the lyrics and researched the historical importance. The closest musical that touched my life was SpringAwakening. The closest album was American Idiot

Hamilton will be a classic piece of American theater long after I have stopped going to theater, and theater-goers are ooooolllld. It is an amazing piece of art on many levels. I am very much looking forward to seeing the San Francisco tour of the musical in April of 2017, but until then, I get my Hamilton fix from the album, from stolen YouTube moments, from PBS documentaries, from podcasts devoted to the musical and from all of the award shows that they have dominated. There is no way anyone did not hear about Hamilton in 2016.

It is difficult to pick one song from the musical and represent it is the best. Many musicals have that singular song that drags a successful musical to prestige. This musical is a totality. Without a doubt, the Hamilton cast album wins the Big Sexy album of the year. I am putting the introductory song here on my Top 20 list as its representation. This is an excellent introduction to the play. In 3 minutes and 57 seconds, we learn just about everything we need to know in the first 19 years of his life until we pick it up in song 2. It introduces every character, including telling you the guy who kills him at them end. They aren’t trying to hide the plot. Everyone who saw that Got Milk TV ad 20 years ago (or likes American history) knows Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. 

Fave lyric: As with any good comedy song, there are many to choose from, Here’s a good sample:
“She said, “Invade my cave with your special unit”. I said, “He wasn’t in a cave”. But there was no stoppin’.”

I really thought the soundtrack album to the movie that I was sure couldn’t sustain 90 minutes would finally be the album that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy from these fake rappers. I was wrong. Not only was Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping surprisingly good throughout, the hook on this song is so catchy, you will be singing the inappropriate chorus while you are picking apples at Raley’s. I don’t know how many times I have been singing “Fuck Bin Laden” under my breath in public. The soundtrack has several other great songs, but it is not quite as good as the other albums. Still worth a watch and a listen.

Fave lyric: "By the time you hear the next pop, the funk shall be within you."

I know this song came out last year. To Pimp a Butterfly was a Grammy darling early this year and honestly that was when I first gave it a shot. Never really got into the album, but I do love this song. Great beat. I know I’m not his demographic, but we’re more alike than he thinks. I do not like the Patriots or Dodgers. I don’t have a bone pick about people sitting on my throne. I don’t call anyone “bitch”.  I don’t rap. I don’t love Compton. I don’t like motor cycles or hoopties on hydraulics. You know, I might have less in common with him than I do with anyone. Anyway, I want the funk. 

Fave Lyric: “When we’re hungry we all eat the same fuckin’ food. The ramen noodle.” But I do love the chorus. 

The chorus is perfect for how a lot of the country is feeling after the election. With the alt-right rising, it feels like there isn’t as much or a place for many in world. I thought with the election of President Obama, racism was over? I feel like our country has never been more divided.
I got here from their SNL performance in November  I have, of course, heard of Tribe. I knew they were a very influential hip hop group and they had a very good documentary that I still want to see.  The beat in this song is cool. I love the stop and go. I could do without sirens in a song when I driving, but this song needed sirens. In future years, looking back, I bet this song ends up higher on this list.

Fave lyrics: "You made a wish at 11:11, I held your hips at 12:34."

This song takes me to a simple time and place. A place inside a John Hughes movie. Maybe it is because Arkells is a Canadian band and Canada always seems to always be stuck 20 years behind the US culturally. 11:11 is another song that just makes me happy. The best music is music that makes you feel something. This song doesn’t make me reflect thoughtfully on my place in the world. But is does make me feel joy. For that, it is makes the top 10. 11:11 is from a 2014 album, but I just got wind of it this year. I haven’t listened much to their new album out later in 2016, but I plan to see if this is a one hit wonder on this list or if they can enter the Big Sexy list of go-to bands like….

This song really doesn’t even sound much like Green Day. It is more indie pop than indie punk. Green Day is one of my all-time favorite bands. Provider of the best concert I have seen. Provider of one of my favorite albums of all time (American Idiot) as well as a long list of BS hits over the past 25 years. I bet his song is even better live . It needs a little more edge. With all that said, I still really like this song.

Fave lyric: "Daddy’s little psycho and mommy’s little soldier."

This is the more obvious choice for this list as that is a Green Day song.  This song sounds like a lost track form 21st Century Breakdown.

Fave lyric: "All my life you stood by me. No one else was ever behind me…. With your love, nobody can drag me down."

I don’t know from One Direction. I know that a million teenagers and their moms all had a favorite member earlier this decade just as N’Sync did 10 years ago, just as Backstreet Boys did 20 years ago, just like Beatles did 50 years ago. When I heard this funky little number by Weaves, I loved the clunky guitar and the hook of the song. I didn’t know it was a cover. Then I was watching James Corden’s carpool karaoke with One Direction and they broke out this song. The One Direction version of the song isn’t bad either. I just honestly never heard it before. I still like the Weaves cover better, but these haircuts put out a pretty darn good song.

Fave lyric: “This is a low-flying panic attack.” But Radiohead is much more of a sonic feel than lyrics.

I remember when I first got into Radiohead. I had known of them for over a decade, but like most people I know, I could not get past Thom Yorke convulsions and the odd sounds that come from this band. However, they were released an album through their own website and told buyers to just pay what they want. I gave them 2 shillings to give this band a chance. I hadn’t listed too much to my frugal purchase prior to a 3 hour train ride across the French country side. I dialed my ipod over to the album, earbuds firmly tucked in place and zoned out over the soothing rhythm of the train rolling on the tracks. It hit me. Radiohead is a headphone band. I then went back into their catalog of platinum selling albums and found a band I consider one of my favorites of all time, though I have only appreciated them for less than a decade.

Burn the Witch has the sonic feeling of the best Radiohead songs. With nearly all Radiohead songs, they are better with repetitive listens. You need to give this a dozen spins. With headphones on. The song slowly builds and builds until its frantic ending. This song has a similar meaning of the Tribe song above.  Bonus points for the Claymation video.

Fave lyric: "St. Louie. California. Blue Eyes. Yeah, she's comin' for ya."

You don’t have to listen very hard to hear Dan Auerbach’s Black Keys influence on this song. I don’t get the video at all. Block it out and the song is pretty cool. It’s kind of a slacker/funk fusion with a touch of 60;s thrown in. Nothing is remarkable lyrically. The song makes good use of Ah’s, Ooh’s and Oh No's.

Fave lyric: "Son of a bitch. Give me a drink."

I’m not sure if this should be on the O’Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack or if it is a hidden track on an Otis Day & The Knights album.  “Otis, My man!” No matter this upbeat and perky song about not being able to overcome alcoholism is a foot-stomping good time if you don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics. Just buy him a drink.

14. Golden State –Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines            

Fave lyric: "You are the hole in my head. I am the pain in your neck. You are the lump in my throat. I am the aching in your heart."

I tend to like soundtracks. I wouldn’t think I would be the type of person to like soundtracks because I appreciate the art of making an album. I appreciate listening to a collection of songs in the order mixed by the artist. Wearing headphones to transport me to a different place emotionally. But every year, it seems like there is a soundtrack or two that I love. Typically because the soundtrack accentuates a movie or musical to an even higher place. This is the case with Into the Wild. A great book and a great movie with a soundtrack by Eddie Vedder.

I have long loved Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam is going to be inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame this year!! How old am I?? Didn’t they just break out? I remember their fun performance in Singles, a movie I loved oh so many years ago. (Another great soundtrack, by the way.)

Eddie Vedder as a solo artist blew my mind a little with Into the Wild. I did not expect to like it. Doesn’t he need Stone and Jeff to bring the goods? But the solo work was good. It was different, but good. I stumbled across Golden State this year. It is several years old, but it is great duet about two people in love who are both the good and the bad of their lives. This song is very much “Eddie Vedder” and not “Pearl Jam”, but it is still great. It’s actually a cover of a John Doe (from the band, X) song.

Fave lyric: "The girl in the pastry shop... Is making a cannoli for you to take on your hiking trip…" (it’s much longer but sets the scene well)

Weezer is back with another solid album. They seem to hang around. Weezer haters like to say any new album is no Pinkerton. They are right. It’s not. That is a classic album. Weezer lovers always like to say that Weezer is going back to its roots with every new album realese. They are both wrong. This is a good song that sounds like Weezer but doesn’t make me think it should or shouldn’t be a lost track from a 20 year old album.

Fave lyric: "I did all I could. So kiss this one last time cuz I’m gone for good."

This song makes you want to strut. Good band name, blokes. This British band have a bit of a Queen meets the Strokes vibe. Apparently, this song has been out in England for a couple years, but 2016 was the first time I ever heard of The Struts.

More indie pop! It’s got a fun beat. I never really paid much attention to what dude was signing about. Watching the singer really turned me away from this song, but just when I’m slaving over the elliptical to keep my girlish figure, it is a good song to keep the feet pumping. I should have posted an audio-only link.

Fave lyric: "You make me feel like I’m alive again"

I know it is not cool to like Coldplay. They are the butt of a lot of music jokes. Those jokesters don’t give this band enough credit. I am typically skeptical myself every time there is a new Coldplay release. I wasn’t a fan of their previous album. I figured Gwyneth Paltrow ruined Chris Martin forever. Chris Martin seems like a great guy. Have you seen his CarpoolKaraoke? Of course you have, It is awesome.

Fave lyric: “When and where did we go cold? I thought I had you on hold.”

I have loved The xx for a while as a Big Sexy Headphone Band. I am not sure about this new album yet. Their DJ (?) Jamie xx hit it big in the EDM sce

ne a couple of years ago. He has brought a little too much EDM to The xx for my liking. However, the lead song from the album has enough of what I love about The xx to crack the BS Top 20. The yearning. The loss. The back and forth female/male vocals. Sadly I see the DJ from Popstar every time they hit the bridge. I wish I could find a link to Jorma Taccone wearing an illuminate helmet and pushing a button on his ipod. But I think of it every time I hear this song.

Fave lyric: "Hello."

Stand up bass! This retro sounding song barely cracks in the top twenty. Not sure if I like this song because of the deep female voice or in spite of it. But I do love it.

I do like their cover of Rich Girl. The singer does have some pipes. 

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