Thursday, 29 December 2016

The Best Of 2016 - part 3

JUMP TO: 100-81 II 80-61 II 60-41 II 40-21 II 20-1


If 2016 taught me one thing it's to be careful how I change album art on iTunes. I made the wrong selection a couple of months ago, which resulted in most of the artwork in my carefully catalogued library being altered, often to completely random and unrelated releases. I then had to spend days changing things back to the way they were meant to be - because that was a good use of my time. Here's the next batch of songs that got added to that iTunes library this year...




The members of LA dance duo Oliver didn't have to look far for inspiration when deciding what to call themselves - in a wonderful piece of happenstance, their names are Oliver Goldstein and Vaughn Oliver. This is the first time one of their own songs has caught my attention, although their remix of BØRNS' "Electric Love" narrowly missed my top 100 for 2015. The singer on the pulsating "Electrify" is Scott Mellis, who's actually from Australia.







Two songs from Music Complete made my top 100 last year, and another two make the grade this year. First up, it's "Singularity", which, with its prominent guitars and driving beat, sounds more like a classic New Order track than "Tutti Frutti" or "Plastic". It was also a highlight from their visually spectacular concert at Sydney's Opera House as part of this year's Vivid festival. The band's second song is up soon...







It's about time for another Swedish female singer, don't you think? In 2015, 20-year-old Amanda Winberg was the runner-up of the 11th season of Idol - yep, Sweden is one of a handful of countries that continues to air the singing competition. In 2016, she released her second single, "Clouds", which was much more of a pure pop belter than her debut effort, "Shutdown"







Like Miike Snow in Part 1, New York duo Phantogram is an act whose music I'd probably like, but who wind up on this list thanks to a remix. In this case, "You Don't Get Me High Anymore" gets the synthpop treatment from a favourite Australian dance act of mine: Miami Horror. The original version of the track appears on Three, the third album from Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter.







Like "Tutti Frutti", New Order's second entry for 2016 featured guest vocals from La Roux's Elly Jackson. Despite the band being as good as they've ever been, it seems that, like many of their contemporaries, the days of New Order having hit singles are behind them. At least the album gave them their best UK chart position since 1993's Republic.







It took a while and a couple of false starts - namely, "Baby Don't Lie" and "Spark The Fire" - but Gwen Stefani's third solo album finally materialised in 2016, and with it, a single that compares favourably with her hit streak from 2004 to 2008. A vibrant pop gem, "Make Me Like You" came with an ambitious one-take music video, which Gwen performed live during this year's Grammys (with a little help from sponsor Target) and went off without a hitch.







They seem to be a duo at present, but when this deep house track was given a renewed push in late 2015, German act Teenage Mutants was the one-man show of Kristian Samujlo. Handling vocals on "Falling For You" is British singer (and former Gorgon City collaborator) Laura Welsh, once again moonlighting from her day job as an indie pop singer.







On my year-end chart for 2014, they were at number 35 with "Everytime" from debut album Evergreen. Now, New Zealands' Broods swap things round at number 53 with this promo single from second album Conscious. A much sweeter track than the hard-edged official single, "Free" (number 112 on this list), "Couldn't Believe" was once again written by the Nott siblings with Kiwi songwriter/producer Joel Little, who's incredibly in-demand now following his work with both Broods and Lorde.







Netflix's throwback sci-fi offering, Stranger Things, had everyone talking in 2016 - and not just about Barb. It was inevitable that the Goonies-meets-ET series would find its way into other areas of pop culture, such as the music video for this single by LA synthpop duo Scavenger Hunt. One of three singles released in rapid succession by singer Jill Lamoureux and producer Dan Mufson, "Never Enough" (not to be confused with the Allie X track of the same name) was the highlight of the ensuing Shapes And Outlines EP, although "Sweet Talk" also came close to making my top 100.







Jon Gooch is one busy man - a remixer, producer and artist with two aliases working in multiple genres. In 2016, he released music as Spor (his drum and bass project) as well as the Feed Me's Family Reunion EP in his electropop guise as Feed Me. Lead single "What It Feels Like" featured the vocals of Scottish singer Nina Nesbitt, who we'll be seeing again closer to the end of the countdown.







Next up, another male electronic artist with a British singer on guest vocals - in this case, Portuguese DJ/producer André Allen Anjos and English vocalist Victoria Hesketh. Less indie and more synthpop than most of RAC's other singles I've heard, "Magic Hour" reminds me a little of late '90s Saint Etienne, which is no bad thing. We'll hear more from Little Boots shortly...







Canadian songstress Lauren Malyon landed two songs on my year-end chart for 2015, and here she is again with another sweet slice of synthpop that, fittingly enough given its title, was used in the remake of Grey's Anatomy Melissa George medical drama, Heartbeat.







Way back at number 99, I mentioned we'd hear more from MK - and here he is with the single that preceded "My Love 4 U". Featured performer on "Piece Of Me" is another perpetual guest vocalist - former The Voice contestant Becky Hill, who appeared on my year-end chart for 2014 on Rudimental track "Powerless".







She's already released three albums in Denmark, but this new synthpop single from the singer born Maria Apetri is the first I've heard from Fallulah - although a quick trip back through her previous videos on her website makes me think I might want to catch up on what I've missed so far. 







"Home", her entry on my year-end chart for 2015, was a love letter in the form of a synth ballad, but American singer Chelsea Lankes had a very different message to impart this year. With its kiss-off line "I dodged a bullet with you", "Bullet" is about as upbeat as breakup songs get.







Paloma Faith. Ella Henderson. Take That. British duo Sigma have a habit of teaming up with artists you'd never expect to hear on a drum and bass track. Add to that list 20-year-old balladeer Birdy, whose tortured vocals add a depth to "Find Me". Standing in for Birdy in the music video is an even younger star giving an impassioned performance, 12-year-old actress Millie Bobby Brown, who shot to fame playing Eleven in - here it is again - Stranger Things.







Her first two albums, Hands and Nocturnes are among my favourite albums of all time, but for some reason, nothing from Little Boots' third full-length release, Working Girl, grabbed me last year. She was back in my good graces in 2016 with this track from the Afterhours EP.







We saw the second MK track just before, and here's the second track on this list to feature A*M*E. This time, she lent her pipes to what looks to be the fourth single by Australian DJ/producer Tyson O'Brien (aka Generik).






They've only missed my year-end top 100 twice in the past decade (and one of those times, only just), so it's hardly surprising to find Dragonette here once again in the year that they finally got around to releasing their fourth studio album, Body Parts. "Sweet Poison" featured the input of Israeli-born, London-based DJ/producer Matt Schwartz (aka Dada) and is the first of two songs by the Canadian band to appear.







Here's another reliably consistent electronic band - Scotland's CHVRCHES have appeared on my year-end top 100 each year since 2013. "Bury It" was a new track included on the extended edition of Every Eye Open and features the vocals of Hayley Williams - or Hayley Williams of Paramore, to give her her official title (wonder if that's contractual?).





In Part 4: the return of a female singer who did pretty well on my year-end charts between 2001 and 2011, the act behind this year's UK Christmas number 1 (with a different single) and the male artist who's spent the past 12 weeks stuck between numbers 2 and 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 (also with a different single).


MY YEAR-END CHARTS
1979 II 1980 II 1981 II 1982 II 1983 II 1984 II 1985 II 1986 II 1987 II 1988 II 1989
1990 II 1991 II 1992 II 1993 II 1994 II 1995 II 1996 II 1997 II 1998 II 1999
2000 II 2001 II 2002 II 2003 II 2004 II 2005 II 2006 II 2007 II 2008 II 2009
2010 II 2011 II 2012 II 2013 II 2014 II 2015 II 2016


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