Now, as some of you will know, I posted my favourite albums of 2016 a few weeks ago. However, this doesn’t mean that that was the only music I liked last year; there were some great songs that in their own right would have made a “Best Songs” list, but the albums they were on didn’t quite make the cut. So, I’ve decided to resurrect Earworms for this, and hopefully post a few more of these before finals hit like a train!
Disclaimer – This is by no means an exhaustive list, as some songs (like “False Alarm” by The Weeknd) have already been on an Earworms post. So check through those to see some more suggestions.
“Into You” from Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman
If I had done a “Best Hits of 2016” list, this would have been No. 1. Easily Ariana’s best song to date, it is simply a synth-pop masterclass in how to call back to the 1980s while also sounding fresh. Her vocals are on point, showing both her lower, quieter range and her powerful upper voice. The instrumentation, especially the walls of synth on the bridge, is again, brilliant; the song has momentum and drive precisely because of this and at the perfect point in the song. One of the best pop songs of the year, and it’s such a shame that some people still haven’t heard it. Rectify this now!
“Guillotine” and “Hand of God – Outro” from Jon Bellion’s The Human Condition
The Human Condition to me is a little infuriating. The opening few tracks are only ok, but then as the album progresses, it gets markedly better. “Guillotine” and “Hand of God – Outro” are the two closing tracks, and by far the best. The beat on the chorus of “Guillotine” is one of the best from this year. “Hand of God – Outro” is an absolute masterpiece; it brings together themes from the entire album into a polyphonic choral coda that is just so life-affirming and shows how the human journey is always different but at least we are all in it together. Two very different songs, but two very good ones.
“The Sound” from The 1975’s I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it
The album had so much potential, but sadly, needed a really good edit (maybe cutting it down about 4 tracks). “The Sound” however, is excellent. Lyrically, it is quite simple but the way that Matt Healy accents them, especially on the second verse, is just genius. The guitar solo over the bridge is also fabulous (I’m a sucker for this sort of instrumental solo, see “The Edge of Glory” and “Run Away With Me” for sax based equivalents). Yes, this song is a bit of critic bait, but who cares when it tis this good? Consider this critic baited, hook, line, and sinker.
“Me and Your Mama” and “Boogieman” from Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love
Look, I did like Awaken, My Love; I just felt it could have done more on certain tracks, which meant it was kept off my best list. These two tracks however show how talented Donald Glover is, and how he can go from rap to neo-funk-soul so well. “Me and Your Mama” opens the album and is my opinion the best from it; the quiet opening, followed by the explosion of power in his voice when the verse kicks in. “Boogieman” deals with some very complex themes of race and identity and he manages to keep a menacing yet comforting presence throughout. Well done Childish Gambino, you can seemingly do it all (but I will always see you as Troy from Community).
“Waste a Moment” from Kings of Leon’s WALLS
The opening track from the most recent Kings of Leon album is exactly what I needed in 2016. It offers an upbeat, propulsive burst of escapism and reminded me of some of my other favourite tracks of theirs (my favourite probably still being “Radioactive”). I especially like the harmonics at the opening, a sound that you don’t often here in modern pop-rock, and it added a welcome change before a great build up to an anthemic chorus. Please never stop making music like this, Kings of Leon.
“Phenomenal Woman” from Laura Mvula’s The Dreaming Room
Sing to the Moon, Mvula’s debut, was one of my favourites back in 2013, so I was looking forward to her follow up. The Dreaming Room was very close to making my favourite’s list, but a couple of moments meant it just missed out (if I’d done an honourable mention, it would have probably been this album). “Phenomenal Woman” was not one of those moments. It closes the album with a burst of energy, guitars, funk production, and Mvula’s best vocal performance since “She”. It is a bolt of energy with a positive message that was truly needed in 2016.
Hope you enjoy these songs as much as I have. They really got me through 2016.