Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Top 20 Songs of 2016, Part I

I'm so proud of myself that I have this list done by early February this year. As always, I put a lot of thought, and a lot of listening hours into this. It was really difficult to eliminate songs and get the list down to 20, but I did it. I have fewer restrictions for songs than I do for albums - I still have to have a hard copy of the song (well, mostly ... I cheated on this with 1 song this year. I bought a CD that turned out to be CD single remix, and the regular song wasn't available on CD. In this case, the song was so good, I really wanted it to be part of this list, so I downloaded the regular version.)

Anyway, obviously this is all just my opinion. Without further ado, here's part 1 of my list of the Top 20 Songs of 2016, in reverse order:

20. Waterparks -- "Territory"

Funny thing is, in the end, I had to choose between this one and another Waterparks song, this one off of their Cluster EP, or "Hawaii (Stay Awake)" from their Double Dare LP. "Hawaii" is a little bit more of a typical single -- "Territory" is a more unusual song, and that made the difference. Btw, these guys are a pop punk band from Houston, TX that I had the good fortune of catching live this year when they opened for Sleeping With Sirens.

19. The Jezabels -- "My Love Is My Disease"

This is a female-fronted band from Sydney, Australia that I first learned about on The sound is electronic alternpop. It's a song that seems to be about an unhealthy relationship, with just a touch of S&M imagery about it -- her love apparently actually chains her to her bed. Not her lover, mind you, but her love itself. Pretty kinky. There's some pretty cool electronic percussion in this one, and lead vocalist Hayley Mary has a great voice -- beautiful, but just a little biting. The rest of the album is pretty good too.

18. Kaiser Chiefs -- "Indoor Firework"

This song this from their Stay Together album, which didn't grab me at first, but now it's my favorite album of theirs since their excellent 2005 debut Employment. This is a sad song about a recently ended relationship with just a touch of disco guitar that actually works here. Vocalist Ricky Wilson really nails this one, with a vocal that's strong but full of pathos.

17. School of Seven Bells -- "Ablaze"

This is a New York City band that, sadly, has possibly put out it's last album due to the death of one of the members. Like The Jezabels, they're an electronic alternapop band, but without that little touch of darkness the Jezabels bring. Again, I was particularly drawn to the track by the strong and alluring vocals of singer Alejandra Deheza, who sings both the lead and the backing vocal.

16. Amanda Jayne -- "One"

Amanda Jayne is a Long Island singer/songwriter who I found totally by accident by following a link from a friend of hers who was running for my local school board. He didn't win, but I wound up buying (and loving) this album, especially this song. She also has a video that is very clever, as she sings "Could you be the one/Could you be the one?" to her boorish date while thy're both at the dinner table in a restaurant. Unfortunately, he's just not that into her. She's wearing a blindfold, and as she sings he ogles other women, checks his cell phone message, steals food off of her plate and just generally acts like a dick. And yes, the song features yet another lovely vocal.

15. Santana -- "Come As You Are"

It was great to see Santana back with an excellent new album. This is a fun, lighthearted song with some trademark Santana Latin percussion and some of Carlos Santana's most excellent guitar. Unlike the previous songs, while the vocals are decent here, it's really all about the instrumentation, and about the playful vibe of the song.

14. Tegan and Sara -- "Boyfriend"

Tegan and Sara are one of the best pop bands out there -- they really know how to bring the hooks. This is a song about a very confused relationship, with the singer complaining that her would-be love keeps their relationship secret and can't seem to decide if she wants to be a lover or a friend: "You kiss me like your boyfriend/You call me up like you would your best friend."

13. They Might Be Giants -- "Trouble Awful Devil Evil"

TMBG are great for writing offbeat songs on unusual subjects. In this one, the protagonist drops to his bed and falls for ten thousand years down a bottomless pit, blissfully unaware of what seems to be Armageddon going on him. The song is slow and sweetly sung, which adds to the quirky humor.

12. David Bowie -- "Blackstar"

This is a weird and wonderful song, done in 3 parts. The first part is beautiful and mysterious, the second is a little strident, but the third part returns to the sound of the first part, and somehow it's even stronger because of the change of pace in the middle. It's a fitting farewell to an artist who did his own thing instead of following the crowd. R.I.P. David Bowie.

11. Andy Black -- "Stay Alive"

Andy Black is the alter ego of Andy Biersack, lead singer of The Black Veil Brides. This is the strongest song on an album full of first-rate alternative pop songs. This one also features of Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio/Blink-182 fame.

Next Post: Top 20 Songs of 2016: Part 2