Jump to content
  • Skinny Legend
    Skinny Legend

    The Top Ten Songs of 2016

    2016 may have been marked by some as a year of loss, with notable celebrity deaths including David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds tarnishing the seasons for many; but at least in pop music it was a year of great success and activity, with major releases from some of our consistently brilliant pop girls (Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Rihanna) and some unexpectedly stellar debuts from newer artists who weren't even a blip on our radar last year (Terror Jr, Kiiara and Dua Lipa) keeping us going through the tragedies that dotted the months. With so many great singles topping the charts this year, and even more coming to our attention through the blogospheres and Spotify, it was hard to cut down our list to just ten, an action which necessitated losing several well-loved bops from our ranking (although a part of me is glad I don't have to admit how many Justin Bieber songs I genuinely enjoyed this year). But after much careful consideration and weeks of rearranging, we've finally come up with our definite list of the best singles of 2016. It might be a little too late to play these at your New Years Eve celebrations, but they should still be good to tide you over until the wave of new releases hits us in February. Don't forget to let us know your own opinions regarding the years best tracks in the comments section below!

    10. Tove Lo - Cool Girl

    One of pop music's biggest dark horses, Tove Lo's unexpected breakthrough with 'Habits' seems to have instilled a possibly ill-advised sense of trust into the singer from her label. With one hit under her belt, Lo has managed to not only release a received and provocative sophomore album with Lady Wood, but also a short film which includes every song from the album and a slew of hit singles; all while Lady Gaga struggles to get funding for even one decent music video. But there's little to complain about when each of Lo's songs seem to be so meticulously planned and executed, as we noted once again with this years lead single 'Cool Girl'. An advancement from the sombre, moody beats of 'Habits', 'Cool Girl' aims for a snappy, sexy techno vibe with biting lyrics of "I'm a cool girl/Ice cold, I roll my eyes at you" to match. We're not quite sure how she manages to keep breaking into the mainstream with her unique, wacky brand of personalised pop and arthouse visuals, but if Tove Lo has more tracks like 'Cool Girl' in store for us then we're definitely in for the long haul.

    9. Ariana Grande - Into You

    Often referred to as 2016's most perfect pop single, Ariana Grande's 'Into You' owes much to it's cast of co-writers which includes the legendary Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, Ilya, Alex Kronlund and, of course, Grande herself, who seem to have crafted the song as a composite based off the best parts of other successful tracks. Beginning with a moody thump of beats before rising into a crescendo perfectly designed to show off Grande's pitch perfect vocals, 'Into You' is somewhat let down by a chorus which doesn't quit match the expectations set by it's verses, but all is saved with a climactic bridge and some meticulous ad-libs from the singer. Riding the dance-pop train that first started with Lady Gaga's 'Just Dance' back in 2008, 'Into You' hardly adds anything new to the pop genre like some of the other tracks on Grande's Dangerous Woman release, and the lyrics are as generic as can be. But like the guilty pleasures of Carly Rae Jepsen and Alexandra Stan before it, the song accomplishes everything it sets out to do and earns its place as a near-flawless single, a title aided by its raunchy music video and several high-profile performances. We're just surprised it didn't make it higher on the charts.

    8. Skylar Grey - Come Up For Air

    From the outside, it seems as though Skylar Grey has always fancied herself a rebel without a cause - an image she tried and failed to cultivate with her mess of hip-hop beats and trailer trash glam lyrics back in 2013s Don't Look Down. But what we didn't know is that when she stops trying so hard, as she did in this years single 'Come Up For Air'. there was an abundance of vulnerability and beauty to her on the inside which we had never before seen. Backed only by a sparse R&B beat produced by frequent collaborator Eminem, Skylar plays the role of a long-suffering lover who waits for her partner to "come up for air" from the scary seas of their depression. And her voice, when she doesn't strain it with belts or hide it behind the tones of their collaborators, conveys a beautiful vulnerability that's rarely found in pop music. Time will tell if Skylar's ever able to blow up on the charts as a solo artist, but if she continues the winning formula of ballads she's captured with 'Come Up For Air' and 'Coming Home', she's bound to find her niche no matter what.

    7. Bonnie McKee - I Want It All

    The incredibly talented Bonnie McKee has been searching for a hit ever since her debut album, Trouble, failed to make any impact on the charts back in 2004. Since then, the self-proclaimed "popstar in training" has done more than her fair share of self-education, penning hits for the likes of Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Kesha; but even with the commercially-minded bangers 'American Girl' and 'Sleepwalker', she's failed to nab the elusive #1 record she so desperately seeks. Yet even with her previous bops taken into consideration, Bonnie hasn't ever come closer to an iconic song than she did with this year's 'I Want It All', the third single from 2015's Bombastic EP. From the opening stomps of the 808 to the guitar riff which sounds like something right out of Michael Jackson's Thriller, 'I Want It All' trades the bubblegum pop of McKee's major label efforts for a 80s glamrock anthem which takes more than a few liberties with her tried and true pop formula. Unheard of in a McKee song, the track takes over a minute to finally hit on a hook worth humming too; but the slow burn is more than worth the payoff when the head-banging, fist-pumping chorus finally kicks in. And the 'Billie Jean' inspired music video, in which a pink haired Bonnie struts down a dark alley in a leather jacket and crotch pumps the leader of a gang, just makes the whole thing even better. After giving her ideas away to other popstars for so long, McKee's bravely reclaimed the sound she created; let's just hope it's not too late for her to make it big.

    6. The Weeknd - Starboy (Feat. Daft Punk)

    The Weeknd's lead single 'Starboy' from the album of the same name promised a revolution from the opening frames of its video. Set in an archetypal Hollywood Hills mansion adorned with posters and placades of the singer himself, the clip begins with a masked figure sitting across from The Weeknd, silhouetted by his trademark chicken hair; before the man in the mask abruptly strangles him and takes off his balaclava, revealing himself as a newer, better haired version of the man himself, who then goes on to smash up the rest of the mansion with a pink neon cross. It's an obvious metaphor but an effective one: and anything that replaces his chicken hair with a buzz cut and his slow R&B beats with some heavy 80s synths courtesy of Daft Punk is fine by us. 'Starboy' trades The Weeknd's usual cooing for a dark, urgent lament of LA materalism before slowing down for a sparse, eerie refrain of "Look what you've done/I’m a motherfuckin' starboy", implicating the audience in his own success and, by association, his sadness. It might not be the feel good song of the summer, but 'Starboy' was instrumental in pushing The Weeknd's sound forward from the now popular slow-pop genre he helped to develop which has infilitrated the mainstream in the last year, and remains one of the most interesting songs of the year.

    5. Fifth Harmony - Work From Home (Feat. Ty Dolla $ign)

    While they first hit the big time with their breakout single 'Worth It', Fifth Harmony (or H4RMONY as they're now unnofficially referred to by fans) really only came into their own this year with 'Work From Home'. Riding the wave of construction themed songs they started with 'Sledgehammer' which was continued by Miley's 'Wrecking Ball', the girls utilise their subject matter to its full shameless potential, working in lyrically genius lines such as "I know you're always on the night shift but I can't stand these nights alone". But it's not until that ridiculously catchy chorus, in which the girls chant "You don't gotta go to work/Let me body do the work/We can work from home" that the song makes its mark as a dancefloor banger. A moderately inoffensive verse from Ty Dolla $ign and a high-dance, high-budget music video in which the girls seductively stroke hammers and pour cement are just the cherries on top of this dessert. With 'Work From Home', Fifth Harmony have finally shed the good girl image they cultivated on The X Factor, and we can't wait to see what happens next.

    4. David Bowie - Lazarus

    The world was shaken this January when it was announced that David Bowie, one of the most iconic popstars of all time, had been found dead in his home of liver cancer: an event made even more shocking given the fact that the notoriously private Bowie had not even disclosed news of an illness to the public. And as with all celebrity deaths, Bowie's passing forced a reevaluation of his previous works, most notably his last recorded album Blackstar (which was released two days before his death on his 69th birthday) and his New York musical Lazarus (whose opening night was the last public event Bowie would attend in his lifetime). On the one hand, the fact that Bowie's recent work was getting the recognition it deserved was a godsend given that it was some of the best of his career: but on the other, it was a shame that it took his death for the public to appreciate his latest efforts. 'Lazarus', the third song on the album and the title track of the musical, is one of his best: written in the months leading up to Bowie's passing with longtime producer Tony Visconti, the song acts as a self-epitath for the funeral he never had which foreshadowed his impending death. "By the time I got to New York/I was living like a king," he reflects, a possible reference to the days of partying which caused his terminal illness: before promising that soon "You know I'll be free/Just like that bluebird". Powerful, spiritual and enigmatic to the end, Bowie's swan song is a rare glimpse into the life of someone who is so close to death they can taste it: the final character in the singers revolving door of alter-egos.

    3. Rihanna - Work (Feat. Drake)

    Given the unprecedented four year wait between her last album, Unapologetic, and her current project, ANTI (Rih typically releases an album every year on the dot), expectations were high for the Bajan popstars lead single from #R8. Smartly, she avoided any hugely dramatic rollout for the single in exchange for what amounted to a surprise release, announcing the existence of 'Work' only hours before we first heard it; and the lack of spectacle extended to the songs sound as well, which avoided the huge EDM choruses of leads like 'Only Girl (In The World)' and 'We Found Love' for an altogether slower, more laidback vibe. Avoiding the temptation to continue one upping herself yet another dancefloor hit, Rih instead opted for a twist on her dancehall roots, launching off the back of her previous reggae and Drake-assisted songs like 'What's My Name' to craft a new sound for herself unlike anything else on radio. And thanks to some catchy wordplay that matches the nonsensical catchiness of her breakout 'Umbrella' and those trademark husky vocals, the song still remains quintessentially Rihanna. Despite some concern from critics, 'Work' provided the comeback that the popstar needed after her hiatus: it's just a shame that once she had us hooked with the lead single, she let us down with a B-grade video and an absolute mess of an album campaign.

    2. Kiiara - Gold

    From the very opening trip-hop strains of Kiiara's breakthrough single 'Gold', we knew we'd found the song we'd be obsessed with for the rest of the year. What we didn't realise was how it would light up the charts, or how long such a process would take: the single was actually first released in October 2015, but promo really only began in after all the unofficial online buzz in May, and the track peaked on the charts in October of this year. Hit or not, the songs ridiculously catchy and nonsensical hook assured its presence on hundreds of Spotify summer BBQ playlists, and introduced Kiiara's name and trademark style of breathy digitized vocal delivery to the masses. Little seperates Kiiara from her younger cousins over at Terror Jr, with the acts sharing sound, producers and fame - but where Terror Jr cultivates an ambibuous identity, Kiiara puts her trailer trash aesthetic beginnings out there for the world to see, something she's been doing a lot more of since promo for her EP officially began. Now all we're waiting to see is if she can sustain her fame with follow up singles 'Feels' and 'Hang Up Tha Phone'.

    1. Terror Jr - 3 Strikes

    We may still not definitively know who the elusive 'Lisa' behind Terror Jr's hits might be - is it Lisa Vitale? Kylie Jenner? Or a complete unknown? - but one things for sure: the band, comprised of an enigmatic female singer, The Cataracs' David "Campa" Singer-Vine and Felix Snow has yet to make a wrong move, an impressive feat given their association with the Kardashians and an entire EP rollout. They kicked things off with '3 Strikes', an edgy and provocative track which first rose to prominence with a placement in a Kylie Jenner lip gloss ad but which has since stuck on Snapchat stories and Spotify playlists for months. Utilising 2016's favourite vocal stutter technique and some deliciously ridiculous lyrics - "You were like 95 on the interstate/Looking for a dinnerplate" - '3 Strikes' excels at quirky, catchy pop with a difference, and it does so exceptionally well. Where other artists struggle without a label and a big budget, Terror Jr has utilised their lack of resources in a viral, interesting way - and the fact that they hit #1 on our list without an official single release or music video says a lot about the state of pop music in 2016. Regardless of what does or doesn't happen for the band in the new year, we're sure that their particular brand of promotion - where artists forsake big label opportunities to create meaningful and intimate connections with the fans who have "discovered" them - will continue for years to come.



    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    55 minutes ago, Wild Things said:

    countess honey i love you but what are these articles :stretcher: work as one of the best songs of the year? no. :disgusted:

    Work, Work From Home and Into You are the only tracks that were good from this list :stretcher: 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Just now, Tweener said:

    Work, Work From Home and Into You are the only tracks that were good from this list :stretcher: 

    work is still not good enough to be in one of the best songs of the year :stretcher: cool girl is cute

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    On 1/3/2017 at 4:02 AM, Wild Things said:

    countess honey i love you but what are these articles :stretcher: work as one of the best songs of the year? no. :disgusted:

    Sorry for not including Alessia's new hit single "Obese, Black, Trans, Asexual, Disabled, Triggered & Still Beautiful". :'( 

    On 1/3/2017 at 11:09 PM, Beautiful Mind said:

    Kiiara, Terror Jr & Skylar yaaaaas <3 show those gays and their garage band faves their places!!!

    Ready for this slow pop revolution. :dayfid: Serve us an album Kii!

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Similar Content

    • By Skinny Legend
      2020 may just be the worst year in living memory, but if there's one consolation in all of the chaos it is, as always, music. Although true concerts have been sorely missed in the madness of this year and many projects have faced significant delays while wide-scale lockdowns sweep the globe, that hasn't stopped certain artists from creating and releasing some masterpieces. Whether they're reflecting the mood of dread, isolation and fear prevalent in society or providing us an escape from the horrors of 2020, these ten songs have been the soundtrack of our year on PHF - and what a year it's been.
      10. Little Mix - Holiday
      Submitted By: @Skinny Legend
      Despite their undeniable vocal prowess and incredible chemistry, Little Mix has always been a little underwhelming in my books when it comes to song choice. Their back catalogue is sprinkled with a couple of fun tracks ('Power' and 'No More Sad Songs' are both bangers), and the occasional brilliant ballad ('Secret Love Song' and their 'Falling' cover are incredible), but their singles are often cheapened by derivative production or boring rent-a-rappers. All that changed with 'Holiday', the second single from their last album as a four-piece Confetti. Leaning hard into the groups pop origins, the song served up a slice of fun, effortless, summery bubblegum pop that was just what the public needed to hear in 2020, filling a gap in the market that's been gaping open since the onslaught of R&B and indie artists in recent years. Little Mix might not look the same in a post-2020 world, but 'Holiday' will still go down as one of their best, most anthemic singles to date and a game-changer for the group. It's just a shame it didn't get as much attention as it deserved on the charts.
      9. ionnalee - MACHINEE
      Submitted By: @coolaideonfire
      ionnalee had planned to tour North America in 2020 celebrating 10 years of iamamiwhoami (her audiovisual project launched in December 2009), but after these plans were postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic things changed course.
      In quarantine she announced the KRONOLOGI playlist, a series of previously unreleased songs and alternate versions to be shared weekly as a soundtrack to our isolation, and true to her iamamiwhoami roots she also played two online concerts in the summer months. One was a lowkey affair filmed in the beautiful surroundings of her garden at home for Sweden's National Day celebrations and the other a highly produced event filmed on a remote Swedish island bearing similarities to IN CONCERT (an ambitious online concert streamed by iamamiwhoami in 2010). KONSERT featured guests such as Imogen Heap, TR/ST and Zola Jesus and culminated in the live premiere of ionnalee's latest single 'MACHINEE' - a brooding electronic number with industrial vibes and my highlight of the year.
      8. Pale Waves - She's My Religion
      Submitted By: @blonde-rebellion
      Avril Lavigne has been my all-time favorite artist practically since birth. The early 2000s were filled with artists trying to emulate her signature pop-rock sound and punk attitude. Listening to the mainstream radio now, it may seem like that style is gone, but look no further than what the new indie girls are doing for some quality Avril-inspired bops. Artists like Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy have been outspoken about the influence Avril has had on their music, but one of the biggest Avril-influenced artists right now is British indie-pop band, Pale Waves. The second single off their upcoming sophomore album, (Who Am I?, due out in February), 'She’s My Religion' sounds like the best of Under My Skin-era Avril. The gothic pop/rock guitar-driven instrumental fits perfectly with Pale Waves’ signature confessional lyrics. The track is an authentic queer love song (made by actual LGBT artists!) with an insanely catchy chorus that features lyrics - “she’s cold, she’s dark, she’s cynical. She’s forever angry at the world” - that will make you say, "Ugh, she’s literally me". 'She’s My Religion' by Pale Waves is everything a pop-rock fan could want in the year 2020.
      7. Given - Winter Story
      Submitted By: @Vixen Eyes
      I listened to this since October before watching the anime Given and after reading it's manga predecessor (same story events). I loved everything at first listen and not only that but the anime is my fave animation and fave series ever. The EP has five songs and three instrumental tracks (of the five previous songs). The part where the vocalist in the anime sings 'Winter Story' I C R I E D. No — I fucking S O B B E D. The lyrics are about the vocalist's ex boyfriend's suicide after they had a fight and his last words to his ex were, "Are you willing to die for me then?". Let THAT sink in. 
      6. Charli XCX - Party 4 U
      Submitted By: @jesuswasaloser
      Charli XCX announced on April 6 that she would be creating and conceiving an entire album during quarantine using only the resources she had in her LA home and the help of her fans to choose things such as artworks and lyrics. Six weeks later she released how i'm feeling now, one of her best pieces of work to date. The album was created specially for the time we all spent in quarantine and it has some amazing songs where the singer talks about her moments of love and loneliness, but one song in particular is just something else, and that song is 'party 4 u'. 
      This song was already a fan favourite, since it had been played many times before by A. G. Cook in many of his sets, and fans would always ask Charli to release it officially - but as she said in an interview for Apple Music, "it had never felt right before now".
      It's a simple song, lyrically, that speaks about how Charli only throws a party for one special person, and she hopes that the person "comes through", and hopes that the person will stick by her side through the hard times too. It's a simplistic premise, but during lockdown, where we all had no other choice but to party by ourselves, the song took a whole new meaning. With simple lyrics and production, this song really was like a present for her fans. 
      I know that when I look back at the time all spent locked inside, this album, and especially this song, will be the first thing I remember. And that's why I consider it one of the best songs, if not the best, from 2020.
      5. Melanie C - Who I Am
      Submitted By: @Whoknowsmehere
      I loved this song from the first time I heard it. I tend to gravitate towards songs where the message is one that hits me right in the feels. And this song is no exception to that. The message of her no longer worrying about what others think about what she has to say - or, who she is - that is exactly how I feel about myself.  She is telling people - this is who I am. Accept me or don't, I don't care. I am going to be me regardless of what others say. 
      I love the music that goes along with the song as well. Excellent arrangement. Very easy to listen to, and still be able to pay attention to the message behind the lyrics. Melanie C came back with an amazing overall album in my opinion. 
      4. BLACKPINK - Lovesick Girls
      Submitted By: @Capsule
      On October 2, 2020, BLACKPINK released the third single from their then-upcoming debut full-length album after four years as a group. The track is the first in the group's history to be co-written by members Jennie and Jisoo, as well as being co-produced by Jennie. The song, although being an overall pop banger, has obvious influences from country, folk and EDM. The song details the feelings of pain and heartbreak after a break up, feeling like you're "born to be alone," but also "still looking for love". It's a subject that can relate to a lot of people - we have all experienced some sort of heartbreak and felt like we would be alone forever. The topic has been done to death, yet the group somehow managed to bring a fresh perspective to the table...that is TALENT.
      The song was well-received worldwide, and also helped the group to break various records through their album promotion. The single won 6 music show awards during its promotion, including three consecutive wins on Inkigayo, which lead to them receiving the Triple Crown award on that show. With help from this single, the group's album became the highest-charting album by an all-female group in the United States since 2008's Welcome to the Dollhouse by Danity Kane. BLACKPINK have proven this year that that they are still a force to be reckoned with in the K-Pop industry and that they don't plan on stopping their domination any time soon.
      3. Dua Lipa - Break My Heart
      Submitted By: @365MM
      ‘Sophomore slump’? Not a chance!
      Back in the oh-so-innocent, pre-pandemic era, Dua Lipa was finally releasing her second album, Future Nostalgia. Great new singles had been dropping over the last few months. Sounded promising. Maybe pick it up when it comes out, I thought.
      Old news now, but then everything was turned on its head. Crazy times.
      Seemed like there was only constant; “Break My Heart” was the bop everyone was loving at the same time! It really is an amazing combination of a killer dance beat (acknowledged as similar to INXS’ "Need You Tonight"), sublime vocals, and unbelievably catchy lyrics. Great production too, but personally the writing here edges out. It might be a pop song, but the story here is a very mature. An exploration of vulnerability with heartbreak and strength of wisdom out of unsuccessful relationships while still needing to risk it all again in the pursuit of love. I think we’ve all been there. I just wish we could own it as well as Dua.
      Arguably the best track on an album that proves to be both ridiculously consistent and infinitely playable. No wonder it broke into the tops of so many charts (including entered at number 6 on the UK Singles and peaking at 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100). Perfect dance-pop! And the video? The colors, the set movement, THAT DANCE? In this year with virtually no live concerts, “Break My Heart” was the performance we needed and deserved. Easily top 20 of 2020.
      2. Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande - Rain On Me
      Submitted By: @Skinny Legend
      Released at the height of COVID-19 lockdowns across the world in May of 2020, 'Rain On Me' was the forerunner quarantine anthem of the year from the moment of its release, even if it was penned months in advance. The self-empowerment lyrics gained new meaning after the struggles that many faced in 2020, with the concept of embracing darkness and pain harkening back to Gaga's 'Marry the Night' days in a beautiful reminder of how to make it through hard times. It further helps that the song is one of Gaga's most rambunctious and high energy in recent years, making it perfect for many late-night lonesome shower disco's that took place over the year. 'Rain On Me' is an important reminder than not only does everyone go through similar struggles, but that these struggles are a lot harder to face when you can celebrate them as the important life-defining moments they are.
      1. Kylie Minogue - Say Something
      Submitted By: @Cypher
      Released during the middle of the year and well into the global lockdown, Kylie Minogue dazzled the world with a shimmering, anthemic disco pop track. The song took on a life of its own during the pandemic with the line, "Can we all be as one again?". It would mark the beginning of her Disco era, propelling her to the #1 position in the UK, beating out Little Mix's Confetti (who she also voiced support for). With the album having 55 000 chart sales (the biggest opening week of the year), Minogue became the first female artist to score a #1 on the UK Official Albums Chart in five consecutive decades. Minogue has undeniable talent, name recognition, and a vocal prowess to appeal to multiple generations. If you love catchy bass lines and callbacks from the '70s, the song and album are definitely going to be contenders for your own year-end list!
      Did your favourite track of 2020 make the list? Sound off in the comments below! And from everyone at PHF, Happy New Years - fingers crossed things can only get better from here on out.

    • By Skinny Legend
      They've made some bops and they will be missed. But they had a great run and stayed together longer than most groups. I wish them both happiness in whatever they do next!
    • By Skinny Legend
      I like his music, but imo he's not a well-established/interesting enough live act to perform at the Super Bowl. He's got a great voice but I can't imagine him jumping from the roof or floating around on a firework...  Plus his music is so dark and edgy that I don't feel like it's right for a fun celebratory show. We'll see how it goes though I guess!
×
×
  • Create New...