The chorus to Cheap Thrills sounds great wherever you are. Dancing in a club? ‘I GOT CHEAP THRILLS’ Getting ready for work? ‘I GOT CHEAP THRILLS’ Walking to the shops? ‘I GOT CHEAP THRILLS’ Writing pointless lists no one is going to read? ‘I GOT CHEAP THRILLS’. Adding a ‘BIDDA BANG BANG’ onto that for the single version was genius.
There were a lot of songs that sounded like Final Song in 2016, but Final Song is better than all of them.
Rihanna has never sounded as good as she does on Love On The Brain. A doo-wop 50s track, it shouldn’t work on an album alongside Work but it instantly stood out as a highlight for me. Rihanna’s vocals go to places we’ve never heard her go before, she’s completely free, never more so than when she performs this live. Her award show performances of Love on the Bran have been some of her best in recent memory and everything about the song feels honest. It’s rare that we get a glimpse of the ‘real RiRi’, but Love on the Brain gives us our closest look at the industries most exciting star.
The obvious standout when 25 first debuted, Water Under the Bridge manages to slot Adele’s sound into the current pop landscape and yet remain totally her. The echoed ‘oohs’ over the chorus, the building background vocals for each chorus, there is so much to appreciate here. It’s a simple song, but manages to expand into something huge very quickly. It’s a tremendous record and by far one of my favourites in Adele’s expanding discography.
‘And Just Like That!’ Ellie Goulding releases yet another knockout soundtrack song. Much last year’s #1 song Love Me Like You Do, Still Falling For You takes a while to kick in, but when it does it’s outstanding. The bit ‘All I breathe is you’ bit near the end is effortlessly perfect. One of these a year would do nicely thanks Ellie.
I’ve written about what constitutes as the perfect ‘Coldplay Song’ far too many times on this blog, but Up&Up manages to be exactly that. It teases you for a couple of minutes, hinting at the song it could be, expanding bit by bit until the last few minutes where you can all but hear the fireworks going off at the top of the stadium. My favourite moment in Up&Up though is when Noel Gallagher turns up to deliver to most undeniably ‘Oasis’ sounding moment of the last decade. Another killer Coldplay track.
‘I don’t wanna be your…secret anymore’. The silence in the middle of that line is genius. Tegan & Sara releasing a song about their girlfriend keeping them a secret from their boyfriend is genius. The whole thing is genius and is a joy to listen to.
Before 2016 I had thought that Laura Mvula was a middle of the road singer songwriter. Phenomenal Woman changed that and it’s electrifying atmosphere is one of my biggest discoveries this year. It’s an empowerment anthem aimed directly at Mvula’s nan and feels as honest as that should be. ‘Nobody ever told her she was beauty/One day, she realized she was already free’ is an amazing way to open a song, while the ‘Oh my my’ chorus is a gospel chant that’s truly uplifting. I dare you to feel uninspired after hearing Phenomenal Woman.
Vice is exactly the opposite of the song I expected Miranda Lambert to release following her very public breakup last year. Vice drifts along full of passion and conflict, it’s an anthem that holds back as much as it gives in. Defiant and effortlessly cool, it’s a landmark turning point for an artist who has stayed so close inside the lines until now.
2016 without Formation would have been unbearable. It isn’t my favourite Beyoncé song, but as a ‘moment’ I find it hard to argue with. ‘I like my negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils’. Is it any wonder that in 2016 all the world wanted was information and it was Beyoncé who brought us in formation.
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