Prelude: I don’t think you need anyone else to tell you that 2016 was an awful year. Not just for the world but for pop music. It was like listening to music that wasn’t even there. Such drab and pretentious garbage deserves it’s own list. But that’s not what this list is about. This list is about the pop music that I love…. or at least liked. There is only a few rules for this list:
- The song must have made it in the Billboard year-end Hot 100.
- If the song got in the top 10 songs of a week at any point in the year but didn’t make Hot 100, it qualifies.
- If the song was on a previous year-end Hot 100 it cannot qualify for this year’s list.
So with that said….
Number 10: Ride- Twenty øne Piløts-
You know I’ll be the first to admit that at first I didn’t really like these guys. Twenty One Pilots’ first song gave me the impression that they were trying way too hard. Their first big hit “Stressed out” sounded unfinished and a little condescending. But I think that I finally found something I could grasp with their second big hit “Ride”. If anything it at least addresses one of my bigger issues with their music, which is their neurotic, inane over thinking of everything. It’s like they just write every stupid thought that they have on a piece of paper then send it to Atlantic records. And when I mean they address it, I mean this quite literally. In the outro to the chorus the leader singer literally says “I’ve been think too much, help me”. So, yeah as much I’d like to dismiss the band as a bunch of preening whiny emos, but they clearly have some serious problems with anxiety and a huge fear of becoming irrelevant. Which is at least something. I can relate to that. Especially in 2016. In their last song they were just whining about being adults, but in this song they at least openly admit that they tend to overthink the process of life. This of course culminates in the chorus where they unequivocally state that they are along for the ride, even though they are unsure of it’s journey. It’s a pretty chill song.
Number 9: In the Night- The Weeknd- I’ve had a weird relationship with the artist called “The Weeknd”. I never exactly hated him, but I never liked the way he sang. He always sounded like he was singing from his stomach and couldn’t stand it. Not to mention half of his library is about him being a sexual deviant which, I find hard to believe. I mean he’s from Canada and dating a former disney star. All that said I did really enjoy “Can’t Feel my Face”, which was a pretty simple song about being addicted to cocaine. I’m not sure “In the Night” is as good as that song, but it’s nice hearing an R&B guy being able to sympathize with a girl rather than just speak about her purely in sexual terms. Don’t me wrong, this song is definitely sexual. But it’s not sexy, it’s more of an introspection of the complexity of a sexual relationship. How that often people in that kind of relationship share thoughts and feelings and yet cannot really connect in the same way other couples can. At least I think that’s what it’s about. The Weeknd’s lyrics are always so vague you can almost never tell what he’s actually going for. But even if that’s not what he’s going for, the beat and ferocity of the song stands on it’s own. It’s a good gateway into his next album, which I’m sure will have a song on this list next year. But, not “Starboy” because…. that song is ridiculous.
Number 8: Adventure of a Lifetime- Coldplay- O, Coldplay! How you’ve changed. If you care to go back far enough you might have the same reaction to Coldplay as I did. BOOOOOORRRRINNNNG. No seriously I can’t stand Coldplay’s first two records and their third is almost as bad. But then “Viva La Vida” came out and my opinion started to change. So what I’m trying to say is that I liked Coldplay when they started to sell out. For some reason this song is a part of my soul …Okay that might be going a little far. But as a fan of Disco, I kinda love this record. I even liked their Super Bowl halftime show. You wanna know why? Because behind all the politics and a terrible super bowl game, there was this awesome beat. While Uptown Funk and Beyoncé might have overshadowed them, I, Ben Snyder can appreciate Coldplay deciding to give the people an awesome synth riff. Now sing it: WOOHOO, WOOHOOO, WOOHOO, WOOHOO, WOOOOOHOOO…. (I know I’m lame).
Number 7: I Took a Pill in Ibiza- Mike Posner (SeeB remix)- It’s weird seeing Mike Posner back. If you don’t remember this guy, that’s probably for the best. He had a song in 2010 called “Cooler than Me” and if you think that I’m lame wait until you hear that song. So after that song became a hit, he sort of fell off the map for a few years. He worked a little bit behind the scenes, but otherwise his music career was pretty much dead. Imagine being so uncharismatic that they give one of your songs to Human iPhone: Adam Levine. Anyway, he came back this year in a big way with “I Took a Pill in Ibiza”. It gave Mike Posner a much needed case for why he needs to continue making music. It defined 2016 in a way that not many songs could. It’s bleak undertones of regret and sorrow encapsulate 2016 like no other song could. I am of course talking about the club version which is a billion times more sad, than the god awful acoustic version. I’m glad that someone is always there to fix Mike Posner’s music. So, shoutout to SeeB.
Number 6: Into You- Ariana Grande- People keep trying to convince that Selena Gomez is the hot new thing. I don’t get it. She looks like she’s 10 and sings like she’s 16. Maybe if she released something like “Into You” by Ariana Grande, I would be interested. Not only does this song have a serious groove, but it is by far more sexually visceral than that other song she released “Dangerous Women”. Frankly, Ariana is way more sexy when she isn’t trying. She’s not quite Mariah, but she comes pretty close. Especially in the way she sounds like she just loves singing. I’m tired of hearing singers belting into the mic like they’re singing in a wind tunnel. I just want singers to sing. And boy does she ever.
Number 5: Cake by the Ocean- DNCE- Yes, I do realize this song is quite juvenile. But to hell with that. I like stupid, fun songs and this year was full of bleak, downtrodden music. Now don’t get me wrong, I want my songs to have some depth but I feel like stuff like this isn’t that kind of music. At the end of the day it’s just supposed to make me dance. And I can’t dance. But if I could this is what I would dance to. I’d say my only reservation about this song is the gratuitous swearing. Actually never mind. This is a silly juvenile song and in a year where every song sounded like it needed some prozac; silly and juvenile is completely fine with me. Finally this song is about cake. I know it’s supposed to be some kind of sexual double entendre but it makes way more sense in my mind if it’s just about cake. Cake by the ocean sounds like an awesome time and so is this song.
Number 4: Never Be Like You- Flume feat. Kai- If I could rank beat drops alone this would easily top my list. I didn’t know much about the man who calls himself “Flume” before starting this list, but if this song is any indication, i think we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the future. There is not much to say about this song other than it was everywhere and I mean everywhere. Don’t expect much analysis from me on this song either. I don’t know much about the genre of EDM, other than that this song speaks to me on a visceral level. Check it out, if you haven’t already.
Number 3 : Sorry- Beyoncé- What is there to really say about Beyoncé that hasn’t already been said? Well for one I’m not really a fan. I’ve never really been drawn to her overtly inhuman way that she kind of shrugs off guys like it’s no big deal. And I understand that, it’s partly the reason people like her, but for me personally; I need some sense of self-awareness and humanity in my music. But, then “Lemonade” was released and everything changed. This was clearly personal, and directed at someone very close to her. It’s anyone’s guess who…. Okay it’s Jay-Z… it doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out. “Sorry” is the culmination of her new concept album and it’s an absolute showstopper. To get the full effect, I’d highly recommend the whole album. It’s worth the money.
Number 2: 24K Magic- Bruno Mars- Is Bruno Mars still an actual artist? I think this is a very good question, but I don’t care to answer it. Bruno Mars has released jam after jam. I no longer give a damn if he’s sold out his artistic integrity or whatever. I just want him to release the same awesome song over and over again. Every time he releases a new song with a few exceptions, they are always a delight. Is he retreading old music? Sure. Should you care? Absolutely not. Okay, okay, “24K Magic” is a bit different from “Uptown Funk”. “Uptown Funk” relied more on a old school instrumental funk beat, while 24K Magic is more based on pure electronics. If “Uptown Funk” is Morris Day, then “24K Magic” is Soul Sonic Force. Never change Bruno.
Cheap Thrills- Sia: Sean Paul ruined this song for me. I heard the remix first, so now all I can hear is Sean Paul making vague Spanish noises in the background. If I didn’t hear that version first this song might’ve made the list.
Too Good- Drake: Drake has been banned from this year’s list. He ruined last year’s pop music. There have been so many Drake knock-offs, I feel like I’ve been listening to ambient music. But this song is pretty good. Still banned though.
When We Were Young- Adele: I’m sorry to be that guy, but I didn’t like “25”. I actually really like this song, but it doesn’t make much sense in the context of the album.
On My Mind- Ellie Goulding: This would be a pretty good response to Ed Sheeran if she didn’t sound like she still wanted him. Why do people find Ed Sheeran so attractive? I don’t get it.
Closer- The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey: This song would be on the list if it weren’t for it being essentially a commercial for UC Boulder and the U of A. Also…. Mattress stealing.
Broccoli- D.R.A.M feat. Lil Yachty: If I had a worst list, this would also be a honorable mention for that. Every time I hear Lil Yachty say “Let’s turn this s*** to Columbine”, I zone out. That’s possibly the worst line of any song in 2016. But it introduced me to D.R.A.M, so I guess that’s something.
Lush Life- Zara Larsson- This song wasn’t technically a hit, but I absolutely love it.
Kids- OneRepublic- How did this song not become popular? Do people just not want to admit that OneRepublic is starting to make interesting music? Whatever… I liked this song.
AND NOW FOR NUMBER 1:
Number 1: Hymn for the Weekend- Coldplay- Screw it. I like Coldplay. And I like Beyoncé. I like the piano intro. I like the slow build. But most of all I like that Coldplay has finally found their niche. Yeah it might not be any kind of high art, but I need this kind of music. I need music to fill a void other than background noise. I need music to be uplifting. Nothing gets me pumped more than waking up to this song. I still can’t believe that it’s Coldplay that released the song of the year. The guys who released “Yellow”… how things have changed. This is the perfect song for the weekend and the perfect song for 2016. OH AI OH AI OH AI I’M FEELING DRUN- Forgot this is going in the school newspaper.
Conclusion: So in conclusion… I hope that pop music in 2017 is more than just background music. I hope is something more visceral and uh… you know what I just hope we’re still alive at the end of the year. Good Night and Good Luck!