My favorite song of 2016 is Somebody Else by The 1975. My second favorite song is Eleven Blocks by Wrabel. And had this song been on an album, it would have made my "Best Of..." list for 2016 even if the rest of the album was shit.
That's how awesome a song it is...
Anyway... here's my list of favorite albums from this past year...
THE TWELVE BEST...
#1 I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it by The 1975
This should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody, as I've been raving about it this whole year. Just as I raved about The 1975's previous album non-stop since I first heard it. This is easily my favorite band going now, and seeing their live show last December made them a serious contender for one of my favorite bands ever. I just can't stop listening to their music, and their latest album dropped a slew of new songs that made that a truth throughout 2016. Hands-down my favorite is Somebody Else, which is a beautiful, haunting tune that has permanent residence in my head. I'm also loving Change of Heart, which is a direct song-sequel to The City. Rounding out my favorites are Paris and This Must Be My Dream.
#2 Reverie by Postiljonen
More haunting magic from the Swedish overlords of dream-pop. I love every song on this album but, if forced to pick, Blood Flow is a song that feels like a romantic warm blanket enveloping you, and it's tough to top that. If that song grabs you, Wait has a slightly more ethereal edge and is worth a listen. And if you want something a little more pop-forward, give Are You Thinking of Me a spin.
#3 E•MO•TION: Side B (EP) by Carly Rae Jepson
The original E•MO•TION (released 2015) should have ended up in my top five last year, but inexplicably didn't make my list at all. In an effort to rectify this, I'm putting Carly Rae Jepson's EP of songs that didn't make the cut as my No. 3 pick (thanks, Howard!). Given how these tracks are every bit as good as what did end up making the cut, you have to wonder if she's capable of making a bad song.
#4 Super by Pet Shop Boys
One of my favorite bands of all time, Pet Shop Boys has been releasing new music at a frantic clip, and I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Good, because it's more PSB music. Bad, because the best tracks from the past three albums would have made one of the best PSB albums of all time. Still, if your favorite PSB songs are their infectious dance tracks, Super has a lot to offer. Oddly enough, my favorite song is not one of those tracks, but the flawlessly-constructed The Dictator Decides, which sports some terrific lyrics over electro-pop accented tones of despair. Equally haunting is Sad Robot World, which is a track that drags you through a slow-moving tale of desolation... exactly the kind of thing Pet Shop Boys excel at.
#5 DNCE by DNCE
No, I have no clue how I ended up liking an album from a group headed up by one of the Jonas Brothers, but here we are. A great deal of my liking this album has to do with their breakout hit, Cake By The Ocean, which is pop genius (and originated when a friend of the band couldn't remember the phrase "sex on the beach"). They followed that with a video for Toothbrush (starring ASHLEY FUCKING GRAHAM!) and I was hooked. Then DNCE dropped a video for the infectious Body Moves and suddenly I was a fan of Joe Jonas & Company.
#6 Oh My My by OneRepublic
OneRepublic often feels like a band that's been spinning its wheels. Their songs (and albums) just kind of blend together in a homogenous blob. Except... what a great blob it is to listen to. Yes, Oh My My is more of the same, but that's not always a bad thing because it keeps me loving the band. A standout track is Kids, which has a kind of M83-infused hook to it. Note that the video for Wherever I Go is one of my favorites of 2016.
#7 Blackstar by David Bowie
For me, Bowie will forever be enshrined in an alter devoted to his 1983 album Let's Dance. Anything outside of that can be appreciated, but my love was reserved for that one album (come on, it's perfect!). Which means I've largely been ignoring his work for 33 years. Then Blackstar drops and my love of all things Bowie is renewed in a huge way. Two days later, Bowie dies and the world starts falling apart. I am convinced this is not a coincidence. Recorded as he was battling liver cancer, Blackstar is yet another example of Bowie being ahead of the pack, the album sounding like some kind of experimental leap of brilliance we're not going to hear again any time soon.
#8 Moth by Chairlift
In my humble opinion, Chairlift's best song is Bruises. It's lyrical, smart, and fun, and nothing else that's come out of the band has reached that height. It hasn't kept them from trying. Moth is another nicely subdued pop release that, unfortunately, will assumably be the band's last since they recently announced a breakup.
And now, just because I love it so much, here's Bruises...
#9 Junk by M83
Much like OneReublic, M83 just keeps slogging through more of the same. And, just like OneRepublic, I find myself being secretly grateful so I don't end up discouraged when a band I like heads in the wrong direction (see: Depeche Mode). Junk doesn't stray to far from formula, but it's a listen I enjoy just the same.
#10 Run the Jewels 3 by Run The Jewels
My being a fan of Run the Jewels confuses a lot of people. Probably because my love of music fits nicely into the pop genre (with emphasis on synth-pop and the 80's) and that's what I'm listening to 95% of the time. But then... then... there are times I need something else. There are times I need metal. There are times I need electronica. And, yes, there are times I need rap. And when that time comes, there's something about Run the Jewels that hits the spot. Their past two albums were fantastic... this third one was released early just last week, so I haven't quite settled into it yet... but I love what I'm hearing.
#11 Version Of Me by Melanie C
My favorite Spice Girl was Posh Spice (Victoria Beckham). My favorite singer of the Spice Girls was Ginger Spice (Geri Halliwell). But lurking in my consciousness was always Mel C, who has been just plain solid both in and out of Spice World. Version of Me isn't breaking any new ground, but it's eminently listenable and one of those "in the background albums" I play often while working. That may not seem like a glowing endorsement, and maybe it's not, but the album gets played enough to earn a spot on my list for 2016.
#12 Perfume by Cosmic Explorer
My interest in J-Pop is firmly planted in the past, but every once in a while something new comes along to sink me into that world once again. Perfume was just such a ticket. Something about having Cosmic Explorer's sweet melodies and heavy synth playing at full volume while driving provides a calming effect... even though my grasp of the Japanese language has long-since faded.
And, that's a wrap for 2016! As always, I'm sure I missed something. If I think of it in these coming weeks, I'll be sure to add it here.