Monday, 12 December 2016

Top 116 Songs of 2016, #20 - 11

by Tkay Maidza

Let me break shit, let me drop it.

Not that I needed some sweet, sweet Tkay Maidza levels of inception to get her music in my head b-b-b-but... hearing 'Tennies' playing in the Apple Watch ad that played on YouTube before I got to 'Tennies' itself was the feelgood moment of the year. Like a proud mumma, I may have shed a dignified, single tear in celebration of Tkay Maidza's continued success. Getting into an Apple advertisement played worldwide? Achievement level unlocked. That level? Boss level. Because Tkay has been a total boss this year in the lead up to and after the release of her debut album, TKAY. Just before the album's release, 'Tennies' was dropped as a promo track and we couldn't get enough of it. We still can't get enough of it. The energy is infectious as Tkay lays out some quick-fire rhymes to politely inform you that she is the new Queen all up in here and you will bow down to her greatness. Admit it, you're bowing down right now. We are truly not worthy of this greatness. (Matt Bond

I did a bit of a double take when I read something about Tkay's 'Tennies' that described it as "another club banger" which is probably a reasonable description of said single, but I don't really think of Tkay as a purveyor of "club bangers", because while that's a reasonable genre in itself, it just doesn't seem to lend enough weight to the actual talent of Tkay. I think of the "club banger" as a fairly throw away sound, but I still haven't gotten over the first moment I heard Tkay's sound and there's no way I've thrown that track away, let alone this song, three years later. Also, tennies is referring to her tennis shoes, for those like myself who doubted themselves and assumed it was referring to something else the kids are talking about. I don't know what the kids are talking about. (Jo Michelmore)

by Tired Lion

It's not a movie, now it's night time
Those kids are itching for red wine...

I listened to this song about a thousand times when it was first released, because Tired Lion write really, really good rock songs. Their guitars are always dirty where they need to be, their drums are always pounding exactly when they need to be and that voice of Sophie's is always as perfect as it needs to be. It was listen number one thousand and one that had me hear a lyric I hadn't before, which made me draw a breath and press pause for a minute, because sometimes really, really good rock songs are also really, really good mirrors and sometimes that's a little confronting, but the best of really, really good rock songs are also equally comforting and 'Agoraphobia' is exactly, and so much more than that. (Jo Michelmore

Moving from Unearthed to the triple J A-list was all but guaranteed for Perth's Tired Lion after the huge success of tracks like 'I Don't Think You Like Me' and 'Suck' in 2015. No one would have held it against the band for taking some time off, but it was so good to hear two new tracks from them in 2016. 'Not My Friends' was another banging piece of alternative goodness, but 'Agoraphobia' was the Tired Lion track that I just couldn't get enough of from the day I first heard it. It's got everything we've come to know and love about their sound over the past couple of years; 90s post-grunge inspired hooks, gorgeous melodies and scream-and-shout-along choruses delivered by the formidable Sophie Hopes and snappy lines that spark the imagination. But the thing about 'Agoraphobia' is, it's not just snappy lines anymore. As the topic of discussion is mental illness, something each member of Tired Lion has dealt with in their young lives, it's no surprise there's a new level of depth here. This is the sound of a band growing from their angsty teen beginnings to something bigger and bolder. I'll even throw in that it's a maturing of their sound, but don't worry, this is still brash and loud and everything you'd want from a Tired Lion track. (Matt Bond 

by Remi ft. Sampa The Great

You're giving me the silent treatment, baby
And that's oh so cold, gorgeous.

'For Good', the first single from Remi's critically acclaimed second LP Divas and Demons, brought a much needed dose of funk to Australia's hip hop scene. It brought the mega talent that is Sampa The Great along for the ride too and hearing Sampa alongside MC Remi Kolawole made for one of the brightest collaborations of the whole year. At least in terms of music and performance, both of which are faultless and ready made to make you get your groove on. While the story might not have the sunny disposition to match, at least we get a refreshing take on a dude admitting he's been a bit of a dick to a lovely lady undeserving of such treatment. Now she's gone and she's gone for good and he's left alone with his weed and Nintendo and sadness. I'm going with this being a work of fiction, because Remi doesn't seem like a jerk at all. He's like the Drake of Australian hip hop. Just, you know, awesome. (Matt Bond)  

by Phebe Starr

Please be kind
You know I love you, but my heart is blind.

One should have assumed that 'Feel My Love' was going to be one of the most perfect pop songs of the year, being that it is performed by someone who I have always thought has the most perfect pop name I could possibly imagine. If I was a singer, I'd have given up this Jo business and renamed my myself Phebe Starr a long time ago. Beside my slightly weird obsession with Phebe's name, 'Feel My Love' was definitely one of the highlights of pop music this year; all bounce, all build, all beautiful, it's one of the ones that would make that incredible scene of summer and sun and smiles when they make the film of my life. They will be making that sometime, and if I have my way, my character will be called Phebe. Phebe Starr. (Jo Michelmore)

If you are not dancing by the time the second verse hits, in whatever way it is that you choose to dance, then I am afraid to inform you that you are dead inside and I am sorry for how the world has beaten you down. Because 'Feel My Love' is epic-mega-out of this world-pop that will make you want to move, to shout, to live, to love. Phebe Starr, you continue to astound and amaze with the absolute gems that you're releasing. I probably say this with each new track, but this truly is your finest work to date. It makes you feel like anything is possible because it is so warm and so full of hope. In a perfect world this would have been a number one hit everywhere, but hey, this ain't no perfect world. I can say though that my world feels a little bit more perfect with this song in it. And you know, if you are feeling a little dead inside you really should listen to this a couple of times. It's probably just the cure you're looking for. It really is that good. (Matt Bond

#16. ON HOLD
by The xx

My young heart, chose to believe
We were destined.

Urgh, how exactly does someone get this talented? Like, I'm jealous. Why even hide that fact. I'm super jealous of The xx and how they can make music that speaks every freaking language to you, even ones you didn't know you know, but you know them and it's all because of The xx's music. And they keep getting better. How is life fair? Anyway... Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim's chemistry remains out of control and their vocal performances are coming from a much more confident place. Dare I say it sounds like The xx might be having a bit of fun these days? 'On Hold' certainly makes it sound like there's a smile lurking behind the totally devo (this means sad, not Devo the band) words that are so well written without having to say much of anything and again I'm super jealous of this group's talent. But I'm also super in love with everything they do and can't wait to hear their third album, I See You when it comes out next month. (Matt Bond)  

I don't want to have to say spoiler alert, but this could be the newest song on our long long countdown, which means that new track Little Mix are releasing tomorrow won't be making our top 10, sorry guys. (Little Mix are not making our countdown. Please don't be disappointed.) Is this the cutest I've heard The xx? Maybe, maybe not, but either way there's something more poppy about this track than I'm probably used to from Jamie, Romy and Oliver and that's not a bad thing, it's a super good thing. Also, it's been far too long since I've pushed someone around a carpark in a shopping trolley. And one more thing. When did that Oliver character get so cute? And where did he get that shirt? I think I love it. And him. And them. (Jo Michelmore)

by Radiohead

This is a roundup
This is a low flying panic attack. 

I'm honestly going to say there was not another song this year that had me as equally excited as I was nervous to hear it. It took a few minutes to prepare myself for what was to come before I hit play, because Radiohead and I have been through a lot. We've had a tumultuous relationship, but we've always agreed we love each other in the end. So I took a deep breath and I hit that little sideways triangle and those urgent strings came leaping out of my headphones and the familiar goosebumps of Radiohead started at my spine and worked their way around and not only did we agree we love each other, but we adored each other and everything about the world was absolutely perfect. And still is. (Jo Michelmore)

#14. DIGGIN'
by Ngaiire

But here you found me
With a shovel in my hand...

To avoid wanting to write about this throughout the entire paragraph, I'm going to get it out of the way early so we can all move on with our lives. I am totally digging this track. Okay, done, moving right along. Now we can focus all of our time and energy on expressing all of the love we have for the INCREDIBLE music Ngaiire put out over the past twelve months. Starting with 'Diggin' the second song to be lifted from her sophomore album, Blastoma. It was a most suitable follow up to the 2015 Hottest 100 jam, 'Once', turning it up a notch in terms of the party starting stakes, while sacrificing nothing in terms of quality and uniqueness in the Australian music landscape. The reigning Empress of Neo-Soul was more glam than ever throughout 'Diggin', running vocal lines to die for alongside mighty fine electronic beats. Genre bending and defying expectations are nothing new for Ngaiire, but 'Diggin' was on a whole new level to what's come before. And this wasn't even our favourite release from Ngaiire in 2016. Ya dig? Sorry, had to use that one too. (Matt Bond

by Flume ft. Kai

Please just look me in my face
Tell me everything's okay. 

The kids these days, they say things like realness and all the feels and there's probably someone somewhere that's creating a meme right this very minute that means exactly those things but in a different way, but all they need to do is listen to some Flume and words and memes don't matter. This was one of those creepy songs that snuck up on me and slapped me in the face, having heard it about a bazillion times without too much thought until one day it just it me - boom, and suddenly I'm at work humming something about never being like you to my boss. (Hi boss! Jokes! I love you etc).  It was only a few days I may have whispered something to Matt under my breath about possibly liking that Flume song that every one goddamn likes and now here we are at number 13, which means he liked it too. Boom. (Jo Michelmore

That Flume fella's done alright for himself, hasn't he now? He scored his first #1 song in Australia with 'Never Be Like You', which also took him to the top 20 of the US Billboard Hot 100. The monster hit has also scored young Harley Edward Streten his first Grammy nod for Best Dance Recording, while parent-album Skin took took out Album of the Year at the ARIA Awards. Will 'Never Be Like You' go all the way in the upcoming Hottest 100? It would definitely bring a smile to many dials on Australia Day if that were to happen. Everyone loved 'Never Be Like You' and there's a simple explanation... it's really fucking good. Flume was more than deserving of all the success that's come his way over the past 12 months, delivering this killer jam with Canadian singer Kai that will be remembered for a long time to come. (Matt Bond

#12. ADORE
by Amy Shark

Now go when you're ready
My head's getting heavy pressed against your arm.

I wish life always felt like it does when you're listening to Amy Shark's 'Adore'. Full of that happiness that only comes with the initial buzz in your head and your heart, the result of a new romance where anything and everything seems possible. It's like you're floating in your own personal happy place. Unfortunately there's so many other things that seem to get in the way. Life stuff, good and bad. Work, commitments, that darn requirement to sleep. When everything else is getting the way and you've got too many thoughts running through that brain that always wants to ruin everything with its thinking, just put on 'Adore' and disappear to that happy place. Life can't always be like that, but for three minutes and twenty seconds, Amy Shark can take you there. Given that the song has raised her profile significantly since it was released, it seems like the whole world is going to be taken to happy places by Amy Shark very soon. (Matt Bond)  

Everyone has been there and if you haven't, then I'm pretty jealous of your life. They are the subject of so much art, writing and music, it's hard to imagine what life would be like without them. Those times when there's nothing more pure and sweet than the desperation of wanting, the need to be loved and the true beauty in the agony of loneliness. Without big vocals, with simple words and some raw and uncomplicated keys and guitars, Amy Shark has captured the melancholy in obsession and the hopelessness of passion in such a effortless but powerful way. And now thinking about it, if you haven't felt any of these things, maybe I'm not jealous at all, because there's no feeling more intense and more alive than that of adoring...and needing to be adored. (Jo Michelmore)

by Big Smoke 

We're peeling back the blue skies
They got nothing on your blue eyes.

I really want to write about this song without mentioning how very bittersweet it is. I really want to write about the sense of roadtrip that it begs me to take, without wondering what could have been. I really want to write about those keys and that comforting voice that has me swaying with every listen, making me wish I was in a saloon, drinking a gin or a whiskey, or both, without wishing I could hear more. I really want to write about the absolute richness of this sound and the saturation of emotion without knowing where some of that might have come from. I really want to write all of those things without thoughts of what was or what could have been and I really want the members of Big Smoke to know they did good. While I can't imagine the things they have been through this year, I'm so glad they gave us all they could, because in songs like this, I hope they truly know thoughts of their friend and bandmate Adrian Slattery will be hanging about for a long time and with songs as gorgeous as this, he's never going to be forgotten. (Jo Michelmore) 

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