Listening || Best of 2016

I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t posting my roundup of 2016 when we were already a few days into 2017 😉

My Favourite Tracks Released in 2016

 

The eagle-eyed among you will notice a distinct lack of one Queen Bey in the above playlist. While I can’t argue with where she sits on the Tidal vs. Spotify spectrum, I am still miffed that Lemonade is still not available on Spotify – and so this playlist will be forever incomplete!! However, this does bring me nicely on to…

 

My Top Albums

jack-garratt-double

Hot on the heels of being awarded BBC Sound of 2016 and the 2016 Brit Award for Critics Choice, Jack Garratt released his debut album Phase in February and it quickly became my most-played album this year. I also caught the end of his UK tour in November at Hammersmith Apollo (see the above photo that I’m pretty proud of) and he freaking blew my mind. He’s also a pretty funny chap, and anyone who casually gets a few thousand people rapping the theme to Fresh Prince of Bel Air wins in my book. It’s also worth checking out his support acts Gallant (see Shotgun in the playlist above) and Seramic.

Check out Phase: Website / Spotify / Amazon

 

banks-the-altar

 

I wasn’t particularly fussed about Banks’ first album Goddess, with the notable exception of Waiting Game which is still one of my favourite tracks of the last few years, so I initially didn’t bother to listen to her new release until prompted by a colleague. WHAT AN ERROR. I have now played this album an obscene number of times. End.

Check out The Altar: Website / Spotify / Amazon

 

beyonce-double

 

In the PL (pre-Lemonade) era, I would definitely have called myself a part-time Beyonce fan – checking in for the hits but not really committing to the albums. I sort of liked Formation when it came out, appreciated the video for generally being badass, but would probably not have listened to Lemonade in any great hurry, had my boyfriend not bought it. Well friends, consider my album ambivalence blown out the water, I am fully converted to this record. Sorry and Freedom are by far my favourites, but the true beauty of this album is found in listening to it from start to finish, rather than picking out the individual ‘hits’. I don’t think I’ve listened to any other album that’s conveyed a story with such emotion and clarity, and Spotify absence aside, it is absolutely one of my favourites from this year.

However. I have to commit potential heresy in admitting that I was disappointed when I saw her live in July – I KNOW. Clearly she put on a show, it’s Beyonce, she absolutely kicked ass at the vocals, dancing, costumes, the whole shebang – but I really struggled to connect with the atmosphere or the music on any particular level. As she has such a catalogue of hits, she obviously decided to cram as many in as possible with plenty of mash-ups and by cutting out choruses/verses  – but it made it impossible to actually get into a song! As soon as it got going she was off onto the next one, not to mention the tantalising opening few bars of Independent Woman Part 1 that never progressed to the full song. Not cool.

Check out Lemonade: Website / Amazon

 

the-weeknd-starboy

 

A late entry into my top albums, but a very deserving one given that I like almost every song on it and had a world of trouble narrowing it down to the two tracks that ended up on the playlist. This is another artist that I’ve not listened to much other than loving his feature on Sia’s Elastic Heart, but Boyf is a die-hard fan and I must say I can’t blame him based on this record alone. I also particularly enjoyed this first reaction video

Check out Starboy: Website / Spotify / Amazon

 

A special mention to…

 

coldplay-double

 

…Coldplay for my favourite gig of the year (possibly ever). If you’ve ever been to see Coldplay live (or watched their Glastonbury set on TV) you’ll know that they hand out some rather clunky wristbands at the start of the gig that light up in time with the music. It may sound like a silly novelty, but when you’re at a stadium gig, it can be easy to lose the majority of the audience who aren’t close to the stage, especially in Summer gigs like this one when it doesn’t get dark until late and so even some of the stage lights fall flat. The wristbands turned tens of thousands of people into a living light show and created an atmosphere I’ve never experienced at any other live event. There are many who are ambivalent about Coldplay’s music, but unless you genuinely dislike them, these guys are absolutely worth seeing live.

 

My Most Played

Given that many of my 2016 favourites were released in the second half of the year, I can’t forget all of those pre-2016 tracks I’ve listened in a borderline obsessive manner:

 

 

Coming up in 2017

Other than seeing The Weeknd and Adele live, it’s hard to know what to look forward to with more and more artists choosing to ‘drop’ albums with little warning. However, London Grammar released a new song this week which could indicate FINALLY releasing a follow up to their 2013 debut; and we may also see new releases from Coldplay and Sia. I’ll be crossing my fingers for a tour from Sia (who is the last remaining big musical love on my bucket list) and hopefully a new album from Seinabo Sey following her outstanding debut Pretend, that was by far my favourite album of 2015.

Enjoy the music, do follow me on Spotify and let me know what you’re listening to!

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