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the interns’ 30 Best Songs Of 2016 (So Far)

Written By the interns on 07/06/2016

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A premature look at what’s winning for us in 2016…

VeraBlue_30

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Vera Blue – Settle

Releasing the shackles of previous performances, Vera Blue‘s star has shot well and truly above all expectations. That’s no shade on her talent, because wow does she has it. After sneaking into the 101-200 selections of triple j’s Hottest 100 with Hold, I don’t think I have seen or heard a debut quite like this from an Australian artist. Blending the fragile smooth sounds of folk, with hints of electronica, Vera Blue is the project of young singer/songwriter Celia Pavey. Just like HoldSettle vocally grabbed you. It is dark, yet deeply fragile. Through its brooding and beautiful blend of folk and electronic sounds, Settle resonates as a story. But it’s Vera Blue’s captivating vocal ability that really shines throughout Settle. The control, the high’s and tone of her voice are things vocally someone of her age just isn’t expected to have. It’s truly incredible and can only be pinpointed as a gift. Oh yeah, and if you thought all those highs and “da da da do do do” parts were a gimmick of fine studio/editing work you best prepare yourself a seat. Look, she nails it on the record, but as an artist she truly shines live. More often than not, an artist never sounds like they do on a record or in the studio, but truthfully Vera Blue perfects her repertoire in the flesh. – Harrison Kefford

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Yeasayer_29

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Yeasayer – I Am Chemistry

Amen And Goodbye; the fourth album from American experimental gods Yeasayer – had such an incredibly diverse tracklist. Yet I Am Chemistry stands out from the pack for so many reasons; but surely most notable it’s structure is what sets it apart. In a time when verse/chorus (and sometimes bridge) are so important for bands desiring radio play and general popularity – Yeasayer have thrown pretty much any idea of conventional structure out the proverbial window Think something along the lines of Verse, chorus, verse, bridge, something else, something else again, gloriously emotive choral harmony, chorus. Other than that; it’s a brooding piece, captivating in it’s exploration of melody and harmony – building to this immense climax where the band enlisted a children’s choir to sing the most majestic and starkly contrasting section towards the end of the track. Once you’ve heard it once you can’t help but go back, it’s just that good. It’s complexity is far from a curse, it makes I Am Chemistry one of the most special songs of the year. – Zanda Wilson

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DVSN_28

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dvsn – Angela

The dvsn album Sept 5th may well be not only the best R&B debut album to see release in 2016, thus far, but indeed the single best R&B album of the year, period. This track, in particular, stands itself apart as likely the single best indicator of exactly why dvsn, and Sept. 5th, deserve such an accolade. It showcases all of the attitude and polish befitting an artist signed to OVO, while flexing a maturity consistent throughout the album, as well as an alluring edge and willingness to experiment – evidenced particularly by the sublime rework/sample of the chorus to Elliot Smith’s classic Angeles (taken from his 1997 album Either/Or). Ultimately what results is an album track that is truly bewitching, and allows all of the best elements of dvsn’s sound to exist at the forefront of the listening experience. Simply put, this might be the best R&B song of 2016, so far, and is the greatest showing from an equally extraordinary debut album. OVO stays winning. – James Schofield

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Kamaiyah_27

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Kamaiyah – How Does It Feel

20 year-old Oakland rapper Kamaiyah is without a doubt 2016’s best new rapper and it all started with this cut How Does It Feel. A rags to riches anthem, How Does It Feel couples autobiographical lyrics with a hook positioned for the clubs and the streets. “I been broke all my life,” she raps in the chorus over a perky, ‘90s-leaning synths giving an effortless, infectious hook that instantaneously throws up hands. While few may have lived Kamaiyah’s story, the best rappers tell stories so vivid that anyone can step into their shoes for a couple of minutes. She does it with such personality and charisma that it’s hard not to feel you’ve been following her since she was broke. – Sam Murphy

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ArianaGrande_26

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Ariana Grande – Into You

“I’m so into you I can barely breathe,” Ariana Grande sings as the opening line to Into You. It’s the hyperbole to end all hyperboles but pop music was built on great over-exaggerations and Grande uses them to the highest effect on Dangerous Woman‘s highlight. Driven by a pulsating beat, it’s a shimmering piece of pop that showcases Grande’s breathy, seductive vocals in perhaps their best environment yet. The entire album introduces us to Grande as a matured woman but this more than anything spells it out. She’s lustful and sexy but she comes at it with an unwavering confidence that knocks the chorus into the stratosphere. – Sam Murphy

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TheRange_25

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The Range – Copper Wire

From the moment the pitched-down voice saying “without you” rolls into The Range’s Copper Wire your heartstrings are tugged. Without even reading the backstory of this song it feels like a swelling heart made up of circling synths and sparse but honest lyrics. The producer has extraordinarily found a voice that mimics his exact feelings, managing to pull it into his own world of emotional electronica. It shows that while people’s stories change from case to case the fundamental feelings of loss resonate with anyone who has felt it. In The Range’s case, he lost his Mum but that voice singing “without you” will tug at you no matter who you’re longing for. – Sam Murphy

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Bauuer_24

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Baauer – Kung Fu (Feat. Pusha T and Future)

Baauer has collaborated with a heap of artists over the years – but who would’ve predicted that enlisting Pusha T and Future would culminate in one of his best ever songs. Known for his heavy trap drops, Baauer’s production on Kung Fu intentionally serves as accompaniment for his two feature artists, and Future’s autotuned lines in particular just sound like they were made for Baauer’s style, especially through the bridge of the track. Kung Fu was one one track that could’ve made this list out a whole heap from his 2016 album Aa; a creative effort that’s finally seen the producer shake the hype of Harlem Shake. – Zanda Wilson

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ZAYN – Pillowtalk

Four years ago, when he was still the quiet background member of you-know-who, I made a joke that Zayn should Justin Timberlake the group. At the time it was a pipe dream– it wasn’t happening with this shy kid from Bradford. But then he did it. He really did it. And he didn’t just do it, he did it well. Zayn switched from being a pre-teen darling to a mature sex symbol with an ease that’d make Miley Cyrus choke on her bong. Forget the inexplicable capitalisation, PILLOWTALK is buttery R&B that’s engineered to show off both his tenor and his abs. It’s about sex, but not in the terrifying way that Justin Bieber songs are about sex. It’s mysterious, raw and intimate, and it’s not afraid to bear a mature rating. Ultimately, it walks the path carved by The Weeknd’s The Hills, just less dangerous. With this debut, Zayn, didn’t even try to keep his boy band fans, he took a waist-deep plunge into Gigi Hadid’s neckline and went straight for the adult market. And I’ll be damned if he didn’t totally pull it off. – Sean Singh

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Ngaiire – House On A Rock

Soulful Sydney powerhouse Ngaiire gave us her third single off the album Blastoma and it was her biggest electronic effort thus far. House On A Rock starts off with an all too familiar sound that comes off a lot like the main electronic synth beat that Calvin Harris used on Summer but Ngaiire’s version is a lot more distorted and gives a raw feel. After all, it is a raw song based around love, loss and the struggles she faced as a child who overcame cancer. Strong family ties are felt within her pungent lyrics when she uses the metaphor “we built our house on a rock” throughout the chorus. This is one of Ngaiire’s best songs to date and we’ve got company in that opinion too. John Butler was quoted saying, “that (song) has all the right bits in all the right places. It was a soulful massage to my eardrums”. – Alistair Rhodes

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Tegan & Sara – Boyfriend

Boyfriend is just one of a heap of incredible tracks on Tegan & Sara’s 2016 album Love You To Death. The Canadian sister-duo have a long-standing reputation for writing lyrics that address LGTB issues and although this track has slightly less serious lyrical content – Boyfriend does address the issues surrounding being treated poorly in a relationship in a gay context. Much like a lot of their recent stuff, this song can be put into the genre of pop on a base level; but it’s definitely more complex when it comes to the production that it contains. Complexity hiding within outward simplicity would probably be the best way to explain how this song functions – and this is something that Tegan & Sara have gotten down to a fine art. – Zanda Wilson

See numbers 20 to 11.

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A premature look at what’s winning for us in 2016…

VeraBlue_30

Vera Blue – Settle

Releasing the shackles of previous performances, Vera Blue‘s star has shot well and truly above all expectations. That’s no shade on her talent, because wow does she has it. After sneaking into the 101-200 selections of triple j’s Hottest 100 with Hold, I don’t think I have seen or heard a debut quite like this from an Australian artist. Blending the fragile smooth sounds of folk, with hints of electronica, Vera Blue is the project of young singer/songwriter Celia Pavey. Just like HoldSettle vocally grabbed you. It is dark, yet deeply fragile. Through its brooding and beautiful blend of folk and electronic sounds, Settle resonates as a story. But it’s Vera Blue’s captivating vocal ability that really shines throughout Settle. The control, the high’s and tone of her voice are things vocally someone of her age just isn’t expected to have. It’s truly incredible and can only be pinpointed as a gift. Oh yeah, and if you thought all those highs and “da da da do do do” parts were a gimmick of fine studio/editing work you best prepare yourself a seat. Look, she nails it on the record, but as an artist she truly shines live. More often than not, an artist never sounds like they do on a record or in the studio, but truthfully Vera Blue perfects her repertoire in the flesh. – Harrison Kefford

Yeasayer_29

Yeasayer – I Am Chemistry

Amen And Goodbye; the fourth album from American experimental gods Yeasayer – had such an incredibly diverse tracklist. Yet I Am Chemistry stands out from the pack for so many reasons; but surely most notable it’s structure is what sets it apart. In a time when verse/chorus (and sometimes bridge) are so important for bands desiring radio play and general popularity – Yeasayer have thrown pretty much any idea of conventional structure out the proverbial window Think something along the lines of Verse, chorus, verse, bridge, something else, something else again, gloriously emotive choral harmony, chorus. Other than that; it’s a brooding piece, captivating in it’s exploration of melody and harmony – building to this immense climax where the band enlisted a children’s choir to sing the most majestic and starkly contrasting section towards the end of the track. Once you’ve heard it once you can’t help but go back, it’s just that good. It’s complexity is far from a curse, it makes I Am Chemistry one of the most special songs of the year. – Zanda Wilson

DVSN_28

dvsn – Angela

The dvsn album Sept 5th may well be not only the best R&B debut album to see release in 2016, thus far, but indeed the single best R&B album of the year, period. This track, in particular, stands itself apart as likely the single best indicator of exactly why dvsn, and Sept. 5th, deserve such an accolade. It showcases all of the attitude and polish befitting an artist signed to OVO, while flexing a maturity consistent throughout the album, as well as an alluring edge and willingness to experiment – evidenced particularly by the sublime rework/sample of the chorus to Elliot Smith’s classic Angeles (taken from his 1997 album Either/Or). Ultimately what results is an album track that is truly bewitching, and allows all of the best elements of dvsn’s sound to exist at the forefront of the listening experience. Simply put, this might be the best R&B song of 2016, so far, and is the greatest showing from an equally extraordinary debut album. OVO stays winning. – James Schofield

Kamaiyah_27

Kamaiyah – How Does It Feel

20 year-old Oakland rapper Kamaiyah is without a doubt 2016’s best new rapper and it all started with this cut How Does It Feel. A rags to riches anthem, How Does It Feel couples autobiographical lyrics with a hook positioned for the clubs and the streets. “I been broke all my life,” she raps in the chorus over a perky, ‘90s-leaning synths giving an effortless, infectious hook that instantaneously throws up hands. While few may have lived Kamaiyah’s story, the best rappers tell stories so vivid that anyone can step into their shoes for a couple of minutes. She does it with such personality and charisma that it’s hard not to feel you’ve been following her since she was broke. – Sam Murphy

ArianaGrande_26

Ariana Grande – Into You

“I’m so into you I can barely breathe,” Ariana Grande sings as the opening line to Into You. It’s the hyperbole to end all hyperboles but pop music was built on great over-exaggerations and Grande uses them to the highest effect on Dangerous Woman‘s highlight. Driven by a pulsating beat, it’s a shimmering piece of pop that showcases Grande’s breathy, seductive vocals in perhaps their best environment yet. The entire album introduces us to Grande as a matured woman but this more than anything spells it out. She’s lustful and sexy but she comes at it with an unwavering confidence that knocks the chorus into the stratosphere. – Sam Murphy

TheRange_25

The Range – Copper Wire

From the moment the pitched-down voice saying “without you” rolls into The Range’s Copper Wire your heartstrings are tugged. Without even reading the backstory of this song it feels like a swelling heart made up of circling synths and sparse but honest lyrics. The producer has extraordinarily found a voice that mimics his exact feelings, managing to pull it into his own world of emotional electronica. It shows that while people’s stories change from case to case the fundamental feelings of loss resonate with anyone who has felt it. In The Range’s case, he lost his Mum but that voice singing “without you” will tug at you no matter who you’re longing for. – Sam Murphy

Bauuer_24

Baauer – Kung Fu (Feat. Pusha T and Future)

Baauer has collaborated with a heap of artists over the years – but who would’ve predicted that enlisting Pusha T and Future would culminate in one of his best ever songs. Known for his heavy trap drops, Baauer’s production on Kung Fu intentionally serves as accompaniment for his two feature artists, and Future’s autotuned lines in particular just sound like they were made for Baauer’s style, especially through the bridge of the track. Kung Fu was one one track that could’ve made this list out a whole heap from his 2016 album Aa; a creative effort that’s finally seen the producer shake the hype of Harlem Shake. – Zanda Wilson

ZAYN_23

ZAYN – Pillowtalk

Four years ago, when he was still the quiet background member of you-know-who, I made a joke that Zayn should Justin Timberlake the group. At the time it was a pipe dream– it wasn’t happening with this shy kid from Bradford. But then he did it. He really did it. And he didn’t just do it, he did it well. Zayn switched from being a pre-teen darling to a mature sex symbol with an ease that’d make Miley Cyrus choke on her bong. Forget the inexplicable capitalisation, PILLOWTALK is buttery R&B that’s engineered to show off both his tenor and his abs. It’s about sex, but not in the terrifying way that Justin Bieber songs are about sex. It’s mysterious, raw and intimate, and it’s not afraid to bear a mature rating. Ultimately, it walks the path carved by The Weeknd’s The Hills, just less dangerous. With this debut, Zayn, didn’t even try to keep his boy band fans, he took a waist-deep plunge into Gigi Hadid’s neckline and went straight for the adult market. And I’ll be damned if he didn’t totally pull it off. – Sean Singh

Ngaiire22

Ngaiire – House On A Rock

Soulful Sydney powerhouse Ngaiire gave us her third single off the album Blastoma and it was her biggest electronic effort thus far. House On A Rock starts off with an all too familiar sound that comes off a lot like the main electronic synth beat that Calvin Harris used on Summer but Ngaiire’s version is a lot more distorted and gives a raw feel. After all, it is a raw song based around love, loss and the struggles she faced as a child who overcame cancer. Strong family ties are felt within her pungent lyrics when she uses the metaphor “we built our house on a rock” throughout the chorus. This is one of Ngaiire’s best songs to date and we’ve got company in that opinion too. John Butler was quoted saying, “that (song) has all the right bits in all the right places. It was a soulful massage to my eardrums”. – Alistair Rhodes

TeganAndSara2

Tegan & Sara – Boyfriend

Boyfriend is just one of a heap of incredible tracks on Tegan & Sara’s 2016 album Love You To Death. The Canadian sister-duo have a long-standing reputation for writing lyrics that address LGTB issues and although this track has slightly less serious lyrical content – Boyfriend does address the issues surrounding being treated poorly in a relationship in a gay context. Much like a lot of their recent stuff, this song can be put into the genre of pop on a base level; but it’s definitely more complex when it comes to the production that it contains. Complexity hiding within outward simplicity would probably be the best way to explain how this song functions – and this is something that Tegan & Sara have gotten down to a fine art. – Zanda Wilson

See numbers 20 to 11.

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