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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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Kaytranada_10

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Kaytranada – Lite Spots

Kaytranada surprised no one when 99.9% earned critical ratings–  but what caught us off guard was just how good it was. His previous releases have been nothing to scoff at, but he was ultimately still sitting on Soundcloud-based success. 99.9% did away with any lingering doubts that he has what it takes to become a global sensation in the physical market. He’s doing what no one else is, and Lite Spots is a perfect example. Kay unlocked an insatiable groove from Pontos De Luz, and turned it into the kind of beat that many try but few can replicate. It’s groovy, it’s dancey, it’s catchy, it’s mature– and it’s unpredictable. Also, the video clip. That dancing robot is enough to earn him a spot on this list. – Sean Singh

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Kanye_9

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Kanye West – Father Stretch My Hands Pt.2

Desiigner’s Panda is the unexpected, runaway hit of the year but it would’ve been nowhere without Kanye‘s Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2The Life Of Pablo, is a busy, jam-packed masterpiece as a whole but what Pt.2 manages to fit in just over two minutes is nothing short of extraordinary. He takes Panda from a viral hit and transforms it into a grandiose piece of art, prefacing it with anxious, racing bars. Just when it reaches its chest-beating, egotistical height, Yeezy breaks it all down with a heartbreaking desolate finale straight out of Imogen Heap’s toolkit. It’s busy, sure, but Kanye’s mind races faster than anybody’s and Pt.2 captures that beautifully. – Sam Murphy

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ANOHNI_8

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ANOHNI – Drone Bomb Me

Political activistism is an intense focal point for ANOHNI (formerly Antony Hegarty) on her new album HOPELESSNESS. She takes measured swipes at the patriarchy and our disregard to climate change- but her account of a seven-year old girl describing the horror of a drone bomb attack on Drone Bomb Me is the album’s’ headline. This song brought my attention to the universal increase in drone bomb warfare which is objectively terrifying and makes me feel vulnerable, which are emotions that ANOHNI masters on this track. Despite its darkness, it is catchy as all hell with production credits laying with Hudson Mohawke (yep, he brings his iconic horns) and Oneohtrix Point Never. Their glitchy synths and twisted percussion are the perfect accompaniment to the troubled tone of the song, one of the grittiest and bloodiest best 2016 has served up so far. – Ben Manassah

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Anderson_7

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Anderson .Paak – Am I Wrong (Feat. Schoolboy Q)

If his prominent role on Dr. Dre’s Compton was Anderson .Paak‘s coming out party, Malibu is the glittery celebratory dinner. Am I Wrong establishes .Paak as a legitimate double threat: a rapper with slippery flow and an R&B singer with a voice. Gliding over the luscious production, Anderson .Paak comes across as smooth as he is talented. He’s a welcome pivot from the intensely masculine rappers-that-sing, instead opting to bounce his way into our hearts with his melodic rasp. Flanked perfectly Top Dawg’s ScHoolboy. Frankly, it was nice of Anderson to ask but really, that man is never wrong. – Reece Hooker

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Chance_6

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Chance The Rapper – All Night

Chance The Rapper‘s Coloring Book may be one of the most joyous releases of the year but nothing on it translates that to the dancefloor quite as successfully as All Night. With production by Kaytranada, the pair have crafted the drink-swilling, no-fucks-given anthem of the year. In the same vein as Vic Mensa’s Down On My Luck or Theophilus London’s Tribe, All Night positions itself within the club, expertly capturing those swelling emotions of euphoria and infinity. Chance raps about “farts” and it’s silly as anything but nothing will plant a smile on your face quite as large as this will. – Sam Murphy

Bonus: Check out our Chance The Rapper colouring book based on the mixtape Coloring Book.

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DAWN_5

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Dawn – Not Above That

Dawn is the biggest workhorse of 2016. She’s consistently dropped great tracks and even managed to sneak in an EP in the form of Honest. Each time she releases something she explores a different pocket of electronica, discovering sweet spots left untouched by other artists. Not Above That is her finest work this year but also the finest slice of electronica this year. Together with Machinedrum she’s crafted a slinky, honey-soaked tune that rushes with adrenalin towards the exploding instrumental break. Songs like this too often centre around the drop and while this one of hell of a drop, the focus is placed on Dawn’s vulnerable verses. “I’m counting on this fuck, to keep me up,” she sings in the opening line creating an environment of fragility and desperation. It’s all about codependent love and coincidentally, it’s Dawn and Machinedrums dependency on each other’s elements that makes it such a seamless collaboration. – Sam Murphy

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JamesBlake_4

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James Blake – Radio Silence

Revelling in the ethereal and otherworldly, Radio Silence, the opening track from James Blake’s latest effort The Colour in Anything, is a strong statement of why Blake is one of the most impressive and genre defying artists doing the rounds these days. Detailing a relationship unexpectedly turning sour, Radio Silence is heavy on emotion and atmosphere while slowly building in intensity over its four minute length. Blake is masterful in the creation of engaging and soulful electronica, and this cut is no different. Rounded out with his trademark croon and eerie looped backing vocals sure to maintain a constant state of edge with the listener, Radio Silence is a worthy addition to the stellar James Blake back catalogue, and easily one of the best tracks of the year. – Ben Kyi

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Beyonce_3

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Beyoncé – Sorry

Beyoncé’s album Lemonade was quite possibly her most wide-reaching album in recent years, even gaining continued airplay on triple j. There’s no disputing how powerful and influential Bey is as an artist. She’s a seasoned pro at producing huge tracks and Sorry definitely doesn’t disappoint. The song throws up a big middle finger ‘fuck you’ to being sorry whilst having strength and confidence throughout an emotional breakup. The only way one would imagine Bey to be during a break up. This is Beyoncé taking her confidence and inserting it in the middle of a broken relationship. It’s here a declaration of independence as much as a statement of anger. Perhaps, her most lyrically bold offering ever. – Alistair Rhodes    

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Kanye_2

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Kanye West – Ultralight Beam

As Kanye West chose to premiere his album to a packed Madison Square Garden, people around the globe packed cinemas and live streams to capture this moment. It was a surreal moment, finally witnessing a long-awaited project come to fruition, and doing it in the vein of Kanye’s megalomaniacy. After three name changes, some truly iconic tweets and a lot of sneakers sold, Ultralight Beam introduced the world to The Life of Pablo. Opening with a prayer ripped from Vine and The-Dream, the track feels like a culmination of all the sounds Kanye helped popularise in contemporary hip-hop: the gospel-heavy influence, the slather of autotune and then, of course, something entirely new. It all leads to perhaps the best moment of the entire album where Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper steps up to the mic and the rest is history. Jumping on a track with his idol is one thing, but stealing the show interpolating Kanye makes his feature all the more special. Amongst the many brilliant elements of Ultralight Beam, perhaps the best is the team of Kanye and Chance, Chicago’s old and new generation, coming together at the peak of their powers and making damn sure they don’t disappoint. – Reece Hooker

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RiRi_1

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Rihanna – Work (Feat. Drake)

Nobody had experienced living in a post-Pon De Replay world where Rihanna’s first single isn’t a monumental banger until this year. She’d given us S.O.S, Umbrella, Diamonds and We Found Love and yet in 2016 she nabbed arguably one of her biggest hits to date with a song that didn’t aim to match those giddy, commercial heights. Work came a day before the botched release of ANTI and for the first time, she sonically matched her laid-back, no-fucks-given attitude. The lyrics were somewhat hard to understand and the bare-boned, dancehall riddim was something that radio was yet to fully embrace.

It got off to a slow start but Work eventually eased its way under the skin of the masses. Rihanna’s genre-hopped her whole career but repeat listens of this felt like we’d finally met the real one. One that musically matched the girl who had become a refreshing alternative to the glossy magazine celebrity. Her voice glides over the verses with unrestrained ease and her words jump from one to the other sometimes without break. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a club jam but for each line you’re able to make out, you’re introduced to another element. “Nobody text me in a crisis,” she sings in loneliness before she sings, “I will never no never neglect you.”

Then, Drake walks on through and the chemistry of 2016’s most hoped-for couple fires. Both of them lay out their imperfections and yet the bottom line is, as Drake tell her, “If you had a twin I would still choose you.” For a song that everyone claims to not understand, it brims with organic emotion, pulsing with chemistry, aching with loneliness and dripping with infatuation. That’s more than any pop song achieved this year in three minutes, let alone the lead-single from a top-tiered pop artists’ eighth album. – Sam Murphy

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Kaytranada_10

Kaytranada – Lite Spots

Kaytranada surprised no one when 99.9% earned critical ratings–  but what caught us off guard was just how good it was. His previous releases have been nothing to scoff at, but he was ultimately still sitting on Soundcloud-based success. 99.9% did away with any lingering doubts that he has what it takes to become a global sensation in the physical market. He’s doing what no one else is, and Lite Spots is a perfect example. Kay unlocked an insatiable groove from Pontos De Luz, and turned it into the kind of beat that many try but few can replicate. It’s groovy, it’s dancey, it’s catchy, it’s mature– and it’s unpredictable. Also, the video clip. That dancing robot is enough to earn him a spot on this list. – Sean Singh

Kanye_9

Kanye West – Father Stretch My Hands Pt.2

Desiigner’s Panda is the unexpected, runaway hit of the year but it would’ve been nowhere without Kanye‘s Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2The Life Of Pablo, is a busy, jam-packed masterpiece as a whole but what Pt.2 manages to fit in just over two minutes is nothing short of extraordinary. He takes Panda from a viral hit and transforms it into a grandiose piece of art, prefacing it with anxious, racing bars. Just when it reaches its chest-beating, egotistical height, Yeezy breaks it all down with a heartbreaking desolate finale straight out of Imogen Heap’s toolkit. It’s busy, sure, but Kanye’s mind races faster than anybody’s and Pt.2 captures that beautifully. – Sam Murphy

ANOHNI_8

ANOHNI – Drone Bomb Me

Political activistism is an intense focal point for ANOHNI (formerly Antony Hegarty) on her new album HOPELESSNESS. She takes measured swipes at the patriarchy and our disregard to climate change- but her account of a seven-year old girl describing the horror of a drone bomb attack on Drone Bomb Me is the album’s’ headline. This song brought my attention to the universal increase in drone bomb warfare which is objectively terrifying and makes me feel vulnerable, which are emotions that ANOHNI masters on this track. Despite its darkness, it is catchy as all hell with production credits laying with Hudson Mohawke (yep, he brings his iconic horns) and Oneohtrix Point Never. Their glitchy synths and twisted percussion are the perfect accompaniment to the troubled tone of the song, one of the grittiest and bloodiest best 2016 has served up so far. – Ben Manassah

Anderson_7

Anderson .Paak – Am I Wrong (Feat. Schoolboy Q)

If his prominent role on Dr. Dre’s Compton was Anderson .Paak‘s coming out party, Malibu is the glittery celebratory dinner. Am I Wrong establishes .Paak as a legitimate double threat: a rapper with slippery flow and an R&B singer with a voice. Gliding over the luscious production, Anderson .Paak comes across as smooth as he is talented. He’s a welcome pivot from the intensely masculine rappers-that-sing, instead opting to bounce his way into our hearts with his melodic rasp. Flanked perfectly Top Dawg’s ScHoolboy. Frankly, it was nice of Anderson to ask but really, that man is never wrong. – Reece Hooker

Chance_6

Chance The Rapper – All Night

Chance The Rapper‘s Coloring Book may be one of the most joyous releases of the year but nothing on it translates that to the dancefloor quite as successfully as All Night. With production by Kaytranada, the pair have crafted the drink-swilling, no-fucks-given anthem of the year. In the same vein as Vic Mensa’s Down On My Luck or Theophilus London’s Tribe, All Night positions itself within the club, expertly capturing those swelling emotions of euphoria and infinity. Chance raps about “farts” and it’s silly as anything but nothing will plant a smile on your face quite as large as this will. – Sam Murphy

Bonus: Check out our Chance The Rapper colouring book based on the mixtape Coloring Book.

DAWN_5

Dawn – Not Above That

Dawn is the biggest workhorse of 2016. She’s consistently dropped great tracks and even managed to sneak in an EP in the form of Honest. Each time she releases something she explores a different pocket of electronica, discovering sweet spots left untouched by other artists. Not Above That is her finest work this year but also the finest slice of electronica this year. Together with Machinedrum she’s crafted a slinky, honey-soaked tune that rushes with adrenalin towards the exploding instrumental break. Songs like this too often centre around the drop and while this one of hell of a drop, the focus is placed on Dawn’s vulnerable verses. “I’m counting on this fuck, to keep me up,” she sings in the opening line creating an environment of fragility and desperation. It’s all about codependent love and coincidentally, it’s Dawn and Machinedrums dependency on each other’s elements that makes it such a seamless collaboration. – Sam Murphy

JamesBlake_4

James Blake – Radio Silence

Revelling in the ethereal and otherworldly, Radio Silence, the opening track from James Blake’s latest effort The Colour in Anything, is a strong statement of why Blake is one of the most impressive and genre defying artists doing the rounds these days. Detailing a relationship unexpectedly turning sour, Radio Silence is heavy on emotion and atmosphere while slowly building in intensity over its four minute length. Blake is masterful in the creation of engaging and soulful electronica, and this cut is no different. Rounded out with his trademark croon and eerie looped backing vocals sure to maintain a constant state of edge with the listener, Radio Silence is a worthy addition to the stellar James Blake back catalogue, and easily one of the best tracks of the year. – Ben Kyi

Beyonce_3

Beyoncé – Sorry

Beyoncé’s album Lemonade was quite possibly her most wide-reaching album in recent years, even gaining continued airplay on triple j. There’s no disputing how powerful and influential Bey is as an artist. She’s a seasoned pro at producing huge tracks and Sorry definitely doesn’t disappoint. The song throws up a big middle finger ‘fuck you’ to being sorry whilst having strength and confidence throughout an emotional breakup. The only way one would imagine Bey to be during a break up. This is Beyoncé taking her confidence and inserting it in the middle of a broken relationship. It’s here a declaration of independence as much as a statement of anger. Perhaps, her most lyrically bold offering ever. – Alistair Rhodes    

Kanye_2

Kanye West – Ultralight Beam

As Kanye West chose to premiere his album to a packed Madison Square Garden, people around the globe packed cinemas and live streams to capture this moment. It was a surreal moment, finally witnessing a long-awaited project come to fruition, and doing it in the vein of Kanye’s megalomaniacy. After three name changes, some truly iconic tweets and a lot of sneakers sold, Ultralight Beam introduced the world to The Life of Pablo. Opening with a prayer ripped from Vine and The-Dream, the track feels like a culmination of all the sounds Kanye helped popularise in contemporary hip-hop: the gospel-heavy influence, the slather of autotune and then, of course, something entirely new. It all leads to perhaps the best moment of the entire album where Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper steps up to the mic and the rest is history. Jumping on a track with his idol is one thing, but stealing the show interpolating Kanye makes his feature all the more special. Amongst the many brilliant elements of Ultralight Beam, perhaps the best is the team of Kanye and Chance, Chicago’s old and new generation, coming together at the peak of their powers and making damn sure they don’t disappoint. – Reece Hooker

RiRi_1

Rihanna – Work (Feat. Drake)

Nobody had experienced living in a post-Pon De Replay world where Rihanna’s first single isn’t a monumental banger until this year. She’d given us S.O.S, Umbrella, Diamonds and We Found Love and yet in 2016 she nabbed arguably one of her biggest hits to date with a song that didn’t aim to match those giddy, commercial heights. Work came a day before the botched release of ANTI and for the first time, she sonically matched her laid-back, no-fucks-given attitude. The lyrics were somewhat hard to understand and the bare-boned, dancehall riddim was something that radio was yet to fully embrace.

It got off to a slow start but Work eventually eased its way under the skin of the masses. Rihanna’s genre-hopped her whole career but repeat listens of this felt like we’d finally met the real one. One that musically matched the girl who had become a refreshing alternative to the glossy magazine celebrity. Her voice glides over the verses with unrestrained ease and her words jump from one to the other sometimes without break. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a club jam but for each line you’re able to make out, you’re introduced to another element. “Nobody text me in a crisis,” she sings in loneliness before she sings, “I will never no never neglect you.”

Then, Drake walks on through and the chemistry of 2016’s most hoped-for couple fires. Both of them lay out their imperfections and yet the bottom line is, as Drake tell her, “If you had a twin I would still choose you.” For a song that everyone claims to not understand, it brims with organic emotion, pulsing with chemistry, aching with loneliness and dripping with infatuation. That’s more than any pop song achieved this year in three minutes, let alone the lead-single from a top-tiered pop artists’ eighth album. – Sam Murphy

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