EOY, MATTERS

ARBITER OF 2016

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Watch the dials.

First a shudder, just a twitch, but soon a convulsion. And now we’re really falling down the rabbit-hole. Starting to build momentum like a train careering helplessly towards the out-of-service bridge.

The dials start to swing wildly from left to right.
Pressure building.
Temperature rising.

I see condensation on the windows. Sweat? Tears? Blood? I hear glass smashing. We await being sucked into a black hole of our own making.

What a year.

Fascinatingly, disturbingly, brilliantly, typically, 2016 has been a banner year for music. It makes me think of walls. Satan’s toxic ballsack threatens to build them. The urgency with which the rest of us need to tear the wallsbetween us down builds too. But often, to make their most compelling, vibrant, experimental work, artists need walls to push against, to reimagine, to tear down.

Walls like hatred, anxiety, frustration, heartbreak, depression, and injustice.  Walls like capitalism.  Walls like death.

Which is how we get music as a sign o’ the times. As escape. As much-needed reflection. As vital, primal, riotous reaction.

What a year.

  1. Self-Control / Frank Ocean / Blonde

    “Some nights you dance with tears in your eyes”

  2. Formation / Beyoncé / Lemonade

    “I came to slay, bitch”

  3. 22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bob Moose Extended Cab Version / Bon Iver / 22, A Million

    “So I can speak into the silence: ‘It might be over soon'”

  4. Cranes in the Sky / Solange / A Seat at the Table

    “I ran my credit card bill up
    Thought a new dress would make it better
    I tried to work it away
    But that just made me even sadder”

  5. I Need A Forest Fire / James Blake / The Colour In Anything

    “I hope you’ll stop me before I build a wall around me”

  6. Your Best American Girl / Mitski / Puberty 2

    “Your mother wouldn’t approve of how my mother raised me
    But I do, I finally do”

  7. Lazarus / David Bowie / Blackstar

    “Look up here, I’m in heaven”

  8. Past Lives / Local Natives / Sunlit Youth

    “I will wait for you at the end, love”

  9. Burn the Witch / Radiohead / A Moon Shaped Pool

    “Abandon all reason […] Shoot the messengers”

  10. Finish Line (Drown) / Chance the Rapper / Coloring Book

    “The water may be deeper than it’s ever been
    Never drown”

  11. Watch Me / ANOHNI / Hopelessness

    “I know you love me
    ‘Cause you’re always watching me”

  12. Shut Up Kiss Me / Angel Olsen / Woman

    “I could make it all disappear
    You could feed me all of your fears
    We could end all this pain right here
    We could rewind all of those tears”

  13. Tilted / Christine and the Queens Chaleur Humaine

    “Le bras tendu paraît cassé (The outstretched arm seems broken)”

  14. No More Parties in LA / Kanye West / The Life of Pablo

    “I know some fans thought I wouldn’t rap like this again
    But the writer’s block is over, emcees cancel your plans
    A 38-year old 8-year-old with rich nigga problems”

  15. Celestial Creatures / Wild Beasts / Boy King

    “These are blessed times that we’re living in
    Down here on earth all is forgiven.”

  16. Hey Kids (Bumaye) / Run The Jewels / RTJ3

    “Lift up our glasses and watch your palaces burn to ashes
    Fucking fascists, who the fuck are you to give fifty lashes?”

  17. Best To You / Blood Orange / Freetown Sound

    “I feel my bones crack in your arms”

  18. untitled 07 levitate / Kendrick Lamar / untitled unmastered

    “Hate won’t get you high as this
    Levitate, levitate, levitate, levitate”

  19. Really Doe / Danny Brown Ft. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Earl Sweatshirt / Atrocity Exhibition

    “When I was making XXX, my top three rappers—the three guys that I was like, “Damn, I think they might rap better than me”—were Ab-Soul, Kendrick, and Earl. The guys I looked at as competition are now my friends.
    We’re like the Four Horsemen.”

  20. Distant Sky / Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds / Skeleton Tree

    “They told us our gods would outlive us
    But they lied”

  21. Because I’m Me / The Avalanches / Wildflower

    “If she don’t love me, what can I do?
    Just put on my best pair of shoes
    Because I’m, I’m me”

  22. Am I Wrong / Anderson .Paak ft. ScHoolboy Q / Malibu

    “Hey, I never wanna waste your time, my life
    So precious, is yours, is mine”

  23. Girlfriend / NAO / For All We Know

    “If I was your girlfriend, could you love for two?”

  24. We The People… / A Tribe Called Quest / We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service

    “So motherfuck your numbers and your statisticians
    Fuck y’all know about true competition?”

  25. 3 Wheel-ups / Kano ft. Giggs and Wiley / Made in the Manor

    “Cash rules everything around me
    That’s word to a Method Man lyric
    Yeah, I roll deep in the East
    But I still might Megaman with it”

  26. Man / Skepta / Konnichiwa

    “Came a long way from when whites never used to mix with blacks
    Now all my white niggas and my black mates, we got the game on smash”

  27. Taken / Anna Meredith / Varmints

    “Goodwill trailing
    And all our money running out; what seemed a good idea has fast become a fraying waste of time”

  28. It Means I Love You / Jessy Lanza Oh No

    “When you look into my eyes boy
    Then it means I love you”

  29. Adore / SavagesAdore Life

    “Is it human to adore life?

  30. On Hold / The XX / On Hold

    “When and where did we go cold?
    I thought I had you on hold.”

  31. Old Friends / Pinegrove / Cardinal

    “I should call my parents when I think of them
    Should tell my friends when I love them”

  32. Modern Act / Cloud Nothings / Life Without Sound

    “I want a life, that’s all I need lately
    I am alive but all alone”

  33. 24K Magic / Bruno Mars / 24K Magic

    “Ooh shit, I’m a dangerous man with some money in my pocket”

  34. Redbone/ Childish Gambino Awaken, My Love!

    “I used to know, but now that shit don’t feel right”

  35. Show U Off / Chairlift / Moth

    “Cause if you got it like we got it
    If it’s real, and if you want it babe
    Show it off”

  36. The Governor / Nicolas Jaar / Sirens

    “Meaning is useless when given to the sick”

  37. One Man No City / Parquet Courts/ Human Performance

    “Where I’m From Now, still
    No one lives there, look back again
    And lock the door.”

  38. No Woman / Whitney Light Upon the Lake

    “I’ve been going through a change
    I might never be sure
    I’m just walking in a haze
    I’m not ready to turn”

  39. Zayn Malik / Swet Shop Boys / Cashmere

    “I pray for my nephew, I pray you’re not antagonized by all the hating and news and the shit they sanitize
    Look Zayn Malik’s got more than eighty virgins on him
    There’s more than one direction to get to paradise
    I’m in the galaxy far away”

  40. Summer Sixteen / Drake / Summer Sixteen

    “I’m out here looking for revenge
    All summer sixteen”

  41. I Am A Nightmare / Brand New / I Am A Nightmare

    “Do I have to die to see the other side?”

  42. Rings/ Aesop Rock / The Impossible Kid

    “They will chop you down just to count your rings”

  43. Glowed Up / KAYTRANADA ft. Anderson .Paak / 99.9%

    “Not just another name
    Not just some wannabe
    In the hands of love
    Just like I wanna be”

  44. Lonely World / Moses Sumney / Lamentations

    “Born into this world with no consent or choice”

  45. Loner / Mykki Blanco / Mykki

    “Feeling like I’m about to break my fucking phone
    all these followers around me…”

  46. Bum Bum Bum / Cass McCombs / Mangy Love

    “Sent a letter to my congressman […]
    They sent me back an Apple phone
    A fine-hair comb
    And a bell tolled
    Bum bum bum”

  47. Prima Donna / Vince Staples Prima Donna

    “Once you get addicted to it
    Is it real?

  48. A 1000 Times / Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam / I Had A Dream That You Were Mine

    “But I don’t answer questions, I just keep on guessing”

  49. First World Problem / Unknown Mortal Orchestra / First World Problem

    “You’ve got to understand
    That I could be your man or a first world problem”

  50. Nothing’s Real / Shura / Nothing’s Real

    “They’re telling me that I’m fine
    They’re telling me there’s nothing wrong
    Game over
    Nothing’s real”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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