2016 was the year of the euphoric pop song and the transition into a tropical production trent. A lot of new artists dominated the charts with a few familiar faces making some well awaited returns. There were some amazing albums released while others weren’t as impressive. But what were some of the best and worst moments of 2016 in the pop world?
Carly Rae Jepsen – Side B
Carly Rae Jepsen’s sophomore studio album “E.mo.tion” is the gift that keeps on giving. A year on from its release she decided to celebrate its anniversary by dropping an EP of B-sides and they are some of the most relatable and best pure pop tracks of the year. “First Time” will have you bopping to its euphoric feels while “Fever” and “Cry” make you feel real emotions and still serve you 80’s nostalgia. The fact that these tracks are B-sides confuse me because they are just as strong and if not stronger than some of the tracks on the original release.
Most Overated Release
Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo
There is no denying that Kanye loves talking about himself and creating unnecessary hype. His last album “Yeezus” was an overrated branding scheme that successfully worked however when he tried to re-do that with his seventh studio album it didn’t go quite as planned. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great songs on the album (“Famous”, “Ultralight Beam”, “FML”) but at 18 tracks long it just feels a bit anti-climatic for what he was proclaiming as “the best album of the year”. Next.
Beef Of The Year
Apparently Azealia Banks didn’t appreciate my review on her song “The Big Big Beat” where I re-named it as “The Big Big Mess”. Instead of ignoring my opinions and being an adult she decided to block me on Twitter even though I didn’t even tag her in the review…. Get some chill girl and also stop searching your own name on Twitter.
Most Annoying Song
Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling
It may have featured in my Top 30 songs of the year but there is no denying that this infectious bop is also the most annoying song of the year. The main issue is that it got overplayed way too quickly and you can’t go anywhere without having its hook thrown down your throat. Adding that to the over joyous beat which depending on your mood can come across annoying, tedious and cringe worthy you can probably see why it’s one of the most annoying songs.
Most Underrated Song
K.FLAY – Blood In The Cut
K.Flay is an artist I’ve been low key in love with for a couple of years now. Her growth has been impressive from the fiery tracks “So Fast, So Maybe” to the dance breakdowns of “FML” and the grungy experimentation of her new EP “Crush Me”. Lead single “Blood In The Cut” is probably the most substantial direction change and it was used in the promotional trailers for the new season of Scream Queens. It was quite different to how you had heard her before but it also had real mainstream breakthrough potential. It never got the attention it deserved and yet again another release from this talented artist went by almost unnoticed.
Most Underated Album
Gwen Stefani – This Is What The Truth Feels Like
Isn’t it interesting that the massive acts of the 2006-2009 era are majorly struggling with breaking the charts. Gwen Stefani, Fergie, Nelly Furtado, Kings Of Leon, Christina Aguilera and even Justin Timberlake continue to keep failing to release a record breaking single or album like their predecessors. Gwen Stefani’s comeback has been quite quiet and most people slept on this quirky and intimate pop record. Not only did it recount her heartbreaking divorce it also candidly looked at picking up the pieces and falling in love all over again. It’s a pure pop “phoenix rising from the ashes” sort of album while still having some real bops worth discovering.
Most Improved Artist
Meghan Trainor – Thank You
If you’ve been reading my reviews for a few years you will be well aware that Meghan Trainor is one of my least favourite acts in the current pop game. So to say my expectations were low for her sophomore studio album is an understatement but with that aside I could actually appreciate the direction she was going towards. Her writing has slightly improved and her experimentation is a lot stronger. Gone are the days that she’s just trying to recycle the same doo-woop sound and I couldn’t be happier. She sounds more confident and not so scared of what may be said about her. “No” and “Me Too” are still two impressive tracks nearly a year after their release. .
Most Underrated Comeback
Did you know that Nelly Furtado made a comeback? probably not. Except if you followed her on instagram when she annoyingly re did her whole feed with cryptic black and white grids. On top of releasing some covers she released a couple of songs to introduce her experimental new sound. “Behind Your Back” is the strongest song in her new repertoire which experiments with a full band RNB sound. It’s intimate, honest and ambitious. It’s not the polished pop you’re used to from her but its good.
Fergie’s comeback has been a long process. 2015 saw her restart the process after a lacklustre response. The first single was the sassy empowering “MILF$” which broke YouTube records. The commercial appeal was lacking but the next single “Life Goes On” catered towards that market giving a more “Glamorous” styled production. 2017 is the year that The Double Duchess is coming for the crown.
In my opinion this girl group had some the most potential to crack the worldwide market with the same masterminds behind The Pussycat Dolls behind everything. However after a tragic death and a line up change the new material is less than impressive. “Kiss Myself” and “Are We Good” are mediocre pop/RNB songs that fail to deliver any thing deemed as a hit. Snore.
Cher Lloyd – Activated
After being dropped from her label and independently working on a new record I was low key excited to hear what Cher Lloyd would deliver. However all I got from this song was sore eyes from listening to it because of how hard I eye-rolled. The production is embarassing, the vocals are average and there’s no edge to this cookie cutter pop songs that could be performed by any struggling pop act wanting to try make it.
Worst Lyric Of The Year
Dami Im – The Sound Of Silence
Dami Im has become a national treasure this year in Australia after she competed in Eurovision and was absolutely robbed. “The Sound Of Silence” is a great pop songs but there is just one issue. It has the worst lyrics of the year in it. “Trying to feel your love through face time”. Like I’m sorry where did that come from? WHY. Have we really lowered ourselves to these lyrics? Apparently so.
Best New Artists
There’s just something about these guys that I just LOVE. Their upbeat summer vibes are captivating and infectious. “Cry Baby” and “Brooklyn” were the singles they released this year from their forthcoming debut studio album and if this is anything from what we can expect then I’m preparing for this to be one of my favourite albums of 2017.
Bebe Rexha is an artist who has been around a couple of years writing and collaborating for other artists. Her solo music has always been a side project until now. She re-invented her image and sound and this pop songstress is ready to dominate. “No Broken Hearts” featuring Nicki Minaj is a banger and a half and follow up single “I Got You” is a funky RNB ballad. After hosting the EMA’S she’s cemented herself as one of the biggest newcomers in the pop world.
Best New Upcoming Aussie
Jess Kent is a name I’ve been saying a lot this year and all for good reasons. She is one of the most exciting pop newcomers in Australia with her infectious breakthrough hit “Get Down”, her vibey collaboration with Paces “1993” and her eclectic and impressive debut EP appropriately titled “My Name Is Jess Kent”. And I promise after listening to that EP you won’t be forgetting her name quickly. She’s just toured with Coldplay on their massive Australian stadium tour and she’s about to embark on the 2017 Laneway Festival tour. So the next year is going to massive for Jess and I cannot wait to hear more, see more and vibe more.
Best Live Tour
There’s been so many great pop tours this year but there were 3 that really deserved a notable mention.
Adam Lambert – The Original High Tour
Vocals. Vocals. Vocals. Literally all I can say about this show. I was mesmerised from the moment he stepped foot on the stage and belted out “Evil In The Night” right through to when he bowed out to “If I Had You”. At 25 songs long the setlist saw him perform cool medleys and showcase his stealthy and impressive career. It wasn’t as camp as his first tour “Glam Nation” but it showed a more mature and reflective side to him as an artist.
Selena Gomez – Revival Tour
Selena Gomez is one of the biggest names in pop at the moment and her live show didn’t disappoint. Think old school Britney added with bigger visuals and live vocals and then you pretty much get Selena’s show. The only criticism with this show was that it was too short at only 80 minutes long.
Ellie Goulding – Delirium World Tour
After attending 8 of Ellie Goulding’s shows this year I couldn’t not mention this tour. Every night I was spellbound by her vocals, her interaction, her confidence and the pure growth of her as an artist. No longer are the days she just walks on stage with her guitar, she’s now playing sold out arenas, performing choreography and bathing in confetti. It was a fun, vibrant show that is only the beginning for the next chapter of her career.