2016: it’s been one hell of a year. From the tragedy that was Harambe (R.I.P, you poor sweet thing) to the triumph of Drumpf (God help us all), this year has been truly unforgettable.
Music had an equally wild—but far more brilliant—year. Some amazing albums and singles were released in 2016, and who better than QR’s sometimes weird, always wonderful members to pick the best LPs and tracks of the year? In classic QR form, our choices span genre and artist: you’ll find some familiar faces and a bit of emerging talent in our 2016 roundup, but one thing’s for sure – they’re all pretty damn good.
Have a read and listen our 2016 Spotify playlist here!
Eilis Lee – Head of Events/ Presenter of Wednesdazed & Confused
Best album: 2016 has been a year of great albums: Lemonade, Palace’s So Long Forever, TDCC’s Gameshow, Bon Iver’s 22, A Million, Michael Kiwanuka’s masterpiece Love & Hate…it was ridiculously hard to choose, but my favourite has to be At Swim by Lisa Hannigan, and not just because seeing her live at The Empire was incredible. The album is simply beautiful, and Hannigan is a true artist at her haunting best. Listen – her voice will stay with you for a long, long time.
Best song: Without doubt, its Ariana Grande’s Into You, because by God it’s an anthem. Everyone knows Grande has the best range this side of Mariah. Everyone knows Into You’s chorus kills me every time. Everyone needs to be made fully aware that this song, and the entirety of Dangerous Woman, is incredible. Honourable mentions to Warhol by Lisa Mitchell and Beyoncé’s Hold Up, but nothing was my 2016 jam quite like this.
Robbie McKinney – Deputy Off-Air Station Manager/Co-Host of Sonic Sessions
Best album: The Human Condition, Jon Bellion. Was it ever going to be anything else? Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore this man and worship anything he releases. Putting all that aside, Jon is just a great artist, producer, rapper and singer. He can do it all and this first commercial release, which saw pretty big success over in America, is a real testament to his talent. Please check him out – you won’t be disappointed!
Best song: A though choice between Medicine Man by Alec Benjamin and Thom by Joji – both relatively unknown artists, so I look super hipster picking them. Ultimately, it’s Thom, by Joji. The underground New York rapper has a very distinct and alternative sound that’s a pleasant change from the Drakes and Kanyes that dominated hip-hop this year. Logic’s 44 Bars was also in for a shout, and I’m devastated I can only pick one!
Rachel Young – Head of Music/Host of Sonic Sessions
Best album: Writings of Blues and Yellows, Billie Marten. There’s been a lot of strong records this year but this one stood out for me. Billie Marten has the songwriting talent of someone well beyond her years and it really comes through on this album. It’s beautiful, delicate and so easy to listen to over and over – it’s ridiculous that this girl is just 17. She’s a true artist: I highly recommend listening to her stuff.
Best song: Do You Still Love Me, Ryan Adams. Ever since his last record, Adams has taken a real turn towards a much rockier sound and it’s been a wonderful move. This new single from his forthcoming record is some of his best stuff yet, showcasing his unique vocals and his very honest songwriting. Also, his guitar work is sick as always on this track.
Addison Paterson – Deputy Head of Music
Best album: 22, A Million. by Bon Iver. It probably couldn’t be any more experimental, but it’s still as emotionally charged and raw as For Emma, Forever Ago. Also, It’s rare that an album with completely indecipherable lyrics can still make you feel as strongly as this one does.
Best song: How by Daughter. Loved every song on the new album, but this one in particular stands out as being so emotional despite such simple lyrics. Also, the music video was adapted from a short story written about mental illness and it’s absolutely stunning.
Jessica Lawrence – Co-Host of Meme Girls
Best album: The 1975 – I like it when you sleep…, probably one of the only albums I’ve found this year that I love every song. The mix of vocals and musical interludes is especially unique and just makes the album so special. It’s perfect for everyday life; whether you’re working, driving or relaxing I know that I can put it on and love every minute !
Best song: A tough choice between Somebody Else – The 1975 and LA Devotee – Panic! at the Disco, but I’d go for Panic. I think LA Devotee is such a perfect song for everything Panic! wanted to do with their new album. Jazz-influenced but still sticking true to their pop/punk roots, I just love this song? Its’ such a bop? It’s also probably the best song off their new album. Thnxz Brendon, luv u.
Jane Corscadden – Co-Host of Meme Girls
Best album: Integrity Blues – Jimmy Eat World (shocker/*arthur fist* etc) When I first listened to this album I was a bit meh about it, but a listen or two later I was hooked. I love albums like that and now, after about a million listens, I can honestly say there’s no song on it I don’t like.
Best song: In My Mind, The Amazons. Fav song from my fav band I’ve discovered this year. Love love love. Perfect mix of proper pop rock and hard rock/indie. Very very catchy and just an overall great tune.
Hannah McVeigh – Head of Presenting
Best album: One I kept finding myself going back to listen to was How To Be A Human Being by Glass Animals, especially Youth and Life Itself. I was highly anticipating this album after ZABA: they make slow, sticky, fun beats with trippy, seriously addictive lyrics. Each listen reveals more and more layers to each song – genius.
Best song: Oh, I hate doing this! Means I have to scroll through my mahoosive song list on Spotify and pick out a song I don’t mind listening to on repeat for a year. It’s a fight between VANT’s Karma Seeker, an indie anthem that I love singing along to, and Char by Crystal Castles, but I think Char wins. It’s a dark, glitchy synth track that makes me feel witchy when I listen to it.
Chris Hastings – Head of Online Content and Promotion
Best Album: HOME – Falling Into Place. A mellow and subdued electronic vibe. This album was very important to me in the second half of 2016, when the proverbial hit the fan – its chill tone helped me relax in times of heightened stress. I See You in particular always reminds me of the new people I’ve met in 2016 and how some of them have pretty much helped me survive The Worst Year In History.
Best song: Digitalism – Go Time. A hard-hitting electronic track from my fave German duo, this song represents the hope and adrenaline I had at the start of 2016 and carried into the second semester of my first year at uni, finishing the academic year on a high.
Pete Stevenson – Esteemed QR Member
Best album: Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow. A raw, emotional album dealing with a lot of heavy issues, including addiction, depression and loss. The record showcases diverse influences; elements of grunge, punk, shoegaze and 90’s alternative rock can all be found, and every song has a unique style. Opener Fever Queen features punishing and guitars and heavy drums, whilst the closing title track is a piano lament, giving the album a cathartic feel.
Best song: James Blake – I Need A Forest Fire (ft. Bon Iver). A great collaboration between two artists, each of which I’m a huge fan of. The sparse production and the vocal harmonies between James Blake and Justin Vernon make for an amazing track, and seeing it performed live by James Blake earlier this year was unforgettable.
Chris Leneghan – Head of News
Best album: Painkillers was a great music shift for Brian Fallon. Get Hurt, the last album from The Gaslight Anthem before their hiatus, was great, but it became obvious that Fallon wasn’t enjoying the music and fame as much as he had initially. Painkillers was a chance for him to start over and find a new sound. It is a strong, personal album that has enough of the Gaslight sound in it to please their fans, but is different enough to justify a solo album and to gain new followers.
Best song: Stay Gold by Butch Walker. It’s so damn catchy, and Butch proves once again he is a champ at creating hooks. He achieves an upbeat, Americana sound, full of love, heartbreak and storytelling.
Matt Kirk – Presenter of Maximum RPM
Best album: Scorpion Child – Acid Roulette. Tired of the same old “rock” music that’s flooded the charts over the past few years? Acid Roulette is a fantastic effort encapsulating the sound and swagger of the Golden Era of 1970s rock n’ roll – awesome! Want to know more? Click here to hear my interview with lead singer of Scorpion Child, Aryn Jonathan Black. Very honourable mention to In Flames – Battles.
Best song: King 810 – i ain’t going back again. The most haunting song I’ve heard in my life, and a chilling ode from a band who grew up in the depths of social and economic despair in Flint, MI., aka. “Murdertown”. When we talk about who’s “real” and who’s “fake” in music, King 810 have got to be near the top of the realest of all. Very honourable mention to Hacktivist – Deceive and Defy (feat. Jamie Graham).
So, there you have it. Here’s to a 2017 filled with even more merriment and music!
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