What are all those go-to, banal phrases we often grasp for when illustrating the magic of summer? Cracking beers, rolling down car windows, burying feet in the sand, working on that tan…you know, the works. It’s always interesting to see these cliches purposefully promoted and expressed by musical artists around this time of year in a defensible attempt to capitalize on seasonal demand. This year is no exception, with a slew of fun, upbeat, love-inspired and frequently electronic jams to hypnotize listeners into a sun drenched daydream.
Where to start, where to start. Although not representing a majority, the new female leads in this shortlist were beyond captivating, subjectively dominating most of their new male counterparts in the field of breakthrough artists. Gender aside, electro-pop artists like HONNE, LANY, and VOKES (caps lock much?) are taking over 2016 and can safely be awarded with crowns of 1st half consistency. Each has produced several respective notably acclaimed singles and EPs without yet producing a full-length album, leaving hopefuls like myself in a state of limbo waiting to see if they blow us away with a full-length collection of greatness or instead choose to throw in the towel and bask in their 1st half glory.
Despite my open denouncement of the vast majority of modern rap music, Chance the Rapper continues to impress me on an epic scale. His boldness in diversifying his supporting instrumentals away from the often monotonous melodies (or lack thereof) that haunt today’s hip hop culture and towards a unique mixture of traditionalist piano strikes, upbeat brass, and modern electronic percussion systems is refreshing to say the least. It says a lot about an artist when their B-sides like “Blessings” can be just as enjoyable if not more enjoyable than their featured showcase tracks on a consistent album-by-album basis.
On top of Chance, there were many other awaited and esteemed returns. Radiohead, for example, blew up the vast majority of alternative review and critique publications. Their ninth studio album “A Moon Shaped Pool” utilized Thom Yorke’s unmatched pitch in a rare and fresh way, with cinematic strings and a constant feeling of angst to keep listeners on the edge of their seat. While A Moon Shaped Pool distanced itself a painful 5 years from Radiohead’s previous album, The Tallest Man On Earth whipped out yet another gem of a single in barely over a year. “Time Of The Blue” is much more stripped down than songs from The Tallest Man On Earth’s previous album “Dark Bird Is Home”, resembling a medieval ballad sung by a voice apparently and artfully crafted in the cauldron that is Bob Dylan’s inspirational legacy.
Alright, I get it, at some point I have to shut up and just let you listen. Kick back, relax, and enjoy a wide array of some some kick-ass summer tunes spanning a heap of differing genres.
As always, it’s necessary to disclaim that this shortlist is just that: short. There are a ton of other great songs that have come out of over the past several months that didn’t make the list, but that doesn’t take away from the integrity of the songs or the talented artists that created them. I may be well versed in the alternative music world, but comments and suggestions from all readers/listeners about all genres are always welcome!
Stay tuned for more installments of the “Song of the Day” posted on a daily basis every Monday through Friday, as well as the next chapter of the “Best Songs of 2016” playlists to be posted at the end of September.