the soundtrack of 2016

4:30 pm

as 2016 comes to a close, it's time to reflect and fully realise what a godawful year it has been. even though i've only been alive for 18 of them, 2016 definitely comes in at the bottom three.

but, when i look back on the year and all the terrible events that have happened globally and in my own life, there's always been one thing that has helped me get through - music. and even though 2016 has been terrible in terms of politics, personal goals and general humanity, it's been frankly splendid in the music world. thus, here (in no particular order) is my completely unqualified and biased opinion on the top 10 albums of 2016:

10. lemonade - beyonce
i'm going to start this list with an obvious one. when beyonce does literally anything the world goes crazy and lemonade was no different. on a superficial level, i'll admit i didn't really get into the music until the second listen as it was an alternative sound from what i'd usually expect from yonce (never thought i'd hear country from queen b like in 'daddy's lessons'). however what really caught my attention was just how empowering lemonade is.

from 'don't hurt yourself' to 'sorry', beyonce's self-assured and blase tones reminded me that i'm a strong, independent young woman that don't take no shit from nobody.  not to mention the social and political issues addressed in 'freedom' or 'formation' - i'm so happy to see beyonce using her status and power to make real change in the world.

of course, you can't talk about lemonade without mentioning the mysterious woman 'with the good hair' otherwise known as one of the best marketing ploys of the year (jay z does own tidal - the service that lemonade is provided on. i can just see them clinking their glasses full of $10000 champagne, lounging in their mansion and laughing as the world scours around for 'becky')

9. know-it-all - alessia cara
2016 was a shitty year for a lot of people, but definitely not for alessia cara. i can't even remember how i heard about the 20 year old singer but i'm glad i did. the naivety and nostalgia of her freshman album quickly became the backing track of my final year of high school as she explored topics like growing up and change - both things that heavily weighed on my mind throughout 2016.

the obvious example is 'seventeen' which i was lucky enough to find while i was still actually seventeen. the [majority] of myself that identifies as an introvert could easily relate to the lyrics of 'here'. and in a time of impossible beauty expectations and body negativity, 'scars to your beautiful' was a much needed reminder to embrace ourselves and every aspect that makes us unique.

while know-it-all spoke a lot about individuality and notions of the self, it was also an album founded on friendship and love. 'wild things', 'outlaws' and 'stars' were just some of the songs that took me back to fleeting moments of laughter and indelible memories with people i love, as well as making me want to run out and make some more. honourable mention to 'how far i'll go', the song alessia did for moana and i have had on repeat - i can't wait to see what she gets up to next.

8. the life of pablo - kanye west
kanye is a lot of things and while i could probably write a whole post debating whose side yeezus is on (of which the answer would most likely end up being himself), i'm not going to do that and instead just focus on the music.

on the surface, the life of pablo was just as uproarious and unapologetic as its creator himself, but i kind of felt like there was a constant underlying tone of desperation coming from a person trying to save the world while still struggling to find his place in it. this is more obvious in 'ultralight beam' or 'famous' but is quickly covered up by kanye pondering what would happen if he got bleach on his t-shirt from a model's bleached asshole.

brownie points though for his ability to make fun of himself in the 'i love kanye' rap which is probably my favourite song on the album.

7. blonde - frank ocean
this one made the list just on the principle that frank ocean finally released his album.

but, besides just the pure novelty of it, i enjoyed the mellow vibes of it all. listening to it kind of felt like a hazy dream, taking me back to late nights and memories forgotten. the little breaks that were 'facebook story' and 'be yourself' were interesting but i'm sure they meant a lot more to frank ocean than they do to me.

6. wild world - bastille
i never really was super into bastille outside of their mainstream hits until i heard their covers in the bbc live lounge (which i highly recommend you check out). so when i saw wild world while perusing the newly added section of spotify, i thought i'd give it a go. obviously, i was not disappointed.

my favourite part of the album is the little voice recordings intertwined into the lyrics and melody. i don't know if they were made for this or are actually authentic from a time long ago, but they were refreshing and added depth to the songs.

i'm going to be honest, even though i've listened to wild world many times and practically know the lyrics to all the songs, i couldn't tell you the name of each individual one off the top of my head. they are a little similar and tend to blend together, but for me that was a good thing - altogether it's a very enjoyable 49 minutes.

5. 24k magic - bruno mars
though it came in at the tail end of 2016, 24k magic is probably the sexiest album i've ever heard. it's funny to think that the fedora-adorned singer of 'grenade' or 'the lazy song' has become this suave, silk-wearing, the definition of cool dude.

initially i thought i had clicked on the wrong thing and was listening to a smooth 90s rnb album, but, nope, 24k magic took those classic sounds, mixed in modern culture and created some killer tunes. listening to this alone in my room makes me feel a lot cooler than i actually am and sends me searching for monopoly money so i can make it rain. the album leaks confidence.

surprisingly though, i'd have to say my favourite track is the classic bruno song about lost love in 'too good to say goodbye'. if a boy sang that to me... ooft.

4. we move - james vincent mcmorrow
the first time i listened to james vincent mcmorrow was actually back when i was obsessed with teen wolf and to satisfy my needs i listened to every song that ever played on the show. amongst the various music capturing teen angst and/or action, was 'look out' from james' post tropical album. later on, after i had come out of my teen wolf phase (sorry dylan o'brien) and 'look out' played during a spotify shuffle session, i decided to check out the rest of his music and was immediately hooked.

we move delivers the same ethereal, falsetto vocals and cheerily haunting lyrics. 'i lie awake every night' has [fittingly] become my wind down song when i can't sleep, as has 'lost angles' and 'surreal'. in fact when it's 3am and my mind is still whirring, we move has become my go-to in slowing everything done. it's ability to make me fall asleep is definitely not a bad thing though - if there's one album that ensures good dreams it's this one.

3. colouring book - chance the rapper
i'm buddhist but colouring book really makes me appreciate what god, jesus and all that means to those that follow that path. from 'blessings' to 'how great', chance's story of redemption and choosing the right decisions really makes me proud that he has achieved so much success - he deserves it. that doesn't stop him from reminiscing like in 'same drugs' but it's obvious that the only direction for him in the future is up.

there's just an overall aura of positivity clouding colouring book - it's a call for friends, family, religion and just how good life can be if you let it. there's also some great jams in 'no problem' or 'angels' but, from the words of chance himself, for me colouring book is a reminder to "don't forget the happy thoughts" and one that i will cherish.

2. "awaken, my love!" - childish gambino
"awaken, my love!" could have just been 30 minutes of a toilet flushing and still would have made the list purely because i love donald glover and literally anything he does. from troy in community, his comedy special weirdo, because of the internet, derrick comedy, the 15 minutes he was in the martian, camp, marshall lee in adventure time, royaltymystery team, voicing black spider-man, stn mtn/kauai, that time he was in the regular show with tyler, the creator, atlanta (which has quickly become a new obsession) or the 30 seconds he was in the muppet movie, i love him.

having said that, i'm glad "awaken, my love!" was not just a toilet flushing and is actually a lot better.

as has been pointed out a gazillion times since the album's release, childish' latest endeavour is different than anything he's done before. while i would have very much liked to hear him spit even just a couple of bars, his new jazzy and stirring beats held their own and are just one of the many sides of the mastermind.

1. i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it - the 1975
coming in at one of the most pretentious album titles of the year as well as one of my favourites is the 1975. this british band is loved by alternative teenagers at one stage or another and will always hold a special place in my heart as the first band that i really adored - i spent hours watching interviews, they were the first band i moshed too, they were the background on my phone, i named a cactus after my love, matty healy. and their latest album, without a doubt, was an imperative factor in helping me through 2016.

i actually haven't given it a good, proper listen in a long time and now as i play it while writing this all the feelings are coming back. the nostalgia, the shallow nature of modern society, the hidden internal struggle in all of us, the desperation to be somebody in this world, missing a nana i never knew.

the only criticism i have is that the titular track reminds me of the jingle in an advertisement for an australian phone company and so whenever it plays i always become mildly confused as to why my spotify premium is playing ads. other than that, i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it is not only the opinion of a creepy stalker but also one of my favourite albums of the year and all time.

in conclusion, the plot of 2016 was pretty crappy, the cinematography subpar. however, the soundtrack was pretty damn good.

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