Top 5 Artists of the Year

Despite how horrific 2016 was, it was a year that blessed us with an abundance of exceptional music. With great releases from familiar artists like Beyonce and The Weeknd to rising stars like Lil Uzi Vert and The Chainsmokers, we can truly appreciate at least one thing about 2016. But who ruled this year? With so many artists dropping tremendous material, it’s hard to narrow down the top 5. I decided my top 5 based on how momentous the artist’s year was, depending on acclaim, radio play, or chart topping. So no, you’re favorite pop-punk band won’t be on this list, nor will that EDM producer that only makes sub-par remixes. This list contains the five artists that truly dominated this year.

5. The Chainsmokers

Love ’em or hate ’em, the EDM duo destroyed this year. Practically owning the radio with a cluster of infectious singles off their Collage EP like “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Roses”, The Chainsmokers propelled themselves into the forefront of music. Although their music is a light version of EDM, its accessibility is its driving force. Old and young can sing and dance along to catchy songs. Moreover, the songs are extremely athemic; the only way to sing them is at the top of your lungs. And for the haters out there who think The Chainsmokers are whack, we all know you never skip it when it comes up on shuffle.

4. Rihanna

With a slight shift in sound, Rihanna went from blatant pop to dark R&B on  that could possibly be the greatest thing to ever happen. If it wasn’t for her song “Work” that sat atop the Hot 1o0 for nine weeks, we would not have had such an influx of dancehall music. Anti was a powerful album that was bigger than just a catchy island-vibed single. Rihanna showed amazing growth in terms of sound and vocal ability, evident on tracks like “Love on the Brain” and “Higher”. More notably, “Needed Me” was plastered to the Hot 100 for 42 weeks, Rihanna’s longest charting single. Shower a few collaborations with other prominent artists like Kanye West and Calvin Harris, and you can clearly see how much Rihanna ruled 2016.

3. Twenty One Pilots

This band had the biggest blow up of 2016. Yeah, 2015 treated them well with their number one album Blurryface, but this is the year everyone knew who Twenty One Pilots was. With a trio of top 5 singles, a tour or two that basically sold out completely, and Grammy nominations, the band was propelled into stardom. This is due to the band’s cult-like fanbase and their genre-fluid music. More important is the latter, as they seamlessly blend rock, reggae, rap, and pop into one sound that is totally unique to them. Also, their quirkiness is appealing in a music scene that is filled with artists who focus on being cool. And let’s be honest, “Stressed Out”, “Ride”, and “Heathens” were a couple of the best tracks of 2016, both sonically and lyrically.

2. Drake

With one of the most anticipated releases of 2016 as well one of the best releases, Drake truly showed his dominance. Views was a fresh release that gave birth to some memorable tracks. Whether you wish he rapped more or not, the album was exceptional and should be on every “best albums of 2016 list”. Like The Chainsmokers, Drake had practically every song he created this year on every chart. Every time I checked the US Top 50 Chart on Spotify, all I saw was Drake scattered throughout. “One Dance” was the summer song of 2016 according to Official Charts. “Too Good” featuring Rihanna was just that, and don’t forget his feature on Rihanna’s “Work”. Outside of music, Drake was all over the headlines with his brief romance with Rihanna and his terrific Apple Music commercial.

1. Chance the Rapper

This most likely is not a surprise as Chance has carved his name all over this year. If you single-handedly get Billboard to recognize how important streaming is nowadays and allow streaming-only mixtapes to chart, then you owned this year. Super important in that he charted at number 8 on the Billboard 200 with his Coloring Book mixtape, Chance the Rapper made it easier for artists all over. More importantly is the fact that he’s having so much success without the help(or harm) of a label. Chance’s mixtape was one of the most talked about releases from this year, offering him appearances on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show and Ellen. To deny Chance’s instrumental role in music in 2016 ought to be a crime. Chance the Rapper ruled 2016, and I have absolutely “No Problem” with that.

Background image not mine. All rights to Chance the Rapper and Brandon Breaux.
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“These Boys Light Fires” & “Intimate Alien” – Ocean Grove

Hailing from the Land Down Under, Ocean Grove is heavy act that fades in and out of genres. With two Eps under their belt, they have shifted from a typical metalcore sound found on their earliest release titled Outsider to a chaotic, yet refreshing nu-metal release found on Black Label. But screw the genres. This band is too great to be placed in a box. Thankfully, their affiliation with Rise Records will ultimately lead to a growing American fan-base. To announce their debut album The Rhapsody Tapes due February 3, Ocean Grove released a duo of relentless tracks that surely will get them the respect they deserve.

The first single “These Boys Light Fires” is an electrifying track that doesn’t let up at all. With blustering drums and frantic guitar strumming, it’s the perfect recipe for headbanging. Amidst the chaos is a catchy hook that doesn’t disrupt the song’s frenetic pace. Substituting a breakdown for a satisfactory guitar solo, it is great to see bands exchanging breakdowns for more creative elements. Overall, it’s a solid track that shows the continuous growth of the band.

The second single “Intimate Alien” is eerily delightful. Overflowing with a brutal nu-metal burst of sound, this track is refreshing in how it shifts quickly between tame and wild moments that truly adds to its accessibility to all. Like Cane Hill, the band utilizes background synths and production to create the creepy feel that is extremely appealing. The bass is too perfect in the eerie moments, really making you move to the rhythm. The only thing that makes this song better is the music video below, which truly encapsulates how you should act when listening to the track.

Overall, both singles are delicious to ears. Both are frantic yet refreshingly different, which shows how versatile this band is and leaves us desperately waiting for the debut album.

For those who vibe to: Cane Hill, Hellions

 

Best Albums of 2016

25. Illuminate – Shawn Mendes

Splendid sophomore album that truly showcased Shawn’s solid ability in creating songs that make you sing along.

Top vibes: Patience, No Promises

24. Dangerous Woman – Ariana Grande

Fabulous blend of pop and R&B that brings to the forefront Ariana’s angelic vocals while having over half the tracks being worthy of topping charts.

Top vibes: Be Alright, Bad Decisions

23. Blonde – Frank Ocean

Just when I was about to forget about Frank Ocean, he releases an album that is unforgettable in every way, siphoning from a well of good vibes and pure genius.

Top vibes: Nights, Ivy

22. Misadventures – Pierce The Veil

Took them about 4 years to craft perhaps the second-best post-hardcore album ever created. What’s the first? Their second album. There’s a reason that they always sell out venues.

Top vibes: Texas Is Forever, Floral & Fading

21. If I’m The Devil – letlive.

Trading in their notorious craziness for a more powerful “soul punk” vibe, letlive.’s new album shows that change is not always bad.

Top vibes: I’ve Learned To Love Myself, A Weak Ago

Continue reading “Best Albums of 2016”

“After Midnight” – KLYMVX ft. Emily Zeck

With a medley of notable remixes on their resume, the French EDM duo KLYMVX break away with an astounding original track. Blessed by the vocals of Emily Zeck, “After Midnight” is a wonderful track once again showing how EDM and pop are seamlessly intertwined.

Opening with a piano ballad accompanied by Zeck’s soothing vocals, the song initially seems to be too tame to be an EDM song.However, once Zeck starts reaching towards the sky with her voice, the song comes to life. In fact, she sings “hold me close, it makes me feel alive”, but the very thing that makes us feel alive is the chorus. So simple yet effective, the chorus is too catchy to not sing along to. Moreover, the tropical house vibe this song spills out is too irresistible.

With lyrical content that focuses on love and relationship, “After Midnight” is nothing new. But the pairing of Zeck’s peaceful vocals with the riveting production is a breath of fresh air in an area of music that can grow stagnant quickly. Featured atop Spotify France’s New Electro playlist, “After Midnight” is an exceptional track equipped with the pieces to catch fire in the US.

Vibes like: “Cold Water” – Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber and MØ

For those who vibe to: DJ Snake, Cheat Codes

 

“Vicious Cycles”-Afterlife

2016 has been the revival of nu-metal, perhaps the only good thing about this year. Afterlife continue this reawakening of nu-metal with their single “Vicious Cycles”. This song arrives the same day that Stay Sick Recordings announced that they had signed the band hailing from Florida. They also have an EP coming out February 3.

“Vicious Cycles” hits hard on all cylinders from start to finish. The track is reminiscent of Slipknot, yet it is a refreshing track. The minimalist synths add to the gritty chugging of the guitars. The vocal work is phenomenal as it shifts from deep growls to the rapping that is akin to Fronz (vocalist of Attila), especially on the track “Public Apology”. Moreover, the breakdown in the middle of the song is glorious, acting as the icing on this track. All in all, “Vicious Cycles” is tremendous, and I’m excited to see where this band goes. Keep Afterlife on your radars, or you might regret it later.

Vibes like: “Gemini” – Cane Hill

For those who vibe to: Slipknot, The Plot In You

Check out the music video for “Vicious Cycles” below.

Image from Afterlife Facebook page. Music video from Stay Sick Recordings YouTube page.

Top 10 Marshmello Songs

Marshmello, the most notable newcomer in EDM this year, has caused a riot with his riveting music. Implementing trap elements into his EDM, he has definitely found a formula that serves as both infectious and artistic. With a key signing to Skrillex’s label and an astounding debut album, Marshmello is taking over the world. Here’s his top 1o songs that I’m 99% sure you’ll instantly add to your favorite playlist.

10. Let Me Love You (Remix)

This is Marshmello’s newest track, but it’s popping. Marshmello reinvents the infectious track originally by DJ Snake and Justin Bieber. By adding his unique trap style, Marshmello really made this track stick out even more.

9. Want U 2

Although it is not one of his most famous tracks, “Want U 2” has all the sugary goodness that Marshmello is known for. The drop is catchy, and the warped voice leaves an imprint on your brain. Also the second drop is better than the first, so it rewards you with extra flavor if you listen to all of it.

8. Alarm (Remix)

The track was created by Anne Marie, but Marshmello makes it more of a banger. Enhancing Anne Marie’s already catchy lyrics, he adds a bundle of energy that’ll make anyone move their bodies. There’s a reason this remix has 5.29 million plays on SoundCloud.

7. Where Are U Now (Remix)

The only person capable of topping the monstrous hit by Skrillex, Diplo, and Justin Bieber is Marshmello. His genius reworking of the chorus shifted him from the background of EDM into the spotlight.

6. Find Me

Enough of the remixes. :Find Me” is a track created Marshmello that is most certainly a festival favorite. A riveting song from start to finish, it’s clear to see why it’s a favorite and one of his most notable tracks off his debut release Joytime.

5. Keep It Mello (ft. Omar Linx)

This track is one out of few Marshmello tracks that actually contains vocals. In fact, Omar Linx’s smooth delivery perfectly leads up to the catchy drop that’ll get anyone repeating that they “like to keep it mello”.

4. Kknow Me

The opening track for his album Joytime, “Kknow Me” is the song that perfectly represents Marshmello and his unique style. From the warped vocals, the riveting bass-backed chorus, and the savory synths, we truly get to see a broad picture of Marshmello’s sound.

3. Freal Luv (ft. Chanyeol and Tinashe)

This Far East Movement song produced by Marshmello shows that less is sometimes better. With less sugariness and more simplicity, Marshmello delivers a fiery track that enhances the artists on the track. That chorus will make you break things.

2. Ritual

This song hints at a slightly different direction for Marshmello, yet it still bears his signature style. Blessed by Wrabel’s glorious vocals, “Ritual” is a spectacular track that could be Marshmello’s reach into mainstream without sacrificing his uniqueness. Truly infectious in every way, this track is destined for greatness once The Chainsmoker’s fad flickers out.

1. Alone

This track is Marshmello’s gift to humanity. Emotionally and sonically appealing, this track shows Marshmello hitting on all cylinders. Accompanied by a touching video that has 181 million views on Youtube, this is his most well-known track and for good reason. Listen to it once, and you will replay it until you can’t stand it anymore.

image via billboard.com

Childish Gambino-Awaken, My Love!

10/10

If you thought Childish Gambino was going to drop bars upon bars on his latest release, you are greatly mistaken. Instead, he transcended the bounds of rap and emerged into something entirely unique. Completely trading in rap and hip-hop for funk and blues, Gambino turns the clock back, pulling in influences from James Brown and Michael Jackson. This may sound disappointing, but it’s quite the opposite. Awaken, My Love! comes through with all the good vibes.

Awaken, My Love! opens up with the mysterious, yet passionate “Me and Your Mama”, which clearly set the tone for the album. From the slick production to the vehement vocals, this track is a journey all the way through. Skipping to “Boogieman”, this track is completely a throwback with funky feels throughout that make your body sway. The whole song is slightly eerie, from the lyrics about police to Bino’s warped vocals. “Zombies” is also full of haunting vibes. Yet the album peaks at the three tremendous track that make this album more than just decent. “Redbone”, another single, is an adventure in itself, taking you through the musical galaxy to the planet of wondrous vibes. On a side note, I think without Bino’s voice being raised a semitone, this song would not hit as hard. This track leads into “California” which is definitely the happiest song on a funky, yet dark album. Childish’s vocal delivery carries this song, making it hella catchy and amusing to listen to. The woodwind instrument throughout the perfectly produced song does wonders. “Terrified” is the last of the three track climax of the album, which follows the mood set in tracks like “Boogieman” and “Zombies”. “Stand Tall” is a solid closer, drawing an end to what honestly is an experience rather than just a simple album.

Awaken, My Love! is different, unique, and not what some Bino fans would expect. Yet this is perhaps his best release yet, showcasing his genius when it comes to anything creative. Gambino is a mastermind, and he continues to keep the vibes coming.

Top vibes: “California”, “Redbone”

For those who vibe to: Prince, St. Paul & The Broken Bones

Check out the official audio for “Redbone” below.