Last month I teased some exciting new collaborations coming this December and today sees the first of those finally released.
With 2016 coming to an end I thought now would be a good time to look back on some of the best parts of the year from books and films to music and gaming. I know, however, that my opinion alone is very one-sided, so I figured I’d bring in a couple of my fellow bloggers to share their thoughts on this year’s highlights. For the next four weeks we’ll be collaborating on these posts, with new ‘reviews’ being released every Saturday at midday.
Running this blog has already been an incredible experience so to finally spread out and work alongside others is an exciting new step in my writing career. I hope that 2017 offers plenty more opportunities to collaborate with these fantastic women, both on my own blog and on theirs too.
This week’s review of the year is focused on single releases. The three of us have picked our five favourite songs that were released in the last 11 months with a brief discussion on what makes them all so great. Any songs that debuted in 2015 have been deemed eligible for inclusion here if they were not released as a single until this year.
Without further ado here are our favourite songs of 2016.
Music is my world. There isn’t a day that goes past where I don’t spend at least an hour on iTunes, so trying to pick just 5 songs from this year as my favourites was difficult. As you may already know if you’re familiar with this blog, my tastes in music are very much of the pop variety, with a particular focus on the female singers of that genre. You can expect my favourites to be full of chart-type songs, although a fair amount of the music I like is by less well-known artists. I sometimes find that the best music is made by those that fall under the radar.
Former Hollyoaks actress Twinnie-Lee Moore kicked off her music career this year with the release of her debut single ‘Cool’ back in January. The song puts a British spin on the country-pop genre that is so unrepresented on the UK music scene. Twinnie’s voice has a lovely twang that suits the guitar and backing hand claps perfectly, particularly as she holds onto the note at the end of each chorus. The upbeat nature of the song doesn’t overthrow the emotive quality in her vocals, and allows them to glide wonderfully with the music. Although unoriginal in its overall structure, the track is a gorgeous debut that neatly fills a hole that has been in the market for far too long.
Make Me Like You (Gwen Stefani)
Best known for the accompanying video that was filmed live during the 2016 Grammy Awards, ‘Make Me Like You’ sees the No Doubt superstar return to form as she sings of finding new love with her partner Blake Shelton. The radio-friendly track is 3 and a half minutes of pure anthemic pop with Stefani’s passionate vocals holding strong over the infectious melody. ‘Make Me Like You’ gives the track plenty of sass to ensure it’s as far detached from a soppy love song as possible, ultimately making it one of the more exciting and explosive releases of the whole year.
Perfect Illusion (Lady Gaga)
It was one of the most anticipated releases of the year, but when ‘Perfect Illusion’ debuted the reaction was decidedly mixed. Some people liked it, some people hated it. In this blogger’s opinion, it’s a perfect lead single that shows just how diverse and talented Lady Gaga really is. The raw quality to her voice is reminiscent of Sia’s and really shows the power of the track, giving it a massive kick as she fights through the song. As it moves towards the climax the drama in the production builds to great heights and leaves you with an aching feeling of needing to dance through the night. Although I’m not massively into rock music, the grittier vibe to this tracks definitely bridges the gap between the two genres and makes me more of a fan.
Elizabeth Taylor (Clare Maguire)
One of the lesser known releases of 2016, the lead single from Clare Maguire’s sophomore album ‘Stranger Things Have Happened’ is a dramatic ballad that compares to the singer’s plight to that of Elizabeth Taylor. The vocals flow hauntingly over the piano keys, reflecting pain over every note of the verses. When she hits the chorus Maguire puts her heart and soul into the music, leaving everything out in the open until she no longer has the strength to sing. I was a fan of her debut album ‘Light After Dark’, but I feel this song is a real turning point for the singer that has suffered a number of personal demons since entering the music industry. The bitter pain of those memories couldn’t have been clearer in the song and that’s what makes it so wonderfully perfect.
Into You (Ariana Grande)
Stemming for Ariana Grande’s first number one album in the UK ‘Dangerous Woman’, this uptempo song about forbidden love is easily one of the singer’s best singles to date. The slower-paced verses have a beautifully slick beat which propel the song into an intense and frantic chorus that’s impossible not to get lost in. Even through the thumping baseline and EDM , Grande’s vocals are still incredibly strong and show her off as the musical diva she’s become. ‘Into You’ is an incredible example of dance-pop done well and proves exactly why the former child star is so deserving of a place atop the charts.
Hey world, Sarah speaking! I’m here because James asked me to write my top 5 songs of 2016, something that hasn’t been easy. As you might guess if you’ve seen my blog, my tastes are a little out there. I’m sure you’ll have heard of some of the songs on my list, but there are maybe a couple that will be new to you. If that’s the case then you should definitely give them a listen because, obviously, I think they’re awesome, and for a good reason too. These songs deserve to be heard, you never know what you might end up liking.
Closer (The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey)
They hit the nail on the head when they brought Halsey into this song. The Chainsmokers are brilliant anyway, but Halsey makes it. There’s a great contrast between the gritty male vocals and the light female ones. If they had tried to use anyone else I’m sure it wouldn’t have been as amazing. And the riff. It’s still stuck in my head now. The harmonies, the upbeat tune, feelings that don’t die. It’s such a warm song and I love it. You can imagine driving down long roads in your convertible with this blasting through the speakers.
History Maker (Dean Fujioka)
Have you heard of it? No? Not many of you will have, I’d bet. It’s an English single sung by a Japanese artist, originally written as the theme for the 2016 TV show Yuri!!! on Ice. It opens with a relaxing, rhythmic tempo paired with a gentle overlay of singing meant for waltzing, building then suddenly bursting into a striking club anthem. The lyrics talk of believing in yourself to make your dreams come true, that we were born to leave an impression on the world and it’s only our doubts that stop us. It’s so uplifting and inspiring. When that bass drops, I feel like jumping up and getting out there.
Shelter (Porter Robinson & Madeon)
There are so, so many things I love about this single; not least its music video which was created by animation powerhouse A-1 Pictures. Once you’ve listened to it, it’ll stay in your head for hours. And not in the horrible way Barbie Girl does. The lyrics talk of carrying on the legacies of previous generations and building new ones for the future to continue and help make a better world. It is a powerful song with powerful intention, masterfully performed by delicate male vocals and a mantra throughout that is reminiscent of a singing child. It took the world by storm upon its release and I don’t doubt that it will continue to soar.
Can’t Stop The Feeling (Justin Timberlake)
It’s impossible not to head-bop when you hear Timberlake’s first single of 2016, Can’t Stop the Feeling, which can also be found on the Trolls Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. I love happy songs, and this is definitely a happy song. It has light and upbeat chords throughout, plus it’s bouncy and boppy and all round good fun. Then on top of all that it’s full of Timberlake’s signature high notes. What’s not to love?
Secret Love Song (Little Mix ft. Jason Derulo)
With such personal lyrics, it’s difficult not to be moved by Secret Love Song. That first jump into falsetto when Jade begins to sing sends shivers up my spine every time. The first time I listened to it, I cried. And I mean streamed. This stripped back song is unlike anything Little Mix has done before; the sound is so pure and filled with emotion that it’s hard not to cry. Even Derulo, who I usually don’t rate, complimented the girls in this one. If you want to feel empowered to finally step out of the shadows and walk with your head held high, this is the song to listen to.
If you like my taste then you can check out my blog at https://giveitsomegeek.blogspot.co.uk/
Hey everyone I’m Holly, one of James’ friends from university. I’ve been blogging for a while now over at Holly Quills and Ivy (see link down below) and I was super happy when I was asked to collaborate on this post because I love these guys. When James asked me to write about my favourite songs of the year I wasn’t sure how to cut my list down to just 5. I love music so much and it’s hard to pick some songs over others. I manged to do it though and I absolutely adore these songs, hopefully you do too. Here were go!
7 Years (Lukas Graham)
The first time I listened to this was when a friend of mine introduced it to me, telling me that I needed to listen to it. Immediately I loved it. A few months after that it started playing on the radio and my love for the song only grew, so much so that people I work with now refer to it as my song because I wouldn’t stop singing it when it was released. It has such a beautiful melody and the lyrics are incredible.
Amen (Hunter Hayes)
I’m guessing many people won’t have heard of this artist. If that’s the case then let me introduce you to this boy with the voice of an angel. Hunter Hayes is a country singer who has been around for a few years and his music is incredible. Amen is his newest release after finishing a recent tour. It mixes the classic country style that he is known for and adds a gospel feel to it with the lyrics and inclusion of a choir towards the end of the song. Just please go listen to it (and the rest of his music too)!
Still Falling For You (Ellie Goulding)
Ellie has been a bit out the music scene as of late, so when I found out she was singing the main track of the newest Bridget Jones film soundtrack, I was so happy. The track is so upbeat and flowery (if that’s even a way to describe music). Its romantic and pop-y, suiting Ellie Goulding and the film perfectly. There’s even some belting parts which just make me love it even more. I’m so glad that she is getting back to music.
Say You Won’t Let Me Go (James Arthur)
Before this song was released I was not a fan of James Arthur, but then it comes along and kind of blows everything out of the water. It’s one of the most romantic songs I have heard all year, and ask anyone, I am a hopeless romantic, so this song is perfect. The stripped guitar melody is beautiful to listen to and the lyrics aren’t flowery or exaggerated, they are honest thoughts and that’s what I love about this so much. It’s just an honest love song.
Shout Out To My Ex (Little Mix)
All three of us will agree that we ADORE this song! Little Mix is one of my favourite bands after James introduced me to their music, so when they released this single I was so incredibly happy. Not only did it mean new music, but the song is so empowering and it’s perfect to dance and sing along to with your friends or maybe just by yourself. If you haven’t listened to it then please do. You will not regret it!
If you interested in seeing more of my own blog then you can find me at http://www.hollyquillsandivy.co.uk/