I don’t need to say it because you already know it: 2016 has been a rough, weird, stressful, ludicrous and in some instances, a flat out tragic year for many, if not most of us.
And I know I’m not alone when I say that I’m both still trying to cope with, and figure out how to take meaningful action on what is beginning to feel like a bad dream unfolding in the world around me. Of course, there have been dark times in American history before, but what we are witnessing now is new for my generation and we are only beginning to learn the best ways to move forward.
Recently it’s been hard for me not to just want to crawl under my covers, shut the door and pretend that nothing I hear on the news is real. And as dramatic as it sounds, I’ve had my moments where I start going down the rabbit hole and can’t shake the feeling that there’s nothing good left on this planet and that the end is nigh. For real.
But then I throw on my headphones or turn on my speakers or hit the dance floor or hear a band for the first (or maybe seventh time) or admire my collection of new music that has been brought into the world in just the past 352 days and I’m reminded instantly that there is good in the world. There’s beauty, creativity, ingenuity, and even joyfulness, exuberance and brightness. And hope.
2016 might be a year that will live in infamy, but it really did bring us so many jubilant, feel-good tracks – and for that I am very very thankful. Lineup #118 consists of my top 20 mood-boosting songs of 2016, ordered from #20-#1. In just 12 days we’ll be leaving 2016 behind, but I’m taking these songs with me. They are the ones I kept going back to this year when I needed a pick-me up, and they delivered every single time. And I hope that they can serve that same important purpose for you as well. Let’s smile and laugh and dance for an hour or so, shall we?
Stay tuned for more 2016 year end countdowns and lists coming atcha soon!
And since it’s been a minute since I’ve written specifically about the music / artists featured on TML, I thought I’d share with you the stories behind my top 5 picks (originally published on BFF.fm).
5. Flamingosis – Next To You
Flamingosis is a producer and DJ hailing from New Jersey, and his 2016 album Bright Moments is 49 minutes of pure good vibes. In his own words, “This album is a continuation of the hip-hop/funk hybrid sample based music that I’ve been making for the past few years. Hope you all can find your own “Bright Moment” in these tracks.”
“Next To You” is my Bright Moment with its perfect blend of of soul/groove/funk/hip-hop. The only thing I’d change about this track is to make it at least double its 2:56 minute length.
4. The Avalanches – Harmony
Australian plunderphonics masters The Avalanches came back after a 15 year hiatus with the release of Wildflower this year. And while most critics agree that their sophomore album didn’t quite live up to their 2001 debut Since I Left You (I mean, who could actually live up to 15 years of cult status hype, amirite?), it brought us one of 2016’s most joyful tracks with “Harmony”. This track brings out the childlike joy in me with samples from The Madrigal Alphabet from Sesame Street(!), Teenage Fanclub/De La Soul, and of course, some beautiful choral backing harmonies.
3. Låpsley – Operator (DJ Koze’s Extended Disco Version)
This is what happens when an already catchy, throwback track filled with barbershop and gospel vocals plus tambourines gets remixed by a German mastermind who instead of reinventing the wheel just gives it the perfect amount of more cowbell, more disco, more sparkle and more jubilance. You’ll immediately forget the song is actually about a failing relationship. We owe you one, Koze.
2. Anderson .Paak – Celebrate
Anderson .Paak came bursting onto the scene in January with the most summery Winter album drop in the history of Winter album drops. Ok, fine, all hyperbole aside, his sophomore LP Malibu is a clear favorite of The Monday Lineup and has multiple standout groovy feel-good tracks: “Come Down”, “Am I Wrong”, “Put Me Thru” to name a few. But “Celebrate” takes the cake. It’s a song about living life to the fullest in times of uncertainty and struggle and appreciating the goodness and beauty around you. “Let’s celebrate while we still can”, he says. Don’t mind if I do.
1. Chance The Rapper – No Problem
I’ll just leave this one here. Zero problems, big fella. Here’s to a 2017 that’s this even close to being this exuberant. Thank you for bringing so much light into our dark, dark world, Lil’ Chano.
Until next Monday.