Welcome to my Top Songs of 2016, Part 2. As I stated in Part 1 yesterday, I’m listing the 25 songs that I loved the most in 2016. Not necessarily the best or most popular, but the ones that I put in heavy rotation. Just as in Part 1, I’ve written about some of the songs in this list; others I haven’t written about at all. If a song has previously been featured, I’ve provided a link to the post where you can find it. So if you are looking for a #RomanticTuesday song, that theme has been pre-empted for the week. If you can’t be bothered to go back to Part 1, I’m listing the songs all week, five songs a day. So here goes the next five, again in alphabetical order.
Solange, “Cranes In The Sky”: If the year had ended in April, I suppose that one of Beyoncé’s songs would have been on this list. Good thing the year doesn’t end until December. While Queen Bey’s album has gotten plenty of deserved praise, her younger sister gets the call for my list. This song has been around for a couple months now, but it is too strong to leave off my list. The album it comes from, A Seat At The Table, is every bit as acclaimed as her sister’s Lemonade—even if it doesn’t have the Grammy nominations to prove it (Solange’s album came out just before the eligibility deadline). This moody song is gettting plenty of play in my house; good for Solange for proving she doesn’t stand in her sister’s overly large shadow.
Tedeschi Trucks Band, “Don’t Know What It Means”: One of the first songs I featured once I started featuring tunes on a near-daily basis. In that post, I called their album Let Me Get By the first great album of the year (more on that next week). This song here has got it all: a solid beat, a bassline to die for, great horn lines and outstanding vocals and guitar work by Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. This is the song for you if you like your music played by an honest-to-goodness full on band with blues and R&B trappings and great guitar leads.
Cool Uncle (Bobby Caldwell & Jack Splash) featuring Mayer Hawthorne, “Game Over”: Some of you may remember Bobby Caldwell for “What You Won’t Do For Love” from back in the late 1970’s. Well, he’s still kicking and he still sounds great. Jack Splash you might be less familiar with; he’s worked with many of today’s popular artists—Katy Perry, Sia, Kendrick Lamar, John Legend, Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige to name a few. Caldwell and Splash combined to form the group Cool Uncle, and with the underground king of throwback music Hawthorne came up with this old soul groove. It’s blue-eyed soul for 2016.
Corinne Bailey Rae, “Green Aphrodisiac”: When she first arrived with “Put Your Records On” and “Like A Star,” I admit I didn’t take her seriously. Yes, they were popular songs, but I thought she was way too slight to be reckoned with. Since then, she has grown in my estimation—certainly enough to make it to my top 25 for 2016. This track just bubbles and bubbles, never exactly boiling over, but it’s the exquisiteness of her vocal and the music (save for Marcus Miller’s zooming bass notes that seem to kick off each chorus) that I enjoy so much. The album that contains this song, The Heart Speaks In Whispers, is pretty good too. Glad she helped change my perception of her music.
Back Yard Band, “Hello (GoGo Version)”: Adele’s version is deservedly celebrated; it has been praised to the high heavens since its release back in late 2015. It also will be up for several Grammy awards at the upcoming ceremony early next year, including Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year (an award for the songwriters, of which Adele is one). Recently, R&B singer Joe released his version of “Hello” on his latest (and supposed “final”) album, #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS. His is a well-crafted cover version that suits him and his audience. But for me, the best version of this song I heard all year was Back Yard Band’s go-go track. Even as I heard it months after its release, it is still getting major play eight months after the fact. I even used their version as my backing music for a dance video I did earlier this year (which is still kicking around somewhere). It is still so popular in the local area that bands are still playing their version of it in their sets. There’s even a line dance that was made up for it (or so I’ve seen on YouTube). It’s go-go at it’s best, and yes it CRANKS. Fun fact: for those who don’t know, the male voice doing the ad-libs beginning in the middle and during the breakdowns: if you watched the televison show The Wire, you might remember the character Slim Charles, as played by Anwan “Big G” Glover. That is his voice you hear, as he is a member of Back Yard Band.
That’s all for Part 2; I hope you enjoy these tracks as well. Perhaps there’s something in them you may like. Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 3, and as always, thanks for listening and reading.