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TwistedElegance's Top 50 Singles of 2016

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Merry Christmas, everyone! I apologise for not being active for most of this year. Work is all-consuming and I wasn't even sure I'd get this done. I think in the future, we'll look back at 2016 and realise what a wealth of content there was. So many releases that I loved for various reasons, and I'm happy to share them with you all for another year. I'll be revealing my Top 50 ten songs at a time. Enjoy!



50. Augustine by Blood Orange

Writing and producing for artists as diverse as Solange, Carly Rae Jepsen and The Chemical Brothers, Dev Hynes ambitiously affords his own albums the same multiformity. The soundscapes on third album Freetown Sound remained suitably varied, but more than ever, he seemed to master the art of cohesion, creating an atmospheric sound that's well-tuned and danceable but also melancholic and fragile. Augustine stayed true to the body of work he's built for others, resembling most of all the impeccable Flatline, Mutya Keisha Siobhan's ignored attempt at a post-Sugababes comeback from 2013. It's hardly life-changing, but his assured take on indie pop still feels original considering we've heard it all before.



49. Bury It by Chvrches feat. Hayley Williams

Despite Chvrches' reputation as one of the best live bands around, their studio efforts have so far fallen short of providing them with a certified hit to take on the road. It's not for lack of trying, given their vast hooks are enough to battle any of this year's big pop players. In what was perhaps a bid to expand upon that notion, the band recruited Hayley Williams, no stranger to the upper reaches of the Top 40 both as frontwoman of Paramore and as featured artist on hits from B.o.B and Zedd. While it can't be denied that the song borders on simply shouting come the chorus, it's also accurate that the spirits of rock and rave connected far better here than they have on higher profile pairings in recent years.



48. Girlfriend by Nao

Nottingham's Neo Joshua delivered perhaps one of the year's most unobtrusive debuts with For All We Know, a sophisticated blend of mellow dynamics which encompassed electronic and R&B. On Girlfriend, she walked a similar path to that trekked in recent times by FKA twigs and Lion Babe, and like them, she quickly asserted herself as a serious but accessible artist. Its lyrical theme was a common one, "If I was your girlfriend, could you love for two?", but the textures and tactful production from Grades (a devotee of '90s R&B with remixes for Brandy and Aaliyah among his credits) provided the link between a classic adage and the modern world.



47. The Pop Kids by Pet Shop Boys

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe did not become electronic pop pioneers by mistake. They have long understood the fascination of storytelling set against a dance backdrop. When you recall their greatest achievements (1985's West End Girls, 1987's What Have I Done To Deserve This?, 1993's Can You Forgive Her?), they all conform to the same artistic structure, and it continues today. On Super, their 13th studio album and second with Stuart Price, they appeared to reach a point in their careers where the tales that accompanied the tunes were overtly influenced by their past, opening with the question, "Remember those days, the early '90s?" It succeeds in both sentiment and sound, with Price devising the same thumping scenery that served his productions for Madonna, Scissor Sisters and The Killers so well.



46. The Greatest by King

Losing Prince was, in itself, a crushing blow, but certain music fans also regard the pop pioneer's musical endorsements as a loss. One of my favourite things to discover through his work or read in interviews was who stimulated him, and there have been some great ones, from strengthening my respect for Lianne La Havas and Janelle Monáe to learning of his surprising fondness for Katy Perry's Teenage Dream. The respect he showed for women in music was outstanding, and Californian trio King carry the distinct honour of being among them, after catching his ear upon the release of their debut EP and opening one of his shows in 2011. On The Greatest, they came off as nothing short of enchanting, skillfully blending '80s R&B with the modern trends of synthpop and psychedelic soul. Their imaginative use of metaphor resulted in the song tributing Muhammad Ali ahead of his passing in June, beauty and heartache meeting magically on its chorus, "Someone's gotta fall / it won't be me, no / Muhammad, the greatest great / the champion heavyweight."



45. Bored To Death by Blink-182

By the early 2000s, the endearing pop punk of Blink-182 had diminished in favour of emerging alternative acts with more intensity such as Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance, and once that began to wane in the wake of more "serious" rock outfits like Kings of Leon and The Black Keys, the band who were once the unrivalled embodiment of skate punk couldn't quite pick the right time to stage their return. 2011's disappointing Neighbourhoods came and went unnoticed, bogged down by the toxic combination of a band who had stalled creatively and an audience who had grown up. Surely having gained from that, this year's excellent California, their first album since the departure of co-founder Tom DeLonge, found them rediscovering the tunefulness that made their best eras so engaging. Their exquisitely frantic delivery on Bored To Death signalled a band back in touch with themselves, having learned the value of quality control the hard way and seeming all the better because of it.



44. One Strike by All Saints

Ten years ago, All Saints hedged their bets on a comeback after having spent an extended period in pop's wilderness following a particularly successful stretch from 1997 to 2000 that included five UK No. 1s. The result was Studio 1, a dreadful collection of ill-conceived reggae fusion tunes that did nothing to uphold the brand of sophisticated pop they'd built in their heyday. Logically, their stock in trade was priority number one this time around. Where 2006's attempt at relevance impacted the quality of their work, the superbly refined One Strike reinstated the group's dignity by specifically manoeuvring away from trends and an applicability among the youth, recalling the emotional intensity and musical nuance of Pure Shores, their greatest moment.



43. The Opposite of Us by Big Scary

Perhaps aiming for the grand heights of Ben Folds Five in the late '90s, Melbourne duo Big Scary came off here more like Ben Lee, but the good kind, before everything sounded like it could soundtrack a Kmart ad. On The Opposite of Us especially, Lee's brilliant Cigarettes Will Kill You comes to mind, assembled from a stuttering beat, rolling piano and a melody that lingers long after. Their attempt to fuse garage rock with the more delicate content exemplary of many male/female duos is a winning design and even affords them a little detectability among Australia's congested indie scene.



42. Send My Love (To Your New Lover) by Adele

As Taylor Swift retreated after 1989's dominance over all things pop, the coast was clear for a host of young female artists to assert their presence. That didn't happen, so the most Swift-sounding song stepped up instead. Of course, no such assertion was necessary in the case of Adele, for here stood a woman who had achieved not one but two diamond-certified albums in just five years. Not surprisingly, the track featured Max Martin and Shellback at the controls, the studio wizards redrawing one of her earliest songwriting efforts into a prodigious but sunny kiss-off, boasting her proficiency as a tunesmith and the roguish charm of her lyrics. As always, said charm extended to commentary on the song. Residing as close as it does to preceding single When We Were Young on 25's tracklist, the singer recalled scrapping Send My Love's original title of We Ain't Kids No More. "Otherwise, you might as well just call the fucking album Old."



41. Crash by Usher

Presumably, RCA had anticipated a bigger return on Usher's eighth album. His first for the label, Looking 4 Myself, was by no means a big seller, but it at least went some way in maintaining a little materiality for the star. After all, this was a man who only three albums earlier had shifted 20 million worldwide. Despite that, Hard II Love resulted in not only a decline in album units, but all four of its singles missed the Hot 100's Top 30 (six if you include the nonperformance of bonus tracks Good Kisser and She Came To Give It To You, but can songs really be considered a part of an album when they're two years old?) It's pretty straightforward to argue that radio and the charts are governed by politics, and thus, yesterday's superstars are today's The Voice coaches for a reason, but some of the blame has to lie with the artist, and there's no getting around the fact that Hard II Love was an oddly-handled project, right down to its jarring cover art. And that's a shame, because as with 2012's brilliant Climax, Crash evidenced that Usher is still capable of steering things in smoky new directions that deserve an audience, an after-effect made all the more palatable following one too many forays into Europop.

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Hi Matt. :wub: 

I can't wait to see where Perfect Illusion is on the list. :shifty: 

Roc. :blush:

Need I ask where it is on yours?


OH hey.


Hots. :wub:


Haven't heard any of these songs. Well educate me then!

Get into them. All of them!


Been meaning to check out King for a minute! Glad you're doing this! 

Thanks, Bu. Really appreciate you reading. You will love King.


Awesome choices so far, Matt! I especially loved Nao and King's records.

Thanks very much, Andy. They're both brilliant. Have you completed your list for the year?


Hey Matt :wave:

Good to see you. ^_^

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40. Sunday Love by Bat For Lashes

Though often aligned with contemporaries such as Lykke Li or St. Vincent, Natasha Khan is more accurately a compatriot of the space employed by '90s alt-rock queens like Tori Amos and Beth Orton, adopting several of the oddities that made them so intriguing to watch during their peak. She was at her most enterprising here, plunging into a concept album that over 13 tracks told the story of a bride whose fiance is killed en route to their wedding. After three albums of delectable art pop, Khan has become a master of her craft, and on Sunday Love, she created a blend of emotion and melody that seemed to make time stand still, pummelling us with the refrain, "Even though I'm falling apart, I want Sunday Love in my heart."



39. Doing It To Death by The Kills

They may have made themselves over in terms of image and commerciality, but there's still more than a whiff of garage rock about The Kills. The thrash was wound back a notch this time around in favour of a more electronically charged setting, making for some dramatic pop on the outstanding Doing It To Death. It's a change that does them well, with the peeled back production allowing Alison Mosshart some breathing room, particularly on its hiccupy bridge. Its "oh oh oh" chorus suggests some studio sessions with Rick Rubin would make them even more accessible. Time will tell.



38. All Night by Chance the Rapper feat. Knox Fortune

With Kendrick Lamar having penetrated the mainstream to the extent that featured appearances alongside the likes of Taylor Swift, Sia and Maroon 5 are now a routine practice, Chance the Rapper became the most fashionable name among hip-hop's style crowd in 2016. The classic party vibe dreamt up by the Chicago MC and producer Kaytranada was perhaps one of Coloring Book's more conventional moments, but it still ascended to the top of the tracklist for me. The one gripe, though, was its insufficient playing time, at a measly 2:20, appearing as something of an afterthought when stacked against the rest of the mixtape, but it was rounded out beautifully on Kaytranada's Extended Joint, even if the unabridged treatment did limit the rapper's airtime.




37. Freedun by M.I.A. feat. Zayn

These days, even the most fashionable artists seem to be padding out their albums with pop star features. The meeting of M.I.A. and Zayn Malik supposedly came about through a mutual publisher requesting the alternative veteran contribute to the newly solo star's upcoming debut, Mind of Mine. It stalled come studio time, but finally found a home on M.I.A.'s fifth album. By comparison to, say, Sia, who added nothing of merit to her collaborations with Eminem, Freedun benefited not only from a compelling contrast of styles, but M.I.A. and Zayn also connected on a political level, each tracing their genetic lines to refugees, one of the topics the song concerned itself with. Behind them, Polow da Don's murky production conjured an image of some desolate paradise, ending sublimely in a whirlpool of reverberating murmurs. Surprisingly, one of the years finest collaborations.



36. Blood On Me by Sampha

Despite a relatively minimal solo output, Sampha Sisay has built a name in electronic soul through collaborations with Drake, Frank Ocean and Jessie Ware among others. His stock in trade is maximising drama, thus, Blood On Me found him swamped by delusions of onslaught and paranoia but confronting them with a knowing sensitivity, coming off like Rockwell's classic Somebody's Watching Me given an emo makeover. The general air of self-absorbed tension may prove difficult to endure over a full-length album, but anticipation is still mighty high for its arrival in the first quarter of 2017.



35. Make Them Wheels Roll by Safia

It seems that right from the start, Canberra natives Safia resolved that they would not make easy the task of appointing them to any one genre. 2013's haunting Listen To Soul, Listen To Blues kept things rather literal, last year's maniacal Counting Sheep burrowed into electro house, and here, they went full indietronica. It's an eclectic course of action that could so easily cause a group to come unstuck, but everything they do is carried out with full-throttle tenacity. Once more, they provided an experience of constant twists, this time in the form of echoed synths and a keyboard solo that sounds as if it were played underwater, but their digital experimentation was again outplayed by frontman Ben Woolner's glimmering vocal performance.



34. Lake By the Ocean by Maxwell

Precious little of the youngest generation of music consumers truly understand what it is to anticipate the return of a favourite artist. Such is the world of pop we currently live in, where The Weeknd, Lana Del Rey and Fifth Harmony can release two albums in as many years and their fans still feel a sense of endurance. Imagine the hardship felt by Maxwell's base. Upon the announcement in 2005 that a trilogy of albums was in the works, fans settled in for what would ultimately become a four-year wait for part one, and a further seven years for its follow-up. The results, however, have proved worthwhile each time. On Lake By the Ocean, the neo soul pioneer sounded as sensational and honey-voiced as he did on his Urban Hang Suite 20 years ago, delighting with his sonic depth and still putting others to shame with the sickening ease of his falsetto. Until 2025, then...



33. Come On Mess Me Up by Cub Sport

If it were possible for a single song to birth a band, Brisbane quartet Cub Sport would surely owe their existence to 2005's Forever Young, Youth Group's floaty take on the '80s classic by Alphaville. Indeed, you would probably have to go back to the mid-2000s to recall a time when Australian artists were so accomplished in dream pop, for they share their breakout year in an era flush with contemporaries such as Andy Bull, Safia and Tame Impala. For such a young average age, Come On Mess Me Up was a sterling example of a group in control, filled with little sonic tricks and an incredible sense of atmosphere, particulalrly on its colossal chorus, the line "Ruin me if you'll let me be one of the ones you won't forget" revelling in exquisite anguish.



32. Panda by Desiigner

Numerous autotune-toting personalities extended their crop in 2016, but none made quite the impact as Desiigner. Before establishing himself as the rapper nobody could understand, he had already achieved a rather rapid rise to fame, going from independent tracks to signing with Kanye West in merely a matter of months. West assisted further by essentially remixing Panda into a voice distortion workshop for Part 2 from The Life of Pablo, but it's safe to assume the song would've impacted the same bereft of helping hands. This was perfectly realised trap music, all murky keyboard stabs and horribly repetitious, but buried somewhere in the mix was just enough character to produce something that felt daring, inventive and altogether brand new.



31. Power by Harts

If Prince's untimely passing sets the wheels in motion for a psychedelic pop revival in 2017, I would be happy to see Darren Hart lead it. After all, he was another one of the lucky names summoned to Paisley Park for one of the icon's infamous jam sessions, and stamps of approval don't come more sizeable than that. It's likely Prince saw a bit of himself in the young Melbournian, and it's obvious that it was his original funk rock template on which Power was built. The track benefited from a frantic nu-disco groove that produced a wonderful discord when set against that anthemic chorus. In a sense, it was a fine tribute to Prince and other musicians with which he's been measured against, namely, Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Kravitz and Miguel, but there was more than enough of his own identity here to really punch through.

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Like 3 or 4 or 5. -_- 

I didn't realise you were a fair-weather fan. :unsure:


I'm pretty sure you need to create a zip file :shifty: 

hell sell the playlist.. I'd buy since I haven't heard 95% of these songs

You could follow me on Spotify. I say that knowing full well you'll reply to this with sass and something about Apple Music.

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I didn't realise you were a fair-weather fan. :unsure:


You could follow me on Spotify. I say that knowing full well you'll reply to this with sass and something about Apple Music.


First off! How dare you!

secondly... rude

lastly.. I don't have either. Streaming music lowers the quality (imo). I download my music 

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