My favorite Aussie boys have done it yet again. After surprising us with that beautiful “curve ball” of a single ‘Stranded’ (featuring Broods, Reggie Watts, and Saro), Flight Facilities launched a new song that pays homage to the sound they have been famous for.
‘Need You’ sounds like a more grown-up version of the duo’s 2014 hit ‘Crave You’. In fact, you can even hear the same* dancey drumlines from the latter all throughout the new song. Aside from this, Hugo and Jimmy made sure they injected their signature funky basslines and disco-esque synths, making the song more accessible to retired EDM/pop-loving folks.
Fans of the guys will agree that this wouldn’t be a Flight Facilities song if they do not feature their trademark female vocals in their creation. This time, Broods’ younger sister NÏKA lent her dreamy, enchanting voice, making the song unusually nostalgic and reminiscent of so many hits from the 80s.
To complete Part 1 of my 16 of 2016, here are the remaining 8 tracks I became addicted to the past 365 days.
Say it (feat. Tove Lo) – Flume
I’m pretty sure Flume faced so much pressure after releasing his self-titled debut album last 2012 that it took him 4 years to release a new one. His first album was a complete game-changer, even putting AU in the global electronic music scene. I’m sighing with relief as Skin did not disappoint, avoiding that cursed sophomore slump. Say It, for me, is a true standout as it was able to capitalize on Flume’s signature deep electro sound and Tove Lo‘s pop sensibilities. It made this genre very accessible and easily understandable, yet still aligned with Flume’s true musical identity.
Peace – Kenton Slash Demon
Danish techno and house duo Kenton Slash Demon released an out-of-the-ordinary song this year through Peace, wherein for the first time, they employed full-length vocals for the said track. Their musical style is more instrumental rather than vocal, particularly using quirky samples (the most popular would be the notification sound for the messaging app Line). Peace is the first time they used lyrics and full-fledged vocals, and I feel this experiment was done perfectly well. They became more relatable yet at the same time, were able to retain their dark electro and deep disco vibe which what attracted me in the first place to their music.
Boss – Disclosure
Releasing their 2nd album just a few months prior, Disclosure pleasantly surprised us with their unexpected launch of Moog For Love EP. Boss was my favorite in this 3-track album as it reminded me so much of the songs from their first album Settle. It was the perfect marriage of electro and pop, something that they kind of veered away in Caracal. Boss is packed with deep, funky bass, syncopated synths, and LSS-worthy vocal samples that would make you dance in the middle of H&M while shopping (I did exactly just that at H&M UP Town Center, nakakahiya).
Fade – Kanye West
The first time I listened to The Life of Pablo while driving along Buendia at 5:30 in the morning, I was woken up by this deep dancey bass line that reminded me of George of the Jungle’s theme. I knew off the bat this was going to be my favorite song from the album. Kanye West is a genius, and he knows it. He knows the human voice is the best instrument there is so he made sure this was used by merging Ty Dolla $ign‘s vocals with different gospel-sounding samples to make it as rich- and innovative-sounding as possible. Pairing it up with that controversial music video, you know ‘Ye’s got it and his musical magic won’t fade anytime soon.
You’re the One (feat. Syd) – Kaytranada
This song is just pure classic funk, that is, again, reminiscent of the 70s but made more modern with Kaytra‘s signature fresh synths and up-tempo percussion combo. What makes You’re The One my favorite from 99.9% was Syd‘s simple yet harmonic vocals that gave the song a sexy laid-back nature which kinda reminds of you of those early hip hop songs you’d play on your Walkman. It’s a feel good track all in all, enabling Kaytra to showcase his distinctive electrohop sound.
Night Moves – Roosevelt
Another gem of an artist from Greco-Roman and Future Classic,Roosevelt‘s musical style is so refined as he is able to combine classic disco, funk, modern electro , and even pop in his songs. Night Moves is a testament to that. It is unique yet accessible which makes it very easy to listen (and even dance) to.
Love$ick (feat. A$AP Rocky) – Mura Masa
Mura Masa‘s Lovesick Fuck, in itself was already beautiful to begin with. But this remake with A$AP Rocky was just out of this world, drop-dead, heart-stopping gorgeous. I still fall in love to this song every single time I listen to it. They effortlessly combined hip hop, R&B, tropical house, electro, and techno in one song. And even if it is a combination of all these genres, it still exuded that signature, minimalist vibe that Mura Masa became famous for. It is soooo refreshing yet reminiscent of early 2000s hiphop and 2010 electro at the same time. This is undoubtedly one of the best collaborations of the year and their tandem works effortlessly and perfectly.
Redbone – Childish Gambino
Donald Glover never fails to disappoint. Awaken, My Love! came as a surprise mainly because the whole vibe of the album was not something we expected from ‘Bino. His previous albums were all hardcore hip hop – and this was, well, funk, soul, R&B, gospel, basically, everything but hip hop. He wants show the whole world that he can do anything and everything. Redbone was definitely a testament to that. He showcased his vocal chords more than his rhymes. He proved that he can sing and belt out those falsetto Aretha Franklin-esque notes that can compete with Prince’s. He definitely killed it just in the nick of time, right before the year was about to end.
So there! I made this playlist public on Spotify so you can indulge and be hooked to the songs I obsessed over this 2016. Enjoy! ✌🏿
Since 2010, I’ve been creating these playlists called XX of 20xx to run down the top songs released that year I’ve been mercilessly playing on repeat. This is my 6th year doing this, and I feel this batch has been the most diverse as I’ve deliberately expanded my musical tastes to other genres other than electropop.
2016 has been one chaotic, confusing year as very strange things that happened in all parts of the world. Thankfully, music was able to save us from all this weirdness with probably the best lineup of releases one has never imagined. From David Bowie’s Blackstar, Frank Ocean’s Blonde, Flume’s Skin, to Bon Iver’s 22, A Million, they gave musicheads like me a hard time populating their own “best of 2016” playlists.
So enough of the blabbers. Here’s part 1 of my 16 of 2016, the songs that were played on repeat for more than 100x, arranged in no particular order:
All Night (feat. Dornik) – SG Lewis
Despite being born in the late 90s, SG Lewis sure knows what makes a soulful 80s-sounding hit. He got the formula right – the thick bass, sensual synths, funky guitar riffs, and of course, the sexy voice of label-mate/Kele Okereke look-alike Dornik. These were surefire ways of keeping me glued and addicted to this song.
Money On Me (feat. Anderson.Paak) – Snakehips
My favorite DJ Duo Oliver Lee and James Carter followed up their hit “All My Friends” with this track in collaboration with the most underrated rapper of our generation, Anderson .Paak. Money on Me is the perfect blend of hip hop, electronica, and soul – the Snakehips Signature Sound that got me hooked to this tandem for the past 3 years. I was just a little disappointed they didn’t play this in their Manila show. #FirstWorldProblems
My Toy (feat. Yasmin) – Breakbot
This song from the French producer has that similar feel to his earlier hit (which btw, Bruno Mars ripped off) Baby I’m Yours. It has the modern electro/disco sound (my weakness!), basically ticking off all the items that makes an infectious new wave retropop song. The cherry on top would be British DJ/Producer Yasmin‘s Carly Rae Jepsen-esque vibe which makes it very easy to listen to.
Friends (feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West) – Francis & The Lights
You can never go wrong with a Justin Vernon–Kanye Westcollaboration. But adding Francis & The Lights to the equation is just pure genius. Similar to my other picks, it has that tinge of new wave and disco, with a minimalist, head-bopping bass club beat rumbling in the background. Friends is fun, catchy, weird in some sort of way, yet still heartwarming – the result of a Justin-Kanye-Francis union, something unexpected and mind-blowing.
Meet in the Middle – Ta-ku & Wafia
My favorite Aussie-Pinoy producer Ta-ku teamed up with songstress Wafia for this beautiful and emotionally-charged EP, (m)edian. Here, Ta-ku proved that he’s more than just a beatmaker. Ta-ku’s trap and synth influences and unexpected soulful voice plus Wafia’s expressive wispy vocals was the perfect combination – they created spine-tingling harmonies and complementing cadences that would push you to come back for more of their music.
No Problem (feat. Lil Wayne and 2Chainz) – Chance the Rapper
Coloring Book is surely one of the best releases of the year, with Chance the Rapper continuously taking down all sorts of barriers and contradicting notions when it comes to breaking out in the music industry. No Problem is a true cla$$ic (and yes, I’m writing that with a $ sign because it is deserving) – it’s soulful thanks to the vocal choir effect all throughout the song; it’s groovy and bouncy, with the heavy bass lines and catchy hooks; it’s hip hop, thanks to 2Chainz and Lil Wayne (enough said); it’s inspiring as it talked about how determined he is to become successful in this cutthroat industry by being on his own and not be dictated by some greedy major record label.
Say a Prayer for Me – RUFUS
This song is a nice intersection of their 2 other releases (Like an Animal & Innerbloom) from the same album. It is soothing, blissful, and dance-y, thanks to the airy synths, soft percussions, and Tyrone’s bedroom voice. Listening to this song is like a religious experience you really want to say a prayer to the electropop gods. It is so euphoric it makes you want to dance out of sheer joy and just lift your hands up to the disco heavens.
Love Like That – Mayer Hawthorne
First thing I thought off when I heard this song was Hall & Oates, and man, I’m a huge H&O fans.If Daryl and John hears this, they’d definitely want to be associated with Mayer Hawthorne as he was able to flawlessly represent the former’s aesthetic. The song is again, disco (weakness ko talaga ‘to huhu) – it is a burst of synths and 70s-inspired bass lines, very tito/tita-mommy/daddy friendly especially when you play it in the car with them.
This is for now, for the first part. I’ll be posting the 2nd part before the year ends. Stay tuned for that. ✌🏿
Having worked in brand management since 20XX, I can easily summarise the characteristics of an appealing, saleable, and long-lasting brand in 3 points:
Likeable but deviant
Unique and useful
Simple and timeless
Like it or not, this applies to everything – consumables, services, events, people, you name it. I live and breathe marketing so I can’t help but evaluate everything I encounter based on these three buckets. I use these qualifiers to shortlist if a certain product/service is worth my money and time and if it strongly it resonates with me.
Since a remarkable chunk of my salary is spent on music, I do this most often on artists I listen to as a way to justify if I should buy more of their stuff (album, concert ticket, merch, etc) or not. I encounter more than a handful of new artists everyday, but to be honest, only a few have stood out amidst this clutter to the point that it has made me at the very least like/follow their social media account.
One of these artists is George Maple. I first heard her early 2014 when she released her single Talk Talk, and my first impression of her reminded me so much of Jessie Ware. Her overall vibe was very similar that it was not surprising that you’d mistake her for the British artist. Because of this resemblance, I can’t help but feel that she was just another ripoff. I felt there was enough room for just one of them, so that time, I chose Jessie over her – the original over a wanna-be.
But recently, I’ve noticed how much she has changed her branding as an artist. From her image, wardrobe, her collaboration, and even down to her logo, she did a complete 360. Her rebranding hit the 3-point characteristics I mentioned earlier, and it worked to her advantage that it made me look and listen to her twice.
George Maple is deviant, but likeable.
From meek and traditional, she became deviant and daring that I’m actually comparing her to either the 80s era Madonna or the 00s Britney Spears. Placing her side-by-side with the other female artists I listen to, she very distinct. I can instantly pinpoint she’s not cutesy like Kimbra, not eccentric like Kucka or FKA Twigs, not dark and mysterious like BANKS, not sexy-sweet like Alina Baraz, not “innocent yet conniving” like Lana Del Rey, not bohemian like Florence and the Machine, not gothic like Lorde, and not tomboy-ish like Shura. She stands out like a red rose in a field daisies and daffodils.
I find her likeable because she exudes, and is able to pull off a certain masculine femininity that gives her that strong yet approachable appeal. And she carries it well. She reminds me of a female George Michael. From a brand manager’s point of view, possessing this vibe allows her to appeal to two ends of the gender spectrum.
George Maple is unique and useful.
Image-wise, I’ve already described her uniqueness extensively. In a way, her image is also useful as its very empowering to women.
Sound-wise, she’s distinct from the other female artists I listen to as she’s very versatile and open to different collaborations that will make her a staple in any genre.
She can be very in-your-face EDM-R&B-Trip Hop-Hip Hop all at the same time
She can be soulful, classical and downtempo.
She can be accesible pop
Her range and flexibility is very useful especially nowadays when there are just too many artists who want to breakout in the industry. Her ability to collaborate with artists from different genres without losing her identity lets her leave a lasting mark wherever she goes.
George Maple is simple and timeless.
In an interview with Triple J, she said she’s exploring a “sex, money, and power” theme in all her creative projects. Her message is straighforward and simple, talking about the 3 most coveted ideologies in the world.
Aesthetically, this is illustrated in her logo. From the dated typography she used back in 2013 to the block and bold sans serif today:
Her on-stage presence also embodies the classic, top-of-mind woman in power: the dominatrix. Clad in leather, mesh, animal prints, and fur, she really is a headturner on stage, demanding your full attention else, you will be punished.
IMHO, George Maple > Jessie Ware.
Since her rebranding, I’ve been more of a George Maple fan than of Jessie Ware as her image is more exciting and intersting than the latter. So when We The Fest announced their 2016 line up and it included her, I booked my plane ticket to Jakarta in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
And boy, was my decision right. She was a show stopper, singing her originals as well as classics and pop hits like Jeff Buckley’s Everybody Here Wants You and Britney Spears’ Boys. At first, the concert ground was only about half full when she started. But as her show went on, it slowly filled with people who were most likely intrigued and mesmerized by her stage presence and haunting performance. My purchase was worth it, and expect that I will be patronizing more of her projects.
George Maple learned the basics of building a strong brand identity – she was able to balance the optimal level of artistry and accessiblity to make her distinct from other female artists while still appealing to a wide audience through her desirable, timeless image.
But just because she was able to perfect this aspect, doesn’t mean her work is done. Brand building is a continuous process. It is important to always be grounded with market insight to keep yourself relevant to them. Interact with your fans and other potential audience for you to know what appeals to them. Their tastes change, so if you want to them to be with you throughout your career, you should always keep them in mind in your new projects.