16 of 2016, Pt. 1

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 BlondeFlume’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 offBaby 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 VernonKanye West  collaboration. 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. ✌🏿


Wanderland 2016: Short & Sweet Review

I’m super fond of making lists. Just like most people I also have a bucketlist, but it’s focused on musicians I’ve been dying to watch live.

Last Saturday, I had the chance to tick off 4 artists from that list in one go when I went to Wanderland Music and Arts Festival. I was able to catch San Cisco, Commandeur, The Naked & Famous, and Bon IverPanama is also part of that bucketlist, but I already caught them live last year when I went to We The Fest in Jakarta (catch our special cameo in their post-concert video here hahaha).

All of them did not disappoint.

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Jarrah McCleary and Tim Commandeur of Panama

Panama’s been one of my all-time favorites; I sang my heart out throughout their whole set. They opened with my favorite song, How We Feel, and even up until now, it still makes my heart skip a beat. My friends and I were dancing like crazy when they played their cover of Clubfeet’s Cape Town. And of course everyone were singing their hearts out when they sang the crowd favorite, Always.


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Josh, Jordi, Scarlett, and Nick

San Cisco was so chill on stage, with vocalist Jordi shimmying sexily in his shorts and sandals. Scarlett was super cute in her red dress and bare feet, exuding so much confidence despite hiding behind her big drum set. The chemistry between the 4 of them was just so electric, it was obvious every one had so much fun watching them.


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Commandeur on deck

It was also a good opportunity for Panama’s drummer, Tim Commandeur, to showcase his DJ skills. He played a wide variety of crowd pleasers like Jamie XX’s “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” and The Weeknd’s “I Can’t Feel My Face”. Only a handful of us actually recognized his original song With Me (which btw, I reviewed here). It was a nice set, and Tim was obviously a crowd-favorite/panty-dropper with all the girls wanting to take selfies with him.


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Alisa + the guys of TNAF

The guys of TNAF gave an amazing and very nostalgic performance. They took everyone back to 2010 when they played their hits “Punching in a Dream” and “Young Blood”. Their performance reminded us why they should be staples in every millennial’s playlist.


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Transcendental performance by Bon Iver

I wasn’t originally planning to watch Bon Iver as I was only familiar with a handful of their songs. I was supposed to go home already after buying dinner, but when I heard how amazing Perth’s intro sounded, I decided to stay. And man, was I glad to stick with that decision. I was watching their set alone, right in front of the soundbooth, and I was bawling like a baby with just how magical their performance was. It released so much feelings, thoughts, and ideas in me I felt like screaming out of sheer joy. My personal favorite was Justin Vernon’s solo auto-tune performance of “Woods”. I instantly became a fan after that performance.


Not considering the long, inefficient lines in the beverage booths, Karpos was able to pull off this festival magnificently. Hope they’ll be able to replicate, if not surpass, this one.