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. ✌🏿

 

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RÜFÜS at We The Fest 2015

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It’s safe to say that RÜFÜS’ tropical house hits perfectly suited the Indonesian weather last Saturday when they played at We the Fest 2015. But unlike all the other electronic music bands nowadays, they are actually able to set themselves apart from the crowd by making their songs aurally and lyrically pleasant. They are able to perfect that blend of romance, desolation, and even travel in their songs, enhancing it further by putting in their signature minimal yet infectious rhythms and beats. I’m pretty sure they have the best song-writing you will hear in today’s contemporary electronic music scene.

The guys opened their set with Modest Life, which I believe was the perfect song choice to get the crowd all pumped up. What I liked most about it was Jon (synths) and James (drums) actually played the beats alternately, which was not obvious if you’ve just listened to their record.Featured image

Of course, Sundream was the crowd favourite. Hearing the song played live was actually a better experience compared to the first time I heard the song. Tyrone himself told everyone that it was about late nights and fondue (aka sex), which was actually pretty obvious as its light, floaty synths and solid bass lines were very orgasmic.

They played many other hits like Tonight and Imaginary Air, which as expected, did not disappoint the crowd.

RÜFÜS closed their set with Desert Night. Most of their live videos uploaded on YouTube were of this song, and I was already anticipating the 7-minute version of it. The low-key synths and soft, almost-whispered vocals were able to give off the tropical house vibe they were aiming for. It made you feel like you were watching them play in a beach, circled around a bonfire while sipping a cold bottle of beer. As they hit the 5-minute mark of the song, the whole crowd already resembled a pulsating nightclub packed with sweaty people singing and dancing along to their electro-pop beats. To further pump up the crowd, Tyrone (vocals) did not even hesitate to smash his keyboards right in front crazy crowd.

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Obviously, I was very impressed with the band’s performance as they were able to keep their authentic electro-vibe by playing as a full band. For me, they were one of the standouts of the festival. Their live footages online did not even do justice to how they actually are in real life. Each individual song was played impeccably, and their use of lights at critical moment truly brought more life to the set. They threw one damn good party, and I would not hesitate catching them live again.