My Top 7 Songs of 2016

I’m baaaa-aaaack!

Hi everyone, if you saw my previous post (‘My Top Albums of 2016’) then you’ll have already got the gist of what this post is going to be. However, if you haven’t seen it, basically as it’s the start of a New Year I’m picking out my ‘best bits’ from the year before and sharing them with you. I’ve done a ‘Top Albums’ list in some form for the last few years, but I thought it’d be interesting to introduce a ‘Top Songs’ compilation also, almost as a follow up to my regular ‘Tracks of the Month’ segment – a ‘Tracks of the Year’ if you will.

I’ve gone through my previous posts and picked out my favourite of favourites for this, including singles from the beginning of 2016 right up until the end. As such, I have reviewed all but two of these tracks previously so these won’t be traditional reviews of the music its self but rather, me explaining why I like them – of course with a link to the previous articles.

*In order of release date, from earliest to latest in the year.

 

The Summer Set – Figure Me Out

Released in January 2016, ‘Figure Me Out’ is an elegantly explosive anthem perfect to start the New Year with. A song about losing your way and striving to find it again, it’s full of inspiring, uplifting vibes and shows that everybody has ups and downs no matter who you are. But, don’t let it get you down because you will eventually figure it out. The band certainly did, after initially breaking up in 2015, but luckily they rose from the ashes of what was, coming back stronger and better than ever before – and so can you. ‘Figure Me Out’ is a song that just makes you sit up straight, hold your head high and think ‘yeah I can do this’. 2017…bring it on.


To see my previous full review of the lead single from the band’s newest full-length release ‘Stories For Monday’, click here.

 

Against The Current – Forget me now

Now, I just want you to appreciate how hard it was for me to pick between the band’s singles ‘Forget Me Now’ and ‘Wasteland.’ I honestly almost couldn’t choose between these two, so much so that I nearly didn’t include either of them! ‘Wasteland’ has more of an eerie, haunting vibe, while ‘Forget Me Now’ is more upbeat and pop-rock based. But, I settled on ‘Forget Me Now’ simply because I can personally identify with more of the lyrics and every time I hear it, it makes me want to dance around my bedroom – I reckon it’d be great to see live.


To see my previous review of the ATC’s addictive debut album ‘In Our Bones’, click here.

 

Stevie P & Sketch – Street Lights

This song may just be my favourite of favourites. Released mid-way through the year, ‘Street Lights’ is a poignant rap ballad with a beautifully sombre melody and an absolutely stunning chorus. As well as this, the candid lyrics are poignant and powerful, and the passionate delivery undoubtedly packs a punch. Stevie P & Sketch’s vocals are on-point throughout and complement each other brilliantly. Personally, I think switching up the vocals from rapping to singing during the chorus is a surprise of the best kind, the harmonies interspersed throughout creating a somewhat haunting effect. If you’ve been following my blog a while then you’ll know that I absolutely love these guys; I’ve done reviews of all their tracks to date. However, this one made it into the list as, as a whole it is undeniably captivating; I fall in love all over again every time I hear it.

To see my previous full review of stunning track ‘Streetlights’, click here.

 

The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – Closer

The song that earned The Chainsmokers their first number one single, ‘Closer’ is a great summer anthem. The EDM track comprises of a very synth-led chorus – lending to a very dreamy, summery feel. Taggart and Halsey’s vocals work really well together, adding dimension and creating a beautifully powerful effect. I love the instrumental rise and falls in this song and I just think it’s perfect to blast in the car with the windows down.

To see my previous full review of summer anthem ‘Closer’, click here.

 

James Arthur – Say You Won’t Let Go

One of the biggest, and best comebacks of 2016 was that of 2012 X Factor winner, James Arthur. After taking a break from the scene after a string of controversies, and a battle with his mental health, Arthur made a return to music at the tail end of last year with emotional love-song ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’. I absolutely love this song, and I’m not the only one, as the guitar-led ballad held the #1 spot for four consecutive weeks. His newest album ‘Back From The Edge’ then also went on to earn Arthur his first #1 album, showing that he has firmly won his way back into the hearts of millions – including mine.

To see my previous full review of Arthur’s #1 single ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’, click here.

 

Little Mix – Shout Out to my Ex

Little Mix have turned up the heat with their newest album, and they certainly aren’t pulling any punches with this empowering break-up anthem. It’s fun, sassy, sexy and full of attitude. It’s also ridiculously catchy and, not to mention, a massive middle-finger to that ex – I’m sure we’ve all got someone we’d like to sing this to! Who needs a man? (or woman!)

To see my previous full review of sassy break-up anthem ‘Shout Out to My Ex’, click here.

 

Give –  You Me At Six

Seeing 2016 out in style is a band that have been one of my favourites for the last eight years. Brit rockers You Me At Six recently released their hotly anticipated fifth album ‘Night People’, but premiered this track – along with a host of others – back in November last year. The song has a beautiful melody, an explosive chorus and hugely relatable lyrics, set to Josh Francheschi’s unique tone; delicate throughout the verses, turning husky and powerful during the chorus. ‘Give’ is definitely one of my favourites from the new album.

Watch this space for a full album review of You Me At Six’s fifth studio album ‘Night People’ – released on Jan 6th 2017.

 

What were your top songs of last year? Are there any that you think I definitely should’ve included, or any that I shouldn’t have? I’m always on the look-out for new music, so feel free to let me know in a comment 🙂 .

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, be sure to come and join me on:

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Tracks of the Month: October

Greetings readers, and happy Halloween 🎃! I can’t believe it’s the end of October already, it seems as though I blinked at the end of August and here we are.

I have a bit of a confession to make… I realised recently that I haven’t actually done a ‘Tracks of the Month’ since June! Truthfully, I didn’t see the point of doing one as part of my ‘Jammin’ In July’ series as all the songs I would’ve included were ones that I’d reviewed throughout the month anyway, and August and September we’re pretty much a continuation of that.

However, I’m getting back into the swing of things, so I’m going to take you through the songs I’ve been listening to non-stop this month.

 

James Arthur – Say You Won’t Let Go

James Arthur is back. The 2016 comeback kid, who won the X Factor in 2012, enjoyed limited success before going off the grid after a series of controversies. However, instead of letting it get the better of him, he fought his way through and is back on top with new single ‘Say You Won’t Let Go.’  The 28 year old even managed to resign with Simon Cowell’s record label, Syco Music, and has won his way back into the hearts of millions with this guitar-led, emotional love ballad.

The lead single from second studio album ‘Back From The Edge’, ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’ held the #1 for four consecutive weeks – and it’s not hard to figure out why. Brimming with passion and conviction the song is beautifully poignant and it hits you right in the chest. Arthur’s vocals shine throughout, from the husky tone of his lower register to his flawlessly soft falsetto, combined with the acoustic accompaniment gives the track a delicately powerful quality. If all the songs are as fantastic as this I’ll definitely be getting my hands on the upcoming album.

Favourite lyrics:

The whole thing, it’s too beautiful to be picked apart!

 

Little Mix – Shout Out to My Ex

Formidable pop foursome Little Mix premiered their new single ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ on week two of the X Factor’s live shows – and they certainly aren’t pulling any punches. The lead track from their upcoming new album ‘Glory Days’, is an empowering break-up anthem full of attitude. ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ is ridiculously catchy, with a powerful driving beat and an explosive, anthemic chorus that you can’t help but sing along to.

The lyrics, although scathing, do have an edge of humour to them – almost as if the girls are poking fun at everyone who did them wrong now that they’re ‘over it,’ giving it a very uplifting quality. Each member shines in their respective part of the song, and the harmonies interspersed throughout show that their vocals complement each other brilliantly. It’s fun, sassy, sexy and a massive middle finger to that ex – I’m sure we’ve all got one ;). It makes me smile every time I hear it, and after knocking James Arthur off the #1 spot, it looks like I’m not the only one.

Favourite lyrics:

‘I hope she gettin’ better sex, hope she ain’t fakin’ it like I did, babe.’
‘Here’s to my ex, hey, look at me now, well, I I’m all the way up, I swear you’ll never bring me down.’

 

Charlie Puth ft. Selena Gomez – We Don’t Talk Anymore

After topping the charts with tracks like debut single ‘Marvin Gaye’, featuring Megan Trainor, and ‘See You Again – a collaboration with Wiz Kalifa – singer/songwriter and producer Charlie Puth has now teamed up with Selena Gomez for newest single, ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore.’ The Tropical House track describes the story of anyone who has been left high and dry by a potential love interest, either by a break-up or (to put it into 2016 speak) being ghosted.

However, despite the theme, it’s anything but downbeat. The underlying pulsing beat gives the song just the right amount of kick as Puth and Gomez’s vocals blend beautifully together, accompanied by a predominantly breezy, mellow, summery vibe. This is actually an August favourite; it’s the perfect song to chill to on a hot summer’s day and I’m sure it’s something a lot of people can hugely relate to – I know I do.

Favourite lyrics:

‘Should’ve known your love was a game, now I can’t get you out of my brain, oh it’s such a shame that we don’t talk anymore.’

 

Twenty One Pilots – Heathens

Following their commercial success with Top 10 hit ‘Stressed Out’, Schizoid-Pop duo Twenty One Pilots are back with the lead single from anti-superhero movie Suicide Squad, no less. ‘Heathens’ is a dark and haunting track, combining a hip-hop-esque drum beat, a sprinkling of synths, rap vocals and an injection of rock vibes; all of which come together to create something very eerie. The slightly creepy nature of the lyrics also fits the theme of the song, and the movie, really well; I think it’s a great match. It took a while for me to jump on the band-wagon with this one, but it has definitely grown on me in a big way.


Favourite lyrics:

‘You have trust issues not to mention, they say they can smell your intentions.’
‘And now they’re outside ready to bust, it looks like you might be one of us.’

 

 

As always, thanks for reading, what songs have you been loving this month? If you would like to keep up to date with my upcoming posts come and join me on:

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Journaling In January: My Top 6 Favourite Covers

Good evening readers,

I wrote a Journaling In January post at the start of the month about cover versions of songs and my thoughts on them in general (if you haven’t seen that post click here.) I’m a total sucker for a really good cover; I love it when an artist can breathe new life into a song and transform it, whether that be by modifying the arrangement, switching up the vocal style, or completely changing the genre of the song.

It is a hard job to take a track people already know and turn it on its head, to attempt to re-write people’s perceptions of it and make it good. It’s easy to make a bad cover, it’s harder to make one that’s so good it rivals the original.

When I started compiling this list I slightly took for granted how difficult it was going to be, given that there are a lot of covers out there that I like. For that reason I decided not to include covers from TV talent shows – I.E The Voice and The X Factor – as well as the fact that if I did, this list would just go on forever. Instead, I have simply opted for the ones that have stuck in my mind, because they must have made a lasting impression for a reason right?

 

#6 Harder to Breathe  – Anavae and Tides (originally by Maroon 5)

While not a million miles away from the original version, the arrangement of this cover makes the track sound fuller and gives it more dimension. The guitar has also been amped up which gives more of a straight rock feel. This version turns the track into a duet consisting of both male and female vocals, the strength of the two voices complimenting each other brilliantly and working with the instrumental to add light and shade throughout.

 

#5 The Liar and the Lighter – Gabrielle Aplin
(originally by You Me At Six)

This takes the guitar-lead, raw-sounding original and completely transforms it into an understated yet powerful, almost haunting, track. The addition of the piano and high female vocals add a certain poignancy, and the arrangement works to give a whole new emotionality to the lyrics.

 

#4 Wrecking Ball – James Arthur (originally by Miley Cyrus)

This stripped back piano-led version of Cyrus’s hit Wrecking Ball, sees the X Factor winner put his soulful stamp on the UK number 1 single… and what a powerful stamp it is. If you’re not a fan of Miley Cyrus, or the song, I recommend listening to this cover because it may just change your mind.

 

#3 Empty Space – Rogue Re Vera (originally by The Story So Far)

If you follow me on any social media, or if you’re a regular visitor to my blog, then you may know that I’ve been really into this band lately. I actually included this in a previous Tracks I’m Loving post so rather than repeat myself – because what I have to say would be much the same – simply click HERE if you’d like to know why this cover made it into my Top 6.

 

#2 Give Me Love – Demi Lovato (originally by Ed Sheeran)

Simply put, this is a beautiful cover of a great song. The whole thing has a compelling sense of emotional honesty to it. The delicate sounding verses add a sense of vulnerability, while the middle-eight adds a whole new dynamic, beautifully showing off the power-house vocals that Lovato possesses.

 

#1 Uptown Funk – Against the Current ft. Set It Off (originally by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars)

This is my most recent discovery; orchestral pop-rockers Set It Off and fellow pop-rock three piece Against the Current, teamed up for this cover of Uptown Funk – and it’s pretty great. I was dubious at first, I didn’t think I’d ever hear a cover of this song that even came close to the original, but I love the rock edge that these two bands have given it. Chrissy Costanza’s strong and powerful vocals add a whole new vibe to the track, and Set It Off’s Cody Carson is as sassy as ever, his smooth, unique vocals harboring a slight R’n’B twinge. The two complement each other brilliantly and I can’t get enough of it at the moment.

 

Ok so, I’m kind of breaking my own rule here but I couldn’t end this post without mentioning this song somewhere. If you’re a fan of The Voice USA then you may know that ex-Hey Monday frontwoman Cassadee Pope captured the nation’s heart when she won the competition back in 2012. Pope delivered an unrivalled vocal performance on the show each week and sang some amazing covers, but there was one that has always stood out to me more so than most.

Pope’s cover of Country singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert’s emotional ballad Over You completely turned the tides. Praised by all four celebrity coaches for her ability to connect with the lyrics and convey the poignancy of the song, as well as her astounding range, the cover also went on to top the ITunes all-genre chart – and it’s easy to hear why.

This cover gives me chills every time I hear it and I can’t help but get a little teary-eyed. I think that if a track has the ability to have such a strong effect no matter how many times you’ve heard it, it’s definitely a mark of something great.

 

Thank you for reading my Top 6 Covers, and I hope that it maybe inspired you to give some of the songs a try. What do you think of the covers? Are there any covers that you think  I should know about? Do you have a favourite cover that has always stuck in your mind? Let me know in a comment, I’d love to hear what you think.