Friday 27 January 2017

The 50 Best Songs of 2016

This will probably be the last of my fifty-best lists.

When I started writing these, five years ago, most of the bands I was into had either broken up or were well past the period of their best material. I was hungry for stuff I could get excited about, and making a list was simply a way of recording everything I’d found while ferreting about various streaming services – a way of reminding myself how much good new stuff was out there.

But that isn’t really how I’ve been listening to music this year. I’ve had massive re-listens to Bowie and REM’s back-catalogues. I’ve got heavily into the Hamilton soundtrack. I’ve had the first Whiplash-inspired stirrings of a desire to get into Big Band Jazz (Count Basie just might be the answer to all your questions). I’ve seen more live music this year than I ever have before – I’ve seen Springsteen, Regina Spektor, Bellowhead, Frightened Rabbit, plus everyone I saw at Oxford Folk Weekend, Oxjam Oxford and Latitude Festival, plus everyone my band supported.  And this year was the first year I’ve seen a West End musical, or a ballet.

But I haven’t really been hunting down new music. At least not instinctively. Gathering the songs for this list has felt like a duty, sometimes like a slog. And the lack of real new-ness can be seen from the fact that around half of these songs are by artists who have shown up in my lists before, in some form or another.