My Top 40 Songs of 2016

20. Mura Masa – “Firefly” (feat. Nao)

Jersey-born Mura Masa has been tipped for big things, and this stripped down track along with London singer Nao shows the potential he has. It’s a very quiet song, with the soft and shaky vocals being almost alone apart from the odd synth and chime here and there, but when the song builds up and hits the chorus it all makes sense. There’s a minimalist impact that makes the words seem all the more powerful, and the music only serves to underline what is said rather than surround it. It’s a clever song and one that I’d like to hear a lot more of in future.

19. Porter Robinson & Madeon – “Shelter”

A dream team of electronic music, this was an excellent collaboration that managed to bring together the best of what both artists do. Porter Robinson’s Japanese-infused tune comes in along with the fantastic build ups he makes, whilst Madeon’s centre stage drop hits with the shimmer his songs are known for. It’s happy and poppy and deserved more attention than it got, but it’s top 20 spot here hopefully shows it got my recognition at least!

18. Zara Larsson – “Lush Life”

If this list was instrumental only this one could come near the top, with a fantastic crossover between dark and light sounds making for an incredible listening experience when its on its own.

But with Zara Larsson, Sweden’s latest pop sensation, over the top it has a catchiness that has made it a radio staple all year. It’s fun, easy to listen to and not too repetitive either – so that’s why I’ve been fond of it as the radio producers have!

17. Galantis – “No Money”

For a band with a monopoly on fun and family-friendly dance music, it was strange this year to hear Galantis say they had “No Money”.

The tune itself though was exactly what we’d expect: a fun and sing-along tune with a bouncy and whimsical drop to it that makes dance music seem all too serious.

Galantis are a cut above the rest at the moment for a reason, and hopefully there’s plenty more withdrawals available from them next year.

16. Diplo & Sleepy Tom – “Be Right There” [2015]

This great track manages to take a 90s R&B staple and turn it into an all-out assault on the dancefloor, packing so much energy and fun into a couple minutes of previously humdrum music.

The drops hit hard with an industrial feel, and it’s this that shows Diplo with his solo hat on – breaking free of the dancehall shackles Major Lazer have on them and doing something a little more traditional.

This is an incredibly fun song, and well recommended for any sort of night out.
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15. Kacey Musgraves – “Follow Your Arrow” [2014]

Kacey Musgraves’ album last year as one of my highlights of the musical landscape, and it makes it all the more criminal that I didn’t get round to hearing her most popular single til now.

This song embraces all of the life-affirming, honest and poignant brilliance that Musgraves’ sweet voice brings to the table – having charm aplenty and still getting across the message of living life as you want to rather than anything else.

It’s clear to see why it’s still her most popular song, and I can bet you’ll want to hear it over and over again too after giving it a listen.

14. KDA – “Just Say” (feat. Tinashe)

This song is a great tip of the cap to old-fashioned dance music, and also the style that makes DFA remixes so, so good to me. Featuring the up-and-coming Tinashe, pitch-shifted to be almost unrecognisable, it’s dance music like it used to be done but with plenty of modern frills to it as well. A really good under-the-radar song from two artists that will go on to bigger things in future for sure.

13. Kungs vs. Cookin’ on 3 Burners – “This Girl”

It’s amazing how some chart songs do so well considering how “basic” they might be, but this is one that has dominated the airwaves in 2016 built on a little trumpets, bass and vocals.

I think everyone thinks this song is a fun and refreshing one, and that’s why it did so well this year. The lyrics might not mean a thing, but it exudes joy at every step and that’s why it makes the perfect antidote to what’s been a rather collectively dark year.

12. Calvin Harris – “Pray to God” (feat. Haim) [2014]

One of the oldest songs on this list, “Pray to God” is from Calvin Harris’ wildly successful 18 Months album, where he really started to make it big.

This song wasn’t quite as overplayed as many of the others on that bumper record, but it shows the style that he kept long into his next album Motion of high-drama, strings-infused dance tracks that don’t go too energetic but still keep ticking along.

Haim are fantastic vocalists and prove they can do well on this type of track too, so all-in-all it’s an under-rated gem that’s among Harris’ best.

11. Kacey Musgraves – “Ribbons and Bows”

Kacey Musgraves’ Christmas album kicked the holiday season into high gear for me at the start of December and this tune was the stand-out among some fantastic classics.

This has everything you’d want in a Christmas song: an interesting and heart-warming story, jingling bells, and a fun, catchy and upbeat melody to go along with it too. It’s happiness packed into a three-minute span and so much fun to listen to that it’s one of my favourites of the year.

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