What with Desiigner’s ‘Panda’ being played by radio stations and on playlists an innumerable amount of times worldwide and R&B fans getting gassed over Drake’s ‘One Dance’, 2016’s year in music has been mixed. Some of the biggest music events have occurred this year, what with the emergence of David Bowie’s last album ‘Blackstar’ preceding the icon’s death and Beyoncé’s second visual album ‘Lemonade’ fuelling worldwide chaos over cheating accusations.
My personal music moment of 2016 was the release of The 1975’s second album ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’. The 17-track album has been voted Album Of The Year by NME magazine and has the ability to connect to a range of audiences, containing songs brimming with emotion and exploitation of mental disorders, some 80s-style indie pop ballads and two beautiful instrumentals, along with tracks which put their middle finger up to celebrities, politics and religion.
Moving on to Kanye, he once again showed us how much he loves himself by dropping his seventh studio album ‘Life of Pablo’ in Madison Square Garden from his laptop. The most disruptive aspect of West’s album was undeniably the release of ‘Famous’, the 10-minute long track which re-fuelled the rivalry between himself and the god-awful Taylor Swift with the line “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex // Why? I made that bitch famous”. Inevitably, this was entertaining for a while, but eventually died out until no one gave a shit – and then ‘Ye got admitted to a psychiatric ward. Good year.
Bowie’s final album ‘Blackstar’ was released in January, and is considered by many as his final gift to the world of music as he passed away two days later. The 7-track album seemingly has underlying messages from Bowie, with Tony Visconti saying “You canny bastard, you’re writing a farewell album”. Lyrics likes “Look up here, I’m in heaven” – taken from ‘Lazarus’ – pay tribute to the artist now, with fans worldwide bidding an emotional farewell to him through his art. The album was his final triumph, setting in stone the legacy that he will continue to carry for many generations.
As if that wasn’t enough, iconoclastic pop legend Prince passed away just three months after Bowie. Thousands mourned his death, with DJ Charlie Sloth asking the crowd at Oceana nightclub in Southampton to sing along in tribute to the artist whilst he played the beautiful ‘Purple Rain’.
April was a pretty big month, with Beyonce dropping ‘Lemonade’. What with Beyonce’s previous album being like a diary entry of how amazing her sex life is, “reigning goddess” of Pop feminism’s current focus on the puzzle that is Jay-Z’s cheating rumours is ever more prominent. ‘Hold Up’ and ‘Sorry’ give credence to female empowerment, whilst other songs are centralised around the Black Lives Matter campaign. The album also proves Bey to be a post-genre pop star, with some of her most powerful work coming from the middle tracks. Once again, Yonce has outdone herself.
Also this year, we were finally given the gift of Frank Ocean’s comeback album ‘Blond’ after waiting four years. This album creates a more meditative space than Channel Orange and bears the likes of Beyonce, James Taylor and Kanye contributing backing vocals. Ocean’s voice still remains as effortless and soothing as ever, and we may as well cherish this album ever more dearly as it will probably be an even longer wait for his next release.
Whilst 2016 has been a pretty big year, hopefully 2017 will top it – but with less deaths.