Archive for the ‘End of the Year’ Category

Okay, so 2016 has been quite the year. We’re all aware of all the genuine musical talent we’ve lost, so I’m not going to dwell on that. I also have to admit, I’ve been a little distracted this year, and feel like I’ve fallen behind in my musical game, so I apologize for that. All that aside, it’s time to pay due to that music that did get us through this roller coaster of a year (note: as always, I haven’t listened to every single album released this year, so keep that in mind.)

Best New Artist – Banners

Hailing from the UK, Banners (aka Michael Joseph Nelson) dropped his debut EP this year, and it was soulful, thoughtful and proved how he can use his words to shed a beautiful on love.

Best Live Show – The Tragically Hip: Man Machine Poem Tour

The entire country was in shock when we heard of lead singer Gord Downie’s terminal brain cancer. After everything this band has done for music, for Canadians, it’s hard to imagine world where they don’t exist. However, The Hip didn’t hold back from putting on one helluva live show. Downie was on fire, the crowd was on cloud nine, and it was one of the best concert atmospheres I’ve ever been a part of.

Best Collaboration – “I Need a Forest Fire” James Blake feat. Bon Iver

Two of indie music’s geniuses came together and made some wonderful music. Sublime.

Worst Collaboration -“I Hate You, I Love You” by Gnash feat. Olivia O’Brien

There’s no love here for this track, just haterade. It’s such a cliché, teen angst attempt at being “deep.” Also what’s with the leather jacket in the blazing heat while walking through the forest?

Guiltiest Pleasure – “Pillowtalk” by Zayn

It’s so bad, but I can’t help it.

Coolest Artist – Alessia Cara

She’s only 20 years old, she’s Canadian and signed to Def Jam. She’s mature, gracious and writes music with real meaning. She’s everything other female singers in her age group aren’t. Let’s be friends, k?

Best Canadian Album – 99% by Kaytranada

A breakthrough in the Canadian hip-hop scene, Kaytranada brings all kinds of sounds together and tops it all off with tight vocals. Truly a unique album, and one everyone should hear.

Best 90s Comeback – Temple of the Dog

They reunited on the 25th anniversary of the release of their one and only album, for one last tour. There is nothing more 90s than Chris Cornell and Eddie Veddie making music together again.

 

Saddest 90s Comeback – Britney Spears

It’s Britney, bitch. And apparently she’s back. I think. Except it looks like she’s trying to use the same tricks she used back in the day, just with more botox. Don’t get me wrong, I want to root for her, I do. It’s just time for her to throw in the towel (and get rid of her figure skating costumes.)

Best Song feat. Sean Paul – “Cheap Thrills” by Sia feat. Sean Paul

This right here, is my jam.

Best Folk Album – Cleopatra by The Lumineers

There’s something to eloquent and peaceful about this band. Every track on this album is a story full of emotion, and displays the kind of musicianship that says so much, by doing so little. I also saw them perform in the rain, and couldn’t stop swooning. So there’s that.

Best Break Up Album – This is What the Truth Feels Like by Gwen Stefani

The best thing to come out of her very public split from Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, was this album. It’s part screw you, part self-reflection, and all Team Gwen. Plus, her live show game is phenomenal.

Best Dance Track – “Let Me Love You” DJ Snake feat. Justin Bieber

Hate on Biebs all you want, but you can’t deny this song gets you up on the dance floor (even if that dance floor is your living room.)

Most Overrated Artist – Chainsmokers

I just can’t with these guys. They’re wannabe hipster douchebags, whose first single was entitled “#Selfie.” They claim to be DJs, but I’m pretty sure their egos just like being on a stage with big headphones. Also, smoking isn’t cool.

Most Underrated Artist – Solange

Solange (ie Beyoncé’s younger sister) definitely gets a lot of critical acclaim, but I don’t think the general masses really understand her talent. She’s full of soul, heart, and has a voice that makes her a Queen in her own right.

Best Video of the Year – “Wow” by Beck

This track is several steps away from anything Beck has ever done. It’s rock, but synth, but kind of hip-hop, with tints of indie. And the video has everything you could ever want, including Beck dancing in the middle of the street.

Worst Video of the Year – “7 Years” by Lukas Graham

Truth be told, there are probably worse videos out there, but this one wins because it’s trying so hard to be something, but no one understands what. Not to mention, “Lukas Graham” refers to the 3-person band, not just the lead singer whose name is also Lukas. I’m confused.

 

Worst Album of the Year – Following My Intuition by Craig David

He tried to come back after years off the map, and it was horribly bad. Just so so bad (I swear I tried really hard to like it!)

Album of the Year – Lemonade by Beyoncé

This album is Bey at her Queenest, bringing her A+ of A games, while simultaneously slaying everyone in her path. She collaborates with artists of all genres, including Jack White, Kendrick Lamar and Diplo. All hail Queen Bey.

 

Most Disappointing Song of the Year – “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake

It’s disappointing because we all know JT can do so much better. It’s a sad attempt at a very poor man’s “Happy” and falls totally flat.

Worst Song of the Year – “Treat You Better” by Shawn Mendes

I never enjoy knocking down Canadian artists, but Mendes gave me no choice. When I hear this song, it sounds like nails going down a chalkboard, and my ears bleed. His voice is so nasal/whiny, the lyrics are so cheesy (yes, I know he’s only 18) and it just needs to stop.

Song of the Year – “River” by Bishop Briggs

Anything you could ever want in a track, and then some. Love, love, love.

 

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2015 was a pretty good year for music, even better for Canadian music, with Justin Bieber, Drake and The Weeknd dominating everything. As per usual, these highlights (and lowlights) are just my opinion, and have no bearing on commercial success. I also must disclaim that I haven’t listened to every single album/track that was released this year.

Best New Artist – Jamie xx

Okay so this is a bit of a cheat, mostly because Jamie xx isn’t exactly new. He’s resident DJ for incomparable indie band The xx. His beats are infectious and not your standard EDM style. This year, he decided to branch out on his own with his debut album, In Colour. And it blew everyone’s mind.

 

Worst New Artist – Shawn Mendes

I’m generally not one to pop open the haterade on young Canadian artists, but man this guy’s annoying. He’s so average, yet each one of his singles appears all over the radio. I will props him on writing (most of) his own stuff, but it’s just not that good – he’s not doing anything that hasn’t been done before.

 

Best Canadian Album – The Gates by Young Empires

Okay before you all hyperventilate because Drake or The Weeknd didn’t win this, it’s because my goal is to expose you all to new music. This list would be boring if it was predictable, so this is me changing it up. This is a solid album start to finish. It’s musical, thoughtful and shows an evolution in their sound.

 

Best Soundtrack – Empire

Empire is a one of a kind TV show. Entertainment mogul Lucious Lyon and his sons taking over the music industry, whilst dealing with their family drama that goes layers deep may not sound appealing, but it is. Even if the show doesn’t interest you, the music alone is worth tuning in. The talent on this show is commendable, seeing as they all (apparently) sing their own stuff, plus it’s loaded with guest stars galore. It’s just so addictive.

 

Best Remix – “The Hills” by The Weeknd feat. Eminem

Whether you’re a fan or not, you can’t deny The Weeknd’s musical abilities. His flawless voice, its velvety smoothness is purely eargasmic. As if this track wasn’t fantastic enough,  when you add Eminem’s rhymes on it, there’s just no contest.

 

Worst Remix – “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar

It’s high time we all get over Taylor Swift. She’s becoming a little too high maintenance, what with wanting to trademark everything she touches and taking her music off streaming services because she wasn’t making enough money. So imagine my surprise, when Kendrick Lamar joined her on this petty track. I mean, come on: his album is called To Pimp a Butterfly, and he’s from  Compton! This collab is adding zero value to his street cred and makes no sense at all.

 

RIP – Scott Weiland

This was a pretty personal one for me. I spent a lot of my teenage years cozying up to Stone Temple Pilots. “Plush” is one of my all-time favourite tracks, and one of the first I learned on guitar. He also fronted supergroup Velvet Revolver. He had such a unique voice, such a presence, but also such a big drug problem. The 90s wouldn’t have been the same without him.

 

Artist who Broke the Internet – Adele

When she released “Hello”, everyone fell apart. Millions and millions of views on YouTube. TV appearances, announcing a tour, shattering so many sales records, and continuing to do so. She may not be your style, but how can you not belt along to her lyrics? It’s so therapeutic.

 

Artist You Want to Befriend – Alessia Cara

A cool 19-year-old  singer-songwriter from Brampton, ON, who got signed to Def Jam Recordings. Her big hit “Here” tells the tale of the not-so-cool high school girl who ends up at typical teen party because her friends wanted to go. It’s smart, it’s honest, it’s funny and I seriously want to hang with her.

 

Best Choreography in a Video – “Hotline Bling” by Drake

This was a no-brainer.

 

 

Best Live Show – Foo Fighters at Fenway Park

I’ll extend this out to the entire leg of their tour where Grohl had to perform while sitting on a chair/throne because he broke his leg. In spite of that, the level of performance they gave was monstrous. He didn’t get tired for one second during the near 3 hour set. No complaints, no holding back. They played the crap out of their music and it was just such a joy to be a part of it.

 

Most Disappointing Album – A Head Full of Dreams by Coldplay

It’s no secret I’ve had a volatile love/hate relationship with these guys. Their last album Ghost Stories saw them maybe turning a corner, but they’re lost for good now. It’s basically a dance/pop album which is incapable of tugging at any heartstrings – something they used to master.  Basically, Coldplay is trying to latch on to the latest EDM trend, to make their music more mainstream. They also have dancing monkeys in their video; it’s just sad now, really.

 

Guiltiest Pleasure – “Sorry” by Justin Bieber

I know, I can’t believe I’m admitting it. It’s just so darn catchy.

 

Most Underrated Artist – Lianne La Havas

Lianne dropped her second album Blood this year, and it seemed like no one noticed. She’s got a beautiful voice, full of emotion (think Lauryn Hill and India Arie put together.) Everyone needs to pay more attention to her, starting now.

Most Transformed Artist – Daniel Johns

He used to lead singer of 90s grunge band Silverchair. Heavy guitars, loud lyrics, long hair and apathy written everywhere. Now all of a sudden, Johns resurfaces as some hunky, electro-pop star, that makes his voice do things fans of Silverchair never even thought possible. See for yourselves.

Worst Break-Up – Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale

My inner 90s child’s heart broke when this news surfaced. They were supposed to be the music couple that made it all the way, the ones that lasted. They met on tour back in the 90s – she with No Doubt, he with Bush. It was so perfect in so many ways. And now it’s been ruined. As has my belief in humanity.

 

Best Summer Song – “2 Heads” by Coleman Hell

Hell is from Thunder Bay, and this track is fun, different, and makes you dance along to that country vibe. It just feels like summer.

 

Album of the Year – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by  Florence + the Machine

There’s just something about Florence’s voice, artistry and her drama. She can sing any song, and give you goosebumps doing it. Every track on this album will probably change your life somehow. It’s worth a listen.

 

Song of the Year – “Don’t Wanna Fight” by Alabama Shakes

This track is an addiction. Gets you on a crazy high, feeds your soul, and makes you tingle all over. Brittany Howard’s vocals have so much fire in them, and once you add the funk in their music, you have sheer perfection.

I have to admit right off the bat that this year was not all that impressive when it came to music. Nonetheless, a closer look at the best and the worst of this year is a must. So here we go. (Note: this list is solely based on my choices, having nothing to do with popularity, sales; also, as hard as I try, I have not listened to every single album by every single artist released this year.)

Best New Artist – Hozier

This soulful meets rock ‘n roll Irish bloke knows how to do music well. Really well. From the power of his hit single “Take Me to Church” to the soft simplicity of his track “Work Song,” his versatility shines. He’s going to be around a long while.

Best Canadian Album – Advanced Basics by Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker

I’ll admit this is a bit of a stretch. It’s a crowdsourced 7-track EP, which did not reach to the top of any charts. However, there’s just something so Canadian, so humble, so affable about this band and their music, I couldn’t deny them this title.

Worst New Artist – Magic!

Normally, I try and avoid taking jabs at fellow Canadians, but these guys kind of deserve it. They say they’re reggae-pop, and although there is absolutely nothing wrong with fusing genres together, they execute neither one of them well. It’s like half-ass reggae, with lame pop.

Best Summer Song – “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne

This song just feels like summer. Cruisin’ down the streets, top down, enjoying the summer heat.

Best 90s Comeback – Bush

When I think about this band, all I see is the 90s. They epitomized it: from their sound, to lead singer Gavin Rossdale’s relationship with No Doubt lead singer Gwen Stefani; not to mention, it was the first ever rock concert I attended. Though they’re not the same as they used to be, it’s great to have them back.

Douchebags of the Year – Arcade Fire

I’ve already admitted this year that Arcade Fire confuses me. They make wonderful music that makes everything sparkle, but then they act like morons. They win this title because they insisted their fans show up in a costume or formal attire to attend their live shows. Pretentious, much?

Most Overrated Song – “All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor

I’m not sure why this song has received so much attention. Yes, it for once highlights voluptuous women (in a non-grotesque kind of way,) but that’s about it. The lyrics are lame, the video’s pastel colours are nauseating, and the 50’s throwback sound is ruined by her nasal voice. I am not about that bass.

Most Underrated Album – Ghost Stories by Coldplay

It wasn’t an album as much as it was a work of art. So much was said, in so few words, as the music did most of the talking. I was completely surprised by the maturity and introspection in this album, as Coldplay hasn’t put out an album true to their abilities in quite some time. Bravo.

Best Rap Album – 2014 Forest Hill Drive by J. Cole

I’m not incredibly familiar with J. Cole’s older material, but he has a lot to say on this album. It’s not the crass hip-hop scene we’re used to. It’s more mature, thought out, and patient. I’m impressed.

Best Collaboration – “Love Me Harder” by Ariana Grande & The Weeknd

The sultriness in her voice, and the velvety smoothness in his, show how each of them bring their own style to the track, their own interpretations of angst and yearning. Add that to the 80s vibe in the music, and it’s a pretty great track.

Worst Collaboration – “Booty” by Jennifer Lopez feat. Iggy Azalea

This obsession with highlighting the female derrière in music this year is absurd. What happened to actually making music?

Guiltiest Pleasure – “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias, feat. Sean Paul, Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona

I can’t help it. Maybe because Sean Paul can do no wrong; maybe because Enrique’s intense gaze makes it feel like he’s penetrating your soul, in a way that makes you giddy inside. The street dancing, the traditional dancing, the overall sexiness of the video makes you want to think this song is lame, but it just isn’t. Baby girl.

Best Choreography in a Video – “Hideaway” by Kiesza

This song is covered in 80s shout outs. From the synth-pop sound, to the wardrobe, to the dance moves. All perfectly executed, in sync, and apparently the entire video was done in one take.

Worst Choreography in a Video – “7/11” by Beyoncé

Maybe I’m showing my age here, but I don’t get this video. It seems to be Beyoncé just freestyle dancing, in what seems to be a home made video. She’s on her balcony, in her bathroom; then randomly drops playing dice on someone’s behind. I think it’s supposed to show her crazy, fun, free side. I think.

Worst Album of the Year – Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo

This album is actually the worst. Jason Derulo is a thug wannabe who can’t dance, trying to pretend he gets all these ladies. Except I’m pretty sure that only happens in his videos, and not at all in real life. I bet anything his idol is Chris Brown too. Get a clue, Derulo: no one wants to talk dirty to you.

Album of the Year – Rose Ave. by You + Me

Although this album wasn’t a blockbuster hit, it still stands apart from the rest. Combining the talents of Dallas Green (of City and Colour) and Pink, they created an indie rock/country/soul album which hit all the right notes. Her powerful, emotional vocals; with his soft-spoken, and  equally emotional vocals, made every track on the album shine.

Worst Song of the Year – “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj

I can’t. I just can’t.

Song of the Year – “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith

He’s powerful, vulnerable, and writes lyrics that really hit home. His emotions run deep, and are felt in every note, every inflection. The gospel-like choir in the background just gives that extra heat to the track, allowing Smith to become it. He is this song; and so are all of us.