Happy New Year! In this special New Years Day edition of the Sunday 5elect I have included my top ten tracks of 2016. These rankings are not based on anything but my subjective experiences with each song over the last year, and are not meant to be rankings of “the best written songs”, “the most talented artists”, “the songs that had the most impact on the EDM scene” or anything else that broad. These are songs that caught my attention when I first heard them and I came to love through experiences that ranged from headphone listening, to pregaming in a London flat, to live at a music festival with hundreds of other fans. The only two hard requirements for this list were that the song be released in 2016, and that it be freely available on Soundcloud. I hope you enjoy these songs as much as I have.
1. Flume – Say It ft. Tove Lo
Flume’s album Skin contained multiple electronica-pop crossovers that earned unparalleled praise and admiration from the electronic community and mainstream listeners alike. This speaks to the track’s flawless, unique, and ultimately very Flume production style and songwriting ability. Grinding, rolling synths form both the percussion and melody of the track while Tove Lo’s sensual vocals fly above and interplay with the rest of the meticulously crafted soundscape. This was an easy pick for #1.
2. Porter Robinson & Madeon – Shelter
This monster, one-time surprise collaboration between legends is like candy to the ears. Unrelentingly energetic and positive, this progressive house masterpiece showcases elements of each artists’ unique style while seamlessly blending them together. The Shelter US tour was said to be one of the best live music experiences ever, and its music video is a miniature cinematic anime experience. I think that what propelled this song to greatness is its exuberant positivity and great vibes.
3. Ty Dolla $ign – Blasé (Louis The Child Remix)
For me this song means hilarious pregames with cheap liquor in a London basement flat, and I love it for that. Swag lyrics and rumbling bass get everyone singing along before the drop brings the beat to a screeching halt and you have no choice but to turn up. Louis The Child had a great year with a couple of high-quality original tracks like “Weekend” and “Fire”, but this remix is special to me.
4. Flume – Say It ft. Tove Lo (Illenium Remix)
Illenium is one of the all-around greatest electronic artists out there right now. His 2016 debut LP Ashes was a massive hit with emotionally intense vibes paired with beautiful musicality, his live show I witnessed at Red Rocks was a work of art, and he has put out several massive remixes in the last two years alone. None of those mixes stood out to me as much as his take on “Say It”. Doing ample justice to the vibes of the original, Illenium adds his signature rolling bass touch to the chorus with rapid, hard hitting synth chords intertwined with Tove Lo’s emphatic lyrics and iconic vocal riffs. This track is a perfect upbeat party alternative to the original.
5. RUFUS DU SOL – Innerbloom (What So Not Remix)
“Innerbloom” was a beautifully crafted gem of its own before What So Not came around and turned it into a thumping party track that defined my spring. RUFUS DU SOL’s haunting lyrics and horn-like synths echo in the forefront of the track while What So Not rapidly builds up the energy in the background with a crescendo of bass and percussion that explodes into an iconic chorus. This song dabbles with the best elements of downtempo and uptempo future-bass and pulls it off perfectly.
6. Manila Killa – Youth (feat. Satica)
The artist community surrounding Manila Killa and the label Moving Castle is one of the most heartwarming things in the electronic music scene. Established artists like Jai Wolf interact with up-and comers like Manila Killa or Chet Porter in a way that gives off the vibe of a bunch of best friends hanging out and making fun music together. This song embodies that carefree but get-shit-done attitude. Happy instrumental vibes pair with melancholy, longing lyrics that are sung in a way that gives a dismissive signal to the problems of the past and turns a bright eye toward the future.
7. Dillon Francis & NGHTMRE – Need You
I’ve been to two of Dillon Francis’s shows and both were the most turn-up, fun experiences of my life. I think Dillon’s personal brand and music interact to create this intense but hilarious vibe, and it’s a bit of absurdity that we all need in our life. NGHTMRE is one of the heavier artists on the scene right now and his presence is heavily felt in this track. His touch gives the drop the “oomph” it needs to hit you just right. This song has complemented some of the most rewarding parties and workouts of my 2016.
8. kali uchis – ridin round ft. tory lanez (oshi redo)
Honestly how could I not include this song in my list. Oshi’s vocal filters and unorthodox production style combine to create an unnervingly unique but undeniably catchy tune that you can’t help singing along to while you’re ridin’ around your city with the top down. The beat may always feel like it’s a half-step off, but it’s always right where you need it to be.
9. Speaker of the House – Redwood
Speaker of the House’s melodic vibes speak to my calmer side. This track toes the line between chill and upbeat, and does so perfectly. The bass bounces, the vocal chops soothe, and the guitar riff gives the track a natural vibe that can’t be perfectly replicated by a synth. In this track, it’s the little things. How the vocal chops interplay with the rolling synth riffs. How the bass flits around the lower register of the track but never overwhelms. How there’s the occasional touch of a synth that sounds like it’s emanating from a wooden xylophone. This track puts me in the zone to just relax and enjoy the beauty that life has to offer.
10. FRENSHIP – Capsize
This song does not fit in with the electronica vibe of the rest of the playlist, but believe it or not my musical roots can trace themselves back to poppy alt-rock (shoutout to LIGHTS). When I first heard this song it tapped right into those roots and I felt a rush of euphoria. Smooth production, a fantastic male-female vocal duo and fun guitar riffs combine to make this song a cleverly crafted feel-good track that is perfect for any setting.