Every year, thousands of albums are released. Most artists release singles separately, which often take on a life of their own in the charts, meaning the rest of the album is unfairly ignored.
There exists a certain anatomy to a successful single. While by no means is there a sure-fire formula, a good single has to be catchy, have a wide appeal and be short enough to be played on the radio. For the mass population who do not delve past the singles, there is a vast array of amazing music that does not fit into the single formula and is therefore being missed.
“If I find an album I like I will listen to it on repeat for weeks so I haven’t actually heard that much music this year…”
Here I have compiled a list of some of the best album tracks I have encountered on albums released in 2016, which you probably will not have heard if you haven’t listened to their respective albums. In no way do I claim this to be a comprehensive list; if I find an album I like I will listen to it on repeat for weeks, so I haven’t actually heard that much music this year. Hopefully this list will encourage you to listen to the albums the songs are taken from, listen to whole albums in general or at the very least unearth some hidden gems from 2016.
‘No Regrets’ – Magic! (Primary Colours)
In 2014, Magic! burst into the public consciousness with the megahit Rude, and then effectively disappeared. Their follow up record cannot claim to have anything nearly as catchy on it, but it does have some great Pop in the form of the wonderfully trivial ‘Gloria’, as well as laid-back Reggae with ‘Lay You Down’ (featuring one of the year’s first examples of Sean Paul saying ‘ba-da-bang’ and ‘Red Dress’). However the highlight of the album is a surprisingly powerful ballad in the shape of ‘No Regrets’. Just an acoustic guitar, some backing vocals and a narrator pining for his lover to give him a second chance, ‘No Regrets’ is a masterpiece that has flown right under the radar and shamefully will most likely be less well remembered than the Dappy song of the same name.
‘Crazy=Genius’ – Panic! at the Disco (Death of a Bachelor)
The lukewarm reception that Death of a Bachelor received was enough to make anyone lose their faith in music critics. Panic! at the Disco’s fifth studio album is short and sharp. While its title track could well have been sung by Bublé, elsewhere on the album you will find that wall of sound Panic! do so well. The album is a hallmark of consistency, but two songs not released as singles stand out, the first of which being ‘Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time’. However, my vote has to go to ‘Crazy=Genius’, for the lyric, ‘If crazy equals genius, then I’m a fucking arsonist, I’m a rocket scientist’. It really does have a splash of crazy and a touch of genius.
‘White Ferrari’ – Frank Ocean (Blonde)
You could well accuse me of cheating here, as Ocean only released the first track from Blonde as a single. I am, however, happy to take full advantage, curtailed only by the task of choosing just one from an album of masterpieces. I’ve gone for ‘White Ferrari’, because it is in my view exactly what a cover should be. OK, it’s not strictly a cover, but taking the motif of ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ by the Beatles – itself a criminally underrated song – and turning into a Frank Ocean song is just bliss. Really though, Blonde should not be dissected into its individual constituents, but rather should just be listened to as a whole. There will be accusations of jumping on the Frank Ocean bandwagon, but never has a bandwagon sounded so good.
‘Reaper’ – Sia (This is Acting)
This is Acting is made up of songs Sia wrote that were rejected by other artists, which she then recorded herself. In some cases it is clear why they were turned down. Rihanna turned down ‘Cheap Thrills’, which then inexplicably went on to be one of biggest songs of the year, despite being complete rubbish. Another RiRi reject was a cheery, upbeat song about escaping death, written by Sia and Kanye West, called ‘Reaper’. Sia herself said that she doesn’t particularly care about the song and has no emotional attachment towards it, but that is exactly what the song needs. It’s simple, it’s disposable and it’s a great mood enhancer. Sometimes that’s just what you want in a song. Listening to it, you can hear Kanye’s writing and how it is clearly written with Rihanna in mind. I just wish she had recorded that rather than ‘Work’.
‘This is on Me’ feat. Sara Bareilles – Ben Abraham (Sirens)
A little-known Australian folk album, Ben Abraham’s debut is already something I want to steer people towards. As no singles have been released, I have my pick of the album, and the best track is definitely ‘This is on Me’, a duet with the added star power of Sara Bareilles. It’s pensive, simple and carefully crafted with preciously chosen harmonies. In short, it is utterly beautiful.
Image courtesy of Sia via Facebook