How is it even possible to select five singles to represent 2016? Well, I’m going to attempt sharing my favorites with all of you. Although 2016 was more known for its album than its singles with some truly disappointing songs at the top of Billboard, there were definitely some amazing tracks.
5. Vroom Vroom by Charli XCX
Charli XCX really brought something different to the mainstream pop world with “Vroom Vroom.” This song introduced the world to a new sound of her’s which has come together with the help of the producer SOPHIE who’s known for his work with PC music. This song features an intense beat and voice alteration, none like she’s done before. SOPHIE changes her voice so much at times that it doesn’t even sound like her but the production is so clean and refreshing that the vocals only compliment. This song and EP garnered a lot of hate from her casual listeners because of its drastic distinction, but I think this sound works well for her and goes with her powerful persona and her overall edginess.
4. Crying by Stellar
My favorite underrated Korean girl group makes yet another appearance on one of my top 5 lists. Stellar released two singles this year, one at the beginning of the year and another in the summer, “Sting” and “Crying” respectively. Although I prefer “Sting” in comparison to “Crying,” I felt that “Crying” was a better-chosen single. The song production screams a summertime bop and the background vocals make this song very bright. In contrast from “Sting,” this song highlights the singing of all the members such as with Junyeol, the rapper who actually sings the first part of the chorus. Her voice actually fits the song well as well as the other girls, overall this song just puts you in gleeful mood despite its sad subject matter.
3. Why So Lonely by Wonder Girls
Wonder Girls, Legends in K-Pop, release another hit after their transition to a band more so than a standard girl group. This song uses the sound of reggae pop, creating a shimmery, beach kind of vibes. The instrumentation of this song compliments their voices well, such as with Yeeun’s edited vocals in the chorus. This song, unlike their previous songs allows for their rapper, Yubin, to sing in the verses and still rap, all while maintaining a decent line distribution. Hyelim’s soft voice in the pre-chorus makes the build up to the chorus so sweet and Sunmi’s raspy voice sounds beautiful with the soft guitar chords.
2. Formation by Beyoncé
Queen Bey shocks the world yet AGAIN. “Formation” illustrates her pride in her blackness and the love she has for her fellow black people by using her large platform to advocate for social issues pertaining to black community, all while creating an anthemic song for black people to enjoy. This song features some interesting production and subject matter in comparison to her previous songs, such as with “…when he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster,” an interesting…way to express her love for her husband. Overall, this song had such a powerful impact on the world and was an amazing song in itself making it my second favorite single of the year.
1. Into You by Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande has hit pop perfection and I absolutely love it. “Into You” offers such a simple message, not so serious subject matter, but is executed flawlessly. The very first line of the song creates the mood with her whispery voice complimented by the light synths, giving you goosebumps from the very beginning. The playfulness of the song creates such a lovely environment with lyrics like “…a little more touch my body.” This song defines bubblegum pop, a genre often seen in such a negative light but is truly amazing. The adlibs at the end of the song close it so perfectly, the choice of edited adlibs compliments the sweet synths. I could go on and on about how perfect this song is, it is truly an experience and a song I wish had been given more justice so it could go down as a historic pop song.
Honorable Mentions: One of These Nights by Red Velvet, Boombayah by Blackpink, Secret by WJSN, I Just Wanna Dance by Tiffany, Rain by Taeyeon, Fuck With Myself by Banks, Make Me Like You by Gwen Stefani, and Animal by Hypercolor