2016 has certainly has been an eventful year in the world, where we have witnessed major occurrences that will mean certain change in the following year. Sadly we have also lost many great people, those who were greatly admired; Prince, David Bowie and Carrie Fisher to name a few. There are those that believe that this year has been one of the most depressing in recent times, but if you look deep enough, there is always good in the world.
However one constant I believe that enriches our lives and silvers that lining is music. The late George Michael (RIP) said; “I still believe that music is one of the greatest gifts that God gave to man”. He was absolutely right of course, our ability to take human ideas, emotions and situations and turn them into sound that resonates in our souls, is one of the things that truly makes us unique.
This year, I have gone around the world, visited many different countries, photographing for Zone Focus and absorbing music when ever I hear it. If you have read one of the Top 10 articles before, they are very genre specific and follow certain rules for track selection. With this list, the conditions for selection were simple: was it released this year, did I enjoy it and does the song’s characteristics stand out ahead of other songs.
So without further ado, here is the Top 10: Year 2016 article. Leave your comment below on your favourite tracks of this year. Enjoy the sounds.
1. Craig David x Big Narstie – When the Bassline Drops
Starting proceedings on a commercial tip, 2016 has certainly been a good year for Craig David. Since re-appearing on a Radio 1 Kurupt FM Takeover last year the artist has gone on to release a new album and host his own pool party at Ibiza Rocks in 2016. ‘When the Bassline Drops’ is a favourite of mine, simply due to the fact that a UK garage track made it into the UK charts (placed 10th) for the first time in a long time. Also with featured bars from Grime’s comic; Big Narstie, It makes it a fun track and a song to party to, so whats not to love?
2. Kideko & George Kwali – Crank It
Kideko and George Kwali started the year being relatively unknown, but ‘Crank It’ certainly changed that status for them. I want to make it perfectly clear that I really like the original version ONLY, the tribal house style beats keeps the track rolling, making it a real club hit in my opinion. But then they went a did what I call a “Oliver Heldens” (adding vocals that don’t fit unnecessarily to a great electronic track and ruining it). The ‘Woah’ version has been since picked up by Lucozade for one their adverts, and companies cashing in on underground music and the artists that let them do it, never sits well with me. Thankfully Kideko and George have gone on produce other great tracks individually showing that they aren’t just a one trick pony whilst keeping their credibility.
3. Mura Masa – Love$ick ft. A$AP Rocky
I first heard Mura Masa after hearing another song on a boohoo.com advert of all places. What I love about this track is the fresh and crisp sounding beats combined with a riff hook played on both piano and steel drums in ‘Love$ick’, very similar to early Jamie XX. Most importantly it is different to anything else out there at the moment, and other songs by Mura Masa are equally as good. A$AP Rocky’s bars over the track make a unexpectedly cool accompaniment to the instrumental (when I first saw his feature on the track I thought Mura had pulled a “Oliver Heldens”) and really takes this song to another level.
4. Kaytranada – Lite Spots
Kaytranada is the hottest thing in electronic music right now, no questioning that. 99.9% was probably (depending on your point of view) the best album of this year, in my books it most certainly was. I started to listen to Kaytranada back in 2013, his edit of Common is still one of my favourite jams to this day. ‘Lite Spots’ is a funk, soul and R&B masterpiece, a chopped groove of beats which is enjoyable from start to finish, I love the video too, kind of reminds me of the film ‘Batteries Not Included’ but with cinematography updated for the 21st century.
5. Floorplan – Tell You No Lie
Funky, soulful, catchy, brilliant. These are just a few words I could use to describe this song. Whilst in Ibiza this record was played by all DJs that I saw, I think the reason for this is because it fits well in any kind of House set. With perfect percussion and violin samples accompanying the vocal track, its a floor filler for sure. Floorplan (aka Robert Hood) has been a great new discovery for myself this year as I enjoy both his alias’ releases. His releases as Robert Hood under Dekmantel are real techno weapons. Give ‘Lockers’ a go.
6. Blaze – Lovelee Dae (Bicep Remix)
Bicep has been a long time provider of underground hits; I can remember when I first started to really explore house music, Keep Keep was a real feel good house party vibe tune. Then when I started photographing in clubs, Vision of Love was a true dance floor anthem that local DJs used to spin regularly. For a while I followed Bicep’s website and blog, Feel My Bicep for music inspiration, but then moved onto other things. It wasn’t until this year when I saw his Ray Ban x Boiler Room set, that I saw that Bicep had been busy. Turning their blog into a label imprint, their latest release shows a move to a darker, moodier sound and this vibe suits the DJ and producer duo very well.
7. Alan Fitzpatrick – We Do What We Want
One of the highlights of my year was going to visit Awakenings Festival in the Netherlands. On the Sunday, I spend most of my day at the Drumcode stage and saw a long time favourite producer of mine, Alan Fitzpatrick. Towards the end of his set he dropped this track, instant hands in the air moment, and perfect final track to my weekend. Later when sorting through the videos, using Shazam, it recognised the track as a new release under Fitzpatrick’s new label We are the Brave. The track itself is a perfect combination of Techno drums and breakbeat build ups, with a synth line send a euphoric shiver up your spine. I expect big things from We are the Brave in 2017.
8. Pete Tong & The Heritage Orchestra – Your Love (Kölsch Remix) ft. Jamie Principle
Being abroad, I unfortunately wasn’t unable to attend Pete Tong and The Heritage Orchestra performing Ibiza classics on their December tour this year. Thankfully however shortly after, Kölsch released this video stating he would release a remix of the above artists performing House legend Frankie Knuckles’ ‘Your Love’. This track really summed up the music all the music I had been listening to over the past few months, uplifting, euphoric, almost Trance-like, Techno. It is a credit to the original, all the sampled elements sound clear and punchy with modern mixing, and Kölsch adds sub bass parts that really give an extra kick to the track. I’ll be definitely using this in a ZF mix next year.
9. Deadmau5 – Deus Ex Machina
Aside from all the Twitter beef’s and rants from Deadmau5, he’s still one of my favourite artists of all time. From his early days with ‘I Remember’ to his commercial success with ‘Ghosts N Stuff’, Joel Zimmerman was one of the first producers that I followed religiously and was a huge influence in my own DJ career. From album to album and in DJ sets he has demonstrated that his music contains Electro and Progressive house beats, but is influenced by Techno, you only have to watch videos like this, to know where his true passion lies. So I was excited to see that with ‘W:/2016ALBUM/’, he had really taken time to mix down a real techno track, which in Deadmau5 form, is unique to anything else on the scene, but sounds completely different to anything the producer has made before. The entire album is a progressive move for Deadmau5 and I can’t wait to see him tour again.
10. Skream – You Know, Right?
Skream has enjoyed a year of properly settling into the House and Techno scene. A few years ago, some individuals shunned the DJ and producer for trying to get on the house bandwagon, saying his move from the dubstep scene was for commercial gain. But what I love about Skream is he proves himself against the haters time and time again. As mentioned he has properly settled into the scene by playing big Ibiza nights like Elrow, Paradise & Cocoon. He’s made significant progressive with his own label, Of Unsound Mind and released his own critically acclaimed tracks. Among these was ‘You Know, Right?’ released on Crosstown Rebels, a moody breakbeat track with simple use of vocal repetition and in my opinion a classic club crowd pleaser.
Five that almost made it
- Desiigner – Panda – Mad rhymes from this break-through rapper.
- Twenty One Pilots – Stressed Out – A fresh hip-hop take on alternative pop.
- Drake – One Dance – Because One Dance is a JAM.
- Alicia Keys – In Common – Great to see Alicia back; her vocals, amazing.
- The Weeknd – Starboy ft. Daft Punk – Collaboration of the year. Period.
That concludes this Top 10 article. Thanks for reading and happy new year to you.
Big things planned for ZF in 2017.