Best Songs of 2016

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All songs on this list were released as singles in 2016, or 2015 but didn’t make an impact until 2016.

1. Kiiara – “Gold” – An ingenious production trick wins the top spot. The best music in the world rewires your brain.
2. Beyoncé ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Freedom” – Beyoncé BUSTS out every emotion of the year.
3. Phantogram – “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” – I can feel myself dissolving in the despair.
4. Lady GaGa – “Perfect Illusion” – GaGa’s crying out in beautiful pain.
5. Kanye West – “Fade” – From another dimension.
6. Rag‘n’Bone Man – “Human” – The blues are alive and kicking.
7. Sia – “The Greatest” – Sia’s career is the soundtrack for perseverance.
8. Alessia Cara – “Scars to Your Beautiful” – What could have been an anodyne message piece instead infuses an influx of attitude.
9. Flume ft. Tove Lo – “Say It” – An airy, effervescent blast from 2016’s top DJ.
10. Childish Gambino – “Me and Your Mama” – Where did this burst of neo-P-Funk come from?!
11. Rae Sremmurd ft. Gucci Mane – “Black Beatles” – This sounds like nostalgia and the future.
12. Glass Animals – “Life Itself” – Alternative quirk’s top spot of the year.
13. Bishop Briggs – “River” – I need at least one lady rocker belting it out like this per annum.
14. Beyoncé – “Formation” – The production is so much more adventurous and more mature from Queen Bey than ever before.
15. BANKS – “Gemini Feed” – Icy and boopy, with attitude to spare.
16. Leonard Cohen – “You Want It Darker” – I’m vociferously nodding along to every declaration Mr. Cohen makes.
17. Kaleo – “Way Down We Go” – That title is sort of like musical onomatopoeia.
18. Highly Suspect – “My Name is Human” – These guys from Cape Cod ought to be rocking stadiums to their core.
19. Beck – “Wow” – Beck’s gonna keep uncovering these strange corners in the aural landscape.
20. Kongos – “Take It From Me” – These South African rockers are totally in control.
21. Tove Lo – “Cool Girl” – Tove keeps freaking up the airwaves.
22. A Tribe Called Quest – “We the People” – A necessary anthem.
23. Sia ft. Sean Paul – “Cheap Thrills” – Bounce along when you’re looking for fun.
24. Ariana Grande – “Into You” – Features the year’s most killer opening line
25. Rihanna ft. Drake – “Work” – One of those great songs that defy natural analysis.

SNL Recap May 14, 2016: Drake

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My full review can be found on Starpulse:

Donald Trump Vice President Selection – C+

Drake’s Monologue – B

Premium Rent-a-Car – C+

American Ninja Warrior – C

Sexy Kinda Evening with Dennis Walls – C-

Office of the Speaker of the House – B-

Drake – “One Dance” – B

Weekend Update
The Jokes – B
Olya Povlatsky – B
Leslie Jones – B-
Jay Pharoah – B-

Black Jeopardy! (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B+

Drake’s Beef – B

Drake – “Hype” – B

Wilson High School Spring Fling – B+

SNL with Donald Trump Postscript

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There were several successful sketches on the latest episode of SNL (read my review here), but it is hard to embrace them, as they came at the expense of giving Donald Trump a platform. Considering that much of the episode played off of his personality and controversy, I am torn, as the good bits may have never even been pitched in the first place if he had not been there. Could the best moments have happened in any other episode? Here is a rundown of the top sketches, listed in order from most reliant to least reliant on Trump’s presence.

1. Weekend Update – Update was probably written independently of Trump’s direct influence, though he did figure in the material. That would have likely been the case anyway, as a matter of the political news cycle, but Trump actually being there probably did light a fire under Michael Che.
2. Toots – The fact that such a non-Top 40 band as Toots and the Maytals was the musical guest the last time Trump hosted was mostly a matter of bizarre randomness. Kenan appearing as Toots was not about Trump so much as it was about something that Trump happened to be present at. This bit could have been utilized in 2 weeks when Matthew McConaughey host if the Maytals had been on when he last hosted in 2003.
3. Drunk Uncle – Bobby Moynihan’s signature character still could have been introduced as “Trump’s #1 Fan” on any other episode.
4. Ex-Porn Stars – The low-rent co-opting of luxury in these sketches works insofar as the brand being advertised isn’t actually present, so Trump’s appearance actually didn’t really make sense.
5. Mr. Crocker – The head of Startraxxx Productions felt like a role designed for Kyle Mooney. It had a blowhard quality that fit Trump, but it needed someone weirder to really work.
6. Hotline Bling – The joke of awkward middle-aged men dancing alongside Drake worked without Trump showing up – he was just slotted in that so that he’d have something to do.