Taking one last glance back at 2016, squinting my eyes over my shoulders to avoid more reminders of the carnage it left behind, I see signs of promise and salvation. The few shining lights in an otherwise dreary flashback of celebrity deaths, votes gone wrong, and Apple’s insistence of wireless earpods; it seemed like all 2016 did was forego classics for flashy plastics. Nevertheless! New music brought new resonance, and new musicians brought new point-of-views, making 2016 a shit awful film with an amazing soundtrack. Here are five that kept the love alive.
Multi-Love – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
“It’s not that this song’s about her; most songs are about her,” will the most poignant and hard-hitting lyric I’ve found lurking around 2016. You could accuse it for being the underlying tone for any love song or record out there, but this one has an unfortunate, and pretty cruel, twist to it. The “her” is not the her you’d think it is. The “her” is the other her in an unforeseen three-way polyamorous relationship that developed between frontman Ruban, his wife Jenny, and… someone else. Her.
Perhaps the answers are in the song’s title itself, but in Multi-Love, also the title of UMO’s third full-length album, Ruban takes a step away from the usual psychedelic funk, to now tell the story of a path he now found himself on1, one that made him reconsider relationships all over.
Love Me Like That – The Knocks ft. Carly Rae Jepsen
Ah yes, sweet Carly Rae. What was that one song she sang?
The Knocks, dance production duo, came up with a bass groove and synth sheen, something so gentle yet infused with just enough attitude. Carly Rae’s vocals, however, take center stage, caressing and guiding the track along, sharing the tale of someone going through all stages of love; the thrill, the happy pill, the questions, the answers, the hurt, and the getting over.
I’ve got nothing against Carly Rae, and I think no one should. Call Me Maybe is a certified banger, and E·MO·TION reflected her disgust at potentially becoming a one-hit-wonder pop idol. The maturity Love Me Like That showcases makes you want to go through all of them stages of love again.
We Don’t Talk Anymore – Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez
Admittedly I couldn’t tell you more than two other tracks by either Charlie Puth or Selena Gomez, but We Don’t Talk Anymore will be a track I’ll force my kids to listen to, and tell them that a lot of that will happen in life. A lot of that happens in life! Riding high on the drug of love and invincibility, only to be dumbed back down to become strangers again; a lot of that will happen in life!
I only wish I heard this track before it happened to me, you know what I mean?
Duets are scarce commodities these days, man. Bring back the likes of Nelly’s and Kelly’s Dilemma, or write me another one with Usher and Alicia Keys. But for now, I just hope Charlie and Selena talk to each other again.
On Hold – The xx
When The xx released their first hypnotic self-titled record, it seemed to have sent its listeners in a kaleidoscopic trance. Sure, it relied heavily on the theme of love and loss, but just when you thought we’d all run out of ways to express it, The xx sorted us out. 3 years later, came Coexist and the familiar anesthetic pleasures. A hiatus later, comes I See You, with On Hold as the first single. They could have gone down the same heart-tingling route, but this one was different.
Scampering, sample-heavy, upbeat; the only xx thing that remained seemed to be the despair in the lyrics. Very exciting to hear and feel what the album will surprise us with, but if On Hold teaches you anything, it should be that there’d always be comfort in change.
Relevance – Fairchild
In a conversation I was privileged to have with frontman Adam Lyons, he explained the definition of the track, behind it’s pretty obvious (or so you’d think) heartbreak and frustration nuances.
“The lyrics are a bunch of statements… more like thoughts that pop into your head when you are thinking to yourself but haven’t yet been filtered in preparation of it leaving your mouth. That ‘biting your tongue’ stage.”
It’d make sense too if you heard the track that a few lines and verses seem to be guiding the guitar chords along, shyly disclosing a form of vulnerability, and then volatility, after which the track explodes into vexation. Essentially most relationships, or most that I’ve had, anyway.
It never is just asking Adam for a quote or for an explanation behind any of Fairchild’s tracks. Sure, you’d get both, but he always comes equipped with truth and knowledge bombs, the kind that you’d always feel more educated after a conversation.
“You aren’t a bad person if you think bad things, we all do it. But how much of it is honesty and/or how much of it is just a reaction to an action? I think about this all the time. I’ll admit that this isn’t necessary about a loss or a heartbreak nor is it my finest hour lyrically… it’s more a realisation that you’ve been wearing yourself away at the expense of maintaining someone else’s happiness. Sometimes even the kindest of people need to think about themselves because in the end… no one else will do it for you. Especially when you are the one always giving.”