This year’s music listening consisted of new music from artists that I enjoy, and a smattering of top KPop and western Top40. At home, I had my usual iTunes music and we used a custom Spotify playlist in the kitchen. In the car, I burned KPop CDs but started listening to a bit of radio towards the end of the year as I didn’t keep up with new KPop releases as much and the music started getting stale. I noticed and am glad that Top40 has shifted to be more house and jungle oriented rather than Hip Hop.
Here’s my list for the year:
- 태연 (Taeyeon) – 제주도의 푸른 밤 (The Blue Night of Jeju)
The Blue Night of Jeju is a cover of, I guess, a classic Korean song (many other Korean artists have covers) and it’s my favorite song from this year for a number of reasons:
- It’s by my favorite singer
- It’s in the sweet spot of her register
- The song and this particular arrangement is catchy
- Taeyeon’s music doesn’t typically have guitars so this is unique
The only problem I have is that I can’t find a place to buy it. I believe it’s only digital, and I have to sign up for a Korean service (melOn) to download it. I’m almost at a stage where I’m going to do that!
- 아이유 (IU) – 스물셋 (Twenty Three)
Pulling an “Adele”, IU wrote a song about her age. I don’t understand it because it’s in Korean, but it’s got a catchy hook. I bought the rest of this album, and this is heads and shoulders above the rest of the tracks; mostly because it’s a pop song, rather than in the style of her more recent albums (i.e., Red Shoes)
- Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez – We Don’t Talk Anymore
This song has a great hook (and not much else beyond that), but that’s enough to make it a great pop song. It’s funny that Selena Gomez collaborated on this song because in a way it’s a lot like her songs – the same words repeated over and over again.
- 태연 (Taeyeon) with Dean – Starlight
Taeyeon’s solo singles are typically in the R&B or soft rock genre, which is not a type of music I enjoy too much. This song is typical of those genres, there is no strong melody or beat, nor is it super catchy or showcase her voice (in fact I feel it’s mostly Dean’s song). However, like Rain, it portrays a feeling and so the song grew on me. I like the video as well.
- 태연 (Taeyeon) – Why
When I heard about the title track from Taeyeon’s second EP, I was a bit disappointed because I thought it would be in a similar vein to I. However, when the song finally came out, I was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty catchy – it’s a dance track rather than R&B. I think this would be the song that epitomizes 2016 summer for me.
I didn’t like the original video for this song, but the dance version is great. The choreography reminds of Michael Jackson dancing!
It’s tough to pick the better song between this and Starlight from Taeyeon’s second EP. I like Why more right now, but I think Starlight will have more longevity – hence the ranking.
- Calvin Harris ft Rihanna – This Is What You Came For
This song is good almost entirely due to Rihanna’s scat-ing, which I find funny because when Rihanna started out, I thought she was a weak singer with a small range.
- Justin Bieber – Lose Yourself
This is one of the first songs that I noticed that started having the stripped down approach to songwriting. It’s not really acoustic, just that there is not a lot of instrumentation and it is focused on singing. I think it has aged pretty well since I heard it in early 2016.
- 티파니 (Tiffany) – Once In A Lifetime
Tiffany had her solo debut album this year, and while I didn’t like her two singles, I thought this track was the standout track. I’m not sure if it’s worth buying the entire album though.
- The Weeknd – I Feel It Coming
This song is so new that there isn’t a music video or even a good audio-only version of this song on YouTube. I didn’t like the first Daft Punk x Weeknd collaboration that much (see below), but when I first heard this song, I knew it would be great. It just sounds like Daft Punk, and their cameo in the bridge is perfect. What I missed is that The Weeknd is doing his Michael Jackson imitation, but when the radio mentioned that, it clicked and made a lot of sense. Because it’s so new, I’m afraid that it might not have that much longevity, otherwise it would have ranked higher.
- Just Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling!
This is a happy song from a movie soundtrack – sounds like it’s repeating the success of Pharrel William’s Happy from 2013! Great pop song for this year, but I don’t think it’s going to have a lot of longevity.
- 세븐틴 (SEVENTEEN) and 에일리 (Ailee) – Q&A
This is one of the only KPop songs which isn’t by artists that I like. In fact it almost doesn’t matter who sings it, the song is catchy and the singers are stepping over each other which makes it sound complex.
- 윤아 (Yoona) with 10cm – 덕수궁 돌담길의 봄 (Deoksugung Stonewall Walkway)
This is a standard pop duet with a catchy hook. I think Yoona’s voice is under-rated (given that she is supposed to be the face of SNSD) but she’s trying to hard in this video.
- Bruno Mars – 24k Magic
I guess Bruno is creating a new niche for himself now that hip hop & R&B are dying on top40. Instead of house or becoming a singer/songwriter, he’s continuing his Uptown Funk trend and becoming the leading funk singer of the ’10s. This song is really good when you first hear it, because every part of it is something different. But it falls off a cliff pretty quick once you hear it often. All the unique elements become regular.
- 태연 (Taeyeon) – Rain
This song is an earworm for me but overall I didn’t enjoy it that much (again because it’s R&B/soft rock).
- The Weeknd ft Daft Punk – Star Boy
The Weeknd and Daft Punk, two of my favorite musical artists collaborating on a track. This is going to be awesome! Well it turns out that it wasn’t that great. It’s not a turd, but the beat wasn’t as catchy as other Daft Punk tracks and The Weeknd doesn’t singing is not as melodic as it could be (although I noticed that most of The Weeknd’s singles don’t really involve singing like his early works).
- Selena Gomez – Hands To Myself
I got Selena Gomez’ album for free last year as part of a Microsoft Groove promotion, but didn’t really listen to it (only listened to Same Old Love). Then I heard this song on the radio and added it to my playlist. The song is actually not noteworthy, except one line in the bridge that makes it worth it.