These decisions were made based on the whole team's opinions and are in no particular order. 2016 was a great year for pop music and we're looking forward to what 2017 has in store.
Gallant - "Weight in Gold"
If you happened to catch Zane Lowe’s first show for Apple’s Beats 1 Radio you would have already heard Gallant. 'Weight in Gold' is the Los Angeles native’s latest track and it’s received a lot of love in 2016. The song is a blend of powerful and pretty - distant blues guitar serenades you in the verse leading into punchy synth-backed chords that hit hard for the chorus.
James Bay - "Let It Go"
Mega talented English singer/songwriter and guitarist, James Bay deserves to hold a spot on our “Top 5” songs of 2016. “Let it Go” is off Bay’s debut album, Chaos And The Calm, which released in 2015. Writing about personal experiences with a sense of sincerity, Bay sings with melodic truth and raw emotion. In a society where dating cultural is pretty shitty, this song is very relatable. We will have this song on a continuous loop into 2017.
Zayn - "Pillowtalk"
"Pillowtalk" by British singer, songwriter, and former “One Direction” band member, Zayn was released on January 29th. The steamy and smooth R&B track arrived alongside an accompanying music video, which features the famous supermodel (and Zayn’s girlfriend) Gigi Hadid. “Pillowtalk” is the lead single off of his debut solo studio album, “Mind of Mine”, which dropped on March 25th.
Zayn left his former boyband, One Direction in 2015 with plans to continue his career as a solo artist. For this reason, “Pillowtalk” was highly anticipated by former fans and critics. With its arrival brought a great change from the predominantly pop influenced music of his One Direction days to a more groovy R&B style of music.
The hit song received HUGE success this year. In the United States, it sold 267,000 copies in its first week, along with 22.3 million streams, the fourth-largest streaming start ever. “Pillowtalk” was also the year's second biggest first-week seller.
By June 2016, it had the year's eighth highest digital sales (1.288 million) and sixth highest on-demand streams (289.509 million) in the US.
Phantogram - "You Don't Get Me High Anymore"
“You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” was released as the leading single off of Phantogram’s third studio album, “Three”. The song first premiered on Zane Lowe's Beats 1 Radio on June 17, 2016 and it revealed a transition into a new and edgier style of music for the band.
In an interview with Pitchfork, Phantogram front woman Sarah Barthel spoke about the band’s evolution of sound: “It’s a lot more fucking ‘boombastic’ and heavy,”
The single was a huge success and the album, which was later released on October 7th via Republic Records, climbed charts across the globe. The album reached the 9th spot on the US Billboard 200 list at its peak.
BANKS - "Gemini Feed"
Singer BANKS brings a darker, R&B driven sound to pop music. Her essence is seductive and enticing and draws you in to the focal point of any great hit: the chorus. Emerged in synth-pop production, the chorus on “Gemini Feed” boasts one of the greatest hooks of the year. Not only does BANKS intrigue us with her contrast between bright vocal tonality within a minor key, she illuminates the perfect blend between alt-pop and urban music.