I’m Alex Edge and these are my top 8 songs of 2016
Let’s just make one thing perfectly clear. Spotify knows us. Spotify knows our darkest, deepest and most sacred secrets. If you use Spotify’s Discover Weekly product then you know that whatever computer brain produces this weekly bounty of music, it seems to get us pretty well. So you can understand why I was both nervous and excited when with no warning whatsoever, Spotify alerted me that it compiled the top 100 songs I listened to the most in 2016.
Avoiding the embarrassment of having All I Want for Christmas is You (sorry Mariah) in the top spot, my 8 most listened to songs of the year actually paint a very clear picture of the year I had. A year filled with discovery, renewal and an endless loop of Frank Ocean’s album.
Without any delay, let’s get right to it. The top spot of 2016 (according to Spotify) belongs to Stormzy. My first encounter with him was at the BBC Showcase at SXSW in Austin. It was one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen. Full of energy, charisma and just plain realness. He came on stage knowing full well most Americans in the audience had absolutely no clue who he was and not for one second did it deter him from putting on a top notch performance. His single, Shut Up, perfectly captures his frenetic, youthful vibe and it brings me back to Austin with each listen. SXSW was an incredibly powerful experience all together. Surrounded by a community of creators who were eager to discover new sounds and ideas was life changing. Stormzy’s music will always remind me of that incredible week.
Coming in 2nd is none other than the most polarizing figure in hip hop — Kanye West. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to Ultralight Beam, but I’m guessing it was a whole lot. No one fuses genres better than Kanye. Certainly no one makes better use of gospel music than him either (Sorry again, Mariah). It is an anthem. It’s a hymn. It’s both boastful and introverted. It’s the perfect analogy to Kanye’s persona. One man’s deep desire to be a man of God. A desire so fully on display, while at the same time knowing full well it all may be just a dream.
At number 3 is a song that even I was surprised to find. Sure I listened to Days in the Sun a whole lot while pursuing my side project of curating monthly music for the cosmetics brand Merkaela, but again to my surprise I enjoyed listening to this song immensely. I absolutely love the lyrics by Ziggy Alberts (see proof below).
So I woke to the, sun on the window of my car,
Oh I woke, to the summer on my window,
& I miss you most when the sunlight, filters across these empty sheets,
days in the sun Ben Howard on repeat,
because everything we need love I can feel in my bones,
on days like these and days like those,
days in the sun, nights on the street,
singing to my mother, singing to the seas,
singing to my father, singing to the trees,
singing to the things that help us breathe
No surprise at number 4. Frank Ocean’s album Blond was like a beautiful sunrise, but a sunrise that hits you upside your head and completely changes how you listen to an album or music in general. My favorite track from the album is Nights. It paints this very vivid picture of living this double life. These lives are different, but Frank fuses them perfectly. I highly recommend giving the album a listen in full, where that theme is explored in depth.
Dave Brubeck and his monster of a song Take Five take the 5th spot. I would not be exaggerating if I said I am obsessed with this song. From the opening notes of the song the music completely takes you elsewhere. Grand Central Station of the 1940’s. Set of Mad Men. Good music does that. It’s transformative. It takes us places we never thought we could go. Like the past.
Speaking of places I have yet to visit — Iceland. That’s where singer/songwriter Júníus Meyvant is from. His song Neon Experience is the most positive song of the year. There is not a shred of negativity in it. The uplifting refrain “new day will come, come around” makes you close your eyes and believe that anything is possible. Since becoming a father this year to a son, I found this song particularly inspiring. There’s a beautiful purity in seeing your son born. The realization that this tiny human has the world in front of him and that at this given moment anything is possible. For me this song captured that spirit perfectly.
Stay out of trouble If you can, boy
Don’t let your mind set
Don’t let the whole world
Drag you down
New day will come
Kanye West and Charles Bradley occupy the 7th and 8th spot respectively with Father Stretch My Hands Part 1 and The World Going Up in Flames. Yes, I listened to these two artists a lot this year. Honest, visceral and unapologetic. What’s not to love about them.
The honorable mention of 2016 goes to a song called, A New Life by Jim James. The perfect analogy of 2016 for me. A desire to keep the door open for a new life. A desire to learn. To explore. What I learned most this year is that nothing is constant in life. However my desire to learn and discover new sounds, new ideas and fresh perspectives was.
Following a year of firsts I am excited for what 2017 has in store for my family and I. Although it’s virtually impossible to predict the future, one thing will always remain the same. Music will always be my guiding light and companion. Just follow me on Spotify and you will get the idea.