[We are five days away from 100 Songs for 2016! Between now and then, we're taking a look at some great songs that just missed the cut.]
Pop music. It totally still exists. 2016 seemed like kind of a boring year for pop music, really. I can't bring myself to say anything positive or negative about the Chainsmokers, or Calvin Harris, or any Drake song that isn't "One Dance." (I do like "One Dance.") It could be worse, I guess, and compared to almost everything else about 2016, "it could be worse" comes off like high praise. So let's talk about some pop songs that were, on the whole, pretty okay.
(1) Rae Sremmurd - "Black Beatles"
Was this song a hit because of the Mannequin Challenge, or was it the other way around? Just did a quick Wiki search to see how the it all started, and there are sixty-seven cited references on the Mannequin Challenge page. So it turns out I'll never know.
(Also, there's a decent chance Nicki's version is better.)
(2) D.R.A.M. - "Broccoli" (f/ Lil Yachty)
Love D.R.A.M., do not get Lil Yachty at all. Without even considering other possible contenders, I'm going out on a limb and saying that
Hey lil' mama would you like to be my sunshine?
N**** touch my gang we gon' turn this shit to Columbine
Is the darkest and most abrupt shift between the first and second lines of any song in 2016.
(3) Tove Lo - "Cool Girl"
Tove Lo is in a songwriting collective with Max Martin called Wolf Cousins. That is the single coolest sentence its possible to type. Song title checks out.
(4) Sia - "Cheap Thrills"
Once you find out that Sia wrote "Boy Problems" AND "Making the Most of the Night," it's hard not to be a little underwhelmed by the songs she kept for herself.
(5) Lady Gaga - "Million Reasons"
As Ilana pointed out, this song is pretty much tailor-made to be performed on The Voice. That's not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, but it does kinda reduce Lady Gaga to a super-talented reality TV contestant, and she's better than that.
(6) Bruno Mars - "24K Magic"
Now that Marvin Gaye's estate has demonstrated that dubious copyright claims are a potentially lucrative scam, I'm surprised Bruno Mars doesn't get sued by "the entire 1970's (like, all of it)" every time he releases a new single. Pretty much all of Bruno Mars' music sits on a spectrum from "wedding band classic" to "Coke commercial soundtrack," and this one falls closer to the latter.
(7) The xx - "On Hold"
The xx pioneered the genre of sparse, cold, very white R&B back in 2009, then disappeared while a bunch of other bands made a lot of money off of it. Now they're back to claim their piece of the pie, but the problem is ... now they kinda sound like all the other bands.
(8) Future - "Low Life" (f/ The Weeknd)
If there was a signature sound for 2016, it was Metro Boomin' production, and "Low Life" is a perfect example of his dark and claustrophobic style (see also "Jumpman," "3500").
(9) Zayn - "Pillowtalk"
I'll be honest, I was really counting on Zayn to come through this year. Like, I already had him penciled in for the full Timberlake, and "Pillowtalk" was going to be his "Like I Love You." He said all the right things about how he felt trapped in One Direction, and he couldn't make the music that he really wanted to make, and I was so ready for a whole album of cutting-edge weird pop. But ... it turns out that "Pillowtalk" (and really the whole album) is boring, and Zayn apparently thinks "edgy" just means using more curse words.
(10) MØ - "Final Song"
I don't know if this song was actually popular, but it seemed to be on every Spotify-curated playlist this year, so that's something like popularity. Also, it turns out that MØ is pronounced like 'mercy' without the 'cy', so ... I was way off on that one.