There is no doubt 2016 has been a consistently exciting year for new music, and this summer, that excitement only grew stronger; several breakout artists began to make names for themselves in the mainstream, and old favorites made fans fall in love with them all over again. From Frank Ocean’s long awaited return to 888’s colorful debut, the soundtrack to this summer was unforgettable.
1. “Elsewhere” – Young the Giant
Since their 2010 debut, Young the Giant has steadily merged the gap between electric and acoustic sounds. Their third album, Home of the Strange, demonstrates the influence of heritage and culture on musical storytelling. Lead singer Sameer Gadhia proves his smooth vocal range, floating through the chorus with ease. While “Elsewhere” may be one of the album’s most radio-ready tracks, it still proves the ingenuity and integrity of the band’s work.
2. “Pink + White” – Frank Ocean
When the elusive Frank Ocean finally released Blonde, along with a brand new visual album, it seemed like the world exhaled a sigh of relief. After a painful four-year hiatus, Ocean delivered a masterpiece of an album that brilliantly showcases his lyrical and melodic talent. On this track, Beyonce, whose featured vocals are understated yet unmistakable, complemented Ocean’s voice. “Pink + White” is easy listening and fits almost any mood.
3. “Fake It” – Bastille
As the second single off Bastille’s highly anticipated sophomore album, “Fake It” proves that there is more to this UK group than “Pompeii.” Not only have the band’s instrumental abilities improved since 2013, but their songwriting is also more intricate and personal than before. The band blends the worlds of film and music in perfect harmony, using dialogue to further convey a sense of desperation. “Fake It” continues the band’s streak of masking the somewhat dark undertones of their lyrics with distinctly upbeat melodies.
4. “22 (OVER SOON)” – Bon Iver
This single sets the stage for a new and improved Bon Iver, one who uses more than simple acoustic guitar chords over a hushed vocal. Singer Justin Vernon admitted he wanted to break away from his well-known sound and experiment with more explosive melodies. The song’s chorus may seem repetitive to some, but Vernon argues it helped in calming his anxiety during his artistic process. If “22 (OVER SOON)” is any indication of Vernon’s upcoming work, the new album is sure to be a success.
5. “Rising Water” – James Vincent McMorrow
It may seem unnecessary to include British indie artist, James Vincent McMorrow, directly after Bon Iver in this playlist. Not only do the two artists share a similar vocal sound, but they have also demonstrated a comparable artistic development over the years. McMorrow was once a soft spoken acoustic singer, yet shows a vast growth in his latest single “Rising Water.” The single transforms perceptions of McMorrow as no more than a little-known folk artist, allowing him to showcase his range in musical ability and creative arrangement.
6. “Critical Mistakes” – 888
Simply put, this song is electro-pop at its best. 888 is made up of members from two groups – Drop Dead Gorgeous and Beach Blonde – known for their high energy, metal sound. However unlikely, “Critical Mistakes” is a mainstream hit, combining the best of both alternative and pop worlds. Perfect for summer, this song is one that could be played at top volume with the windows down each and every time it came on the radio. The chorus is sure to be stuck in your head, regardless of whether or not you really know all the words.