Goodbye 2016! Tops and flops of the year
In terms of quality releases, 2016 was a definitely a great one. From Beyoncé to Frank Ocean, a lot of A-listers have provided us with the best albums of their careers yet. From Radiohead to A Tribe Called Quest, long missed heroes came back with astonishing records. But obviously that’s only a small fragment of what happened in pop music this year.
From flops like:
- Celebrity deaths
- Super villains and
- Sex tapes
to tops like:
- Magical returns
- Space music and
- Making statements
Here’s a list of the best and worst moments 2016 had to offer.
With all those euphoric articles about the so-called vinyl revival in recent years, you might assume that the music industry is back on its feet, but that’s far from the truth. 2016 is the worst year for album sales in the last 25 years. Granted, the music streaming market is booming, but will it still make sense to record albums for artists in the future? Iggy Pop expressed some interesting thoughts on issue at his Red Bull Music Academy lecture in Montreal last September.
Bob Dylan once taught us that death is not the end, but still, 2016 has been tough on music fans. The year started with David Bowie’s demise in January, Prince was taken from us in April, and Leonard Cohen died in November – and these are just the most prominent pop star deaths of 2016. And for all of you that think this year was exceptionally bad in terms of losing heroes, be prepared, as rock ‘n’ roll hit 60 recently, things will only get worse.
In late 2015, Martin Shkreli bought the most exclusive rap album of all time. For 2 million dollars he purchased the only manufactured copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin by Wu-Tang Clan. By then Shkreli was known as the guy who jacked up the price for HIV pills from 13 to 750 dollars. In 2016 he honed his reputation as ‘the guy you want to punch in the face’ even more. By threatening Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah publically and announcing that he would share the album’s tracks with the public – but only if Donald Trump won the election. Is this guy’s only goal really to provoke and become a real life villain?
When British rock trio Muse announced their ambitious plans to incorporate drones hovering above their fans’ heads in their upcoming world tour, it seemed to be a good idea, given their most recent album Drones is a conceptual record touching subjects like surveillance and, um, drones.
But either the technology isn’t as advanced as we thought or the guy with the remote control fell asleep, because at the band’s show at London’s O2 Arena in April a large, blimp-shaped drone crashed into the audience. But the band’s singer seems to be still excited about flying objects, reportedly Matt Bellamy has invested money in a new drone racing league.
5. Sex Tapes
Many of us were shocked when US indie pop duo YACHT publically announced in May that a sex tape of theirs had been stolen by someone who was planning to leak it online. Disgusting, right? But what’s even more disgusting is that, only days later, they said that it was all just a publicity stunt. Some people’s sense of humour really leaves you puzzled, doesn’t it?
For four years Frank Ocean maintained a very low profile. After the release of his best-seller Channel Orange the R&B icon did hardly any interviews or live gigs, and there was no music to be seen. Up until August 19th this year that is, when a video album named Endless – which can still only be streamed in its entirety – surfaced out of nowhere. What fans and his record company Def Jam didn’t know back then was, that he’d release another surprise album the next day. Turns out that Blonde was the real masterpiece fans had been waiting for. Moreover, Blonde, unlike Endless, was released independently, which was a very clever move and a middle finger to the corporate music industry. Well done, Frank!
When Beyoncè took to the stage at the Super Bowl in February, a lot of people caught their breath. The queen of pop’s dancers wore black berets, formed an X on the pitch and punched the air with their fists, playing homage to the Black Panthers movement. Without a doubt this was by far the bravest and most important statement by any US musician this year, and it again confirms that Beyoncè is the best thing that ever happened to pop music.
In March this year the world lost one of its greatest rappers. Phife Dawg, member of A Tribe Called Quest, died due to complications relating to diabetes. Then, in November we found out that the legendary hip-hop outfit apparently spent some time in a recording studio together in 2015, for the first time in 18 years! The result of those sessions was revealed days later. We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, is the group’s goodbye album, which was partly recorded before Phife’s passing, and it is a true masterpiece. On the one hand because nobody saw it coming, on the other because it’s the last time we’ll hear Phife Dawg dropping his genius bars. Rest in peace!
In July Jack White made history by playing the first record in space. How did that work, you might wonder. Well, the former White Stripes frontman attached a custom made “space proof” turntable to a high-altitude balloon and sent it off into the outer limits of Earth. The craft reached a peak altitude of 94,413 feet at 1:21:20 flight time while playing astronomer Carl Sagan’s brilliant psychedelic pop song “A Glorious Dawn” on repeat. It may sound hard to believe, but the record was still spinning when it landed back on earth.
In November the police force of the Canadian town of Kensington announced a very cruel way to punish drunk driving. They issued a threat to the local population via Facebook, stating that they would blast Nickelback through the streets while they hauled the culprits to jail. “So please, lets not ruin a perfectly good unopened copy of Nickelback,” it said in its post. “You don’t drink and drive and we won’t make you listen to it.” A few days later Kensington Police Department apologised, but let’s be honest, isn’t it brilliant that finally someone found a way to make good use of the band’s songs?