It’s the end of a very special and interesting year which had it’s fair share of awesome hits and tracks. As 2016 comes to a close, I list the best, most exciting, fresh, funniest and most inspiring pop musical moments of the year, from Meghan Trainor falling over on Jimmy Kimmel to the Black Beatle Mannequin Challenge.
Shout Out to Little Mix Getting Their Ex’s Out of Their Hair
The two biggest hits of the year came from these girls and both tracks are about getting over that toxic ex-boyfriend. Both sounds are catchy and addictive in their own ways, and both music videos are intriguing and visually stunning – you can’t really look away when Little Mix are on. First the girls brought us Hair in April with a tightly choreographed and directed music video which follows the story of a girly sleepover, with Leigh-Anne getting her ex our of her hair. The music video was so fun and casual with all four girls in their pajamas for the majority of the time.
The music video for Hair and Shout Out To My Ex were both set in what appeared to be American surroundings. In Hair, the girls get together in a large house, order pizza and fool around with outfits in their walk-in wardrobe (or closet). In Shout Out To My Ex the girls are show in a very open plain, next to a pool, and in an American car. Maybe the girls are trying to pander to their very large American fan base but, the videos the girls are putting out look as though the group are from the U.S. It could be that this is the reason Little Mix have done so great this year,
Moving on, Shout Out To My Ex, which was released in October, made a huge entrance before the video was even out. The girls went back to their roots and made their debut performance of this song on XFactor UK before anyone had even heard the tune. They caused a lot of talk after this performance including discussion on their “revealing” outfits and how the track sounded exactly like GRL’s song Ugly Heart. However, no matter how much criticism this group got, they have stormed through this year as triumphant.Although, we all know the real reason Shout Out To My Ex, the repetitive, generic break-up song, did so well this Autumn; Perrie and Zayn’s break up. It did feel like all the interviews, performances and publicity surrounding this single was mainly focused on Perrie and her cancelled engagement with the former-One Direction member. It has also recently come to light that Jesy has also split from her fiance, so, although it’s not a nice fact, all of these things do aid the selling of a record and I think that was utilised when this song was released.
In essence, these girls are so fun to watch and both music videos are eye-catching and addictive. The songs the group have promoted this year are relatable to pretty much everyone, whether you’ve had your heart broken or just need to forget your ex ever existed, Little Mix have covered all the feelings and motions.
DNCE Doing It Like They Do
I know that DNCE’s most famous track, Cake By The Ocean, was actually released last year but the song has remained in our minds and is still being played frequently. It is such a summer track that it’s no surprise it made more than a few appearances in the summer of 2016. However, since that beach-party-tune was released, DNCE have kept themselves busy with their new single Toothbrush being brought out in May which got just as popular.
This song gave listeners such a great feeling of that passionate first few months of a relationship and it is super catchy. The guys in DNCE seem to have established their own style and mannerisms already that you can tell who these guys are just by listening. Toothbrush re-affirmed the band’s genres and messages which includes that feeling of excitement in a relationship. These guys are also great to watch live, with this excitement and fun energy radiating off of the stage and into the audience.
Meghan Trainor Takes a Tumble on Jimmy Fallon
My girl, Meghan Trainor, has had her fill of hits in 2016. First she threw us her lead single, NO in March, which was both reminiscent of the 90’s and yet had the beat of a fresh new sound. Then she came in again in May with the famous Me Too track that has peaked almost 300 million views on YouTube. The music videos for both songs were talked about loads but Me Too won all the hype when it transpired that the first cut of the video included photoshopped shots to make Meghan’s waist look slimmer. This video was quickly taken down and replaced with an unedited version. Meghan did a great job of brushing off this issue and the message she sent out this year goes hand-in-hand with her music.
NO was an additive anthem and I thought Meghan absolutely smashed the music video. I saw a lot of negative comments, like Meghan being stiff whilst dancing, but I actually really enjoyed the video. This first single was pretty much aimed at us ladies and it really captured that bad-ass feeling we let out when we come up against persistent unwanted individuals. I fell even more in love with this song when Meghan performed it on The Voice UK and The Graham Norton Show [watch now]. Both performances were faultless and stunning. Meghan can pull off singing completely live with her amazing vocals but understands the use of a backing track to enhance her performances and allow her to rift and it makes for great entertainment. These two performances blew me away so I would definitely give them a watch. Meghan’s long pause before belting out the last chorus will make your heart stop beating.
NO combines with Me Too to create the perfect confidence booster. When you listen to Meghan’s 2016 music, your self-esteem just soars and you feel good. Me Too was honestly something I had never heard before. It was a completely new message, promoting loving what you have and being confident. As the music video follows Meghan around her celebrity life, it should feel arrogant and big-headed, after all, the hook is “If I was you, I’d wanna be me too”, but it’s really not arrogant at all. Meghan has so much fun in the video and this radiates to the viewer. The song isn’t about rubbing what you have got into other people’s faces, but rather loving your life and all the things you are able to do. The fact that Meghan openly admitted to the photoshopped video and demanded it be taken down and an unedited version re-uploaded, adds to the incredible vibe she spreads that encompasses confidence, positivity and being yourself.
And what was the cherry on top of all these wonderful messages? Falling over on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. I had heard that Meghan had fallen, quite literally, on her ass on the show whilst performing Me Too so I watched the entire performance on the edge of my seat, innocent to the fact that Meghan nails every single dance move. It’s not until the very end does she trip over completely, causing Jimmy Fallon to join her lying on the floor. Meghan reveals in an interview the next day that she performed the song all over again but, on reviewing both performances, said the first was a better performance so the original version was aired. Just another reminder that Meghan encourages humidity, creative passion, morale and good laughs.
Fifth Harmony Go To Work, Work, Work
Fifth Harmony have had a hell of a year with the release of their second studio album, 7/27, which debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200. Multiple hits came out of this album which surpassed the success of Worth It. The five girls have gradually grown in publicity throughout the year. First their lead single, Work From Home, and it’s music video were released way back in February. This single is officially my song of 2016 and is still going strong. The girls look and sound so amazing and they really smashed all the stereotypes of them being a typical XFactor girl group who only appeal to teenage girls. This Is The Life and Write On Me were also great tracks that were released at around the same time but were not as popular.
Fifth Harmony have managed to keep Work From Home alive throughout the year through their stunning live performances. One of their first performances being on Jimmy Kimmel Live! where they managed to re-enact their music video almost perfectly by incorporating a bloody massive truck along with exactly the same outfits and famous, powerful dance moves from the music video. The song has been constantly kept fresh with the girls performing it everywhere they go and always developing new moves and surprises with each new showing.
Then came All In My Head (Flex) [watch now] which the girls performed a number of times before releasing the music video. All performances of this song were pretty incredible and so, when the video finally came out in June, I wasn’t surprised that people loved it so much. The video is set on a beach and the girls look stunning so what’s not to love? Then, just when you think Fifth Harmony can’t give us any more sexy, sassy tracks, along came That’s My Girl [watch now] which was released in September. This was the one that headed everything off and became popular very quickly due to the messages of friendship and girl power. The girls nailed the live performance on the American Music Awards. Although the heavy production may have overwhelmed the actual vocals, the women in the audience were so captivated and so it was definitely an impactful moment for 2016.
Fifth Harmony have blossomed this year and have kept us intrigued, not leaving us bored for new music. The three top singles we have been listening to in 2016 have all been strong, special and memorable.
Hallelujah, it’s Pentatonix!
The A cappella group stayed fairly quiet this year until autumn dawned on us and they emerged from their recording studio with an incredible rendition of Hallelujah accompanied by an equally heart-stopping video. This track, released in October, made me prematurely excited for Christmas, with the video set in Winter, featuring winter clothes and slow harmonies. They have received over 70 million views on YouTube for this song and it’s not even Christmas yet! Believe it or not, this video was trending before it was even November and it’s brilliant. For a song that has been covered and re-hashed too many times already, Pentatonix still managed to keep it fresh and deliver us a version completely different, hitting notes that you would never think of when looking at this song. It looks like Pentatonix were saving all their ammunition for the end of the year.
Shortly before releasing this video, the guys shot a cover of Jolene with the one and only Dolly Parton [watch now]. This got such great reviews that the gang performed the track again live on The Voice US alongside Dolly and Miley Cyrus. The television performance obviously had it’s errors and mistakes but Pentatonix themselves were still faultless and tight throughout. All 7 voices blended and complemented each other amazingly. Hopefully all of the groups hard work this year will get them a Christmas number 1 somewhere!
BEATZ Get Even Bigger and Better
BEATZ have gained in popularity over the past couple of years, thanks to their 2014 XFactor Australia audition of Hollaback Girl pretty much becoming viral [watch now], with people praising their tight harmonies and dance moves, as well as their ability to create something new and unique with an old track. The girls unfortunately never made it to the live shows in 2014 but, after they raised to prominence more online, they came back again this year, auditioning with Problem in October. Iggy Azalea has been one of the XFactor judges this year and group member, Taylor, does a brave job of nailing Iggy’s rap right in front of her.
Some people would say that the girls improved on their second audition but, personally, I thought that they had talent and potential from the start. This year the girls not only went to the live shows but made it all the way to the semi-finals. Despite the fact that BEATZ were knocked off the show yet again, they pulled off some jaw-dropping performances whilst being on the show and I hope they gain even more publicity because I feel they really deserve it. Ever since I saw their rendition of Hollaback Girl I knew that there was something special about these three. They are all so young and yet have the talent, maturity and confidence of a group that have been in the industry for several years. Here’s me hoping that they go even further!
BEATZ gave us a host of new live covers this year which includes my favourites; Single Ladies where, again, they do something completely new and fresh with the famous track and look amazing whilst doing it, and Move [watch now] where the girls look so much like fully-formed recording artists that I just don’t get why they haven’t made it yet. It seems like the group don’t need any more experience and are bursting from their creative, talented bubble just eager to go head first into the music industry. These girls perform better than some professionals and I can’t wait for them to release their own music.
We Have Been Starving For Hailee Steinfeld And We Didn’t Even Know It!
Hailee Steinfeld’s track, Starving, came out of absolutely no where. We thought she was just a Pitch Perfect actress but now she is the voice behind probably the biggest hit of 2016, despite also being the star of the movie The Edge of Seventeen that came out this year as well. Hailee has gained so much praise for this track. I still don’t understand how this girl has such beautiful vocals and is only 19 years old. When I watched her live performance of Starving on Late Night With Seth Meyers I was so blown away, and not just because of the shirtless backing dancers.
Hailee has so much confidence and actually sings live. Unlike most artists, she sounds great because her performances sound real and genuine. She also does not get distracted by those wonderfully hot dancers, and the tune that she has been blessed with is incredibly catchy. The message behind the song is so passionate and reminds us of all those special and unique people that we have interacted with that have given us a spark or something new. The beat and tune are so simple and yet the track has gone through the roof at over 77 million views on YouTube. I really hope that Hailee keeps going further because she is such a talented singer and actress, not to mention that she always looks amazing as well.
Ariana Grande Keeping It Interesting
One of the queens of pop. The most popular tracks from Ariana Grande this year continue to be sexy, saucy and fresh. First she releases Into You in May which was slow, seductive and passionate, and then she hits again with Side to Side in August. This one really got people talking about the extremely sexy messages. The music video being set in a gym, Ariana is not afraid to show off ass and send as many phallic imagery she wants – and it got the world buzzing.
Ariana performed this track at the MTV Video Music Awards and pretty much blew any expectation out of the water. First she started on a exercise bike, whilst keeping pretty steady vocals, and then she moved onto a gymnastic horse bench, at one point hanging almost completely upside down, before Nicki Minaj made her big entrance. Ariana does this all whilst singing live which is mind-blowing. The show was so provocative and erotic that there was obvious discussion which brought extra publicity to Side to Side. You may watch the performance and be a bit taken aback but things like this got Ariana very popular in 2016. Side to Side and Into You are still being played over and over because of Ariana’s sexy, fun character.
The Come Back of an XFactor Winner Long Forgotten
I’m sure we had all forgotten that James Arthur even existed. After he won the XFactor UK back in 2012 and disappeared due to controversy and lack of good material, he was back fighting this year when he released Say You Won’t Let Go in September. This track went straight to the number one here in the UK and Arthur has, to date, been the only male winner of the XFactor UK to have more than one number one hit which is a great achievement.
Arthur received heaps of praise for this love song which was slow and had beautiful, sweet melodies. The track really broke up the radio from all the electric dance music that is so popular nowadays and brought us acoustic sounds and simple lyrics which is rare in today’s pop music. Since September, James has forked up almost 100 million views for this song on YouTube. Let’s hope for more sweet love songs from James in 2017!
If I told you a year ago that this duo, Rae Sremmurd, would be responsible for the most played song of 2016, would you believe me? The Mannequin Challenge first came about last month and, has since, gone viral. Rae Sremmurd’s single Black Beatles, which was released in August, became the theme tune for this particular internet sensation and led to celebrities such as Destiny’s Child, Paul McCartney, James Corden and Adele all giving it a go. It was overnight success for Rae Sremmurd as Black Beatles went straight to number one in the ITunes chart. The song itself is very unique and has interesting beats and lyrics; the group’s style is almost the pinnacle of hip-hop. This viral challenge led to increased success in Rae Sremmurd’s other 2016 singles, No Type and No Flex Zone which is so great for the group as they are really well-produced and fresh.
So, if you were hidden under a rock throughout 2016, that was what you missed! Obviously, several other artists had a slice of the attention this year. Shawn Mendes continued to make catchy pop anthems after his break through last year with the release of Treat You Better and Mercy. Nick Jonas was another artist who had to live up to his reputation from last year’s Jealous, which he has managed to keep up with this year’s Bacon (he performed a particular amazing version of this on The Late Late Show with James Corden).
Justin Bieber is obviously as famous as ever, with Cold Water becoming a massive hit this year, Zara Larson kept up her profile with Ain’t My Fault, ridiculous considering that she is so young, and Sean Paul has just recently brought out Rockabye with Clean Bandit which has been very popular. We also need to mention Sia who powered through this year with hot hit Cheap Thrills back in February which is still being played and loved everywhere. Then she hit us with The Greatest, released in September, which adds to the fact that Sia is becoming more of an individual artist, and is gaining in mainstream popularity.
One of the biggest tracks of 2016 has got to be The Chainsmoker’s Closer which has been extremely over-played, and then we have Drake. Hotline Bling is still a massive tune despite being released over a year ago, but Drake’s One Dance stole the limelight this year, being named Song of the Summer by Billboard. In October, Spotify also revealed that One Dance has become their most-played song. Hopefully, “I need a One Dance” will remind us of 2016 in the future.
Moving forward, one of the two tracks that I can not stop listening to right now, which will probably be one of 2017’s biggest hits, is Noah Cyrus’ debut single Make Me (Cry), which she released with Labrinth last month. Noah sounds so much like her sister and looks amazing in the music video. I still can not believe she is only 16 years old.
The second song that I am hooked on at the moment is Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello’s Bad Things which is such a fresh tune and their voices complement each other so perfectly. This song is an instant replay and the two of them have performed the tune live several times already, my favourite being on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. These two seem to create so much chemistry and artistry, and bounce off of each other when performing, and Camila always looks incredible too.