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My Top Songs of 2016

Damn, another year is coming to an end. I know I've been MIA for quite some time, but this has been quite a busy year for me, especially in the second half. Still, I obviously wouldn't miss the chance to share my annual list of my personal favorite songs of the year (in no particular order), which has pretty much become a tradition since 2012.

BANKS, "Gemini Feed"

Two years after blessing us mortals with her masterpiece of a debut album, Goddess, my girl Jillian Banks is back with The Altar, otherwise known as the album that saved 2016. The brooding "Gemini Feed" features the LA chanteuse's signature biting lyrics as she dissects a relationship with an emotionally manipulative ex. "I tried a thousand times / I tried to say 'I love you,' but you didn't hear me / And you're passive-aggressive / Convinced me other people, they don't care about me," BANKS purrs over eerie synths and a hypnotic backbeat. Jillian, stop being so amazing!

I had plans to write a retrospective review of Goddess in early September (in honor of its second anniversary) and then a review of The Altar later that month, but sadly life got in the way. I might still review those flawless albums sometime in the future.

Garbage, "Magnetized"

I have nothing but undying love for Garbage. Strange Little Birds might not be quite the killer album I expected from them, but at least it provided me with solace in the form of "Magnetized," an electro-rock ode to tragic, unrequited love.

The Naked and Famous, "Laid Low"

After touring in support of their second album, 2013's In Rolling Waves, the future of the New Zealand outfit—now based in Los Angeles—was put in question following the end of an eight-year relationship between vocalists Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers. Thankfully, the split-up instead resulted in Simple Forms, the group's emotionally raw and intense third album, tackling themes of loss, heartache, grief, and forgiveness. Additionally, a series of gorgeously aesthetic lyric videos for each of the ten tracks on the album was released on the band's YouTube channel. Built on buzzsaw synths and crunchy guitars, "Laid Low" perfectly conveys the pain and anxiety that stem from heartbreak, as Xayalith wistfully sings, "Take me home / I'm learning to live with ghosts / The limbs I miss the most."

Sleigh Bells, "I Can Only Stare"

In contrast to the raucous noise-pop concoctions we normally expect from the Brooklyn duo, "I Can Only Stare" features Alexis Krauss' vocalspristine yet powerfulsoaring over Derek Miller's cinematic, gloomy production, which is rife with ominous synths and jangly guitars. Truly a thing of beauty.

The Pretty Reckless, "Wild City"

The New York hard rockers' third album, Who You Selling For, didn't wow me as much as its superb predecessor, Going to Hell, though "Wild City" is a badass rock number that pays tribute to the band's hometown. I'll be sure to blast it as soon as I finally move to the Big Apple. Oh, I can't believe I'll be seeing these guys in March!!

Dua Lipa, "Hotter Than Hell" / "Last Dance"

The London-born newcomer (and former model) of Kosovar-Albanian heritage not only has the looks, but she is also gifted with a distinctively deep, smoky voice. I couldn't decide between two of my favorite songs by her, so I ended up picking both, because why not?

As sexy as it sounds, "Hotter Than Hell" is actually about a toxic relationship that left Lipa heartbroken. "Last Dance" might've not stormed the charts like the aforementioned hit single, but it's equally infectious and sultry, with Lipa expressing her desire to take a chance on a new romance—even if it could eventually "burn and crash." Her long-awaited debut album is set to be released next February.

Update (1/11): According to Lipa herself, her album has been delayed until June 2. Ugh.

Beyoncé, "Formation"

Honestly, all I can say right now is SLAY.

Lady Gaga, "Diamond Heart"

Gaga is back! While I'm not really fond of the country aesthetics she has adopted for her latest LP, Joanne, the anthemic, Bowie-esque glam stomper "Diamond Heart" is pretty much the kind of song I expected when I first heard her next album would be rock-influenced.

Tove Lo, "True Disaster"

A dark, ominous synthpop ode to destructive love, in which the Swedish songstress craves the inevitable pain that comes with it: "Come on, give zero fucks about it / Come on, I know I'm gonna get hurt." Sadly, that's something that resonates with me.

Crystal Castles, "Fleece"

Even though original lead singer Alice Glass was the voice and face of Crystal Castles, Amnesty (I) is proof that the duo—now fronted by Edith Frances—can still craft chaotic, gloomy, and beautifully unhinged synth-punk.

The Weeknd, "Die for You"

I've been listening to (and loving) Abel's latest album, Starboy, nonstop ever since it came out last month, even if it's not quite as dark and murky as his previous efforts. It's actually interesting to get a glimpse of the Canadian R&B crooner's softer side as he struggles to let go of someone (Bella Hadid?) he still harbors strong feelings for. "Even though we're going through it / And it makes you feel alone / Just know that I would die for you." I might come across as an ice queen, but I secretly wish somebody would feel that way about me.

Shura, "What Happened to Us?"

With a sleek yet gauzy sound that is heavily informed by '80s synthpop, new wave, and R&B, Shura's airy vocals glide smoothly over warm synth lines and hazy guitars on "What Happened to Us?" as she poignantly reflects back on a failed relationship, conjuring up an endearing sense of nostalgia and bittersweet yearning. "I was never ready, it was never meant to be / So tell me how come I still feel so messed up," she coos in the chorus, before declaring, "You were somebody to me once / But now you're a fiction / Someone that I made up." This song always sends chills down my spine.

School of Seven Bells, "Open Your Eyes"

An ethereal, heartbreaking dream-pop ballad that finds vocalist Alejandra Deheza addressing a lover (possibly her former bandmate Benjamin Curtis, who sadly passed away in December 2013) who's been hurt before and pleading with him not to take their current relationship for granted. Even though the band's final album, SVIIB, was written the year before Curtis' death, some of the lyrics evoke a chilling sense of grief.

What are your plans for New Year's Eve, guys? As for me, I'll be rocking to this criminally overlooked jam (as should you, to be honest):

Happy New Year, sluts! Keep reading our blog and all your dreams will come true in 2017.


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