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We’re just past the halfway point of the year (only five months till Christmas, how grim is that?) and it’s been so front-loaded that there’s arguably been too much good music released between January and June (which is the timeframe where the below is concerned). I know, I know, that’s a real ‘oh my diamond shoes are too tight’ bullshit complaint but honestly 2016 has been kind of ridiculous.
As such, there’s little point in trying to fully weigh up a proper order here – we’ll do that at the end of the year – so here’s the most essential select cuts of the year so far, as chosen by HeadStuff contributors. Look out for the Spotify playlist at the end.
So, without further ado and in alphabetical order…
Anderson .Paak | ‘The Bird’
Angel Olsen | ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’
Angel Olsen fucking rules.
Ariana Grande | ‘Into You’
This year’s ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ and every bit as good. We need to clone Max Martin.
Big Thief | ‘Real Love’
The Black Queen | ‘Distanced’
Greg from Dillinger gets his side project on.
Bruce | ‘Steals’
Gets right inside your head, this one.
Call Super | ‘Nervous Sex Traffic’
Christine and the Queens | ‘Tilted’
Permission to be sick of this by the end of the year well and truly granted, but it sure is pretty.
David Bowie | ‘Lazarus’
Genuinely difficult to return to or outright ‘enjoy’, but what an exceptional final bow.
DJ Shadow | ‘Nobody Speak’ (ft. Run The Jewels)
Proof positive that Killer Mike and El-P make everything sound better.
Drake | ‘One Dance’
The NO ENCORE boys remain mystified by Drake’s dominance, but ‘One Dance’ has a certain charm.
Explosions in the Sky | ‘Disintegration Anxiety’
Kings. Champions. Heroes.
Funeral Suits | ‘Tree of Life’
One of the finest choruses of the year.
James Blake | ‘I Need A Forest Fire’ (ft. Bon Iver)
One especially out of touch publication labelled this “an unremarkable electro ballad”. Wrong.
Ka | ’30 Keys’
Kanye West | ‘Ultralight Beam’
Yeah we kinda like Kanye around here, but this is worthy of converting any heathen.
Kevin Morby | ‘Dorothy’
As good a song to dust off cobwebs and seize the day as you’re ever likely to hear.
The Last Shadow Puppets | ‘Miracle Aligner’
If you’re going to crib, crib from the best.
Lost Under Heaven | ‘Beneath The Concrete’
‘Cause all we are is just people trying, all we are is just people trying to live.
Minor Victories | ‘Folk Arp’
A truly stunning payoff.
Mitski | ‘Your Best American Girl’
Raw, poignant and beautiful.
MMOTHS | ‘Eva’
Another dreamlike hazy ear worm from Jack Colleran.
Rihanna | ‘Same ‘Ol Mistakes’
Barely different from the original and yet somehow still its own thing.
Rusangano Family | ‘Lights On’
It’s their year.
Sia | ‘Waving Goodbye’
Sia is so good at writing hook-laden bangers that she takes the piss out of doing so on Twitter. If this is her phoning it in then there ought to be statues of the woman.
The Strokes | ‘Threat of Joy’
They’re never going to recapture their former glory, but ‘Threat of Joy’ is one hell of a grower.
Twenty One Pilots | ‘Heathens’
Got mad respect for a song that barely comes out of first gear yet remains interesting throughout.
Whitney | ‘No Woman’
Wolf Parade | ‘C’est La Vie Way’
My word, they’ve still got it.
ZAYN | ‘PILLOWTALK’
It was supposed to be the debut album that would redefine pop music itself and while Big Zayn fell rather short of the mark, the lead single is a confirmed belter.