David Bowie – Lazarus
The music world got off to a turbulent start in 2016 with the death of David Bowie – I could go on and on about the startling realisation of human mortality (and how it affects even the most legendary of us), but I’ve already done that. Bowie released his final album (that we know of!), Blackstar, two days before his death – on which he sung of his impending fate. Lazarus is an excellent yet eerie track: “Look up here, I'm in heaven.."
Wyvern Lingo – Letter to Willow
I spent most of the start of 2016 researching Irish bands for interviews and unearthed a plethora of amazing bands (I'm terrible at 'discovering' new music / bands, but I'm getting better I promise..) I came across indie / pop group Wyvern Lingo - three young women hailing from Bray, Co. Wicklow, and a breath of fresh air in male-dominated music scene. Letter to Willow is the leading single and title track of their 2016 EP – a four track record with all the grooves and harmonies you could wish for.
Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta
Granted, I was embarrassingly late to the To Pimp A Butterfly party (Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed third album, released in 2015) – but King Kunta is a truly massive track – so much so, it took the top spot on my Top Songs of 2016 playlist, crafted by Spotify. It feels as if Kendrick Lamar was everywhere this year – he even took the main stage of Longitude festival in Dublin this summer.
Beyoncé – Daddy Lessons
You hardly thought you were going to get through a 2016 music list without mention of Lemonade, were you? Beyoncé’s sixth studio album was the crowning jewel of all of 2016’s releases (according to me, anyway). Lemonade was Bey’s most personal and fiery record yet – she opened up about her turbulent relationship with her husband, Jay-Z and had us all chanting, “tell him: boy BYE!” with single Sorry. It’s also Beyoncé’s most diverse record yet, as you can tell from the above country-style track Daddy Lessons – on this version, she even collaborates with the Dixie Chicks.
Busted - Coming Home
This year, much to nine year old me’s delight, Busted reunited with their original line-up, and brought a whole load of nostalgia to the 3Arena. They also brought us a load of new tunes too, in the form of their third album. An album of eighties-esque pop, Night Driver is nothing like they've ever released before - and to be fair, it's rather bloody good.
The Blizzards – Drop Down the Anchor
I feel as if I spent the guts of 2016 just listening to The Blizzards’ Domino Effect album on loop (as well as Bell X1, but more on those guys later). This year the Mullingar indie group made their comeback with blistering pop/rock single Drop Down The Anchor – we were lucky enough to catch them sound-checking in a near empty tent at Indiependence, as well as their eclectic headline set that Saturday night. To go from seeing them play a tent rammed with festival goers to the tiny side room in the Workman’s Club a few months later was super special – and they killed it at both gigs. Let’s hope we get to hear a full-length album from these guys in the very near future.
Christine and the Queens - Tilted
Arguably 2016’s international breakthrough act – we were introduced to Christine and the Queens with an enrapturing performance on the Graham Norton Show, early in the year. Tilted, and its album Chaleur Humaine quickly soared to the top of the Irish and UK charts, and CATQ played their first live gig at Dublin’s Longitude festival to a tent rammed with excited, swooning new fans (myself included). Chaleur Humaine is a gorgeous album through and through – and well worth a few spins before the year’s out.
All Tvvins – Resurrect Me
In August, Irish indie duo All Tvvins released their first full-length album – a near perfect summer soundtrack with some bloody good indie pop anthems. I narrowly missed out on seeing them twice this summer, so I’m making it my mission to catch them live somewhere in 2017.
You Me At Six – Night People
To my former teenage self’s further delight, You Me At Six began teasing a new album come autumn-time, and released its lead single – and title track – Night People. A fiery, stomping rock track, an introduction to what feels shall be a new direction for YMAS – and a welcomed one at that. Night People, the album, is due for release veerrrry soon and I can’t wait to hear it.
Bell X1 – The Upswing
2016 was the year I well and truly fell in love with Bell X1. I spent most of the summer listening to them on Spotify, got to witness an amazing headline set at Indiependence, a magical instore acoustic set at Tower Records, and even got to meet the lads themselves. Their latest album, Arms, is beautiful in every way – but for some more lively bops, see past hits The Great Defector, Velcro and Rocky Took A Lover.
Green Day – Bang Bang
Also making a much-welcomed return this summer were Green Day – the punk trio released their first full-length album since 2013’s triple hit Uno! Dos! Tré! Whilst Revolution Radio falls slightly short of the epic comeback album we’re all dying to hear, it has a few bangers – namely first single Bang Bang, a fast-paced three minute rock track on the political mess that was 2016.
The Weeknd – Starboy
Towards the end of the year, rapper The Weeknd took over the airwaves with new single Starboy – the lead single from the rapper’s third album of the same name. Starboy isn’t the only bop on this record – see also: I Feel It Coming, Sidewalks, and many more. We're going to hear a lot more of The Weeknd in 2017 - Starboy is only the start.
, by Ciara Pollock