Written by Tom Ankers
So as 2016 is coming to a close we’ve been asking our hard-working music-loving writers to give us the lowdown on their top five singles released in 2016, and this next list by our own Funk and Electronic writer Tom Ankers is a belter.
Vulfpeck – Dean Town
Even though they take cues from artists like Funkadelic and The Meters, Vulfpeck still feel very much at home in 2016. With one long, funky bass riff running throughout the track, the interplay between the guitar and drums in this track make Dean Town a perfect example of instrumental funk done just right.
A Tribe Called Quest – …We The People
When it comes to unexpected comebacks, A Tribe Called Quest have to be the prime example this year. With the passing of influential group member Phife Dawg in March, a new Tribe album seemed like an impossibility to pretty much everyone.
However the group had been hard at work in the studio in 2015, and miraculously unveiled their first album together since 1998. … We The People is a hard-hitting, synth-bass driven jam. Filled with Q-Tip’s abstract lyricism and Phife Dawg’s off-the-wall flow, the beat stops and starts, weaving around the words of two of the most unique rappers to emerge from the 90s. For a group to return nearly 20 years after their last record with a single such as this shows that sometimes, comebacks can be for the best.
James Blake – Radio Silence
“I can’t believe you don’t want to see me” sings Blake on this incredible track, which takes its lyrical content from Bill Withers’ song Hope She’ll Be Happier . Even though the main theme is not Blake’s own, he manages to flip it into a chilled but emotional electronic masterpiece. This track opens his third album, The Colour In Anything, and sets the tone for a record that strikes a perfect balance between futuristic electronic sounds and exquisite soulful singing.
Childish Gambino – Redbone
Donald Glover was an unstoppable force this year. As well as performing stand-up comedy, filming for Star Wars and producing his own TV series, he also released his third studio album, Awaken, My Love!, a complete musical departure from his previous hip-hop albums.
The song starts with a delicious downtempo groove, weaving its way through several choruses and bridges before culminating with a wailing electric guitar solo.
Echoes of Parliament and other classic funk groups are scattered throughout this single, and for Gambino to ditch his popular hip-hop style to delve into a genre he is obviously passionate about was a risky move that certainly paid off.
David Bowie – Lazarus
I loved this track from the moment I heard it, however it was not originally on this list. After seeing Bowie’s musical of the same name in London this month, I decided to re-evaluate his final single and his final message to the world.
Always the musical chameleon, Bowie managed to transform his own life into a piece of art within itself. He accepted his own death as a gracious curtain call, one final bow to an ever-captivated audience.
Never part of the mainstream but never out of the loop, Bowie’s music was bigger than himself. Is this not what all artists strive for? Truly an incredible way to say goodbye, Bowie’s final single is something we can admire and also use to learn something about ourselves.