Monday, December 19, 2016

Twostepcubchart's Best of 2016: Part One - #100 to #91...

2016 was a truly fucked up year.

There's no denying it. Between the deaths of so many great musicians, actors, and artists, and the rigged election of possibly the last leader of would be the free world, by the time December rolled around there was scant reason to celebrate the past twelve months. But, alas, if anything, let's celebrate that we did make it through, through horrible mass shootings, through work stoppages, through apocalyptic-style weather, and hopefully strong enough to fight the racism, homophobia, and xenophobia, and the celebration of ignorance that is considered mainstream at this point. So before the economy tanks and we all lose our retirement financial safety net, let's take a small side journey as I count down the biggest hits of the year on my weekly music chart. I tallied up all the number week by week, and these are the songs that climbed the highest and/or stayed around the longest. I'll roll out ten songs of my top 100 each weekday until New Year's (with a little interlude of the ones that almost made it). And away we goooooo....

#100 - "24K Magic" - Bruno Mars
            from the album 24K Magic (2016)
            Highest Rank: #1 (four weeks - still at #1)
            Weeks on the chart (in 2016): 8 (still charting)
            Billboard Hot 100 peak: #4
            Songwriters: Bruno Mars, Christopher Brody Brown, Philip Lawrence

Last year Bruno took the #3 spot on my year-end chart with his James Brown-esque party anthem "Uptown Funk". For this year's festivities, he sprints ahead to the early 80's synth-funk of Midnight Star and Zapp for this too-funky-for-itself bit of "afro-camp" that just snuck into my year-end list in the last week as it sits on top of my weekly chart as we speak. From a performer who rocked the Super Bowl halftime show, this silly attitude jam is probably what more than half of America needs right now.

Killer lyric: I'm a dangerous man with some money in my pocket,
                    So many pretty girls around me and they waking up the rocket...

(Click below to see the rest of the post)

#99 - "Sit Still, Look Pretty" - Daya
          from the album Sit Still, Look Pretty (2016)
          Highest Rank: #20 (three weeks - still climbing)
          Weeks on the chart (in 2016): 15 (still charting)
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #28
          Songwriters: Gino Barletta, Mike Campbell, Britten Newbill

Grace Tandon came from the Pittsburgh suburbs to join the bridge of female empowerment pop singers as Daya, and the second single and title track from her first full-length solo album fluttered with pick-me-up lines among the bleeps, and capitalized on her breakthrough stint with the Chainsmokers (more on that later) to give her an affable if not too, too deep boost. And like many of the new women that broke through this year, the lack of the need for glamour or raciness is refreshing.

Killer lyric: I know the other girlies wanna wear expensive things like diamond rings,
                    But I don't wanna be the puppet that you're playing on a string this queen don't need                            a king...

#98 - "Middle Of A Memory" - Cole Swindell
          from the album You Should Be Here (2016)
          Highest Rank: #12 (two weeks)
          Weeks on the chart (in 2016): 14 (still charting)
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #46
          Songwriters: Cole Swindell, Zach Crowell, Ashley Gorley

Country singer Swindell, who almost made the top 100 last year with "Ain't Worth The Whiskey" (#112), makes up for it with his sophomore album, which has two entries in 2016's list. This one, which details a hopeful suitor at a bar getting cock-blocked by the girl's friends, had the right type of earnestness to avoid the usual bro-country posturing.

Killer lyric: About a minute into our first dance,
                    We got blindsided by your friends,
                    All in a hurry like you had to go,
                    Didn't they know you can't leave someone...

#97 - "Church Bells" - Carrie Underwood
          from the album Storyteller (2015)
          Highest Rank: #24 (two weeks)
          Weeks on the chart: 16
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #43
          Songwriters: Zach Crowell, Brett James, Hillary Lindsey

The first single from the fourth "American Idol" singer's fifth studio album, "Smoke Break", puffed into my year-end chart at #99 last year. Now the third release from the set makes it in this time out. It's in her "girl got wronged and gets revenge" wheelhouse, but if you can sell it so well, why not use it?

Killer lyric: Jenny was hosting Junior League parties,
                    And having dinner at the country club,
                    Everyone thought they were Ken and Barbie,
                   But Ken was always getting way too drunk...

 #96 - "Drunk On Your Love" - Brett Eldredge
           from the album Illinois (2015)
           Highest rank: #7 (one week)
           Weeks on the chart: 13
           Billboard Hot 100 peak: #35
           Songwriters: Brett Eldredge, Ross Copperman

The country singer/songwriter from Paris, Illinois landed on 2015's year-end chart twice, with "Mean To Me" (#52) and "Lose My Mind" (#63), the latter the first single from his album named for his homestate. Its follow-up, a celebration of romantic intoxication, may have missed the top of the country chart by a notch, but its oh-so-cute video is his best so far.

Killer lyric: It's not in the whiskey, tequila or the wine,
                    It's all about the touch and the fire in your eyes,
                    It gets me fumbling always stumbling through a haze,
                    I got plenty to do just laying here with you all day...

 #95 - "Peter Pan" - Kelsea Ballerini
           from the album The First Time (2015)
           Highest rank: #22 (three weeks)
           Weeks on the chart: 16
           Billboard Hot 100 peak: #35
           Songwriters: Kelsea Ballerini, Forest Glen Whitehead, Jesse Lee

The third time's the charm for this country music newcomer, as the third single from her debut album went to #1 on the country airplay chart (her third in a row), and her first to reach the Hot 100 top-40. One of two big hits this year to reference the classic character popularized by the Disney movie, this young talent had her best vocal performance on this "taming the wild man" narrative.

Killer lyric: You're always gonna fly away, just because you know you can,
                    You're never gonna learn there's no such place as Neverland...

#94 - "The Pop Kids" - Pet Shop Boys
          from the album Super (2016)
          Highest rank: #5 (one week)
          Weeks on the chart: 11
           Billboard Hot 100 peak: did not chart 
          Songwriters: Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe

The iconic British synth-pop duo returned just as fresh and vital as ever with their thirteenth studio album Super, and this opening salvo confirmed the album title was worthy, with a thundering club-ready beat anchoring the nostaglic look into their past, and in effect, our past. And in a moment, you're back at the best club in town in 1993.

Killer lyric: To follow our obsession with the music scene,
                    Wherever we went whatever we did,
                    We knew the songs...

#93 - "Different For Girls" - Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King
          from the album Black (2016)
          Highest rank: #9 (two weeks)
          Weeks on the chart: 13
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: #42
          Songwriters: Shane McAnally, JT Harding

Dierks, a sometimes traditionalist whose gravelly voice is sweet-flowing like good bourbon, teams up with alternative-rock firebrand King for this poignant look at real break-up issues in the eyes of a woman, something rarely offered by a male singer in that genre these days. A stellar combo that flies in the face of the usual bro-country bravado. (Dierks had the #100 spot on my year-end chart in 2015 with "Say You Do".)

Killer lyrics: It's different for girls when their hearts get broke,
                     They can't tape it back together with a whiskey and Coke,
                     They don't take someone home and act like it's nothing,
                     They can't just switch it off every time they feel something...

#92 - "America's Sweetheart" - Elle King
          from the album Love Stuff (2015)
          Highest rank: #19 (one week)
          Weeks on the chart: 14
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: did not chart, "bubbled under" at #114
          Songwriters: Elle King, Martin Johnson

Speaking of Elle King, the daughter of comedic actor Rob Schneider proved she's no one-hit novelty with four songs making my year-end chart (including the one above). "America's Sweetheart", the third single from her debut Love Stuff album, brought the power-pop party and stands toe-to-toe with the best of Cheap Trick and the like, and slips in enough banjo twang to crash a country shindig.

Killer lyric: You think your words will make me black and blue,
                    But I, I think I'm pretty with these old boots on,
                    I think its funny when I drink too much, hey,
                   You try and change me you can go to hell...

#91 - "11 Blocks" - Wrabel
          from the single "11 Blocks"
          Highest rank: #19 (two weeks)
          Weeks on the chart: 17
          Billboard Hot 100 peak: did not chart, "bubbled under" at #118
          Songwriter: (Stephen) Wrabel

New York-based (and openly gay) singer/songwriter hands in the urban equivalent of Sam Hunt's "Break Up In A Small Town", showing that even surrounded by people the isolation of heartbreak is universal. Obsessed with a past love (even with the small aside that he has someone new) is tear-jerking, and in reliving that experience of a yearning that's so, so bad, but uncontrollable, is sort of cathartic. Trust me, I've been there.

Killer lyric: Someone stop me, please, from hurting myself,
                    'Cause I'm two blocks away and you're hurting my health,
                    And it's Friday night, you're not that type,
                    I know that you're home...

Well that does it for the first installment of this year's chart recap. I'll be back tomorrow with a country comic's straight-man turn, two memorable pop ingenues reach the States, and Hillary's "they go low, we go high" theme (sigh).

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