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Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Year in Review - Music

Happy New Years Eve everyone!  Just think, in just a few hours from now, we can say adios to the year 2016!  

And it is here that we pick up our look back at 2016 with the best and worst of music from that time period.

And, well...let's not beat around the bush.  2016 was a HORRIBLE year for the music industry.  I can't think of another year in which we lost so many musicians such as David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, Merle Haggard, George Michael, and many many more.  2016 was definitely the grim reaper of years for music.  I'll go over the full list of all of the musicians that died when I do my recap on the news and events of 2016 tomorrow, but man, what a year.

In fact, when it comes to 2016, I found it extremely lackluster.  The music was boring as far as my opinion is concerned, and half of the artists that had a #1 song this year are artists that I haven't even HEARD of!  Have a look at the list of songs that charted at #1 and see what I mean.

Work/RIHANNA featuring DRAKE
One Dance/DRAKE featuring WIZKID and KYLA
Can't Stop The Feeling!/JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE
Cheap Thrills/SIA featuring SEAN PAUL
Black Beatles/RAE SREMMUND featuring GUCCI MANE

Okay, so I'll make the conclusion that the later we get into the year, the less familiar that I am with the artists.  I've never even heard of the people who did the song "Black Beatles"!

And while the Chainsmokers had the top song of the year (it was #1 on the charts for a whopping twelve weeks), I actually had to Google them to figure out who they are!  As it turns out, they're the group responsible for that annoying selfie song a couple of years ago.  Though, I suppose the song is okay.  Not really my cup of tea, but then again I found 2016 to be a rather disappointing year.

In fact, I found 2016 so disappointing that I can't believe that a pair of Justin Bieber singles are among my picks for some of the best songs of the year!  There's something catchy about "Sorry" that makes you want to get up and move.  I can't quite explain it.  And "Love Yourself" definitely shows that Justin Bieber - in spite of all the silly stuff he's done - is slowly maturing.  I'm not afraid to admit that he surprised me this year...but in a really good way!  Here's hoping he can continue on the road to positivity and release some more mature music.

Another Justin also had a song that I absolutely adore.  "Can't Stop The Feeling" is a song that comes from the "Trolls" soundtrack, and I will readily admit to grooving along to this tune whenever it comes up.  I had a feeling that Justin Timberlake would sort of follow in Michael Jackson's footsteps, and you know, this song may cinch that for him.  Here's hoping that Justin Timberlake surpasses his 50th birthday!

Adele also had a decent year with her song "Hello" dominating the early part of the year.  She also had a hit with what I consider my all time favourite Adele song to date, "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)".  It just shows that Adele's voice is powerful and lovely enough to be accompanied by a simple guitar and have it be beautiful.  Hell, she could sing along with a kazoo backing her and she'd still have a smash single!

And Zayn Malik proved that he had more than just "one direction" to go when he launched his solo career at the beginning of this year.  His single "Pillowtalk" was a #1 hit worldwide in the spring of 2016, and as 2017 approaches, it is really anybody's guess as to what direction he'll be going next.

Drake also had a pretty decent 2016.  On the heels of the success of "Hotline Bling", his collaboration with Rihanna scored him a #1 hit for both of them...and Drake's own song "One Dance" dethroned "Work" three weeks later!  Not bad for the former Degrassi: The Next Generation actor.

All right, we've heard some selections from the #1 songs of 2016.  But which artists took home a Grammy this past year?  Here's a selection of the winners.  Congratulations to all!

BEST NEW ARTIST:  Meghan Trainor

Okay, so right off the bat, some of you might be wondering why Taylor Swift took home so many awards for an album that came out in October 2014?  Well, much like Adele last year, Taylor Swift's 1989 album was released after the cutoff date, so she was not really eligible for too many awards in 2015.  But in 2016, 1989 became eligible.  And why not?  Love her or hate her, the album that saw Taylor switch music styles was a huge success, and I think I lost track of how many singles she released from 1989 alone.

And, does it come as no surprise that "Uptown Funk" took home the award for "Record of the Year"?  It was just a couple weeks shy of breaking the record for longest #1 song on the Billboard Charts EVER.  And even though we're almost at 2017, the song is still heavily played.  I guess whether you like it or not, "Uptown Funk" is here to stay!  And as for Bruno, his latest song "24K Magic" is doing well, and it looks like 2017 could be another banner year for him.  Time will tell.

While her music has definitely taken a bit of a switch lately, I must say that Meghan Trainor's acceptance speech was one of the more emotional ones ever given at the Grammy Awards, and you could tell that she was genuinely shocked and grateful for the award.  And you know, I'll give Meghan Trainor a ton of credit for standing up for positive body imagery.  When she noticed that she had been edited to look thinner in her video for "Me Too", she said NO, and took the video down until it was restored the way it was filmed.  I say that it's about time more people stood up for positive body image regardless of size.  Good job, Meghan!

And remember how bummed I was that Ed Sheeran got shut out of the major awards last year?  In 2016, that was finally remedied when he won an award for "Thinking Out Loud".  I truly think that Ed is a gifted artist and I look forward to seeing what he'll plan on doing next!

Okay, let's have a look at the other events that took place in the world of music in 2016, shall we?  There's some good, and some bad...but all of it is interesting.

I want to congratulate the following bands for being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016!  Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, N.W.A., and Steve Miller were all recognized for their work in the music industry.  As far as I am concerned, all these bands deserve to be in there!

Celine Dion had a really tough year.  In January 2016, she lost both her husband and her brother just a few days apart.  But one thing I will say about her was that she showed so much strength and courage through it all, and she was extremely strong for her children.  And on top of all that, she spent the rest of the year performing for her fans and being incredibly candid about her fears for the future as well as finding new hopes.  Here's hoping that 2017 is a much better road for the French-Canadian chanteuse.

In what many fans might have considered a final farewell, David Bowie released his final album, "Blackstar" on his 69th birthday.  He passed away just two days later, and as I'll be talking about in tomorrow's entry, his death was the first of many from the music industry this year.  Perhaps the haunting video for "Lazarus" was almost David's way of letting his fans know that he was going to be all right...wherever he was going.

Lady Gaga had a rather eventful 2016.  She performed the National Anthem at Super Bowl 50 (where Coldplay were the halftime performers), and she did a medley of David Bowie songs in full Ziggy Stardust makeup at the Grammy Awards.  And later in 2016, she released her fourth studio album "Joanne", which instantly became a success.  I am almost waiting to see what 2017 holds for her, because she's one entertainer that always switches things up when you least expect it.

Lady Gaga's singing partner at one time, Tony Bennett, turned 90 years old this year, and in celebration of the event, he released a brand new album featuring artists from Billy Joel and Diana Krall to Stevie Wonder and Elton John.  A television special celebrating his 90th birthday aired on NBC on December 20, 2016!  It's nice to know that some musicians are still going strong during this past year!

Gwen Stefani had a rather interesting 2016 as well.  Her marriage to Gavin Rossdale went kerblammo, but she found new love with Blake Shelton.  And if you ever wanted to know some of Gwen's thoughts while she was going through that tumultuous time, you could listen to her album "This Is What the Truth Feels Like".  I don't know how honest she is in the songs on that album, but it was her first solo album since 2006's "The Sweet Escape", so it was definitely worth the wait.

Guns N Roses did something that I didn't think would happen in years.  They got back together!  The fact that it took place on April 1 was incredible irony, but it was no April Fools joke.  Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagen got together one more time for a concert at the Troubadour - the first time in twenty-three years since they last played together!  I wonder if they did a cover of "Reunited" by Peaches and Herb?

Always the queen of the unconventional song releases, Beyonce shocked the world yet again with the dropping of her first visual album.  Imagine an album of nothing but music videos.  That's exactly what she did.  And when we all sampled some of her "Lemonade", we actually found that it was a nice blend of sweet and bitter.  Sweet because she still had that voice...and bitter because of her feelings towards Becky with the good hair.

Unfortunately, Beyonce's performance with the Dixie Chicks at the CMA Awards was not welcomed with such fanfare, with country singer Travis Tritt blasting the former Destiny's Child singer for not being country.  I'll admit the performance was sort of strange, but it's not the first time a pop singer collaborated with a country star.  Look at Shania Twain and Mark McGrath with the song "Party for Two".  Or, Kenny Chesney and P!nk with "Setting the World on Fire".  Or, hell, let's go way back to the 1980s when Kenny Rogers sang "We've Got Tonight" with Scottish pop singer Sheena Easton!  I'm not saying that I liked Beyonce with the Dixie Chicks, but I am saying that Travis Tritt could have used a better argument.

I should mention that Sia also had a great 2016 as well.  She was handpicked to do the theme song for "Finding Dory" - a cover version of the Nat King Cole single "Unforgettable".  And she also made history in 2016 when her single "Cheap Thrills" hit the top of the charts - the first time a woman in her 40s has had a #1 single since Madonna in 2005.  Nicely done, Sia.

The television show "The Voice" has been in the news a lot lately, some for good things, and some for not so good things.  When it comes to the good things, it proves that sometimes you can have a second chance to rebuild your career.  For Voice winner Alisan Porter (who played Curly Sue in the movie "Curly Sue"), and Voice runner-up Billy Gilman (who had a career when he was just a kid), it was a chance for both to reinvent themselves, and I think they both succeeded.  And congratulations to Sundance Head, the second winner of the year.

But tragically, a former contestant on "The Voice" - Christina Grimmie - was shot and killed following a concert she performed in Orlando, Florida (just two days before the Pulse massacre).  She was just twenty-two years old.

Christmas did not bring any harmony for the group "Fifth Harmony".  It was announced that Camila Cabello would be leaving the group in December 2016, but reports circulated that the split was not amicable, and that Camila's departure caused the other four members of the group to get angry.  One thing is for certain, I'm sure this story isn't over yet.

Continued thoughts go out to Michael Buble this year, as his son was recently diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatments.  This coming on the heels of the release of his brand new album which contains the infectious first single "Nobody But Me".  Give it a's quite good!

And finally, I can't wrap up the look back on music in 2016 without discussing the Tragically Hip.  The Canadian band which had entertained audiences for three decades called it a day following the announcement of Gord Downie's battle with terminal brain cancer.  The group released one final album together before embarking on a small cross-country tour as a final thank you to their fans for sticking around.  Despite the fact that scalpers were selling tickets at outrageous prices, the shows were a phenomenal success, and CBC simulcast the band's final show in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario over live television so that every Canadian could watch the show.  You could tell that Gord Downie was filled with so much emotion - fear, anger, hope, happiness, contentment.  I don't know what the next year will bring for him, but one thing is for sure...2016 will forever be the year of the Downie.

That's a wrap for the music flashback of 2016.  Tomorrow will be the first day of 2017, and with that comes a post about the news and events of the past year (of which I will be needing at least a couple of pages just for the celebrity obituaries).

And you can also expect this blog to look a little bit different come January 1, 2017.  Here's a sneak preview below.

See you next year!  :)

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