Friday, December 16, 2016

Top 25 Hooks Of 2016

Each year, as hundreds of thousands of songs get released, artists become more understanding of what it takes to make an excellent hook. That, coupled with burgeoning experimentation even on the catchy front, made this batch of choruses a delectable treat. I mean hell, the limits are endless if Desiigner's able to form mushed, mealy-mouthed nonsense into the greatness of 'Tiimmy Turner.' As for this year's top competitors, unlike other lists, this one was a close call. Nearly uniformly segmented throughout the course of the year, the top three selections here one-upped each other until number one, coming out just last month, took the cake.

Mac Miller | Stay
The Divine Feminine

Throughout 'Stay,' and a good chunk of The Divine Feminine, Mac Miller and the production sounds a lot like The Social Experiment's work on Surf. The chorus of 'Stay,' with layered vocals that come equip with a nice feminine touch, along with some blaring horns and your classic new-age Neo-Soul feel, reeks of pleasant feelings that can't be easily thrown away. It's a simple, simple dialogue, as we see Mac begging for her to stay, but the way it's executed allows for 'Stay's' hook to excel.


Nite-Funk | U Can Make Me

While Dam-Funk's production is what made Nite-Funk worthwhile, Nite-Jewel sent the record off on a surprisingly high note. Previously an object used to accentuate the 80's shtick, failing to create ground for herself, the singer blossomed on 'U Can Make Me,' yelping with glittery glamour over the joyous interaction between her and a lover. She bears resemblance to Grimes here, but the sizzling flightiness she displays allows for her, and the hook, to go above and beyond.


James Blake | Choose Me
The Colour In Anything

The same tactics are applied here as on 'Put That Away & Talk To Me,' but in a much grander scale. Here the problems of a relationship aren't small and meaningless, where wishing someone would put down their phone is seen as serious, the loftiness of 'Choose Me' falls on Blake struggling to cope with non-mutual feelings. There's backing autotuned vocals here as well, and with everything being so loud and destructive you can't help but ogle at the impending doom.


The Weeknd | Starboy

In possibly the most embarrassing admission this year, for a solid month I thought the megalithic chorus of 'Starboy' rang out "I'm in love with the Starboy," not, as is now painfully obvious, "I'm a motherfucking Starboy." No wonder it was bleeped on the television commercials I saw it featured on. Surprisingly, that misguided lyrical choice didn't lessen the quality whatsoever, as the reckoning hook was punchy, danceable, and thrusting on all cylinders. A true, honest to goodness, Pop hook.


Childish Gambino | Redbone
"Awaken, My Love!"

Childish Gambino's ode to Funk and Soul will be talked about for a long time, but what was of little question was the quality of the two lead singles. One of those was 'Redbone,' a groovy, acid-drenched track that bore resemblance to D'Angelo, Prince, and Funkadelic. A rare occurance on Awaken, My Love, the best part of 'Redbone's' hook wasn't the production or the vocals, although those certainly helped. It was Gambino's songwriting skills, on top tier display here.


Kishi Bashi | Honeybody

This is possibly the most uncool Indie song I've ever heard. It screams of a love-riddled anthem found in the worst chick flick the moment they hit the 'where are they now' montage as they conclude the album. It is slathered in unabashed cheesiness, to the utmost degree. Honestly, it's replicative of your one-hit wonder promoting relational positivity during the summer of (insert any year). But man, for how overpowering it is in cliches, you can never get enough. The entire song, essentially, acts as the hook, putting even more worth into its straight up Pop origins. 
More than anything else, 'Honeybody' shines because Kishi Bashi wants it to. You can hear it in his voice, something that lacked the majority of Sonderlust. He's brimming, and you can feel it.

Drake | One Dance

It's not as big as 'Hotline Bling,' but the chorus of 'One Dance' is just as admirable. Remember that guy from Toronto? Yeah, he's completely gone here, choosing to fully invest in Dancehall, even going so far to sample Kyla. Initially meh, 'One Dance' has only grown because of the chorus and preceding bridge. It's not a simple line or repeated word either, the catchiness still holds high with many intersecting lyrics.


Justice | Pleasure

Justice's adoration of 70's Disco went full force on Woman, an album which took much from said genre. On 'Pleasure,' the duo brought in Morgan Phalen of Diamond Nights for a soothing trip down a neon-lit backdrop. It was catchy, evocative, nonsensical, and an all-around blast. For those who buried themselves too deep in M83's Junk world, coming up dry for what they were looking for, look no further. 'Pleasure' is how that shtick is supposed to sound

Anderson .Paak | Put Me Thru

I'm guessing much of .Paak is gonna be dominated by choruses, and why not, it was clearly the best part of Malibu. On 'Put Me Thru' .Paak questions his relation with BDSM-style sex, an interesting song choice to say the least, and one that excels off its sheer creativity and result. Never taken corny, or discretionary, .Paak reveals his wants and desires in a straight faced tone, as background singers join him for the better part of the second half. It sounds really beautiful, ironic considering the pain the sex causes him.


Noname | Yesterday

An absolutely beautiful hook set dead center in a beautiful song to introduce anyone to Noname and Telefone. To anyone still grabbing onto the old days of Kanye West circa 2004, here's your chance to relive that Chicago scene, as sparking chipmunk vocals fill the back with light drums and an aura of positivity strewn about the wreckage that is Noname's lyrics. 'Yesterday's
hook, which features Akenya and TheMIND, turns Noname's hopes and desires into a short, calm refrain with two friends to join her in that wish.

How To Dress Well | What's Up

Now don't be fooled, what makes 'What's Up's' hook wonderful is not Tom Krell's vocals, lyrics, or presentation, but the simple, delectably gooey production that lies behind him. Thankfully, on unquestionably the best decision on Care, Krell leaves his voice away from the true chorus, letting a flurry of instrumentation whiz around a chipper female vocal. Reminds me of some super cheesy 90's movie centered around school letting out, but in a good way mind you.


clipping. | True Believer
Splendor & Misery

At times, sometimes very obvious (cough 'Story 5' cough), Splendor & Misery attempts to merge Gospel with clipping.'s already odd Industrial Hip-Hop. Talk about two genres to merge together. Clearly done as a means to compare this intergalactic slave's story to its roots in America's slave history, much of the Gospel is done well, despite being a slight bit incoherent. The hook of 'True Believer,' the only case in which the Gospel finds itself directly in competition with Diggs in the same song, works wonders as the contrast between both is beautiful, the hook itself sincere.


Gallant | Weight In Gold

There's no better song on Ology that sees Gallant's talents on full display than 'Weight In Gold.' It's anthemic of a weary significant other who can't do much else than their all to keep things afloat. But more than that his vocals launch off the explosive synths, which he uses as a propeller to soar even higher. They alternate importance, eventually coming together with some slight distortion on his vocals to make a peaceful unison by the hook's end.


D.R.A.M. | Broccoli
Big Baby D.R.A.M.

To make a smash hit you need a standout hook, of course. Every song charting on the radio has one. Most of them are good, good enough to make you question why you're playing it back in your head despite proclaiming you don't like the song in the first place. To antagonizers of 'Broccoli,' I can't imagine how tough it is. D.R.A.M.'s hook, which may very well be his best ever, just glides along the piano and bass like butter, damn near out of breath at every turn. Better than that, like the rest of 'Broccoli,' you can feel the positivity oozing out of D.R.A.M. as he sings with a grin so wide that you can hear it in the words.


Danny Brown | Pneumonia
Atrocity Exhibition

'Pneumonia's' hook doesn't thrive because of some witty lyricism, it may be Brown's worst on the album, but what it does excel in is its delivery, personality, and overall demeanor. Dancing over the track with some Bay Area-like Hyphy, Brown's cool, calm, and collected demeanor makes 'Pneumonia' Atrocity Exhibition's coolest track, drawing comparisons, as I see it, to Outkast's 'So Fresh, So Clean.' Better yet, the explosive beat swirling around him, another sight to see here, gather reassurance from Brown himself with how calm he intends to stay in the middle of it all.


Flume | Say It | Skin

I thoroughly believe 'Say It' is one of the best Pop songs of the year, and that's largely due to how well Tove-Lo excels over Flume's production, so much so that, dare I say, he trails behind her despite making sonic landscapes that constantly try to grab your attention. Just an incredibly well-rounded Pop song that culminates in Tove-Lo's hook. Lyrically, it's nothing special, retorting to simple R&B mumbling's, but the way she sings it is just so serene and complete, for lack of a better word.

M83 | Go! | Junk

Junk was largely junk but there were absolutely highlights that took Gonzalez's ideas and full-proofed them. The chorus of 'Go!' being one of them. Mai Lan's vocals have a slight demonic side to their dominating beauty, making for an experience that's fun in both a sweet and rebellious way. The guitars and rambunctious production only helps to heighten the hysteria centered around her fist-pumping hook.

Ty Segall | Diversion | Emotional Mugger

So yeah, I love this. Punk right now for me is a bit meh. I can still the appeal but the smaller songs, of which make up the bulk of the genre, just don't last long enough or aren't profound enough musically to make an impact on me. This one though, 'Diversion,' is immediately catchy and uses massive amounts of reverb wonderfully. The track, rightfully so, centers around the chorus and Ty Segall's wailing. I just love how over-exposed the whole palate is, sounds like a painfully rendered live concert in all the right ways.

Xiu Xiu | Falling | Plays The Music Of Twin Peaks

Woah. 'Falling' in general, but more pertinently, it's chorus, may be 2016's biggest moment. It's just a mammoth of orchestrated sound. How it comes together to find beautiful unity is a shock. The frail voice finding substantiated depth when matched with overwhelming guitars and drums is remarkable. 'Falling' centers itself, rightfully so, around this magnificent chorus that doesn't sound unlike a opera play gone off the rails. It really, really gets to you.

The Avalanches | Because I'm Me | Wildflower

It didn't take long for the sampling of 1950's housing project teens to immediately enter the classic canon of The Avalanches work. Much like the memorable 'Since I Left You,' 'Because I'm Me' rearranges dated vocal samples to create something entirely new. The lyrics reek of despondence, absent romance, and dejection, but with their wonderful technique The Avalanches transformed this gloomy-eyed teen into someone who blossoms with self-confidence and oozes respect.

Desiigner | Tiimmy Turner

The more music I listen to the more I find myself returning to the simple enjoyments. Music does not need to be complex, lyrical, emotional, or anything of the like. Of course it can be those things but at the end of the day, for people to care, the music needs to be fun. So yes, I have no qualms in stating that 'Tiimmy Turner' is one of the best hooks of the year. It is mind-numbing medication, an undocumented spiritual revival, and one of the best mealymouthed experiments thus far in Trap all rolled into one. And while he's obviously not saying anything original, the hook, unlike 'Panda,' isn't without meaningful messages. Once you get past the language barrier of course.

Frank Ocean | Self Control | Blonde

Who would have ever thought that the best chorus on a Frank Ocean album is not sung by him, but two young upstarts from drastically different places. Austin Feinstein, through Blonde's pitch-shifted vocoder work, and Yung Lean, through his most down to earth melody yet, form the basis of the simple, yet infinitely heart-warming hook. Everything works on 'Self Control' because the hook works as glue, forming a soothing basis for the emotionally wrought to scale over and under.

Lil Yachty | Wanna Be Us | Lil Boat

Obviously we got a long way to go but there is a strong chance, given that this came out relatively early in the year, that this song, yes 'Wanna Be Us,' might be my most listened to. It is so damn catchy. And all of that can be attributed to the chorus, which rightfully so, takes up a large chunk of the song. The darting synth that comes in right after each line is tantalizing, along with the bass that lures underneath. The smartest decision Lil Yachty ever had though was putting an unnamed girl as a background vocalist under him, adding a layer that's much needed. As with the rest of this mixtape, it's so bad it's good, and I can't get enough of it.

Japanese Breakfast | Everybody Wants To Love You | Psychopomp

Decades of popular music have found that the simplest of ideas, sounds, and styles makes for the catchiest music. Japanese Breakfast's manufactured hit 'Everybody Wants To Love You' took that thought and ran with it, creating a gooey Twee Pop smash that never attempted to be anything other than addicting. You can tell too, as the entire song centers around this simple, infectious melody. Michelle Zauner, in a stroke of genius, decided to feature Sam Cook-Parrott on this melody, allowing both her and him to bounce off one another with ease, making the bubblegum hook just that more delectable.

The Weeknd | I Feel It Coming | Starboy

The mystique of Starboy was clearly defined. Dark, omnious, mysterious. Every track abided by this formula, making for an album that was atmospheric, but lacking in the diversity department. That was, of course, except for the grand finale, 'I Feel It Coming,' where The Weeknd, and some serious help from Daft Punk, made an official transition into Pop megastar. As is prone to be the case with hooks (just look at these top three), there is nothing inherently special about 'I Feel It Coming.' Hell, it is just one phrase repeated ad nauseam after all. But, as with anything in art, it's all about the execution. And with some fine-tuned autotune, a brimful range of production, and an aura that set to oppose the darkness, 'I Feel It Coming's' hook was something so intoxicating that it was unavoidable. Easy choice for hook of the year.

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