Monthly Report: October 2016 Singles
1. Bruno Mars - "24K Magic"
It's a stretch to say that a retro pastiche artist as shameless as Bruno Mars could ever really surprise us, but I was kind of hoping that he would return with something a little unexpected, like "Locked Out Of Heaven" was at the time. As much as this song is an "Uptown Funk" sequel, though, it at least mines a different strain of '80s funk and it just kinds of feels like he's pushing further at the goofy pimpin' schtick in a way that is so dorky but still pretty infectious. I watched him on "SNL" and thought that he might be the only person in pop music right now who might possibly be having as much fun as Pitbull. Here's my favorite 2016 singles playlist that I add songs to every month.
2. Ro James - "Already Knew That"
Ro James's first single "Permission" has been incredibly resilient on R&B radio, bouncing around the airplay charts since February and only just recently falling out of the top 10. But I'm getting kind of impatient for the focus to move to the 2nd single, "Already Knew That," which has been one of my favorites since his album dropped back in May. This song just has a fantastic groove and it feels like Ro James is having so much fun playing with his voice and going on these little riffs and breaking into an impressive Marvin Gaye imitation. Some of my local stations already play it pretty heavily but it hasn't charted nationally yet.
3. Dierks Bentley f/ Elle King - "Different For Girls"
Dierks Bentley has this classic dopey good ol' boy country singer vibe that works best when there's a little bit of sadness under the surface, like on his minor masterpiece "Drunk On A Plane." And this song just surprised me with how affecting it is -- I don't know if I care for the thesis of the song and how it contrasts heartbreak along gender lines, but it's a well written thesis at least.
4. Mila J - "Kickin' Back"
I will always root for Jhene Aiko's less bland sister and this song really applies her voice and personality well to a classic west coast funk groove.
5. Dreezy f/ T-Pain - "Close To You"
I kind of wish the singles from No Hard Feelings highlighted Dreezy's talent as a rapper a little more, but it's hard to complain about such a great slow jam duet with another famous rapper turned singer. I wish we got this side of T-Pain a little more often.
6. Amine - "Caroline"
Like most people, I was initially exposed to this song via the video (which has 20+ million plays on YouTube though the song hasn't really broken through to radio yet), and I wasn't sure what to make of it. But it's really started to grow on me, it has this weird squirrely energy with these surprising melodic tangents, and the beat doesn't quite sound like anything else out there right now.
7. Flume f/ Kai - "Never Be Like You"
The first I heard of Flume was in probably the worst album review I've read this year, but this song has grown on me. It's like all those girly EDM power ballads by The Chainsmokers except it has all of these overly fussy percussion flourishes, almost like a drum solo playing over the whole song.
8. X Ambassadors f/ Jamie N Commons - "Low Life"
The drums on this song have an awkward hesitating groove that kind of reminds me of the Flume track, the whole thing just has a weird trembling feel, a lot more intriguing and left-of-center than X Ambassadors' previous singles.
9. Eric Benet - "Sunshine"
Eric Benet's music never really caught my ear before "News For You" a couple years ago, and I like this one almost as much, not much of a singer but I love the arrangement.
10. Janet Jackson - "Dammn Baby"
One of my favorites from Unbreakable that's gotten a little airplay in the album's extremely low key singles campaign. It amuses me that the song she had out when it was announced that she's having a baby at 50 years old is called "Dammn Baby." Here's hoping her Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nomination comes through.
Worst Single of the Month: Jon Bellion - "All Time Low"
I almost started to enjoy this song before dude said "I was the prototype like 3 Stacks on that CD." Jesus Christ, who told all these dorky top 40 dudes to start doing awkward rap punchlines.