Monthly Report: December 2016 Singles
1. Rae Sremmurd f/ Gucci Mane - "Black Beatles"
It's always anticlimactic to do my December singles list after I've already done my big top 100 singles of the year list, but I'll still take any opportunity to talk about some more songs I like and add to the monthly playlist. I was slow to warm to this song, and really a lot of Sremm Life 2 still felt kind of flat to me so I didn't put it on my year end list, even though it's a perfectly fine record. But eventually ubiquity did bring me aroudn on "Black Beatles," although I get irritated with how many radio stations just start the song when the drums kick in and skip the great little intro riff ("I sent flowers but you said you didn't receive them...you said you didn't need them"). I feel like Swae Lee has so many ideas that he'll leave these stray lines at the beginning of tracks that sound like the seed of a totally different song, like the "it feels like we've met before" bit on "Come Get Her."
2. Phresher - "Wait A Minute"
Another month, another new NY rapper whose hit doesn't sound NY at all. I like this guy's voice, though, he sounds like Ja Rule ate Ja Rule.
3. Jane Zhang f/ Timbaland - "Dust My Shoulders Off"
I got hooked on this song through the video, which is really just one of the flat out best music videos I've seen in years, mimics the visual style of various classic paintings while also kind of stringing them together in a playful story that fits the song. It's funny to hear Timbaland produce a song with this title that sounds nothing like "Dirt Off Your Shoulder."
4. Fergie - "Life Goes On"
This song is kind of twinned with "Dust My Shoulders Off" in my mind because they both feature the words "life goes on" in the chorus. This song isn't as heavy on Fergie swag as "M.I.L.F. $" but I like it, hope The Dutchess 2 finally drops this year.
5. 2 Chainz f/ Drake - "Big Amount"
I love 2 Chainz on Zaytoven beats, and "Big Amount" has a similar relaxed vibe to the also great "MFN Right." I also absolutely hate Drake on Zaytoven beats and think that it's a classic example of the failure of the one-size-fits-all-let's-put-Drake-on-every-song era. But still this is pretty fun and short, just a couple of guys free associating with no chorus. 2 Chainz had an amazing year, check out my best of 2016 playlist.
6. Twista f/ Jeremih - "Next To You"
Twista and Jeremih have done a couple tracks before but I'm glad they finally have a single together, two generations of Chicago masters of mixing rap and R&B.
7. Marian Hill - "I Want You"
This song's shy vocal performance makes it sound a little like a demo of a bigger, bolder pop song, but by the end it kinda grows on me and I enjoy the idiosyncratic production.
8. Shaggy - "That Love"
It feels weird to watch MTV Hits now that it's been rebranded as NickMusic, but it's still basically the same generalist pop music video channel, the thing MTV would be if it didn't become that weird thing MTV has been for the last couple decades. And I've heard some fun songs on there lately that I don't know if I had heard elsewhere, including this and the Jane Zhang and Marian Hill songs on this list. Shaggy had his first Hot 100 hit in a decade last year, and I never thought much of "I Need Your Love," but I really dig the chorus on this one.
9. Fantasia - "Sleeping With The One I Love"
This is one of the big dramatic R. Kelly-written setpieces of a great underrated album from my 2016 top 10, The Definition Of... Weird fit for radio but it got a decent amount of spins.
10. Green Day - "Still Breathing"
When I make a deep album cuts playlist including music from an act's current album, I run the risk of including a future single, and that happened with my Green Day playlist back in October (it only happened once before, with Ciara). I initially used "Still Breathing," but now that it's the second single from Revolution Radio, I put a different cut on the playlist. I saw someone crack that "Still Breathing" sounds like a Kelly Clarkson song, and it kinda does, but I have no problem with that.
The Worst Single of the Month: Train - "Play That Song"
Train isn't remotely cool on their best day and it feels pointless to fight it or to even point it out. But I think they're a serviceable singles act and will occasionally defend "Drops of Jupiter" or "Meet Virginia" or even "Hey Soul Sister" a little. This song, though, man, you won't catch me playing devil's advocate with this shit, they actually wrote a terrible new song over "Heart and Soul."