This Year In Records

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December

December 2nd: Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”

“I WANT TO LISTEN TO THIS,” I typed as news reached me that Childish Gambino had put out new music. “PLEASE SOMEBODY COMPREHENSIVELY DESCRIBE.” Although my message came from a swanky awards do aided by having consumed far too much wine for 6:45 on a Thursday evening than it’s probably wise to admit to here, the sentiment was pure – and, it seemed, essential. “Awaken, My Love!”-era Gambino is a peculiar breed, dropping bombastic Kanye impressions for a mostly sophisticated funk that prefers James Brown and delirious falsetto, and Donald Glover’s progression from Troy Barnes to utter (entertainment-based) world domination is surely now even more inevitable.

December 9th: THANKS – ‘Your Man’

For a period of a few minutes as every one of the last 26 Fridays has begun, Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist has been a great friend. Not only does it bear a fair chunk of music that This Week In Records looks to cover, but its size – 50 tracks unless someone big is being silly and holding back their release for a US-centric launch or breakfast radio spin – will always guide me towards sleepless nights where necessary. In December, though, it’s been somewhat trickier as few dare to put out new material.

Fortunately, THANKS did, sending ‘Your Man’ into my ears at around 3am with a joyous disco tickle and my favourite cheesy opening line of the year: “You’re so cool / Did you come from the freezer?” That the package comes from two ex-Alphabeat gents named Anders and features an uncredited Sam Sparro vocal performance shouldn’t come as any surprise – a decade or so ago when I discovered a world of music beyond what CD:UK would feature on a Saturday morning by refreshing Popjustice regularly, their wonky offerings were regular highlights. With ‘Your Man,’ all that’s changed is the branding.

December 16th: Sinead Harnett – ‘Rather Be With You’

Sinead Harnett’s self-titled EP wasn’t the first project of its ilk to be released by London radio station-cum-record label Rinse this year (or even the first one to feature a KAYTRANADA production), but where it differs to Katy B’s Honey is in its brevity and effectiveness, sliding far more into its sharp 15 minutes. A glance at Harnett’s SoundCloud profile will remind you instantly where you know her voice from — between three tracks alongside Disclosure, Rudimental, and Snakehips on that service, she’s racked close to 10 million plays — and it’s no surprise that the EP pairs her luscious R&B vocal styling with some of the brightest production talent in the community of sensual electronica. Snakehips themselves lend their talents to ‘Rather Be With You,’ its official second single and evident standout, with a spritely skip that gifted a miserable, shivering, hectic December a little sliver of pure optimism.

December 23rd: Honey G – ‘The Honey G Show’

If its mission is still – or was ever – to provide the world with viable pop talent, evidence increases with each iteration that The X Factor is fundamentally failing. Pitched against the entertainment might of Ed Balls prancing around a dancefloor or Canadian raccoons, its topical pinnacles amidst tumbling ratings for the last two years have been the least musically oriented “acts,” who at least offered something with an ounce of exuberance through the ever-earlier parade of tedious carbon-copy vocalists and the walking tone-deaf. “So go and fuck off now,” gleefully uttered longtime judge Louis Walsh recently before striking a microphone when, while flanked by his eventual third-placed hodgepodge boyband Five After Midnight, a Huffington Post reporter dared to ask about potential changes. Quite.

Yet, the dreary hydra of mediocrity rambles on. Judging by how frequently my grandma has mentioned how ridiculous the charade is, Honey G is the most intriguing product of the latest series – the 35-year-old recruiter’s rise, built by spelling out her stage name and acting like a snapback is all you need to be a legitimate rapper, was so unprecedented that her obligatory signing to Syco was announced on the show before Matt Terry, the eventual victor, was crowned.

‘The Honey G Show’ charted in its first week at number 149. Thank you, United Kingdom.

December 30th: Cashmere Cat feat. Starrah, 2 Chainz & Tory Lanez – ‘Throw Myself A Party’

It is rather fitting that our breakdown of 53 Fridays comes to an end with Cashmere Cat, a chap who has rather subtly made himself known regularly throughout this year in This Week In Records. As noted in Dave Williams’ Starboy review, Magnus August Høiberg has sprung in rather regularly on the year’s big releases – in addition to four tracks on The Weeknd’s album, his touch reaches into ‘Wolves’ and ‘Frank’s Track’ on The Life Of Pablo, ‘See Her Out (That’s Just Life)’ and ‘Friends’ from Francis And The Lights’ Farewell, Starlite!, ‘Dye’ on Lido’s Everything, and additional album cuts from Britney Spears, Travi$ Scott, A$AP Ferg, and Tory Lanez.

All of those have, at least in my mind, been insignificant asides to the buzz around his own debut LP, announced finally over the summer with wandering title track ‘Wild Love,’ featuring The Weeknd and Francis And The Lights. The cheeky trap flair you may expect was a little more obvious alongside Selena Gomez and Lanez on ‘Trust Nobody,’ where Gomez banished the tedium of Revival to give a charismatic and intimate (if mildly trickly) performance before Lanez adorned the joyously gloopy beat with a slab of his breathy whining that is, to my limited knowledge (‘Luv,’ some G-Eazy track, the Sean Paul one that didn’t have Dua Lipa, not that much else, etc.), somewhat bearable. Neither were as compelling as 2015’s ‘Adore,’ which I maintain is the best thing Ariana Grande has ever put her name to, but with a squad like his at the ready there was little cause for concern generated.

‘Throw Myself A Party’ makes it here partially due to a dearth of anything else that I’d be willing to ramble about from the year’s final Friday crop – DJ Snake and Yellow Claw also just put out 27 remixes of ‘Ocho Cinco,’ but the original version, taken from the former’s Encore, is genuinely one of the most painful things I’ve subjected my ears to in 2016 so I’d advise fleeing at your earliest convenience – but also it’s a stunning excuse to laugh at atrocious party-slathered rap lyrics for one final time in a year where Rae Sremmurd’s ‘Black Beatles’ legitimately became the biggest track on the planet. The tone is clear from the outset on Starrah’s Young Thug-displacing hook (“Bad bitches turning up / Time to start myself a party”) before 2 Chainz arrives and does what he earns the multiple big bucks for: sneering his own name through well-panned stereo wonders and rapping preposterous, repetitive gibberish (“Another party, ‘nother Ferrari / I stretch the truth like pilates,” “Using my belt for a mistletoe / I used to bet on the telephone / I done made love in a vehicle / This right here, this is your anthem,” “Drink something then pass out / 2 Chainz, true”).

Maybe Wild Love will land in full and we’ll have a couple of moments like ‘I Feel It Coming,’ where superb work from Daft Punk drew The Weeknd away the comfort of apathetically musing on his cars, drugs, and women in favour of a modern Michael Jackson vibe with a Gallic flourish. Maybe this is an omen for the lyrical standard we can expect from 2017. Maybe everything will continue to burn relentlessly and, by the time it comes to This Year In Records‘ 2017 instalment there’ll be literally nothing redeemable to talk about.

Either way, you know where we’ll be, bringing you everything you’d ever need from the world of entertainment each and every day. Especially when it comes to 2 Chainz lyrics.

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The Edge's resident grumpy old man, a final year Web Scientist with a name even his parents couldn’t spell properly. Ask him any question and you’ll probably get the answer of “Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2015 album E•MO•TION,” which might explain why we still can't get rid of him.

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