#BILLCSTop86Songsof2016

Trying to find time to write everything I want is always an issue.  I present to you my Top 86 Songs of 2016, with this blog post based on the radio program which aired on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day on http://www.planetradio.ca 🙂  Here’s my commentary on my Top 30 Songs with the complete list following.  Links to my Top 10 Songs are featured further down…

#30:  Brandyn Burnette’s “Made Of Dreams”, the title song from his first EP, and the first of four songs by or featuring him on this year end list. The song was greatly enhanced by a feel-good tropical mix from Chicago remix duo Win & Woo collaborating with Kiso Armic, also from Chicago.

#29 – L.A.-based singer/songwriter Simon Curtis with “Super Psycho Love” from his album Super 8bit Heart, first of two songs from that album in this list. That album was a 2016 reimagining of Simon’s 2010 free online mixtape still available from his website called 8bit Heart, which to me is one of the most endearing recordings of the decade. “Super Psycho Love” benefited most from an update and appeared on my chart for the first time.

#28 – courtesy of Canadian duo Young Bombs, who also have two remixes in my list. They brought the bounce to a fine record out of Norway from a young newcomer named Jesper Jenset called “High”.

#27 – belonging to Canadian brothers Chris and Alex from Orangeville Ontario – DVBBS! They’ve been on this list before (in 2015 and 2014), but this year they included Toronto’s Dante Leon on vocal for the toe-tapper “Angel”.

#26 – a taste of 80’s flavoured funk courtesy of NYC producer/remixer Jenaux with the rollicking original “Get It On”. Jenaux also partnered with Texas duo Tritonal for the song “Broken” (#45), and has another remix in this list.  

#25 – more Canadians 🙂 with a creative and funky remix by Chicago’s Snøwmass of a song by Montreal production duo Sterling Grove who are paired with Toronto pop/jazz vocalist Ellyn Woods for the mysterious “Sound Of Home”.

#24 – one of the most provocative and surprising albums of 2016 was Blue Neighbourhood by South Africa-born, Australia-based singer Troye Sivan, who had a world-wide following on You Tube before making records. It consists of beautifully crafted, poignant songs which meant a lot particularly to many teens, and scored the Top 20 hit “Youth”. I dove deeper into the album for the evocative “Talk Me Down”.  My bigger list also includes “Wild” (#35)  and “Fools” (#40), all BILLCS Top 30 Top 10 songs.

#23 – belongs to California duo Mako with their dance radio hit “Smoke Filled Room”. As remixed by Elephante, who appears two more times in this list, “Smoke Filled Room” set the stage for a crush of a now-grown up woman.

#22 – on the rise in 2016 was L.A. producer and singer Mi Disguise (aka Louie Garcia), and with his pal Rouse created a wonderful dance mix EP called NGHT LFE for summer clubbing. Their song “Her And Him” is an inspiring song for late night romance.

#21 – the song I liked best on Adele’s album 25 next to last year’s “Hello”, “All I Ask” is another knockout performance and stood out from the rest of the songs on the album.

#20 – if there was any song in 2016 that would instantly make you feel good it’s one by veteran producer Tony Moran and singer Jason Walker and his amazing range. “So Happy” was a deserved #1 Billboard club hit.

#19 – I was wowed by MAX when I saw him perform in October 2015, and since then he has been a steady presence on the BILLCS Top 30. Singer and actor Max Schneider brought us a full album called Hell’s Kitchen Angel. The album contained a sweet ballad called “Lights Down Low”, but it was the smashing uptempo remix by L.A. duo Two Friends that took it to new heights. It’s the first of two in this list by MAX.

#18 – producer/remixer Tim Wu calls himself Elephante and from his EP I Am The Elephante recorded “Plans” featuring BILLCS favourite Brandyn Burnette on vocals, and I hope the pair will repeat this collaboration soon.

#17 – back and as grand as ever in 2016 was the classic dance duo Pet Shop Boys from their album Super with the lead off single “The Pop Kids”, which got club goers out onto the dance floor in the Spring.

#16 – a very distinct song that found its way out of its native Norway to become a worldwide pop and dance club hit. Featuring a unique vocal by a singer named Iselin Solheim, it’s “Faded” by newcomer Alan Walker.

#15 – Dutch duo The Him released an irresistible deep house club hit “Balance”, which features L.A. based Dutch singer/songwriter Oktavian. Watch for more great music from The Him in 2017 as they wrapped up the year opening for The Chainsmokers on their European tour.

#14 – one of the most poignant songs of 2016 is based on a coincidence of real-life events of loss, by Brandyn Burnette called “Lost” from his EP Made Of Dreams. Brandyn auditioned for American Idol at the top of the year and took a risk by performing this original, which the judges loved, though Brandyn chose not to continue on the show. “Lost” is the third of four songs in the Top 30 by or featuring Brandyn.

#13 – preceding Hell’s Kitchen Angel in 2016 was MAX’s EP Wrong. The title song is a hip hop flavoured rave up featuring rapper Lil Uzi Vert who scored with his own album and songs in 2016 as well. A BILLCS Top 30 #1.

#12 – featuring an incredible gritty vocal by American singer Brayton Bowman is “Shy” by Belgian producer The Magician, who released “Shy” and songs by others in 2016 on his own label Potion Records. Watch for more of this incredible music from The Magician and his stable of artists in 2017.  A BILLCS Top 30 #1.

#11 – “Kiss The Sky” by NYC duo The Knocks featuring none other than The Fugees’ Wyclef Jean on vocals. The Knocks created a grand party when I saw their show in January, proving themselves to be slick entertainers as well as producers. Their album 55 continued the dance party, and they found themselves opening for Justin Bieber on his European tour in the latter part of 2016. “Kiss The Sky” is sheer dance music escapism at its best.  A BILLCS Top 30 #1.

#10 – the third entry on the list by Elephante is “Closer”, which became his signature song after being heard in many remixes which included worthy ones by the likes of producers Aash Mehta and Speaker Of The House. The vocalist on “Closer” is Portland, Oregon’s Bishøp and it’s one of the best of 2016. 

#9 – “Dreamin’” by British producer/remixer Embody featuring fellow Brit vocalist Camden Cox. It’s somewhat hard to believe that the song that could transport you most to a hot beach party in 2016 was brought to us from two talented Brits. “Dreamin’” is 2016’s best tropical mix.

Songs 8 through 1 all were BILLCS Top 30 #1’s 🙂

#8 – belonging to my fellow Canadian The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, and Abel grew up not far from where I grew up, but in a community of 90’s Ethiopean immigrants, which makes his success all the more formidable. The Weeknd collaborated with the award-winning French duo Daft Punk for “Starboy”, from the diverse album of the same name, which also gave him his first Billboard #1 hit. 

#7 – Brandyn Burnette has his final song of 4 in the Top 30 (and 8 on the full list, plus one by his duo Cosmos & Creature with his gal Molly Moore) from his special EP Made Of Dreams with “Nothing At All”. It’s a sparse production that brings out the progressive soul vibe of the song, which made the Made Of Dreams EP all the more listenable. Brandyn’s putting finishing touches on his third release due in January.

#6 – one of the most emotional songs of the year, the second one on the list called “Lost”, this one by British Columbia native Connor Phillips. In its original version, the song is a short acoustic ballad, but Canadian remix duo Young Bombs once again gave their redux an extra wow factor by washing it in enough synths to make your eyes wet. If you find yourself wanting to hug someone, blame it on the power of music.

free download:

#5 – the second song from Super 8bit Heart on this list is “8bit Heart”, a personal favourite of mine from 2010 that was redone for 2016. “8bit Heart” is a song like none other to me, it’s a song full of love and heart that totally captivated me 6 years ago in its original version, and was my #4 song of that year. Simon kept it real in 2016 and made the redux of “8bit Heart” the lead companion song for his book Boy Robot. 

#4 – released in late July, it was hard to believe that “Closer” by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey would become one of the biggest hits of the decade, with 12 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Chainsmokers, who are the NYC duo of Alex Pall and Drew Taggart, appeared on my list last year but more than any act in 2016 outdid themselves with their relentless performing and recording schedules. But the best of it all, is that they remained truly down-to-earth and supportive of other breaking acts in the dance community. “Closer” resonated with me too.

#3 – this song really kicked a funky butt into the proceedings in 2016, being the song that followed The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” at #1 on my regular chart of the BILLCS Top 30. It’s “Native Son Prequel” by producer/remixer Gramatik featuring London-born American vocalist Leo Napier. It’s a song told from the perspective of a pimp, and aside from that odd story angle, NYC remixer Jenaux gave it a spirited 70’s funk flavour that could only make you think of the character Huggy Bear from TV’s Starsky & Hutch 😛 

#2 – Toronto duo Dzeko & Torres collaborated with Sweden’s Hellberg for their free download release of “Care For Me”, which is my #2 song of 2016. While the performers may have considered “Care For Me” to be a great free promotional vehicle for their music in 2016, it was in fact a fabulous arrangement featuring an uncredited vocal, whose lyrics also struck an emotional nerve with me. Dzeko & Torres have since decided to pursue other efforts, with Julian Dzeko continuing to record while Luis Torres ventures into the production side of things, and I’m glad I caught their show in Toronto in April. Jon Hellberg on the other hand featured prominently on the BILLCS Top 30 in 2016 with both “Synchronize” and “All The Way”.

#1 – my favourite song of 2016 was brought to my attention courtesy of an excellent innovative remix, one of the best of the year, by relative newcomers EDWYNN x TIKAL (also known as Swedes Thor Lundberg and Leonard Palmberg) and Spirix (who is American producer/remixer Devain Doolaramini). The song is “So Bad” by L.A. singer/songwriter Brandon Skeie, who didn’t release more than a handful of songs in 2016 but is set out to conquer 2017. A protege of Semi-Precious Weapons frontman and noted songwriter Justin Tranter, who co-wrote Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries” among others, Brandon has an amazing high register, which helped send “So Bad” into the history books for me. It’s one of the best songs ever about longing for someone who you may or may not get to have in your life. 

Original:

Remix (free download):  

The full list, web version:  BILLCS Top 86 Songs of 2016

Spotify playlist of most of the songs:  BILLCS Top 86 Songs of 2016

#BILLCSTop30 #474 – January 11, 2016

It’s a new year, beginning with a new #1 by a performer who holds both #1 and #2 spots, and six debuts make their presence known.  Some recent EP’s and albums are causing multiple appearances by the same performers, after a year like last year where multiple entries by the same performers didn’t occur too often.

The Top 10

  • As I’ve been tweeting the past few days, if you missed Brandyn Burnette’s one-of-a-kind audition on American Idol last Thursday, you need to see it so go to the link right here.  So while Brandyn got his golden ticket, he also starts off 2016 with a bang on this chart, with the alternative old soul of “Nothing At All” ascending to the top, while the song he performed in his audition, “Lost (Stripped)”, advances 5-2.  2016 shows every sign of being a great year for Brandyn, and he has one other entry further down on the chart, though his fourth from two weeks ago, “Life’s A Beach” drops off.  A video for “Nothing At All” will arrive very soon!

  • “I Wish (My Taylor Swift)” by The Knocks and Matthew Koma stays put at #3, and a third New Yorker, Penguin Prison, has remixed the song in his own inimitable style, stripping away the SoCal vibe of the song and turning it into something more NYC club ready.  Give a listen above.  I’m very happy to be seeing The Knocks on January 22 in my city 🙂

  • I was beginning to feel lonely in my enjoyment of Mako’s “Smoke Filled Room”, but in fact the song soared into Billboard’s Dance Radio Airplay Top 5 over the holidays, so the cat is out of the bag.  Members Alex and Logan have a standout beauty here with this song, particularly in the Elephante remix, and it climbs 6-4.  A new video for the song is coming too!

  • MAX Schneider is working double-duty on the chart this week with songs from each of his recent EP’s.  Not only does his collaboration with Jared Evan, “Ms Anonymous” (above) rise 7 to 6, but his new club-banger-in-waiting “Wrong” (below), featuring Lil Uzi Vert, is the fastest riser on the chart, zooming 22-13 and is set to close in on the upper reaches in a few weeks.

  • The only new entry to the Top 10 belongs to the crazy vibe and Portuguese lyrics of “Drinkee” by NYC duo Sofi Tukker, climbing 12-9.  The duo will also be on that January 22 bill for The Knocks I mentioned above.

Movin’ On Up

There’s so much activity below the Top 10 besides MAX’s “Wrong” as the fastest riser that I won’t be able to write about all this week.

  • Suffice it to say, one’s feet can continue dancing past New Year’s Eve.  The songs to do just that for you as they eye the Top 10 in two weeks?  “The Shadows Of The Moon” (above) by the venerable veteran Rozalla along with producers/DJs House Of Virus, advancing 14-11, along with German DJ/producer Final DJS wisely working with Bright Light Bright Light on vocals for the free download of “Lost In Feelings” (below), which moves up 16-12.

  • My dream team of Brandyn Burnette and Molly Moore appropriately have songs side-by-side on the chart.  Molly’s touching and incisive “Blood. Sweat. Tears.” (above) could be a Jessie Ware song in disguise from her EP Shadow Of The Sun and rises 25-20, while her beau Brandyn’s third song from his Made Of Dreams EP, “Down” (below), jumps 28-21.

Six Debuts!

I’ve had to save most of the space in this post for our six stunning debuts, one of which sneaked onto the chart after only being released on Thursday at midnight.

  • Wither “Hello”, slipping from 1 to 5 after 4 appearances (8 weeks) at #1, but certainly not forgetting about other songs from the knockout album that is 25.  “All I Ask” (above) is almost equally as beautiful and touching, with another amazing vocal… can’t seem to find enough adjectives for this one!  It bows at #17, while subsequent single “When We Were Young” (below) also has no trouble finding its way onto the chart at #25.  Any performer signed to a major label with access to funds should aim to create as wonderful a record as this, style and genre notwithstanding.  25 is a once-in-a-long-time album experience for anyone.

  • Crashing onto all platforms on Thursday at midnight was the immense surprise that is Super 8bit Heart, the album redux of 2010’s 8bit Heart, one of my favourite releases of the decade by Simon Curtis (read my blog post from yesterday right here).  It’s not at all the same as the original and has its own highlights, but I’m so glad that “8bit Heart” was remade with the same warm touches as the original.  “8bit Heart” already reached #1 here in 2010 and remained on the chart for its maximum 10 appearances (20 weeks).  But I’m treating this new recording as a brand new entry and I sincerely hope it becomes the focus song for promotion of the new album.  So the redux of “8bit Heart” arrives at #19.

  • After listening to its initial singles, an album that I’ve grown to enjoy thoroughly over the holidays is South Africa-born, Australia-raised singer Troye Sivan’s Blue Neighbourhood.  Not only are the songs compelling, but the boy-next-door performance with so much improved vocals by Troye make them so unique next to what’s on the radio.  It’s no wonder listeners are flocking to his sold out shows and that people like Betty Who worked with him on the album.  I’m currently wrapped up in both “Talk Me Down” (above) and “Wild” (below), so each arrives on the chart, at #23 and #26 respectively.  Never did I think that Troye would grow so much after his You Tube performances.  He is indeed a talent to watch!

  • The last debut is “Age Of Innocence” by L.A.-based DJ/producer Elephante featuring Trouze and Damon Sharpe, which I wrote about not long ago and lands on the chart at #27.  Club DJ’s are totally on board with this one, currently in Billboard’s Dance Club Play Top 25.  The song is actually still available as a free download on Soundcloud too (below).  Elephante is one of those talented guys with great ears who we will see playing huge venues with superstar talent in the next year.

The Full Chart

Listen to the songs or watch the videos using the links on the pictures on the pretty and detailed web edition of my chartGo on, have a look and listen/watch 🙂

Listen to the BILLCS Top 30 Songs on Spotify!

Click on this link to take you there, and follow me on Spotify 🙂 BILLCS Top 30 Songs

You can hear me online on http://www.planetradio.ca every Monday at 9:00 pm EST counting down a Toronto Top 10 chart from yesteryear, and then again every Tuesday in a rebroadcast at 7:00 a.m. EST on WROCK http://www.wlor.net!

MAX (@maxgschneider) keeps the rhythm dirty with “Wrong” (featuring @LilUziVert)

MAX featuring LIL UZI VERT, “Wrong” 

Hot on the heels of the diverse and extremely enjoyable Ms Anonymous EP (whose title song is at #11 on my personal chart) comes a follow up EP by the immensely talented MAX (aka Max Schneider) called Wrong.  It’s full of equally listenable and danceable songs which will sound great at a MAX concert and bring him new fans.  The title song has a wicked, dirty EDM rhythm that suits MAX to a T, with a rap by Lil Uzi Vert that fits the vibe of the song so well.  The video is quite a razzle dazzle affair too, with MAX officially joining the Justin Bieber and Nick Jonas shirtless crowd 😛  “Wrong” could be MAX’s strongest single yet so be sure to get it and the entire EP on iTunes.  I hope some remixes will follow because “Wrong” would tear it up in dance clubs too!

Published in: on December 22, 2015 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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