Nic Kelly’s Top 20 Of 2016 – so far.

Last year I did my Top 40 at the end of the year then at the end of the first quarter of this year I did a Top 10 so now we’re halfway through it I did a Top 20 and I hope that’s okay.

20. Le Drugs by birthday

I’ve never heard Hillydilly yell @ me more about an artist than they did about birthday. All the pop sirens were sounding. A new beacon of change had arrived. With four aesthetically fascinating songs placed on Soundcloud in unison, the story of birthday began to unravel as that of a young Californian man who’d carefully crafted an unheard sound. The harmonics in the chorus & carefully placed reverb broke me, and that was most prevalent on Le Drugs, but every song was a shoe-in. Duran Visek is a superstar.

19. Atic by Astrid S

Tucked away as Track 4 on Astrid S‘ self-titled EP was a song called Atic, which translates to Atic in her native Norwegian tongue. The biggest, boldest, strongest pop record from a Scandinavian of the year, Atic starts out like a Frank Ocean record before exploding into full-blown, explosive pop glory.

18. Because I Love You by Montaigne

“I ate a salad today. I ate one yesterday too. We slide into your bed, and then I slide into you, we are two moving skins, I think this isn’t boring.” Montaigne‘s got what it takes to be a pop superstar. Whilst previous singles since her breakout record Life Of Montaigne back in 2014 have played it safe with being too pop, this one’s the most obsessable popiano romp of recent memory. It’s a smash. And it’s so smart.

17. This Girl by Kungs vs Cookin’ On 3 Burners

If you’d told me in January that an 18-year-old French DJ taking a song by a Melbourne swing band and adding a thicker beat and more horns to it would be one of the best songs I heard this year, I would have shoed you – but Jesus Christ – This Girl is a banger. A sharp, thumping dance record with energy & soul for days – this was a genius move and a brilliant record to smash in the car.

16. Into You by Ariana Grande

Whilst Dangerous Woman found itself full of driving, energy-packed smashes, you couldn’t go past the sexual charge of Into You. “A little less conversation, a little more touch my body,” and a whole lot of fucking fun.

15. Sugar by Terror Jr

It’s become Felix Snow‘s signature to throw that ‘tock’ noise on some of his beats and it initially made me angry because I thought Terror Jr had just copied Kiiara‘s GOLD until I found out it had the same producer. They are perfectly mysterious, rebellious & exciting – as razor sharp as they are sugary – and have smashed out four dark bits of brilliance in a very short space of time.

14. Obsessive by Chase Atlantic

Copy pasting what I said last quarter when I put this at #2. The way they smacked this on the internet one random weeknight – with no warning – sending #OBSESSIVE to #1 on the Australian trends and making serious, lasting noise, was nothing short of genius for a pop band who GET IT. They’ve set up an incredible foundation by being one step ahead of the curve musically with their past EPs, and what we’re hearing from the upcoming one, they’re impossible to ignore. Obsessive was a perfectly crafted pop song – the shameless saxophone slayage from the band’s mastermind Clinton Cave was a bold and brilliant move, and no vocalist on the planet sounds like Mitchel.

13. Inside Voices by Mallrat

I’ve been in love with Australia’s rap game Hannah Montana from Day 1, and Inside Voices really took everything next level. A cute-as-hell tropical bop with a reference to shopping at hell-on-earth Westfield and some gorgeous sung stuff about being alright being inside in silence, Ratty’s trajectory is through the roof right now as she charms everyone that hears her.

12. Say It by Flume ft Tove Lo

I remember the day this dropped seeing all the ‘future bass’ nerds freaking the fuck out because Flume was getting “too pop” and becoming a sell out. I was living for it. Skin was a really cool array of weird shit you don’t hear anywhere all the way through to songs that will sound massive at festivals and on radio – and this was probably the perfect halfway point. The double-time verses from Tove, “let me fuck you right back,” and the sudden shut-downs in the hook – a match made in heaven.

11. At Night (I Think About You) by MNEK

Backing up Never Forget You, his breakthrough with Zara Larsson, was not going to be easy but At Night hit the nail of expectations on the head. The “maaaaaaadNESS / saaaaaaaadNESS” lines in the verses and the vocal runs at the end make this a great representation of Uzo’s talent – he’s making big, bold pop records with diva moments and unexpected twists.

10. Let’s Go Out by Alex Lahey

Alex and I used to own the same semi-powerful shitbox of a car, the trusty Toyota Corolla ’99, so I knew we’d get along. Then she put out the best guitar-pop song of the year. I want to sing Let’s Go Out huddled up with my best friends from high school at a backyard house party at like 11pm after about seven Coopers Pale Ales. I want to text it to my boyfriend when I’ve had a shit day. And I want to take Alex out with us.

9. False Alarm by Matoma & Becky Hill

This song came out five days ago. Just in the knick of time. But in the vein of the first line of the song, “I had sirens in my head from the first time that we met,” I knew this song would be sticking in my heart for a while. It’s a ballad disguised as an emotional tropical house song. The vocal flick on the word ‘false’ from one of my all time favourite UK female vocalists makes me wanna bawl.

8. Bubblegum by Donatachi ft Rosebud Leach

I’d chucked my mesh red shirt on & was mid-way through tying my shoes up as I was listening to the Sidechains Vol 2 compilation record of some of Australian music’s most exciting future creatives – but every two songs further I got through it – I’d head back to this. Donatachi has made one of the most glittering, perfect pop records of recent memory, and Bubblegum was a saccharine moment to fall madly in love with.

7. Next To You by LDRU & Savoi

Sometimes you just know that there’s a person in the world who is perfect for you. And the world is just a shit place and won’t allow you to be with them. They might have a new partner, they might live too far away, or both, but it feels shitty. This song gives you solace in that, because it’s those feels wrapped in a gorgeous dance-pop record by a Sydney producer who’s proven he gets it (see Keeping Score with Paige IV) and the last 30 seconds could make a great end of festival keytar solo, hey.

6. Edge Of Town by Middle Kids

As far as debut singles go, this one is the best of them all. Somewhat of a supergroup of young Australian music types, Hannah, Tim and Harry chuck their heart on their sleeve in their first effort together – “I’m upside down, I’m inside out” is the kind of lyric I find myself singing to myself whilst I’m procrastinating daily – and the accelerando on the bridge just helps squeeze out that extra last bit of emotion.

5. Cut It Out by Little Sea

In a similar vein to the Chase Atlantic record I spoke about a few songs ago, Little Sea are a young pop band with so much smart in them, unlike this sentence. Cut It Out came off the back of a few months of silence for a band who could have so easily fallen into the cesspool of awful fangirl-pandering ‘boybands’ – but the tempo changes and lyrical swings & roundabouts and evolution from their old sound find Little Sea in a position of complete independence from their peers and in a sonic land of their own.

4. Glow by Lontalius

Glow is about feeling like you should have negative feelings for an ex but realising they were actually alright,”Lontalius told Nylon on its release. “People are beautiful and relationships are too. I just wanted to write a pop song.”

With vocals recorded in his bedroom, relatively simple instrumentation and a whole lot of heart, Lontalius pretty much told the story of the last dude I properly fell for. Maaaaaaaan he messed me round, but maaaaaaan, he was good for me. When you can find solace in a song that genuinely completes the narrative of the relationship you had with someone, you’ve found your favourite song. That’s Glow for me.

3. Lonely Walls by PON CHO ft Paige IV

This is the first release on my record label, Night High, and it’s been something I fell in love with on first listen. Paige soars over a beat which is as confident as it is exciting – emotion packed from the darker moments at the start and all the way through the drop. Being a part of the release of a record is something very special and something this good being my first one was even more of an honour.

2. Arigato by Julie Bergan

The music video for this might be a hot mess & is copping flak for cultural appropros OF COURSE but Arigato by Swedish babe Julie Bergan is a fucking banger. It’s a big, soaring pop banger around the year’s best drop – with euphoria and futurism seeping from its every orifice. How graphic. But seriously, how GOOD.

1. Hotter Than Hell by Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa is the best popstar in the world right now. She’s got the most wholesome voice for a 20 year old female on the planet right now, smashing the dark, mysterious tones not even a Rih or a Charli can, her look is to die for and her songs are remarkable. Hotter Than Hell is the secret weapon that got her signed to Warner and I can tell why they waited to put this out – it’s one of the best pop songs of the decade. It manages to be dark, brooding and huge whilst technically being a tropical house song and her vocals knock it out of the park – I also adore songs that drop out at the top of the chorus to help the title be more present. Oh god. What a woman. What a song.

Nic Kelly is the editor of this idiot website, and bangs on about songs on Twitter a fair bit.

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