Feature Opinion

Top 20 Songs Of 2016

Majority of this year’s top songs were created by future giants. South Africa’s niche genres are being forced to the forefront courtesy of the SABC’s 90% rule and have found a home on commercial radio, simultaneously educating a larger audience on the talent at hand. So, in no particular order, enjoy our cut about the rest picks.

1. Art Snakes – Can You Hear Me Clem Fandango! Johannnesburg supergroup Art Snakes brought back screamo and all things alt-rock through their first single. The dense, manic and confrontational approach makes this a welcome addition to the collections of heavy music fans. Listen here. Stian Maritz

2. Slow Jack – Love to Dream. This debut single is a leisurely upbeat offering, peppered in synths and carefully combined pop-rock-ska influences – smothered in arresting vocals from both Jayme Van Tonder and Hannes Muller. Listen here. Skye Mallac

3. Black Math – Sunset. Abrasive and bold, this alternative three-piece are a class act. ‘Sunset’ epitomises this resolve, reeling within its grasp a controlled chaotic urgency that dissolves into a gentler interlude as the track itself mirrors the fading light of nightfall. Listen here. Marike Watson

4. Stone Jets – What I Say. With a peppy Bruno Mars-esque quality this track is the perfect Monday morning starter. Given Nkanyane has been blessed with a smooth set of pipes that will take him far, so jump on the wagon now and you’ll be able to say you knew them before things blew up. Listen here. Tecla Ciolfi

5. Adelle Nqeto – Make Something Beautiful. Uncomplicatedly layered but beautifully dense, the singer-songwriter’s humble, earnest approach resulted in quite the debut. ‘Make Something Beautiful’ highlights Nqeto’s idyllic vocal tone amongst a merry riff and modest chord progression. Listen here. Timothy Kohler

6. The Tazers – Shake It. Serving as a teaser for their forthcoming new material, this reflects the trio’s easy-going style with its feel-good vigour. Through its carefree mid-tempo rhythm and modern romantic message ‘Shake It’ indisputably slots itself as a catchy contender in this year’s list of favourite singles. Listen here. Marike Watson

7. Opposite the Other – Stutter Love. Opposite the Other have worked harder than most this year, earning themselves a Main Stage Daisies slot and Coke Studio colab. ‘Stutter Love’ shows a softer side to their upbeat sound, doused in synths and crooning vocals – a quietly catchy offering. Listen here. Skye Mallac

8. PHfat featuring Mikhaela Faye – The Whip. This is indicative of the current development of PHfat in the wake of an unapologetic and uncompromising new stage. In its duration rests an ominous quality inherent to PHfat’s former material that highlights a softer quality when appeased by the accompanying emotive vocals Faye delivers. Listen here. Marike Watson

9. Hellcats – Black Stabbath. A fitting tribute to Black Sabbath and old-school rock, swinging back and forth from a reverb-laden verse to characteristically heavy breakdowns. Listen here. Stian Maritz

10. Diamond Thug – Kommetjie. Paying tribute to the serene, picturesque seaside village that they once paid homage to, the alternative indie-pop outfit displayed a previously hidden facets. A humble mandolin and an untroubled vocal line encompasses Kommetjie’s nonchalant disposition more effectively than one could presume. Listen here. Timothy Kohler

11.Tiger and Man – Wondering. This debut mixes minimalist electronic music with electric guitar for a unique symbiosis of smooth and jagged devices. The wounded vocals convey finely tuned emotions with a refreshingly honed sound. Listen here. Stian Maritz

12. The Valley – Siren. ‘Siren’ breeds its sound slowly, gradually entering the psychedelic tendrils of desert rock as menacing licks of guitar and bass entice its listeners through a combination of darker melodic textures. Listen here. Marike Watson

13. Edisontide – The Conspirator. Quintessential to the Durban-based trio’s debut is its enticing, ethereal disposition. Elusive guitar lines amongst an impressively controlled, alluring vocal timbre and carefully-curated drum patterns make for one thought-provoking albeit impeccably catchy showcase. Listen here. Timothy Kohler

14. Southern Wild – Lead Role. The major and minor swing of things nods to the ‘90s but maintains radio friendliness due to David Van Vuuren’s exceptional voice and a catchy as hell wordless chorus melody. Listen here. Stian Maritz

15. Black Coffee featuring. Shekinah – Your Eyes. Arguably this country’s most loved popular figure, Black Coffee’s star shows no sign of dimming any time soon. This offering is a poignant, darker telling of a relationship shrouded in lies that’s broody and atmospheric while still completely dance-worthy. Listen here. Tecla Ciolfi

16. Early Hours – Into The Wilderness. Launching gallantly into unfamiliar territory, one of Cape Town’s youngest, albeit impressively successful, indie outfits unveiled a carefully-orchestrated, jovial but reflective piece. Initially more upbeat, the track explores a vast array of timbres quirky, zealous and ambient. Listen here. Timothy Kohler 

17. Wandile Mbambeni – Lovers Like You. This song is a textbook case of finding beauty in the simplicity of the quieter moments. Best when it’s just Mbambeni’s rasp-ish vocals and acoustic guitar, this song is the beginning of big things for this young man. Warning: It will make you feel things. Listen here. Tecla Ciolfi

18. Grassy Spark – Feel It. The ska rockers’ latest single is a cutesy celebration of a being in the presence of a significant other and the effect that has on one. It’s a light, groove-inducing track that gets a decent reggae injection courtesy of Khaos Kotterell’s (The Rudimentals) verses. Listen here. Tecla Ciolfi

19. Yellow House – Better Views. A more-than-sufficient debut to serve as an introduction to the groovy, indie-dream-pop songsmith. Drenched in reverb and introspection, Emile van Dango’s solo project encompasses waves of jazz techniques with a soulful, lounge-esque undercurrent whilst emphasizing an earnest conviction. Listen here. Timothy Kohler

20. The Rudimentals – We Are One. Veering in an electronic direction for half this track, a dubstep back track is paired with spitting rap verse, while the latter half sees their effortless return to a grooving reggae tune. Listen here. Skye Mallac