PlayNetwork’s Top 20 Albums of 2016

The Music Supervision team at PlayNetwork is exposed to a ton of music each year, in fact, in 2016 alone, we added 6,000+ albums, EP’s and compilations to our massive music library. Each Music Supervisor has their own unique criteria for selecting songs for a playlist, and at year’s end, we all vote for our personal favorite albums that pass the test. Here are some of our favorite tracks, featured on our Top 20 Albums of 2016, as determined by the esteemed/opinionated/obsessive music team at PlayNetwork. Enjoy!

Number 1:

Artist: Beyoncé Album: Lemonade (Columbia) Track: Sorry

Number 2: Artist: Radiohead Album: A Moon Shape Pool (XL) Track: “Burn The Witch

Number 3: Artist: Solange Album: A Seat At The Table (Columbia) Track: Cranes In The Sky

Number 4: Artist: Frank Ocean Album: Blonde (Boys Don’t Cry) Track: Pink + White”

Number 5: Artist: Anderson .Paak Album: Malibu (Steel Wool) Track: “Am I Wrong” (Feat. ScHoolboy Q)

Number 6: […]

12 Days of Music: A Review of Kaytranada’s Album 99.9%

Artist: Kaytranada

Album: 99.9% – XL 2016

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I first heard of Kaytranada through Soundcloud with his remixes of various R&B and hip-hop songs from the 90’s and 00’s such as Janet Jackson, Amerie and The Fugees; and then hearing songs he produced for artists like The Internet and Anderson .Paak. The album 99.9% blends elements from house, soul, funk, R&B and electronic music. This is one of those albums you can play from beginning to end and not get bored and then start it from the top!

12 Days of Music: A Review of Shura’s Album Nothing’s Real

Artist: Shura

Album: Nothing’s Real – Polydor 2016

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The alias of British artist Aleksandra Lilah Denton, Shura first emerged in 2014 with the immediately arresting song “Touch,” the first in a string of singles that confidently introduced her sultry 80s-steeped R&B/pop sound. Last year she unveiled a few more stellar singles, appeared on an excellent single from fellow up-and-coming UK talent Mura Masa, and anticipation for her debut album consequently increased to a fever pitch. Fortunately, her debut album Nothing’s Real delivers on the promise of those early singles, yielding one of my favorite pop albums of 2016. Stacked with all of her prior standout singles and seamlessly sequenced to paint a full, cinematic, and expansive sonic landscape in just under an hour, Shura’s first full-length album offers a mature yet playful spin on the nostalgic and romantic tropes of 80s pop with a slick, refreshing, contemporary R&B touch.

2016’s Top 20 Non-Holiday Songs fit for the Holiday Season

One of the more challenging aspects of being a Music Supervisor is taking a well-worn music genre and making it new and fresh again. This is often the case with holiday playlists, that are normally filled with traditional Christmas gems by Bing Crosby or Dean Martin sandwiched with modern holiday pop by the likes of Ariana Grande, Colbie Caillat or Train.

A growing trend here at PlayNetwork, with many of our custom in-store retail playlists, is incorporating non-holiday songs into the mix, tracks that were never originally intended to be associated with Christmas, or included on holiday albums, but feature seasonal themes like: travel, home, family, winter, etc. What I like best about these non-holiday songs is that it elevates the experience and gives the playlist a bit more meaning and a human element.

Joni Mitchell’s “The River” and the Fleet Foxes “White Winter Hymnal” are tender acoustic songs evoking a snow covered landscape and an inner peace that we all search for. Madonna’s “Holiday” and Dream Academy’s “Life In […]

12 Days of Music: A Review of Anderson .Paak’s Album Malibu

Artist: Anderson .Paak

Album: Malibu

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Malibu was released all the way back in the second week of January, and it has yet to be surpassed by any other album that has passed through my ears in 2016. From front to back, this album is drenched in funky beats, LA soul and infectious grooves that will keep you nodding your head and tapping your toes throughout the 16-track effort. This album has staying power, and in a society where flashes-in-the-pan are all the masses are looking for, it’s easy to overlook masterpieces that don’t cater to the current model, but do your ears and your soul a favor by stopping and fully immersing yourself in this personal journey Anderson has laid out for all of us to delve into.

From the opening guitar flicks of “The Bird” to the ode for the not-so-blessed, “The Dreamer”, Brandon Paak Anderson has crafted a truly unique album that is not to be missed. Personal […]

12 Days of Music: A Review of Kamaiyah’s Album A Good Night in the Ghetto

Artist: Kamaiyah

Album: A Good Night in the Ghetto – Self Released 2016

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2016 was a tough one. Luckily, in swoops Oakland, CA’s 21 year old rap superhero Kamaiyah and drops her debut mixtape, “A Good Night in the the Ghetto” to save the day/year. “AGNITG” is a fonkay feel good record about being young (I’m not), having fun (I’m allergic), and partying West Coast style (allll day) over vintage Bay Area styled blaps of 80’s and 90’s R&B. On the mic, Kamaiyah is a natural spitter brimming with confidence and honesty whether rapping or singing or somewhere in-between. Hoochie Hoooo!

12 Days of Music: A Review of Santigold’s Album 99 Cents

Artist: Santigold

Album: 99 Cents – Atlantic Records 2016

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I chose to write about Santigold’s 99 Cents as my pick of 2016 because it was an album that caught my attention from the very first time I heard the lead single “Can’t Get Enough Of Myself”. The song was catchy, fun, and unique enough to be memorable. I kept coming back to it, and then discovered that several songs off the album were getting stuck in my head: “Banshee”, “All I Got”, “Who I Thought You Were”, and “Chasing Shadows” all checked the “hey, that’s actually a pretty good song!” box for me. Individually, the tracks have their own sonic elements that really differentiate them from each other. The album as a whole has this not-your-average-pop vibe to it, which is what made it stick with me.

12 Days of Music: A Review of Chance the Rapper’s Album Coloring Book

Artist: Chance the Rapper

Album: Coloring Book – Self Released 2016

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Chancellor Bennett a.k.a Chano a.k.a Lil’ Chano from 79th or better known as Chance The Rapper took 2016 by storm with his 3rd mixtape “Coloring Book” which was filled with an abundant amount of features to compliment the colorful soundscape that is created within the 14 tracks of this masterpiece. From the Hip-Hop bass heavy sounds of “No Problem” to the lush and intimate sounds of “Summer Friends” to entrancing love songs like “Juke Jam” to dancing in the club on “All Night” and more importantly the gospel inspired tracks like “Blessings” that drives the overall message of the project. 

I loved this album because of its overall sound, subject matter, and tactic to put in religious connotations throughout and in between songs that listeners are used to hearing from Chance. Enhancing that with amazing production from Brasstracks, The Social Experiment, Lido, & Kaytranada and you pretty much have a […]

12 Days of Music: A Review of Kate Tempest’s Album Let them Eat Chaos

Artist: Kate Tempest

Album: Let them Eat Chaos – Lex Records 2016

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Many would agree that our current world climate is one of an anxiety and simultaneously hopefulness, where technology and consumerism move at record speeds but things in many ways stay the same. A world in which war has shifted from man to computers and in which the world is at our finger tips even if we can’t grab it. In this world artists like Kate Tempest are needed more than ever. No one in music is able to dissect our current social climate, our hopes and struggles, to show us both the beautiful and tragic results better than Kate Tempest.

If anything, this album is a “state of the world address”, in which no corner of society is left unturned. This album is a perfect although at times tragically perfect examination of the world today, as seen through Kate’s eyes and more specifically the eyes of those around her. As Kate said in a 2015 interview, “When you’re […]

12 Days of Music: A Review of Wilder Adkins’ Album Hope & Sorrow

Artist: Wilder Adkins

Album: Hope & Sorrow – Wilder Adkins 2016

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I live for this kind of experience in the sharing of music.  This is the story of bringing you an artist I discovered on vacation with my family in Birmingham, Alabama.  We were at a venue called Moonlight on the Mountain for an in-the-round show with four acoustic artists.  The first three musicians were fairly pedestrian but when it was Wilder Adkins’ turn, we all turned to each other and eyebrows went up.  And each time Wilder had his turn, we became bigger fans.  His voice is so warm, sincere and dripping with honesty.  His lyrics simple but true and make that instant connection that we long for. 

From the song, When I’m Married, “There’s a love that grows between us like a gently creeping vine.” I can’t get that out of my head.  His finger picking is so good, the compositions are perfect and he is so humble […]