The third section of our end of the year music wrap up is a little bit like two mixtapes smashed together. The front end has a certain progression of more internet friendly artists (often with electronic edges and riffs on the PC pop move) and the back half is a strange blend of folks who could be described as hippies by comparison. Basically, if you're one of those people lamenting an audible "lack of instruments" (as much as that's probably an illusion) in part one, it will all change midway through. Funny how these things work out, isn't it?
Read on. Play on. Find the 8Tracks playlist at the bottom of the entry, click through to collect them all.
51. NAO / "Bad Blood" The year's other, less cacophonous "Bad Blood" comes from London singer-songwriter Nao, an artist who uses R&B to pull familiar sounds and rhythms into strange shapes. "Bad Blood" is as smooth as it is jarring, a combination that seems almost impossible.
53. Tate Kobang / "Bank Rolls (Remix)" The bass on this thing is an automatic positive, and the Baltimore rapper unfurls a constant, on point rhythmic flow that meshes with it beautifully.
55. Carly Rae Jepsen / "Your Type" Carly Rae Jepsen and the Quintessential Song About Unrequited Love and the Curse of the Friendzone. Everyone has been there, definitely. I will repeat: if you're not feeling Taylor Swift's feels, you're probably feeling CRJ's.
56. Shura / "White Light" You like moody pop? You like new spins on old synths? You like jams? Here, take this Shura song. It's what you need. (You can tell I'm getting very tired of coming up with these little short spins...)
58. Purity Ring / "Begin Again" Sparkly sinister noise! Huzzah! There is a Melancholia level apocalypse lurking in the love affair being described here.
62. Miguel / "Coffee (F*cking)" Miguel is an obvious Prince fan, and "Coffee" is one of his most obvious attempts at getting closer and closer to that thing Prince does so effortlessly. It's cheesy, but so in your face about it that you don't have time to realize that he's basically spinning a rom com monologue or long-form pickup line.
64. The Weeknd / "Earned It" Yep. This is a song made for the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack. Yep. It's pretty silly. Yep. It has some problems, sure. Yep. You've heard it so much you're scratching your head and wondering if it was even from this last year. I can't help it though, I like it. It's the perfect example of a song designed for a movie soundtrack, a big, cinematic pop song that shamelessly aspires to things bigger than its capable of producing. (That and when it comes on in the car it feels like you're in some sort of Jaguar advert or something)
66. Kamasi Washington / "The Rhythm Changes" Washington is part of the jazz team that composed the backing tracks on Kendrick Lamar's album, but his own The Epic is just that - a three hour explosion of the type of jazz that influences hip hop rhythms (but doesn't include them). "The Rhythm Changes" is one of the vocal tracks (ft. Patrice Quinn) and it pulls from its various influences to sound, basically, like a new classic.
67. Joanna Newsom / "Leaving the City" I went through a phase in college where I really liked the big, orchestral quality of Newsom's Ys. It was a beautiful album, and the only place I could get beyond the elements many found twee (yes, her voice is an acquired taste). I've found it difficult to get into Newsom's work since. Much of it sounds increasingly either too big or too sparse, lacking in the gravity that claimed a song like "Emily." While I don't love the new album in the way many critics do, "Leaving the City" has many of the qualities Newsom's best songs do: a heaviness like a cosmic force. And so it is that she returns to the list after many many years gone.
69. Father John Misty / "Chateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins)" This sounds like the soundtrack to a lost Wes Anderson film about kids who hang around cemeteries. It's just compelling, really.
70. Panda Bear / "Tropic of Cancer" I think I've decided that Panda Bear's music is all about texture, that there's something almost tactile about the sounds produced that leaves you with very little white space, certainly, but with a whole kind of room-filling hologram dream chamber, in this case gilded and piled with furs and high saturation oil paints. I am not on anything. Really.
71. Belle & Sebastian / "Play for Today" Since the God Help the Girl project it sounds rather like Stuart Murdoch and company have really committed to the theatrical quality of their songs. This feels custom made for a gleefully shot musical sequence about mundane, boring things. Duet potential: high.
73. Kendrick Lamar / "King Kunta" An undeniable funk rhythm that pulls from a host of influences and decades, easy to listen to, easy to jam to, hard driving and yes, that word again, deeply complicated and heavily charged in all the best ways.
75. Shamir / "Call It Off" We need the video on this. Because it's so good and gets directly to the heart of what makes this song so fun, and there are custom Muppets.