Jan 17

The Freaky Trigger Readers’ Poll 2016: #10-#1

FT11 comments • 1,039 views

Adamski-Seal“Call me Ron. I’m a straightforward sort of pup, me – what you see is what you get. But when I’m not out clubbing with my six older brothers, I do get to wondering what it’s all about. You know. Life. Death. Sardines. It’s all just a game of chess at the end of the day, isn’t it? Good versus evil, light versus dark, rockism versus poptimism – society would have us carve ourselves up into ever-smaller and ultimately-arbitrary factions, each believing we are on the side of righteousness, solitary brothers and sisters fighting pointlessly amongst ourselves to avoid having to think too hard about the impending apocalypse. I guess many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view!”

Thanks Ron, if indeed that is your real name. On to our Top 10!

10. Justin Timberlake – “Can’t Stop The Feeling”

Remember Justin gatecrashing the Eurovision interval? It was with this song! Sunny bop with the sort of sustained piano chord favoured by the tropical house merchants. I didn’t like it at the time but it’s grown on me since then.

9. Tegan & Sara – “Boyfriend”

I still can’t tell them apart.

8. Beyonce – “Hold Up”

BEYONCE SMASH. Well done everyone for putting my favourite Lemonade track so high up despite vote-splitting all over the place. I love the monastic monologue at the beginning and I love the air horns at the end, but most of all I love how I get genuinely frightened that Beyonce is going to step right out of the Youtube screen and punch me in the face. You’d be a brave man to give Beyonce even an inkling of an idea that you might be two-timing her…

7. Kero Kero Bonito – “Lipslap”

I saw KKB the day of the US election result and it was extremely cheering! Elsewhere I have described them variously as “if nu-rave had been good” and ”the musical equivalent of the eight weeks of arsing around between finishing your A-levels and going to university”, but in reality most of KKB’s album sounds like the Italo mix of Schnappi Das Kleine Krokodil. They’re honestly much more banging live – except “Lipslap”, which is banging at all times.

6. Pet Shop Boys – “The Pop Kids”

All aboard the nostalgia bus. If Kero Kero Bonito have just done their A-levels, Neil and Chris are in the full throes of Fresher’s Week, raving it up to Bizarre Inc in the big city.

5. DNCE – “Cake By The Ocean”

Technically a 2015 release but no-one voted for it last year, did they? For those who haven’t been following, one of the Jonas Brothers has decided to form his very own Son of Dork. This song gets played on my office stereo a lot.

4. Solange – “Cranes In The Sky”

Solange goes about solving her problems in a slightly more introspective way than her sister. The “La Ritournelle” drumbeat and unresolving bars give a very real sense of worrying away at something that you can’t tell anyone about.

3. Mike Posner – “I Took A Pill In Ibiza (Seeb remix)”

On paper this is obviously an appalling idea. I’ve never managed to get past the second line before without reaching for the skip button, but JUST FOR YOU LOT I listened to it all the way through just now and I guess the crow-playing-a-kazoo noise is okay, I guess?

2. Ariana Grande – “Into You”

Ariana’s done quite well out of sultry bangers that might have been written with Jennifer Lopez in mind, despite making inevitably terrible videos to go along with them. Let’s all give thanks that there was no ‘ft Pitbull’ on this one.

1. David Bowie – “Lazarus”

I think this our first ever post-humous winner. Fitting, I guess, for a year where everyone seemed obsessed with death: celebrities carking it, the dissolution of democratic ideals, Bake Off moving to Channel 4 etc. To me it feels like “Lazarus” is more about free will than about facing/fearing death specifically. Standing on the precipice and making a choice about what happens next – a final flick of the Vs, or just another transformation into something new? Bowie’s earned the right to do whatever he pleases in the next life and appears to be rather looking forward to it. As the rest of us will surely each face our own turning point soon enough, we could do worse than to follow his example.

That’s your lot! Thanks to everyone who voted. I’ll try and dig out some stats for the comments in a bit.


  1. 1
    Camille on 27 Jan 2017 #

    I would listen to “I took a pill in ibiza” all the way through so i could hear Mike sing “I took a pill in ibiza” as many times as possible

  2. 2
    jeff w on 27 Jan 2017 #

    Hey, Kat. I was at that KKB show too! Agree it was immensely cheering in the circumstances.
    (Disagree that bangers are their long suit though. “Lipslap” is fine ‘n’ all but “Break” – wot I voted for – and “Picture This” >>>>>>)

  3. 3
    cryptopian on 27 Jan 2017 #

    Three more votes from me here.

    Justin – Voted #7 for this. Didn’t seem to be a critical hit, but it has enough rhythm and doofy optimism for me

    Tegan & Sara – This was a good year for synthpop. Pity I didn’t come across this one

    Beyonce – That low register growl works well for the intensity. Otherwise, I’m not big on the

    Lipslap – Loses me in the middle 8, but otherwise the beat sounds full of life but also tight. Kudos!

    Pop Kids – The track I remembered most of with my listen through the album. Guess I didn’t have the prerequisite nostalgia, being born in the 90s.

    DNCE – Note to self: be more liberal with previous year releases. Might have thrown this a vote. Not a fan of AYAYAYA though.

    Solange – Good observation on the unresolving chord structure. I like the whistful vocal harmonies too.

    Ibiza – Gave this my #6 vote. Helplessly lured in by critic-bait, with how Mike Posner’s backstory justifies and enhances the lyrics. Does that count as cheating? The beat’s more of the generic sound of 2016, but one of the cleaner examples.

    Into You – I like pop that sounds big. This hits that note easily, but was always put off giving it a full listen. The snippet Spotify used in its ads didn’t help it at all really.

    Lazarus – It had to be. I voted, and so did lots of others. I guess the question “would I have voted/noticed without his death” is moot since the song was written with that in mind. And it’s incredibly powerful in retrospect.

  4. 4
    katstevens on 27 Jan 2017 #

    Full countdown:

    40. Chainsmokers ft Halsey – “Closer”
    39. Dawn Richard – “Renegades”
    38. Nadia Rose – “Skwod”
    37. Craig David ft Big Narstie – “When The Bassline Drops”
    =34. The 1975 – “Somebody Else”
    =34. Miranda Lambert – “Pink Sunglasses”
    =34. ANOHNI – “Drone Bomb Me”
    33. Chance the Rapper ft Knox Fortune – “All Night”
    32. Lindstrøm – “Closing Shot”
    31. A Tribe Called Quest – “We The People…”
    30. Rihanna ft Drake – “Work”
    29. Zarah Larsson – “Lush Life”
    =27. Lizzo – “Good As Hell”
    =27. Savages – “Adore”
    =25. Beyonce & The Dixie Chicks – “Daddy Lessons”
    =25. Beyonce – “All Night”
    24. Britney Spears ft Tinashe – “If I’m Dancing”
    =22. Christine & The Queens – “iT”
    =22. The Avalanches – “Because I’m Me”
    21. Tiggs Da Author ft Lady Leshurr – “Run”
    20. Bruno Mars – “24K Magic”
    19. Mitski – “Your Best American Girl”
    18. Shura – “What’s It Gonna Be?”
    17. David Bowie – “Blackstar”
    16. Radiohead – “Burn The Witch”
    15. The 1975 – “The Sound”
    14. Christine & The Queens – “Tilted”
    13. Miranda Lambert – “Vice”
    12. Beyonce – “Formation”
    11. KING – “The Greatest”
    10. Justin Timberlake – “Can’t Stop The Feeling”
    9. Tegan & Sara – “Boyfriend”
    8. Beyonce – “Hold Up”
    7. Kero Kero Bonito – “Lipslap”
    6. Pet Shop Boys – “The Pop Kids”
    5. DNCE – “Cake By The Ocean”
    4. Solange – “Cranes In The Sky”
    3. Mike Posner – “I Took A Pill In Ibiza (Seeb remix)”
    2. Ariana Grande – “Into You”
    1. David Bowie – “Lazarus”

    Spotify playlist (minus Beyonce of course): https://open.spotify.com/user/katstevens/playlist/5XlSEGQss1uvnvdM5RxaLZ

  5. 5
    katstevens on 27 Jan 2017 #

    Top voter picks that didn’t make the top 40 (this includes some randomized top picks – I can’t remember whose was whose, if I’ve got it wrong do shout):

    Beyonce – “Sorry”
    Carly Rae Jepsen – “Store”
    Cavern of Anti-Matter – “Tardis Cymbals”
    Erykah Badu – “Phone Down”
    Jessy Lanza – “It Means I Love You” (my pick)
    Justice – “Alakazam”
    Kanye West – “Ultralight Beam”
    Katy B – “Honey Outro”
    HyunA – “How’s This”
    Lambchop – “The Hustle”
    Mai Lan – “Technique”
    Martha – “Ice Cream And Sunscreen”
    Metronomy – “Old Skool”
    Rihanna – “Kiss It Better”
    Robbie Williams – “Party Like A Russian”
    Toilet Duck – “The Music From That Toilet Duck Advert” (cruelly robbed if you ask me)

  6. 6
    Phil on 27 Jan 2017 #

    This Beyonce person’s rather good, isn’t she? Half the chorus seems to be idolizing the creep in question, which I’m not too comfortable with, but overall… gosh. And the video. And the intro! Wow. Solange is pretty good, too. I was expecting the PSBs to be a comfortable second out of this lot, but it’s looking like equal third at best.

    Apparently Bowie had a longstanding fascination with how cheap and mediocre poetry can have much more lasting success than the stuff that’s actually any good. His example of choice was the inscription on the Statue of Liberty – no great shakes as poetry – which was written by… Emma Lazarus.

    Just clicked on that video; thought I’d play a minute or so, just to remind myself. Instead I turned it up and full-screened it. This way or no way!

  7. 7
    katstevens on 27 Jan 2017 #


    UK Singles Chart #1s that didn’t get a single vote: “One Dance”, “Love Yourself” (Bieber got zero votes AT ALL), “Pillowtalk”, “Stitches”, “7 Years”, “Cold Water”, “Say You Won’t Let Go”
    – UK Singles Chart #1s that didn’t get a single vote except from ME: “Rockabye”
    – Splitters Award: Miranda Lambert (10 songs nominated) followed by Beyonce (7)
    – Track with the most individual votes that didn’t make the top 40: Röyksöpp & Sûsånnē Sündfør – “Never Ever”
    – Lowest average score in the Top 40 (i.e. lots of people voted for it, but put it low down on their list): Nadia Rose – “Skwod”
    – Highest average score in the Top 40 (i.e. fewer people voted for it, but they all gave it a massive thumbs up): Christine & The Queens – “iT”
    – Total songs nominated: 364 (compared to 386 last year)
    – Total songs with more than one vote: 62 (76 last year, i.e 17% compared to 20% = a wider range of picks for 2016)

  8. 8
    Mark M on 28 Jan 2017 #

    As ever, I would have gone broke if I tried to bet on the outcome – I still have not the slightest understanding of you/us collectively as an electorate. Eg, I would have never guessed that that particular Ariana Grande song would be the one that stuck with people.

    I guess a Bowie win makes sense, but since – despite all the media and social media noise that followed his death (and the Bowie shrines that dotted/still dot South London), as a pop force he vanished from my radar around the time of… Tin Machine? probably… I’m still surprised.

    I voted for both Knowles minor & Knowles major – that Hold Up contains operatic laughing and is still immense is the definitive proof of its greatest as far as I’m concerned.

  9. 9
    jeff w on 28 Jan 2017 #

    Voted for 5 of the eventual Top 40 (which is a slightly higher hit rate than last year IIRC), viz Ariana, “Tilted”, Zara, Anohni and “Renegades”.

    Voted for different Bowie, KKB, Britney, Lady Leshurr and Shura tracks. Pleased to see Justin, KING, Lindstrøm and Tribe make it (had no room). Beyonce was never going to need my help.

    Thanks for running this again, Kat.

  10. 10
    thefatgit on 28 Jan 2017 #

    Always amazing how the Triggerati nominate so much great music year on year.

    Can’t Stop The Feeling – Another song that was inescapable in 2016. I didn’t vote for JT, but it doesn’t surprise me he’s here. 2016’s “Happy” perhaps?

    Boyfriend – I think I heard this on someone’s podcast a few months back, and thought “yeah, that’s a catchy pop song, that sounds very much like another catchy pop song with Girlfriend in the title.”

    Hold Up – My #1 pick. In the year the Cubs broke their curse, Negan broke skulls on TWD and Harley Quinn became…somewhat problematic in Suicide Squad, Beyonce swinging her own bat just fits. Best use of a sample in 2016, too.

    Lipslap – I try to avoid using WTF? as much as possible, but in all honesty WTF?!?

    The Pop Kids – I find it utterly mystifying that I’ve never heard this until now. Too late to change my vote now.

    Cake By The Ocean – Bearing in mind this was a 2015 song, I voted for “Toothbrush” and I’ll still be kicking myself by this time next year, when I found out CBTO cropped up on so many 2016 EOY lists.

    Cranes In The Sky – You know what I just said about the PSBs? The same goes for Solange.

    I Took A Pill In Ibiza – What can I say? I voted for this. I tend to ignore the lyrics and let the melancholia wash over me like cheap shower gel named after a medium-sized wildcat. The melancholy, like the scent, tends to linger afterwards.

    Into You – I’ve done a bang-up job of ignoring the best pop tunes of 2016 again. Ariana, you’re joining Solange, Neil & Chris on the bridge of the cloaked Klingon Warbird this year. Go easy on the blood wine!

    Lazarus – Rest in peace, Spaceman.

  11. 11
    cryptopian on 30 Jan 2017 #

    Never Ever being the most nominated non-entry sounds about right. I love Röyksopp and spent the latter half of last year obsessed with Susanne Sundfør, but it doesn’t have SS’s exciting vocals or Royksopp’s dark energy. But somehow still works, so I gave it a tentative spot at the bottom of the list.

    For the record, Alakazam was my top pick. Not sure I still stand by it, but it hit me in the right place. I might now have replaced it with Planet Sizes, in case we didn’t have enough indie rock on the list already.

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