#OnTheList with Xtine is a weekly feature from Fresh 102.7’s Christine Richie that will be highlighting all things music and more, from her favorite emerging artists, top female vocalists, and much, much more!
Small personal success aside from any of us, it’s fair to say that 2016 was a fairly harrowing year. A few comebacks and highlights were sandwiched between some hearty slices of pungent garbage. This certainly applies to music; it feels like for every comeback or heartwarming story we were dealt two tragedies — unfortunately, they typically took form in *gulp* death.
While we reflect of the past year in music, let’s acknowledge the bad, praise the good, and hope for the best in the coming year.
(Don’t f*** with us, 2017!)
The return of Adele
Adele came back after five years to remind us all why she is in a class by herself. Her album 21 was such a smash that expectations were high. Even though 25 came out in November 2015, the impact is still being felt.
In a time where less and less people are buying music, Adele took a big risk by not putting her songs on streaming services and her gamble paid off. She headed into 2016 after shattering a few records; first album to sell more than three million copies in a week and over 15 million to date. “Hello” was also the first single to sell one million copies in a week. Adele was in a whole new stratosphere. She followed it up with a monster tour that sold out in minutes.
Come February, she’ll probably add a few Grammys to her collection and then disappear once again. If anyone claims they knew her music would be this huge, they’d be lying. Nobody could’ve predicted this.
Bieber returned only to blow it over and over
Justin Bieber seemed to go off the rails a bit. He kept getting press for his bad behavior and making terrible decisions that were overshadowing his talent. After a while, things settled down and I thought maybe, just maybe, he had a come to Jesus moment and decided to turn things around and get back to the music. He even came out with a song called “Sorry”; hear that he’s apologizing for being a jerk. Purpose is a great album, too! It even got an Album of the Year Grammy nomination. He actually cried when he got back onstage and felt the love from his audience. Yay!
Oh wait. Nothing’s changed: he’s walking off stage, quitting meet and greets, refusing photos, and even throwing out gifts from fans right in front of them. I don’t know if he hates being a celebrity or performing but he does need to take time and figure that out. It’s a shame because he is very talented and he won’t be this popular forever. Especially if he keeps treating the people who love him the most the worst.
The Loss of Legends
At this point last year, with January and a new year around the corner, I was thinking, “Yay! New music for the new year! This is going to be great!”
That’s when the universe said “not so fast!” and gave all of us a swift kick to the gut with the death of David Bowie on January 10th — which, to be honest, was pretty damn poetic; he knew he was dying and made his final album, Blackstar, with that in mind, earning his first #1 album, albeit posthumously. And then Glenn Frey died on the 18th of that month, too.
We had some time to digest losing two music legends and just as we were about to recover another huge blow took the wind out of our purple sails when Prince died on April 21. This sounds silly, but I honestly thought our musical icons would live forever. I was used to my parents talking about the loss of their own, but thought I was years away from having to deal with that. I panicked a bit after all this terrible news because even though I’m sure we have some legends in the making out there, I don’t know of any ready to fill those shoes just yet. Thank goodness their music lives on. The beginning of 2016 pretty much sucked for music.
Gaga and Madonna Pay Tribute
It’s always dicey when you try to perform a tribute to a beloved artist.
I was really looking forward to seeing what Gaga would do at the Grammys for Bowie. I was disappointed; I feel like she tried to become him instead of honor him. It didn’t move me and fans were split on this one.
There was a huge backlash when Madonna was tapped for a Prince tribute at the Billboard Music Awards. Many people thought the tribute should come from a black artist. I was okay with Madonna because she was a friend of Prince and she brought out Stevie Wonder, who was also very close to him. I thought Madonna singing “Nothing Compares 2 U” was more of a tribute. It wasn’t perfect, but heartfelt. The entire audience singing along to “Purple Rain” was pretty awesome. Fans didn’t love this one either. I personally loved Sheila E’s tribute at the BET Awards.
Coldplay Performs the Super Bowl Halftime Show
I was excited for this, but others thought Coldplay might be boring. I’d be happy to sit and watch Chris Martin sing and jump around for 15 minutes, but he brought back Beyonce and Bruno Mars to help out. Some thought Beyonce and Bruno stole the show, but I thought it was a fun, fantastic performance all around. However, I may be biased. I LOVE Chris Martin.
Beyonce Makes Lemonade
Pushing the boundaries once again, Beyonce dropped the visual album Lemonade. It got everyone asking if Jay Z cheated on Bey and who the hell is Becky with the good hair? Almost on cue came the criticism: a strong black women singing songs about social injustice or empowerment; she must belong to the Black Panthers. The album was visually and sonically incredible and it got people talking.
Christina Grimmie Shot at Meet & Greet June 10th
This shook me to my core. I had never met Christina Grimmie, but had watched her on The Voice. In all my years in radio and meet and greets, it never occurred to me to worry about something like this. We’ve obviously heard of deranged fans killing their idols, but never at a meet and greet. It always seemed to be a safe space. I wondered what it would mean going forward, especially at a time when artists are becoming more and more accessible. I guess that remains to be seen. I just hope to never hear a story like this again. My heart still aches for her loved ones.
Music Helps Heal
Two days after the Christina Grimmie news there was a mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando; 49 people were killed and 53 injured. It was the most deadly mass shooting in American history to date. P!nk, Gwen Stefani, Selena Gomez, Meghan Trainor, and many others got together with GLAAD to release a charity single called “Hands.” The song went on to raise money to help the victims and their families with medical care, counseling, and education. Broadway did the same by getting together an all star cast to do a special version of “What the World Needs Now is Love” to raise money for the LGBT Center of Central Florida.
Lady Gaga, Sting, Bruno Mars, and John Mayer all came back with new music after working on it for a few years. Lady Gaga and John Mayer both suffered through some rough times between albums, getting press for things other than their music. Looks like they both decided to get back to their roots. Gaga even did a dive bar tour to tap back into how it all got started for her. Her album Joanne is very personal.
Mayer has grown up a bit and it’s clear with his new album’s title — The Search for Everything — which he calls a mix of everything. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album.
Sting wanted to surprise everyone, so he put out a rock album and it’s exactly what I wanted! Do I hear some Police in there? Why yes, yes I do. He did an Up Close & Personal event for us and still sounds amazing!
Bruno Mars is an extremely talented artist and 24K Magic is just what you would expect from him. A party album with those sexy slow songs in between. All will be touring in 2017.
And just when I thought it was smooth sailing until 2017…
Leonard Cohen Dies on November 7th
Another huge loss for the music world. Leonard Cohen was one of the greatest songwriters/poets of our time. The song “Hallelujah” — that all the contestants sing on The Voice — yeah, that was him. You may not be familiar with his work but he has influenced most if not all the songwriters you love.
The Grammys will pretty much be Adele vs. Beyonce
Adele and Beyonce have nominations in three of the big four categories: Album, Record, and Song of the Year. Beyonce has the most nominations with nine overall. She is also nominated in the Pop, Rock, R&B, Rap, and Best Music Film and Best Video categories. Beyonce could become the most honored woman in Grammy history come February.
A Surprise from Taylor Swift and Zayn
I had pretty much come to grips with no new Taylor Swift this year and then surprise! I don’t know how this song was kept such a secret, but I didn’t hear any whispers of it until it was released. I’m surprised the press didn’t go with the “Taylor’s getting back at her ex Harry by recording with Zayn” storyline, but they showed some restraint. Jack Antanoff, from fun. and Bleachers, produced it. Taylor has worked with him before and they’re friends. Plus, her pal Gigi is dating Zayne, so a collaboration makes sense. Taylor and Zayn make a great combo on this very sexy song for the 50 Shades Darker movie soundtrack.
Ed Sheeran returns. Sort of.
Ed Sheeran did something fantastic last December: he decided to unplug from social media and take some time off to travel and enjoy the places he never gets to when he’s on tour. Great for him, tough on his fans (including me). I’ve been waiting patiently for any sign of his return and one year later to the date he left, he posted a blue box to all his social media platforms, sending fans into a frenzy. He’s still silent, but it’s definitely a sign that new music is on the way. His third album is done, so I would imagine the first single could drop at any moment and I’m dying to hear new stuff from Ed. It would be a great way to kick off 2017.
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