A Slightly Different Teenager’s Review of 2016 Music
I have a different music taste than normal.
Well, normal as in the people my age.
At the fresh age of sixteen, just under a fortnight a way from reaching the elderly age of seventeen, I often feel that my musical taste is different than my peers. It started when I was a young boy, listening to my Sony Walkman in the back seat of the car next to my older sisters. For years my ears had been consumed with the generic tunes of So Fresh, but one summer it differed. The right term for it would be evolved, as acoustic guitar filtered into the magical combination of what four talented British musicians could produce. From the opening strands of ‘Yellow’ to the emotional ballads of ‘The Scientist’ and ‘Fix You’, through to the perfectly produced ‘Viva la Vida’ and ‘Paradise’, my childhood music taste was epitomised by Chris Martin and his band Coldplay.
From then on, I was never going to remain satisfied with the charts. The ‘hits’ never enthralled me, as I had learnt the vital message that some sense of emotional validation or sentimentality should be gained from a song for it to be worthwhile and not boring. This has magnified over the years to include other global superstars such as Ed Sheeran, as well as the remarkably Australian Triple J artists. Therefore, I may not have a musical acquirement that suits everybody’s cup of tea (I learnt the hard way through my father, as my contact with Bon Jovi and ACDC pacified him until he learnt of my deeper love for Coldplay), but I have a musical taste that has evolved carefully and with an emotional concentration.
So when looking back on the year of 2016, I can only say that it has been a mixed year for the music industry. Mixing incredible highs with dismal lows, the Australian market has slowly begun to commence its ascension, with the rise of unknown gems allowing the maturity of developed artists to flourish on the global spectrum. The music world has experienced a bittersweet 365 days, as the poignant losses that highlighted the news has been contradicted by some beautiful emergence of talent and musical creations. Personally, I have revelled in the fresh-faced Australian music scene. But, I have lived childhood dreams and by frequenting plenty of Melbourne concerts, I have enjoyed global performers and emerging local talent equally. Therefore, I will discuss five topics that are significant if not popular in 2016. These topics include artists who I see as the best live act and the best emerging talent, as well as expressing sympathy over the tragic fate of Viola Beach and the drug riddled hiatus of Sticky Fingers. Then, to move on and embrace the new year, I will delve into the massive powerhouse that is set to take 2017 by storm.
Best Live Act- Coldplay
For years I had been envisaging the day that I would get to see the British quartet in a Melbourne stadium. I had thought that my time would come in 2012, but a young primary school boy couldn’t go due to school constraints. With a slightly broken heart, I suffered through my sisters going and enjoying a night that they describe as ‘one of their best’. However, four years later I finally got to clinch the ticket that meant so much to me and my childhood. In I went on December the 9th, as the earlier concerts I had visited throughout 2016 were set to be put to shame. With barely a view at the distant main stage, the arena spectacle that the captivating visual and audio entertainment provided lit up Etihad Stadium. The overriding message of the concert projected love and happiness, accompanied by badges and light up wristbands (Xylobands) that produced the most satisfying colour spectrum I had ever seen. They may not have produced the terrific hits that saw them rise to global stardom in their latest two albums, but their ability to work in new songs around famous classics proved how their atmosphere and energy couldn’t be rivalled. Playing for over two hours, they interacted with the crowd and produced a night that will never be forgotten. I went to some brilliant concerts this year. But nothing like Coldplay. A massive smile was plastered upon the faces of 40,000 fans, and if they all shared my experience, it didn’t disappear anytime soon. Best night of my life so far.
Best Emerging Talent- Tash Sultana
Yes, she may be unknown to a large portion of the music community, but her talent and artistry can’t be doubted. After slipping into drug induced psychosis due to eating particularly nasty mushrooms on a pizza, her unbalanced life evolved into one of musical talent. The 21 year old Melburnian taught herself over ten instruments, ranging from guitar to pan flute, before introducing a vocal range and control that compliments the ball of energy that she is. She then took to busking in Melbourne, as Bourke Street saw her evolve her talent and mix her deep instrumental nous with beat boxing and other clever tricks. This was followed by YouTube videos of her performing self-written songs in her bedroom, as the majority of these songs formed the crux of her first release. Her EP Notion allowed her to rise to fame, as she graduated from busking to playing around Australia. Her development and rise in popularity has seen her perform at a magnitude of festivals and concerts, as 2017 is set to see her tour internationally at European shows that are already sold out months in advance. I was lucky enough to see her support The Temper Trap at the Palais Theatre in late November, and it is the most enthralled I have ever been in a musical act. Coldplay may have left me with an overarching feeling of happiness and love for the world, but Tash produced a 45 minute set that included barely a break, just pure music that dipped and dove through so many different sounds that I felt exhausted. Therefore, this magic that the pocket rocket possesses is more than set to take the world by storm, as a stadium performance by her would create the most spine tingling atmosphere possible. If you want to discover her, listen to her most popular single Jungle, as well as the song Notion and her live recording of Harvest Love on YouTube. Her EP is easy to find, considering it still remains in the iTunes charts despite being released at the beginning of the year. On a sidenote, watch out for her name in the Triple J Hottest 100 Countdown.
The tragic loss of a soaring talent- Viola Beach
A story so upsetting because it now remains synonymous with a band that released heart-warming music. On February 13th this year, the four members of Viola Beach, as well as their manager, plummeted to their death off a Swedish bridge just hours after performing their first international show. Into the news they went, as people raised campaigns to send their songs to number one on charts out of sympathy. Unfortunately, this takes away from the talent that they had, as their songs are a delightful mixture of light pop and enthusiastic anthems. At Glastonbury 2016, Coldplay performed a cover of their song ‘Boys That Sing’ (a beautiful song that I definitely recommend) along with them projected on the screen. It was poignantly gorgeous, as it highlighted just how amazing they could have been, while also reinforcing the sorrow of the incident. In a year full of deaths that stunned the world, the demise of Viola Beach remains the most tragic for me.
Mental illness and substance abuse sorrows Australian crowd- Sticky Fingers
This story isn’t as tragically upsetting as the Viola Beach one, but it still creates sorrow for a large portion of the Australian community who are in love with this rascal-like band. Sticky Fingers are known as representing the relaxed indie side of Australian music, as their originals in ‘Caress Your Soul’, ‘Australia Street’ and ‘These Girls’ shot them onto the music radar. Their further work ‘Land of Pleasure’ saw them rocket into immense popularity on the Australian indie music front. ‘Rum Rage’, ‘Gold Snafu’ and other hits off their 2016 album ‘Westway (The Glitter & The Slums)’ provided relaxed household anthems that radiated summer vibes and mateship. Unfortunately, their outrageous performances throughout Australia have been put on hold for 2017, as lead singer Dylan Frost has announced the hiatus of the band due to his personal alcohol abuse problems, and his diagnosis of schizophrenia. Their final song released before their hiatus in ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ Bout It’ was a stark reminder of their wonderful vibe and immense talent, increasing the sorrow felt towards their lack of presence in 2017. One can only hope that they return soon, as Australian music deserves to keep this prosperous talent.
The man who can conquer the world in 2017- Ed Sheeran
If you don’t know the lovable ginger, then you must not know much about the latest music booms. Ed Sheeran has been the key to the global music stage, as his individual creations and stadium performances are ground-breaking in a modern age that scrutinises so heavily. He resonates with both chart lovers and alternative musical connoisseurs, allowing him to loop sophisticated acoustic guitar riffs and chords with a passionate and relatable voice. His two albums in ‘+’ (pronounced Plus) and Grammy award winning ‘X’ (pronounced Multiply), Ed is set to release his third album just over a year after taking a break from social constraints. Now he’s back and better than ever, as he is set to headline Glastonbury Music Festival after releasing his new album around January. Whether you like it or not, Ed Sheeran is ready to produce a year that could see him rise in musical stardom.