The year comes to a close tomorrow, a time for all of us to reflect on the numerous nights out, predrinks, and lonely study sessions in the library. What’s the common denominator you ask… the tunes that powered us through all of our key moments this past year. So here are some of the bathimpact committee’s top ear-loving picks!
John Barlow – Editor-in-Chief
M.I.A. – ‘Borders’
You know, this song is goddamn awful. Armed with the poignant and powerful lyrics of “borders, what’s up with that?”, “boat people, what’s up with that?” and not to be forgotten, “the realness, what’s up with that?”, M.I.A. attempts to bring down borders across the world.
The song seems to just be a list of things MIA is very confused about; for some reason she doesn’t like “bein’ bae”, “slayin’ it”, or “identities” either. There is very little of substance in M.I.A.’s ‘Borders’, but none of the above matters; M.I.A. is at her best when her message is muddled, slightly hypocritical and nearly incoherent. Does anyone really care that ‘Paper Planes’ was created to satirise widespread negative stereotypes about immigrants. No.
‘Borders’ is fun, catchy and requires nothing of you, save perhaps wondering, “borders, what’s up with that?”
Tommaso Mazzanti – Online Editor
Kendrick Lamar – ‘King Kunta’
King Kunta is the funkiest song of the year, it’s so catchy and uplifting that you just cannot dislike it.
A song for any occasion, King Kunta gets you pumped up and ready to go at any moment in time; during your morning shower, before a game, at predrinks, even before an exam! It’s the song the DJ spins when the nightclub is just picking up and people are starting to get loose.
The funky beat in the background makes it easy as piss to dance to – coming from just about the worst dancer on our blue planet – and the lyrics transmit a message of power and control. The dreamlike breaks transport you to some outer-world where you truly feel KING.
It seems to be a song that will never go out in style and will be used for battles of all sorts in the years to come, 2016 and onwards
Jessica Brough – bite Editor
Courtney Barnett – ‘Kim’s Caravan’
This is a haunting track, retelling Barnett’s thought process as she walks around scenes from her childhood in Australia and sees how it has degenerated over the years. The lyrics resonate especially while we are increasingly witnessing the realities of environmental destruction and pollution and I’m always so impressed by how Barnett can make seriously dreary topics sound so lyrically emotive and in such a relatable resigned tone – “The Great Barrier Reef it ain’t so great anymore//It’s been raped beyond belief, the dredgers treat it like a whore”.
The repetitive, imprinting bass line and percussive sound effects make this track seriously addictive (I must have played it over 100 times by now), but probably the most enjoyable part of the song is in the final 3 minutes of chorus-repeating, climax-building instrumental bloodshed, before we’re finally given a chance to breathe again in the sullen outro.
Becca Muir – Features Editor
Misty Miller – ‘Happy’
Happy is a sweet and catchy pop-punk song that would make the soundtrack of channel 4’s Skins if it hadn’t been cancelled due to irrelevancy.
Irrelevancy also kind of sums up Misty Miller: she’s what high school ‘you’ wanted to be, but that is so 2008. Despite the references to sleeping with multiple men (shock), her smudged lipstick and short skirts, she is a PG-rated version of cooler artists. The music video for Happy is the cleanest version of debauchery, even more manufactured for edgy tweens than the Pretty Reckless are. Her aesthetic is preppy grunge, but in that superficial way that you could buy in a single visit to Topshop. You can tell she thinks she’s Gwen Stefani No Doubt circa 1995, when really she’s more Avril Lavigne. However, in her defense, people said snobby things about Avril Lavigne’s lack of depth ~back in the day~ but now listen to her early music with a fond nostalgia and faint sense of irony (but enjoying it nonetheless). Happy is fun, energetic and reminds me of being young and carefree (i.e. that wonderful time of my life before final year) and would fit right into the propaganda setlist, so I really like it.
Marco Scozzafava – Sport Editor
Benjamin Booker – ‘Slow Coming’
In 2015, 22 year-old guitarist and singer Benjamin Booker made his way into the blues-rock league with his self-titled debut album. His music draws on the raw and gritty blues he experience as part of his upbringing in New Orleans. Both thunderous explosions of rock ’n’ roll such as “Violent Shiver” and teary-eyed lamentations such as “By the Evening” can be found in Booker’s album.
“Slow coming” is a restrained and gentle elegy in which Booker portrays a bleak reflection of modern society. Booker’s video, set in the Deep South is littered with examples of injustice and devastation, such as police brutality and racism. His haunting lyrics show just how frustrated Booker is with the world today; despite advances in technology and science, people are still mistreated and abused, and issues of human rights abuse, marriage inequality and draconian immigration laws mean that, for Booker, “the future is slow coming” and we have a long way to get there. This leads Booker to bemoan “Honestly, I cannot be proud right now”. Delicate finger-picked guitar compliments Booker’s prickly, raspy voice and minimalist style which creates a tragic and moving song that guarantees to give you ‘the feels’.
Emilia Pilss – Publicity & Distribution
Kendrick Lamar – ‘Alright’
Kendrick Lamar’s song ‘Alright’, produced by Pharrell Williams, follows a long line of rhetoric addressing police violence in the black hip-hop culture. Its tremendous political message is why I chose to write about this specific song from the 2015 album ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’. The track, nominated among others for ‘Song of the Year’ at the 2016 Grammys, is essentially about hope and solidarity in the world of racial inequality and violence that is also Kendrick’s background. The hook ‘We gon’ be alright’, which features vocals from Pharrell Williams, is a powerful, optimistic mantra but at the same time implies that things are far from ideal, with countless black people being killed every year in the US.
What sparked my attention for the song was the music video, directed by Colin Tilley, which beautifully captures the essence of the whole album; Kendrick rising above (he is literally flying around L.A. in the video) the hardship and madness that he finds surrounding him and spreading positivity.
Naomi Chhatwal – Design Editor
Wiz Khalifa – ‘See You Again’ (ft. Charlie Puth)
The song ‘See You Again’ by singer Charlie Puth and rapper Wiz Khalifa was commissioned for the 7th Fast and Furious movie and is a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker. Walker tragically passed away in a car accident during the filming of the movie. The song’s emotional intensity in memory of Walker resulted in the song’s worldwide success, leading to its nomination for three different Grammy Awards this year. From the first moments of the song, it becomes clear that the narrative is highly emotional and filled with the burden of the loss. Interchanged with Wiz Khalifa’s more upbeat recount of better times, it adds the catchy musical aspect that the rapper is renowned for. This track is my favourite of the year, as despite its heartfelt dedication to the late actor, it remains upbeat beat, making you hit repeat. Consisting of the perfect combination of repentant emotion and a positive message, this ode to friendship leaves all listeners in a good mood.