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Music

Skyelyfe’s 20 Best Songs of 2016

December 22, 2016


songs-best-2016
Time to bid adieu to 2016, the year rap and hip-hop officially died.

The genre has been getting increasingly worse over the last few years, but this year really solidified its transition into an auto-tuned genre of its own called hip-pop. Yeah, I hate it. And unlike in 2015, this year we didn’t even have a Nic Nac Beats to swoop in and save the day with his supremely produced Chris Brown tracks. Whether it was rap, pop, electronic or otherwise, there definitely seemed to be more bad than good (in fact, you can check out my worst songs of 2016 list).

But, not all is atrocious. After much thought, I’ve managed to scrounge up a handful of redeeming tracks I genuinely love, and I’m sharing them below (in particular order):

20. “Champions” – Kanye West, Gucci Mane, Big Sean, 2 Chainz

Not a fan of Kanye solo, but I’ve always said that when he collabs, his songs tend to be much better—and this song is no exception. Great track-mates, great hook, great song.

19. “Might Not” – Belly f./The Weeknd

Honestly, this track may have made it higher up on the list if it weren’t for that gawd-awful 2 Chainz remix. Like if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it! Ugh

18. “Into You” – Ariana Grande

This song stands out because it is says OK, I can be sexy and I don’t even have to be trashy to do so! A rarity for this artist. Great track.

17. “Black Beatles” – Rae Sremmurd f./Gucci Mane

Mike WiLL Made-It + Gucci = no-brainer recipe for perfection

16. “Say It (Clean Bandit Mix)” – Flume f./Tove Lo

If you read my Worst Songs of 2016 post, you will see my distaste for nu-school Flume. But this track happens to be great, and might I add that Tove Lo’s Lady Wood album (though this song is not part of it) is the best of the year.

15. “Want You” – Bearson f./Cal

While Bearson definitely identifies with “electronica,” he hasn’t nailed a signature sound, which is great, because I love all of the varying tracks he sends (via airwaves) my way—and this song is no exception.

14. “Either/Or” – Mt. Si

If you dig Classix, you’ll love Mt. Si.—which makes sense, given that 1/3 of this trio is Michael David of the incredible electropop duo. Seriously, it does not get better than this sound.

13. “The Winds of Change” – St. Lucia

Granted, nothing by this artist compares to “Elevate,” but this jam is pretty darn awesome. If you like that sound, you’ll love this, too!

12. “Valley of Dreams” – Cavaliers of Fun

See No. 4

11. “Be the One” – Dua Lupa

Dua Lupa has a beautiful voice/face/hair/sound etc. That is all.

10. “Freeway Lights” – Goldroom

I’ve been listening to Goldroom since he first debuted in 2012—and while it was definitely weird (and a little hard) to see his album featured at the Interscope pop-up shop at Hollywood & Highland alongside Lady Gaga, among others, I refuse to call him a sellout, because while perhaps slightly more produced than before, his sound is overall the same, and this a very light, sweet track that should appeal to everyone.

9. “Bullet” – Chelsea Lankes

How this girl is not a household name is beyond me. Each of her songs are well-produced, well-articulated and relate to everyone. This track is super uplifting and empowering.

8. “Let Me Love You” – DJ Snake f./Justin Bieber

Personal woes aside, Justin Bieber is an incredible artist. Granted, this track goes to DJ Snake, but Bieber’s vocals are definitely an invaluable asset to this recording. This is a genuinely wonderful song from start to finish. It’s pretty, powerful and poignant.

7. “Innerbloom” – RUFUS DU SOL

This is your universally appealing track. I can’t imagine anyone not liking it.

6. “Into the Night” – Cardiknox

This track is fun and light. Do NYE makeup in your mirror to this! It will get you pumped up–promise!

5. “Goin Up” – Deorro f./DyCy

Let’s be honest—when we think of Deorro, we think “Five More Hours,” right? Welp, he’s got a catchy new little jam called “Goin Up,” and (no pun intended), it’s quite uplifting.

4. “Astral Division” – Cavaliers of Fun

Like their name suggests, these guys (guy?) are quite fun — well, at least judging by their music. Granted, I don’t know what this song means and I don’t know anything about the people (person?) on the track. They’ve done quite the job of maintaining a mysterious presence (we’re talkin’ 249 Twitter followers, folks!), but that’s what makes them all the more fun! Anyway, they are the only act to make this list twice (see No. 12), and I really hope to hear more (maybe learn more?) of them in 2017!

3. “Somebody Else” – The 1975

How this song wasn’t nominated for a Grammy is beyond me. Not only are the lyrics hard-hitting, but the melody is exceptionally beautiful. I will forever stay stumped while blasting on repeat.

2. “Kiss It Better” – Rihanna

I believe Rihanna was still dating Chris Brown when this song was in production, so it’s your guess as to whether or not he is the subject matter of this incredibly powerful song. But the highly underrated track allows you to feel both her desire and pain.

1. “In the Morning” – Kaskade/ZHU

I love this song from start to finish. I don’t think I’d ever get sick of it. It’s so reminiscent of old-school Kaskade, circa 2004. If all songs were like this, the world would be a much happier place.

**To note: “The Middle” by DJ Snake technically came out last year, so it was no. 3 on last year’s list, even though it didn’t break out until 2016. I feel the need to acknowledge that so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle 😉

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Music

Justin Bieber, DJ Snake, Warpaint, Porter Robinson & 40+ More Artists: New Music Monday!

August 15, 2016

Justin-Bieber-DJ-Snake-skyelyfeLove is in the air!

Well, at least according to the songs in this week’s New Music Monday playlist.

Let’s start with Justin Bieber, who is clearly on a roll right now. Fresh off the success of “Cold Water,” which is just the latest of a slew of recent hits, the pop star lends his voice on the melodic electronic track “Let Me Love You,” off of DJ Snake‘s new album Encore. There’s zero doubt this will be a huge hit.

Warpaint also made the list with the love-dovey “New Song,” and let’s not forget about Porter Robinson‘s new collab with Madeon in “Shelter.”

There’s plenty more as well. I’m totally digging A R I Z O N A‘s “Cross My Mind,” Savoir Adore‘s “Savages,” Colouring‘s “About You,”–and heck, even One Republic won me over this week with their new track “Kids,” which sounds a bit different than what I am used to hearing from them.

Time to bust out your headphones and scroll through the playlist below, because this selection of 45 new songs are my favorite in quite a while! There’s still a little bit of time remaining to lock in that summer romance, so let these tunes be your guide!

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Music

Year In Music: Here’s a Playlist (with Explanations) of My Top 25 Tracks of 2015

December 28, 2015

Fav_tracks_2015_skyelyfeIt was the very beginning of 2015, and Chris Brown and Tyga‘s “Ayo” was the first new radio song I’d heard of the year. I remember driving down the 405 with so much energy, thinking, “Wow, I love this song!”

Well, nothing’s changed since that fateful January day, and the carefree club track has remained not only my favorite song of 2015, but among my top five in the last five years.

But I obviously didn’t limit my listening to just that one track, and below is my list (actual Spotify playlist at the very bottom) and explanations of the 25 songs that best managed to bring a smile to my face this year. Note: These are in no particular order (well, except for #1 of course).

1. “Ayo” – Chris Brown & Tyga

If you’ve ever been with me in an uber, house party or anywhere with an auxiliary cord or some kind of Spotify connection this year, then I’m certain you know this song from start to finish. “Ayo” was definitely my anthem of 2015, and even with the new year upon us, I am certain this will forever remain a going-out classic.

2. “All I Need” – Sneaky Sound System

This song didn’t come out until the end of this year, but it wasted no time making its rounds on my Spotify spins. Sneaky Sound System (who now apparently just goes by Sneaky) has never let me down, and this uplifting song is no exception.

3. “Middle” – DJ Snake & Bipolar Sunshine

I was surprised this incredible track never made much of the radio rounds, following the immense success of Snake’s “Lean On.” “Middle” is far superior in my opinion, but it’s probably for the better that it hasn’t been played out (yet).

4. “Bad” – Alexx Mack

Not to be confused with former Nickelodeon character Alex Mack, this young lady, who I had the pleasure of interviewing back in February, brings out edgy pop at its finest. I fell in love with her sound after hearing “Bad,” and everything she’s released since has been nothing short of fabulous fun!

5. “Talk to Myself” – Avicii

I was really impressed with Avicii’s eclectic Stories album, which pleasantly took a little detour from that strictly country sound he had been going with in his previous material. “Talk to Myself” was my favorite from his latest project, and it definitely received a high dose of my Spotify spins during the month of its October release.

6. “Zero” – Chris Brown

Not much more to say than how can you turn away from a funky, high-energy track that makes you want to dance? Well done, Breezy!

7. “Planes” – Jeremih & J. Cole

This Grammy-nominated track provided the perfect combo of a sick beat and a smooth-flowing verse by J. Cole at the end. No complaints here!

8. “Trippin (Deep Hamilton Remix”) – Hedvig & Hamilton

This sexy little electro tune resembles Kygo‘s sound and was on my regular rotation for the first three months since I’d heard it.

9. “The Less I Know the Better” – Tame Impala

Tame Impala had a breakthrough year with the release of their Grammy-nominated dream-pop album Currents. The 13-track compilation that I think was the best of the year is easy on the ears from start to finish, but “The Less I Know the Better” definitely got my attention the most.

10. “Take Me Over” – Peking Duk & SAFIA

It was a tough call between this track and Peking Duk’s “High,” but I had to give SAFIA some love after hearing this incredible Australian indie-electro band for the first time on several tracks this year.

11. “Midnight Sun” – Kate Boy

Kate Boy wows me with every song release. The Swedish synth-pop duo has a signature sound that can’t go unnoticed, and “Midnight Sun” was regularly stuck in my head since its debut.

12. “Chasing Heaven” – Bassnectar

Dark beauty at its finest, Bassnectar’s melodic dubstep is always a must-listen, and “Chasing Heaven” was the best off his “Into the Sun” release, in my opinion.

13. “Sunglasses” – Alexx Mack

Mack makes the list again with her equally catchy “Sunglasses,” which is about hitting up a party and having a good time. Nothin’ wrong with that!

14. “Pink Medicine” – Bearson

Odesza fans should give this fun track a listen because there’s a major sound similarity.

15. “Will You Dance?” – the bird and the bee

I had the pleasure of interviewing the bird and the bee’s singer Inara George this year for Billboard, and not only was she soft spoken and delightful, but her long-awaited “Will You Dance?” album was the perfect light and airy selection of songs I needed to kick off summer months. “Will You Dance?” (which was also the album’s lead single) was every bit the sweet and deliciously sappy track that perfectly complemented carefree fun in the sun.

16. “Gemini” – What So Not & George Maple

This song dominated my drive to and from Coachella this year. I saw George Maple at a small show shortly before the festival and knew immediately this song would be on my heavy rotation.

17. “The Other Boys” – NERVO, Kylie Minogue, Jake Shears, Nile Rodgers

Kylie Minogue + anyone, typically = gold, and “The Other Boys” is no exception. The dance track is perfect for getting ready to go out, driving on the freeway, or pretty much anything else.

18. “The Music” – Gigamesh

Known mainly for his electronic remixes, Gigamesh released a track of his own this year with the delightfully dance-y “The Music.”

19. “Run” – Alison Wonderland

This SXSW artist‘s own music didn’t hit it big until this year, but the moment I heard “Run,” I needed to hear more. Known for her edgy style and equally hip sound, this Australian electro artist definitely has the potential for a bright future.

20. “Where Are Ü Now” – Jack Ü, Skrillex, Diplo, Justin Bieber

Arguably one of the biggest songs of the year, this release was not only Justin Bieber’s first step toward a comeback, but it also introduced some of the most unique and cutting-edge sounds in music (especially on the radio).

21. “Been You” – Justin Bieber

This upbeat little number was by far my favorite track off of the Biebs’ successful “Purpose” album. Honorable mention goes to his earnest intro ballad “Mark My Words.”

22. “Falling Away” – Seven Lions & LIGHTS

You can’t put Seven Lions and LIGHTS together and not expect a beautiful piece of work. This melodic electro track has been on my regular rotation since its August release.

23. Want to Want Me” – Jason Derulo

File this one under guilty pleasures, but hey, it produced some pretty awesome memories (and dance routines) for me this year, so I really cannot complain!

24. “Fetty Wap” – Trap Queen

Another guilty pleasure track that I’m sure I’m not alone in listing. Although I got sick of it after probably the 100th listen, there’s no denying that this was one of the catchiest radio singles of the year.

25. “Fine By Me” – Chris Brown

Like “Zero,” this track from the just-released Royalty album makes you want to get up and dance! I’m so glad I closed out this year seeing Breezy’s concert at the Hollywood Palladium.

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Music

New Music! Mutemath, Wishes, Hailee Steinfeld & Much More!

November 16, 2015

mutemath_joyrides_skyelyfeI don’t know about you, but everyone around me seems to be getting sick. Even I’m coming down with a case of the sniffles, which only happens to me once a year. That’s why I’m depending on some new music to keep me smiling even during times when I’d prefer spending the entire day in bed.

This week, I have 16 New Music Monday songs, including pop by Justin Bieber (yes, his Purpose LP is pretty awesome – and “Been You” is the one of the most energetic tracks off of the overall mellow album), Hailee Steinfeld (her four-song Haiz EP shares raw emotion with impressive vocals and catchy hooks. I included “Rock Bottom” on the list) and One Direction (their easy-on-the-ear “What a Feeling” is reminiscent of the guitar-heavy, slow pop from the ’80s).

There’s also a bit of of disco-influenced dance tracks and tropical house to share as well. I really love Mutemath‘s “Joy Rides,” along with Cheat Codes‘ “Follow You” and Matoma‘s “Find Love,” featuring Donkeyboy.

Click below for the full playlist, which also includes Chris Brown, Wishes, Pierce Fulton, Sugar Joans, Elohim and astronomyy.

And scroll to the very bottom to hear a brand new hip-hop joint “Midnight Love,” from my pal Foster, a Nashville-based artist I interviewed earlier this year. His latest features melodic vocals by Kae Kae.

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Music

Niki & the Dove, JES, Chet Faker, SOPHIE, St. Lucia & More: New Music Monday!

October 26, 2015

At long last, Niki & the Dove released new music!

The Swedish duo’s dreamy indie-pop track “Play It On My Radio” is their first single since 2012, and it’s one of 14 songs featured on this week’s New Music Monday playlist.

The list also features “Call Me Crazy,” an indie-pop-rock track by Josh Stevens, who I interviewed a few months ago and saw live last week at his EP release party in Hollywood.

There’s a good handful of dance music this week. Cassian‘s “Feel It,” Pegboard Nerds‘ “Just Like That” and Chet Faker and Marcus Marr‘s “The Trouble with Us” are among the new electronic tracks to start your week off with a kick.

Click below for the full list of fresh tunes, which also includes Ellie Goulding, Justin Bieber, Powers, St. LuciaLISTENBEE, JES – and SOPHIE, who I saw at Rhonda in L.A. over the weekend as part of Future Classic‘s U.S. tour.

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Music

21 New Songs to Get You Set for September!

August 31, 2015

RAC-new-music-skyelyfeI know I say this every 30 days, but I seriously can’t believe tomorrow is already [insert month – in this case, September]!

And with a new month comes some fresh tunes to enjoy from some of the most favored artists of the moment.

From RAC, The Weeknd and the Biebs, to Avicii, Keys N Krates and SomeKindaWonderful, click below for a diverse new playlist of 21 songs you’ll be sure to enjoy as the weather (hopefully) gets cooler and fall gets nearer.

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Music Featured

Indie-Pop Artist Bean Releases Lyric Video for Empowering New Single “Wildfire” and Talks to Skyelyfe About Life As an Inner-Hippie Living in the Heart of Hollywood

May 20, 2015
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Photo credit: Chase Johnson

Fresh from a smashing recent Wango Tango  Village pre-show performance and yesterday’s release of catchy new empowering single “Wildfire” (be sure to scroll to the bottom for its lyric video), indie-pop artist Noelle Bean – whose stage name is simply just Bean – is floating on a sound cloud, but she didn’t envision musical stardom in her cards growing up.

Unlike so many other artists who dropped everything to pursue a career in music at a young age, the 23-year-old – who didn’t even pick up a guitar until she was almost 19 – was your average teenage girl, living in the south and going to church.

“I wasn’t planning on any of this happening.” the West Hollywood resident told skyelyfe of her current reality. “I wasn’t meaning to move out to L.A. and have this kind of life or anything, but I fell in love with music and it led me here, you know? It’s awesome.”

Bean-skyelyfe-main

Photo credit: Chase Johnson

After learning how to play different chords, “I eventually started putting all these poems that I had in a big compilation of journals and I was like, maybe I can make songs out of these,” she explained. “And so that’s what I did. I put the words with the chords and I put a melody over it. I put it up on YouTube and I’m signed to an indie label out here in L.A. now.”

Last week I met up with Bean for the first time to discuss the release of her new single, among other things. She greeted me with a big hug and the most engaging “hi!” I knew right away, this would be like catching up with an old friend.

The first thing I noticed were her uniquely manicured gels, popping with this incredible purple shade, adorned with these tiny gold triangles at the cuticles (take a peek at them on my Instagram). She informed me they were done at Tomoka Nails in West Hollywood. After discussing her expert Yelping skills that led her to this gem of a salon, we got to the reaction to that Wango Tango pre-show performance.

“It was amazing!” she said of L.A.’s KIIS-FM radio concert experience. “It’s been one of the biggest performances I’ve done. It was interesting for my set because everybody else was playing a track and was super poppy and then I get up there with my guitar player and my drummer and we did a little acoustic set kind of thing. The response was so much better than I thought it was going to be.”

As Bean pointed out, her vibe doesn’t necessarily fit the mold of most of the concert’s other participants, which included Justin Bieber, David Guetta, Meghan Trainor, Kanye West, Fifth Harmony and Ne-Yo, who were main stage performers.

“As far as my whole take on mainstream music and what’s popular on top 40 radio goes, it’s undeniable that yeah, I jam out to Taylor Swift tunes every now and again,” she said. “But my go-to music is super alternative, like The 1975 meets Foster the People. I listen to a ton of Ed Sheeran – just really alternative, indie band kind of stuff.”

Her true persona and musical influences shine through in “Wildfire,” a song she called “an anthem for all the other crazy, randoms out there.”

The track is a much-welcome change for the pop star-on-the-rise, who laughably rolled her eyes at the thought of last year’s single “Rollercoaster.”

She said excitedly, ” ‘Wildfire’ is really different and I’m so glad about that because ‘Rollercoaster’ was so poppy and I’m just like, thank god I’m past that stage!”

bean-skyelyfe-third

Photo credit: Chase Johnson

Bean describes her new release as “a compilation of all these different people and their opinions of me. It’s everybody in the music business basically saying, like, ‘Are you sure that you know who you are as an artist and do you know what genre you are? And you keep changing your look every week. You’re wearing red lipstick one day, the next day you’re wearing a flower crown and Free People clothes.’ “

Referring to herself as “a wildfire,” Bean goes on to say, “I’m random, spontaneous and I love everything about the 1970s – just the hippie lifestyle movement.”

So, what’s life like as a self-proclaimed inner-hippie living in the heart of Tinseltown? There’s something for everyone out here, she believes, noting that in particular, she’s a huge fan of (first and foremost) her nail salon (see above), Pita Bar and Grill on Fairfax, Fox You boutique and none other than the Starbucks on Robertson and Beverly Blvd.

Check out the lyric video to Bean’s new single “Wildfire” below and download the track FREE on iTunes ALL WEEK LONG!:

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Music

From Soccer Pro to Sexy, Soulful Pop Sensation On-the-Rise, Meet Devin K

February 26, 2015
Photo credit: Alex Owen aka Zandy Photo

Photo credit: Alex Owen aka Zandy Photo

Soccer and music aren’t known to go hand-in-hand, so when it came down to choosing between his two passions, Devin K (born Devin Kirtz) knew the “transition was inevitable” to move solely in the direction of becoming an artist.

“Everybody would be out partying and stuff after our games and I was just kind of in my hotel room, writing at all times,” the former New York Red Bulls soccer pro tells skyelyfe. “I had to put 100 percent into one or the other, and music wins every time. It’s not even a question.”

So now, with four years of living in Los Angeles under his belt (he originally hails from nearby Long Beach, Calif.), the multitalented musician is ready to make a name for himself in the sound space – and he’s starting to make waves with his latest single “Move” (more on that at the bottom).

The 26-year-old – who already has some minor tracks from years past on his discography – spills on everything from his dating status and musical influences, to his cooking skills and his full sleeve of tattoos!

Photo credit: Darin Rios

Photo credit: Darin Rios

SL: What was the influence behind “Move?”

DK: I was on much more of a poppy path when I first moved to L.A. It was definitely an eye-opener. I didn’t really know what to expect. It was kind of everybody directing me in where they thought I should go as an artist, but I thought what better way to show my [own] style than to just ask people if I make them want to move.

SL: Who are some of your artist influences?

DK: I’d say huge, huge influences of mine aside from all oldies are Robin Thicke and Lauryn Hill.

SL: What’s your plan with releasing new music?

DK: I actually have way too many tracks and we’re just trying to decide what’s going to be next. I think I’m going to start off with an EP, as well probably four or five other tracks. We haven’t decided yet.

SL: Are you going to stay with the sound of “Move?” What can we expect?

DK: I want everybody to expect soul-pop mixed with a hip-hop influence. Almost soul-pop R&B with lyrical meaning. As I release more songs, you’ll see the lyrical context get deeper.

SL: Being from Long Beach, which isn’t far from L.A., but yet still so different, what was the move and adjustment like? 

DK: Everyone out here seems to be from somewhere else. I feel like I’m the exception being from Southern California. But it’s crazy how it’s 45 minutes away and it’s a whole new world. It’s been a crazy transition, but I definitely have not looked back. I love it. I love downtown and the beach. Growing up in Long Beach, I’m always, always at the beach.

SL: Can you talk a little about the inspiration behind your tattoos? Have you always been a tattoo guy?

DK: I got my first tattoo in a garage when I was 15 in Long Beach. My friend did it with a safety pin and India Ink. It was so sketchy [laughs]. I grew up very religious. My first tattoo was of a cross and then after that, the same guy legitimized himself and got his first tattoo machine. Then when I was 17, I got a soccer ball with an Argentina flag. My mom’s from Argentina. And then there are three songs I ended up turning into my whole sleeve. My three favorite songs: “Yesterday” by The Beatles, “Man In the Middle” by Michael [Jackson] and then Stevie Wonder.

SL: A sexy guy like you – single? Taken? What’s the status?

DK: I’m not in a relationship. Music is my girlfriend, wife, everything at the moment.

5 FUN FACTS

Last time I couldn’t stop laughing: “Ok, people didn’t think this movie was funny, but maybe I just watched it at the right time or whatever, but The Interview was so funny. I was dying watching it.”

Last concert I attended: “I just attended the best show I’ve ever seen. It was the day before the Grammy’s. I saw Big Sean at the House of Blues in West Hollywood. On one stage, he brought out Chris Brown, [Justin] Bieber, Meek Mill, Tyga, J. Cole, Kanye West. It was everybody on one stage and I was like, ‘What is going on?’ ”

Last thing I cooked: “I cooked chicken parmesan on Valentine’s Day. The boy can cook! I’m telling you, it turned out really well!”

Last time I was injured: “I just ruined my foot playing flag football. It was because of my manager. I’m running straight at him and he kind of ducked the other way and my foot went right into his shoulder.”

Last present I bought for someone: “My mom and I hike a lot. So I got her some hiking shoes for Christmas.”

Check out the sensual, desert-themed video for Devin’s latest single Move, directed by Rob Witt and Alex Delgado:

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