The Telescope presents: the top albums of 2016. We gathered best-of lists from staff and contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with a list of records that unanimously wowed us this year.
2016 wasn’t just a series of high-profile losses. It was a year of fighting to keep the progress made instead of taking steps backwards; protecting people no matter their colour, background, orientation, or sex. It was a vocal year, and Dev Hynes made sure his voice was heard loud and clear.
Hynes has recorded under several monikers over his career (including Lightspeed Champion) and has written for music heavy hitters such as Florence and the Machine, Chemical Bothers, and Kylie Minogue, to name a few. With the release of 2013’s Cupid Deluxe, Blood Orange moved his way up the indie music ladder
The overall mood of 2016 is captured in the spoken word by Ashlee Haze on Freetown Sound‘s opening track “By Ourselves”:
You are not my competition
As a woman in my arena your light
Doesn’t make mine any dimmer
I did not grow up to be you
But I did grow up to be me
And to be in love with who this woman is
To be a woman playing a man’s game
And not be apologetic about any of it
If you ask me why representation is important
I will tell you that on the days I don’t feel pretty
I hear the sweet voice of Missy singing to me
Pop that pop that, jiggle that fat
Don’t stop, get it til your clothes get wet
I will tell you that right now
There are a million black girls just waiting
To see someone who looks like them
I don’t need to tell you how powerful those words are, or how well they reflect the issues at hand. You’re all up on your current events, dear Telescopers – you can piece it all together. But Blood Orange didn’t just front-load his album with political messages, they’re peppered throughout every track, including “Augustine” above.
The more accessible music with a message can be, the wider its reach. If this wider reach can make enough of an impact, we may not have to give up on progress just yet.