Chris Johnson’s top 10 songs of 2016

Next in our line of ‘Top 10 of 2016’ contributors is Chris Johnson; experimental pop artist, manager of the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (AMRAP) and curator of Spotify playlist Unmissable Australian. Here’s what he had to say about his picks:

“1,000s of new songs crossed my desk this year so whittling down a personal top ten is the biggest first world problem I’ve had in ages. I’ve stuck to unmissable Australians who may not appear on other lists (although I hope they do), and a majority of female voices because most of life’s lists seem to be unjustifiably over-represented with sausages.”

chris johnson amrap

A champion of the unheard, undervalued and underrepresented, Chris Johnson’s top 10 songs of 2016 is our most important yet.

Teeth & Tongue – Turn, Turn, Turn

Jess Cornelius has turned her virtuosic voice and musicianship towards synth pop with restraint, skill and sincerity. Tasteful tones and the guitar riff/tambourine combo at 1m40 is killer.

Mere Women – Drive

Mere Women are not mucking around. The tension in this song triggers my amygdala like few songs can. Also a must see live act.

BANFF x Caitlin Park – My Love, My Lover

I hope that Benjamin Forbes (BANFF) gave himself a pat on the back when he came up with the idea to sing his beautifully unpretentious ballad with Caitlin Park. A perfect musical pairing.

Ziggy – Black Thoughts

A.B. Original, Dispossessed and Ziggy are among a critical chorus of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists that refuse to let Australia’s black history, current racist policies and unacceptable social attitudes go unnoticed. The first time I heard Black Thoughts I pulled over to google the lyrics. Every line is on point and the music brings great groove and production values.

Marcus Whale –  Is He That Man?

A great entry into the ambitious musical and lyrical themes that make Inland Sea an unmissable Australian album in 2016.

Carla Dal Forno – Fast Moving Cars

This critically acclaimed Berlin-based Victorian can take you places. Get past the thunder sample at the start and you’ll be transported to a hissy, doomy, mesmerizing world where Carla’s minimalist, detached delivery carries enormous emotional weight. A real feat.

Medicine Voice – Heartswin at the Gate of Great Doubt/I and It

Sometimes a melody is so strong that a voice is all that’s needed. This is a heart melting acapella from a terrific debut EP.

Allan Smithy – Four Letter Reason

Australiana at its jangliest, poppiest, lyrically grounded best.

Frida – Everything (Is You)

There’s so much great dreamy psych-pop around at the moment but this late entry to 2016 just grabbed me. The bass guitar swings the beat, the guitar pings between what sounds like a tap on glass, and the vocals sweep the chorus to just the right height. It all gels.

Sarah Mary Chadwick – Makin’ It Work

Sarah Mary Chadwick’s vocal delivery is courageous and distinct. It forces you to feel the melancholy of her lyrics. Worth sitting with, and downright dangerous if left on repeat.