On the Radar: Remembering 2016 the Highs and Lows

Let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief. 2016 is finally coming to an end. A lot happened in music this year from endless celebrity feuds to amazing albums. And, of course, all the celebrity deaths that made us go “what the fuck, 2016?” Time to reflect on the biggest stories from 2016 on this week’s On the Radar.

2016, the year of death

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You live and then you die, those are rules even our precious celebrities have to follow. Every year we lose another artist and it’s sad and shocking. But what made 2016 notable in celebrity deaths is how many legendary musicians got taken away from us. The world practically stopped when 2016 kicked off with David Bowie’s death. Seeing as he just released an album, Blackstar, it felt like a bad joke. It was all too real. People around the world poured out their hearts for months. His loss is still with us like a bad infection. Death kept rolling through taking Prince next, another shocking circumstance. Weeks prior to his death, Prince remained active, performing on stage and riding around his Minnesota neighborhood. When he died, many were at a loss for words. Even I didn’t know what to think. Two iconic musicians

Death kept rolling through taking Prince next, another shocking circumstance. Weeks prior to his death, Prince remained active, performing on stage and riding around his Minnesota neighborhood. When he died, many were at a loss for words. Even I didn’t know what to think. Two iconic musicians gone in the same year. Did we lose some sort of bet? Apparently, that wasn’t enough for death and the list grew longer. Glen Frey, Maurice White, Vanity, Frank Sinatra Jr, Natalie Cole, Patty Duke, Phife Dog, Pete Burns, Sharon Jones, Merle Haggard, and Leonard Cohen don’t even makeup half of who we lost this year. Looking at this list of 2016 deaths will make you want to curl up in a dark corner and rock yourself

Looking at this list of 2016 deaths will make you want to curl up in a dark corner and rock yourself repeatedly. It got so bad, we started holding our breath whenever names like Mick Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne, and Paul McCartney popped up in our feeds, afraid the next line would read “has died.” No question, it’s been rough and we’ve lost a lot of great people, but sadly, that’s how it goes. We are at least lucky enough to be able to enjoy what they gave the world. The music keeps going and that’s something that we’ll always have. Let’s hope 2017 gives us a break.

Best Albums

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Beyonce

Though there was a lot of sadness in 2016, there was still some reason to smile thanks to all the stellar music released this year. There are good and bad years for music and it seems we lucked out this time. Beyonce turned heads with her biting record Lemonade, Bruno Mars reminded us how to party with 24K Magic, and Frank Ocean broke our hearts with Blond. Some of the most exciting releases include Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, which cemented his status as best rapper of the year and  Green Day returned to their angry, punk roots on Revolution Radio. Rather than recapturing youth, they reflect on getting older and the unrest in the States for a blistering record. Some of my favorites this year, that didn’t seem to get as much love include:

The Dream is Over – PUP

You’ll Pay for This – Bear Hands

Love Gloom – Night Riots

Alas Salvation – Yak

Electric Warlock Acid Witch – Rob Zombie

This year was great for music and it seems like there’s a lot to look forward to in 2017. With new albums from Marilyn Manson, AFI, Major Lazer, TI, Dropkick Murphys, and Jesus and The Mary Chain, it’s shaping up to be another kick ass year for music.

Controversial Music Moments of 2016

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Any good year in music wouldn’t be complete without its share of controversy and 2016 had some weird ones. As usual, Kanye West was the cause of a lot of controversy. He turned heads with his odd, yet can’t-turn-away video for “Famous.” You know, the one that features wax figures of celebrities naked, including Donald Trump and Taylor Swift? The song drew further controversy for the lyric “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous.”

When the line came under fire from critics, West defended it saying he spoke with Swift about it, who thought it was funny. Swift’s publicist denied any such conversation taking place. According to Swift, she cautioned him against releasing such a misogynistic song. In June, Kim Kardashian released a recorded call between West and Swift where he does bring up the song. Swift retorted she was being painted as a liar and West did not inform her he would refer to her as a bitch. But West wasn’t done yet. Not too long ago, he told a San Diego crowd he would’ve endorsed Donald Trump if he voted. Needless to say, there was quite the backlash.

Green Day experienced a bit of a backlash due to their 2016 American Music Awards performance. While performing “Bang Bang” from their new album, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong unleashed the chant “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” While most fans and anti-Trump supporters applauded the outcry, Trump supporters weren’t happy saying the AMA’s should apologize for their performance.

Beyonce stirred up some trouble of her own. First, there’s her Superbowl 50 half-time performance of “Formation,” which saw her backup dancers dressed in Black Panther-esque outfits. Though many rallied her performance, police were not happy. They said the imagery in both the music video and her performance is anti-law enforcement. And seeing as the police didn’t exactly like the Black Panthers, it’s easy to see why they didn’t appreciate her tribute. Bey then shook the world with the surprise release of

Bey then shook the world with the surprise release of Lemonade. The album seemed to address marital issues with Jay-Z, particularly the song “Sorry.” People honed in on the lyric “He better call Becky with the good hair.” After the song’s release, Rachel Roy posted on Instagram, “Good hair don’t care, but we will take good lighting, for selfies, or self truths, always. live in the light #nodramaqueens.” Many thought “Becky” referred to Roy, who denied having an affair with the rapper.

Notable moments

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When Guns N Roses first announced they would reunite for a massive tour, it sounded like a joke. Axl Rose and the rest of the guys notoriously hated each other. With egos flying and Rose’s infamous temper tantrums, the tour was destined to fail. The band proved everyone wrong by sticking it out and announcing more dates for next year. The Not in this Lifetime tour turned out to be one of the most profitable of 2016 raking in over $100 million. And Rose even behaved on this outing. Perhaps there’s hope for a new album after all.

Guns N Roses weren’t the only band to reunite in 2016. Glenn Danzig and the original Misfits came together once again to perform at Riot Fest. It’s the first time they performed together in 33 years. It was a much talked about, epic event that most fans didn’t expect to see ever. After the performance came obligatory questions of doing it again and making a new album. Various members have expressed interest in doing so, but aren’t sure if it’ll happen due to their other projects.

We all know how awesome Chance the Rapper is and now he’s getting the recognition he deserves. When the Grammy nominations released last week, people expected to see names like Beyonce, Adele, Rihanna, and Drake to rack up nods. But Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper received huge praise for his album Coloring Book earning seven nominations. The rapper previously said if he earned a Grammy nomination, he would hold an epic party. He made good on his word and the city celebrated his win at The Metro.

This year saw the spectacular breakup of Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift. This would’ve been another routine breakup for the pop star if it wasn’t for the song “This is What You Came For.” Though the song credits writers Harris and Nills Sjoberg, it was actually by Harris and Swift under a pseudonym. This wouldn’t be cause for alarm if Harris never said he couldn’t see a collaboration between him and, then girlfriend, Swift. Her rep later confirmed Swift did write lyrics and even provided backing vocals for the track. Harris later confirmed this on his Twitter account. After their breakup, the two took digs at each other in various breakup songs.

Final Thought

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So long, 2016

So did 2016 suck? Yeah, it kind of did. Considering all the icons and talent the music world lost and, of course, the election, it was a rough year. But it didn’t all suck. It’s easy to focus on the negativity of the year and paint 2016 as awful, but there was some good in the year too. There were small glimpses that made it seem like everything was going to be all right. More great music played throughout the year and we lived to see the Cubs win the World Series. It only took them 108 years.

Personally, aside from remembering all the bad that happened this year, I’ll remember the highlights. Seeing bands I’ve admired since high school, meeting talented musicians, and hearing amazing music. 2016 we’ll be known for a lot of things, but let’s try to remember the good about it as well. And let’s face 2017 with our head held high and with strength. It just may be a great year.

Ashley Perez

Ashley Perez

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on Examiner, The Crypt 1331, Chicago Innerview, Kitty Whipp, and Reality-Comics. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Marilyn Manson, and Green Day.

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