Good lord! In past years when I've recapped the music situation I've emphasized how ready accessibility to music via the Internet in a positive way has altered what people listen to and expanded the range for the mass public -wider exposure to music impacts both listening taste and those who make music enriching the opportunities for everyone.
I've always thought this could only be a good thing as it also provides unadventurous listeners with safe opportunities to listen to music that previously they would never encountered. This includes critics who write about music and publish their favorite lists at the end of the year. Evidence of the favorable diversification effects of this could be found on a vast range and interesting Top Ten lists in the recent pasts from the various online publications. From these lists we learned about music that we would never have found on our own and I, certainly, enjoyed always finding new and interesting sounds. And each and every year-end was a fantastic time to search, listen and be amazed at the varied sounds and new-found talents that had evaded my ears.
Of course as we have seen with the current political situation in this country I'm afraid that this initial stage of diversity has taken a big step backwards in the music sphere. Perusing the top ten of pop music critics in 2016 you find a conformity and standardization that I was surprised to see. Look at the end of year Metacritics list ( a compilation of critics favorite music in 2016) and you will find the same music across the board: Bowie, Beyonce, Solange, Kanye West. . . .
What the internet did the first couple of decades -expose people to the true diversity of sounds- has now resulted in the normalization of what is considered the best in the pop/rock world. This could be a result of the rise of music streaming or/and the tragic demise of file-sharing sites where listeners had to work to find and organize what they were interested in hearing. It could also be the what happened in the 60's and early 70's when a creative and vibrant popular music quickly descended into formulaic sounds that sounded bad even in those days. Or it could be the ever commercialization of music in the hands of those tatse-makers who rule the ears of the masses. Who knows!
But it could also be a cultural thing-look at the jazz world, where granted most of the sounds are expected to be exploratory and not from a same place, and regard the incredible diversity of top tens in that universe: 2016 Jazz Critics Poll. There is more gold here than in all of Spain.I will not dwell on why it is but instead continue to enjoy the sounds from this small genre of the music community that propels the music of the rest.
Despite the apparent homogenization of taste 2016, for my ears, proved to be a compelling year filled with surprises and works that will provide a foundation for others to build on-especially among the jazz and electronic genres. Here are the sounds that caught my ears in 2016 in no particular order: