The Antidote to Radio 1’s Sound of 2016

Because after four weeks of the same songs we’re all in need of a break.

Before I start let me say that I listen to Radio 1 – which is exactly what has created the need for this post. They play the same bloody songs everyday! Even when they actually have some crackers in their music library (Mura Masa, NAO, Mabel, Shura, Wolf Alice, Royal Blood), you end up craving something different once in a while, as well as wanting to shoot yourself in the head when you hear the rest of the balderdash that they play (I’m looking at you Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth. No. Let’s NOT Marvin Gaye and get it on).

SO, with that in mind, for those of you who also have the lack of tolerance that I have, I present my alternative to the Radio 1 Sound of 2016 playlist. Not necessarily alternative in genre, but simply alternative in nature – you know what I mean.

I’m lucky enough to have a best friend who works in music (Hi Jorden), and I feel like that probably qualifies me to write about this stuff with some sense of knowledgeability, right?? Let’s do this.


8. Airling
I actually have zero music creds to back this choice up, apart from the fact that I stumbled across this Australian artist one casual Spotify session and haven’t stopped listening since. I would recommend checking out her WONDERFUL collaboration with Japanese Wallpaper, Forces.

THREE WORD SUMMARY: Moody electro pop (in the absolute best sense of the word ‘moody’)

LISTEN TO THIS WHEN: You’re walking home on a delightful moonlight eve

7. Jagwar Ma

Sydney born Jagwar Ma have been around since 2011, but I want to see their fanbase spread far and wide this year. The band have a Tame Impala-esque, almost psychedelic dance-rock sound that is near impossible not to get hooked on. Try out The Throw for size.

THREE WORD SUMMARY: Spaced-out pop rock

LISTEN TO THIS WHEN: You’re spinning round a campfire drunk, you’re dancing on a beach drunk or you’re taking a roadtrip back in time (drunk)


6. Bonzai
A Dubliner who’s signed to the same label as Mura Masa, she describes her music as “Twisted R&B or Punk R&B”. Couldn’t have put it better, as it really is an unusual sound – it definitely has an R&B vibe but with this great spiky darkness to it. Give it a couple of listens and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.

THREE WORD SUMMARY: Sassy, sweet, sour

LISTEN TO THIS WHEN: You need an attitude boost before you whip that annoying friend, co-worker or family member into shape


5. Jay Prince
Jay Prince was recommended to me by my aforementioned music friend, and so I feel pretty confident about his inclusion here. Jay has a Kendrick Lamar feel about him, with a definite London edge to his music. It’s the kind of hip-hop/rap that is soothing to the ear, rather than attempting an aural assault on it. There’s a place for aural-assault-rap, but this article is not it. For something a bit more amped up I highly recommend that you check out his collaboration with Mura Masa, Low, however my current favourite of Jay’s is the chilled out Polaroids, below.

THREE WORD SUMMARY: Molten London rap

LISTEN TO THIS WHEN: You’re walking through the city enjoying the glorious annual two week long British summer. If you’re from a place where the sun actually exists, please feel free to listen to Jay Prince all year round


4. SG Lewis
SG Lewis was another Spotify find of my own, so it was a nice ego boost when my friend recommended him to me and I was able to respond coolly with, “Oh yeah I love his song No Less...” smooth, so smooth. Pharrell described SG Lewis as “a white boy with soul” which is high praise indeed for a 20-something from Reading. SG Lewis has some great Soundcloud mixes, but right now I’m crushing on the recently released and sultry All Night. 

THREE WORD SUMMARY: Soulful deep house

LISTEN TO THIS WHEN: You’ve taken the plunge and invited that cute guy/girl over to check out your music collection…


3. Zak Abel
I have long been in love with 20 year old Zak Abel and his gorgeous silky voice, so there was no way I could leave him out of this list. Zak has a song for every mood and every feeling and that is why my love for him is so epic. He can produce a solid gold feel good dance record like These Are The Days:

And then he gifts us this heartfelt cover:

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure I also think that he’s a complete and utter hottie.

THREE WORD SUMMARY: Multi-faceted, infectious, HOT

LISTEN TO THIS WHEN: WHENEVER. There are songs for pre-drinks, songs for the shower and songs to dance to all night long

2. Goldlink
There’s not much floating about on Washington-born artist Goldlink. Indeed, his SoundCloud quote sums up this deliberate lack of information, “The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.” Presumably God, a.k.a. Goldlink, is multi-lingual which would explain what is going on in Spectrum. If anyone can tell me what language is being spoken in this song PLEASE let me know. Swedish? Japanese? Swahili?

THREE WORD SUMMARY: Soul-infused dance rap (still technically three words)

LISTEN TO THIS WHEN: You’re on the wonderful Friday journey home from work


1. CRAIG DAVID – Craig David’s return to the music scene also hails a return to 90s garage, something which I cannot get enough of, as it is a daily regret that I wasn’t old enough to go clubbing when he was first around. I like to view his comeback as a personal invitation to be a part of said scene second time around. Don’t even pretend that you wouldn’t let Craig David all over your *oop*. If you haven’t listened to the song that sounds a lot worse than it actually is. I suppose you really should have a listen then shouldn’t you…

THREE WORD SUMMARY: “THAT GARAGE SOUND” (seriously, listen to the song)

LISTEN TO THIS WHEN: You want to feel like a super sassy 90s raver who has no curfew and is going to damn well dance like nobody’s watching because THIS IS YOUR JAM

OH and check out his freestyle over Bieber and dream of the that day you have a crew that loves you this much. Bieber + Craig David = 2016:


I’m ready to PARTAAAY after writing this post. Roll on Friday.


What do you guys think? Any other suggestions that should be included in the list? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @LydiaFrench