WRMC’s 2016 in Review
by Brandi Fullwood and WRMC Middlebury College on December 31, 2016
Posted in: Album Review, Electronic, Folk, Hip Hop, Music, Pop, Pop Punk, Psychadelia, R&B / Soul, Rap, Rock, Uncategorized
YEAR END WRAP UP
Shock and surprise paved the heartbreaking year of 2016. In the most bleak corners of the year we lost more music idols and icons than we knew how to deal with. The new year was met with the terrible loss of David Bowie and soon after came the loss of Maurice White, Phife Dawg, Prince, Billy Paul, Bernie Worrell, Sharon Jones, George Michael, Debbie Reynolds, and unfortunately more. Even so, our idols left impressions and features on last albums to cherish and move forward with. And so, between great releases, experimental introductions, painful and nostalgic homages, collages of imagery and sound, we pay tribute to the idols we lost this year.
At the front of 2016, the exclusivity of streaming services like Tidal and Apple Music prevailed. At first, many were left frightful that they would not hear the hyped up and crossed out The Life of Pablo album within an hours release. Yet, it became too hyped to not obtained. Kanye West, the unblemished artist to college radio fans, would tweak and tweet until think pieces and hyper-local mental health analysis became the new advertisement and charting system. Between the rasp and beauty of Anderson .Paak’s Malibu and the ferocity of Rihanna’s Anti, the early winter was filled with gorgeous black narratives as much as political rampage.
The pending Presidential Election of 2016 sparked political fear, prejudices and themes of revolution. All this made for musical dissonance and perhaps the necessary context for pop cultural performances such as Beyoncé’s Super Bowl 50, Kendrick’s The Blacker the Berry performance, and Kanye West’s Fashion show to be critiqued, appreciated, and disregarded for their socio-political messages. Media attention flocked to racial reference and marginalization, labeling any instance of speech as radical, provocative, and innovative. It was almost difficult to decide whether authenticity or performance of social justice by pop icons should be described in this way.
Although pieces of politics floated into mainstream, from Teen Vogue to MTV News not every release this past winter was reviewed with the expectation of staunch polarizing views on the elections. In truth, releases from Florist, DIIV, Charli XCX, Yuck, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, and Pinegrove tapped into our nostalgia or rhythmic needs. These late winter albums were extremely well received at the station and were more often times than not praised for their rhythmic affectiveness and hometown cravings.
Despite a persistent winter, we were momentarily renewed and hopeful of spring with Frankie Cosmos, dvsn, Moderat, M83, Esperanza Spalding, Parquet Courts, and posthumous works from J Dilla. Although, mid-spring was a confused state of emotion, we were listening to new and anticipated releases from Anonhi, Death Grips, James Blake, Juliana Barwick, Kaytranada, A$AP Ferg, and Teen Suicide.The eventual relapse into true spring (opposed to the infamous mud season in Vermont) brought on Beyoncé’s poetic confessional Lemonade and Drake’s well sampled, summer ready Views and thus a further entrenchment into pop iconography and of course another wave of memes.
"I'll tune into your radio show right now." pic.twitter.com/5UDKIqChvO
— WRMC Loves You (@WRMC911) July 28, 2016
Music Directors of the time, Rachael Morris and Brandi Fullwood, set out to memeify the station for its own good. Prompted by the modern Munch recreation, the two replaced the top thirty chart with Tame Impala’s Currents.
It was of course, one of the best April Fool’s in a good while, at least in their minds. At that time, Tame Impala’s Currents was in steep competition with “Coffee” by Slyvan Esso and Frank Ocean’s 2012 album for station sweethearts and staples. Soon enough, General Manager, Kate Leib, joined in on the station trolling putting a final dig into Pitchfork’s inevitable capture by Conde Nast. We feigned that we too had given in to the lure of advertisement and done the same. Lawfully, neither of these events are possible with the FCC and ~contracts~, but they made for a new vision into spring. We drifted on our hype at WRMC’s well attended and lit annual spring concert, Sepomana, with performance by Junglepussy and Kelela in the Bunker.
In 2016, visual were everything (except Vine, r.i.p.) and yet great music did not get lost in it. From visual albums to WRMC documentaries, students and artists alike set out to be understood in new mediums. Stay tuned in J-Term for our Top Music Videos! Below are two student film projects based on WRMC 91.1FM, your favorite station betwixt the Green Mountains and Adirondacks.
Brandi Fullwood ’17, General Manager
Nicholas Barker ’17, Sight and Sound II
This past year at the station was filled with subtle weavings of inside jokes and exaggerated rumors. The truth is we became royalty, on a new app called Cymbal, which is practically Instagram for music. However, in the midst of visual albums and album art and just shy of few hours of the new year, many stations (included your beloved) continue to wonder, what’s to become of CMJ? The latest news exposes that not only is there an unlikely revival of CMJ’s Music Marathon, but the college charting media company will sooner than later be overwhelmed by lawsuits.
The end of the spring semester was a confusing relief and attachment. As we said goodbye to our senior DJs we gravitated toward the gospel inspired Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper. We rejoiced in its hopeful messages, danced together in living rooms at Top 91, and jumped straight into summer with high expectations.
This summer Radiohead made an album. The summer station however raved for Blood orange, Mitski, PUP, Kamaiyah, and Modern Baseball attaching sentiments of relatability in rage and misery. Alongside them, came powerful and punchy releases from G.L.O.S.S., Kero Kero Bonito, School Boy Q, Sepomana alum Badbadnotgood’s dreamy jazz album, and the long awaited return of The Avalanches!
Surprisingly, the sixteen year hiatus of The Avalanches was no social media match for Frank Ocean’s Blonde. Led by conspiracy theories,fans awaiting the album held Frank Ocean under an incredible microscope–turning to Twitter and Snapchat to complain. After indirectly yelling at the artist with no social media accounts, Frank led us all to a livestream of him sawing wood for hours. Finally, the album dropped and Blond became the soundtrack to everyone receiving the emotionless “u up?” text.
In the first weekend, we swapped McCullough for Battell Beach to host WRMC’s annual SOS FEST. The four act line up included Pouty, Human People, Sports and Mitski, which made for an emotional night of whispered songs, puppy kisses (courtesy of Shrimp Toast), and side to side bopping.
The fall graced us with timely albums from Angel Olsen, How to Dress Well, Danny Brown, Solange, BTS, American Football, and D.R.A.M. There were indeed several mixed feelings on Lady Gaga’s Joanne, but where there is a stan there is a fan. The steadfast crumbling of hope in light of political polls led us to many of these albums and others for comfort, confrontation, saccharine fun and distraction.
Dropped in the middle of the semester, WRMC loyals were sure to enjoy Grooveyard‘s energetic and mosh provoking line up Princess Nokia and Cakes Da Killa. The show was definitely suited for the pop and hip hop embracing tunes the station has maintained for quite some time. Nearing the end of the year and the semester we were greeted by unexpected but unsurprising developments in production by A Tribe Called Quest, The Weeknd, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and Kid Cudi.
These are all of course just a few releases that we enjoyed this year and as we brave the new year we can only hope for more music–live, recorded, streamed–to help us understand, cope, pretend we can hit that c7, and dab.
Below you’ll find WRMC’s most played songs and albums of 2015, year end lists and favorites from WRMC’s Executive Board, and a Spotify Playlist to put it all in your ears. Let us know what you’ve been listening to this year!
WRMC’s Most Played Albums of 2016:
1. Solange – A Seat at the Table
2. Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing
3. Beyoncé – Lemonade
4. Rihanna – Anti
5. Mitski – Puberty 2
6. Frank Ocean Blonde
7. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
8. James Blake – The Colour in Anything
9. The Lumineers – Cleopatra
10. Japanese Breakfast – psychopomp
11. Drake – Views
12. Kaytranada – 99.9%
13.Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
WRMC’s Most Played Tracks of 2016:
1. Your Best American Girl – Mitski
2. Cranes in the Sky – Solange
3. Ophelia – The Lumineers
4. All Night – Beyoncé
5. Fool – Frankie Cosmos
6. Weary – Solange
7. Pink + White – Frank Ocean
8. Be Apart – Porches
9. Shut up & Kiss Me – Angel Olsen
10. Drone Bomb Me – ANOHNI
These charts are based on airplay statistics from January 2016 to now, and therefore will inevitably skew results towards albums and songs that came out earlier in the year. Albums not released in 2016 were omitted.
WRMC STAFF LISTS
Brandi Fullwood – General Manager
A Seat at the Atrocity Exhibition
Rachael Morris – Programming Director
The Life of Anything
Tim Hansen – Business Director
There are a lot of albums I didn’t get around to listening to that were getting a lot of acclaim,
particularly albums by sad white male rockers and broducers, so I’m sorry if your fav isn’t listed below.
Maddy Goodhart – Music Director
The Life of Blond(e)
Music Videos That Changed Me:
1. Army of Lovers – Crucified
2. Shakira – Whenever, Wherever
Maggie Danna – Music Director
Blood Blood Bitch
Matt Barr – Library Manager
We Got it From Malibu
Bella Carey – Technical Director
Coloring Book Town
Jeremy Alben – Concerts Committee
Daria Cenedella – Creative Director
Meghan Daly – Concerts Committee