By The Level
With the return of the likes of Butterfingers, Disagree, Pop Shuvit, The Times AKA, ACAB, and Deja Voodoo Spells, you could say that 2016 has been the year of comebacks. However, no matter how good the nostalgia kicks in, there’s nothing better than listening to something new – fresh out of the oven.
For many, 2016 has also been a year of groundbreaking releases. It’s a year where an invisible barrier of collective cockiness from different scenes was subconsciously brought down, thanks to the power of the internet and good music.
The Level decided to throw together a list of what we feel are the Top 30 Malaysian songs of 2016. These are songs that we feel deserve proper recognition, and we plan to keep supporting the local music scene in any way we can.
Entries on the list were judged on three main factors – composition, production quality, and cultural impact. From nusantara to rock and rap, here are #30-21 of our Top 30 Malaysian songs of 2016.
If you haven’t read the previous two parts of the list, you can check them out here:
Top 20 Malaysian Songs of the Year (20-11)
Top 30 Malaysian Songs of the Year (30-21)
After many heated discussions (and some name calling), we proudly present to you our list of the Top 10 Malaysian Songs of the Year. We’d like to congratulate all of the talented artistes who made it to our top 30 songs list for making our year a memorable one – despite the passing of legends like David Bowie, Maurice White, and George Michael.
See you in 2017!
Uda & Dara (Tunjuk Perasaan) by Monoloque
We don’t know whether there’s a concrete connection between P.Ramlee-Saloma’s Uda & Dara and the official soundtrack for PEKAK by Monoloque, but what we’re certain of is that Monoloque managed to produce a memorable intro to the controversial film. Singaporean songstress Aisyah Aziz even contributed her soothing voice to compliment Loque’s low-toned vocals. You may have different opinions about the movie, but given more airplay, we think the song could be a timeless classic.
Oh Dewiku by Ramayan
Luncai Emas have found themselves a new group of golden boys who are firmly in control of their sound and direction. The fact that Oh Dewiku is an introduction to Ramayan for Malaysian music fans is a powerful statement, as the track gives you a strong feel for the band’s direction and gets you excited for the rest of their material. Ramayan gives the nusantara sound a modern taste and a catchy melody that can almost-instantly capture the ears of the masses. If they keep this up, you can say the future is bright for them and the industry.
With You by De Fam
Love them or not, the past two years have seen De Fam take centre stage as music and style icons. “With You” is catchy, and properly produced by the good people at Tune Studios. The rap parts have improved from Supergirls, their debut effort. Harmonies are well done and it definitely reminds us of Destiny’s Child. Brandon Beal, however, gets a bit overshadowed by the girls and was almost unneeded, but he’s still a good addition to the song – even though no one twerked it like Miley this time.
Home To You by Rozella
You can say that this year is Rozella’s year as she managed to make “Home To You” sound and feel very Malaysian while being undoubtedly of international quality. The Sabahan-born’s song had the privileged to be remixed by CHVRCHES as part of the Tiger Jams competition. However, we still feel that the original version hits home better and Darren Ashley’s involvement in producing this song is vividly obvious in the best way. No one else deserves this spot other than Rozella.
Hafiz Sufian by Pitahati
In our review, we called ‘Hafiz Sufian’ “one action-packed nusantara orchestra of liberalization in tradition” and the song that can “book them a slot at Glastonbury”, one of the UK’s most prestigious music festivals. Pitahati’s “Selamat Datang Ke Panggung Suara” was a spectacular audio experience and Hafiz Sufian was the climax to its glorious adventure into the psychedelic nusantara wilderness of the mind. Is this song award-worthy? Of course it is. We truly cannot wait for Pitahati’s next endeavour.
Bunga by MASDO!
MASDO! Is bringing back the twist era with Bunga. What really puts Bunga at number 5 is the impact factor as MASDO! succeeded in bringing back a long dead genre and reigniting interest in it. Bunga’s quality is crystal clear, and the effects fit the whole concept quite well. We reckon that MASDO! will be the first of many twist bands pretty soon thanks to “Bunga”.
Ingga by Amir Jahari
Amir Jahari’s rise is a true Malaysian success story. From busking and performing at cafes to dominating the biggest stages in the country, Amir Jahari has inspired many to do follow along his path. “Ingga” is by far his best song – both creatively and commercially. Ingga is catchy, and it represents a small part of Amir’s Bornean culture. The way the sound design portrays Amir Jahari’s storytelling is transcendant, especially when traditional Sarawakian instruments are used in the recording. “Ingga” is a form of a voice that should be given attention more due to its aesthetics and genuinity.
Bebastereo by Laila’s Lounge
Once upon a time Laila’s Lounge dominated XFM with their songs, especially ‘Mawar Khayalan’. When Hadi left, no one expected the band to make a comeback. Laila’s Lounge didn’t just make their comeback like every other band in Malaysia or outside of it – they announced their return with an absolute gem of a song. Bebastereo showcases the best of the indie scene all in one song, as it has everything – the quality, the catchiness, and the impact. The song is rather political, and relatable to people watching the country’s current political struggles.
Budak Flat by Aman Ra
Aman Ra stole the limelight with pantun100kerat, but it was Budak Flat that had everyone rapping along. Budak Flat is a poignant and vivid representation of life in urban poverty and the reality of hustling at the bottom of the food chain. No other song this year has built that modern day underdog relationship with fans like Budak Flat. Aman Ra’s flow and lyrics are gamechanging and set the bar for future rap releases higher than ever before.
Bulanku by SOG
The number 1 pick was intensely debated, but after carefully evaluating all main factors plus a few other contributing factors, we agreed that SOG’s Bulanku deserves to be the number 1 Malaysian song of 2016. Some parts of “Bulanku” were originally composed by the mother of SOG’s Raja Nazrin Shah and Raja Nazmin Shah, who passed away due to cancer. Bulanku acts as an emotional tribute to her and all mothers. The name “Bulanku” came from their mothers’ name, which was Maimun. Maimun = My Moon = Bulanku. Bulanku is a beautiful marriage of traditional nusantara composition and SOG’s modern writing style. Apart from it being a tearjerker, SOG paves the way forward for pop-nusantara fusion – a true East meets West experience – hence why “Bulanku” is our number 1 song for 2016.