Ah, the compilation album: a crucial barometer of annual taste and a postmortem to the year in pop. 100% Hits and its ilk have obvious uses: all the barbecues imminent with all this warm weather have their soundtrack right here.
But CD compilations feel oddly anachronistic in an age when an algorithm can make a new compilation for you every week for every mood. Instead, 100% Hits is more interesting in what it says about pop’s evolution. Where a few years ago rushing crescendos and sweaty house- and dubstep-driven pop songs reigned, this year the flavour is staccato guitar melodies and steel drums – tropical house sounds that conjure dramatic beach parties and carefree days, a kind of nirvana for youth. Rihanna blazed this trail years ago and some of these elements were present during David Guetta’s command, but the difference now is the amount of space they’re given.
The last few years of pop have been a blaring cacophony chasing ever louder peaks, but this year it went the opposite way, stripping the production back to its most effective components and allowing silence to sharpen the edges. Sadly, Macklemore lingers like a retired meme, but outliers like Flume’s Justified-era Timberlake throwback and Lisa Mitchell’s moodier takes keep 100% Hits interesting.
100% Hits: Best of 2016 is out now via Warner.