The Best Singles of 2016, #8


8. Chelsea Lankes, “Bullet”

Some people might disagree with me, and that’s just fine, but personally one of the great musical joys in life is a good, concise pop song whose sole ambition is to be a perfect pop song, and nothing else. Not maximizing a brand, not serving as a showcase for obnoxious reality show singing, not pretending to be anything bigger than it is. Chelsea Lankes, who caught my attention in 2015 with a stunning electropop cover of Mötley Crüe’s “Too Young to Fall in Love”, returned this year with an EP highlighted by “Bullet”, three minutes of near-perfection along the lines of Carly Rae Jepson, in that it doesn’t try anything more than excel at what it does. It’s a simple “I’m better off without you” song that starts off melancholy but then explodes into an empowering chorus: “And so I took the nights and heights / And I just threw ’em in the trash / They didn’t matter at all / And I played my favorite song / Turned up the volume and I danced / I didn’t care anymore”. It’s simple, a formula as old as popular music itself, but it’s a dynamic that always pays off when done well, and this track does a sterling job.