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SOMETHING EXTRA: Major Lazer feat. Justin Bieber and MØ, “Cold Water”
Major Lazer has been at the forefront of bringing reggae, dancehall, soca and EDM together, since its inception in 2009. That continued in 2016, as the Diplo-led crew scored a massive hit for the second straight year, on the heels of last year’s “Lean On,” also featuring Denmark’s MØ. Justin’s vocals were a great fit for the bass-heavy, synth-laden production with a more-than-familiar groove.
10. PartyNextDoor, “Not Nice”
As the songwriter behind another entry on the list, Rihanna’s “Work”, PartyNextDoor was bound to drop something of his own that fuses his dark&B sound with a bit of dancehall. To the average listener, not nice, bad & rude might sound like jabs, but Jamaicans and dancehall fans in general know in the right context they could read as the perfect way to compliment someone who catches your eye. From the song’s bouncy bassline, slow wine references and a Vybz Kartel sample in the pre-chorus, it was the perfect combination for a Caribbean pop crossover hit.
8./9. Drake, “One Dance”/“Too Good”
We know this is technically two songs, but we couldn’t resist getting all of the dancehall Drake tunes together in one place. While “One Dance” also infuses elements of Afrobeats and UK Funky House, it has an undeniable dancehall vibe, making it the perfect conclusion for the slow wine mix trifecta right after “Work” and “Controlla” at a party.
“Too Good” puts Rihanna to good use again over some bouncy production (from Supa Dups and yet another Jamaican-Canadian producer, Nineteen85). But it was the Popcaan quote — Cock up yuh bumper, siddung pon it — and sample that really made it stick.
No matter which version you like better (let’s be real and admit it’s just not the same without Popcaan, shall we?) it’s obvious Drake was becoming more comfortable embracing the heavy influence of Jamaican music and culture in his native Toronto. It was hard to go anywhere without hearing the thumping bassline produced by Boi-1da, Supa Dups and Stephen McGregor — all of whom are Jamaicans, by the way. Even though we got hit with the bait and switch by the time VIEWS was released, and Popcaan was nowhere to be found, the use of Beenie Man’s classic “Tear Off Mi Garment” in the mix helped make up for it somewhat
2. Justin Bieber, “Sorry”
It would be hard to make a list like this and not begin with Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.” Though it dropped in 2015, it hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 at the start of 2016 and even spawned some Inception-like dancehall-to-pop-and-back-again covers. With production that jumped from staccato drums to lush synths with a hefty bassline, it’s not surprising this song was seemingly everywhere for months. It had a bit of dancehall, soca and reggaeton to it, though not explicitly any of the above, making it the type of track every DJ had to play — whether they wanted to or not.
As a proud Caribbean woman herself, it only makes sense that Rihanna made one of the best songs on this list. Riding a riddim comes naturally to the Bajan superstar, which is what sets “Work” apart from the rest of the pack. So with her patois on full tilt, an infectious bassline and a melody lifted from Richie Stephens’ Sail Away riddim, Rih brought the pop charts to the dancehall with the Drake-assisted track, spending a few months at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. In fact, it was her longest run at No. 1 ever, proving you can stick to your roots and go pop at the same time.