Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne
MEAGHAN GARVEY: I’m going to come clean: I had never heard “Rather Be” before this bracket (it hasn’t seemed to make significant waves on NYC radio, and certainly not compared to “Hot Boy,” which I heard no less than five times a day blasting from Bed Stuy cars this summer). I gave it a cursory google, fully expecting to hand over the victory to the Flatbush Vine legend. Five replays later, I’m still dancing alone in my room to the British quartet’s totally life-affirming blend of live strings, shuffling garage percussion, and diva-next-door house vocals. Sorry Bobby: this is the hit I didn’t know I was missing. My Vote: “Rather Be”
CHRIS PAYNE: Interesting matchup here, with two songs that stand out from most of what dominated the Top 40 this year. We had pop, but not a lot of accessible art-pop with no big-name collaborators. We had plenty of hip-hop, of course, but not much new organic stuff that came from the streets. Aside from liking the song, I’m excited at what more Shmurdas breaking in could mean for shaking up industry hip-hop, so he gets my vote here. My Vote: “Hot Boy”
ERIN STRECKER: Easy rule: If your song spawns a popular dance, your song gets to advance in an official poll like this one. End of discussion. My Vote: "Hot Boy"
STEVEN J. HOROWITZ: “Hot Boy” never really did it for me. Meme rap tends to rub me that way. “Rather Be,” on the other hand, is a smart pop gem that invokes the touchstones of ‘90s house music and contextualizes it for modern day. It may not have spawned a dance, but unlike “Hot Boy,” it’s almost impossible not to dance to. My Vote: “Rather Be”
MYLES TANZER: The string section in "Rather Be" bravely stands in opposition to this year's heavy crop of saxobeat club hits, but Clean Bandit still managed to make one of the best dance songs of the year. Those violins just sound so damn enjoyable alongside Jess Glynne's smoky vocals. It's got a pure joy that "Hot Boy" just can't match. My Vote: “Rather Be”OVERALL WINNER: “Rather Be”