The 10 best record producers of 2016
As 2016 draws to a close, we’ve been reflecting on the year in music, asking you to vote not only for the best new hardware and software products to have been released over the past 12 months, but also the artists and producers who’ve defined the year.
Now it’s time to bring you the results of our polls. We drew up the shortlists, but the rankings and overall winners in each category have been decided exclusively by your votes.
Over the next 10 slides we’ll be revealing who you’ve decided are the 10 best record producers of 2016, counting down to your number one. We’ll start with a man who’s planted his production flag in both the rock and pop camps, Jake Sinclair...
2016 has been another busy year for Jake Sinclair. January saw the release of Panic! At the Disco’s (pictured above) Death of a Bachelor, which he produced, and he also helmed Weezer’s well-received eponymous album.
If you’re looking for versatility, consider the fact that he co-produced a couple of tracks on the latest Sia record, too.
Cirkut (AKA Henry Russell Walter) has been shaping the pop landscape for the best part of a decade, as a producer and songwriter for the likes of Britney Spears, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry.
In 2016 he got to flex his considerable creative muscles on the The Weeknd’s (pictured above) Starboy album, working on eight of its tracks.
Having co-written and produced Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself in 2015, this year saw Blanco (AKA Benjamin Levin) bringing his talents to Francis and The Lights’ Farewell, Starlite! album, which featured both Bon Iver and Kanye West.
He also co-produced Cold Water, the lead single from Major Lazer’s forthcoming new album, and was another cast member on The Weeknd’s Starboy.
When Coldplay recorded A Head Full of Dreams, their seventh album, they called on the services not only of long-standing collaborator Rik Simpson (pictured above), but also crack Norwegian production team Stargate, one of the most successful pop hit factories of the past 10 years.
Unsurprisingly, the result was a massive hit, with its songs dominating stadiums and radios around the world.
While, in some cases too many cooks can spoil the creative broth, in the case of Drake’s Views, which landed in April of this year, the result was a musical brew that seemed to be ever-present in 2016.
The inevitable Grammy nominations have followed, and Nineteen85, DJ Maphorisa, 40 and Wizkid can all claim plenty of credit for that.
The man also known as Brian Burton has taken a kong and winding production road since the release of The Grey Album in 2004, working across multiple genres.
In 2016, he was involved in two particularly noteworthy albums - Michael Kiwanuka’s Love & Hate and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ The Getaway - both of which have met with critical acclaim.
“The sixth member of Radiohead” confirmed his importance to the band this year, as he produced the well-received A Moon Shaped Pool LP.
His professional life does stretch beyond Thom Yorke and co, though; 2016 also saw him taking on mixing engineer duties on Red Hot Chili Peppers’ The Getaway, an album that turned out to be something of a magnet for production talent.
Now very much part of the production mainstream, Skrillex collaborated with Rick Ross to release Purple Lamborghini in 2016, the lead single from the Suicide Squad soundtrack (which was arguably better-received than the film).
There have been other releases and guest appearances too, proving that the man they call Sonny Moore is as in demand as ever.
Diplo has used his box of production tricks on albums by Beyonce, Craig David and The Weeknd this year, but that’s not the whole story.
As part of Major Lazer, he released chart-topping single Cold Water, which featured Justin Bieber and MØ, and he’s locked horns with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and DJ Fresh in a ‘vs’ capacity. He’s everywhere, basically.
Winner: David Bowie/Tony Visconti
We lost far too many musicians this year, but few of the losses felt as tough as that of David Bowie, just a few days into 2016.
Typically, though, he managed to orchestrate the most dignified of passings, working with long-time collaborator Tony Visconti to release Blackstar, his final album, just before his death. It was a daring, experimental release, made all the more poignant by what happened next.