Music director: Rahul Raj
Composer Rahul Raj had a largely muted year (between Kaly, Vikadakumaran, Dakini and BTech), but he does have two songs in the top 10. 'Kannum Kannum' is a lovely melody you can trust Rahul to produce. The core melody sounds like Sindhu Bhairaviraaga (shades of Satya's 'Valayosai') and the icing on the cake is Vineeth Srinivasan and Akhila Anand's vocals.
Music director: John P Varkey
Composed by John P Varkey, 'Mizhi Niranju"s melody is often pensive and haunting, but is undeniably affecting. Roshni Suresh and Amal Antony handle it in a sedate way that makes it a great listen. The tune has a repetitive pattern that makes it particularly addictive.
Music director: Sachin Warrier
A delightful melody made incredibly better by Karthik's singing. Sachin keeps the tune's enchanting feel intact all through and layers it with a gentle tabla base and even the occasional harmonium interlude.
Music director: Ranjin Raj
Composer Ranjin Raj impresses in the way he mixes Kerala's traditional music with a more modern pop tune. The melody gets progressively better and hits a melodic high in the anu pallavi, even as singer Karthik's serene vocals is a significant contributor to the charm.
Music director: Kailas Menon
Another fairly new composer who is making his mark this year is Kailas Menon. His Theevandi was a very confident effort. 'Jeevamshamayi' is an easy winner, with an absolutely gorgeous Reetigowlai-raaga based melody. Shreya Ghoshal and Harisankar KS are outstanding, as also Cochin Strings and Vishnu Vijay on flute.
Music director: Mujeeb Majeed
Composer Mujeeb Majeed had a limited repertoire before Mandharam. But this song—and the album too, overall—does the trick for him. 'Kanne Kanne' impresses with its gorgeously slow and foot-tapping melody. Niranj Suresh's singing and the fantastic chorus deserve a special mention.
Music director: Sachin warrier
Singer Sachin Warrier, who had a good run in 2016, went multi-lingual this year. He had a fantastic album in Kannada (Katheyondu Shuruvagide) and two very good Malayalam songs too. 'Orayiram Kinakkalal' had another composer (Ranjit Melappat), but Sachin sweeps the album with his song. 'Aaha' is an easy winner. With its mild electro swing feel and the peekaboo Middle Eastern sound, this MG Sreekumar-sung song is superbly catchy.
Music director: Rahul Raj
The second song in the top 10 by composer Rahul Raj. This one, from Kaly, is oh-so-Ilayaraja, with a dulcet melody and incredibly Raja'esque interludes too. Rahul's choice of singers, KS Hari Shankar and Radhika Narayanan, works wonders for him.
Music director: Rex Vijayan
The other composer going from strength to strength in Malayalam is Rex Vijayan. He had an outstanding album in Mayaanadhi. His and Neha S Nair's vocals effortlessly sweep through the pleasant synth riff in 'Uyirin Nadhiye', while Arun Suradhaa's 'Dilruba' sneaks in beautifully in the interlude. Neha, in particular, is extraordinary, breathing life into an intimate, almost conversational verse.
Music director: SushinShyam
From 2016's multi-composer albums like Ezra and Kismath, Sushin Shyam takes a giant stride as solo composer, in Maradona and Varathan. His soundscape in 'Kaadhale' is incredibly beautiful. The lead vocals by Sruthy Sasidharan enhances the music's whispery feel, while the backing vocals by Amal Antony, Neha Nair and Sushin Shyam gets the repeated chorus delightfully right.