Considering 2016 ends in less than a week, there is not much time for a preamble or song by song analysis for this year’s top tracks of 2016. As part of my debt, I’ll offer and additional 10 songs to you, for a grand total of 70 of my favorite songs of the year. As always, the rules require the song (or album) to be released in 2016 (or the last few weeks of 2015) and covers or remixes do not count. The rankings are a bit arbitrary (the top 10 changed as many times as the Steelers vs. Ravens lead on Christmas Day), but offer a reflection in time that is like my own audio scrapbook.
The top 10 is telling of the time in that is expresses how many huge albums dropped in 2016 (more on that later this week). Frank Ocean, Kanye, Beyonce, and Solange have all made appearances on past year end lists and all had quality albums to match. However, I loved new entries from hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest (also my favorite late night tv performance of the year), as well as strong tracks from guitar-wielding indie acts (Angel Olsen, Haley Bonar, Margaret Glaspy, Car Seat Headrest) and a rising singer-songwriter with a Jack White co-sign (Margo Price).
Elsewhere on the list, you’ll notice many 2016 Wayhome Music Festival artists (Glass Animals, Marian Hill, AlunaGeorge, Major Lazer, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, White Denim) made the cut, which further proves what a hidden gem the sophomore year in Oro-Medonte was. Some may scoff at the pop track appearances of what I called the “summer tri-fecta” of Major Lazer’s “Cold Water”, The Chainsmokers’ “Closer”, and Kungs’ “This Girl”. However, I will always admire the way a pop song can unite so many people on a dance-floor, and these 3 cuts did that so many times last summer. It seemed only fitting to rank them in the order of “plays” based on my own listening.
My biggest surprise of the year was to see the overwhelming amount of influential hip-hop and R&B released that easily bested 2015’s output. Kendrick’s “leftover” batch of tracks wasn’t quite To Pimp A Butterfly, but it made me think hard about how many songs of his I should put on the list. Kendrick’s funk was “within” Childish Gambino on “Redbone” and helped soulful singer Anderson .Paak’s rise as well. The sisters Knowles easily garnered 2 entries with evolution well-past their pop days, while Chance the Rapper seemed to be everywhere, and was a welcome break from much of the low BPM hip-hop hypnotically circling much of the genre. Lastly, Kaytranada had his biggest year yet with a genre-fusing album that managed to best his remix work that I hold in such high regard.
Its only right to profile my current favorite of 2016 and Bon Iver made high marks on my list once again (#3 in 2011, #1 in 2009 and #1 in 2007). Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam” was a strong contender (and had similar religious themes), but Mr. Vernon managed to update his own formula with haunting vocals and backing that fluttered between indie folk and electronic. The vague lyrics could point to a number of things (depression, religious doubt, heartbreak, etc.), but the words of pain and confusion rose and fall with the instrumental that was well worth multiple listens.
1. Bon Iver-666
2. Kanye West-Ultralight Beam feat. Chance the Rapper, Kelly Price & Kirk Franklin
3. Angel Olsen-Shut Up Kiss Me
4. Frank Ocean-Pink + White
5. A Tribe Called Quest-We The People…
7. Car Seat Headrest-Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales
8. Margo Price-Hands of Time
9. Solange-Cranes In The Sky
10. Haley Bonar-Hometown
11. Margaret Glaspy-You and I
12. Drive-By Truckers-What It Means
13. Childish Gambino-Redbone
14. Kendrick Lamar-untitled 08|09.06.2014.
15. Kanye West-Real Friends feat. Ty Dolla $ign
16. Rihanna-Work feat. Drake
17. James Blake-I Need A Forest Fire feat. Bon Iver
18. Father John Misty-Real Love Baby
19. Anderson .Paak-Put Me Thru
20. Kevin Morby-I Have Been To The Mountain
21. Whitney-No Woman
22. Moses Sumney-Worth It
23. A Tribe Called Quest-The Space Program
24. Blood Orange-Best To You
25. Chance the Rapper-No Problem feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
26. Drake-One Dance feat. Wizkid & Kyla
27. The xx-On Hold
28. Kaytranada-Together feat. AlunaGeorge & Goldlink
29. Marian Hill-I Want You
30. Glass Animals-Life Itself
31. Major Lazer-Cold Water feat. Justin Bieber and M0
32. The Chainsmokers-Closer feat. Halsey
33. Kungs-This Girl (Kungs Vs. Cookin’ On 3 Burners)
34. Phantogram-You Don’t Get Me High Anymore
35. Unknown Mortal Orchestra-First World Problem
36. St. Paul & The Broken Bones-All I Ever Wonder
37. Bon Iver-33 God
38. Frank Ocean-Ivy
39. DJ Snake-Middle feat. Bipolar Sunshine
40. Rae Sremmurd-Black Beatles
41. Kanye West-Famous feat. Swizz Beatz
43. White Denim-Had 2 Know (Personal)
44. Kendrick Lamar-untitled 03|05.28.2013.
45. Beyonce-Hold Up
46. Tegan & Sara-Boyfriend
47. GoldLink-Fall In Love feat. Ciscero
48. Miniature Tigers-Pictures of You
49. AlunaGeorge-Mean What I Mean
50. Local Natives-Masters
51. M83-Go! feat. Mai Lan
52. Frankie Cosmos-Sinister
53. Rationale-Something For Nothing
54. Chance The Rapper-Angels feat. Saba
55. Whitney-Golden Days
56. James Blake-Love Me In Whatever Way
57. Kaytranada-Lite Spots
59. Solange-Don’t Touch My Hair feat. Sampha
60. Vince Staples-Prima Donna feat. A$AP Rocky
61. Whilk & Misky-All By Myself
62. Anderson .Paak-Celebrate
63. Japandroids-Near To The Wild Heart Of Life
64. Krrum-Evil Twin
66. DJ Shadow-Nobody Speak feat. Run The Jewels
67. The Weeknd-I Feel It Coming feat. Daft Punk
68. Fat Joe & Remy Ma-All The Way Up remix feat. Jay-Z, French Montana, & Infared
69. Mura Masa-What If I Go?
70. Lizzo-Good As Hell
Look for my top remixes of 2016 coming real soon!