2016 was a lot of things. Depending on who you are it was a very good year, full of happiness and growth. Alternatively… it may very well have been a terrible year marred by unwelcome imbalance and impending doom. Oh and anywhere in between, of course. Regardless of where you fall on the scale, I do believe we can all agree on one thing: It was a good year for music. I’ve compiled a list of the 20 songs released in 2016 that I feel are a good example of the vastness and diversity of the great music being produced in this day and age. My favorite songs of the year? Yes, my favorite. But I bet there is something here for you no matter what kind of music you like. This is in no particular order and the only requirement is that the single or album it was part of was released this year. I’ll limit myself to a sentence or two about each song.
1. 1000 Times by Hamilton Leithauser & Rostam
Produced by Rostam Batmanglij
I cheated, what can I say, this is my actual favorite song of the year. Hence the #1 spot. A perfect mix of a heart warming love tale buckled to the end of Leithauser’s raspy howls.
2. A Million Reasons by Lady Gaga
She’s outdone herself with the album Joanne and this song stands out. Showing growth in songwriting and appealing to an older audience.
3. Spit Out The Bone by Metallica
Producer: Greg Fidelman
This is just what the doctor ordered. The pacey drums and blistering riffs hint that Metallica is at the top of their game.
4. PillowTalk by Zayn
Album: Mind Of Mine
Producer: Levi Lennox
This song debuted at #1 virtually EVERYWHERE in the world, breaking records while he was at it. Fucking in, fighting on.
5. Hearts/Wires by Deftones
Producer: Matt Hyde
These guys are my favorite band and this album was a return to form in my eyes. This song brings your focus from melodic trance to dual roarings: Guitars and Chino.
6. The Numbers by Radiohead
Album: A Moon Shaped Pool
Producer: Nigel Godrich
Not much has to be said about who I think is the best band in the world. Radiohead numbs everything and this song has a nineties Radiohead feel to it. Elusive bastards.
7. We The People by A Tribe Called Quest
I didn’t like this song from jump street… but it grew on me, you can’t argue with this beat.
8. New Song by Warpaint
Album: Heads Up
Producer: Jacob Bercovici
All girl rock alt-rock band makes a pop song. And they are gorgeous. Try to sit still to this one.
9. Me Too by Meghan Trainor
Album: Thank You
Producer: Ricky Reed
Only two possible questions: Do I include this song? Or How can I not include this song? Super catchy and…super catchy.
Producer: Ryan DeRobertis
Only song to be released in 2016 by for this guy (formerly Saint Pepsi). Do you know the sample? OK, it’s Aretha Franklin’s Wonderful
11. Loud(y) by Lewis Del Mar
Album: Lewis Del Mar
Producer: Max Harwood
Local heroes hailing from Rock Rock Rockaway Beach. How do I not know someone who knows them? Opening line on this song says it all “Can you please sit the fuck down”
12. Easier by Mansionair
Three dudes from Sydney just making music to chill out to. Lyrics really hit home, does it get easier? Will I figure it out?
13. Perfect Illusion by Lady Gaga (Second time on the list, remember that come Grammy time)
Perfect pop song. Queens of the Stoneage front-man taking on some guitar duties with super producer Mark Ronson. Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker on drums. The album also boasts Beck and Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine. Lady Gaga could have four songs on this list.
14. Gardenia by Iggy Pop feat. Josh Homme
Album: Post Pop Depression
Producer: Josh Homme
QOTSA frontman popping up AGAIN. This is a haunting melody that you should not miss. Iggy is an icon for sure.
15. Brazil by Declan McKenna (single released in 2015, EP in 2016. Got airplay in the USA only in 2016 so we’ll count it)
Album: Liar EP
Producer: Declan McKenna
17 years old. Can’t say enough about his still developing talent. This is a gem of a song.
16. Everything You’ve Come To Expect by The Last Shadow Puppets
Producer: James Ford
Arctic Monkeys front-man Alex Turner is back at it again with Miles Kane, one of my favorite solo artists. Beautiful depth to this song, tongue twisting lyrics and did you see the dang video??
17. Everybody Dies by J. Cole
Producer: J. Cole
Watch out, J. Cole is taking names. A modern dis track that has a better beat than 98% of rap out there. Oh, you recognize that sample? Minnie Ripperton Inside My Love… you probably heard it on A Tribe Called Quest’s Lyrics To Go.
18. Magnificent (She Says) by Elbow
Album: Litte Fictions (2017)
Producer: Craig Potter
You’ll have to wait a bit for the album but this brilliant single will hold you over. Elbow have been around for 20 years so if you haven’t heard of them you need to rethink your music taste.
19. Blackstar by David Bowie
Producer: Tony Visconti
Clocking in at 10 minutes, this song is a trip that opens up a can of whoop ass at the halfway mark. RIP
20.7 Years by Lukas Graham
Album: Blue Album (April 2016 USA release)
Producers: Future Animals
This song makes me wanna tear up. Not admitting if I actually do. But if a song makes you feel that much it’s a good one.
Listen, you are probably complaining. I don’t care, It took over 4 hours to put this together because I kept listening to all this dang music. Pretty impossible to narrow things down so there are some songs missing for sure. So who is missing? What song should not be on this list? That’s it for now. Keep the needle on the record.