The Top 100 Songs of 2016

7 Jan


*Note: This is not a true top 100 because I tried to limit each artist/band to, at the very most, 3 songs. There is no rhyme or reason as to why some get 2, some get 1, and a select few get 3. Variety was my ultimate goal here.

100. Lucius – “Almost Makes Me Wish For Rain” – Was trying to decide between this and “Black Beatles” for the #100 spot, but “Black Beatles” lost because Rae Sremmurd is a stupid name. Just spell it in the right direction.

99. Julia Jacklin – “Pool Party”

98. YG – “Still Brazy”

97. PUP – “DVP”

96. Lydia Loveless – “Same To You”

95. Hiss Golden Messenger – “Heart Like A Levee”

94. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “Gamma Knife”

93. Margaret Glaspy – “You and I”

92. The Lumineers – “Sleep On the Floor”

91. Rihanna – “Love On the Brain”

90. Auli’i Cravalho – “How Far I’ll Go”

89. Danny Brown feat. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt – “Really Doe”

88. Damien Jurado – “Exit 353”

87. Ariana Grande – “Dangerous Woman”


86. Mogwai – “Ether” – Give post-rock a listen. It allows you to get swept up in the instrumentals and the ambience created, and it’s fantastic.

85. case/lang/veirs – “Blue Fires”

84. Flume feat. Kai – “Never Be Like You”

83. Tom Odell – “Silhouette”

82. Nicolas Jaar – “No” – Getting some house representation on here.

81. Band of Horses – “Barrel House”

80. Max Richter – “On Reflection” – You know that tear-jerker song from Arrival? Like the music in The Leftovers? Yeah, that was this guy.


79. Clams Casino feat. Vince Staples – “All Nite”

78. Vince Staples feat. Kilo Kish – “Loco” – Vince is going to have a .Paak-like takeover of the hip hop world soon.

77. Kaleo – “All the Pretty Girls”

76. DJ Shadow feat. Run the Jewels – “Nobody Speak” – That Trump line.

75. Tegan and Sara – “Faint of Heart”

74. Sia – “Waving Goodbye”

73. Lake Street Dive – “Call Off Your Dogs”

72. KAYTRANADA feat. Craig David – “GOT IT GOOD”


71. The Hotelier – “Two Deliverances”

70. The 1975 – “Somebody Else”

69. Emma Pollock – “Cannot Keep a Secret”

68. Kendrick Lamar – “untitled 08 | 09.06.2014.”

67. Lambchop – “NIIV” – Don’t really know what exactly this is, but it reminds me of Bon Iver’s new sound.

66. Glass Animals – “Pork Soda” – PINEAPPLES ARE IN MY HEAD

65. Blood Orange feat. Nelly Furtado – “Hadron Collider” – Most would probably go with “Best To You”, but I prefer this one. It still features a killer beat, as well as beautiful vocals (from someone we haven’t heard from in a while!).

64. The Avalanches – “Because I’m Me”

63. Big Thief – “Masterpiece”

62. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam – “In a Black Out”

61. Japanese Breakfast – “Everybody Wants to Love You”

60. Childish Gambino – “Me and Your Mama”

59. Anderson .Paak feat. Talib Kweli and Timan Family Choir – “The Dreamer”


58. Solange – “Cranes in the Sky”

57. Kyle Morton – “Water Torture”

56. Leonard Cohen – “Treaty”

55. Jon Bellion – “Maybe IDK” – I haven’t any Bellion fans whose favorite song off The Human Condition is this one. However, it was the first song of his that I heard, and it remains my favorite to this day. An inspirational song about faith and uncertainty.

54. Eluvium – “Strangeworks”

53. Francis and the Lights feat. Bon Iver – “Friends”

52. Mitski – “Fireworks”

51. Modern Baseball – “Wedding Singer”

50. Michael Kiwanuka – “Love & Hate” – Mellow and mesmerizing.


49. The Lonely Island – “Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)” – I want this to be performed at the Oscars.

48. Keaton Henson – “Alright”

47. Father John Misty – “Real Love Baby”

46. Whitney – “Polly”

45. ANOHNI – “4 Degrees”- A captivating song about global warming that feels very urgent.

44. Emma Stone – “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – When you let Emma Stone belt it, good things happen.


43. A Tribe Called Quest – “We The People…” – A song that perfectly captures the political state of our country at the moment.

42. James Vincent McMorrow – “Get Low” – The R&B influence on his production is very prevalent in his new album, and it’s a nice complement for his voice.

41. Lucy Dacus – “Map On A Wall”

40. Weezer – “L.A. Girlz”

39. Beyonce feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Freedom”

38. Animal Collective – “Golden Gal” – The bass in this song is to die for.

37. Chance the Rapper feat. Ty Dolla Sign, Anderson .Paak, BJ The Chicago Kid, and Raury – “Blessings” – Not a popular pick for the best off of Chance’s album, but there’s something so refreshing about the hook and its simplicity and the way its repetition closes out the album. A perfect ending track, in my opinion.

36. Moonface and Siinai – “The Nightclub Artiste”

35. Pinegrove – “Aphasia”

34. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Higher” – Shoutout to “Store” for being the hidden gem of the album (“I’m just going to the store” is one of the most deceptively brilliant musical moments of the year). However, “Higher” is such an addicting track, and it was the one that stood out the most to me on first listen.

33. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam – “A 1000 Times” – For those of you who don’t know, Leithauser was the lead singer of The Walkmen, and Rostam was of Vampire Weekend fame. They’re a perfect pairing. I normally don’t like singers yelling their songs, but it works wonderfully here.

32. Joyce Manor – “Stairs”

31. Sturgill Simpson – “Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)” – Hate country? Shut up and listen to this. This guy is a country singer not bound by any country music confines, and he produces incredible music. The transition midway through this is a thing of beauty.

30. Conor Oberst – “Tachycardia” – A simple, stripped-down three and a half minutes. Dark but pretty.


29. Regina Spektor – “Older and Taller” – Love her. This is such a sweet song about aging and mortality and appreciating the life you have, not to mention it’s super catchy.

28. Run the Jewels – “Call Ticketron” – “Banger” is not in my vocabulary, but this is a certified banger.

27. Ryan Gosling – “City of Stars”

26. Andrew Bird feat. Fiona Apple – “Left Handed Kisses”

25. Childish Gambino – “Redbone” – Donald Glover does Kevin Parker.

24. Car Seat Headrest – “The Ballad of the Costa Concordia” – This is an 11 1/2 minute long epic. Anything I say about this song can’t compare to this analysis:

23. Big Thief – “Paul” – Beautiful melancholy.

22. Eric Bachmann – “Mercy” – “But don’t you dare believe them / When they try to tell you everything / Happens for a reason / Because it doesn’t mean a goddamn thing.” A sweeping, doo-wop influenced song about inclusion.

21. Run the Jewels feat. BOOTS – “2100” – Love over hate. Unity over division. The fear and distrust and exploitation that permeates our society. Fitting this was released the day after the election. What a response.

20. Solange feat. Lil Wayne – “Mad” – The build up of “Where’d your love go?” Gorgeous. Also, Wayne’s verse is surprisingly personal and hard-hitting.

19. Glass Animals – “Mama’s Gun” – Such a unique sound. The last minute of this song is incredible.

18. Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop, “Valley Clouds” – Iron & Wine = harmony heaven.

17. Radiohead – “Daydreaming” – Stunning dreamlike music. The best off the album and one of Radiohead’s best.

16. Deakin – “Golden Chords” – The album overall is about transformation, about starting anew (hence perhaps the title “Sleep Cycle”). What a way to kick it off.

15. Danny Brown – “Ain’t It Funny” – This track does not let up. The production is absolutely insane.

14. Pinegrove – “Old Friends” – Talk to people and value that communication.

13. Ramin Djawadi – “Light of the Seven” – Composition at its finest. The way it builds up is fascinating, the interplay of instruments eventually leading to the “epic voices” and variations on the title theme.

12. James Blake feat. Bon Iver – “I Need A Forest Fire” – Dream collaboration fulfilled.

11. Angel Olsen – “Sister” – Very Stevie Nicks-like. The last few minutes of the song are chilling.

10. David Bowie – “Lazarus” – Death becomes musical expression.

9. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds feat. Else Torp – “Distant Sky” – Any of the last three songs from the album would work here, but this is, in my opinion, the highpoint of “Skeleton Tree”. Torp’s vocals are breathtaking, and Cave’s son’s death is clearly at the forefront of this heart-wrenching song. “Soon the children will be rising / This is not for our eyes”.

8. Emma Stone, Callie Hernandez, Jessica Rothe, and Sonoy Mizuno – “Someone In the Crowd” – A joyous ride of a song. The second half in particular is flawless, with the interlude of sorts from Stone followed by the theme slowly building back up again.

7. Mitski – “Your Best American Girl” – Wow. The guitar. The voice. The explosive chorus.

6. Car Seat Headrest – “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” – This is CSH’s ultimate anthem, a work of art that leads off with some of the best verses they’ve written and later switches gears in the middle. Probably my favorite in-song transition of the year.

5. Anderson .Paak – “Come Down” – If I’m introducing Anderson .Paak to someone, I’m leading off with this song. It’s the party song of the year, an infectious beat combined with a killer vocal performance and an ability to garner mainstream attention. It’s the encapsulation of catchy.

4. Bon Iver – “8 (Circle)” – My favorite song off the album right off the bat, and this is from someone who was initially taken aback by the new sound. It has a big chorus, but it’s simultaneously a calming experience to listen to it. Also, in terms of lyrics: Vernon is more about the mood created than the specific meaning behind the lyrics, so if his words sound like gibberish next to each other, that’s not a shocker.

No video due to copyright

3. Frank Ocean – “Self Control” – Frank Ocean is such a raw and emotive vocalist, and it’s amazing to listen to. The best track off “Blond”, this tackles a past relationship of his and strikes at the aching longing that accompanies two people moving on from each other. The outro is staggering in its beauty. “I, I, I / Know you gotta leave, leave, leave / Take down some summertime / Give up, just tonight, night, night”

2. Kanye West feat. Chance the Rapper, Kirk Franklin, Kelly Price, and The-Dream – “Ultralight Beam” – One of Kanye’s best, and one of the best of the year. A religious, Gospel-infused masterpiece that moves through its various segments smoothly. Chance’s verse is fire, and Kelly Price sings her heart out.

1. Whitney – “Golden Days” – This was my #2 for a while, but I ultimately decided that I love this song more than I love “Ultralight Beam” (also, everyone’s heard that song, whereas everyone needs to check out this one). There’s something so effortless and free about this track, its horns and crisp instrumentation laced with nostalgia. “Those golden days keep you hanging on,” Julien Ehrlich sings, and it’s a message that resonates deeply. This is summer. This is love. This is memory. This is that beautiful, unforgettable moment you shared as the sun set behind you, a song just like this blaring all around you as you longed for the day to keep on going. A flawless four minutes, and SOTY. 2:27 – best moment.

*Shoutout to Lapsley’s “Station”, which was a single released in 2014 but was part of a 2016 album. I eliminatede it from contention, but it would’ve easily been in the top 20.

Photo credit: Paste Magazine

2 Responses to “The Top 100 Songs of 2016”

  1. Jay January 7, 2017 at 5:27 pm #

    Epic list!!

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