2016 was quite a year. For one, I finally started this blog, something that I had wanted to do for a long time. Although it has been seen by very few people, I’m extremely glad that I took the initiative to begin writing and creating some sort of content. After graduating and having no idea what I wanted to do with my life (I still don’t), I realized that I really missed writing, even if it was for school assignments that I cared very little about. I hope to continue putting out even more content on this site in 2017 and focusing more on subjects outside of the world of music. Until then, here’s a little list I made about some of the best music released in 2016. This is obviously not a definitive list of the best songs of the year, but rather the list reflects my favorite music- these songs were the soundtrack to my year and each and every one of them had an impact on me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did (and still do).
“Friends”- Francis and the Lights ft. Bon Iver
Man, oh man, is this song good. I originally listened to it because of the features from Bon Iver and Kanye West, but have since checked out more music from Francis and the Lights, and it is quite good. For me, the recurring percussive claps really make this song, as well as the build up from a sparse sound in the verse to a much fuller sound in the chorus. The music video also makes for some great entertainment – Justin Vernon’s dancing is worth the watch alone.
“Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales”- Car Seat Head Rest
The first time I listened to Car Seat Headrest was when I watched their Tiny Desk Show performance. My first reaction was, “Who is this guy and why is his voice so weird?” This sentiment was quickly replaced and I learned to appreciate and admire their quirky indie spirit. “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” is a prime example of Car Seat Headrest’s style, showcasing their intricate and intriguing lyrics, unique vocals, and garage rock guitar. All of these elements come together in unison to form one of my favorite tracks of the year.
“Ultralight Beam”- Kanye West
Kanye West came through big time with The Life of Pablo, his highly anticipated, highly controversial album that was released (multiple times) earlier this year. When it was released, the album was met with both praise and criticism, but I for one loved it. Pablo had some short comings for sure, but these were far outnumbered by solid tracks. My favorite of these is the opening track, “Ultralight Beam,” which features appearances from a gospel choir and Chance the Rapper, who had a standout year in his own right.
“WHERE THE HELL ARE MY FRIENDS?”- LANY
Though the lyrics are sad, LANY’s “WHERE THE HELL ARE MY FRIENDS?” has all the right trappings for a summertime soundtrack, which is exactly what it became to me. This song, along with the rest of LANY’s tunes, share a distinct ‘California’ vibe that is undoubtedly influenced by the band residing there. It is a very cool sound and makes you want to go and experience the sunshine and sand for yourself.
“22 (Over Soon)”- Bon Iver
2016 was the year that Bon Iver finally graced us once again with a brand new album after a couple years on hiatus, and while 22 A Million strays from the woodsy style of his previous two albums, it is nonetheless stunning. But, how could you expect anything else? The material on the new album is much more experimental that Vernon’s previous work. It focuses much more on loops and vocal synths than guitar, and as such, it takes on a more electronic vibe. “22 (Over Soon)” was the first single to be released before the album officially dropped; it set the scene for what was to come and remains my favorite song from the project.
“Golden Days”- Whitney
The music of Whitney is like something straight out of an indie coming of age movie. The guitar has tonal qualities of Mac Demarco and the vocals are high pitched and almost whinny, but it works so damn well. One aspect of the band that really stands out to me is their use of brass instruments, which gives them a unique sound that lets them stand out from the rest of the pack. This is clearly audible in “Golden Days,” where it helps the song progress into climatic and cathartic ending.
Sure, you can criticize this song because of its immature and unintelligent nature, but at the end of the day this song is probably the most upbeat, goofy, fun song of the year and I could not make this list without including it.
“Redbone”- Childish Gambino
Gambino brings the funk on his latest album “Awaken, My Love!”, which is a complete change up from the Atlanta star’s aggressive tone on previous projects. “Redbone” still retains the dark edge and that was a distinct characteristic in the rest of Glover’s music, but this time it is smooth and refined. It took me a couple listens to appreciate this song because it was nothing at all like what I expected from the rapper, but I think I almost like this new sound better now. Stay woke.
“On Hold”- XX
My girlfriend (shoutout to Maddie) introduced me to this song and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it since. The blend of house and alt rock on this track is just unreal. “On Hold” was the first single to be released from The xx’s forthcoming album (the second single, “Say Something Loving,” was released yesterday), and it makes me so excited for the rest of the album to drop.
“Nikes”- Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean’s Blonde had been talked up so much that I didn’t think it would be possible for the album to live up to the hype it received in the media- boy was I wrong. I listened to this album more than just about any other album in 2016 and for good reason. While the album isn’t filled with chart topping hits like “Thinking ‘Bout You,” it is solid all the way through. It’s one of those albums where all of the songs seem to flow together so effortlessly that you don’t know they change. “Nikes” (and the trip video that accompanies it) was the first song to be released from the project and the one that has stuck with me the most, although it was hard to choose between this and “Nights.”
“No Problem”– Chance the Rapper
“Edge of Town”– Middle Kids
“You and I”– Maraget Glaspy
“Figures”– Jessie Reyes
“Wolves”– Kanye West ft. Sia
“Crying in the Sunshine”– Miniature Tigers
“Aftergold”– Big Wild ft. Tove Styrke
“Back Pocket”– Vulfpeck
“Suede”– NxWorries (Anderson Paak + Knxwledge)