“What the hell just happened?”. I felt like I found myself asking that a lot this past year but not so on the music front. It was a very good year for music as far as I’m concerned. There were a lot of heavily introspective and downright bleak songs but also plenty of lightweight dance tunes. It seems to reflect the emotional roller-coaster that was this year.
Here is how this list works — 100 songs, only one per artist (You don’t want Drake clogging up the charts with 6 songs. You have terrestrial radio for that!). The artist can appear on more than one track if they are a featured performer vs. the primary artist. No artist on this year’s chart is performing at Trump’s inauguration but not because I’m biased, just because literally no one is playing at Trump’s inauguration.
A few other rules and listening recommendations because anyone OCD enough to put together this list year after year has to have rules and recommendations:
1. The list is in reverse order for a reason. Scroll slowly and let the tension build. Or, better yet, listen to it in a playlist that counts down in reverse order! You can find the full playlist on Spotify here or on Rhapsody(which is now Napster, what??) here. There is only one song missing off the Spotify playlist but it’s in the top 10 so come back here and click on the underlined link for Song #5 to hear it (Unrelated message to Beyonce: please tell your husband to give up on this Tidal thing and set your music free).
2. Either the album or the single has to have been released in 2016. I use whichever is to my advantage to include a song I want in there. With so many acts now releasing a song or two of the music blogs one year and then putting out their album the next, this has become more important. I also have started letting things slide if it was released the final weeks of the previous year. Sometimes I’m slow and this lets me catch up.
3. Covers are eligible as are remixes as long as they came out this year (although this is the first year I can remember with NO covers!).
It’s that simple. Get your mandatory wireless iPhone headphones ready. And dig in.
100. Mr. Tangerine Man by Wesley Stace. The start of is likely to be the next golden age of protest music.
99. Locator by Wilco. The soundtrack to a chase scene on tricycles.
98. Steady Waves by Cross Record. The voice puts you to sleep. The guitar wakes you right back up.
97. Star Core by Marielle V Jakobsons. Official soundtrack for the Dark Side.
96. Mistakes by Lake Street Dive. The sound of closing time.
95. This Barroom Ain’t Your Church by Evening Bell. Haven’t we all wanted to say this to someone?
94. Love and Trust by Mavis Staples. Lyrics seem fitting this year.
93. Town & Country by Bibio. Smooth jams courtesy of Bibio.
92. White Flag by Joseph. Like if Haim got a little angrier.
91. Ain’t No Man by The Avett Brothers. Americana freestylin’ over a “We Will Rock You” beat
90. Angels by Chance the Rapper (feat. Saba). Is there any rapper who sounds like they’re having more fun?
89. Aural Reef by The Birds of Paradise. The soundtrack of your next VR experience.
88. No Care by Daughter. Makes me jittery in the best way.
87. Theoretical Girls by Star Parks. This year’s stand-in for Phosperescent.
86. The Holy Ghost by decker.. Working on their Elvis sneer.
85. The Wheel by PJ Harvey. Political lament as catchy ditty.
84. Out of Control by Lush. Slowly cascading back to the 90’s.
83. Never Going Back by Caveman. The Eddie Money of the 2010s.
82. 22 (Over Soon) by Bon Iver. Like a transmission from the outer limits.
81. Love Addicted by Pillowtalk. Admitting it is the first step.
80. Human Om by Tobacco. Like robots cutting sheet metal.
79. Impossible Hand by Stephen Steinbrink. Like a long, lost Zombie.
78. Dark Necessities by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Anthony Kiedis finally tamps down the obnoxiousness and just let’s the band jam.
77. Daughters by Lissie. Girl power!
76. Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl by Wet. At least she gives you a solid beat while she’s breaking up with you.
75. Human Performance by Parquet Courts. Adding echo to your voice gets ’em every time.
74. Plunder by The Felice Brothers. Verse after verse after verse…
73. Aoede by Mashrou’ Leila. I don’t understand a word but it’s hypnotic.
72. Aphasia by Pinegrove. Taking a stand against your own brain.
71. Cowards by Raleigh Ritchie. The Grey Worm from “Game of Thrones”!
70. Nobody Dies by Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. Denial at its best.
69. Sad Person by Savages. If The Cure was a girl band.
68. You and I by Margaret Glaspy. To all the clingy dudes out there.
67. Myenemy by Parcels. To help us through Chromeo’s gap year.
66. Seize The Night by Will Varley. Raise your beers.
65. La Femme by Vagues. Welcome to le machine.
64. NO CD by Loyle Carner (feat. Rebel Kleff). This is literally me.
63. Blue Boss by Sampa The Great. That riff and beat all day.
62. Best Kept Secret by case/lang/viers. 3 superstars acting like a scrappy indie band singing about Silverlake.
61. Ether by Mogwai. The big reveal in Act 3 of whatever film you’re imagining.
60. Love on the Brain by Rihanna. Rihanna sings a hell of a torch song.
59. On Hold by The xx. The xx channels the pain of trying to put together a successful conference call.
58. Gangster by PJ. Nothing makes you want to go gangster like someone forgetting to hold the cheese and onions.
57. Untitled 03 by Kendrick Lamar. I wish Kendrick had taught my college sociology class.
56. Ch-Ching by Chairlift. The “Inspector Gadget”-like riff is only a taste of the goodness to come.
55. New Song by Warpaint. Didn’t expect Warpaint to get up and hit the dance floor
54. Gamble For A Rose by King Charles. Unclear if he’s talking about The Bachelor.
53. How Can You Leave Me On My Own by The Divine Comedy. Guys: useless on their own.
52. Touch by Shura. When things get awkward.
51. Cranes In the Sky by Solange. The sound of floating on air.
50. Jesus’ Son by Placebo. Placebo has not mellowed at all with age.
49. Grand Hotel by Regina Spektor. I totally want to stay here.
48. I Need Your Light by Ra Ra Riot. Like a lost track off “Pretty In Pink”.
47. Beneath Fields by Heron Oblivion. This year’s premiere “getting ready for battle” song.
46. We Opened For Weezer by Nerf Herder. “Nerdcore heaven”, indeed.
45. Paul by Big Thief. This song creeps.
44. Shut Up Kiss Me by Angel Olsen. Angel takes things into her own hands.
43. Atta Blues by Emily Wolfe. Heavy.
42. Delores’ Boyfriend by Allen Toussaint. Meanwhile back at the saloon….
41. Along the Way by Adan & Xavi y Los Imanes. Feels like a road trip song.
40. Ramon Casiano by Drive-By Truckers. An anti-NRA screed disguised as Southern rock.
39. Hotline Bling by Drake. Drake songs get outta my head!
38. Still Breathing by Green Day. Once again behind all that punk posturing is a sweet little pop songwriter.
37. Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun by Gaelynn Lea. Makes Ireland sound like outer space.
36. Time Won’t Wait by M. Ward. Keeping the “do do do”s of rock n roll alive.
35. I Know by Shovels & Rope. It isn’t a Buczaczer Top 40 if there isn’t some Shovels & Rope.
34. As Time Was Passing By by Pional. The song that slowly gets sucked back into the “Stranger Things” soundtrack.
33. Ultralight Beam by Kanye West. Preach out your demons, Kanye.
32. Let Me Get By by Tedeschi Trucks Band. What better way to celebrate the legalization of marijuana in your state?
31. Heart is Full by Miike Snow. Sampling is still alive and well.
30. Be So Glad by Jaimeo Brown Transcendence. Free jazz on the chain gang.
29. Don’t Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers (feat. Daya). Because of the breakdown after each buildup.
28. 7 by Catfish and the Bottlemen. UK’s answer to Kings of Leon
27. Abraham by Miles Mosley. Sounds like Joe Strummer’s old band The Mescaleros.
26. You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen. The second best farewell of the year.
25. Near To The Wild Heart Of Life by Japandroids. The very sound of being alive.
24. You Don’t Get Me High Anymore by Phantogram. It’s gotta sucked getting dumped via drug metaphor.
23. Capsized by Andrew Bird. Who would’ve guessed we’d see Andrew Bird wander into Bill Withers territory?
22. Delete by DMA’s. While the Gallagher brothers stubbornly sit at home on their respective couches.
21. Eye of a Hurricane by Kyle Craft. There’s some power pop and glam in that hurricane.
20. Home by St. Lucia. Bursting with 80's-ness.
19. Burn the Witch by Radiohead. Especially if that witch believes in global warming or LGBTQ rights.
18. Go! by M83 (feat. Mai Lan). Fun with countdowns.
17. Hey, No Pressure by Ray Lamontagne. Can you dig it?
16. T5 by Swet Shop Boys. Best TSA name check of 2016.
15. Sally by Bibi Bourelly. Someone get me a jumprope.
14. Never Be Like You by Flume (feat. Kai). Makes me want to dance in slow motion.
13. Bad Decisions by Two-Door Cinema Club. Tony Manero, the floor is yours.
12. Sea Hearts by Honeyblood. Girl chanting in unison FTW.
11. Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me by Mass Gothic. Pushing all the right feel-good buttons.
10. Vincent by Car Seat Headrest. Totally indie and totally epic.
9. All I Ever Wonder by St. Paul & The Broken Bones. New genre: arena soul.
8. California Kids by Weezer. Holy shit. Good Weezer is back!
7. Black Man In A White World by Michael Kiwanuka. Truth.
6. Blackstar by David Bowie. A stunning swan song from the legend.
5. Formation by Beyonce. She warned us of her impending domination when she stole the Super Bowl. (not on Spotify)
4. These Words by The Lemon Twigs. I seriously had to double check this wasn’t Paul McCartney & Wings.
3. Put Me Thru by Anderson .Paak. On an album stuffed with gems.
2. Jesus Alone by Nick Cave. Hope, r u there? We need you.
- Your Best American Girl by Mitski. Sometimes trying your hardest to be American just doesn’t work out.
Final note, my nine year-old daughter thought I got more than a few calls wrong and decided to debut her first-ever Top 10 list. Check it out here!