The Top 100 Songs of 2016

Top 100 Songs of 2016

best songs of 2016 The Weeknd90. The Weeknd – “Starboy” (feat. Daft Punk)
from Starboy (Republic)

The title track from Abel Tesfaye’s newest album found collaborators Daft Punk infusing a fun-loving blend of ’80s flavored space funk into a tightly coiled pop machine. The Beauty Behind the Madness was a compelling piece of pop, so the stakes were higher for him this time. He delivers with melodies that ride the beats in the hookiest way possible and lyrics that reflect on the larger spotlight he has gained since his earliest, darkest mixtapes. This track was not only on constant repeat, but kept me abated until I got my hands on the full album. Pressing play always put a smile on my face in 2016, even in tough times. – Wil Lewellyn


best songs of 2016 Omni89. Omni – “Wire”
from Deluxe (Trouble In Mind)

I grin every time “Wire” comes on. I grin. Let’s just talk about the verses. The bass has a certain new-wave twang which is just alluring—it makes me wish they made a whole song out of it. “Wire” is cool. Omni is cool. In a way, the band reminds me of Pavement: in a sea of neurotic, introverted artists, they give off an air of extroversion which you don’t hear often;  it’s (ugh) refreshing. Extroversion is cool, I guess? Is that what I’m saying? – Ben Braunstein


Deftones Gore88. Deftones – “Doomed User”
from Gore (Reprise)

“Doomed User” combines some of the grizzled veterans’ classic material with a newly ethereal approach. Graceful aging has resulted in a clear-eyed wisdom and an enhanced dynamism in the band’s music. Chino Moreno’s vocal range is as wide as it has ever been, using his trademark ear-splitting screech and an array of clean vocals in contrasting measure. And as the band’s sound continues to be molded and shaped into a new, mature form, “Doomed User” exemplifies how great and enduring Deftones have been. – Cody Davis


Joyce Manor Cody review87. Joyce Manor – “Last You Heard Of Me”
from Cody (Epitaph)

Joyce Manor’s Cody is an album full of surprises, though this track, in particular, possesses the same vulnerability we’ve heard from them in the past. It’s the band’s signature acerbic wit, fused with an eruption of pop-punk sonic glory. The difference here from retreading familiar ground is the conventions and tropes which are warped when needed to help break new ground in a genre that, in the wrong hands, can be all too familiar. – Brian Roesler


best songs of 2016 Jlin86. Jlin – “Downtown
(Adult Swim/Williams Street)

For the past six years Adult Swim has been cultivating a smart, innovative summer program called Adult Swim Singles, which has proven to be a forward thinking, eclectic and diverse source of excellent new music. This year’s entry included tracks from Vince Staples, Jenny Hval, DJ Paypal, DΔWN and others, but the highlight was easily Jlin’s bubbly “Downtown.” Glitchy, frenetic, with an endearingly goofy “whoooo shit” sample, “Downtown” is a wonderful encapsulation of Jlin’s brand of Footwork. The immensely talented Jlin is fearless with her music, playing with the form of songs and pushing them beyond what is classically “Footwork” and into something that is wholly her own. “Downtown” hinges on a frenzied beat but just as quickly empties out, haltingly so, withholding any expected “drop” or catharsis, but rather letting the sampled voice pepper in and out, exuberant and thrilled. At the last “whooo,” you feel similarly and instantly hit repeat to do it again and again. – Jackie Im


best songs of 2016 SVIIB85. School of Seven Bells – “Ablaze”
from SVIIB (Vagrant)

School of Seven Bells recorded its latest and likely last LP SVIIB in 2012, a short time before founding member Benjamin Curtis was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma. He died in December 2013. It took a few years to complete, but eventually sole remaining member Alejandra Deheza finished the album with an assist from producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, M83). After a slow fade in, “Ablaze” is alight with the New York duo’s signature propulsive mix of electro beats, synths and guitars. There’s growing optimism in the song, which holds out hope that someone can find a spark of love in a heart that is nearly ashen. (“You found a glowing ember/ And set my world/ Into a blaze again.”). With a showing this strong, here’s to hoping Deheza has some future music in the works. – Stephen Chupaska


best songs of 2016 Bat for Lashes84. Bat for Lashes – “In God’s House”
from The Bride (Parlophone)

The title figure in Natasha Khan’s concept-driven narrative album, The Bride, ironically never gets the opportunity to become a wife. Her betrothed is killed in a car accident on the day of their wedding, leaving her widowed before she ever gets the chance to say “I do.” “In God’s House” is a snapshot of the moment after impact, the empty space next to The Bride in front of the altar a specter of what could have been and never will be. And what it could have been was awfully maudlin and melodramatic in a lesser artist’s hands. Khan’s too interesting a songwriter to go that route; instead, she drapes the song in Tim Burton’s eerie whimsy and David Lynch’s unsettling surrealism. Strewn with twinkling keyboards and an ominous, gothic bassline, “In God’s House” isn’t a mourning. It’s a haunting. – Jeff Terich


Nicolas Jaar Sirens83. Nicolas Jaar – “Three Sides of Nazareth”
from Sirens (Other People)

Nicolas Jaar does his best work in the more murky and atmospheric corners of the electronic music scene. Sirens, the latest album under his own name, stands among his darkest, occasionally veering into ambient abstraction and earsplitting noise. “Three Sides of Nazareth,” however, despite its nine-minute length, hews closer to a conventional structure, with a steady backbeat and driving four-note hook in the bassline and main riff that resembles Joy Division more than say, Jaar’s dark electronic peers like Matthew Dear and Andy Stott. Fuzzy synth tones and bursts of distortion round out the song’s palette as Jaar sings in his haunting baritone of finding “broken friends by the side of the road.” Total catnip for those with a taste for electronic music that cuts deeper and darker than the average banger. – Liam Green


Nap Eyes Thought Rock Fish Scale82. Nap Eyes – “Lion In Chains”
from Thought Rock Fish Scale (Paradise of Bachelors)

Nap Eyes’ newest album, Thought Rock Fish Scale, saw the band dial down their tempo, preferring instead to spend more time at a lower BPM. This paradigm shift is best typified by the languid, dulcet “Lion in Chains.” The track focuses on the desire to glance back at our former lives, becoming a both a bridge from today to our past and a sub-seven-minute study on life’s minutiae that forms the basic building blocks of our identity. Find yourself a comfortable lounge chair, steep some Earl Grey, and ruminate on who you were one year ago. – Chris Willis


Descendents Hypercaffium Spazzinate81. Descendents – “On Paper”
from Hypercaffium Spazzinate (Epitaph)

Sometimes you have to prove that you can just absolutely kick fucking ass as a punk band after going hard at it for nearly 40 years. With age comes grace, dignity, and the ability to write an old fashioned, three-chord, ear-throttling jam. One of the best tracks they’ve written in years and a testament to their talent. – Brian Roesler

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