DISCLAIMER: BEFORE YOU CONTINUE READING, PLEASE READ THE WORST SONGS OF 2016 LIST FIRST. IF YOU ALREADY HAVE, IGNORE THIS DISCLAIMER AND CONTINUE ON READING.
Wat izz life? Life is meaningless. *hiccups* Dammit, anotha empty bottle.
Ehh? Sammel Jackson, what a u doen? Leef me alone ta die.
Ur not ma daddee. U cant make mee.
… God, I feel like shit. Sam, what happened to me?
Really? It was that bad?
Oh, yeah. The United States of America turning into the United States of Trump. We’re doomed.
What do you mean?
You just quoted Friday. What does this have to do with politics?
Now that you put it, I actually feel a bit better about the upcoming years. Thanks, Samuel Jackson.
If you’re tired of hearing me (and other people) complain about how awful 2016 was, well, this post is for you. In spite of what I said, there has been good-to-great moments in 2016, in terms of movies, TV, sports, etc., and if you look outside the mainstream and the charts, there’s been some amazing music to come out this year (that, I’ll talk more about in next month’s first post). But this post is about the hits and are there good songs that made 2016’s Year End chart? Of course. Let’s talk about them right now with the Best Songs of 2016. Before we continue, let’s quickly go through some honorable mentions, shall we?
Even though I’m a bit bitter that a song like Fairly Local wasn’t pushed as a hit, I’m still happy that Twenty One Pilots have hits under their belts. And I’m not gonna apologize for liking Ride, with its punchy semi-reggae instrumentation that’s just fun to listen to and Tyler Joseph putting on a hell of a performance even with a phony Jamaican accent. He’s just riding things out in spite of the insecurities that he carries within himself and none of that is more evident of that than in the chorus, which is just an explosion of greatness. Ride isn’t exactly Twenty One Pilots’ best song, but it’s pretty awesome.
I’m just as surprised as you that I decided to mention this song. But if you’re forgiving of how basic the song is on every level and if you can ignore Lil Yachty’s awful verse, this song ain’t half-bad. An uptempo sunny beat anchored by a simple piano loop and D.R.A.M.’s presence and charm makes Broccoli an enjoyable listen. It’s not a great song and it’s not the best song from D.R.A.M., but it’s sort of a breath of fresh air from the depressing shit that the charts provided us.
Out of all of the modern pop stars out today, Ariana Grande is one of the few who has been consistent at releasing hits that are decent at worst. The self-titled track from her third studio album Dangerous Woman shows her growth as an artist. It does go into the whole sexy route, but it’s a lot more tasteful than, say, Selena Gomez. The rocking guitars combined with mid-tempo gives this song more of an edge and Grande knocks it out of the park vocally. Keep up the quality songs, girl.
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. A Meghan Trainor song is an honorable mention. This song will remain the best thing Meghan Trainor has ever done musically. It’s an acoustic guitar ballad that stands out from the doo-wop of Title. A big plus for the song is that it’s not pushing a toxic narrative. Yeah, the lyrics are a bit clingy, but they’re okay. John Legend is easily the best part of the song as he outdoes Meghan vocally. I wasn’t gonna put this song on the list, but considering the limited options I had, I don’t see why not.
You guys have no idea how excited I was when I heard that The Weeknd is working with Daft Punk for a song. It was a collaboration that made sense and it resulted in this masterpiece, Starboy. Daft Punk provides us a bass-heavy beat with an understated piano and synths, blending their style with The Weeknd’s for a song trolling everyone with his instant rise to fame. Great song overall and it’s WAY overdue to being a number one hit.
This should not have worked at all. A collaboration between four rappers and two bands should’ve resulted in a clusterfuck of a song. But surprisingly, Sucker For Pain is a legitimately good song. For one, Imagine Dragons and X Ambassadors have been given the hook and bridge to work with while the production is simpler with its bluesy organ. Lil Wayne provides one of the best verses of his entire career, touching upon his near-death experiences. Logic brings out a dope verse as well while Wiz Khalifa & Ty Dolla $ign were passable. Not the best song made for a movie, but I don’t mind this.
2016 was full of surprises and this is one of them. I initially cringed at the idea of Fat Joe and Remy Ma collaborating again because of Lean Back flashbacks. But All The Way Up is a damn blast to listen to. The beat combined with the horns slap like a motherfucker. Ignoring the wild French Montana that makes an appearance, the verses in this song are really solid and have some of the best rapping from both Fat Joe and Remy Ma. Remy Ma, especially, has the best verse and I’d take her over Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, or Young M.A. So, yeah. I like this song.
Last year, Coldplay released what would be their final album as a band in A Head Full Of Dreams, which was an okay record, but not their best. I really do like the big singles off of that album like Adventure Of A Lifetime. This is one of the more upbeat songs from Coldplay, working in funk and disco elements in its bass and drum patterns. Not Coldplay’s best song, but I enjoy it a lot.
Now onto the list itself.
For number 10, it’s time to talk about Coldplay… again.
Hymn For The Weekend is one of my favorite songs off of A Head Full Of Dreams. I like this instrumentation: the uplifting piano mixes well with the other-worldly percussion and 808 bass. It’s a great example of Coldplay once again fusing genres to make something special. The vocals are also pretty good, it’s one of Chris Martin’s best performances in a while. Still, he gets outshined by Beyonce, who has uncredited vocals in the song. I wished that she had more to do besides background vocals, but I’ll take what I can get. Great song regardless.
There were a couple of songs this year that had to grow on me, including the number 9 song.
I initially wasn’t feeling this song for a while because to me, it felt like a rejected Rihanna song. But upon further listen, there is some merit to Cheap Thrills. For what it is, it’s pretty solid. The song is simply just about having fun and it works really efficiently thanks to the production, which has a more bouncy tropical reggae feel. In 2016, that is needed. Being that this was originally written for Rihanna, Sia does sound a bit like her, but she brings enough of her own unique flavor to where it can be forgiven. Making the song ten times better is Sean Paul, who brings a lot of energy to this track. Thank goodness I changed my mind on this song.
Here’s another song that had to grow on me, the number 8 song. This is pretty much the only good song that this duo has ever done. Of course, I’m talking about The Chainsmokers.
To go from #SELFIE to this is pretty jarring because while #SELFIE is a gigantic pile of shit, Roses is really good. Nothing on mainstream radio sounds like this song, which makes it a unique hit. The production is very messy in a good way. It starts off simple and atmospheric, but then it builds up to a very unique drop that switches up the synths and vocal samples every now and then. There’s not much repetition, every moment of this song is something different. This is part of what makes great EDM, creating something new and unique. Also pretty good is ROZES, who provides vocals. If The Chainsmokers weren’t focused on picking up chicks with bland, flavorless EDM catered for fraternities, we’d get more Roses and less All We Know. Damn shame.
Number 7 comes from a new face who I’m looking forward to seeing how she progresses in her future. Ladies and gentlemen, Zara Larsson.
Yeah, this no Lush Life, but Never Forget You is pretty good, too. If this is the song that introduces Zara Larsson to American audiences, then it’s a good first impression. Both Zara and MNEK have great chemistry with each other as they sing about a relationship coming to an end and they both capture the complicated feelings and emotions both partners experience. The production is also pretty solid, anchored on a great melodic piano with some house influences. My only gripe is that the drop is a bit weak and could’ve used more texture. But everything else in the song is good enough to make up for it. Great song overall.
Number 6 is a leftover from 2015 and it was a song that I was holding onto for 2016 because of its chances at charting higher. I’m glad I did that.
For those not in the know, this is Alessia Cara, a 20 year old Canadian singer who broke out last year with Here, the modern theme song for introverts. It’s about being bored at a party that you didn’t want to go to, but had to because of your friends. Now some might be turned off by this and call it pretentious (which is why some people didn’t like the song), especially with a line like this:
But honestly I’d rather be
Somewhere with my people we can kick it and just listen
To some music with the message like we usually do
I can see why some people are bothered by this, but for me, there’s enough detail in the writing where it shows that Alessia isn’t being a holier-than-thou hipster bitch. In this party, she’s disinterested in her surroundings and just wants to chill somewhere at a corner. Plus, Alessia is a pretty good singer with a great flow in this song and the smoky R&B production is awesome. I just wish that Alessia could make more great songs like Here because it’s needed.
Look who else makes another appearance, Ariana Grande, who has the number 5 best song of the year.
Ladies and gentlemen, the best song off of Dangerous Woman. Into You is another example of a modern pop masterpiece. The production kicks a lot of ass, it’s upbeat, energetic, and guaranteed to get you moving in the same vein as Love Me Harder. Ariana Grande puts on one of the best vocal performances in her entire career, working in every note that she can pull off and being able to pull of sensuality. One thing you can’t say about her is that she can’t belt. Damn good song and I’m looking forward to more Ariana Grande in the future.
Number 4 is a comeback from one of the most unlikely artists ever. If I were to tell you a few years ago that this relic from 2010 would not only make a comeback, but make one of the best songs of the year, you’d probably throw me into a padded room with a straitjacket on. Well, here we are. Mike Posner.
Remember what I said about 2016 being full of surprises? Well, no artist this year epitomizes that more than Mike Posner, who wrote I Took A Pill In Ibiza, a HUGE departure from his previous material and it’s for the best. ITAPII tells the story of Mike Posner’s music career and its ups and downs. It’s a depressing song, but it’s intentional since the story within the song is sad and Mike’s sadness is very convincing in this song. There’s two versions of this song: the original folky-acoustic guitar ballad and the one that most people are familiar with, the SeeB remix. The SeeB remix ended up being the big hit over the original and it mirrors OutKast’s Hey Ya in its upbeat tropical house production contrasting the content. If this is the type of music that Mike Posner wanted to make, then I’m down with it.
You didn’t think I was gonna make a Best Songs list and forget about Adele, did you? Here she is at number 3.
At this point, I’ve said everything that needed to be said about Adele and 25. While Hello is an amazing track, When We Were Young is a pretty damn good follow-up. Hell, I’d say it’s better. In this song, Adele is chatting with an old friend that she hasn’t seen in years, reminiscing on all of the times and memories of when they were younger. It’s like a high school reunion in song form. The instrumentation reminds me of something Elton John would’ve made, the somber piano-driven number that’s perfect for singer-songwriters in the 70s with a liquid swell that builds to a gospel finish that gives the song more emotional weight. What can I say? Adele is just the best.
Number 2 is probably one of the best songs that this artist has ever done. It’s The Weeknd.
If I ever did a list of the best songs from The Weeknd, In The Night would easily be Top 3 because it is that awesome. It’s a much better version of Can’t Feel My Face in terms of its production. It’s a damn-near perfect recreation of a Michael Jackson song in the 80s, the same could be said about The Weeknd’s vocals, which share an MJ vibe. In spite of its uptempo production, the content is much darker, revolving around a woman who survived sexual assault as a child, leading her life down to a life of self-destruction. Apparently, the song was inspired by Marilyn Monroe, who went through that exact experience. Yeesh. Still, this song is awesome and is another example of The Weeknd’s greatness.
And now we’ve reached number one. Now in order for you to understand why I chose this particular song to be my number one, I have to reveal some personal things about myself and how it relates to this song. So, I’m just gonna get to the point with no drum roll: my pick for the number one best hit song of 2016 is Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots.
Let me get the analysis out the way: the simple production is pretty damn good, mixing hip-hop, alternative, and pop together seamlessly, and the writing works as Tyler Joseph expresses nostalgia for a time when life was simpler A.K.A childhood. And this is the main reason why I chose this song to be number one, because out of all of the songs to become hits this year, this is the one that I relate to the most. At the time of this post, I’m a 22 year old in my third year of attending college. Everyday, I’m thinking about my future: getting a job, make enough money to get my own place, put food on the table, and pay bills, all of the stuff that’s necessary to survive as an adult. The reason why I complain about 2016 is not just because of politics or bad music, but because of what I’ve been through in my personal life. I’ve never told anyone this before because I don’t like talking about myself, but here it is: I have been struggling with anxiety since middle school. Coming from a neighborhood surrounded by gangs and drugs and seeing how it affects people, I was afraid that I might get caught up in those activities, so I’ve been mostly focused on schoolwork. Being black, skinny, and wearing glasses, I was made fun of and called Urkel by schoolmates and even my own siblings, so I didn’t have much self-confidence. Not making my anxiety better was family drama. Nearly a decade ago, my parents broke up and my mom left to live with my grandmother. I’ve attended way too many funerals for the past six years because family members and friends were dying left and right. There wasn’t that many family get-togethers because people stopped talking to each other over money and bullshit. I feel like my family is broken. My anxiety got worse this year thanks to a combination of all of these things, plus the election, struggling with college, and being a victim to theft a few weeks ago. There were moments where the anxiety turns into a depression. 2016 has become one of the four low points of my entire life. What are the other three low points of my life? 2007 when my parents broke up, 2010-2011 when I was unsure of who I was and what I wanted to do with my life, and the second half of 2012 when I didn’t get accepted into the college that I wanted to attend. I always feel like nothing I do is good enough and I ask myself, “is what I’m doing even worth it?” This is why I gravitate towards Stressed Out because it captures how an anxiety-filled millennial like myself feels mentally and emotionally when they’re thrown into the real world and have to establish a legit source of income to live. Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to work and make money for a living, but sometimes, we forget that having fun is just as important as work, which is why I think kids have it easier because they’re more concerned with doing things that makes them happy. Anywho, congratulations to Twenty One Pilots for having the best song of 2016.
So that was my list for the Best Songs of 2016. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holidays. I will see you all in 2017.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
I’ll Be Around-The Spinners
What’s It Gonna Be-Shura
Do I Wanna Know-The Arctic Monkeys
Someday At Christmas-Stevie Wonder