Monday, December 19, 2016

Top 100 Songs Of 2016, 100-51


As my weekly Loosies segment took precedent in my blog's life, a lot of songs came through my ears, like a forever revolving door of ideas, inspiration, and art. Thousands of songs, some embarrassingly weak or crass, others dripping with feeling or glory. Yet, I still can't help but feel disappointed with 2016's top-tier song output. My number one song, as you'll soon find here, is evidence of that. So while few tracks failed to floor me, forcing me to question my own tastes, a trove sat comfortably on a throne of greatness. As I was compiling this list, the final tracks towards the end of the year finding their way in, causing others to slip out, I couldn't help but feel the quality displayed here is of impressionable stature.

Much like my albums list, the top 100 songs of 2016 represent an idea in me bubbling since the year began. Everyone undergoes turmoil, and this year I encountered my toughest hurdle yet. Couple that with 2016's marred identity, with countless idol deaths and poisoned cultural events, and it's easy to see why I sought refuge in music. Don't fret, this idea never got in the way of quality. If a song deserved to be here, you'll find it. But the point remains that what can be found here, regardless of the impression the song lents to its listeners, are a collection of tunes that put me in a good place.

*These are all 2016 songs, with two rule of thumb exceptions. If it released in the final weeks of 2015, failing to make that year's list, you'll find it here. And if a single for an album this year released in 2015, never crossing my ears until 2016, then you'll find that here as well.

Also be sure to check out my best songs of 2015 and 2014.

A$AP Mob - Crazy Brazy | Cozy Tapes Vol. 1
It takes a lot from Drake and Future's 'Diamond Dash,' but it's that exact biting that makes 'Crazy Brazy' quite interesting, considering it's the A$AP Mob's attempt at the style. The hook is intoxicating, addictive, and fully intent on not wasting any time it's been given.

99 | Radiohead - Burn The Witch | A Moon Shaped Pool
Before A Moon Shaped Pool returned fans to Radiohead's expected world, 'Burn The Witch,' acting as the lead single, started things off tense, both for the fans, and musically. A rampaging array of orchestral instruments find themselves lit ablaze under Thom Yorke's cautious tale of impending doom.

98 | Drake - One Dance | Views
Okay, I'll admit. The sheer amount 'One Dance' played on the radio has caused me to become quite irritated with the hit single. However, it was that exact mass consumption that found me enjoying it in the first place. Drake's most popular song found him comfortably in his newfound Dancehall arena.

97 | James Blake - Put That Away | Colour In Anything
On 'Put That Away,' James Blake decided to bring in the physical world. Typically, the spacey crooner separated himself from the questions he pondered. However, a scatter-toothed sample flashes in and out, obstructing the view, accomplishing the goal Blake set out to achieve.

96 | Frank Ocean - Godspeed | Blonde
The best part of 'Godspeed' is Frank Ocean's voice. And as someone who values vocals the least, that's a lofty statement. But it rings true, as Ocean tears through the shreds of his shattered heart with passion. A Kanye-esque finale cues the heartstrings to rest and recoup.

Angel Olsen - Never Be Mine | MY WOMAN
'Never Be Mine' finds a hopeless romantic dance around impassioned tales of lust and desire. Angel Olson updates a Doo-Wop feel for the next century, using stingy guitars and drums that fleet as far as her, falling down the rabbit hole of love too.

94 | Blu & Nottz - Atlantis | Titans In The Flesh
'Atlantis' finds Blu at his best, intertwining apocalyptic scenarios with a beat that bounces like a child's fluttering heart, courtesy of Nottz. As many Exile cuts on Below The Heavens, 'Atlantis' sends a message through conflicting principles; hope and demise.

93 | Ty Segall - Diversion | Emotional Mugger
Like many of Ty Segall's best songs, 'Diversion' grabs the listeners' attention by marring Noise Rock elements with a classic Pop Rock feel. 'Diversion' does this through the guttural garage feedback and the simply addictive hook, which rightfully dominates the song.

92 | Injury Reserve - Keep On Slippin' | Floss
Dating back to their debut record, the quiet, secluded, and deeply reflective Injury Reserve was always my favorite. That trend continued with Floss, even if there were more competition at hand. 'Keep On Slippin' is a dreamy landscape utilizing sincere sonic structuring found nowhere else on the record.

91 | dvsn - Too Deep | Sept. 5th
On 'Too Deep,' the mysterious duo otherwise known as dvsn team up, with a full choir behind them, to rip through modern Alternative R&B, stripping each salacious element to its core. The result is a seductive taste of sins and sinners.

Flatbush Zombies - Ascension | 3001
'Ascension' thrives off the darkness. The more there is, the better 'Ascension' executes. With a demanding bass, chrome hi-hats, and the Flatbush Zombies' classic vocal quirks, 'Ascension' aims to send shivers down listeners' spine, faltering only because they've been ripped out.

89 | De La Soul - Snoopies | And The Anonymous Nobody
Theoretically 'Snoopies' doesn't work at all. The De La Soul/David Bryne mash-up is a mess, jumping disjointedly between Art Rock and Hip-Hop. Yet, it's that exact weirdness that allows 'Snoopies' to be, at the very least, enjoyable and peculiar.

88 | Brian Eno - I'm Set Free | The Ship
Context is everything, and admittedly I hadn't heard The Velvet Underground's 'I'm Set Free' before this, so I knew there was something fishy about Eno's striking finale to The Ship. Regardless of its connotations, Eno's 'I'm Set Free' still strikes a uniform beauty between the past and present.

87 | J.Cole - 4 Your Eyez Only | 4 Your Eyez Only
J Cole's latest surprise LP was a bit of a slog. However, what the first nine songs set out to do was finally achieved in the album's glowing finale. '4 Your Eyez Only' found Cole elaborating upon multiple stories laid out, intent on sending a message of empowerment to the black community.

86 | Baauer - Sow | Aa
For 'Sow,' Baauer sampled Jonathan Costa, a child rapper bred on the 90's. Just look at the cover, replicating memes a decade before they happened. The sample itself, taken largely out of context with thunderous percussion and wild inversions that'll make TNGHT proud, made 'Sow' a roaring success.

Francis & The Lights - Friends | Farewell, Starlite!
Sure, 'Friends' achieved such fame thanks to its laughably underutilized guests. But it's those same guests, behind the scenes, that made 'Friends' such a good track, something Francis could not do on his own. It's clear, if you wanna reach your heights, you need some friends.

84 | Open Mike Eagle - Dive Bar | Hella Personal Film Festival
Paul White's confounding aesthetics on Hella Personal Film Festival reached a strange fervor point on 'Dive Bar Support Group,' as Open Mike Eagle was challenged with an unorthodox Western that sounded unlike anything Hip-Hop has attempted before. The result was oddly captivating.

83 | Travis Scott - Pick Up The Phone | Birds In The Trap
Two sides of the same coin finally came together on 'Pick Up The Phone,' a single that has already garnered so much attention thanks to its sheer simplicity. Young Thug and Travis Scott each brought their A-game here, despite their representing mixtapes failing to live up to this height.

82 | Anohni - Drone Bomb Me | Hopelessness
Anohni's Hopelessness was a cry for what good is left in the world. Using surreal, antagonistic imagery and harsh sarcasm, 'Drone Bomb Me' represented that sight flawlessly. Drawing on the pain brought by future inventions of war, the single made listeners think as they were dancing. 

81 | Flume - Say It | Skin
While it never met competed with 'Never Be Like You's' chart position, 'Say It' was equally as successful, both commercially and in its ability to mare classic Alternative R&B with a sleek, futuristic touch. Tove Lo's vocals danced beautifully around the clashing instrumentation.

Vince Staples - Big Time | Prima Donna
Who would've thunk James Blake, yes, that James Blake, could make a beat like the one seen on 'Big Time.' Using pummeling percussion and stringy synths, the producer gave Vince Staples a curious state to dabble in, the rapper succeeding on all fronts.

79 | Childish Gambino - Redbone | "Awaken, My Love!"
With a pitch-shifted voice and production that brought out Prince and D'Angelo's seductive tendencies, 'Redbone' soothingly paraded around simple drums and guitars. Gambino's talents as both a singer and songwriter are on full display in the track's memorably wrought chorus.

78 | Bon Iver - 33 "GOD" | 22, A Million
The inventiveness of 22, A Million came from its acoustics intertwining with visions of the past and future. Nowhere was that seen better than on '33 "GOD",' where Bon Iver thwarted a simple guitar riff with old Country samples and disjointed vocal melodies.

77 | Car Seat Headrest - The Ballad | Teens Of Denial
While the entirety of Teens Of Denial could be seen as a magnificent journey through an adolescents growing fears, 'The Ballad Of The Costa Concordia' organically put it in one paranoid package. The epic even came equip with a spoken word breakdown by Toledo himself.

76 | Kishi Bashi - Honeybody | Sonderlust
A warm summer breeze, sand between your toes, and a boombox blasting off a rickety picnic table. No, I'm not describing a Beach Boys hit or a knock-off that comes once a summer, I'm talking about Kishi Bashi, well-respected Indie musician who took to the fantasy in hopes of righting wrongs with 'Honeybody.'

Solange - Cranes In The Sky | Seat At The Table
What makes 'Cranes In The Sky' an interesting R&B ballad isn't the simple perfections it takes from the genre it inhabits. Rather, the droning strings that sway solemnly underneath Solange's fruitful singing is where 'Cranes In The Sky' truly shines.

74 | Desiigner - Tiimmy Turner | Single
While he'll undoubtedly be lampooned as a notorious one-hit wonder, Desiigner didn't just excel with 'Panda' this year, 'Tiimmy Turner' thrived with a devilish voodoo ritual and haunting background choirs, strings, and guitars provided by Mike Dean. Even had a classic GOOD Music switch-up.

73 | The Caretaker - Quiet Internal Rebellions | Everything
Turns out, The Caretaker's a musician not just a copycat. 'Quiet Internal Rebellions' sees him toy with multiple elements, smearing his fingers over the source material greater than he ever has before. The result is a two-tone trip with some rose-tinted glasses.

72 | NxWorries - Livvin | Yes Lawd!
The duo of Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge felt most natural when the two sides fell into place seamlessly. 'Livvin,' the first song off Yes Lawd, embodied that idea, as .Paak's soulful vocals pierced through simple horn and sample arrangements.

71 | clipping. - True Believer | Splendor & Misery
The clanging of chains kickstarts Splendor & Misery's best attempt at molding the past with the future. 'True Believer' rockets old-timey Gospel into the slave space ship effortlessly, so much so that Diggs' off-kilter flow takes a backseat.

Pinkshinyultrablast - Initial | Grandfeathered
Unlike the Shoegaze it was inspired by, Pinkshinyultrablast's 'Initial' felt both at home and new. Rather than attack the listener with noise, 'Initial' plays with vibrations, tonality, and structural fluctuations. New-age Shoegaze worth investigating.

69 | Nite-Funk - Don't Play Games | Nite-Funk
I typically find rehashing past musical endeavors unnecessary, but Nite-Funk's fantasy stroll down a neon-lit LA was too glossy to not admire. 'Don't Play Games' used Synth Funk as a means to implant listeners to another time and space.

68 | Noname - Yesterday | Telefone
Noname sought solace in Kanye West's earliest philosophies and beat-making, and with that 'Yesterday,' using scatter-shot Hip-Hop and Soul to push a inner-city message of hope was born. Simple, provocative, and talent-filled, Telefone's opener came from the heart.

67 | Ty Segall - Candy Sam | Emotional Mugger
Not typically a fan of Garage Rock, the moments on Emotional Mugger that won me over were those rife with simplicity. 'Candy Sam' wanted to exist for no other reason than to have fun. That's evident when the children's choir chimes in at the end.

66 | Kendrick Lamar - untitled 03 | Untitled Unmastered
If 'untitled 03' had dropped officially in 2014, when it was first performed on The Colbert Report, the song would've been higher. Nonetheless, Kendrick Lamar's critical look at racial and culture tension through unusual structuring proves to be one of 2016's most socially aware tracks.

Blood Orange - Augustine | Freetown Sound
Like Grimes' 'Oblivion,' Blood Orange's 'Augustine' reveled in stripped down late 80's Synthpop, laced, this time, with early 90's R&B. From its initial marching band percussion, which carries the song, 'Augustine' sees Hynes linger with sensual sincerity. 

64 | Schoolboy Q - By Any Means | Blank Face
No other track from Blank Face went as hard as 'By Any Means,' which saw Schoolboy Q acting as the calm purveyor of confidence. The beat, the sinister hook, the Gangsta Rap lyrics, all of it added to 'By Any Means'' undeniable swagger.

63 | Elzhi - The Healing Process | Lead Poison
Bringing to life the pen in which you write, that's what Elzhi did on 'The Healing Process.' Turns out, the gimmick made for quite a riveting story that not only showcased the emcee's lyrical tenacity, but also his own battle with writer's block. 

62 | Deakin - Footy | Sleep Cycle
While Animal Collective continued to make their brand of trivial Neo-Psychedelia, Deakin drove listeners back to the good times. Sleep Cycle, and especially 'Footy,' felt incredibly reminiscent of the mid-2000's era when the group was on top with organized chaos.

61 | Preoccupations - Fever | Preoccupations
An uncomfortably pleasant send-off to their second self-titled LP. On 'Fever,' Preoccupations turn grotesque instrumentation into harmony. All the while, Matt Flegel's voice, crackling under the weight of fear, transcends by repeating the chorus ad nauseam until completion. 

Gold Panda - Your Good Times | Good Luck
The modesty of Gold Panda can't be understated when he titles Good Luck's finale 'Your Good Times Are Just Beginning.' Better yet, he saved the best for last, as calming elevator music intertwines itself with Gold Panda's nimble brand of Microhouse. 

59 | The Weeknd - Starboy | Starboy
A massive Pop song that saw Daft Punk emerge with greatness once again. This time led by The Weeknd, 'Starboy' saw our lead emerge from the shadows, ready to enact vengeance on the industry that bred him.

58 | RJD2 - The Sheboygan Left | Dame Fortune
RJD2's far removed from Deadringer, his seminal work. But there's still flashes where that brilliance shines once more. On 'The Sheboygan Left,' The horns, the vocals, the light-hearted jubilee, all remind listeners why RJD2 is one of the best DJ's around.

57 | Massive Attack - Voodoo In My Blood | Ritual Spirit
Massive Attack's music has always been seeped in mystery, atmosphere, and unease. 'Voodoo In My Blood' was nothing different, even if rapping dominated much of it. With Young Fathers' help, the fear-inducing piece took to the jungle for a night stranded with demons.

56 | Czarface - Dust | A Fistful Of Peril
'Dust' wastes no time proving it's greatness. One of the best Boom Bap tracks in recent memory, the 7L-produced track serves as a kind reminder that with an ounce of creativity you can bring an exhausted genre back to life. 

Anderson .Paak - Parking Lot | Malibu
Anderson .Paak's summertime breeze danced all around Malibu, but on 'Parking Lot' it never felt more pertinent. With introspective lyrics recalling a life-affirming conversation, 'Parking Lot' rests on the vibes and feelings of a moment captured in time.

54 | Justice - Safe & Sound | Woman
On Woman's opener, Justice asserted themselves with a sound that's undeniably their own. Unlike their previous releases, which were either messy in a good way or bad way, Woman began in a crystalized state of pristine French House with the ravishing 'Safe And Sound.'

53 | Beyonce - Formation | Lemonade
While Beyonce's Lemonade usurped its own, equally as controversial, finale 'Formation,' the closing statement of black pride still rings true. While foolish, in retrospect, I can see why racists were scared of this song; it's the dirty South transported to the mainstream.

52 | Car Seat Headrest - Hippie Powers | Teens Of Denial
Will Toledo's hilarious introspection of liberal ideologies ruining his adolescence, as is prone with Teens Of Denial, had hidden sorrow to be found in it. But none of that mattered because 'Destroyed By Hippie Powers' rocked, revitalizing Indie Rock in one fell swoop.

51 | Denzel Curry - If Tomorrow's Not Here | Imperial
For a mostly generic Rap album that featured hollow aggression, Imperial's finale was one both elaborate and unexpected. 'If Tomorrow's Not Here' saw Denzel Curry, for the first time, reflect on the fears he spent the album boasting about.

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