Best of 2016: Music


2016 was another strong year for music across the board, so you couldn’t really go wrong with any genre, even country, which featured Sturgill Simpson leading the scene. However, it will probably be remembered most for two things – the legends we lost and the possible peak of the surprise album drop. Many eulogies have been written commemorating those no longer with us now and the legacy they left behind, including David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen and countless others on the depressingly long list. 2016 was an unbearably harsh year for many reasons, and this was but one of them.

As for the more upbeat note, the year also saw the release of several long gestating projects finally brought to life, often with little or no notice and often debuting exclusively to one streaming service. It started off with the biggest bang of the year, Beyoncé’s Lemonade, continued on through the likes of Kanye, Chance, Radiohead and Frank Ocean, before concluding in December with surprises from Nine Inch Nails and Run the Jewels.

Pleasantly, the majority of major releases fulfilled the hype and were actually quite good. Sure, Views was way too long, Lady Gaga stalled on the charts and hardly anyone seemed to have a strong opinion on it either way, and despite its acclaim Blonde remains too sleepy for my tastes. But other than that, everything delivered at least a few worthy highlights, and even veteran rock acts like Blink-182, Green Day, Metallica and the Chili Peppers reemerged with fresh signs of life. Not to mention my two favorite bands (Jimmy Eat World and Thrice) returned after hiatuses in a big way with my two favorite records.

It was a fun and deep year that even saw the pop charts get a little more adventurous than usual between the Drake and Chainsmokers dominance, with quirky viral tracks like “Black Beatles” and “Panda” going to No. 1. 2016 was an up and down year for most Americans, but at least we can all agree we had some good tunes to listen to during it. Here’s what was soundtracking the year for me.

1. Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues
2. Thrice – To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere
3. Relient K – Air for Free
4. Switchfoot – Where the Light Shines Through
5. Justin Hurwitz – La La Land
6. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
7. Beyoncé – Lemonade
8. St. Lucia – Matter
9. The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It
10. Blink-182 – California
12. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
13. Young the Giant – Home of the Strange
14. Kings of Leon – WALLS
15. Dustin Kensrue – Thoughts That Float on a Different Blood
16. Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered.
17. Kaleo – A/B
18. Gallant – Ology
19. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
20. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
21. Chevelle – The North Corridor
22. Sherwood – Some Things Never Leave You
23. Deftones – Gore
24. Paper Route – Real Emotion
25. John Legend – Darkness and Light
26. The Weeknd – Starboy
27. Weezer – White Album
28. Green Day – Revolution Radio
29. Yellowcard – Yellowcard
30. Bad Suns – Disappear Here
31. Chairlift – Moth
32. House of Heroes – Colors
33. Brian Fallon – Painkillers
34. Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”
35. David Bowie – Blackstar
36. Regina Spektor – Remember Us to Life
37. Rihanna – Anti
38. Saosin – Along the Shadow
39. Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman
40. Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway
41. Panic! at the Disco – Death of a Bachelor
42. Saint Motel – saintmotelevision
43. Two Door Cinema Club – Gameshow
44. Metallica – Hardwired… to Self-Destruct
45. Solange – A Seat at the Table
46. Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
47. Local Natives – Sunlit Youth
48. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 3
49. Dan Layus – Dangerous Things
50. Cardiknox – Portrait

1. Carly Rae Jepsen – E•MO•TION: Side B
2. Vince Staples – Prima Donna
3. Miguel – Rogue Waves
4. Glen Hansard – A Season on the Line
5. Nine Inch Nails – Not the Actual Events
6. Third Eye Blind – We Are Drugs

1. Beyoncé – Lemonade
2. Coldplay – Up&Up
3. OK Go – The One Moment/Upside Down & Inside Out
4. The 1975 – A Change of Heart
5. St. Lucia – Help Me Run Away
6. Radiohead – Daydreaming

Against the Current – In Our Bones
Alter Bridge – The Last Hero
Anchor & Braille – Songs for the Late Night Drive Home
The Avett Brothers – True Sadness
Band of Horses – Why Are You OK
Bayside – Vacancy
James Blake – The Colour in Anything
Bon Iver – 22, A Million
Broods – Conscious
Michael Bublé – Nobody But Me
Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Ride
Tom Chaplin – The Wave
Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
Dame D.O.L.L.A. – The Letter O
A Day to Remember – Bad Vibrations
Kevin Devine – Instigator
Drake – Views
Every Time I Die – Low Teens
Fitz and the Tantrums – Fitz and the Tantrums
Good Charlotte – Youth Authority
The Goo Goo Dolls – Boxes
Aaron Gillespie – Out of the Badlands
Mayer Hawthorne – Man About Town
The Hunna – 100
The Joy Formidable – Hitch
Kaiser Chiefs – Stay Together
Alicia Keys – Here
Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come to Expect
Greg Laswell – Everyone Thinks I Dodged a Bullet
Lecrae – Church Clothes 3
M83 – Junk
Ingrid Michaelson – It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense
Maren Morris – Hero
Mudcrutch – 2
Laura Mvula – The Dreaming Room
Nada Surf – You Know Who You Are
Frank Ocean – Blonde
OneRepublic – Oh My My
Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Parachute – Wide Awake
Peter Bjorn and John – Breakin’ Point
Ra Ra Riot – Need Your Light
Rooney – Washed Away
Emeli Sandé – Long Live the Angels
Santigold – 99 Cents
ScHoolboy Q – Blank Face LP
Sims – More Than Ever
Sting – 57th & 9th
Sum 41 – 13 Voices
Taking Back Sunday – Tidal Wave
Tegan and Sara – Love You to Death
The Temper Trap – Thick as Thieves
Tinashe – Nightride
Tokyo Police Club – Melon Collie and the Infinite Radness
Tremonti – Dust
Butch Walker – Stay Gold
We Are Scientists – Helter Seltzer
Wolfmother – Victorious
YG – Still Brazy