Brandon’s Top 100 Songs of 2016
100. SOL – Happiness
99. Vesperteen – What We Could Have Been
98. Oh Honey – Be Okay
97. Grey Lamb feat. The Wldlfe – Hold Your Breath
96. Max – Holla
95. Band of Horses – In A Drawer
94. CAPYAC – Talk About
93. The True Blue – War
92. Chad Lehr – Concentration, Not Strength
91. Jon Bellion – Overwhelming
90. How To Dress Well – I Was Terrible
89. Day Wave – Wasting Time
88. Great Good Fine OK – Always
87. Hirie feat. Nahko – Renegade
86. The Wrecks – Favorite Liar
85. Fickle Friends – Swim
84. Sage The Gemini – Now and Later
83. Whosah – Something More
82. Cardboard Kids – Creepy
81. Manatee Commune feat. Flint Eastwood & SOL – What We’ve Got – Remix
80. Rival Summers – Stay
79. Mutemath – Used To
78. Fleurie – Sirens
77. Bryce Vine – Los Angeles
76. Vic Mensa – 16 Shots
75. Cappa – Next Ex
74. DBMK – Black / White
73. Malcolm London feat. How To Dress Well & Ferndot) – House Party
72. Pinegrove – Aphasia
71. Tove Lo feat. Wiz Khalifa – Influence
70. HOLYCHILD feat. Kate Nash – Rotten Teeth
69. LANY – pink skies
68. Cash Cash feat. Fitz – Broken Drum
67. Stay Outside – Wanderer
66. Joseph – Blood & Tears
65. Relient k – Marigold
64. Knox Hamilton – Washed Up Together
63. Saint Motel – Move
62. Seven Lions feat. Mike Mains – Coming Home
61. Bon Iver – 22 (Over S∞∞N)
60. Dagny feat. BØRNS – Fool’s Gold
59. Twenty One Pilots – Heathens
58. The Brocks – Going Nowhere
57. Paper Route – Pretend
56. POP ETC – What Am I Becoming?
55. The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk – Starboy
54. Mutemath – Best of Intentions
53. The Summer Set – Figure Me Out
52. Switchfoot – If The House Burns Down Tonight
51. Catfish & the Bottlemen – Soundcheck
50. David Bowie – Lazarus
49. Kendrick Lamar – untitled 05 | 09.21.2014
48. Relient k – Cat
47. Chance the Rapper feat. Kanye West & Chicago Children’s Choir – All We Got
46. The 1975 – The Sound
45. DBMK – Boxing Gloves
44. Whitsett – Ohio
43. Joey Purp feat. Chance the Rapper – Girls @
42. R.LUM.R. – Frustrated
41. Colony House – You Know It
40. Childish Gambino – Redbone
39. Leagues – Slow and Steady
38. Beyoncé – Formation
37. The Bones of J.R. Jones – The Heat
36. The Japanese House – Good side in
35. Bob Moses / RAC – Tearing Me Up
34. Tove Lo – Imaginary Friend
33. LOLO – Not Gonna Let You Walk Away
32. Bruno Mars – 24k Magic
31. Jimmy Eat World – Pass The Baby
30. The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey – Closer
29. LANY – WHERE THE HELL ARE MY FRIENDS
28. Kanye West feat. Ty Dolla $ign & Post Malone – Fade
27. Captain Cuts feat. Nateur – Love Like We Used To
26. Lecrae feat. John Givez, Jackie Hill Perry, & Jgivens) – Misconceptions 3
25. DBMK – Bullets
24. The Aces – Stuck
23. Relient k – Air for Free
22. The Wldlfe – Waterfalls
21. Young in the City – Waste My Time
20. The 1975 – If I Believe You
19. Bastille – Good Grief
18. Jon Bellion feat. Travis Mendes – Guillotine
17. K.Flay – Blood In The Cut
16. Catfish & the Bottlemen – 7
15. Vancouver Sleep Clinic – Someone to Stay
14. The Lumineers – Ophelia
13. Mandolin Orange – Wildfire
12. Chance the Rapper feat. Francis Starlite & Jeremih – Summer Friends
11. The 1975 – Somebody Else
10. Hoodie Allen feat. Blackbear & Kyle – Champagne and Pools
While technically released by Hoodie Allen, ‘Champagne and Pools’ should really be credited to Blackbear since his soft crooning is most of the song. Aside from Blackbear’s mesmerizing tone in the chorus, the reason this song lands in the top ten is Kyle’s best-of-his-career verse. A sharp contrast to the soft instrumentation, the verse creates a feel unlike that of most current hip-hop.
9. Francis & the Lights feat. Bon Iver – Friends
With a feature from Bon Iver and off-the-record contributions from Kanye West, Francis & the Lights was poised for a stellar lead single for Farewell, Starlite! ‘Friends’ set the bar for the record very high. The track is deep enough that it almost risked being overproduced but instead came across as a crisp and beautiful piece that is the perfect introduction for the singer into the spotlight.
8. Joseph – SOS (Overboard)
What first appears to be a soft singer/songwriter tune unexpectedly turns into a smooth blend of percussion and harmonies that make ’SOS (Overboard)’ a song that shines for its simplicities as well as its complexities. With a range of powerful vocal takes as well as a handful of nearly whispered melodies, the track is a beautifully aggressive take on Joseph’s signature sound.
7. Lostboycrow – Where It All Goes
Los Angeles-based Lostboycrow creates arguably the catchiest release of the year with ‘Where It All Goes’. With a lingering groove and a plethora of undeniable hooks, the song has enough shining qualities that make it impossible to run stale whether you’re on your third listen or three hundredth listen.
6. Panic! at the Disco – Death of the Bachelor
‘Death Of A Bachelor’ is the first record for Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie as a solo act (still releasing under the band’s name). With total creative control, Urie is able to unleash his most impressive vocal performance to date across the album, but his most outstanding moment comes when he channels a 21st century Sinatra persona on the title track. One listen will prove why Urie is one of the defining vocalists for a generation.
5. Michigander – Nineties
Some of the best songs can transport you from your current circumstances into the perspective and narrative of the writer. Listening to ‘Nineties’ feels like riding shotgun through the Great Lake state with Michigander frontman Jason Singer talking about life, dreams, and everything in between.
‘Nineties’ presents nods to alt/rock greats like The National or Brandon Flowers while not quite sounding like a version of anything, but more so something completely new. While offering a comforting consistency with daring string of dynamic changes, the debut single from Michigander gives the feeling that important things are to come from this young act.
4. Two Door Cinema Club – Bad Decisions
Straight out of a discotheque, Two Door Cinema Club’s ‘Bad Decisions’ is a groundbreaking step for the band. Taking a modern attempt at disco-pop makes the song feel old school enough to appeal to the ‘Uptown Funk’ crowd while also staying true to the bands roots with a crossover jam that should put the band back on the map after the drought that followed 2012’s Beacon.
Alex Trimble’s falcetto is magical throughout the song. While it is easy to get lost in the groove and vocal performance, the wild guitar parts discreetly dancing with the synth throughout the chorus must not be ignored. Aside from being one of the better songs of the year, I would say this is 2016’s most danceable track.
3. Chance the Rapper – Same Drugs
Likely the most emotional release from breakout rap sensation Chance the Rapper, ‘Same Drugs’ shows a different side of the “acid rapper” that stormed the world with his 2016 release Coloring Book. A vocal concentrated track shows that Chance the Rapper’s talents range far beyond what his name would imply.
‘Same Drugs’ thematically elaborates on childlike optimism, innocence and the dangers of growing up. The song is generally somber through a fake resolve, until an unexpected bridge brings us a warning from Chance to not “forget the happy thoughts” and the song resolves with one final chorus intertwined with a reprise of the bridge.
2. Relient k – Man
The piano driven ‘Man’ from Relient k’s Air For Free is one of the record’s deepest songs lyrically and musically. A brutally honest narrative about the shocking realities of adulthood tied into the metaphor of the popular children’s story Peter Pan is not so much ironic as it is fitting.
As impressive as that lyricism may be, the most important metaphor from ‘Man’ isn’t in the lyrics but rather the composition. The constantly increasing tempo of the song acts as an illustration of how life continues to move faster and faster as the narrator ages. The lyrical and musical intricacies of ‘Man’ make it one of Relient k’s strongest cuts to date.
1. Kanye West feat. The-Dream, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin, & Chance the Rapper – Ultralight Beam
Kanye West promised a gospel album with The Life of Pablo. There is debate on whether that promise was kept with West’s 2016 release, however their is no doubt that the record’s opener ‘Ultralight Beam’ has impossible-to-ignore gospel elements (I mean, the song features Kirk Franklin).
Kelly Price takes us to church on the second verse adding adrenaline to the track just in time for the carpet to get ripped out from under our feet for the entrance of Chance the Rapper. A late, yet essential addition to the song, Chance’s verse even alludes to his tardiness and hints at his upcoming release Coloring Book. Perfectly crafted lyricism and raw straight forward rapping from Chance make his feature the best verse of 2016 and carries the song all the way to the top of my end of the year list.