100. OneRepublic – Kids
99. Santigold – Banshee
98. Phantogram – You Don’t Get Me High Anymore
97. Sage the Gemini – Now and Later
96. The Roots – My Shot (featuring Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess)
95. Paper Route – Laugh About It
94. Catfish and the Bottlemen – Soundcheck
93. The Kills – Doing It to Death
92. Tor Miller – Carter & Cash
91. Them Guns – Somebody Called the Cops
90. Fitz & the Tantrums – HandClap
89. Snakehips – Cruel (featuring Zayn)
88. Enrique Iglesias – Duele El Corazón (featuring Wisin)
87. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Dance-Off (featuring Idris Elba & Anderson .Paak)
86. Capital Cities – Vowels
85. Lecrae – Can’t Stop Me Now (Destination)
84. Milky Chance – Cocoon
83. Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop the Feeling
82. PAPA – Rain More
81. Night Riots – Nothing Personal
80. Avenged Sevenfold – Sunny Disposition
79. Jimmy Eat World – Sure & Certain
78. Banks & Steelz – Giant
77. Brick + Mortar – Dead Moon
76. Two Door Cinema Club – Bad Decisions
75. Stephen Marley – Revelation Party
74. Calvin Harris – My Way
73. The Black Queen – Secret Scream
72. NEEDTOBREATHE – Happiness
71. A Day to Remember – Bad Vibrations
70. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
69. Welshly Arms – Bad Blood
68. Army of Bones – Batteries
67. Radiohead – Burn the Witch
66. Young The Giant – Jungle Youth
65. Juanes – Fuego
64. Reigning Days – Empire
63. Drake – Two Birds, One Stone
62. Islander – Think It Over (featuring HR)
61. David Bowie – Lazarus
60. TRUCE – Turn of Time
59. Josh Garrels – Hiding Place
58. The Last Shadow Puppets – Bad Habits
57. RDGLDGRN – Karnival
56. Dawes – When the Tequila Runs Out
55. The Knocks – Best for Last (featuring Walk the Moon)
54. Polyenso – 17 New Years
53. Banks – Gemini Feed
52. Korn – Rotting in Vain
51. o’brother – Your Move
50. Beyoncé – Don’t Hurt Yourself (featuring Jack White)
49. Nas – Wrote My Way Out (featuring Dave East, Lin Manuel-Miranda & Aloe Blacc)
48. Nicky Jam – Hasta el Amanecer
47. Sick Puppies – Stick to Your Guns
46. Chloe x Halle – Drop
45. DNCE – Cake By the Ocean
44. SAINT MOTEL – Move
43. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Buckshot (featuring KRS-One & DJ Premier)
42. Drake – Summer Sixteen
41. Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes – Snake Eyes
40. Sum 41 – Fake My Own Death
39. Gallant – Percogesic
38. De La Soul – Pain (featuring Snoop Dogg)
37. LEAGUES – Lipstick Coffee
36. Young the Giant – Something to Believe In
35. Zack De La Rocha – Digging for Windows
34. Sampha – Blood On Me
33. Phantogram – Answer
32. Reigning Days – Friendly Fire
31. Ray LaMontagne – Part One – Hey, No Pressure
30. Beyoncé – Freedom (featuring Kendrick Lamar)
29. Kendrick Lamar – untitled 02 | 06.23.2014.
28. A Tribe Called Quest – Dis Generation
27. twenty one pilots – Heathens
26. Childish Gambino – Me and Your Mama
25. KING 810 – Alpha & Omega
2016 saw the return of Flint nu metallers KING 810 with their sophomore full-length, La Petite Mort or a Conversation with God. The quartet is quick to point out that the record is “not just metal;” some of its strongest points, however, come at its heaviest moments. The aggressive single “Alpha & Omega” perfectly embodies this.
24. K’NAAN – Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) (featuring Snow Tha Product, Riz MC & Residente)
Hamilton: An American Musical has taken the country by storm in the past year; so much so, in fact, that the production has inspired a mixtape featuring an extensive “who’s who” list of collaborators. One of the mixtape’s highlights is “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done),” a straight banger with multiple emcees making an appearance. The most notable of these appearances though is Puerto Rican hip-hop collective Calle 13’s frontman Residente spitting fire (in Spanish, obviously) near the end of the song.
23. The 1975 – Somebody Else
The 1975 has garnered quite the following since the release of their self-titled debut three years ago, but their latest takes a more dialed-in approach, perhaps best exemplified in “Somebody Else,” a powerful song that packs its punch in the deceivingly-subdued delivery.
22. Chance the Rapper – No Problem (featuring Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz)
From the triple-edged sword of Chance, Wayne, and 2 Chainz on the microphone, to the groovy bassline layered seamlessly in the mix, to the choir backing throughout the song, “No Problem” is the perfect rap anthem for 2016, and a fitting single from Coloring Book.
21. Giraffe Tongue Orchestra – Crucifixion
Members of Mastodon and The Dillinger Escape Plan have been known to cross paths from time to time. It’s worth noting that this time around, however, both bands’ main riff-masters (Brent Hinds and Ben Weinman, respectively) joined forces with none other than Alice In Chains frontman William DuVall. The result is a chaotic, progressive supergroup years in the making, and though Broken Lines has several highlights, nothing quite parallels the schizophrenic intensity of the lead single “Crucifixion.”
20. J. Cole – False Prophets
After a couple of years of silence, J. Cole returned at the end of this year with his fourth studio album, 4 Your Eyez Only, the first taste of it being his biting new single “False Prophets,” which oddly enough didn’t even make the record. Nevertheless, Cole wears his heart on his sleeve on this conflicted rebuke of his childhood idols.
19. Yeasayer – Loan Shark Blues
Months after unveiling Amen & Goodbye in April, Brooklyn-based experimental rockers Yeasayer released the single for “Cold Night,” along with an accompanying b-side. The mesmerizing groove and bone-chilling horn line in “Loan Shark Blues” leaves listeners wondering how it failed to make the final cut.
18. Bon Iver – 33 “GOD”
The terms ethereal and haunting don’t always go hand in hand, but they sure do with the second single from Bon Iver’s long-awaited third full-length. If you’re looking for a soundtrack to drive to long after dark, look no further than “33 ‘GOD.’”
17. Jimmy Eat World – Get Right
Jimmy Eat World brings the high-octane alternative rock on the lead single from their latest effort. The driving “Get Right” may not be the best song from Integrity Blues, but it’ll certainly get your blood pumping.
16. Thrice – Blood Honey
On “Blood Honey,” legendary post-hardcore quartet Thrice harken back to their pre-Alchemy Index days. Add to that throwback feel a soaring chorus, and it’s no wonder that the main single from To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere was chosen as such.
15. Jesse Smith & the Holy Ghost – 826
Jesse Smith and company had one of the better hard rock records of the year in their eponymous debut, and “826” is a prime example of this. The album’s lead single is equal parts abrasive and groovy, with just the right amount of Southern tinge to it.
14. Switchfoot – Float
Switchfoot takes listeners to cloud nine with this fun tune. Between the infectious bassline and the head-bobbing guitar riff, “Float” is the perfect summer jam for all year round.
13. THEY. – Deep End
THEY. burst onto my radar several months ago with this very song, and I instantly fell in love with “Deep End.” What starts out as a dissonant piano chord quickly transforms into a rocking electronic banger, complete with a melodic rap delivery and a driving guitar line.
12. Black Peaks – Glass Built Castles
The sheer contrast of beauty and chaos on “Glass Built Castles” is something I harped on in the inaugural episode of the Earball Exploration podcast started by my pal Gabe – that and the early ‘00s feel of the song. Don’t even get me started on that wonderfully odd meter; any time signature other than common or cut time is bound to impress me, so 5/4? Yes please!
11. The Weeknd – Starboy
The first of two collaborations with Daft Punk, “Starboy” is an intriguing blend of trailblazing techno and Abel Tesfaye’s signature crooning, resulting in a strange pairing that works quite well. The thumping bass and video game-esque elements are just icing on the cake.
10. Jon Bellion – Guillotine
“Guillotine” is fun R&B that you can jam to. The booming electrofunk song hits hard, and, given how catchy it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if fellow contributor Brandon’s prediction about it dominating radio next year comes true.
9. Adam Saxe – Bad Soul
Speaking of electrofunk, I absolutely loved Adam Saxe’s new single when I first heard it. Over four months later, I’m still loving the pop tune as much as I was when I reviewed it in August. My prediction about “Bad Soul” cracking the Top 40 has yet to come true, but I’m still holding out hope.
8. LEAGUES – Slow and Steady
The foot-stomping backbeat and electronic layering over top gives off a fun vibe on the surface, but it’s the poignant lyrics of the song that really give “Slow and Steady” its staying power.
7. Glass Animals – Life Itself
Maybe it’s the perfect blend of guitars and electronics, or it could be the vicious jungle beat underneath. Whatever it is, there’s just a certain oomph about “Life Itself” that makes me want to keep coming back to it.
6. KNIVES – Give Me Air
Forget Profits – er, Prophets – of Rage. The true spirit of Rage Against the Machine lives on in KNIVES, a new hard rock collective with former Christian rapper Mr. J. Medeiros (yes, you read that right) at the helm. The intense sociopolitical commentary echoes the cries of the Black Lives Matter and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” movements, the latter of which is a recurring lyric in the song. “Give Me Air” is only KNIVES’ first single as a band, but if it’s any indication of what’s to come in 2017, color me excited.
5. the wldlfe – Text Me?
the wldlfe released their debut EP New earlier this year, but it was their grooving single released several months later that really snatched my attention, and inevitably landing it at #5. If you haven’t heard “Text Me?” yet, you needed to get on that yesterday.
4. Beyoncé – All Night
Most people can admit that Beyoncé’s newest record is fantastic, no matter what their stylistic preferences are. “All Night” is the powerful after-dark jam which ties things up nicely. The song doesn’t close out Lemonade, but with the pseudo-orchestral layering and a groovy reggae vibe, it sure feels like it should.
3. Anderson .Paak – Come Down
The Free Nationals bring the funk on the relentless rocker “Come Down,” providing the perfect instrumental backing for .Paak’s nasty flow.
2. Kanye West – Ultralight Beam
I don’t think very many people will disagree with me when I say that Chance the Rapper’s verse on “Ultralight Beam” is one of the best rap verses of the whole year, but Chance is just one aspect of the song. The gospel choir throughout the tune is moving, and the heartfelt prayer from Kirk Franklin at the end truly makes it special; all these elements together succeed in opening The Life of Pablo with a bang.
1. Radiohead – Ful Stop
It’s tough to top “Ultralight Beam,” but somehow the brooding deep cut from A Moon Shaped Pool does just that. Perhaps it’s the sonic dissonance in the verses, the unease of the eerie key signature, the off-kilter meter, or the constant build in the song which peaks about halfway through. Regardless, Radiohead’s “Ful Stop” is my favorite track from 2016, second to none.