And now the second part of the Best Songs of 2016 countdown. For the first half of the list, visit Part 1 here: 25 Best Songs of 2016 (Part 1: #25 – #13).
12. “Someone Like You” by Mayer Hawthorne
Remember how Tuxedo made the list last year with “So Good?” Well, the heart and soul of that group is actually one hell of a great solo artist. Mayer Hawthorne steps into this list on his own with the classy funk vibes on “Someone Like You” by giving us listeners some delight to our ears. Hawthorne sings about being with the one he wants to pursue and the one he longs for by being honest about how he wants to at least try to work it out. It’s nice, hopeful and beautiful in its short time with horns blaring and a killer bass line to boot. I’m barely a newcomer with Hawthrone, but his work is worthy of garnering a spot on this list.
11. “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars
Shit! Bruno Mars is a dangerous man with some money in his pocket. Mars came back on his own with a vengeance. This song appeals to my love of the cheese-filled pop tunes of the late 80’s and early 90’s by combining his signature voice and his modern take. Here is essentially a party in one song with talk box verse that Zapp and Roger would envy and keys and synths Ready for the World would only dream of. Every part of the song, for lack of a better way to describe it, kicks so much ass that I am drunk just listening to it. Mars constantly captures the nostalgia of the past to his benefit and knows no genre he cannot dive into. It’s a pleasure to head back to Mars once again.
10. “Electric Love” by BØRNS
BØRNS is an interesting new artist on the scene with an eccentric sound that has moments of psychedelia and smooth 70’s rock throughout. In this number of bombastic and badassery, BØRNS gives it his all with a flasetto beyond compare and dripping with sex in every line ready to make pants drop and others ready to flaunt. I actually saw this man live in concert recently and he knows how to deliver sex appeal on stage. The man practically sweats it in his performance. BØRNS has other great tunes on his album and personally hope he sticks around for a while in an otherwise drab rock scene at the moment.
9. “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” by Adele
Adele has been a hell of a performer since she first started on the scene and this song is further evidence of that. Adele sings with her signature voice alongside a beautiful marriage of acoustic guitar chords. It’s simple in its structure and design by standing out from her usual style in the same vein of hits such as “Rolling in the Deep.” It’s more breezy for a tune talking about her lover leaving her with her being mature about the situation and moving on. It’s a great song for anyone not ready to move on quite yet, but need to in order to mature and grow stronger.
8. “CAN’T STOP THE FEELING!” by Justin Timberlake
Full disclosure: I have not seen the film Trolls, so I have no context to the song in the film. Justin Timberlake is an immense talent with his style capturing the modern wave of pop, but continue to build on what the past gave the pop world (similar to how Bruno Mars does). He hits the highest of highs to create a song that is about the feeling one gets when they are filled with happiness and joy listening to the music around them and the joy of the world around. It’s a terrific dance number that happens to be part of a bright and colorful movie which might add to the film’s appeal. Timberlake comes back for the film and makes a great song, but hell, when doesn’t he?
7. “Starboy” by The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk
The Weeknd is one hell of an interesting figure in pop. Here we have an artist that is the arguably one of the best in the industry right now with tons of acclaim and what does he do? He makes a song blaming a majority of us for his problem with his rise in fame. Well, screw him too, but with that said, the song is far from his best work with lyrics that even the most generic of pop artist could write in an afternoon, yet it is up so high for one reason only: Daft Punk. The instrumental by Daft Punk is somber and dark with the synth-pop thrown in to add some levity, but still be rooted in a darker sound. The lyrics slightly ruin it, but the backdrop is astounding. This is one of the few times where style over substance wins. Hopefully the Starboy won’t fall from the stars again.
6. “Cake By The Ocean” by DNCE
First off, this band looks like a bunch of background characters from Nickelodeon’s Doug just decided to make a band together. DNCE is a pop outfit lead by former Jonas Brother Joe Jonas finally giving up the purity and singing about sex and cunnilingus (that’s only the second time I wrote that word for the site). This song gets down a dirty with a tune only MAroon 5 would envy only without Adam Levine super high-pitched whine ruining it halfway. It’s infectious in its ear worms, its band chants and a guitar riff that has the essence of Prince. The best thing about the song is it is not even subtle about its context by laying all the cards on the table. Any kid that sings this must get some awkward stares from parents. DNCE is an up-and-coming group with a unique style, but this song is the only one I can tolerate because it got stuck in my head all summer long.
5. “Lazarus” by David Bowie
The next two entries will be a bit different than the ones before it as they will be artist tributes. David Bowie passed away earlier this year after the release of his last album Blackstar. “Lazarus” is just one part of an otherwise phenomenal record. Here is a tribute to Bowie himself:
To the Man Who Sold the World, the Man Who Fell to Earth, the Starman, the Goblin King, the Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust and the idol of millions and millions, we loved you no matter what way you showed yourself to us. You gave the world a magnificent gift in your records, in your acting and in your triumph. You left one last gift before you left with Blackstar and the singles from it and it truly is marvelous. Your legacy is nothing but perfection. I simply want to say: Thank you. You’re an inspiration. May your rest in peace. You are now the Starman waiting in the sky.
4. “We The People” by A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest lost one the key parts of their group and a keystone in the hip-hop world under the name Phife Dawg. Phife Dawg, the five-foot freak from the Zulu Nation, was a immense part of Tribe from his smooth rhymes, being up-to-date on the way the world was going and never skipping a beat. Unfortunately, just like Bowie before him, he passed away the same year Tribe was ready to comeback, yet had the blueprint written for the rest of Tribe to have with most of his raps already recorded. Tribe came with a harder sound to point out the ways of the new world even if this was the final project for them as a whole. I have nothing more to say part that this is Tribe first and only appearance on the list in tribute to Phife. In fact, here’s a verse from Phife from “Electric Relaxtion”:
I like em brown, yellow, Puero Rican or Hatian
Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation
Told you in the jam that We Can Get Down
Now let’s Knock the Boots like the group H-Town
You got BBD all on your bedroom wall
But I’m Above the Rim and this is how I ball
A pretty little somethin on the New York street
This is how I represent over this here beat
Talkin’ bout you
Rest in paradise, Phife.
3. “In the Name of Love” by Martin Garrix & Bebe Rexha
As opposed to the lists from previous years, this year’s list has been a bit more personal and closer to home with a majority of these songs having appeared in major moments during the last year. The top three in particular hit very close to myself especially this one. This song was introduced to me by a fiend and I had never heard any of these names before this song came out with Bebe Rexha raspy voice going over Garrix’s deep EDM production work with fantastic deeps synths crashing down like waves on shores. There is a sweetness to it on what is done in the name of love and how far one will go to get it, something I and many can relate to. Even better, it does not overstay its welcome as it is only under four minutes. It’s sweet compared to the vast number of production line EDM songs coming out these days.
2. “We Don’t Talk Anymore” by Charlie Puth ft. Selena Gomez
This song came in out of nowhere in a difficult time for me personally in which, honestly, I came out of a very bad relationship. It’s not really an easy thing to talk about at times and I don’t want to go into detail, but it works with this song. It deals with what we all go through when the relationship has been over after a series of month of loneliness and unable to move on. With a tropical house sound that is very subtle and sweet sincere vocals by Charlie Puth, this tune captures the whole experience of being curious, wanting to go back, but knowing it will probably never work out in the end. Selena Gomez, who is usually just okay with her music, actually adds to the song with a vulnerable performance in her verse as the other side also thinking the same things. It’s another simple song with complexity to it in the vocals and in the lyrics a tad. “We Don’t Talk Anymore” is one of the songs from 2016 that helped me get through a rough patch and realized moving on is the only way to go.
Before we get to number one, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Here” by Alessia Cara
- “Really Doe” by Danny Brown ft.Kendrick Lamar
- “Body Talk” by Foxes
- “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber
- “Treat You Better” Shawn Mendes
- “Boyfriend” by Tegan and Sara
- “Youth” by Troye Sivan
- “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots
And now, the number one song of 2016
1. “Closer” by The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey
Those assholes that brought you the horrendous songs “#SELFIE” all those years ago apparently make really good music now. The Chainsmokers (god, that’s a horrible name) made quick work of the year finally realizing EDM was getting bigger and maturing beyond all reasonable doubt to bring clever pop hits such as “Closer” with a lovely duet with Halsey, who as previous mentioned, is one hell of a great singer. The song encapsulates that moment in life when you walk into someone from the past you once had ready to ignite feelings again, yet being slightly conscience. Unlike the previous entry, this time both parties want to actively get back together and do to get down and dirty once again. The song is about sex, but hey, it’s not a bad song about sex. The reason this is a bit personal is because I’ve experience this from time to time and it is odd as hell at first glance and was also playing in the background through my summer. The song is catchy, infectious and a classic for years to comes. It is definitely ain’t ever getting older.
Let’s see what 2017 has in store for us all.