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The 20 Best Songs of 2016

Photo: Kevin Mazur (Getty Images)

What hasn’t been said about 2016 that hasn’t been said on Facebook, Twitter or wherever you choose to vent. Regardless, of how your year went I think we can all agree that it was a stellar year for music.

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The 20 Best Songs of 2016 were hard to pair down. There were breakouts, comebacks and new work from some of the biggest stars in the music world. Since we live in the age of singles I didn’t include works that are more appreciated on the whole as in albums from the likes of David Bowie, Car Seat Headrest, Chance the Rapper.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!!!

“We The People” – A Tribe Called Quest

The song of the album of 2016 is an eerie foreshadowing of the future in the oncoming President Trump-era we’re going into. The hard jazz beat is as hot as anything ATCQ has done and Q-Tip, the late great Phife Dawg, Jarobi (the album’s secret weapon) and DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad are as relevant, funny and inspiring as they’ve ever been.

“Drinkee” – Sofi Tukker

This is why I love music. The song doesn’t sound like anything you’ve heard before, but is still everything you want in a dance song: groovy and fun with a catchy chorus. Check out Crave’s interview with the Grammy nominated duo.

“You Were Right” – Rufus Du Sol

The breakout song from the breakout Aussie dance trio is a song made for sing-alongs. Hit. Play. Repeat.

Love$ick (featuring A$AP Rocky) – Mura Masa


Steel drums were the cowbell of 2016. I wanted more of it and the English 20 year old beat slayer gave it to me, slathering the sweet Caribbean sound around an infectious hip hop beat that got A$SAP Rocky to jump onboard.

“One Dance” – Drake


This feel good, be bad ditty was the soundtrack to every pre-and-post party Uber ride this summer.

“Lifted” – Palmistry


A spiritual cousin to “One Dance” (and the final song in my steel drum trilogy), this whimpering South London production whiz is one to watch in 2017.

“Doing It To Death” – The Kills

This synth-backed bar room blues song just makes you want to drop whatever you’re doing and play air guitar while flashing the white guy overbite. Sorry, leather pants not included. Want more? Check out our exclusive The Kills playlist from earlier this year

“I Don’t Want To Be Funny Anymore” – Lucy Dacus


This could-be voice of a generation sings songs from the heart straight out of her Moleskin. This is the kind of stripped down song that gives true rock fans hope. Check out my video interview with Lucy Dacus at ACL.

“River In Me” – Trentemøller feat. Jenny Beth

Scary and sexy, kinda like Jenny Beth (Savages vocalist) herself. This bouncy badass road song shows off the Danish composer’s dark and romantic side that he talked about in an exclusive interview (read HERE).

“Go Up”  – Cassius (featuring Pharrell, Cat Power)


This is not the first rodeo for the veteran French producers, Cassius enlist A-list cameos from Pharrell (at his falsetto finest) and the indelible Cat Power for a dance floor banger with a disco flavor that would make Nile Rogers jealous.

“I Feel It Coming” – The Weeknd (feat. Daft Punk)

“Starboy” might have gotten more hype, but “I Feel It Coming” is timeless, sounding like a lost tape from Michael Jackson/Quincy Jones’ Off The Wall

“Waves” – Miguel (Tame Impala Remix)


Making a good song great isn’t as easy as it sounds, but leave it up to the music genius of Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and Miguel to pull it off. This odd couple goes together like crunchy peanut butter and green apples and is just as tasty.

“Redbone” – Childish Gambino


Is Donald Glover the Millennial David Bowie? On his first album, his rap alter ego sounded like Kanye West. On his latest the talented multi-hyphenate (his FX show Atlanta is must watch TV) seems to be chameleon-ing into Prince, early Lenny Kravitz and Funkadelic. The Thin White Duke would be proud.

“Glowed Up – Kaytranada (feat. Anderson Paak)


Two of the most underrated artists in any genre finally got their due in 2016 and this team-up shows why.

“Black Beatles” – Rae Sremmurd


Don’t overlook Rae Sremmurd’s big hit just because it was the official song of the #MannequinChallenge.

“Closer” – Chainsmokers feat. Halsey

Halsey somehow makes liking the Chainsmokers okay (no small feat). This is the kind of pop drop guilty pleasure you can sing along to when you’re stuck in traffic… with the car windows rolled up of course.

“Oh No” – Jessy Lanza


The Canadian singer/producer’s careless whispers take me back to the best of broken-hearted ‘90s R&B, but the wavy synths and staccato drums snap me back to 2016. Oh yes!

“Gimme Your Love” – Overjoy


LA-based trio make music for the after party when the lights are dim, the neighbors are asleep, but you’re not ready to let go of the night or that special someone you brought in from the cold (ahem, club). The break at 3:45 is your queue to make your move or at least break out the party favors. Check out Crave’s interview with Overjoy (HERE).

“Nikes” – Frank Ocean

The enigmatic crooner released a sea of new work across music, film, digital and print media, highlighted by not one, but two new albums. A true craftsman, he seems to be playing chess, while contemporaries are playing checkers. Unafraid to cross boundaries and defy expectations, no song sums up his bold vision than the duality of this instant classic.

“Running Out Of Time” –  Nite Jewel

LA-based singer-songwriter Ramona Gonzalez graces us with a lo-fi electro pop song that seems made for late night drives and staring at your reflection in the rearview mirror.