Favorite Songs of 2016

At the end of each year, I make a list of my favorite albums. Mostly just for fun…something that usually ends up in a tweet to get others to share their favorite albums as well.

I often think about doing a year-end list of my favorite songs, but it’s a much tougher task. Like choosing your favorite movie scenes, rather than your favorite movies.

This list started pretty small. I basically took individual songs from my favorite albums and went from there. But somewhere along the way I wanted it to better reflect not only the entire calendar year, but also span across a number of different genres that I like.

So when you close this page long before reaching the bottom of the list, just know that original my goal was to list about 100 less songs. My favorite albums list will be out tomorrow and it is much shorter.

The first section is a big list of my favorites. If you want a listen, each song has a link for whatever streaming service you may use. Some also have a short blurb accompanied by a music video.

The second section is a list of artists that put out great singles in 2016 and should be releasing albums in 2017. The last sections are electronic/EDM lists.

The lists are in alphabetical order if you’re looking for particular artists. Otherwise, just click away and enjoy.

UPDATE: If you want to skip the list and head straight to the music, here’s the playlist in all its 131-song glory:


Massive song dump of the rest of my 2016 favorites

A Tribe Called Quest, “Melatonin” (Spotify | Apple Music)

A Tribe Called Quest, “We The People…” (Spotify | Apple Music)

A Tribe Called Red, “Maima Koopi” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Anderson .Paak, “Parking Lot” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Anderson .Paak, “The Season/Carry Me” (Spotify | Apple Music)

I wasn’t blown away the first time I heard Anderson .Paak, but since his multiple Compton features in 2015 he’s been on fire. He’ll be around for a long time.

Angel Olsen, “Shut Up Kiss Me” (Spotify | Apple Music)

The Avalanches, “If I Was A Folkstar” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Azealia Banks, “The Big Big Beat” (Spotify | Apple Music)

As petulant and insufferable as she can be on Twitter, the music is still top notch. 

BadBadNotGood feat. Samuel T. Herring, “Time Moves Slowly (Spotify | Apple Music)

Beacon, “Escapements” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Beyonce, “Formation” (Tidal)

Feel free to release Lemonade on other streaming services whenever you’d like, Queen.

Beyonce feat. Kendrick Lamar, “Freedom” (Tidal)

Blood Orange, “Desirée” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Blood Orange, “E.V.P.” (Spotify | Apple Music)

C Duncan, “Nothing More” (Spotify | Apple Music)

C Duncan, “Other Side” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Cass McCombs, “Bum Bum Bum” (Spotify | Apple Music)

This song floats along so gently, it’s easy to miss how political it is. Cass McCombs has put out nine albums since 2003, so if you like what you hear there’s plenty more for you to enjoy.

Car Seat Headrest, “1937 State Park” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Car Seat Headrest, “Cosmic Hero” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Chance the Rapper feat. 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne, “No Problem” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Chairlift, “Moth to the Flame” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Charlotte Day Wilson, “After All” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Danny Brown, “When It Rain” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Dave East feat. 2 Chainz, “Can’t Ignore” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Dent May, “Face Down In The Gutter Of Your Love” (Spotify | Apple Music)

El Michels Affair feat. The Shacks, “Strange Boy” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Francis Lung, “Dance 4 Sorrow” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Frank Ocean, “Pink + White” (Spotify | Apple Music)

We were blessed with two Frank Ocean releases in one weekend this year, so don’t expect any new releases until at least 2025.

Frank Ocean, “Solo” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Frankie Cosmos, “Too Dark” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Foxygen, “America” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Ghost Wave, “Honeypunch” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Grace Joyner, “Dreams” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Grenda, “Let Me Know” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Her, “Five Minutes” (Spotify | Apple Music)

From that iPhone commercial.

Hinds, “Garden” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Hinds, “I’ll Be Your Man” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Holy Ghost!, “Crime Cutz” (Spotify | Apple Music)

infinite bisous, “Teen Sex” (Spotify | Apple Music)

James Blake, “Radio Silence” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Japanese Breakfast, “Everybody Wants to Love You” (Spotify | Apple Music)

They’re pretty good live if you ever have a chance to see them.

Japanese Breakfast, “The Woman That Loves You” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Kadhja Bonet, “Honeycomb” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Kanye West, “Real Friends” (Spotify | Apple Music)

I remember hearing this last January and feeling relief that The Life of Pablo may not be so bad after all. In the end, “Real Friends” is one of the few songs on the album that sounds like it wasn’t made in 20 minutes.

Kanye West feat. Chance the Rapper, “Ultralight Beam” (Spotify | Apple Music)

KAYTRANADA feat. Anderson .Paak, “GLOWED UP” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Kendrick Lamar, “untitled 05 (09.21.2014)” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Kid Bloom, “Electric U” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Kiiara, “Gold” (Spotify | Apple Music)

This list is pretty light on Billboard Hot 100 songs, but I had this on repeat for most of the year.

KING, “The Greatest” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Lakuta, “Bata Boy” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Leisure Suite, “Sweet Gin” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Little Tybee, “More Like Jason” (Spotify | Apple Music)

If you made it this far, I promise that you’ll like this band.

Local Natives, “Past Lives” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Local Natives, “Villainy” (Spotify | Apple Music)

M83 feat. Mai Lan, “Go!” (Spotify | Apple Music)

It was near impossible for Anthony Gonzalez to top Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (and he didn’t really come close), but “Go!” sounds more like M83 and less like the TV show theme song style of the rest of the album.

Metronomy, “Night Owl” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Moses Sumney, “Lonely World” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Mothers, “It Hurts Until It Doesn’t” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Mt. Si, “True” (Spotify | Apple Music)

NAO, “Girlfriend” (Spotify | Apple Music)

NAO, “Inhale Exhale” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Night Moves, “Carl Sagan” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Nite-Funk, “Let Me Be Me” (Spotify | Apple Music)

’80s Janet Jackson would be proud of this song.

No Mana feat. Fader Lima, “Frozen Fireworks” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Nomadic Firs, “LVSK” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Oddisee, “Lifting Shadows” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Parquet Courts, “Berlin Got Blurry” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Parquet Courts, “Human Performance” (Spotify | Apple Music)

PARTYNEXTDOOR, “Come and See Me” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Polographia feat. Winston Surfshirt, “Sly” (Spotify | Apple Music)

A song this retro sounding truly deserves this kind of music video.

Poom, “Sous l’orage” (Spotify | Apple Music)

POPPONGENE, “Do It Girl” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Porches, “Car” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Shame on every car company for failing to use this song in a 2016 commercial.

Porches, “Glow (Water Version)” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Porches, “Shape” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Prince Rama, “Bahia” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Puro Instinct, “Peccavi” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Radiohead, “Burn the Witch” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Rivergazer, “Only 4 U” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Rostam, “Gravity Don’t Pull Me” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Schoolboy Q feat. Jadakiss, “Groovy Tony/Eddie Kane” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Jadakiss still has my favorite voice in rap, so any song with him in it has a chance of making my “best of” list, but he and Schoolboy Q served up six minutes of greatness.

Schoolboy Q, “JoHn Muir” (Spotify | Apple Music)

The Seshen, “Distant Heart” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Simpatico, “NAVVI” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Skepta, “Shutdown” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Smerz, “Because” (Spotify | Apple Music)

 Good luck trying to stay still while listening to this new Norwegian duo. 

Solange, “Cranes In The Sky” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Solange described the sometimes inescapable pain of being black in America better than anyone else could this year 

Solange, “Don’t Wish Me Well” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Summer Salt, “Manastra” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Suzie, “Isn’t It Funny” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Of all the best lo-fi, ’80s sounding releases of 2016 (and there were a lot of them), Minneapolis artist Mark Ritsema made the dreamiest one of all.

Tennis, “Ladies Don’t Play Guitar” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, “Nobody Dies” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Triathalon, “South Side” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Triathalon, “I Want It” (Spotify | Apple Music)

When they perform this live, it sounds like a ’90s R&B song. Still sounds pretty good here.

Video Age, “Dance Square” (Spotify | Apple Music)

The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk, “Starboy” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Whitney, “No Woman” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Wild Nothing, “Alien” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Wild Nothing, “Whenever I” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Young Dreams, “Of the City” (Spotify | Apple Music)

In the second verse of “Of the City”, this Scandinavian duo seamlessly transitions into a Carnaval-style beat and then back to the psych-rock that they started with. And somehow it all works.


Excellent 2016 singles by relatively new artists that weren’t accompanied by a 2016 album. If you like any of these, you can expect a full album or EP sometime in 2017.

Alexandra Savior, “Shades” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Alexandra Savior says that her music has a “feminist angst horror film feel”. How that will gel with Alex Turner (from Arctic Monkeys), who co-wrote her debut album, remains to be seen, but I’m excited to find out.

Aldous RH, “Sensuality” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Brödet, “Ultra Friend” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Club Kuru, “Not for Me” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Great Pagans, “Call of the Void” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Jerkcurb, “Midnight Snack” (Spotify | Apple Music)

La Vif, “All In White” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Mouth Breather, “Shrug” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Sampha, “Blood on Me” (Spotify | Apple Music)

If you listen to a lot of Drake, Kanye, Frank Ocean, Solange, or SBTRKT, you’ve probably heard Sampha’s vocals before. His debut album, Process, comes out February 3rd.

T.R.U.C.E., “Head Hung” (Spotify | Apple Music)


Chris Lake feat. Dances With White Girls, “Operator (Ring Ring) (Spotify | Apple Music)

Jax Jones feat. Mike Dunn & MNEK, “House Work” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Kauf, “Through the Yard” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Kidnap Kid feat. Leo Stannard, “Moment” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Illusionize & Dazzo, “Say What” (Spotify | Apple Music)

No Mana, “Nostalgia Drive” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Porter Robinson & Madeon, “Shelter” (Spotify | Apple Music)

They put on a good show the past November in D.C. Coachella will be their last live show together, so if you get a chance to see them together, make sure you do it.

Redlight, “Blood Moon” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Ryan Hemsworth, “How It Felt” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Riton feat. Kah-Lo “Rinse & Repeat” (Spotify | Apple Music)


Unlike most songs, I think these remixes are better than the original.

Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons, “Sacred Dance of the Demon (Gorgon City Remix)” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Elohim, “Xanax (Moon Boots Remix” (Spotify | Apple Music)

The Invisible, “So Well (Darkstar Remix)” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Miloux, “Pocket (Jono Das Stolen Cadillac Remix” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Latroit, “Everything Is Beautiful (Lliam Taylor Remix)” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Sofi Tukker, “Matadora (Medina Remix)” (Spotify | Apple Music)


Pat Lok doesn’t do any significant mixing here (though he’s very capable of doing so), but I thought all of the songs that he chose here were fantastic. All are 2016 tracks except for Dornik’s. They play in the order below.

Drool, “End Girl” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Wanderbug, “White Kite” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Boyboy, “Boy” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Tennyson, “All Yours” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Raveena, “Johnny It’s the Last Time” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Dornik, “Drive” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Zedef feat. Treeko, “Duro” (Spotify | Apple Music)

M+A feat. Spank Rock, “Ninja” (Spotify | Apple Music)

XXX, “Yves” (Spotify | Apple Music)

Grace Joyner, “Dreams” (Spotify | Apple Music)


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