I was so excited to write this blog that I started on it as soon as I got home from work. I was trying to brainstorm and remember my favorite jams from this 2016 year, which is harder than I thought it would be. We’ve had some great albums this year, including Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, Beyonce’s Lemonade, etc. I found this list to be a good way for me to reflect on why I love each one of these songs, whether it be the beats, lyrics, or just the fun the song brings. These are not the “best” songs of the year, but they have definitely been some of my favorites. I also tried to stick to one song per album, in order to give a little diversity to this list.
Feel free to disagree with me! This is music, the most subjective art there is. Everyone gets an opinion.
One last thing, as you read this, you may be thinking: Where’s Views? Why didn’t he include any Drake?
Because Fuck Drake.
Views sucked. Call me when Take Care gets re-released.
10. That’s What I Like – Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
Date: November 18, 2016
Since this song was released with the 24K Magic album, it has been vibing with me on all the fun levels. This is a catchy song, with a fat beat behind it, as Austin would call a “slapper”. I love the sexually-charged lyrics Bruno is laying down and the mix between funk & pop this song has. Bruno has that silky smooth voice, and trust me, it’s what I like.
Favorite Lyric: “I’ll rent a beach house in Miami, Wake up with no jammies.”
9. Caroline – Aminé – single
Date: March 9, 2016
I loved this song from the first listen. It’s funky and original, with Aminé dropping Gambino-esque references and flow switches that keep the listener on their toes. This is the first single from this Portland rapper and if it is any sign of the future, we are all in for a real treat. I love dual threat rappers, those that can spit bars and sing, something we see less and less of these days. Aminé doesn’t have the strongest voice, but it works perfectly in this song. All in all, this track is dope.
Favorite Lyric: “If ya want safe-sex, baby use the knee pads, Freaky with the sticky icky, Baby give me kitty kitty.”
8. Whisky to Wine – Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood – Gunslinger
Date: September 8, 2016
The first time I heard this song, I was listening to Garth perform at the Ryman Auditorium and he was doing a bit about the greatest duets in country music history. After singing some old classics, he brought out his wife, Trisha Yearwood, and they cut loose on this song from his new album. Loving classic Garth, I was unsure of what to think of the new stuff, but this song blew me away. So simple and delicate, yet powerful and moving. The chorus is the powerhouse of this song, with Garth and Trisha meshing as perfectly as chips n’ queso. Garth proved he still had it and Trisha proved she never lost it, making this song one of the easiest choices to make the top 10.
Favorite Lyric: “Whiskey to wine, It’s just not the same high, I miss the fire, The burning desire.”
7. Solo – Frank Ocean – Blonde
Date: August 20, 2016
I may get some flack for this, but I did not like Blonde that much. I felt it was too boring and for how long we waited for some new Ocean, I guess I expected more. Except for “Solo”. This track feels like Channel Orange Frank Ocean, with the same emotion and pure vocals that I came to love on his previous work. This song stood out, for me, among all the other songs on this album and it clearly deserved a spot on my list.
Favorite Lyric: “It’s hell on Earth and the city’s on fire, Inhale, inhale there’s heaven, There’s a bull and a matador dueling in the sky, Inhale, in hell there’s heaven.”
6. Redbone – Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!
Date: November 17, 2016
Gambino’s departure from corny rap into funk may have disappointed some fans, but I welcome it. I love the cleverness of Gambino’s raps and how he seems to not give a fuck about what people think. I loved the adventurous nature of Awaken, My Love! and look to see how far he will go on his next album. I was instantly drawn to “Redbone”, what I consider the mantel piece of this album, due to its filthy base line and chilling vocals. Childish creeps up into that head voice and spits some raw, emotional lines that keep me coming back for more. I may have only been listening to this track for a few weeks, but it is already one of my favorite songs, not just in 2016 either. Stay woke!
Favorite Lyric: “But stay woke, Niggas creepin’, They gon’ find you, Gon’ catch you sleepin’ (Oooh).”
5. Good as Hell – Lizzo – Coconut Oil
Date: May 11, 2016
The former GRRRL PRTY standout drops her follow up EP to her fantastic album, Big Grrrl Small World, with “Good as Hell” being the lead single. This song has everything I have come to appreciate about Lizzo: Sass, Soul, & Realness. Lizzo never fails to keep her feet firmly planted on the ground, allowing her music to connect with people like me. I appreciate an artist who can keep it real (RIP Kanye). While she sounds like she could use a few more GRRRL’s behind her, Lizzo still brings the fire with this one.
Favorite Lyric: “Come now, come dry your eyes, You know you a star, you can touch the sky, I know that it’s hard but you have to try, If you need advice, let me simplify.”
4. Ultralight Beam (feat. Chance the Rapper, Kelly Price, & Kirk Franklin) – Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
Date: February 14, 2016
Kanye has had an interesting year, even for him. I was one of the fortunate ones who saw him before he cancelled the remainder of his Saint Pablo tour, and boy was it worth every penny. The Life of Pablo may not be Kanye’s greatest work, but it still was one of the best albums of the year. It had everything: gospel vibes, Chance, bleached assholes, controversy, etc. And “Ultralight Beam” was the crowning jewel of this album. “Real Friends” was probably a better song, but Ultralight Beam found a way to connect with people on a level that is lacking in hip-hop, spiritually. Kelly Price slays with the vocals, and Chance proved he was ready for the national spotlight with the best verse on the whole album. Kanye stepped aside, showed some humility, and gave the “chance” to the future of hip-hop. And it worked out better than we could have ever imagined.
The message is clear.
We on an Ultralight Beam. This IS a God dream.
Favorite Lyric: “I made Sunday Candy, I’m never going to hell, I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail.”
3. Work (feat. Drake) – Rihanna – ANTI
Date: January 27, 2016
“Work” is not a groundbreaking song. It is not deep. It is not powerful. But what it is is pure fun. Not every song needs to be a game changer. Not every song needs to rival Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”. I love this song because it is so simple and catchy. Though being ridiculously overplayed, I have never felt like I could be sick of this song. Even Drake is good on this song; it’s probably the only good thing he’s done since Take Care. Every year I hope to find a song like this; one that is just fun and catchy. This year was Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Work.
Favorite Lyric: “Work, work, work, work, work, work.”
2. Friends (feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West) – Francis and the Lights – Farewell, Starlite!
Date: July 17, 2016
I happened to stumble across this song on Pitchfork the day it came out and thought I would give it a listen because Kanye was in it. My initial impressions were that this song seemed eerily familiar and that I really liked it. Turns out Chance sampled this song for his “Summer Friends” track on Coloring Book. I delved more and more into the catalog of Francis and the Lights and found myself loving the style of music he was making. I have never been huge on electronic music, but his music really vibed well with me and the Farewell, Starlite! album has become one of my 2016 favorites. But it all started with this song. Bon Iver shreds, as always, and the combination of Francis Starlite and Justin Vernon makes for a killer pair, something I hope to see again in the future.
Favorite Lyric: “There’s a station playin’ rock and roll, So stay tuned in mi amor, Stay tuned in.”
1. No Problem (feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz) – Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
Date: May 13, 2016
This is my pick for album of the year, hands down. I went from being lukewarm on Chance after Acid Rap to a total Chance the Rapper stan. I had the great pleasure of seeing him at Magnificent Coloring Day with Jason, and the show was pure magic. If I was to do an unstructured list of songs that were my favorites in 2016, including ones from the same album, Coloring Book would have six of the top ten (Tracks 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 12 on the album if you are curious). This mixtape connected with me on a level very few pieces of music ever have before. Spiritually, I feel enlightened by the words Chance lays down, finding some inner peace in how much faith plays a roll in his music (“with the faith of a pumpkin seed-sized mustard seed”). I can look at this track list and point out my favorite parts on every song. Chance makes this album so much fun, and I have fun every time I make my way through it.
I am not saying this should be everyone’s favorite album or everyone will even like it. But this album means a lot to me and I felt like sharing that.
So why “No Problem”? Honestly, the video was dope. #FreeWeezy. And it is the most fun song on the album. And “Angels” was released in 2015.
Favorite Lyric: “And if that label try to stop me, There gon’ be some crazy Weezy fans waitin’ in the lobby, Mula, baby.”
Thank you for checking out my Top 10 Favorite Songs of 2016! Feel free to comment with any thoughts you have!