Welcome along to the most important article I’ll post on my website all year, my Songs of The Year. I’ve shortlisted an insane 1,940 records I’ve found and enjoyed down to just 300.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been listening. I’ve been listening and I’ve been noting down every new piece of music I hear. That’s been countless hours listening, exploring and falling in love with new music. It’s probably important for me to talk a little about just how important that’s been for me. I returned home post-Uni with no immediate plans on what my future held. I’ve done alright, I have two incredibly fulfilling radio jobs and a third to follow in the new year. That being said, in between those successes, there’s a lot of down time. I live in an area where I don’t really have anything to do, or anybody to speak to. I’ve fallen out of touch with most of my friends for the most part. When I have been down or felt the darkness creeping up, putting my energy into music discovery has saved me countless times this year. So collecting all of this data and collating it does me a greater happiness than I could ever expect anybody reading will take from it.
That pre-face out of the way, let’s get into this. My hope is you find your favourites listed through-out but also a lot of records that slipped under the radar but burst with excitement and progression. Find numbers 300-201 below with a lovely Spotify playlist (or Soundcloud links) to all of the records.
300. AlunaGeorge – I’m In Control
299. Danny L Harle – Broken Flowers
298. Atom Tree – Body
297. The Temper Trap – Burn
296. Echos – Gold
295. Denzel Curry – Knotty Head
294. Agua Roja – Joey
293. Young Franco – Drop Your Love
292. The Naked & Famous – Higher
291. Rews – Miss You In The Dark
290. Beffroi – Faint
289. Rocheii – Body Language
288. Sylvan Esso – Radio
287. Weezer – LA Girlz
286. Wolfie’s Just Fine – It’s A Job
285. Ramsey – See You Bleed
284. Moses – Leave, Leave, Leave
283. Tender – Oracle
282. Solange ft Sampha – Don’t Touch My Hair
281. Bear’s Den – Napoleon
280. Oyls – Maps
279. Dan Croll – Swim
278. Idles – Well Done
277. DRAM – Cash Machine
276. Bryce Fox – Horns
275. Twenty One Pilots – Lane Boy
274. Skott – Lack Of Emotion
273. The Head & The Heart – All We Ever Knew
272. Wall – Cuban Cigars
271. Jelani Blackman – Submarine
270. Dua Lipa – Last Dance
269. The Amazons – In My Mind
268. Biffy Clyro – Re-Arrange
267. Potty Mouth – Smash Hit
266. Matt Corby – Monday
265. Miles Mosley – Abraham
264. Circa Waves – Wake Up
263. American Football – I’ve Been So Lost For So Long
262. Margaret – Cool Me Down
261. Obongjayar – Creeping
260. John Jacob Magistery – Carol
259. Chance The Rapper – Blessings Reprise
258. Jesiah – Babylon
257. DJ Shadow & Run The Jewels – Nobody Speak
256. Tegan & Sara – Boyfriend
255. Ralph – Cold To The Touch
254. The Avalanches – Because I’m Me
253. Karo – Wolfbaby
252. Yellowcard – The Hurt Is Gone
251. Beaty Heart – Flora
I toyed with the idea of writing out a paragraph about each song I’ve included in my list. They really deserve to be spoken highly of, each and every one of them. They’ve all played important parts in my year, even if it was just smiling or grinning upon first hearing them. Hopefully you have the time to sink your teeth (and ears) into the 300-201 playlist. What follows now will back-up why you should spend your time listening.
250. Sohn – Signal
249. Salen – Copper Kiss
248. Me Not You – Bulletproof
247. The Kills – Doing It To Death
246. Seramic – Waiting
245. Warhola – Lady
244. Shells – Gold
243. Tourist – To Have You Back
242. Mallrat – Tokyo Drift
241. Clean Cut Kid – Make Believe
240. Drake – Keep The Family Close
239. LCMDF – Rookie
238. Khalid – Location
237. Team Picture – Classic M
236. Pinegrove – Old Friends
235. Sigala – Say You Do
234. Passenger – Anywhere
233. Swet Shop Boys – Aaja
232. Beck – Wow
231. DMAs – Delete
230. Kings Of Leon – Walls
229. Cape Cub – All I Need
228. Cherry Glazzer – I Told You I’d Be With The Guys
227. Childcare – Film Club
226. Pumarosa – Honey
225. Local Natives – Past Lives
224. Biffy Clyro – In The Name Of The Wee Man
223. Pup – If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You
222. Twin Atlantic – The Chaser
221. Black Honey – Hello Today
220. Courteeners – The 17th
219. Elohim – Sensations
218. Deftones – Prayers/Triangles
217. Ian Sweet – All Skaters Go To Heaven
216. Anderson.Paak – Sillicon Valley
215. Connie Constance – Clouds
214. Estrons – Drop
213. Strong Asian Mothers – The More That I
212. Louis Berry – Nicole
211. Arizona – I Was Wrong
210. Skott – Porcelain
209. Weyes Blood – Do You Need My Love
208. Catfish & The Bottlemen – Outside
207. Cigarettes After Sex – K
206. Desiigner – Timmy Turner
205. Beyonce – Sorry
204. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dark Necessities
203. Kanye West – Fade
202. Declan McKenna – Isombard
201. Kaytranada – Lite Spots
Dammit Beyonce! We almost got through 100 records without needing an alternative link. Her track Sorry, placing at 205, is the only record not on Spotify in the below playlist. I’m so annoyed I’m not even going to give her the attention of finding an alternative link, let’s just move past it. *composes self* Okay let’s bring on 200-101.
200. Zara Larsson – Lush Life
199. High Contrast – Remind Me
198. Mitski – Fireworks
197. Sia – Broken Glass
196. Pup – DVP
195. Shame – Gold Hole
194. Yellow Days – Gap In The Cloud
193. KoRn – Rotting In Vain
192. MO – Final Song
191. Joey Bada$$ – Devastated
190. OneRepublic – Kids
189. Hunny – Colder Parts
188. Jagwar Ma- OB1
187. Skott – Wolf
186. The Academic – Mixtape 2003
185. Run The Jewels – Talk To Me/Legend Has It
184. Blaenavon – My Bark Is Your Bite
183. Bibi Bourelly – Sally
182. The 1975 – She’s American
181. The Japanese House – Face Like Thunder
180. Jorja Smith – Blue Lights
179. Japanese Breakfast – Everybody Wants To Love You
178. Pwr Bttm – I Wanna Boi
177. Hotton Tennis Club – Katy-Anne Bellis
176. Tender – Afternoon
175. Dreamwife – Hey Heartbreaker
174. Twenty One Pilots – Ride
173. Post Malone – Go Flex
172. Bantug – Wine Beeline
171. Kiiara – Gold
170. Passport To Stockholm – Better Days
169. Maggie Rogers – Dog Years
168. Shura – Touch
167. Snakehips & Zayn – Cruel
166. Will Joseph Cook – Take Me Dancing
165. Imany (Filatov & Karas Remix) – Don’t Be So Shy
164. Francis & The Lights – It’s Alright To Cry
163. Slothrust – Like A Child Hiding Behind A Tombstone
162. Pep & Rash – Love The One You’re With
161. Kano – Garage Skank
160. Bad Sounds – Avalanche
159. Nilufer Yanya – Small Crimes
158. Dua Lipa – Blow Your Mind (Mwah)
157. Muna – I Know A Place
156. Portishead – SOS
155. Slotface – Take Me Dancing
154. AlunaGeorge – I Remember
153. The Lumineers – Ophelia
152. Travis Scott & Young Thug – Pick Up The Phone
151. Lapsley – Love Is Blind
That puts us nicely at the half way mark of The New Music Mixtape’s Songs of 2016. There were so many records in that past 50 that I had bookmarked through-out the year for being my song of the year but such has been the quality of records I’ve discovered this year. So many gems to behold. There was only one record not on Spotify in that past 50 which was Portishead’s haunting cover of ABBA’s S.O.S initially featured in the soundtrack for film High Rise but later released as a tribute to Jo Cox in what was one of 2016’s most harrowing tragedies. You can hear it here. Okay, let’s go back in!
150. Sia & Sean Paul – Cheap Thrills
149. Car Seat Headrest – Fill In The Blank
148. Phoebe Ryan – Boyz N Poizn
147. BJ The Chicago Kid – The New Cupid
146. Gypsy & The Cat – I Just Wanna Be Somebody Else
145. Chvrches & Hayley Williams – Bury It
144. Timeflies – Once In A While
143. John Legend & Chance The Rapper – Penthouse Floor
142. Flume – Never Be Like You
141. Jessie Reyez – Figures
140. Asking Alexandria – The Black
139. M83 –Do It, Try It
138. Oscar & The Wolf – The Game
137. George Cosby – All Of Your Love
136. Bad Sounds – Wages
135. Danny Brown – Really Doe
134. Michael Kiwanuka – Black Man In A White World
133. Anderson.Paak – The Season/Carry Me
132. Miike Snow – My Trigger
131. Usher – Crash
130. Justice – Alakazam
129. Angel Olsen – Shut Up, Kiss Me
128. Her’s – Dorothy
127. Abra – Crybaby
126. Frightened Rabbit – Get Out
125. Twenty One Pilots – Stressed Out
124. Ray Blk – Chill Out
123. Island – Spotless Mind
122. Sampha – Blood On Me
121. Taking Back Sunday – Death Wolf
120. Drake – Feel No Ways
119. Bon Iver – 715 Creeks
118. Radiohead – True Love Waits
117. The Avalanches – Frankie Sinatra
116. Blossoms – Charlemagne
115. Bruno Mars – Versace On The Floor
114. Justin Jay & Friends – What Do You Want
113. Vant – Peace & Love
112. Joyce Manor – Last You Heard Of Me
111. Nvdes – Don’t Fvck Your Neighbour
110. Biffy Clyro – Wolves Of Winter
109. Tove Lo – Cool Girl
108. Tall Ships – Meditations On Loss
107. QTY – Rodeo
106. Serpentwithfeet – Blisters
105. Fronteers – Idol
104. CRX – Broken Bones
103. Elf Kid – Golden Boy
102. Raye – I, U, Us
101. Gallant – Weight In Gold
And with Gallant just missing out (for now), we arrive at The New Music Mixtape’s Top 100 Songs of the Year. I will stress that I’ve poured countless hours over the past week shortlisting and ordering. Essentially as much as I love end of year lists with all of my heart, I love the urge to talk through all of the music I’ve found even more. Apologies that I can’t talk through them all, but hopefully you have the time to listen through to the playlists above and now the Top 100. I’ve also put all of the Top 100 into a Spotify playlist for you too. Without further a-do, please find my favourite songs of the year.
100. Rihanna – Work
Like it or loathe it, you had an opinion and that is important. Rihanna’s unlikely comeback early in the year brought in two very new realities. Firstly that global superstars now have so many platforms to release music, that they’ll do it in their own way and trust their brand to follow on whatever changes they make. Secondly, we are in the middle of a tropical typhoon in the charts, with so many songs influenced by RiRi’s turn on Jamaican/Caribbean culture.
99. Drake – Controlla
Drake’s third and final spot on my end of year list goes to Controlla, not One Dance. Sure the former spent 15 weeks atop the UK charts and Christ knows how long elsewhere over the world, but Controlla is the most successful song from Drizzy’s new venture. He, like Rihanna, wanted to explore the incoming tropical waves and Controlla is for my dollar a solid overview of what hit music sounded this year.
98. Nvdes – The Other Side
Keep an eye out for my post about my picks for the most exciting artists heading into 2017, because from the get go, Nvdes have sounded like a band certain to make a massive splash into the future. The Other Side is the sturdiest evidence of this, blending colourful disco, bubblegum pop sensibilities and a cool slacker mentality – all combining to give us an unpolished rebellious sibling to Friendly Fires.
97. Maggie Rogers – Alaska
Alaska is absolutely the perfect staple track for any new music playlist you’ll have advertised to you this year. It’s a given that 2017 is going to be enormous to the Pharrell prodigy, who mixes downtempo dance music with her folk background.
96. Denzel Curry – Ultimate
Above else when I hear a new trap record, what I need is the ability to wile to it. Ultimate did that greater than any other in 2016 and as such the drop on Ultimate has found a home in countless memes on-line and party playlists.
95. Wet – The Middle/Turn Away
As I did with Run The Jewels earlier, I’ve went for a double booking here. I’m allowed to, it’s my list dammit. Wet are one of the best bands on earth. New York is a hub for creative and young romantics growing up. There’s absolutely piles and piles of sweet sounding New York bands singing about the troubles of romance and whilst they’re mostly great, to stand out from that is something really, really special. Wet do that. They’re the best new band coming out of New York for my money and I wanna push as much of them onto people as I can, so tell your friends.
94. Seramic – Found
Another super exciting sound for 2017 is mate of Jack Garratt and sorta similar sonically, Seramic. Creating big moments out of spaciously tranquil mixes seems to be his forte, creating crescendos out of nothingness. The reason Found has ‘found’ its way so high up the list is due to how euphoric this chorus is. Forget the bad times, get in on this chorus folks!
93. Childish Gambino – California
I will say that if you want to pretend I put Redbone here that is totally fine. The quick line is, Gambino dropped a sick 70s funk album and I indulgently love this drenched in autotuned, slightly offbeat comic sounding tune. Sure it’s a strange pick, especially to the omission of any of the actually great tunes off of Awaken Your Love, so just pretend this pick represents the whole album, m?
92. Krrum – Evil Twin
Evil Twin makes me smile for so many reasons. The royal sounding brass is engaging. The vocal sample is funky as a pigeon and it’d absolutely wreck a speaker system if you turned the bass right up. Seriously don’t do that!
91. Moose Blood – Knuckles
Hey guys, it’s The New Music Mixtape’s Top songs of 2001 and as you’d expect its emo pop punk heavy! Hey guys, it’s The New Music Mixtape’s Top songs of 2016 and surprisingly ITS STILL emo pop punk heavy! Thank you for existing Moose Blood ❤
90. Kaytranada – You’re The One
Canada’s new super-producer has amassed a number of streams this year that’s just plain silly. The guy is so popular after his excellent 99.9% album, and for me the stand-out from is the lush You’re The One. Brb, having a boogie.
89. Honeyblood – Ready For The Magic
Said it in my album reviews, for a band to essentially split in half, recover and slam out an anthem like this in less than a year is ‘A+’ for effort.
88. Sheer Mag- Nobody’s Baby
Sheer Mag are so new and underground and much cooler than any of us, that they ain’t on Spotify. So I’ve attached the Bandcamp link below for you to go purchase their music. Essentially the coolest punk rockers on the planet.
87. Sohn – Conrad
Whilst Signal was the proper comeback we all craved, the marching Winter born Conrad was the Sohn comeback we all needed. Multi-layered, sinister but ultimately entrancing, precisely what the artist does best.
86. Solange – Cranes In The Sky
I will never understand the logic of why listening to sad lyrics and music makes things less bad for us as a listener, but Solange’s Cranes In The Sky is the perfect remedy for 2016. Whatever has troubled you, Solange it away.
85. Bastille – Good Grief
Good Grief was a proper banger for all ages. The absolutely perfect British radio tune of 2016 and it was the strong lead single for a strong new album. Two thumbs up for the efforts this year Dan & co.
84. Catfish & The Bottlemen – Twice
Twice is the sound of a band maturing on album number two. Like all great bands, Catfish & The Bottlemen have found a comfort in their originality and are confident pushing the boat out. Twice succeeds in being a stonking tune for the fans but also in being something new and exciting for the band to test out. I mean, that pace breakdown is stunning on every listen.
83. Saba/NoName – Church/Liquor Store
Upon my first listen to this one from Saba, I was very excited about what I was hearing. Yes the production is great, the song is catchy, Noname does a perfect spin, but damn the flow on Saba is spectacular. Pick yourself up the Bucket List project asap!
82. Declan McKenna – Bethlehem
My pick to win the BBC Sound of 2017, Declan McKenna has been on my radar since last year’s excellent wavy indie tune Brazil. He’s been building the foundations of his artistry and sound and Bethlehem is a really fun and proud record. I’m proud as a fan, he should be proud as an artist. This kid’s gonna go far.
81. Fifth Harmony – Work From Home
#RIP5H Mine and the lads’ favourites
80. Klangstof – Hostage
The first record I heard on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 show (Yes, it took me a long while to get the software working). This is what music discovery is about though, finding something that peacefully brings you in and then blooms into something that takes your breathe away. I pray this is your first listen to Hostage so you will experience the same.
79. The Weeknd – Starboy
Remember the days when Abel was releasing free mixtapes? Honestly doesn’t seem like it was so long ago but now it feels galaxies away. This Daft Punk collaboration ensured that The Weeknd has had two years on the trot with excellent albums and growing superstardom. Where to next?
78. Radiohead – Daydreaming
Top tip incoming: If you find yourself at the end of the world and everybody else is gone and your phone has almost run out of battery, make this the song you listen to. It’ll fit the mood perfectly!
77. Chase & Status + Slaves – Control
My favourite thing about C&S is how well they can maintain the crunching D&B anthems they’ve become known for whilst adopting traces of the artists who collaborate with them. They’ve become Kings of showcasing British talent and Slaves are as talented as they come. What we got with Control was a song you could really sink your teeth into which sounded as much a C&S hit as a Slaves one.
76. Warpaint – New Song
It’s absolute madness that a lot of Warpaint fans aren’t fans of this record. Their label wanted them to make something poppy and they did it with ease. They didn’t just do that, they made one of the best pop songs of the year. Succulent melodies and a riff to have cartoon heart eyes over. Can you tell I quite like this one?
75. Kings Of Leon – Waste A Moment
Huge success commercially for a band who’d been struggling for a few albums. It’s also kept the fans happy, harking back to their rockier days before the sludge of Tennessee Country we’ve had to put up with for the past five years. Welcome back Followills.
74. Whitney – No Woman
Speaking of Country and Americana, Whitney did it right this year, capturing the ears and hearts of many. Warm is the colour Whitney.
73. Elohim – Hallucinating
Anyone fancy a bit of Mariachi? If your answer was anything other than ‘Always!’ then you should probably just leave right now, we can’t be friends.
For real though, adopting a Mariachi band on your second single takes guts and Elohim’s shaping up to be one of 2017’s most interesting and unpredictable artists. This is the magical, Hallucinating.
72. Skott – Amelia
Skott has had one EP out to her name, and all 4 tunes have made their way onto my end of year list. That’s damn good going as I didn’t even realize until I started typing out my collated data from the year. As for her future, she’s been tipped more than a waiter at a fancy restaurant so she should be another name on your watch list for the next year. My favourite of hers so far is Amelia, which has haunting dramatics about its storytelling.
71. Fickle Friends – Cry Baby
Been on this band for a few years but had no idea they had this sort of throwback nostalgic bubblegum synthpop in them. Superb record to cry on the disco floor to, if you’re into that kind of thing.
70. Strong Asian Mothers – Don’t Let Go
In my eyes the greatest omission from the BBC’s tips list for next year, Strong Asian Mothers look destined to hit superstardom for me. Their name is two thirds literal. They aren’t mothers but their music is solid and does have excellent Asian tinted sizzle about its production. Don’t Let Go is massive, its waters starting calm but leading into choppy waves towards it’s endgame.
69. Blink-182 – Bored To Death
This one has topped mine and many of my friends’ most listened to song of the year on Spotify and there’s definitely reasons there. Blink are good at making earworms and even without the integral Tom DeLonge, they can still make a super hit. Another signifier of the terrific return of pop punk and emoism.
68. PartyBaby – Don’t Say It
Over in the States, there haven’t been many projects for Americans to proud of more than LA quartet PartyBaby. Composed of ex 30 Seconds To Mars and Portugal, The Man members what you get is nothing you’d expect from those. Think Weezer’s poppy grunge but made for 2016 and you’re kind of there. Don’t Say It struck a chord with me for sure, it sounding absolutely huge.
67. Clean Bandit – Rockabye
The moment where Clean Bandit turned up and saved us from the crushing tropical pop-dance plaguing us all, with actual creative pop. Thanks guys!
66. Kano – 3 Wheels-Up
Released at the very beginning of the year but remaining a Grime anthem through-out 2016, Kano’s party banger was always gonna wind up high in my list. I honestly don’t think we’ve had as many Grime anthems this year as previous years despite the scene growing, so this one was important.
65. Moose Blood – Honey
The sound of pop punk still packing a punch in 2016 primarily came through this tune from the excellent Moose Blood. Catchy chorus and sweet sounding riffs abound.
64. The XX – On Hold
Late year return from The XX after Jamie’s superb turn as a solo artist last year. The result of his findings there have changed The XX’s sound a bit as they come back with a very danceable tune which still retains the utter blackness and darkness that we’ve come to know and love from the band.
63. Viola Beach – Boys That Sing
From tragedy, many people in music did with Boys That Sing what felt right. They showcased how terrific a band Viola Beach were set to be. Coldplay singing a-long at Glastonbury was a special moment in music for lots of people, myself included, this year.
62. Honne & Izzy Bizu – Someone That Loves You
Both artists have had a good year but have suffered from lacking that substantial hit to put them both in my love pile instead of my like pile. That being said with this collaboration is filled with love and plays like a really good Karaoke pairing. I know labeling something Karaoke is never supposedly nice but I mean it honestly here!
61. Mulan – Night
I have absolutely zero information on new artist Mulan but blimey this sole song from the artist is enough to be excited by. It scratches on the ears before rewarding you with a disgustingly sick guitar riff and slick vocal. I have no idea what we have on our hands here, but the mystery is exciting.
60. Neck Deep – December (Again)
Neck Deep are another pop punk band bringing the sound back to the fray. December is a wonderful song by the band recorded both as a big pop punk record and a stripped back acoustic ballad. No matter which one you prefer, they’re both terrific and have some of the best pop punk couplets in forever.
59. Chairlift – Crying In Public
We’ve had the news that we’re losing Chairlift after Spring next year and so the current album is their final. Their swan song for me is Crying In Public, a gorgeous and fluttery swooning pop song that I’ve not had off repeat all year. I’ll miss you guys.
58. Bruno Mars – 24k Magic
Every line should be branded on T-Shirts, every sexy synth drop remembered for all time. It’s completely daft and indulgent but it’s wonderful if Bruno’s funk throwback is your thing.
57. Jay Prince – Father, Father
There’s tonnes of rap music coming out of London and almost all of what is spoken about is Grime. How refreshing it is to have an artist like Jay Prince on the scene who is channeling the styles of the likes of SaveMoney. This is excellent and original British rap which I am all about.
56. Broods – Heartlines
Broods are a band who can pen a pop hit. They’re probably the best musicians out of New Zealand in a majorly long time (I even prefer them to Lorde). On album number 1 they shined through in moment almost writing the perfect pop record. Heartlines is their magna carta thus far.
55. Pet Shop Boys – The Pop Kids
PSB go super-meta and make a pop smash hit about being a fan of pop smash hits. They also do it as part of a pop-dance album. They’ve been in the game so long but continue to freshen it up, hail PSB.
54. The Rhythm Method – Home Sweet Home
One of music’s lousiest stories this year was the closure of cult London club Fabric. The following week, music fans were naturally sombre about a City known for its music and culture. Then London’s best new band The Rhythm Method released Home Sweet Home, an ode to London. They saved that week.
53. Sundara Karma – A Young Understanding
My favourite record of Reading’s Sundara Karma so far is this unashamedly 80s influenced rocket with a big chorus and vocal which had essence of David Byrne about it. What struck me about it so much though was its stride, its confidence.
52. The 1975 – A Change Of Heart
This won’t be the final time I talk up Matty Healy’s songwriting but A Change Of Heart is terrific in detailing falling out of love with somebody. As we’re stuck, squished like sardines with more than enough songs about falling in love, this one hits home for those of us not shacked up with somebody. Thanks for being relatable where others aren’t Matty.
51. Two Door Cinema Club – Bad Decisions
Whilst their debut album packed lots of punch, the previous TDCC album really, truly sucked. They’d gone away a while and for them to take the chance on such a big change in sound was admirable. The real breakthrough for them this year was the terrific Bad Decisions which is the best funky indie tune in, well maybe forever?
50. Rae Sremmurd – Black Beatles
Yes this was as close as we had to a viral hit this year, with the Mannequin Challenge taking over, but this was already in my top list before that was a thing. Sremmlife 2 was a bit of up and down but Black Beatles stuck out like a sore thumb as sounding timeless. Having Gucci Mane on the song after his release from jail felt important. Black Beatles was more than a viral hit. It was Rae Sremm cementing themselves amongst the big dogs, having the audacity to label themselves the Black Beatles.
49. Bon Iver – 22 (Over Soon)
Bon Iver’s campaign came and went quite quickly and kind of modestly this year and the first record he teased from his album ’22, A Million’ is a blueprint of what makes Justin Vernon’s main project mine and most people’s favourite on earth. Its understated, it has layered vocals that sound like they’ve been compressed from the heaven’s above. There’s a warm Saxophone solo. There are vocal samples on the breeze through-out. And then the clouds open for a truly breath-taking moment. I’ve just described 22 (Over Soon) but that description works for much of his work.
48. Kid Canaveral – First We Take Dumbarton
Heroes of the underground indie scene in Scotland, Kid Canaveral have always teased brilliance for me, but with First We Take Dumbarton they gave us the whole boat and then a cruise liner to go with it. The lyrics don’t really do much for me but sonically, no other indie rock song hit the spot like the guitars in this one.
47. Grouplove – Welcome To Your Life
A stallion of an indie pop gem that Grouplove fans will be screaming back to the band for life. The verses have a terrific swagger about them and then that chorus, blimey. It’s such a large chorus it’s giving me Vertigo.
46. Vant – Karma Seeker
I thought 2016 was a really great year for this band. They’d been releasing fairly sub-standard records in the lead-up but between Peace & Love mentioned earlier and more so this record, I think they’ve found their stride. Karma Seeker is ambitious and leaps and latches onto you on first listen. Grunge is alive and well!
45. Car Seat Headrest – Does It Feel Good (To Say Goodbye?)
Interesting choice for many here as my favourite song of Car Seat Headrest is one they never actually released. They did this record for a mate’s indie film and for me it sums up what this band are all about. Thick as hell guitar played with real intensity. Slacker yet emotional vocals from the genius that is Will Toledo, and then when the record does just enough to break your wall down it attacks with a wall of sound and the most painful guitar solo of the year, probably one of the best solos of the year in general. This folks, is Car Seat Headrest at their best.
44. Estrons – I’m Not Your Girl
I’ve fallen for Estrons really quickly. A big part of it is because they sound a lot like Wolf Alice but where the latter’s lyrical content is brushed in metaphor, fantasy and myth, Estrons tackle super honest issues of growing up. And it’s not often we get that in British Indie Rock when it’s female fronted. This band are offering something fresh and I’m Not Your Girl whilst being brilliantly blunt lyrically, is also a storming banger.
43. Eat Fast – Public Displays Of Affection
A whirlwind of everything that’s great about British guitar music in 2016. Enough of this talk about it not being there or it being totally eclipsed by Grime music. Bollocks. Eat Fast have something to say about that and the result is dizzyingly scuzzy and glorious.
42. Saint Phnx – Reload
My favourite find in Scotland this year is these lads from Glasgow. The Brothers Jukes come at music differently to most in the Scottish scene. Maybe it’s because Scotland is very proud of its heritage sounds but there’s a LOT of folk led new music in Scotland and I need woken up a bit. Reload does that. These guys instead want to be like Imagine Dragons, like Coldplay. And based off of this record and its follow-up King, they’re making a good start.
41. Jorja Smith – Something In The Way
Jorja Smith’s voice can stop time, like that coin off of The Queen’s Nose. What a show. I’m going to come across really blasphemous to some here but Something In The Way is the most Back To Black song I’ve heard since Amy passed. And because it brought back the emotion and tears of those memories, I’m with Jorja all the way heading into 2017.
40. Desiigner – Panda
Oh god we’re losing serious bangers now. At number 40 is Panda, a song which was absolutely my favourite song of the year in many senses. The artist in question is nuts but exceeds a positive attitude and energy unseen in Trap ever. The song does the exact same. This existing was a good thing for 2016.
39. Christine & The Queens – Tilted
Strictly released in 2015, but made its name in 2016 so I’m allowing it. The movement of Tilted this year was fantastic, with this record being completely sold out in local Tescos all over the UK. At least for a few weeks, our Country had sick taste in music and we have CATQ to thank for that. Should probably mention that as a love song it is perfect too and her style and yeah you’ve heard it all before, we all love you Heloise.
38. Twenty One Pilots – Heathens
Its no bias you’ve seen 21P FOUR times in this list. With their second album, which was technically released last year, they’ve become the biggest band in the world. Stressed Out and Ride did the job in the Charts but Heathens was really the turning point over here in the UK where people started really getting excited about this band. I managed to catch them live at Leeds Festival and they performed with energy unmatched to any I’ve ever seen live, and I’ve spent a lot of pocket money on gigs. This band are special and this song was Alt-Rock’s savior in 2016.
37. Fatherson – Just Past The Point Of Breaking
With their second album this year, Fatherson really matured into the emotional indie folk band they were always going to be. The highlight was opening song which has so much drive and power in it. The kind of song to bring a tear to your Dad’s eye, this is Just Past The Point Of Breaking.
36. Get Inuit – Teriyaki
Surf Pop at its finest coming out of the capital of Surf Pop, London. Wait…
Get Inuit are a terrific prospect heading into 2017 and for me Teriyaki worked on just being a short, sweet taste of new music that wanted to have fun. It might be the funnest tune in my whole list.
35. Joyce Manor – Fake I.D
My favourite post punk band in the world, Joyce Manor, released their new album Cody this year. Whilst it wasn’t quite the classic I wanted it to be, Fake I.D as the lead single was the perfect tease. The lyrics are witty and a bit lame but in a way that’s perfect for a post punk band in our time to be. The music is terrific. And it all comes in at under two and a half minutes. Nailed it.
34. DRAM & Lil Yachty – Broccoli
This year there’s been so much BORING beef happening with Rap’s biggest superstars and aside it all, what’s been lovely is the emergence of two new superstars who aim to have a lot of fun. DRAM and Yachty getting together for this daftly brilliant party anthem felt right and as such it’s been a huge success all over the world.
33. Michl – Kill Our Way To Heaven
Wouldn’t be surprised if this one slipped under your radar as it’s really not had the recognition its deserving of. This record was an early year perfect earworm for me. If you’re a fan of the weird, dramatics of Clarence Clarity and LA Priest then Michl is somebody you want to start listening to pronto. You’d do much worse starting with this.
32. Gallant – Bourbon
The moment where the voice became the great songwriter. Gallant has had a fantastic 2016, releasing his debut album Ology and an array of solid singles. For me his best moment has been Bourbon which has the darkest but most gorgeous couplets this year has produced in the R&B world.
31. Puppy – Entombed
Sheer excitement was my reaction to hearing Entombed for the first time. Puppy are a British band who are unafraid to use deadly and monstrous sounding riffs around their My Bloody Valentine like vocals. Praying they keep this up as we need more British heavyweights around.
30. Zayn – Pillowtalk
The final pure pop song in this year, meaning the best pop song of the year belongs to Zayn. I tell you for sure when he left the best boy band on the planet I didn’t give him the time of day but he proved me wrong. Pillowtalk is a song mature beyond his years which is just written and crafted to perfection in every way.
29. InHeaven – Treats
Urgency is the key word in InHeaven’s sound. Treats is a fantastic record which clearly wears its Sonic Youth and Hole influences its sleeves. An earworm and a big record for fans of scuzzier stuff.
28. Cape Cub – Lifeline
A personal favourite band of mine from my time in the North East of England and a band I tipped to do awesome things this year on my blog last year. They did that with a really awesome EP. From it, my favourite is Lifeline which states their ambition more than any record so far. You’d not be remised for thinking you were listening to early Coldplay here and I believe Cape Cub have it in them to air for the stars with records like these.
27. Clean Cut Kid – We Used To Be In Love
2016 has felt like CCK’s year but this a band who haven’t actually released their album yet. Instead their singles have been so good this year that they’ve barely been out of the limelight. My ultimate favourite of the band’s though so far is this 80s synth pop influenced catchy number. I can’t quite place the band’s sound yet with equal amount of 80s pop, folk and indie rock. And that’s maybe a good thing. Unpredictable but so, so enjoyable.
26. The Rhythm Method – Party Politics
Next year should be a good’un for this duo and this excellent record which is every bit of Mike Skinner as it is of Neil Tennant was the very beginning of that. This is a band who regularly sell out gigs which I’ve been informed make up of 50% hardcore kids relating in this new band and 50% industry bigwigs seeing this love and taking furious notes. This band cannot fail at this point.
25. Beyonce – Formation
A proper moment in music this year was Beyonce’s Superbowl performance where she released Formation to the masses. The superb visual album Lemonade followed too and whilst in lots of ways there were other records I preferred, Formation was the most important. What I will say is the black panther signifiers was a bit crumby and kind of not on but I’m trying to ignore that. Ultimately a record I’m frustrated with but as it always should, the music shines through and for me, this is a banger.
24. Hunny – Vowels
The best Indie rock chorus I’ve heard in years both for the intensity and fun of the music but more so lyrically. This self-aware cheesiness is what indie is all about.
23. Rejjie Snow – Pink Beetle
Damn, just imagine if this was the lead single on Gambino or Chance’s albums. We’d all have named it the best record of the year for certain. This super accessible yet dark record is from new Irish rapper Rejjie Snow, a name I expect to hear a lot next year.
22. White Lung – Below
There’s been some backlash here from fans of White Lung as the normally hardcore band have turned to making a pop monster. I can’t understand how anybody can’t be effected by the power of this song’s chorus or build up. It’s broken me into pieces multiple times this year.
21. Schoolboy Q ft Kanye West – That Part
Loved Q’s new album but it was lacking singles or highlights. It more-so worked as a body of work and a sound. That being said That Part will be in clubs for AGES. And that weirdly minimalistic Yeezy verse, timeless.
20. Kanye West – Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1 & Pt. 2
I was lucky enough to be part of the audience to view Kanye West’s album launch at the cinema and when Father Stretch My Hands was unleashed, I was overwhelmed. The Kid Cudi sung drop proceeded to catch my emotions off guard a further infinite times. In a career full of highlights, its honestly up there with the best music Kanye has ever produced.
19. Francis & The Lights – See Her Out (That’s Just Life)
When was the last time you can honestly say a song has made you feel something undefined. Something that you relate to but you can’t explain why. It’s not that the lyrics are relatable but the actual music. The mood, the dramatics, be it spacious or full, be it rock, rap, pop or whatever. When was the last time you related to music properly, because mine was this record and implore everybody to really sit and block out the world and pay attention to it.
18. Hamilton Leithauser & Rostam – A 1000 Times
When Rostam left Vampire Weekend early in the year it was a really sad time. I knew he was a big part of the production of the band but listening to 1000 Times showcases just how big a part of the charm of Vampire Weekend he was. With Leithauser of The Walkmen, both men have crafted a wonderful, classical sounding album with this song at the front of it.
17. The Range – Florida
I think it’s generally been a pretty meh year for dance music and producers but with The Range we had a well needed blip. His album wasn’t super set on what it was but amidst the concoction of sounds, Florida shone through with real charisma.
16. Savages – Adore
The first great song of 2016 turned out to be one of the greatest of the full year. Savages have done something special with this ballad of sorts about admitting that despite the things that are wrong in it, life is great and should be adored. A lesson we can all use in 2016 I’m sure.
15. Kojey Radical – Kwame Nkrumah
If he’s new to you, Kojey Radical is a spoken word artist who adds a darker depth to his music than most on the scene. Kwame Nkrumah was the Ghanaian president who brought the country Independence from Britain. With the comparison, Kojey wrote an off kilter ballad for forward thinkers to get behind. Strive for greatness and speak out for what you want, just like Nkrumah did. An important record.
14. Lil Yachty – 1 Night
One of my favourite new sounds this year has been that of Lil Yachty, a new type of rap sound. A lot of people have labeled him mumble rap but he doesn’t like that so I’ll explain it my own way. Autotune can be used correctly as an instrument and Yachty does that. He uses this with fun beats and lyrics. He doesn’t care for trailblazers like Tupac and Biggie which has brought him a lot of criticism but he’s doing something new and I’m a fan.
13. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Gamma Knife
A band who were new to me this year but have actually released eight albums so far. Crikey. What you need to know is these dudes are insane Aussies who make rapid psycho-rock. Gamma Knife spoke to me on a number of levels in being the most creative rock song in years but also having a video which reminded me of Monty Python. It all really shouldn’t work, but absolutely does.
12. Shura – What’s It Gonna Be?
Loved the year that Shura has had and this record is her crème de la crème. Infectiously interesting pop with a subject we can all relate too by a brand new artist who is bringing something exciting to the fold.
11. Lapsley – Operator (DJ Koze Radio Remix)
My Song of the Summer was this absolutely ridiculously excellent Disco remix of Lapsley’s Operator. Not much to say on it, just that if it doesn’t make you groove I’ll wire you a fiver. (I’m not actually going to do that, but the point stands).
10. Chance The Rapper – No Problem
Chicago has a new national anthem and it comes courtesy of its current King, Chano from the 79th. No Problems is feel good, it’s a big tune for independence. In Chance’s case this is independence from record labels but it can transcribe to whatever situation you have going on, like all great music should.
9. Miike Snow – Genghis Khan
Early in the year, Miike Snow released their best song yet with the entertaining, fun, light-hearted banger that is Genghis Khan. Built on the central idea of being protective (we’ve all been there), Genghis Khan is precisely what creativity in music is all about. An earworm of the highest order.
8. James Blake & Bon Iver – I Need A Forest Fire
It was a collaboration that millennial vibe emos such as myself have prayed for, and a prayer answered. I Need A Forest Fire doesn’t offer much in the way of the song making a lot of sense but the impact of the production and of two of the most gorgeous voices on the planet combining and mesmerizing for four minutes.
7. Crying – There Was A Door
Crying are a band from New York who mix a big bag of sounds to make something truly unique. This record has bits of Rush and Yes in it, it has scratches like Run DMC, it has the 90s cheesiness Hanson, it has the indie vocal sensibilities of Chairlift. It has guitars like Van Halen. Surely, surely somewhere in there you find something you love?
6. Vic Mensa – There’s Alot Going On
The sound of a young artist tearing up everything you thought you knew about him and starting a new beginning. Vic Mensa is doing some of the most important work in hip-hop to speak for Black Lives Matter, to speak out against Trump and Police Brutality. He’s one of the most admirable speakers in Rap today and with this record, for me, it was a powerful statement piece.
5. Bon Iver – 33 ‘God’
Bon Iver has three songs in my Top 10 this year and there’s a reason. He’s the most important artist working today. In his own work, he didn’t do fan service. He releases his own, cracked, imperfect masterpiece. The centerpiece for me is 33 ‘God’, a song which more than any on the album goes full frontal with its religious intentions. Such an enormous topic should be tricky and taboo to cover but it somewhat fits Vernon’s voice perfectly. Certainly when the song begins we are on earth with gorgeous piano and strings which fit his folk stylistics perfectly. However by the end of the song we’re somewhere entirely different. 33 was the supposed age Jesus Christ died at and 33 ‘God’ is the kind of sound befitting even the Heavenly Son’s ascension to Heaven.
4. Mitski – Your Best American Girl
I think the general consensus is that most people loved what Mitski did this year. She made an excellent album for adolescents growing up struggling with love. Mitski too, goes very honest and graphic on the record and Your Best American Girl is the main event of her work this year. It’s been a year-long power anthem for those who are feeling like the one they want is worlds away. There’s a difference between falling for somebody and falling in love with a notion of somebody, and Mitski’s put this down in music perfectly.
3. Kanye West ft Chance The Rapper – Ultralight Beam
The opening to The Life Of Pablo saw Kanye West tackle faith, the state of our planet and people. He’s never been one for modesty. What he created is a Church sermon filled with choir and his prodigy Chance the Rapper going up in flames literally blazing every other rap verse this year has seen. The song has bits of darkness in it despite being about ultralight. It’s about light and dark and keeping faith amongst light and dark. The perfect record for every single person on this planet.
2. The 1975 – Somebody Else
Matthew Healy, thank you for creating the best break-up song ever. The brain is a complex buggar and I pray you never have to experience possessive feelings over somebody. It’s a horrible thing not loving somebody but also not wanting anybody else to love them. And it doesn’t make you a bad person but until Somebody Else this was unspoken of. Why The 1975 were great this year wasn’t because of songs like The Sound which turned them into pop behemoths. It was that lyrically they’ve become so damn relatable.
1. Francis & The Lights – Friends
From the first moment I heard Friends I knew it was going to be at the very top of my list and as the data was collated, and as I started shortlisting, it never looked in doubt to be honest. Francis is an artist who didn’t really have a great run of things with his first attempt at breaking the music industry but on his new album and on Friends there is so much music to here that sounds like it belongs in 2016, like its forward thinking, positive and exciting. Bon Iver features prominently here to and sings a great deal of it, and he has put his stamp on so many of 2016’s greatest works. Francis’ energy is what seals the deal though and with the music video having a dance routine to accompany, this one has ticked all of the boxes. Lyrically its about longing what a friendship feels like after breaking up out of a relationship. It explores the idea that friendships are as important as relationships and this year I think the idea of just being nice to each other goes a long way. So as this is released just in time for New Year, surround yourself with friends. I’ll be by myself most likely but as I’ve stated at the beginning of this list, music’s been a great friend to me this year and will continue to do so. This is my favourite song of the year and if you’re also a big fan, we should be friends.