Picking 20 songs is always a tricky task, but at least now Spotify sort of summarizes it for you (although man, I still am waiting for that raw data export so I can weight it like I used to with iTunes back in the day). Still, here are my faves of the year. Yes, I know some were released as singles before the albums, and one is a single from a forthcoming album, but there are no rules here (not like my top 10 albums list). Anyhoo, please enjoy.
New for 2016: After recently having the conversation about how I’m more of a melody person than a lyrics person, I’m adding standout lyrics (after all, this is the year Dylan won the Nobel Prize)!
20. Daughter – How
Holding on, souvenirs/His words inked from birthdays/Goodbye to our empty ruins/ Yeah that’s when I saw her
I’ll never not like dreamy shoegaze.
19. Allah-Las – Terra Ignota
Plan a day to slip away unseen/Hone your mind/Live for the time and me
Every year I have a California song, and this sounds like 70s LA canyon rock. It’s also a really good running jam, although it’s probably about acid.
18. Preoccupations – Anxiety
I’m not here purely for the sake/Of breathing, I am wide awake/Excuse my efforts for today
2016: The Song
17. Fruit Bats – Baby Bluebird
Writing songs about coming under/I’ve fallen in love with the idea of someone/Who is it gonna be
I thoroughly enjoyed the Fruit Bats album and glad to see a strong return. No song will ever touch my favorite, but this is a lovely little ditty.
16. Lucy Dacus – I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore
Lately, I’ve been feeling like the odd man out/I hurt my friends saying things I don’t mean out loud
If you know me, like really know me, you know how much I identify with this song. Ha ha, just kidding, everything is totally fine.
15. Radiohead – Daydreaming
Dreamers/They never learn/Beyond the point/Of no return
While A Moon Shaped Pool didn’t grab me as much as past Radiohead albums, it’s still one I’ll revisit time and again. The piano intro on this is enough to put the song on any list.
14. David Bowie – Lazarus
This way or no way/You know, I’ll be free
If we could only raise him from the dead.
13. Michael Kiwanuka – Black Man in a White World
I don’t mind who I am/I don’t mind who you are/I’m not wrong, I’m not wrong
Another song for the awful year that was 2016.
12. Margot Price – Since You Put Me Down
If I see your face again don’t consider me a friend/You made me feel like an orphan and act like a clown
This is everything a country song is supposed to be and I really needed it this year.
11. Lydia Loveless – Out on Love
Now I’m walking away, I guess/I don’t understand/Why someone like you would be cruel/Well, I don’t know what the truth is
Lydia songs usually make me laugh, dance and rock n’ roll, but this one cut into my soul. It’s just a really beautiful ballad.
10. Car Seat Headrest – Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales
Forget what happened in the morning/There are notes in your handwriting/But you can’t make it out
The best Pavement song released this year.
9. Deap Vally – Smile More
And yes, I am a feminist/But that isn’t why I started doing this/And sometimes I am full of bitterness/But I am trying to work through this
While Royal Jelly is my everyday jam, this song is a big ol’ feminist fuck you and I love it. AND THOSE GUITAR RIFFS.
8. Y La Bamba – Ostrich
In the wilderness is where/We meet god hanging in the air/It’s my oxygen
This sounds like a pretty lullaby for a sunny afternoon nap in a meadow.
7. Blood Orange – Best to You
And I can’t be the girl you want but I can be the thing you/Throw away
This album is full of pop gems, including this near-perfect one, which also super resonates with me personally. From the lyrics to the production to the beats, I would 1000x rather hear this repeated on the radio than that Bieber crap.
6. Margaret Glaspy – You and I
Oh, tonight I’m a little too turned on to talk about us/And tomorrow I’ll be too turned off and won’t give a fuck/About you and I
Catchy, brash and on repeat a large chunk of the year.
5. The Gift with Brian Eno – Love Without Violins
If love is a role in your private theater/It’s better to follow the casting director’s whims
The best Annie Lennox song released this year.
4. Beyoncé – Sorry
Middle fingers up/Put them hands high/Wave it in his face/Tell ’em boy bye
Queen B is queen for a reason.
3. Angel Olsen – Shut Up Kiss Me
I could make it all disappear/You could feed me all of your fears/We could end all this pain right here/We could rewind all of those tears
I should probably maybe just send this playlist to my therapist.
2. Savages – T.I.W.Y.G.
You mess with love when you go out tonight/Doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right/All you want is that feeling again/When someone is camping in your head
This pounding beast pushed me across the finish line for the SF Half Marathon in July and provided a soundtrack for lots of rawwwwwwwwwr solo dance party moments this year. I’ve never heard a truer song.
1. Lucius – Born Again Teen
Never seen your moves like this and all with such self confidence/I’m thinking how your lips taste next to mine
If Kate Bush and Wilson Phillips made a song together maybe it would be this. It’s so weird, yet poppy, and absolutely impossible not to dance to. In a dark, dismal year, this was a bright spot and a song I have had on repeat since the beginning of 2016.