40. Take It All Back by Judah And The Lion- Seizing momentum from the success of their festival sets, their Mumford & Sons influenced exhilarating home runs: “Rich Kids” and “Kickin’ da Leaves”, and a new album, Judah and The Lion & their 1st single to make the radio & perform strongly, emerged this year. “Take It All Back”, is a studio recording that sounds like its being performed live in a bar, as an encore song, that everyone knows, loves, and sings along to. The track showcases that opening, and hones it as its chorus. That chorus has transformed into a folk/alt rock anthem. “Take It All Back” shows the bands ability to captivate the listener, and take them along for a ride on one of their folk love jams.
39. Stole The Show by Kygo- After a lengthy tenure of being an established, electronic musician, Kygo released his debut album. We’re thankful. “Stole The Show” is the track that shines brightest off “Cloud Nine” with its paradise beats & confident vocals. It’s an instantly likable dance recording. Revealing his upbeat signature style, The King of Tropical House’s dance floor will be nirvana for many years to come.
38. 24K Magic by Bruno Mars- 24K Magic is a massive track, and the tour will be too. Prediction: it will be one of the highest grossing tours of the year. Definitely not one of Bruno Mars top 5 songs he’s ever dropped, though it succeeds in accomplishing what he does best. Getting the party started, getting everyone dancing, and putting a smile on your face. Although consisting of superficiality, and modern cheesy references, it’s a very fun pop song.
37. Gold by Kiiara- Mixing Trap Rap and Pop together, Kiiara challenges what a modern Pop song can sound like. Absolutely brilliant. As equally a pop epiphany, as it is moody club grunge. Grasps the listener from start to finish.
36. Fill In The Blank by Car Seat Headrest- Declaring him “The Woody Allen of alternative rock”. Since he’s producing so much good work from his bedroom. Car Seat Headrest is the project of Will Toledo, and it’s a slow genius, unfolding before everyone’s eyes. “Fill In The Blank” is his standout hit thus far, containing the riff that converts the doubters, to fans.
35. Hardwired by Metallica- Short song for the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Inducted band, though still as deadly a thrasher, as anything they’ve ever released. Containing the bite, speed, substance and signature sound all the fans love. Metallica still rules the genre of Metal.
34. In The Summer by HalfNoise- Criminally overlooked EDM act. This song, “Sudden Feeling”, “Know The Feeling”, all are. The former drummer of Paramore, drops a record that sound nothing like Paramore. The entire album sounds like an EDM act designed for music festivals and summer time weather. The sound of HalfNoise is very polished; it’s dreamy and crisp.
33. Human by Rag’n’Bone Man- Soulful self inspecting journey through ones past and shortcomings. Throw in fiery shrieking samples, and this alt rock stampede has all the makings of the next big massive hit from a newcomer.
32. Heathens by Twenty One Pilots- Provided for a major blockbuster flick soundtrack, and nominated for Grammy’s, ‘Heathens’ has a lot to prove, and it delivers. One of the most listened to alternative acts in the world, Twenty One Pilots continue to reign over all competition in alt rock.
31. California by Blink 182- The 2nd best delicate song of the mainstream punk legends they’ve ever composed, (with “I Miss You”, the best), makes this track most worthy of a nod. It’s a gentle punk lullaby worth walking with many times.
30. Welcome To Your Life by Grouplove- Optimistic indie darlings returned with a delightful new single off their album “Big Mess”. “Welcome To Your Life” contains Grouplove’s signature sound, is a family-friendly single, and is quite uplifting. The master quote of Grouplove may be the word “Man”. Listen for the word “Man”, from the male lead vocalist. He says it a lot, in many songs. There’s an inside joke there for everyone. Go to a Grouplove show and shout at the band, comments such as, “Hey MAN!” “Sup MAN!” “You’re the MAN” “Who Da MAN”. There’s also a drinking game there: if you’re drinking, every time you hear them use the word “man”, take a big sip. #ManStreamGrouplove
29. Move by Saint Motel- Off their sophomore mainstream effort, “Saintmotelevision”, “Move” proves that Saint Motel are better than the label ‘one hit wonder’. It’s another alt rock dance anthem and its equally as good as “My Type”. This time without the lyrics kidding with the listener. Saint Motel have found a classic groove and they request your presence on the dance floor.
28. Prophets Of Rage by Prophets Of Rage- The sirens are going off, the rap vocalists are whispering. whispering. Now sirens. Now whispering. You should be feeling the goosebumps now, because that’s right, Rage are back! In a new side project with everyone except Zack De La Rocha. With the Public Enemy and Cypress Hill lead vocalists filling in for him. The result: not even close to as good as Rage Against The Machine. Since Zack was THE RAGE. That being said, 2016 needed some fury, and some fire thrown at politics, and Prophets Of Rage brought that to the table. Regardless of it being a song that was remade, this track marked their thunderous much needed return.
27. Like Me Like That by Bear Hands- Right now, Bear Hands are a band at the peak of their game, and no one listened to their new record. Shame on everyone. Packed with strong quality tracks, it feels different from a normal alternative release…even if just a little. “Like Me Like That” could have been a single. It’s playful, charismatic, and fun, and is one of the album’s best. The “Like that” back and forth is just splendid.
26. digging for windows by Zack De La Rocha- Making his mainstream solo debut with this single, Zack brought it. Just as intense as he was in Rage Against The Machine, yet the song isn’t Rage, though feels similar in style. He’s a master of his own craft, and if he’s trying to dismantle that and produce something different, he shouldn’t. He is forever a legend of anti establishment, and raging against the machine. He also stands up for good causes too. A superb effort with this song.
25. Life Itself by Glass Animals- The new album destroyed their signature sound that most people loved, yet thankfully, this single off it, did not. Still sounds like Glass Animals in the sense that it sounds primitive, dreamy & like a song made to listen to in the jungle or the forest. It’s also a very strong standalone alternative rock song too.
24. Nothin’ In The World Can Stop Me Worryin’ ‘Bout That Girl by The Shelters- Regardless of “Rebel Heart” being the massive single & being a great song, this track feels much more raw & intimate & it cuts the listener a little. It gets even better with more listens, and could be the next big single. If not, it’ll become a favorite for fans of The Shelters. Just watch. A love letter to acoustic album cuts by classic rock acts.
23. Medieval Warfare by Grimes- Canada’s masterful songstress returns to make the Suicide Squad soundtrack better. As always, she deploys a playful and sensual overall pop sound, though one that feels like gritting teeth and on the verge of attack. This song is no exception to that.
22. Death Of A Bachelor by Panic! At The Disco- Brandon Eurie aces a Sinatra impression, mixing it with a modern teenager-friendly alternative rock song here, with glorious results. Bravo.
21. Pink + White by Frank Ocean- The masterful R&B crooner returns after his superb ‘Channel ORANGE’ debut solo album in his post Odd Future days, with another great record. In addition to “Ivy”, Frank Ocean gets the listener soaring highest to the sky on “Pink + White”. Ocean continues to inject his vulnerability into his music, with beautiful results.
20. Mountain Climbing by Joe Bonamassa- A gift to the blues world, since age 12 (opening for B.B King at 12 is astonishing), Joe Bonamassa storms back onto the blues scene with this 2016 record. Though since he’s also a rocker, one could argue he’s not really a blues man. This track is a standout, the electric guitar riff is superb and Mr. Bonamassa really plays this one with feeling.
19. Legend Has It by Run The Jewels- Killer Mike and El-P let you know they’re back, stomping back onto the rap scene, with as much Rage Against The Machine style fury as before. With this “RTJ3” track previewing the album, its off to a strong start. Run The Jewels bring it, both live and in the studio. Long may they roar.
18. Bang Bang by Green Day- “Bang Bang” taps into the anger of the nation. The anger that we have all these shooters, and the problem never gets solved. Green Day obviously don’t solve the problem, but they help address it. with background noise paranoia/social commentary, screams and shouts, and calculated lyrics.
17. Blackstar by David Bowie- Dreamy paranoia jazz song adds to Bowie’s music immortality. He would’ve made a great Gandalf in the Lord Of The Rings, indeed. He is very missed. Expect him to posthumously clean house at the Grammys, for any category he’s nominated in.
16. Shelter by Madeon & Porter Robinson- Lush EDM that lifts the listener up. This amazing collaborative track, is the best EDM song of 2016.
15. Broccoli (feat Lil Yachty) by D.R.A.M- Anchored by subtle and charismatic great repetitive piano, chorus sounding like “Super Nintendo’s” “Earthbound”, and soulful moments by D.R.A.M, this rap song soars. Arguably the best rap song of the year.
14. No Problem (ft Lil Wayne & 2Chainz) by Chance The Rapper- Along with Kendrick Lamar, Chance is the new giant of rap. Even with plenty of thug lyrics, the happy peaceful spirit of Chance shines through this one. The amazing background sample, mixed with the superb chorus, makes this a fantastic year best rap song. Long live the new mayor of Chicago.
13. No Parties In L.A (feat Kendrick Lamar) by Kanye West- Regardless of how few people are listening to this song off “The Life Of Pablo”, it is clearly the best of the album, by miles. It’s basically a Kanye and Kendrick back and forth, with epic samples, fast charismatic lyrics and is reminiscent of “California Love”. Respect the titans.
12. Wolf by Highly Suspect- “Wolf” is a complex song, and yet one that probably steals from the best. It’s complex for a different reason than usual. The reason is, you’re never really sure of what direction it’ll take you in. For once, that’s a good thing, because certain parts of “Wolf” are incredible. With their last album, and the new album, Highly Suspect, seem like they’re on top of their game (the Grammy’s seem to think so too). “Wolf” is the best example of that theory.
11. The Numbers by Radiohead- One of the best bands of all time, the alt rock gods themselves return, with… No Surprises: another masterpiece. Anchored by the masterful “Burn The Witch” and “Daydreaming”, “The Numbers” is the best song on the album that’s not a single or a previously known track. Full of brilliant instrumentation, eccentricity, and wonder, it gets progressively better, with thanks to Jonny Greenwood and Thom.
10. One Dance by Drake- The rapper/r&b crooner, crafts the perfect dance with a random person at a bar hit. That being said, “Broccoli”, “No Problem”, and “No Parties In L.A” were all better rap songs, they just aren’t the MOST STREAMED SONG OF ALL TIME on Spotify. That awards Drake more stock, though this track is definitely not as good a song as the others. A great song though.
09. The Sound by The 1975- Anchored by enigmatic lyrics, and the provocative sex symbol Matt Healy, “The Sound” stands tall. It possibly was written about Halsey, though who knows. Regardless of the fact, that this song has been done before, it’s the best Alt Rock Pop song of the year.
08. WHERE THE HELL ARE MY FRIENDS by LANY- Pronounced LANE- E. Yet it stands for: Los Angeles, New York. Led by the charismatic Paul Jason Klein, A very clever band at making catchy dream pop songs with more depth than their peers. It’s a swirling synth triumph.
07. Batter Up by Jagwar Ma- Challenging all Tame Impala listeners, that if they love Kevin Parker’s band, they’ll love Jagwar Ma too. their 1st album Howlin’ is much better than the new one. But the new record ‘Every Now & Then’ has a couple gems. This is one of them. “Batter Up” definitely captures Jagwar Ma’s signature sound and sounds festival approved. A song that’s like waves washing over your body.
06. Starboy by The Weeknd- Attended Lollapalooza 2012, and The Weeknd, was on the lineup. Hadn’t heard of him, so attended Franz Ferdinand instead. Fast forward years later, someone said, “have you ever listened to this guy. He’s a R&B crooner that sings about sex; it’s extremely crass. He’s got a really nice voice. It’s interesting”. She was right. It is interesting. Then his mainstream breakout happened with incredible R&B Pop recording “Can’t Feel My Face”, which made The Weeknd sound like Michael Jackson a little. You can thank Max Martin for that, his writer, a genius at writing pop songs. Plus “The Hills”, painting a reclusive enigmatic picture that feels like apathetic Pop. A year later, emerged “Starboy” & after listening to the whole record, “Starboy” remains the best of the album. Embodying all of what makes The Weeknd great within the song, it’s the best R&B song of the year.
05. Ophelia by The Lumineers- Infectious folk song, that was recorded with real feeling. It has such heart, such emotion. The Lumineers are headlining right now precisely for those reasons. They have heart. They have pain. They play with emotion and feeling. They are writing good songs from that pain. Both albums have all these characteristics. Ophelia was the mainstream folk anthem of the year. Keep up the great work, Lumineers.
04. We The People… by A Tribe Called Quest- Released at the end of the year, and after the election, A Tribe Called Quest dropped this single, and eliminated everyone from the conversation of Best Rap Song of the year. Why? It’s politically daring. It’s taunting. It’s social commentary. It’s dark and raw. It’s Phife Dawg rapping, during that which were his final days. Combine all this together, and you have the best rap song of the year. Legends.
03. City Lights by The White Stripes- Jack White was recording this song back while in The White Stripes. Thankfully in 2016 he finished it, and put it on his Acoustic double album. Making this the first White Stripes song in eight years. As always, Jack White shines as a brilliant musician and a superb guitarist. He plays this track with feeling. It also ACTUALLY sounds like A White Stripes song too, which is wonderful. It takes you on a journey, lyrically, and seems of togetherness and loss. Brilliant.
02. Daydreaming by Radiohead- True to its title, the song does feel like daydreaming. A daydreaming full of loss. Full of uncertainty of what that loss is. Full of exploration: of the uncertainty of that loss. Full of beauty: of that particular exploration. Until you no longer know who you are. Or what you are. But the beauty is there. Find it, and feel its wonder. The wonder of RaDiOHeA_D.
01. Burning Rome by St. Paul & The Broken Bones- Champion of The Year. St. Paul & The Broken Bones is criminally overlooked and so is this song. One of the few real soul bands to emerge in the mainstream in years. That souls nest is in “Burning Rome”. It’s also the song they end with live. To send you home impressed. Because it rises and rises, and then explodes right before your eyes. Because it shows a band at the peak of their game, perfectly. “Burning Rome” reigns supreme.