Best Songs of 2016 as Selected by A&E Writers

Niner Times A&E writers make their selections for the best songs released during 2016.

| December 21, 2016
Album Art courtesy of Chance the Rapper.

“Coloring Book” album art courtesy of Chance the Rapper.

Jesse Nussman- Staff Writer

  1. “No Problem” by Chance the Rapper: With joyous energy and excitement, the Chicago based rapper forges his anthem on staying independent and not compromising his music to big labels. Like almost every other song off Chance’s “Coloring Book,” “No Problem” is the an uplifting, soul enriching extravaganza, impossible to listen to without smiling in joy.
  2. “Lazarus” by David Bowie: A reflective and somber swan song that seems to show the iconic artist viewing the end of their life in front of them. Paired with the incredible music video of Bowie–eyes covered and in a hospital bed–one can’t help but shake the feeling that all the signs of his tragic death were there, hidden in plain sight.
  3. “Ultralight Beam” by Kanye West: The powerful, musically epic gospel tune that opens West’s “The Life of Pablo,” “Ultralight Beam” is maybe the best example of how West not only knows how to deliver the goods himself but also how to place other artists in exactly the right position to shine. It may not be the kind of song you throw on to get the party started, but it is possibly the most moving and mature piece of music West has ever crafted.

 

Jeffrey Kopp- A&E Editor 

"Wild World" album art courtesy of Virgin/Universal

“Wild World” album art courtesy of Virgin/Universal

  1. “Heathens” by Twenty One Pilots: What may be one of the year’s most played songs, “Heathens” demonstrates the genre-bending geniuses that are Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun. This gritty and chilling song manages to be thought-provoking, but also oddly relaxing.
  2. “Hymn For the Weekend” by Coldplay: One of the year’s first hits, this mystical-sounding track features powerful vocals from Beyoncé. This particular Coldplay song is a personal favorite of mine for studying with its uplifting tone and melodies.
  3. “Good Grief” by Bastille: The first word that comes to my head when I hear this song is “summer.” While “Pompeii” may be Bastille’s most popular song, “Good Grief” is incredibly catchy and has a strange nostalgic feel, making it worthy of multiple replays.

 

"Drive North" album art courtesy of Fueled by Ramen

“Drive North” album art courtesy of Uncool/Burger

Stephanie Trefzger- Assistant A&E Editor

  1. “Lose It” by SWMRS: This may be my favorite song off of SWMRS’ debut album because it is something that I can relate to.  Who hasn’t had a song ruined by the sour memory of another person?  It also has such a chill vibe that it’s almost hard not to jam to it.
  2. “Leave Me Lonely” by Ariana Grande: This song off of Grande’s “Dangerous Woman” album is criminally underrated.  The moody instrumentals and background vocals paired with the unusual voice of Macy Gray makes this song incredibly interesting.
  3. “Bang Bang” by Green Day:  The first album I ever bought with my own money was “American Idiot” in 2004.  This song marks a return to the angry, political style that made me fall in love with Green Day in the first place while also being relevant to 2016.

 

Elissa Miller- Staff Writer

"The Hamilton Mixtape" album art courtesy of Atlantic.

“The Hamilton Mixtape” album art courtesy of Atlantic.

  1. “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” by K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC & Residente: Just days after the announcement that Donald Trump was the President Elect, Lin Manuel Miranda decided to release two tracks early from “The Hamilton Mixtape.” This song was a perfect response to the anti-immigrant rhetoric we’ve seen in recent years. It’s both angry at injustice and celebratory of immigrant contributions. Snow Tha Product raps in a breathtaking blend of Spanish and English, while Riz MC’s verses have some great wordplay referencing his role in “Rogue One.”
  2. “When” by dodie: I’ve been a fan of this artist’s YouTube channel for years and am happy to have seen her achieve mainstream success this year through the release of her first EP. This track about struggling to live in the moment is absolutely beautiful. A combination of dodie’s voice and stringed instruments creates a sense of sad and wistful nostalgia. It will induce automatic tears.
  3. “Waving Through A Window” by Ben Platt: If you are into musical theater, this is it. The next Hamilton, next year’s Tony’s darling. Written by team Pasek and Paul (“La La Land,” “A Christmas Story”) and sung by Ben Platt of “Pitch Perfect” fame, this song is clearly the star of the show. Ben Platt’s vocals are almost unbelievable, you can hear the raw emotion in his voice while he continues to hit notes I thought impossible. Watching the live performance of this from “Late Night with Seth Myers” gives me chills. Every. Time. The rest of the cast album has yet to be released and I continue to wait (impatiently) for it.

 

"Big Baby D.R.A.M." album art courtesy of Atlantic/Empire

“Big Baby D.R.A.M.” album art courtesy of Atlantic/Empire

Tyler Trudeau- Intern

  1. “Heathens” by Twenty One Pilots: While “Suicide Squad” may not have the top superhero film of the year, I loved its frantic, catchy and at times nostalgic soundtrack, especially this hit from Twenty One Pilots.
  2. “Do You Love Someone” by Grouplove: With their album kicking off the Fall season with an exciting post-summer flair, this foot-tapping hit from the indie rock band reeled me back into the band’s dynamic alternative appeal.
  3. “Broccoli” by D.R.A.M.: While I may not roll or smoke “broccoli,”  but this catchy hip-hop entry from D.R.A.M. still puts me in a good mood whenever I hear it playing.

 

 

Erin Cortez- Intern

"Anti" album art courtesy of Roc Nation/Westbury Road

“Anti” album art courtesy of Roc Nation/Westbury Road

  1. “Soundcheck” by Catfish and the Bottlemen:  I chose this song because it has an upbeat yet gritty feel to the song, just like what most alternative songs sound like. It is a perfect song to listen to when you are having a bad day and you just want to forget your problems.
  2. “Handclap” by Fitz and the Tantrums:  I chose this song because it never fails to make me want to dance to the music. This a perfect song to listen to when you are driving. I also feel inspired that the band members are in their 30’s and 40’s and still traveling the world and performing to thousands of people.
  3. “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna:  I chose this song because Rihanna has powerful vocals. The song is really powerful, and it gives me chills every time I listen to it. There is so much soul in the song.

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Category:Arts and Entertainment, Music

Jesse Nussman is a senior at UNCC majoring in Communications and minoring in film. He is an avid film lover and writes about various pop-culture subjects within film, television, and music.

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Jesse Nussman is a senior at UNCC majoring in Communications and minoring in film. He is an avid film lover and writes about various pop-culture subjects within film, television, and music.

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