Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My Favorites - 2016

Listening Trend 2016: More Listening

Late in January, I purchased a pair of Mrice E300 earbud headphones. In my years post-iPod death, during which I spent my walks listening to the outside or conducting rambling phone calls with anyone I could get to stay on the line, my deep-storage earbuds had aged to the point that their foam casing began the disintegration common to cheap headphone foam (which, I imagine, cannot be explained by science).

My new buds came recommended by website testimony and at a cost sub-$20. I cushioned the purchase with a plug-in Tylt ENERGI 5k phone battery to extend my lifeline for travel and heavier use. I often used my new headphones to listen to podcasts, which I’d started to download with a freshly-added phone app damningly titled Podcast Addict. The precious media-free time which I had theretofore enjoyed between the majorities of days spent scrolling the internet or listening to music—the time on the bus, or on walks, or while washing dishes—had been the final frontier. My headphones got me there.

These small, coiled wires fit in my jacket pockets with the loot I take everywhere. Phone, keys, wallet, headphones. I quickly stepped past the podcasts I was already familiar with and incrementally piled up subscriptions over the course of passing months. I currently follow about 75 active feeds. My immersion has been absolute; I now rarely listen to nothing.

In melting winter I found that my music streaming service allows on-device downloads for offline playback. I began gathering new releases to poke light through the haze of podcast din and I used my malleable collection of phone-hosted albums to attempt to stay current with full-length releases, something I had up to that point entirely forgone for Another Round and the like.

When I quit my job in July, preparing to move and in the process radically rearranging my on-computer habits, I relied increasingly heavily on this function of my phone.

I made a folder of my favorite songs and only my favorite songs. When I listen to it, I put it on random and every new track gives me a rush. I call it my Impossible Playlist.

My red headphones are red like my red bike. I do not use them at the same time; it would be too much, anyway.

I moved to Chicago and I walked around a lot. It’s free to walk around, and either good or bad for the body depending on your choice of footwear. One don’t have to make plans to walk around. You can walk around with yourself, and you probably should, at least some of the time. I walked for miles to every place that I could and I always listened to podcasts or my Impossible Playlist or Carly Rae Jepsen or things that propelled me with their accompaniment.

A quiet loud walk is a good time to listen to something new, when you want to give more thought or attention.

I pulled my headphones from my jacket pocket once to find that the silicone cover had detached from one of the earbuds. From then on I proceeded to walk one-ear-in, which I am told is a safer way to listen when in the busy world of cars and strangers: Mono recordings become stereo with slosh footsteps and conversation.

I again held the slight tangle of cords later to see that the second cover had departed for greener pastures and I went to the internet to bring me more.

2016 and Convention: The Slackening, It’s Happening

I am a list-maker and I love having the opportunity to sort and arrange. Pieces of art are inherently individualistic, which makes any sorting methods inexact and subject to rationalization. With this acknowledged, we tend to organize media by its vessel; here are books of similar shapes, there are the 12”s, those are the radio singles.

As the internet siphons from its competition, adherence to such formal distinctions continues to slacken. A Netflix series reboot of a program formerly native to cable has duller incentive to maintain uniformity in episode length, just as we’ve seen in Radio’s scheduled programming’s sublimation to flexible podcast freespace. One minute from Blonde might as well be examined alongside an eleven-minute ambient piece; it’s thrilling to get to debate whether to place Nonagon Infinity in a category of Songs or Albums.

The most important break with convention in 2016 was the rollout of Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. As albums traditionally hit store shelves (to border on anachronism) they present fluid works frozen as the perfected/selected Official Documents of their songs. “True Love Waits” is an obvious exhibit no. 1 for ’16. Any variance of live performance is excused. Listeners now know How a song Goes.

When Team West continued to tamper with Pablo after its release and stepped around the commitment of a physical document, they subverted the status quo formerly inherent to the album release model and set a new precedent for self-revision. The album versions have been largely similar, but neglect the potential for a definitive standard in the way a DIY act might by individually dubbing imperfect cassettes.

Furthermore, West and company did themselves one better by (almost inarguably) releasing a worse Pablo than they could have. It’s weighted with a strange preponderance of subpar tracks, eschewing the tautness and substance which knocked Yeezus into my #1 spot in 2013. I doubt this was their intention, but I find that the latest release of Pablo begs for further user-level revision. I play the album in a reordered, more concise playlist based on the leaked Waves track list per the recommendation of Andrew Brandt.

To the Lists

Because I loved so many things this year—including you, dear reader—I expanded my Favorite 10 Song/Album lists to Favorite 20s. Narrowed from a very long list of contenders, I forced myself to stick with 10 picks for the podcasts I listened to this year. Thank you!

20 Favorite Songs

20. Carly Rae Jepsen - Store

19. André 3000 - Solo (Reprise)

18. A Giant Dog - Too Much Makeup

17. Blood Orange - Best to You

16. Kevin Gates - 2 Phones

15. Empress Of - Woman Is a Word

14. Dirty Projectors - Keep Your Name

12. Frank Ocean - Nikes

11. ANOHNI - Drone Bomb Me

10. A Giant Dog - Creep

9. Told Slant - Low Hymnal

8. Crying - Revive

7. Car Seat Headrest - Vincent

6. Beyoncé - All Night

5. Kero Kero Bonito - Lipslap

2. Beyoncé - Formation

20 Favorite Albums

20. Battle Trance - Blade of Love

19. Thee Oh Sees - A Weird Exits

18. Porches - Pool

17. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - EARS

16. Bon Iver - 22, A Million

15. Kaytranada - 99.9%

14. Frankie Cosmos - Next Thing

13. Anderson .Paak - Malibu

12. Hoops - Tapes #1, #2, #3

11. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Nonagon Infinity

10. Carly Rae Jepsen - E•MO•TION: Side B

9. Blood Orange - Freetown Sound

7. Kanye West - Waves Playlist (The Life of Pablo Resequenced)

6. Mitski - Puberty 2

5. Frank Ocean - Blonde

3. Kero Kero Bonito - Bonito Generation

2. A Giant Dog - Pile

1. Beyoncé - Lemonade

10 Favorite Podcasts in 2016

              (+ U Talkin’ U2 To Me?)

Positive Detritus (Disorganized)

Moving to Chicago

CRASHprez on Pitchfork Radio

Erik Kramer’s definitive list of when the day’s meals are

Getting sweatpants

Pokemon Go

Friends' newsletters (more, please!)

Friends' podcasts (makes me feel less alone!)

Traveling to DC

SXSW Year 6

Biking in Madison

Biking in Chicago

Cook books

Get out the Vote campaigning with K Stocks

Reading a children’s cartoon and crying very hard on the Megabus [spoilers in second link]

Returning to Twitter (positivity debatable)

High School Chorus Reunion

Doors Open Madison

Open House Chicago

And, finally:

Projected time Backstreet Boys-era pop production style will return to the airwaves:

Fall 2018 (for the preceding underground bubble, Summer 2017)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


*That I purchased used last week, in chronological order

WINGS Resale Store in Schaumburg
* Taylor Swift - Speak Now - $1
* Taylor Swift - Fearless - $1

Carousel Vintage in Fond du Lac
* One Direction - Midnight Memories - $1
* Björk - Vespertine - $0.50
* Björk - Volta - $0.50
* U2 - All That You Can’t Leave Behind - $0.50
* U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb - $0.50
* A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders - $0.50
* Solange - Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams - $0.50

Half Price Books East in Madison
* Björk - Medúlla - $2
* Digitalism - Idealism - $2

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Playing along at home with Pitchfork's top 50 albums of 2016


Attempting to rank this year’s selections for Pitchfork’s top 50 albums of the year will be a tough one in 2016: They did away with the listing of their 20 albums' “Honorable Mentions” which otherwise would have made a solid asteroid belt of the implicit #70-51 spots on the top 50; it’s always been surprising to find what made it into this purgatory. 

Another Conde Nast-era first was the publishing of 5 lists of 20 albums selected from broader genre tracks in “the year in [genre]” format. So, one might assume that all 50 albums would fit into these 100 picks; at least one high-profile, highly-ranked entry (ANOHNI) has not shown up in these lists. It could be an oversight, but it could also be some kind of weird statement; we’ll see what ends up happening with that. My money’s on ANOHNI still making it into this list. That said, Pitchfork blew it on FDT, so I shouldn’t be surprised either way.


OK, so after far too much time spent gathering and ordering these albums, here’s my best attempt to predict what the Pitchfork Best Albums list will look like this year.

50. Cass McCombs – Mangy Love 8.1 NM
49. Noname – Telefone 8.0 NM
48. Sheer Mag – III EP 8.3
47. Vince Staples – Prima Donna 8.0 NM
46. Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman 7.6 NM
45. dvsn – Sept. 5th 8.3
44. Weyes Blood – Front Row Seat to Earth 8.3
43. NxWorries – Yes Lawd! 8.2
42. White Lung – Paradise 8.4
41. Anna Meredith – Varmints 8.4
40. YG – Still Brazy 8.0 NM
39. Schoolboy Q – Blank Face LP 8.3
38. Kevin Morby – Singing Saw 8.3
37. Parquet Courts – Human Performance 8.4
36. Joey Purp – iiiDrops 8.2
35. Kaytranada – 99.9% 8.0 NM
34. James Blake – The Colour in Anything 8.2
33. Hamilton Leithauser / Rostam – I Had a Dream That You Were Mine 8.3
32. The Avalanches – Wildflower 8.5
31. G.L.O.S.S. – Trans Day of Revenge 8.5
30. Whitney – Light Upon the Lake 8.3
29. Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution 8.6
28. Porches – Pool 8.3
27. Jamila Woods – HEAVN 8.4
26. Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch 8.3
25. Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing 8.5
24. Kamaiyah – A Good Night in the Ghetto 8.2
23. Mitski – Puberty 2 8.5
22. Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered. 8.6
21. Young Thug – JEFFERY 8.5
19. Kevin Gates – Islah 8.5
18. Rihanna – ANTI 7.7 NM
17. Nicolas Jaar – Sirens 8.7
16. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree 9.0
15. Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition 8.5
14. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial 8.5
13. Anderson .Paak – Malibu 8.6
12. Blood Orange – Freetown Sound 8.8
11. Angel Olsen – My Woman 8.8
10. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker 8.5
9. Bon Iver – 22, A Million 9.0
8. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool 9.1
7. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo 9.0
6. David Bowie – Blackstar 8.5
5. A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service 9.0
4. Frank Ocean – Blonde 9.0
3. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book 9.1
2. Solange – A Seat at the Table 8.7
1. Beyonce – Lemonade 8.5

It’s worth noting that the top 10 here (especially the top 3) are unusually flexible. It’s tough to anticipate what weighting they’ll give to their highest ranked, the most successful, the most important records on this list. One metric I sometimes use is the number of songs from each album which found their way into the Best 100 tracks list, though one question mark here were the songs list’s many inclusions from TLoP potentially belying the haphazard quality of the album they came from. Each of the top handful of records in this rundown accomplish such great things in different ways.

It’s also worth noting that it’s currently 11:20 AM on the morning of this list’s release and nothing’s been spoiled for me yet. Phew! Here we go:


50. 21 Savage / Metro Boomin – Savage Mode
Just as always, I do like to intentionally begin with a 0% correct guess rate so I can shoot for “most improved.” (not listed)

49. Porches – Pool
Ouch!!!! OK, so to explain the notation going further, this one was a whopping 21 points lower [not numerically, but further from the ‘top’] than I’d guessed (#28) so I’m going to end this by writing ‘-21’. For reference, this is very bad. (-21)

48. Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing
Oh, very cute, Pitchfork!! Groan (-23)

47. Kamaiyah – A Good Night in the Ghetto
Geez. Well, maybe I’m just not calibrated right—I did guess that this and “Next Thing” would be in direct succession, for what it’s worth. (-23)

46. Pinegrove – Cardinal
Oh god, I’m so out of touch with this publication! How did this happen? (perhaps: redesign, rebranding, refocus. I mean, BRAND NEW got a Best New Track this year. Am I the establishment now?) How could I have known this would make the cut while The Hotelier [probably?] didn’t? (not listed)

45. William Tyler – Modern Country
A great album! But a surprising inclusion since this site has paid him such sparing attention.  (not listed)

44. Kevin Gates – Islah
Platinum, 25 points off, and with no features! How did he do it? And where did I go so wrong? (-25)

43. Weyes Blood – Front Row Seat to Earth
Over the years, this list does seem to have a sweet spot in the #50-36 range for quality songwriters that didn’t fill up newsfeeds with promo and antics. At least this one wasn’t an upset to that tradition. (+1)

42. Vince Staples – Prima Donna
Another sort of release that tends to populate the first 15 or 20 blocks: smart, concise EP releases. (+5)

41. Huerco S. – For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)
AS IS THE CASE for one or two ambient albums (excluding whichever Tim Hecker/Grouper/OPN-style crossover lp ‘made it’ that year). I wasn’t sure which albums in this category to include because they can be tricky to predict and pull from the true wealth of great ambient/understated lps that are released every year to little fanfare on this site. (not listed)

40. Vijay Iyer / Wadada Leo Smith – A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke
And the streak continues!! To be clear, I am not saying these albums aren’t deserving, but I just always have to groan a bit when Pitchfork throws inclusions from genres they don’t cover into their year-end list to display the breadth not present in their website’s coverage. (not listed)

39. Moodymann – DJ-Kicks
Bury me!! (not listed)

38. Schoolboy Q – Blank Face LP
*pokes head out from shallow grave* “Is the coast clear?” (+1)

37. KING – We Are KING
“Nope!!” [this one was my fault, though. This albums slaps] (not listed)

36. Jamila Woods – HEAVN
Blame the 9 point gap on my Chicago-centric optimism. (-9)

35. Hamilton Mixtape / Rostam – I Had a Dream That You Were Mine
In which I giddily read aloud as “Lei-tha-au-ser Ham-il-ton” distract myself from addressing the fact that the writeup for this album’s inclusion references the Byrne+Eno albums (-2)

34. Kevin Morby – Singing Saw
Wow, nice! I am happy to see this here. I was sort of expecting this to be dropped to a lower rank, but it really is a fantastic album. (+4)

33. Maxweell – blackSUMMERS’night
I have to be honest, I took this off my list of predictions because I haven’t listened to it. I’ll have to listen to it. That said, in the vein of the Hamilton/Rostam writeup, the writer chooses “There’s a Riot Goin’ On” as a reference point and hyperlinks to the Pitchfork artist page for Erik Satie (lol). Could he have picked anything more imposing? (not listed)

32. Elza Soares – A Mulher do Fim do Mundo
Bury me pt. 2 (This album slaps though, so great.) I do feel vindicated by the wealth of surprises in this list, which is clearly more a distinct entity from their regular reporting than it’s been in years past. (not listed)

31. Whitney – Light Upon the Lake
I’m so bewildered by this list I can hardly even be excited about my near-perfect guesses (-1).

30. Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution
Hey, another pair of albums that ended up next to each other (this and Whitney), but this time only one spot off their actual slot! (-1)

29. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – EARS
Wow! As I wrote in yesterday’s track writeup, I haven’t heard this yet, but I’m really excited based on the song that I heard yesterday. (not listed)

28. NxWorries – Yes Lawd!
Ooh, a fifteen-point bump-up. I wonder if there will be many more of those in the next ten songs to balance out all of the early-listed tracks I’d thought would be between 27 and 18. (+15)

27. Noname – Telefone
Yooooo. Very interesting that this occupies the same slot I thought Jamila Woods would be in. So much for Chicago optimism. (+22)

26. Parquet Courts – Human Performance
Seriously??? (+11)

25. Kaytranada – 99.9%
At this point I’m very curious if I lost my touch or if the list became harder to predict.

24. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
And at this point! For reference, Kaytranada’s album had an 8.0 rating and no BNM and Car Seat Headrest had an 8.5, BNM, and much more coverage throughout the year. I enjoyed Kaytranada’s album more, but don’t tell anyone. (-10)

23. Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch
Not bad! I did bump this up to #26 in my rankings because the songs list had Jenny Hval in the #22 spot. (+3)

22. YG – Still Brazy
Wow, another upset (by a deserving album!) Here’s another lp that didn’t get a Best New Music, which should prove to the remaining holdouts that the title doesn’t mean anything [anymore?] (+18)

21. Young Thug – JEFFERY
Phew, eeking out another perfect placement.


So, were my attempts to pick #50-21 much better than random picking? I’d maintain that they were, despite the frustrating number of picks that I had that were ~20 points off and the number of picks which didn’t appear anywhere on my list of predictions. Still, it was tough to pick between the sort of extraordinary wealth of great full-length releases.

In an also-noteworthy point in the “better than random picking” column, I do want to assert that only 2 of the albums I anticipated for slots #20-1 appeared in the #50-21 listing; these were clearly the ‘critical faves’ insofar as they were, in the context of Pitchfork’s coverage, contenders for the top ranked records of the year. Time will tell whether my rankings within these 20 slots were haphazard or informed by any sort of intentional placement.


20. Nicolas Jaar – Sirens
Jilted in the song rankings, this was still a good contender for the top albums due to its fantastic immersive qualities—despite the confusion that ensues after pressing play on the album and hearing silence for a bit too long. (-3)

19. Rihanna – ANTI
I was happy to even remember this in the rankings, but I just remembered that I forgot to include Views in my ranking. I would be surprised if it didn’t make it, but could I get in trouble by having pitched an album for a top 20 spot without it even making the list? Looking at the items just out of my top 20 guesses, I already see two notable entries I’d be shocked to not see included: Mitski and Kendrick. Hmm. (-1)

18. Mitski – Puberty 2
Whooooa! I just looked around the room and see no ghosts who could have looked over my shoulder and rearranged the list to send me a cosmic message, and that is a relief. That means we’re down to just Kendrick and the remaining 16 of my top-20 picks, which is encouraging—but if there’s even one surprise inclusion, that means one of these 17 didn’t make the list at all. Shudder (+5)

17. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
Ok, fair. This album is fairly remarkable, though. (-7)

16. Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered.
WOOw we’re getting into it!! The bases, as they say, are loaded. Please, no surprises!! (+6)

15. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
This is actually getting pretty exciting. And to think I’d given up on trying to do this! (+1)

14. Blood Orange – Freetown Sound
God, this album is so good. (-2)

13. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
NO WHAMMIES!!! It was good to be Anderson .Paak this year. (0)

12. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
This was a great listen, but there were so many deeply meaningful full-length releases this yeah that there was never much of a chance for abstraction. (-3)

11. Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
This solidifies ANOHNI in a >=10 point bump up, which I’m very happy with. Thanks for taking one for the team, Danny Brown (this is to say that I’d love a Anohni+Brown collab. It almost feels possible. (+4)


With ten albums left on this list, here’s a reiteration of the albums I’m leaving in contention for these spots. I’m pretty firm on them, though obviously the key omission is this album’s #1-selling contemporary release, Drake’s “Views”. In lieu of doing a ‘re-rack’, I’ll keep the listing positions I initially selected for these albums:

Yet-Unchosen Selections that likely won’t make it:
50. Cass McCombs – Mangy Love 8.1 NM
48. Sheer Mag – III EP 8.3
46. Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman 7.6 NM
45. dvsn – Sept. 5th 8.3
42. White Lung – Paradise 8.4
41. Anna Meredith – Varmints 8.4
36. Joey Purp – iiiDrops 8.2
34. James Blake – The Colour in Anything 8.2
32. The Avalanches – Wildflower 8.5
31. G.L.O.S.S. – Trans Day of Revenge 8.5

Here are the likely top ten in Pitchfork’s album list:
11. Angel Olsen – My Woman 8.8
8. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool 9.1
7. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo 9.0
6. David Bowie – Blackstar 8.5
5. A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service 9.0
4. Frank Ocean – Blonde 9.0
3. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book 9.1
2. Solange – A Seat at the Table 8.7
1. Beyonce – Lemonade 8.5


10. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
See the note under Bon Iver’s spot for a rationalization for this low ranking for one of the two albums to receive the highest point rating of 2016, 9.1/10. No one is here to listen to your sadness, Thom! (-2)

9. Angel Olsen – My Woman
Woosh! God, I hope ANOHNI is next so I’ll have gotten the top 7 right. (+2)

I APPRECIATE THIS ALBUM’S USE OF ALL CAPS BECAUSE IT REFLECTS MY EXCITEMENT. I’m relieved to see it in a much higher placement than I anticipated; I was thrown off due to Pitchfork’s bizarre exclusion of this album from any of their genre-based ‘Top 20s’ lists. Come on Pitchfork, it’s time to start using more than 14% of your brain.


Note: This is probably where everything will fall apart. Let’s see.


7. A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your service
I love it. I also love typing the album title because it feels like I’m commenting on someone’s Instagram post. (-2)

6. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
I initially thought this might end up in the top slot; instead, it fits well in this slot—though TLoP was the great smash-hit-that-could-have-been with some more restructuring, Coloring Book also had a solid ten minutes it would’ve done better without. I think the selfish thing (from my listener’s perspective) I feel is that concept-heavy artists sometimes seem to deign to acknowledge that when one, say, includes a 5.5 minute arrangement of “How Great Is Our God,” their listeners have to listen to it every time they play the album. (-3)

5. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
See the above take on fat-trimming, but replace “How Great is Our God” with “Silver Surfer Intro”, “Facts”. That said, as with Chance’s mixtape, this is a tremendous album full of tremendous songs. It’s weeeeeeell worth the skip-through moments. (+2)


OK, here we go. Four albums left, and I am unsure as ever that I picked the right order for them.


4. David Bowie – Blackstar
It’s easy to make “Blackstar” into something most albums here are not: a marker of a distinct point in history rather than the foundation for a future legacy. This makes a strange puzzle of the task of comparing it to other releases; how objectively can we compare the capstone of an oeuvre to the pinnacle of another? What can we learn about a publication from their end-of-year ranking of this album amongst 2016 releases by more of-the-moment musicians? (+2)

3. Beyonce – Lemonade
Oh god!!! And as much as I want to say that this minor upset makes clear that Solange will take home #1, I’m increasingly unsure what even to BELIEVE anymore (-2)


Very dramatic pause


2. Frank Ocean – Blonde
Aaaahhh!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhh!!!!! It should be noted that the last time I incorrectly guessed Pitchfork’s album of the year was 2012, when I thought Channel Orange would narrowly beat out Good Kid M.A.A.D City before finding those rankings would be reversed. (+2)

1. Solange – A Seat at the Table
So good, so 2016. While Beyonce’s album was an incredible step forward for her output, A Seat at the Table was perhaps a more constructive document of its environment; though it had a focus on the self, it was perhaps more outward in its approach than Lemonade. Also, I dunno, the songs and the overall album were amazing. (+1)

Instant Review – Knee-jerk reactions to the P4k 100 for 2016

It’s Monday morning on December 12th and has released their 100 Best Songs of 2016 list. As has been my tradition since 2011, I’m about to read this list slowly over the course of the day, listening to each song in full before going on to find out what song is listed in the next spot. After reading #21, I’ll take a break and start trying to predict the order and selections for songs 1-20. I have to say that I’ve cooled down a lot on my fandom of this site and list; it’s fairly likely that this will be my last 100 best songs roundup that looks like this. Let’s enjoy it while this is a thing, then! 

And here’s my annual disclaimer in which I acknowledge that this is not the most exciting reading material and more of a document of my listening in the year—I like the idea of recording my lack of familiarity with songs, for instance, that I discover in these lists and later fall in love with. OK, here we go:

100. Lil Peep – Kiss
Wow, I’m glad we’re starting things off on the right foot here with a Brokencyde reboot for 2016. Yikes.
99. Sturgill Simpson – Welcome To Earth (Pollywog)
I didn’t realize the Soundcloud link to this song would only play 30 seconds of the intro before autoplaying a Widespread Panic song (all while nestled in background tabs as I checked my email) and for a few minutes I was very confused about the direction Sturgill had gone in.
98. Moor Mother – Deadbeat Protest
It is about time for a new development on the Death Grips sonic palette. I haven’t heard this album but I’m intrigued!
97. Olga Bell – Randomness
It’s interesting to read Pitchfork’s blurb on this being a departure for Olga because this is probably the first time I’ve heard her music. Now I want to know what this was a departure from!
96. Kodak Black – Vibin in This Bih [ft. Gucci Mane]
I did a pretty poor job on keeping up with rising hip hop acts this year, and this could be the first time I’ve heard Kodak Black. I like this.
95. Kamaiyah – I’m On
I appreciate Pitchfork’s winking participation in putting a song with the lyrics “from the bottom to the top of your favorite list” at number 95 on their 2016 tracks list. Now it’s on to 2017 to see if they make good on the “top” part.
94. Cate Le Bon – Crab Day
Wow, this is a fantastic music video. I wish my pre-90’s music reference points were more attuned so I could say something cooler than, “this would be an optimal inclusion for a Wes Anderson soundtrack,” but that’s frankly all I can muster. 
93. Danny Brown – When It Rain
A standout track from a dense and impressive album. I hope there’s more than just Really Doe in this list!
92. Sheer Mag – Can’t Stop Fighting
Sheer Mag is one of the best. This is a great song. I’d argue with its placement, but there has been a lot of great music this year. 
91. 21 Savage / Metro Boomin – No Heart
21 Savage is another one of the 2016 breakout rap acts whose music I didn’t get around to. I will say that I do tend to get excited about rappers who sound like they might perform in the same voice they’d use in conversation. 
90. Pinegrove – Old Friends
Pinegrove might be one of 2016’s most slept-on rock bands, which I feel qualified saying because despite hearing many personal testimonies about how great they are... I still haven’t listened to them (sorry)
89. Frankie Cosmos – On the Lips
There are such a quantity of great, quick tunes on this album that I had no idea how it’d be represented on end-of-year track lists. This is a good inclusion! But there’s so many other great songs on this album. 
88. Rihanna – Needed Me
I’m a bad person in 2016 because… I still haven’t listened to this album. This was probably a radio single though? Because it does sound familiar. This is an interesting new direction to production from DJ Mustard, which I appreciate. I wish my sexy + violent cinema reference points were more attuned so I could say something cooler than, “It’s like ’spring break forever’ plus the LDR video where she shoots a helicopter,” but that’s frankly all I can muster.
87. Alicia Keys – In Common
When I first heard this, I genuinely thought this song was a career reboot for Imogen Heap.
86. Bat for Lashes – Sunday Love
I appreciate the B4L career arc that has so deftly carried her through different sorts of mythologizing, grandiose album-making. This is a good one.
85. Angel Olsen – Sister
“This is a great candidate for the type of album track which didn’t need to appear on this list, but in appearing helped give good context to the onslaught of promotional singles that dominate year-end song recaps.” After writing this, I just looked it up and found that this was in fact a single. I guess I don’t know what I’m talking about.
84. G.L.O.S.S. – Give Violence a Chance
83. Huerco S. – Promises of Fertility
It’s always tough to insert longish minimalist tracks in a pop-laden ordered list, but this seems like a fine spot for the Huerco track.
82. Ariana Grande – Into You
This is a pretty good one. It’s amusing to read Pitchfork call a song with 600 million songs a “flop.”
81. Deakin – Golden Chords
Wow, I completely forgot about this release. I really enjoyed this song! I need to go back and listen to the album.
80. PJ Harvey – The Wheel
Admittedly PJ Harvey is yet another very established artist I’ve never really listened to. I didn’t realize she’d released anything this year!
79. Mr. Fingers – Qwazars
God, Mr. Fingers is such an upsetting alias.
78. serpentwithfeet – blisters
Wow, this was awesome!! There are always a handful of inclusions in these lists which I hear for the first time as I’m doing this recap and then fall further in love with in the following months. I’m excited to catch up with serpentwithfeet.
77. Skepta – Man
Soo good
76. Ka – 30 Keys
Sooo good though
75. Travis Scott and Young Thug – Pick Up the Phone [ft. Quavo]
It’s alright
74. The 1975 – Somebody Else
Oh my GOD the first three minutes of this music video were unbearably excruciating. I like that The 1975 seem to have been destined to have the kind of fan base prone to this sort of YouTube comment: “So annoying when you've known this band before they were even famous or anyone knew them, people thought they were crap because they were different .. Meh !!”
73. ScHoolboy Q – That Part [ft. Kanye West]
For whatever reason, I didn’t get into this album. It’s not bad?
72. Moses Sumney – Lonely World
Very into this guy.
71. Isaiah Rashad – Smile
Interesting that we got into a lot of ‘indie’ blogs’ favorite hip hop acts in the 70s of this list.
70. Kaitlyn Auerelia Smith – Existence in the Unfurling
Wow, I loved this so much! I’d never heard her music before, but I’m now very excited to get to know Kaitlyn’s albums. It feels like a great midpoint between Emeralds, and Dan Snaith psychedelia, and something new and enticing.
69. Vince Staples – Prima Donna [ft. ASAP Rocky]
I love EPs that pack in potentially album-sustaining singles with reckless abandon. Vince’s “Prima Donna” is certainly one of the EPs I listened to the most this year.
68. Nao – Girlfriend
Here’s another great-sounding song I just didn’t hear anywhere this year. 
67. Young M.A – OOOUUU
Aaand another. But now I know I catch the references!
66. KING – The Greatest
This song is such a jam!
65. Savages – Adore
I appreciate this song for the directions it teases but doesn’t go in.
64. Porches – Be Apart
Hm, maybe the first song on this list that I’m disappointed to see ranked so low. In the 60s! That’s not bad. 
63. Cass McCombs – Bum Bum Bum
…and the first great snub of the list! This one was instantly timeless, like “Be Apart” in that it quickly became a song that I felt must be older than it was.
62. Drake – Controlla
Oops, have I still not intently listened to this album? Also, is this song really that good? Sorry, not feeling it. 
61. Sampha – Blood on Me
I didn’t realize there was going to be a Sampha album next year! That’s exciting.
60. Maxwell – 1990x
Haha, this list has been so packed full of songs I’ve never heard. Maxwell just came through my town to perform; I had no idea it wasn’t a nostalgia tour.
59. Whitney – No Woman
Whoa! This is very low compared to what I’d expected it’d be—I wonder if, like me, Pitchfork prefers “Golden Days.”
58. Young Thug – Digits
After admiring him from a distance for a few years, I finally clicked hard with YT this year and I listened to his 2016 releases, particularly Slime Season 3, a Lot while walking around Madison and Chicago. 
57. Jamila Woods – VRY BLK [ft. Noname]
This song is so good – a fantastic flip that builds purpose and depth on a foundation of schoolyard rhymes.
56. Desiigner – Panda
Tremendous snub. Come on, Pitchfork. Were there any other songs even made this year? 
55. Gucci Mane – 1st Day Out tha Feds
Triumphant, sad, awesome Gucci. 
54. dvsn – Hallucinations
I downloaded this album to my phone, and because of that, I ended up hearing it a decent number of times this year when I was looking for something to listen to without using data. It’s interesting how the seldom times our technology doesn’t give us infinite options tend to reflect the opportunities for growth the Album seems to have lost since the age of physical releases. 
53. Kaytranada – Glowed Up [ft. Anderson .Paak]
Does it make me a bad person that this is my favorite Anderson .Paak single of the year?
52. YG – Who Shot Me?
Yeah, this is a pretty amazing song. A good pick from a great album, and certainly not the last. 
51. Esperanza Spalding – Earth to Heaven
Whoa, I’ve never listened to Esperanza Spalding but this is an intriguing entry point—and as the blurb points out, something like a Broadway stroll with folk jazz icon Joni Mitchell. 
50. Parquet Courts – Human Performance
Parquet Courts released an album this year?
49. Aphex Twin – CHEETAHT2 [Ld spectrum]
“ “
48. Blood Orange – E.V.P.
Uugh, I love this one so much. I didn’t have it on my list, but it should probably be on there.
47. Chance the Rapper – All Night [ft. Knox Fortune]
YOOOO I am A. so glad to see this song on this list B. so validated – my cousin Grant recently sent me a link to “Down on My Luck” and I told him the 2014 Vic Mensa jam reminded me of this standout from Coloring Book. It’s fun to see the exact same connection drawn in the blurb for this pick’s inclusion in this list.
46. Hamilton Leithauser / Rostam – A 1000 Times
Ok, one thing I don’t understand with this collaboration—How are we supposed to learn how to spell Hamilton’s weird last name but not Rostam’s last name? Also, “A 1000”?? Good song tho.
45. Kevin Morby – I Have Been to the Mountain
THIS SONG. Underrated! But we are nearing cramped territory as we enter the top half of this list, it’s true.
44. Anderson .Paak – Come Down
Yeah, this is a good song, but the standout track from Malibu was probably “The Season | Carry Me,” wasn’t it?
43. Joey Purp – Girls @ [ft. Chance the Rapper]
This was a good pick.
42. French Montana – Lockjaw [ft. Kodak Black]
Oops, also certainly the first time I’ve heard this.
41. Beyoncé – Sorry
41?? Heresy! 
40. Young Thug – Kanye West
Yes!! Great to see my top YT pick for the year (and easily one of my most-listened to songs of the past month) included here. 
39. Jessy Lanza – It Means I Love You
Jessy Lanza is so cool!! This song is cool!
38. Weyes Blood – Do You Need My Love
Weyes Blood is so cool too! These two are a compelling pair.
37. Noname – Yesterday
Good pick for the 30s.
36. Kendrick Lamar – untitled 02 | 06.23.2014
This too! I’m happy with this in the 30s. 
35. Kevin Gates – 2 Phones
NOT a good pick for the 30s. This is a top 20 pick for sure. Come on!!
34. Chance the Rapper – Summer Friends [ft. Jeremih and Francis and the Lights]
A quiet highlight from the mixtape which clinches Coloring Book a top-ten-albums placement with the inevitable three selections in the top 50 tracks. 
33. D.R.A.M. – Broccoli [ft. Lil Yachty]
This too is a solid mid-30s placement for a runaway success of an internet hip hop hit.
32. Kanye West – No More Parties in L.A. [ft. Kendrick Lamar]
Such a great single. At first I felt irked with how low this is, but then realized it isn’t even in my top 30 tracks. There were just so many songs this year!
31. A Tribe Called Quest – Dis Generation
This is a great pick (certainly not the only one, yeah?) from the album. I love hearing Busta Rhymes say “Busta Rhymes” in any context.
30. Drake – One Dance
Yeah, I like this Drake song more than most. Cheers dude
29. Bon Iver – 22 (OVER S∞∞N)
Interesting—this is the one track I’d have said was a sure guarantee for inclusion in the list. That it’s the first inclusion from the album and at #29, it’s now pretty tough to estimate whether this will be the only pick or whether they chose an album track to bump up to a higher ranking. I’d guess that this’ll be it for the album, but we’ll see.
28. Beyoncé – Hold Up
Wow, could we potentially see 4 songs from this album on this list? It seems very likely. 5? Even a possibility!
27. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – I Need You
This is still so chilling.
26. Danny Brown – Really Doe [ft. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt]
I have to be honest—I am not that into this song. A lot of other people are, though, so maybe I’m just missing something!
25. Frank Ocean – Nikes
Wow, yes. I’m pulling for probably one other Blonde track in the top 25, unless they make the gutsy choice to include 3k’s “Solo,” perhaps coupled with pt. 1.
24. Radiohead – Daydreaming
I keep being surprised by tracks from albums I’d forgotten about. There was a decent breadth to the music Pitchfork gushed about this year.
23. David Bowie – I Can’t Give Everything Away
The writeup for this one is pretty great. 
22. Jenny Hval – Conceptual Romance
Fantastic song! I’m relatively content to see it occupying the spot reserved for the weirdo music Pitchfork brings close to the top but shies away from putting in the top fifth of their list. 
21. Solange – Don’t Touch My Hair [ft. Sampha]
Pop in 2016 was sooo goooood! Kinda miffed that this one didn’t break the top 20 though. 


Here’s the point at which I stop with the track-by-track play and readthroughs and come up with my best shot at a ranked top 20. I’ll include 10 runners up, ‘cause it’s harder than I wish it was to decide if songs were in the 110-101 range or the 20-1 range. 


OK, here’s my best attempt at predicting how Pitchfork will rank the following songs: 

Honorable Mention, not on the list : (

The Avalanches – Frankie Sinatra
Beyoncé – Freedom
Blood Orange – Augustine
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things theme
Fifth Harmony – Work From Home (or Side To Side?)
Lil Yachty – 1 Night
Cass McCombs – Opposite House
Frank Ocean – Ivy (Pink Ferrari?)
Porches - Hour
Told Slant – Low Hymnal

20. Beyoncé – Daddy Lessons
19. Mitski – Happy
18. Bon Iver – 33 ‘God’
17. A Tribe Called Quest – We the People…
16. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
15. Car Seat Headrest – Vincent
14. Whitney – Golden Days
13. Angel Olsen – Shut Up Kiss Me
12. Radiohead – True Love Waits
11. Chance the Rapper – No Problem
10. Car Seat Headrest – Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales
9. Rihanna – Work [ft. Drake]
8. Rae Sremmurd – Black Beatles [ft. Gucci]
7. YG – FDT
6. ANOHNI – Drone Bomb Me
5. Blood Orange – Best to You
4. Kanye West – Ultralight Beam
3. Solange – Cranes in the Sky
2. Mitski – Your Best American Girl
1. Beyoncé – Formation

Ok, here goes! 


20. Car Seat Headrest – Fill In The Blank
Awesome! Starting off with a biff. This is interesting, though—the blurb makes it sound like this could be the only CSH pick on the list. That sounds improbable though, right?
19. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
This song is amazing. A great pick, if only a few spots too early.
18. Bon Iver – 33 ‘GOD’ 
Hey!!! My first spot-on pick and we’re just getting started. We’ll see how that bodes for the next 17 spots.
17. Anderson .Paak – Am I Wrong
GUH, it’s well within Pitchfork’s right to have one writer call “Come Down” Malibu’s standout track while ranking a different song from the same album much closer to #1 in the list, but it does throw off my predictions.
16. Mitski – Your Best American Girl 
15. Blood Orange – Best to You [ft. Empress of]
Wow, Best to You was robbed too! Yikes, two from my top five holding down the mid-teens, no good!
14. Kanye West – Real Friends [ft. Ty Dolla $ign]
*Side eye* I will say that I’m glad Kanye’s been the Drake of this year’s Pitchfork tracks list. 
13. Frank Ocean – Pink + White
Not one of the top... 4 songs from ‘Blonde’ I’d guessed I’d see on this list, but it does serve to remind that the quality throughout the album does its bits to transcend the standard for standout singles.
12. Chance the Rapper – No Problem [ft. 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne]
Hey, not too far from #11. I’m not wild about the album for some reason, but it does have some really great moments, and this was obviously one of the most fun and permeating hip hop smashes of 2016. 
11. A Tribe Called Quest – We the People…
What a relief to see songs from the teens be picked up in the teens. There’s nothing stranger (though certainly nothing uncommon) than the realization that one of the songs you’d thought they’d loved the most didn’t even beat out Lil Peep. God, remember Lil Peep? I hope not. 


A re-ranking for my top 10 picks, ditching the Car Seat Headrest picks as well as Daddy Lessons: 

10. Whitney – Golden Days
9. Angel Olsen – Shut Up Kiss Me
8. Radiohead – True Love Waits
7. Rihanna – Work [ft. Drake]
6. Rae Sremmurd – Black Beatles [ft. Gucci]
5. YG – FDT
4. ANOHNI – Drone Bomb Me
3. Kanye West – Ultralight Beam
2. Solange – Cranes in the Sky
1. Beyoncé – Formation


10. Rae Sremmurd – Black Beatles [ft. Gucci Mane]
This is another song I admit I haven’t particularly loved, so I’m fine seeing this in about as low a spot as I could imagine it being in. 
9. Radiohead – True Love Waits
Destined to perch near the top of this list since before the site’s creation!
8. Angel Olsen – Shut Up Kiss Me
Yeah, not bad! The guesses for 8 and 9 in each other’s spots might just mean they got confused.
7. Rihanna – Work [ft. Drake]
Heyyo Charlie, perfect!!! I remember the first time I heard this song at the kitchen table in my old apartment, trying earnestly to understand what the lyrics were. Such an innocent time!
6. ANOHNI – Drone Bomb Me
I would love to see Anohni perform in 2017. Please, the future, make this happen for me!
5. David Bowie – Lazarus
An upset! I wasn’t sure if there’d be more Bowie (again, it’s an album that defies simply chosen singles) but this is surely deserving. At this point, I feel like the only candidates for dropping off this list are FDT and Golden Days. Golden Days surely seems the most likely of all—but let’s see!
4. Frank Ocean – Ivy
Wow!! ANOTHER upset! This is *my* Blonde pick, for what that’s worth, so I’m happy with it. See ya, YG and Whitney.
3. Solange – Cranes in the Sky
Yes, an inevitable selection! Now, though, I do have cold feet about Ultralight Beam because of how many Kanye songs have made it on this list. That said, it is more of a Broadway-style feature number than a typical ‘ye track…
2. Beyoncé – Formation
Wait, really? Wow! I had considered this to be a sure bet for #1 since it was unleashed early in the year. It’s just so iconic, powerful and fun. That said, so is Ultralight Beam. It’s been a toss-up for me whether one song or the other was my 2016 favorite, and I imagine strong cases were made for both songs in the Pitchfork offices.
1. Kanye West – Ultralight Beam [ft. Chance the Rapper, The-Dream, Kelly Price, and Kirk Franklin]
We don’t want no devils in the house, we want the LORD! That’s IT! The song brought me a tremendous amount of joy in 2016. I would write about it, but I just want to sit here and listen to it. 
I haven’t thought this before, but in certain ways, this song was my E•MO•TION in 2016 (you know, as far as it could be while E•MO•TION itself continued to be my E•MO•TION in 2016). Instantly grounding, instantly earth-shattering. So was “Formation.” Some things this year weren’t horrendous.