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
76. Ka – 30 Keys
Sooo good though
75. Travis Scott and Young Thug – Pick Up the Phone [ft. Quavo]
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
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
MITSKI WAS ROBBED!!!!
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.