Top 50 Songs of 2016, #30–21

And it continues…

30. Rihanna, “Kiss It Better”: Just as “Skin” got lost in the massive success of Loud’s singles, so did “Kiss It Better” to a certain extent. At least this time, the gorgeous slow jam kissed with Nuno Bettencourt’s guitar received a portion of the recognition it deserves.

29. Mitski, “Your Best American Girl”: As powerful a statement of identity as you’ll get this year; the midpoint slam is as powerful a statement you’ll get, period. The upward harmony signals hope admist Mitski’s devastating confessions.

28. KING, “The Greatest”: This, for me, is the pinnacle of this sort of lush, synthy R&B. The catch that elevates this to, well, greatness, is how the sumptuous production became the perfect (but unexpected) elegy for its namesake.

27. Sofi de la Torre ft. Blackbear, “Flex Your Way Out”: In which Sofi’s breakup anthems finally get word from the other side. It’s another instance of how well she nails the midpoint between detachment and ice; for one, it meshes with the production, at once woozy but razor-sharp.

26. Tkay Maidza, “Monocrhome”: I’m about two years late to falling in love with Tkay. To think I would ever argue with her assured, ever-changing flow riding the squelchy electro beat! I know the error of my ways now. This is some “212”-level shit.

25. Kyau & Albert, “Memory Lane”: “Chris Martin-soundalike singing on an uplifting trance track” might be a hard sell to most, but for me it’s an impulse buy. This kind of trance — the one I love — is slowly edging its way back into the limelight, and I’m all for it.

24. Carly Rae Jepsen, “Cry”: The opening synth chords say it all: filtered, inert, only able to move in small intervals, When I hear “Cry,” I hear all the people in my life — family, friends, lovers — who have wished for me to be more emotionally available, and, yes, it makes me cry.

23. Didrick ft. Amanda Fondell, “Smoke”: Big emotions deserve big sounds. It’s not always that electronic music lives up to the claim of “a million years,” but Didrick’s hyper-color drum & bass more than suits Fondell’s proclamations. And yes, there are 8-bit arpeggios.

22. Kristin Kontrol, “What Is Love”: “Today I kept busy, so I felt okay/God bless the mania” makes me shiver. From such a knotted opening, “What Is Love” unravels into a stadium power ballad, with soaring guitars and a challenge to examine what it means to work and live at the same time.

21. Jason Ross ft. Lauren Ray, “Me Tonight”: Jason Ross’ (literally) slamming trance production has made him a star in the Anjunabeats circuit, and for good reason. It’s a bonus that he’s also great on vocal trance; Lauren Ray’s refrain is simple but mysterious, and it glides over the hammering beats to wonderful effect.

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