My Favorite 25 Songs of 2016

Since 2005, I’ve spent the last few days of each year cataloguing all the music I listened to, written out the list of albums, and then stack-ranked them to create a top 10 album list for the year.

The practice of ordering albums feels more natural — as a complete artistic work, there’s a lot more to grasp onto, and typically an album I really liked earlier in the year will still hold prominence for me when I look back on the year. But songs are different: you can love a song — like, really, absolutely, need to listen to that song again as soon as it’s over — and become totally immersed in the intricacies and catchiness of those 3 or 4 minutes.

But the half-life of a song can be wildly variant. For me, some burn bright quickly and then fade just as fast, as they happened to coincide with whatever mood I was in for that couple of days. And not only is the half-life wildly variant (and unpredictable), but some tracks hit immediately, while others take several listens to gain a real appreciation.

This is all to say that ranking songs feels more fleeting, more slice-of-life, than ranking albums: whereas the latter feels like it’s the result of dozens of listens to 100+ albums, these are my favorite songs of the last year, right now, as I think I remember them. But will the top 5 resonate with me more than 6–10 in a couple years? I have no idea, and I guess it doesn’t really matter. This is what I liked in 2016, as I remember it right now.

listen to the spotify playlist

25. frank ocean — futura free
24. kanye west — waves
23. taylor bennett — broad shoulders ft chance the rapper
22. starrah — rush
21. solange — mad ft lil wayne
20. young thug — kanye west
19. beyonce — freedom ft kendrick lamar
18. pusha-t — drug dealers anonymous ft jay-z
17. blood orange — best to you
16. the weeknd — feel it coming
15. rae sremmurd — black beatles ft gucci mane
14. kanye west — no more parties in la ft kendrick lamar
13. grimes — california
12. 2 chainz — good drank ft quavo & gucci mane
11. young m.a. — ooouuu
10. kanye west — saint pablo
9. the weeknd — starboy ft daft punk
8. vic mensa — danger
7. chance the rapper — same drugs
6. frank ocean — solo
5. dj shadow — nobody speak ft run the jewels
4. tunji ige — bring yo friends
3. chance the rapper — no problem ft 2 chainz & lil wayne
2. beyonce — formation
1. kanye west — ultralight beam ft chance the rapper

Let me know what I missed, smash that recommend button, and have an incredible 2017 :)