Another year has come and gone, meaning we’ve hit another arbitrary stop-point. It’s time to take stock, and figure out what we have (or haven’t) done in the past 366 days. Included in the traditional late-December/early-January fun is End of Year List Season!
For many, 2016 was a year of disappointment, death, and sadness. For me, the year progressed toward a feeling of uncertainty. The idea of finality has been looming nearby; I’m nearly finished with grad school (after all these years). However, life doesn’t just end with cap and gown. I have no idea what happens next! I don’t know where I’ll be living in 5 or 6 months, I don’t know what I’ll be doing, I don’t know who I’ll be near. This all creates a strange pang of nostalgia for the present (however contradictory that sounds). Questions I’m asking lately: is this the last time I go to a concert at the Newport? How many more times do I eat at Ray Ray’s? Are my nights as trivia team captain almost over?
In a parallel construction, I’ve been contending with a mix of music present and music future. 2016, for all its warts, yielded great music moments for me. I heard new Radiohead! I went to Modest Mouse and Courtney Barnett shows! I saw Drake with LeBron James (sorta)!
On the other hand, there’s the looming specter of 2017. The unknown has some shape, with releases from Spoon, The National, Arcade Fire, Japandroids, and The xx all on the horizon. But what will they sound like? Will I be pleased, or disappointed?
For now, though, I’ll leave the future out of reach. Instead, it’s time to explore my favorite songs, albums, and live concert experiences of 2016. I’m going to follow the same setup as last year: I’m picking “favorite” instead of “best.” I’m not the World’s Culture Expert, so I won’t claim to be. These lists are the music I loved the most (and that means no Bon Iver).
Today: my Top 25 Favorite Songs of 2016.
There’s a Spotify list at the end of this article, if you’d like to browse and listen that way. You have the power.
(A few arbitrary, self-imposed rules: only one song per artist, and if the songs are part of a proper album, the record must have been released in 2016. Although, I will bend that rule for Missy Elliott because I expected a full album and excluded a track from her last year. Deal. With. It.)
25. “Sure and Certain” by Jimmy Eat World
Why I Like It: Jim Adkins’ voice is soothing to me. I enjoy the messaging about getting outside your comfort zone (seems good for 2016 and into 2017). I like the guitar breakdown, and the chorus is a great earworm.
Why You Might Like It: You wanted a nuanced sequel to “The Middle.” You are looking for a calm guide. You enjoy buttery rock voices.