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The Best Songs of 2016 - The Ultimate List

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The Best Songs of 2016

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Get motivated by the music critics' best songs of 2016. Bookmark these playlists...

  • American Songwriter's Top 50 Songs of 2016
  • Billboard's 100 Best Pop Songs of 2016: Critics' Picks
  • NPR's Top 100 Songs Of 2016
  • The New York Times Best Songs of 2016
  • Pitchfork's 100 Best Songs of 2016

American Songwriter's Top 50 Songs of 2016

1. Lori McKenna: “Humble & Kind”
2. Margo Price: “Hands of Time”
3. Drive-By Truckers: “Surrender Under Protest”
4. Courtney Marie Andrews: “How Quickly Your Heart Mends?”
5. Car Seat Headrest: “Fill in the Blank”
6. Angel Olsen: “Intern”
7. Handsome Family: “Gold”
8. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: “Distant Sky”
9. Brandy Clark: “Homecoming Queen”
10. Hiss Golden Messenger: “Heart Like a Levee”
11. Sturgill Simpson: “Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)”
12. Mitski: “Your Best American Girl”
13. Beyoncé: “Daddy Lessons”
14. David Bowie: “I Can’t Give Everything Away”
15. Miranda Lambert: “Running Just in Case”
16. Shovels & Rope: “The Last Hawk”
17. Leonard Cohen: “You Want It Darker”
18. Lambchop: “The Hustle”
18. Lydia Loveless: “Heaven”
20. Richmond Fontaine: “I Got Off the Bus”
21. William Bell: “This Is Where I Live”
22. Hamilton Leithauser & Rostam: “A 1000 Times”
23. Elizabeth Cook: “Tabitha Tuders’ Mama”
24. John Paul White: “Blackleaf”
25. Eric Bachman: “Mercy”
26. Sara Watkins: “Young in All the Wrong Ways”
27. Ryley Walker: “The Halfwit in Me”
28. Bob Weir: “Only a River”
29. Yola Carter: “Orphan Country”
30. Bon Iver: “___45___”
31. Whitney: “Golden Days”
32. Wilco: “We Aren’t the World (Safety Girl)”
33. Paul Simon: “The Werewolf”
34. Radiohead: “Burn the Witch”
35. case/lang/veirs: “Atomic Number”
36. Kenny Chesney: “Jesus & Elvis”
37. Michael Kiwanuka: “Love & Hate”
38. Steve Gunn: “Ancient Jules”
39. Okkervil River: “Okkervil River R.I.P.”
40. Frankie Lee: “High and Dry”
41. Anohni: “Drone Bomb Me”
42. Charles Bradley: “Good to Be Back Home”
43. Mavis Staples: “Take Us Back”
44. Parquet Courts: “Berlin Got Blurry”
45. Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker: “Nine Times Along”
46. St. Paul & the Broken Bones: “I’ll Be Your Woman”
47. Joan Shelley: “Cost of the Cold”
48. Paul Cauthen: “Marfa Lights”
49. Felice Brothers: “Jack at the Asylum”
50. Big Thief: “Masterpiece”

Billboard's 100 Best Pop Songs of 2016: Critics' Picks

1. Rae Sremmurd feat. Gucci Mane, "Black Beatles"
2. Beyonce, "Sorry"
3. D.R.A.M. feat. Lil Yachty, "Broccoli"
4. The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk, "Starboy"
5. Kanye West, "Ultralight Beam"
6. Ariana Grande, "Into You"
7. Drake feat. Kyla & WizKid, "One Dance"
8. Fifth Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign, "Work From Home"
9. Rihanna, "Needed Me"
10. A Tribe Called Quest, "We the People..."
11. Troye Sivan, "YOUTH"
12. Solange, "Cranes in the Sky"
13. Chance the Rapper feat. 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne, "No Problem"
14. Beyonce, "Formation"
15. Maren Morris, "My Church"
16. Young M.A, "OOOUUU"
17. Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna, "This Is What You Came For"
18. Kanye West, "Fade"
19. Radiohead, "Burn the Witch"
20. Sia feat. Sean Paul, "Cheap Thrills"
21. Mac Miller feat. Anderson .Paak, "Dang!"
22. Shakira feat. Maluma, "Chantaje"
23. Beyonce, "Hold Up"
24. Desiigner, "Panda"
25. Rihanna feat. Drake, "Work"
26. Adele, "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)"
27. The xx, "On Hold"
28. Frank Ocean, "Nikes"
29. The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey, "Closer"
30. Mike Posner, "I Took a Pill in Ibiza" (SeeB Remix)
31. Twenty One Pilots, "Heathens"
32. Drake feat. Rihanna, "Too Good"
33. Justin Timberlake, "Can't Stop the Feeling!"
34. Justin Bieber, "Love Yourself"
35. Lady Gaga, "Million Reasons"
36. Fat Joe & Remy Ma feat. French Montana & Infared, "All the Way Up"
37. Zayn, "Pillowtalk"
38. Miranda Lambert, "Vice"
39. The 1975, "A Change of Heart"
40. David Bowie, "Lazarus"
41. DJ Snake feat. Justin Bieber, "Let Me Love You"
42. Shawn Mendes, "Treat You Better"
43. Angel Olsen, "Shut Up Kiss Me"
44. DNCE, "Cake By the Ocean"
45. Chance the Rapper feat. Kanye West & Chicago Children's Choir, "All We Got"
46. J Balvin feat. BIA and Pharrell, "Safari"
47. Daya, "Sit Still, Look Pretty"
48. Kungs vs. Cookin' on 3 Burners, "This Girl"
49. James Blake feat. Bon Iver, "I Need a Forest Fire"
50. Phantogram, "You Don't Get Me High Anymore"
51. Rihanna, "Kiss It Better"
52. John Legend feat. Chance the Rapper, "Penthouse Floor"
53. Chris Stapleton, "Nobody to Blame"
54. Margaret Glaspy, "Emotions and Math"
55. Kanye West, "Father Stretch My Hands (Pts. 1 & 2)"
56. Major Lazer feat. Justin Bieber and Mø, "Cold Water"
57. Sia feat. Miguel & Queen Latifah, "Satisfied"
58. Little Mix, "Shout Out to My Ex"
59. ScHoolboy Q feat. Kanye West, "THat Part"
60. Beck, "Wow"
61. Beyonce feat. Jack White, "Don't Hurt Yourself"
62. Twenty One Pilots, "Stressed Out"
63. Gallant, "Talking to Myself"
64. Bruno Mars, "24K Magic"
65. Deorro feat. Elvis Crespo, "Bailar"
66. Leonard Cohen, "You Want It Darker" (Paul Kalkbrenner Remix)
67. Anderson .Paak feat. ScHoolboy Q, "Am I Wrong?"
68. Flo Rida, "My House"
69. Kiiara, "Gold"
70. M83 feat. Mai Lan, "Go!"
71. JoJo feat. Wiz Khalifa, "Fuck Apologies"
72. Tinashe, "Superlove"
73. Jimmy Eat World, "Get Right"
74. Kevin Gates, "2 Phones"
75. Bon Iver, "33 'GOD'"
76. Mitski, "Your Best American Girl"
77. Alessia Cara, "Scars to Your Beautiful"
78. Domo Genesis feat. Anderson .Paak, "Dapper"
79. Anohni, "Drone Bomb Me"
80. Låpsley, "Operator (He Doesn't Call Me)"
81. Warpaint, "New Song"
82. YG feat. Nipsey Hussle, "FDT"
83. Børns, "American Money"
84. Travis Scott & Young Thug feat. Quavo, "Pick Up the Phone"
85. Unders, "Syria"
86. Panic! At the Disco, "Victorious"
87. Tegan and Sara, "Boyfriend"
88. Enrique Iglesias feat. Wisin, "Duele el corazón"
89. Against the Current, "Running With the Wild Things"
90. Colleen Green, "U Coulda Been an A"
91. Selena Gomez, "Hands to Myself"
92. Lil Yachty feat. Quavo, Skippa da Flippa & Young Thug, "Minnesota" (Remix)
93. Kelsea Ballerini, "Peter Pan"
94. Kings of Leon, "Waste a Moment"
95. Britney Spears, "Do You Wanna Come Over?"
96. Gucci Mane, "Waybach"
97. Shura, "What's It Gonna Be?"
98. Amber Coffman, "All to Myself"
99. Flume feat. Kai, "Never Be Like You"
100. Meghan Trainor, "No"

NPR's Top 100 Songs Of 2016

1. Beyoncé: "Formation"
2. Mitski: "Your Best American Girl"
3. Kanye West (feat. Chance the Rapper, The-Dream, Kelly Price and Kirk Franklin): "Ultralight Beam"
4. Leonard Cohen: "You Want It Darker"
5. Drive-By Truckers: "What It Means"
6. Chance the Rapper (feat. Anderson .Paak, BJ The Chicago Kid, Raury and Ty Dolla $ign): "Blessings (Reprise)"
7. Rae Sremmurd (feat. Gucci Mane): "Black Beatles"
8. Solange: "Cranes In The Sky"
9. Pinegrove: "Old Friends"
10. ANOHNI: "Drone Bomb Me"
11. Fifth Harmony (feat. Ty Dolla $ign): "Work From Home"
12. Frank Ocean: "Pink + White"
13. David Bowie: "I Can't Give Everything Away"
14. Maren Morris: "Rich"
15. Rihanna (feat. Drake): "Work"
16. Car Seat Headrest: "Vincent"
17. Anderson .Paak: "Come Down"
18. Gregory Porter: "Take Me To The Alley"
19. Danny Brown (feat. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Earl Sweatshirt): "Really Doe"
20. Boris Giltburg: "Étude-tableaux, Op. 39: No. 3 (Rachmaninoff)"
21. Margaret Glaspy: "You And I"
22. Lizzo: "Good As Hell"
23. Robert Ellis: "California"
24. James Blake (feat. Bon Iver): "I Need A Forest Fire"
25. Angel Olsen: "Sister"
26. Ty Dolla $ign (feat. Big TC): "No Justice"
27. Lucy Dacus: "I Don't Wanna Be Funny Anymore"
28. Miranda Lambert: "Vice"
29. Paul Simon: "Wristband"
30. Xenia Rubinos: "Mexican Chef"
31. Desiigner: "Panda"
32. Bon Iver: "22 (OVER S∞∞N)"
33. Maggie Rogers: "Alaska"
34. A Tribe Called Quest: "We The People..."
35. Parker Millsap: "Heaven Sent"
36. Leyla McCalla: "A Day For The Hunter, A Day for the Prey"
37. Blood Orange (feat. Empress Of): "Best To You"
38. Pavel Kolesnikov: "Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17, No. 4 (Chopin)"
39. Lindstrøm: "Closing Shot"
40. Radiohead: "Daydreaming"
41. Maxwell: "Lake By The Ocean"
42. Låpsley: "Operator (DJ Koze's Disco Edit)"
43. Allen Toussaint: "Mardi Gras In New Orleans"
44. Brandy Clark: "Since You've Gone To Heaven"
45. Bombino: "Timtar (Memories)"
46. Big Thief: "Masterpiece"
47. Riton (feat. Kah-Lo): "Rinse & Repeat"
48. Jeff Parker: "Get Dressed"
49. Joyce DiDonato: "Lascia ch'io pianga (Handel)"
50. William Bell: "The Three Of Me"
51. Swet Shop Boys: "T5"
52. Shura: "What’s It Gonna Be?"
53. Julianna Barwick: "Big Hollow"
54. Yola Carter: "Fly Away"
55. Weezer: "California Kids"
56. The 1975: "A Change Of Heart"
57. Savages: "Adore"
58. Daniel Wohl: "Source"
59. Lake Street Dive: "Call Off Your Dogs"
60. Angelica Garcia: "Orange Flower"
61. Joyce Manor: "Fake I.D."
62. Fat Joe, Remy Ma & Jay Z (feat. French Montana and Infared): "All The Way Up (Remix)"
63. Beyoncé (feat. Dixie Chicks): "Daddy Lessons (Remix)"
64. Japanese Breakfast: "In Heaven"
65. case/lang/veirs: "Atomic Number"
66. Robbie Fulks: "South Bend Soldiers On"
67. Rolf Lislevand: "Caprice de Chaconne (Corbetta)"
68. Kelsey Waldon: "All By Myself"
69. La Yegros (feat. Lindigo): "Sueñitos"
70. The xx: "On Hold"
71. Isaiah Rashad (feat. SZA): "Stuck In The Mud"
72. Brent Cobb: "Diggin' Holes"
73. Angela Hunte: "Mon Bon Ami"
74. Miles Mosley: "Abraham"
75. Dae Dae: "Wat U Mean (Aye, Aye, Aye)"
76. William Tyler: "Highway Anxiety"
77. D.R.A.M. (feat. Lil Yachty): "Broccoli"
78. Vektor: "Charging The Void"
79. Fea: "Tragedias"
80. Jambinai: "They Keep Silence"
81. Heron Oblivion: "Beneath Fields"
82. SubRosa: "Troubled Cells"
83. Noura Mint Seymali: "Ghlana"
84. Jon Bellion: "All Time Low"
85. Lubomyr Melnyk: "Sunset"
86. Calvin Harris (feat. Rihanna): "This Is What You Came For"
87. Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band: "High Castle Rock"
88. Jacob Collier: "Hideaway"
89. The Furrow Collective: "Chuir M'Athair Mise dhan Taigh Charraideach"
90. ¡Aparato!: "Aire"
91. Beth Orton: "Dawnstar"
92. Oathbreaker: "10:56 / Second Son of R."
93. ZAYN: "PILLOWTALK"
94. Adam Torres: "Juniper Arms"
95. Eighth Blackbird: "Pulse (Robert Honstein)"
96. Young Thug and Travis Scott (feat. Quavo): "Pick Up the Phone"
97. John Paul White: "Black Leaf"
98. Los Cenzontles: "Both Sides Now"
99. William Michael Morgan: "I Met a Girl"
100. Drake (feat. WizKid and Kyla): "One Dance"

The New York Times - The Best Songs of 2016

Jon Pareles, Music Critic

1. Rihanna featuring Drake “Work”
2. Paul Simon “Wristband”
3. Alicia Keys “In Common”
4. Bonnie Raitt “The Ones We Couldn’t Be”
5. Solange featuring Sampha “Don’t Touch My Hair”
6. Anderson.Paak “Celebrate”
7. John Legend featuring Brittany Howard “Darkness and Light”
8. Blood Orange “Augustine”
9. iLe “Caníbal”
10. Kanye West featuring The-Dream, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin and Chance the Rapper “Ultralight Beam”
11. Mitski “Fireworks”
12. Xenia Rubinos “Mexican Chef”
13. Car Seat Headrest “Vincent”
14. Iggy Pop “Gardenia”
15. Lucy Dacus “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore”
16. Norah Jones “Flipside”
17. Loretta Lynn featuring Elvis Costello “Everything It Takes”
18. Esperanza Spalding “Unconditional Love”
19. Weaves “One More”
20. Lori McKenna “Wreck You”
21. GoGo Penguin “Unspeakable World”
22. Emeli Sandé “Hurts”
23. Angel Olsen “Shut Up Kiss Me”
24. Sylvan Esso “Radio”
25. Pearson Sound “XLB”

Jon Caramanica, Music Critic

1. Desiigner “Timmy Turner” freestyle
2. Future featuring the Weeknd “Low Life”
3. Young M.A “OOOUUU”
4. Rihanna “Needed Me”
5. gnash featuring Olivia O’Brien “i hate u, i love u (Deepend remix)”
6. Ayo Jay “Your Number”
7. Joey Purp featuring Chance the Rapper “Girls @”
8. Shawn Mendes “Treat You Better”
9. The Chainsmokers featuring Daya “Don’t Let Me Down”
10. Young Thug and Travis Scott featuring Quavo “Pick Up the Phone”
11. Rae Sremmurd featuring Gucci Mane “Black Beatles”
12. French Montana featuring Kodak Black “Lockjaw”
13. Randy Houser “Song Number 7”
14. Fat Joe and Remy Ma featuring Jay Z, French Montana and Infared “All the Way Up (remix)”
15. serpentwithfeet “blisters”
16. Hey Violet “Guys My Age”
17. Bruno Mars “Versace on the Floor”
18. 2 Chainz featuring Lil Wayne “Bounce”
19. Lil Uzi Vert “Do What I Want”
20. Uncle Murda “Panda (remix),” “All the Way Up (remix),” “OOOUUU (remix)”
21. MattyB featuring Gracie Haschak “Friend Zone”

Nate Chinen, Music Critic

1. Kanye West featuring The-Dream, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin and Chance the Rapper “Ultralight Beam”
2. Beyoncé “Freedom”
3. Frank Ocean “Ivy”
4. A Tribe Called Quest “We the People”
5. Drive-By Truckers “Surrender Under Protest”
6. Rihanna “Work”
7. Bonnie Raitt “The Ones We Couldn’t Be”
8. Solange “Cranes in the Sky”
9. Miranda Lambert “Vice”
10. Aoife O’Donovan “The King of All Birds”

Pitchfork's 100 Best Songs of 2016

1. Kanye West – “Ultralight Beam” [ft. Chance the Rapper, The-Dream, Kelly Price, and Kirk Franklin]
2. Beyoncé – “Formation”
3. Solange – “Cranes in the Sky”
4. Frank Ocean – “Ivy”
5. David Bowie – “Lazarus”
6. ANOHNI – “Drone Bomb Me”
7. Rihanna – “Work” [ft. Drake]
8. Angel Olsen – “Shut Up Kiss Me”
9. Radiohead – “True Love Waits”
10. Rae Sremmurd – “Black Beatles” [ft. Gucci Mane]
11. A Tribe Called Quest – “We the People…”
12. Chance the Rapper – “No Problem” [Ft. Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz]
13. Frank Ocean – “Pink + White”
14. Kanye West – “Real Friends”
15. Blood Orange – “Best to You” [ft. Empress Of]
16. Mitski – “You Best American Girl”
17. Anderson .Paak – “Am I Wrong”
18. Bon Iver – “33 ‘GOD’”
19. Leonard Cohen – “You Want It Darker”
20. Car Seat Headrest – “Fill in the Blank”
21. Solange – “Don’t Touch My Hair” [ft. Sampha]
22. Jenny Hval – “Conceptual Romance”
23. David Bowie – “I Can’t Give Everything Away”
24. Radiohead – “Daydreaming”
25. Frank Ocean – “Nikes”
26. Danny Brown – “Really Doe” [ft. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt]
27. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – “I Need You”
28. Beyoncé – “Hold Up”
29. Bon Iver – “22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version]”
30. Drake – “One Dance” [ft. Wizkid and Kyla]
31. A Tribe Called Quest – “Dis Generation”
32. Kanye West – “No More Parties in L.A.” [ft. Kendrick Lamar]
33. D.R.A.M. – “Broccoli” [ft. Lil Yachty]
34. Chance the Rapper – “Summer Friends” [ft. Jeremih]
35. Kevin Gates – “2 Phones”
36. Kendrick Lamar – “Untitled 2”
37. Noname – “Yesterday”
38. Weyes Blood – “Do You Need My Love”
39. Jessy Lanza – “It Means I Love You”
40. Young Thug – “Kanye West”
41. Beyoncé – “Sorry”
42. French Montana – “Lockjaw” [ft. Kodak Black]
43. Joey Purp – “Girls @” [ft. Chance the Rapper]
44. Anderson .Paak – “Come Down”
45. Kevin Morby – “I Have Been to the Mountain”
46. Hamilton LeithauserRostam – “A 1000 Times”
47. Chance the Rapper – “All Night” [ft. Knox Fortune]
48. Blood Orange – “E.V.P.”
49. Aphex Twin – “CHEETAHT2 [Ld spectrum]”
50. Parquet Courts – “Human Performance”
51. Esperanza Spalding – “Earth to Heaven”
52. YG – “Who Shot Me?”
53. Kaytranada – “Glowed Up” [ft. Anderson .Paak]
54. dvsn – “Hallucinations”
55. Gucci Mane – “First Day Out tha Feds”
56. Desiigner – “Panda”
57. Jamila Woods – “VRY BLK” [ft. Noname]
58. Young Thug – “Digits”
59. Whitney – “No Woman”
60. Maxwell – “1990x”
61. Sampha – “Blood on Me”
62. Drake – “Controlla”
63. Cass McCombs – “Bum Bum Bum”
64. Porches – “Be Apart”
65. Savages – “Adore”
66. KING – “The Greatest”
67. Young M.A. – “OOOUUU”
68. Nao – “Girlfriend”
69. Vince Staples – “Prima Donna” [ft. A$AP Rocky]
70. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – “Existence in the Unfurling”
71. Isaiah Rashad – “Smile”
72. Moses Sumney – “Lonely World”
73. Schoolboy Q – “That Part”
74. The 1975 – “Somebody Else”
75. Travis Scott – “Pick Up the Phone” [ft. Young Thug]
76. Ka – “30 Keys”
77. Skepta – “Man”
78. serpentwithfeet – “blisters”
79. Mr. Fingers – “Qwazars”
80. PJ Harvey – “The Wheel”
81. Deakin – “Golden Chords”
82. Ariana Grande – “Into You”
83. Huerco S. – “Promises of Fertility”
84. G.L.O.S.S. – “Give Violence a Chance”
85. Angel Olsen – “Sister”
86. Bat for Lashes – “Sunday Love”
87. Alicia Keys – “In Common”
88. Rihanna – “Needed Me”
89. Frankie Cosmos – “On the Lips”
90. Pinegrove – “Old Friends”
91. 21 Savage / Metro Boomin – “No Heart”
92. Sheer Mag – “Can’t Stop Fighting”
93. Danny Brown – “When It Rain”
94. Cate Le Bon – “Wonderful”
95. Kamaiyah – “I’m On”
96. Kodak Black – “Vibin in This Bih” [ft. Gucci Mane]
97. Olga Bell – “Randomness”
98. Moor Mother – “Deadbeat Protest”
99. Sturgill Simpson – “Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)”
100. Lil Peep – “Kiss”

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2 Responses to The Best Songs of 2016 - The Ultimate List

  1. Angela December 13, 2016 at 5:32 PM #

    I'm very interested in your peak performance musician and any suggestion to start my new year resolutions to set goals and get my songwriting on track

  2. Norman Mitchell December 13, 2016 at 6:10 PM #

    Thanks

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