So, it is time for us to introduce the top 50 songs of 2016! I annouced the top 20 live on the radio show Attention Please on NE1FM in the North East of England and I have to say, it has been a good year for music in some ways (obviously not in terms of casualties) and there has been some classics in waiting released in 2016. I could have easily created a list that was 100 long, 200 long, 300 long, this list is missing songs from Whores, Ghost, Zoax, , Zac De La Roach, The 69 Eyes, The Phoenix and others; not because those songs were awful, but because the songs on this list were that good! But I am not going for a long introduction here, I am just going to get on with the list:
50 – Babymetal – KARATE
You can watch the official video of KARATE on YouTube here.
Charming to a fault, 'Mad Monk' is the lead track from the 'Mad Monk EP', released by London based singer Seth Elton. It is a wistful number about love and being left out in the cold whilst looking longingly towards a loved one, it is a gentle number that makes the world a nicer place just for being there.
You can watch the official video for Mad Monk on YouTube here.
48 – NOFX – I’m So Sorry Tony
This song from NOFX is from their latest album 'First Ditch Effort', it is a tribute to the late singer Tony Sly from the band No Use For A Name. It is a touching tribute that paints a beautiful tribute for this man, the feelings from the band are raw and it is one of a few stand out tracks on the album, the samples of Tony Sly at the end of the song are poignant.
You can hear I'm So Sorry Tony on YouTube here.
47 – Banks & Steelz – Giant
Another song that was used for a a WWE:NXT Takeover PPV, this one was one of the themes for Brooklyn II and this song is perfect example of two worlds coming together to create something powerful. It is a larger than life song with a huge hook and it was one of the songs of the summer for me.
You can watch the official video of Giant on Youtube here.
46 – Okkervil River – Okkervil River RIP
This slice of Alternative Country brings the spirit of Springsteen, adds tortured sounds and a melody that adds a slight drone quality to the song. A tale of how the band fell apart and the loss of family members that have been the driving factors behind this song and the album 'Away'.
You can watch the official video for Okkervil River RIP on YouTube here.
45 – Enversa – Suffer/Survive
Big riffs and big melodies is the aim of the game for Newcastle based Enversa, it is the second time these guys have made out end of year song list and this is a great song. It is a melodic metal number that have some Post Grunge overtones that add weight to the song and pack a punch as well!
You can stream Suffer/Survive on Soundcloud here.
44 – Gojira – Stranded
French metal band Gojira have always been an interest act, sometimes they go a little too far off the rails, but they have always had something to say. 'Stranded' was the stand out track from 'Magma' and it has a fantastic riff that could level building if played at the right volume.
You can watch the official video for Stranded on YouTube here.
43 – Baby Scream – Wish You Were Beer
If there is any justice in the world, Juan Pablo Mazzola will be a huge star one day. He has a knack of writing song in a classic pop style and 'Wish You Were Beer' is another example of how this man can make even the saddest subject sound beautiful.
You can stream Wish You Were Beer on Spotify here.
42 – Backwards Runner – I Could
Hailing from Poland, Backwards Runner were sadly one of the bands I did not get to review this year; however, 'I Could' is a beautiful piece of Indie Rock that brings to mind the likes of Doves, Electronic and a little bit of New Order/Joy Division. This was a song I got to play on the radio and it reminds me of the Summer and sunshine - check them out.
You can stream (& purchase) I Could from the Backwards Runner Bandcamp page here.
41 – Josh Woodward – Release
Josh Woodward is one of those artists who is self-sufficient, releasing his music for free (or pay what you want) and he is still making a living out of it as well. This song about having the balls to end a relationship when you feel like you are holding the other person back is very moving, it is a beautiful piece of music and its gentle acoustic pace is heart-warming.
You can watch the official video for Release on YouTube here.
40 – Young Guns – Living In A Dream Is So Easy
Hard rocker Young Guns have been taking the world by storm recently with their new album 'Echoes' and it was actually hard to pick a song from the album. 'Living In A Dream Is So Easy' is an emotional rock piece about being misunderstood and how it can affect your life.
You can hear Living In A Dream Is So Easy on YouTube here.
39 – The Divine Comedy – To The Rescue
Neil Hannon should be knighted and have monuments raised in his honour! The man is a legend in my eyes, this song about love and companionship is another piece of luscious pop that shows the world that there is life in the old dog yet, one of the best pieces of pop for 2016.
You can watch a live version of To The Rescue on YouTube here.
38 – Warpaint – New Song
This song stood out like a gem on the latest album from Los Angeles indie rock band Warpaint, it is a alternative indie pop floor filler which has an instant hook on the main riff and it stands head and shoulder above everything else off the album.
You can watch the video for New Song on YouTube here.
37 – Polarset – Adelaide
Synth Indie Pop act Polarset really hit their groove on this song, making a song that could make the heart break and forever seem like a short distance. Maybe a little bit of a Killers vibe to the song, obviously by default a little bit of New Order as well; but it is a summer song through and through.
You can watch the video of Adelaide on YouTube here.
36 – Ladyshark – Monsters
Two-piece Riot Grrrl act Ladyshark first came to my attention through the Sweet Sounds Records Autumn compilation and we also reviewed their album 'Monsters'. The song itself is a fantastic piece of noise that smashes out of the speakers with a fireball brand of attitude and noise!
You can purchase & stream Monsters on the Ladyshark Bandcamp page here.
35 – Fret! – Punch
A song that I have on two different releases from Fret! in 2016, the song appears on the 'Killing Nico' and 'Killing Susan' EP's and it is an instrumental surf punk/alternative noise song that kicks the door down and it has a great, fuzzy sound that sticks in your brain for long after it has finished playing.
You can purchase & stream Punch on the Fret! Bandcamp page here.
34 – Dinosaur Jr. – Tiny
Coming back with a vengeance and showing the world why they are a force that should never be dismissed, Dinosaur Jr. came back with an alternative rock bang and it did not disappoint. 'Tiny' is such a great song, a simple, yet effective song that makes the world more colourful just by existing.
You can watch the video for Tiny on YouTube here.
33 – The 1975 – The Sound
Taking from the second album from The 1975, 'The Sound' is synth indie that is filling up dancefloors up and down the country. The album might have been a little over reaching in places, but they got it spot on with 'The Sound'.
You can watch the video for The Sound on YouTube here.
32 – Ty Segall – Californian Hills
Art indie rock, noisy as hell and spikey; Ty Segall is not the easiest artist in the world to listen to, but he is making some fantastic noise to these ears. The ending of this song is one of my highlights of the year.
You can watch the official video for Californian Hills on YouTube here.
31 – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Girl In Amber
I have never heard a man sound as wounded as Nick Cave does on his latest album 'Skeleton Key', whilst the songs may not be directly in relation to the passing of his song, that event casts a long shadow over this album. 'Girl In Amber' is the darkest moment on the record, the anguish and pain are akin to people in the room and it breaks my heart each time I hear it.
You can watch the official video for Girl In Amber on YouTube here.
30 – James – Move Down South
I think I would name this as my surprise of the year, I was not really expecting to be listening to James in 2016, let alone adoring their new direction and sound. 'Move Down South' is a dark song, driving by a powerful drum performance and a rumbling bass, it is a song that grabs your attention and refuses to let go.
You can stream Move Down South on Spotify here.
29 – Bad Rabbit – Flames
Somewhere between the sound of Prince, Living Colour and creating a new noise, Bad Rabbits have took over my world since I first heard 'American Nightmare', 'Flames' is the best song of the album and it breaks your heart each time you hear it.
You can stream Flames on Spotify here.
28 – Sleeplust – My Place
There has been a lot of quality pop song this year, 'My Place' is one that I wish was getting more attention to be honest. It is a one that has a great hook, a gentle vocal performance and some subtle sounds that make it so memorable.
You can stream My Place on Spotiy here.
27 – Blqak Audio – Cermonial (Burst Into Flames)
As side projects go, I cannot think of a better one for Davey Havok & Jade Puget of AFI; synth pop with a bit of Europop to the sound, giving this a club and beach feeling. It is a piece of euphoria that you sometimes require, especially in darker times.
You can view the video for Ceremonials (Burst Into Flames) on YouTube here.
26 – Metallica – Atlas, Rise!
Some people had given up on the possibility of there ever being another Metallica album, but they have come back with a bang. Whilst the album could have been trimmed slightly, 'Atlas, Rise!' was the best moment on the album with a solo that is dripping with classic thrash sound, a riff that keeps on giving and all memories of 'St. Anger' are diminished.
You can watch the video for Atlas, Rise! on YouTube here.
25 – Omar Rodriguez Lopez – Tunnel Riot
He has been a busy boy this year, hasn’t he….. 12 albums in the last few months of the year, Crystal Fairy and new At The Drive In material as well; basically Mr Rodriguez Lopez has been spoiling us and ‘Tunnel Riot’ featuring the vocals of Terri Gender Bender is another prime example of rock genius that this man specialises in.
You can listen to Tunnel Riot on YouTube here.
24 – The Virginmarys - Living In My Place
Britain has a great tradition of producing fantastic hard rock bands to reflect the mood of the nation, The Virginmarys are one of the latest bands in that great line up and they have created some high octane rock & roll noise, but the song that grabbed our attention was one of their more reflective moments which closed their album ‘Divides’, a song about wanting to find a home is well crafted and shows a diversity within the band.
You can stream Living In My Place on Spotify here.
23 – Autoheart – Before You Came
This is how synth pop should be; heart breaking, passionate and dramatic. Autoheart have created a brilliant album with ‘We Can Build A Fire’ and ‘Before You Came’ is the crowning glory on the album, never have a band like this reached such emotional levels since the ‘Actually’ & ‘Behaviour’ days of the Pet Shop Boys.
You can stream Before You Came on Spotify here.
22 – Blink-182 – Los Angeles
Blink-182 were wrote off after founding member Tom DeLong was sacked, resigned, went UFO hunting; replacing him with Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio was a stroke of genius and whilst the resulting album still had a few dick & fart jokes, it also had some spot on Punk numbers that reminded you that Blink-182 are still a force to be reckoned with.
You can watch the official video for Los Angeles on YouTube here.
21 – The Joy Formidable – Blowing Fire
You can stream Blowing Fire on Spotify here.
20 – Wolfmother – Baroness
Before being a hipster was a thing, Wolfmother were a band I would have described as hipster. However, they have always been able to right a cracking rock song and ‘Baroness’ eclipses all of their other work for me. Mainly because it slows everything down slightly and always the drama of the music to unfold slowly. Lyrically, it could be about anything and that is fine, as the music is spot on.
You can stream Baroness on Spotify here.
19 – Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Longest Wave
Heartache is always a great catalyst for musicians and even the legend that is Mr A. Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers is already a dab hand at taking his pain and making something positive out of it. ‘The Longest Wave’ is a slow burner that you will keep returning to long after you have finished listening to the album. It might be the highest spot on the album in terms of energy, but it is the one with the biggest depth.
You can stream The Longest Wave on Spotify here.
18 – Crystal Fairy – Drugs on the Bus
A supergroup with members of At The Drive In, The Melvins and Bosnian Rainbows – take my money please!!! It could have been a song about eating baked beans and I would have been hooked; but these cats are just too clever before it has even stated and they have released a sludge rock piece that is everything you were expecting and much more! This is their first release, I cannot wait for the rest of their songs.
You can listen to Drugs on the Bus on YouTube here.
17 – Justice – Heavy Metal
Justice have come back with a bang on their third studio album ‘Woman’, making their own mark on the world without being compared to other contemporaries (sadly, this is something that happens in electronica). ‘Heavy Metal’ is a grower that does not stop making all the right noises and leaves the rest of the field behind. That riff for the music is so catchy, it should really come with a health warning.
You can stream Heavy Metal on Spotify here.
16 – Pixies – All I Think About Now
As apologies go, this is one that can make the hardest heart break into pieces. Frank Black deals with the emotion around which former bass player Kim Deal left the Pixies, musically it sounds a lot like ‘Where Is My Mind’ and having the vocals handled by new bass player Paz Lenchantin sounding so fragile and making you realise how important Kim Deal was to the Pixies and how important Paz Lenchantin is to them now, it is a double whammy of emotion.
You can listen to the official audio of All I Think About Now on YouTube here.
15 – L.A. Spring – Passerby
As featured on the E4 program ‘Made In Chelsea’, L.A. Spring have do quite well with their debut single. It is a strong number that has an infectious riff, simple lyrics and a sing-a-long chorus that makes this indie rock number a little gem in the world.
You can stream Passerby on Spotify here.
Alternative Country act Pinegrove are one of those acts who are looking through the world through a crack prism and making it sound like there are positives to be sort as well. It is a stream of thought that makes you ponder what you are doing as well – a great number that has a big hook towards the middle and end of the song.
You can watch a live version of Cadmium on YouTube here.
13 – Driven Serious – Ballad of Bones
Folk Punk is a genre which needs more of a spot light, Driven Serious are a band who are striving to make a name for themselves and this song will go a long way to cementing that. With a video that is just as memorable as the song, Driven Serious have given the world a fantastic song that should rightly be gaining them a hell of a lot of attention.
12 – Set It Off – Something New
You can watch the video for Something New on YouTube here.
11 – Dälek – Shattered
…..and sometimes you want something confrontational and brutal! New Jersey experimental hip-hop group Dälek have come back this year with a band and ‘Shattered’ was the first song from the album. It is a noisy, grinding and intense experience that is worth the price of the album on its own.
You can watch a video for Shattered on YouTube here.
10 – Thee Oh Sees – Ticklish Warrior
As noise rock grows in popularity again, one name keeps coming up time and time again; Thee Oh Sees are gaining momentum this year and ‘Ticklish Warrior’ is the sound of a band on fire. A hook riff, loud drums and more noise/feedback than your average act will experience in their life time.
You can watch a live recording of Ticklish Warrior on YouTube here.
09 – Taking Back Sunday – Death Wolf
The opening song of ‘Tidal Wave’ is quite possibly the best song the band have ever released. It is an Alternative Rock anthem with hooks that grab your attention with ease, a catchy chorus that makes this song such a great song for 2016.
You can watch the official lyric video for Death Wolf on YouTube here.
08 – This Wild Life – Falling Down
You can watch the official video for Falling Down on YouTube here.
07 – Jimmy Eat World – Sure & Certain
Another act who have returned this year with one hell of an album! The second song to be released from the album ‘Integrity Blues’ was a jaw dropping moment. ‘Sure & Certain’ is a song which has a slight bit of regret, a powerful chorus and some beautiful words. It is good to have them back, even better that they came back with this brilliant song!
You can watch the lyrics video for Sure & Certain on YouTube here.
06 – Radiohead – Daydreamer
You can watch the video for Daydreaming on YouTube here.
05 – The Dowling Poole – Vox Pops
Rock and pop should sometimes come with sarcasm warning – this song from The Dowling Poole which casts its eye on the media phenomenon of talking heads that are not saying anything, but are being manipulated to make people think that this is what people around the country are really thinking. It is as catchy and classic a modern rock song as has been released this year, really it should be getting more publicity.
You can stream Vox Pops on Spotify here.
04 – Vacation Forever – Midnight In Mid-Ohio
You can stream Mid-Ohio At Midnight on Spotify here.
Out of all the emotional rock tracks of 2016, this is the one that made me draw my breath when I first heard it (and every time since if I am absolutely honest). This song has been on heavy rotation in ATTIWLTMOWOS towers, a song about being careful when you are smashing your way towards you latest desire, being careful who you tread on when you are in the ascent as it will sting you on the way down; a huge song with a great performance from Thrice.
You can watch the official Black Honey video on YouTube here.
02 – The Wonder Stuff – Don’t You Ever
Taken from their album ’30 Goes Around The Sun’, ‘Don’t You Ever’ is proof (if it was ever really required in the first place) that The Wonder Stuff are still going strong, still writing quality tunes and are more than just a hits band from the late eighties/early nineties. A song that explorers the past, the inner working of the mind of a man who does not believe in a Deity, but feels judged and that there is a disappointment in the air. For me, this band have never been a disappointment and this is one of their best songs ever.
You can watch a live version of Don't You Ever from the Shiinne Weekend on YouTube here.
01 – Miike Snow – Genghis Khan
I am still sort of surprised that this one has topped my list in some ways; first off – this is a smooth and catchy piece of electronica/indie pop as you could hope to hear, the words are a little throw away to a certain degree as well; but that hook in the chorus, it is towering. A lot of people will remember the James Bond-esque video (and for good reason, it is spectacular), but the song itself is a glorious tune about internal conflict and jealousy that sinks its hooks in with ease and stays in your mind for long after it finished.
You can watch the official video for Genghis Khan on YouTube here.
So there you have it, congratulations to all the bands and singers who made the list this year and have made the year 2016 more bearable by just filling the world with light, noise, companionship and the sound that has kept the world moving forward – till next year dear readers, till next year.
Here is a Spotify Playlist to most of the songs, there are a few of the artists who do not use Spotify. There is no judgement here as I can understand why there would not want to, but as I said - here is the link to the list.