My Top 10 Favorite Songs Of 2016

My Top 10 Favorite Songs Of 2016

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Near the end of every year, I compile a ranking of my favorite songs released in said year. This year, since I am now a regular writer for Odyssey, I decided to publish my list in article form. Therefore, I now present to you, my top 10 favorite songs of 2016, counted down from 10:

10. "Change" by Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera, the larger-than-life diva with a powerhouse voice and career spanning nearly two decades, composed and released this hit in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, as a tribute to the victims. It didn't receive much airplay, and contained a lot of cliche "why can't we all get along" rhetoric, but it was a modest effort on the part of Aguilera, who delivered a powerful vocal performance.

Waiting for a change

To set us free

Waiting for the day

When you can be you

And I can be me

Waiting for hope

To come around

Waiting for the day

When hate is lost

And love is found

9. "24K Magic" by Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars has proven himself to possess a raw talent for original music, with his roots in R&B, whether rocking the most dance-able beats or crooning about love and heartbreak on the most tender ballads. On this catchy dance anthem, he infuses synthpop, disco, and R&B to create an irresistible blend suitable for any dance floor, accompanied as usual by his killer voice, which is undoubtedly the envy of all the world. His live performances of the song don't disappoint, either, turning Saturday Night Live into a lively dance party.

8. "Brand New" by Ben Rector

The epitome of a feel-good song, from a grossly underrated talent. Ben Rector has been making music for years, with little airtime on mainstream radio. That finally changed when "Brand New" became a moderate success on mainstream radio, and rightfully so. The song doesn't have any real focal point, but speaks of a general feeling of empowerment and "walking on clouds," and I feel uplifted every time I hear it.

Like when I close my eyes

And don't even care

If anyone sees me dancing

Like I can fly

And don't even think

I'm touching the ground

Like a heartbeat skip

Like an open page

Like a one-way trip

On an aeroplane

It's the way that I feel

When I'm with you

Brand new

7. "Drug Dealer" by Macklemore ft. Ariana Deboo

Throughout his career, hip hop artist Macklemore has never been discreet about his history of drug abuse. In 2016, he appeared with President Obama in a PSA at the White House to raise awareness of opioid addiction, an epidemic that is plaguing the nation, and one that Macklemore has personal experience with. "Drug Dealer" marks his third track about addiction, which is possibly even more harrowing than his first two, but just as poignant. Macklemore's rap performance conveys his desperation and despair at his inability to kick his addiction to painkillers, and is accompanied by a memorable hook by Ariana Deboo, delivering a soft but biting critique of pharmaceutical companies:

My drug dealer was a doctor, doctor

Had the plug from Big Pharma, Pharma

He said that he would heal me, heal me

But he only gave me problems, problems

My drug dealer was doctor, doctor

Had the plug from Big Pharma, Pharma

I think you're trying to kill me, kill me

Tried to kill me for a dollar, dollar

6. "Can't Stop the Feeling!" by Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake has had his hits and misses as an artist, with his most recent works regurgitating the same boy band-esque crooning love songs, and repeating the same themes in many of them. This song, from the animated film Trolls, came as a pleasant surprise and dominated mainstream radio in the Spring. Boosted by a catchy beat and a stellar, pitch-perfect vocal performance by Timberlake, the song functions as a quintessential feel-good dance anthem, motivating anyone to jam out in their cars.

5. "7 Years" by Lukas Graham

The Danish band Lukas Graham crossed over to the U.S. music scene with this breakout hit in early 2016, which dominated mainstream radio and is nominated for multiple Grammys. In a coming-of-age progression similar to that of Five for Fighting's "100 Years," the protagonist of the song reflects on his childhood years, and then looks toward the future, pondering what life will be like for him in old age. The song is a poignant testament to the power of storytelling, performed so beautifully by Lukas Graham frontman Lukas Forchhammer, and culminating with a powerhouse finale that gives me goosebumps:

Soon we'll be sixty years old

My daddy got sixty one

Remember life, and then your life

Becomes a better one

I made a man so happy

When I wrote a letter once

I hope my children come and visit

Once or twice a month

4. "Words" by Birdy

Another seriously underrated talent is Birdy, a 20-year-old British musician who rose to prominence as a teenager with her dark, bleeding-heart cover of Bon Iver's "Skinny Love." Birdy has proven herself to be quite the prodigy, especially with this lovely ballad, on which she sings so beautifully and displays an impressive control of pitch in her voice, proving herself a formidable talent. Needless to say, she does not disappoint:

If I can't hold you now

Keep thinking that

You might not come around

I have no words

I have no words to say

If I can't change your mind

Keep thinking, "Is this

Our last goodbye?"

You say it first

You say it first, to me

3. "The Sound" by The 1975

Two years after their breakout hit "Girls," The 1975 achieved mainstream recognition again, possibly topping their initial hit with the irresistible "The Sound." The music video shows the band desperately trying to entertain a bemused audience, whose unimpressed commentary was stolen from negative feedback from music critics, such as, "Terrible high-pitched vocals over soulless robo beats." I don't know what these critics heard, but I hear an infectious, upbeat, vibrant, well-composed tune, with a stellar vocal performance by frontman Matthew Healy:

You're so conceited

I said I love you

Why does it matter

If I lied to you?

I don't regret it

But I'm glad that we're through

So don't you tell me

That you just don't get it

'Cause I know you do

2. "Formation" by Beyonce

No "Best Songs of 2016" list would be complete without this one. The Queen B's conversation-provoking tribute to Black Power racked up multiple Grammy nominations and topped most "Best of 2016" lists. Beyonce ignited a firestorm with her spectacular, impeccably choreographed live performance of the song at the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show. The song is essentially Beyonce's response to her critics, touching heavily on Black Lives Matter and the national debate surrounding racial justice in America. It practically cannot be listened to without Beyonce's impressive accompanying video, juxtaposing numerous clips of different elements of black culture into a masterpiece of stunning originality, featuring some memorable choreographed dance moves by Beyonce and her backup dancers, plus a stellar performance by Beyonce and a variety of different styles of hair often sported by black people. When the Queen B repeats the lyric, "I slay," she is not messing around:

I see it, I want it

I stunt, yellow-bone it

I dream it, I work hard

I grind 'til I own it

I twirl on them haters

Albino alligators

El Camino with the seat low

Sippin' Cuervo with no chasers

1. "Wild Horses" by Birdy

The top spot goes deservedly to the raw talent of musical prodigy Birdy. You thought she was amazing on "Words"; on "Wild Horses," she absolutely slays. She is pitch-perfect throughout the entire song, but when she reaches the chorus and hits the high notes, the power of her voice bombards you with a force, declaring to her ex-lover that she will be the one to come out stronger from their painful breakup. Birdy displays the full range of her breathtaking talent on this bleeding-heart love song. It's an injustice that she is not more popular, because her musical ability is unmatched.

I will survive

And be the one who's stronger

I will not beg you to stay

I will move on

And you should know

I mean it

Wild horses running free


Cover Image Credit: sharemania.us

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