Top 50 Tracks of 2016 (20-11)

#20 Lady Gaga “Joanne”

A tender ballad dedicated to the memory of her late aunt, “Joanne” is the heart of Lady Gaga’s 2016 album of the same name. Featuring dual acoustic guitars and a beat comprised entirely of what sounds like hands slapped lightly upon the face of said instruments, “Joanne” finds Gaga demonstrating that her vocal prowess and songwriting skills can be successfully adapted to a composition that has its roots firmly in the folk and Americana traditions. Each time the gorgeously sung chorus of, “Girl, where do you think you’re going?” comes around, a string section swells just beneath the surface bringing the dead back to life, if only for a moment. – Andy Mascola

#19 Lil Yachty “Minnesota”

Lil Yachty once claimed that the longest he spent on writing a song was 45 minutes. Needless to say, that song was NOT “Minnesota.” The track features Yachty’s self-described bubblegum trap style production with mostly adlibbed lyrics like “I was juggin’ off them stacks, countin’ up them racks/Almost had a lifetime sentence, but I beat it, shout out to Pat!/Pat, that’s my lawyer, he got me off them chargers/8 stacks for that boy, he took care of the boy.” Yet for newest the crop of mushed mouth rappers, Yachty seems to be the weirdest and most unique in the fold. With his weird hair and rapping in a child’s voice, it’s hard not to be endeared by “Minnesota.” – Adam Morgan

#18 Tacocat “I Hate the Weekend”

Tacocat‘s hazy pop punk single, “I Hate the Weekend” has more to it than a catchy chorus. A song about gentrification and weekend warrior’s “work hard, play hard” mentality, “I Hate the Weekend” isn’t so much an anti-Saturday/Sunday anthem as it is about the business class coming into cities and making it so the natives cannot have a good time. – Adam Morgan

#17 Bob Mould “Hold On”
Timeless, effortless, and as innovative as he was with Husker Du and Sugar. Backed by Jason Narducy (Split Single/Superchunk/Robert Pollard) on bass and funnyman Jon Wurster (Superchunk/The Mountain Goats/A.C. Newman) on drums the trio has found their lineup and Mould shines as a result. Greg Scranton

#16 Kano featuring Wiley & Giggs “3 Wheel-ups”

When three of grime’s biggest voices joins together, the whole scene listens. While Kano pulls out all the stops on Made in the Manor, “3 Wheel-Ups” is the album highlight. Featuring both Wiley and Giggs, Kano plays off of both rappers name dropping seemingly the whole grime scene over the hardbodied Swifta Beater beat. – Adam Morgan

#15 Chance the Rapper featuring Lil’ Wayne & 2 Chainz “No Problem”

“No Problem” is not Chance the Rapper‘s first song about his dislike for record labels but it is his best. Looking past the irony of guest spots from heavy hitters Lil’ Wayne and 2 Chainz, the track’s cut up gospel vocals and autotuned chorus make for a joyous jam that put Chance the Rapper on the mainstream map – Adam Morgan

#14 Brian Jonestown Massacre “Like Describing Colors to a Blind Man on Acid”
A new album from BJM is almost as rare as an album from Guided By Voices but this is one to pay attention to. A return to their classic psych/shoegaze sound, fans of old will be pleased as will newcomers to the enigmatic stylings of Mr. Anton Newcombe. Greg Scranton

#13 Adult Books “Casual Wrecks”

“Casual Wrecks”, the lead-off track on Adult Books’ first full-length album, Running from the Blows, cleverly manages to be both fun and catchy without a memorable sing-along chorus. Instead, between verses whose lyrics deal in large part with lovesick loneliness and ennui, Adult Books stubbornly rely on choruses that feature only clever, upbeat guitar solos. Verse upon verse, chorus upon chorus, “Casual Wrecks” builds to a satisfying finale with the last minute addition of a triumphant synthesizer. – Andy Mascola

#12 Kanye West “FML”

For all the manic Kanye West episodes the public has witnessed, “FML” is a concentrated, focused effort. Confronting his vices and mental illness to save his marriage, “FML” is an internal monologue externalized over a sparse Mitus beat. The reflective and self-aware side of Kanye is something that seemed to get lost as 2016 went on but “FML” demonstrated that it is still there. – Adam Morgan

#11 Thee Oh Sees “The Axis”
It may not be the obvious cut from this album but the album is an obvious top pick of 2016. John Dwyer and his neck high guitar playing don’t get the respect they deserve. Come the new year and critics will be proclaiming their love of this band that’s been around for decades. Greg Scranton


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