shaun

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“What really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films — these things matter.”
— High Fidelity

Etcetera

Best Songs of 2016

As I have done for the past three years, in 2016 I resumed my project of publishing Best Songs lists for 35, 30, 25, 20, 15, 10 and 5 years ago, along with a list for this year. My favorite part about this process isn’t so much the end product (though I do love sharing it), but the act of making the lists, for in doing so I am able to discover new artists and new songs along the way.

For lists like this one, created in the year when they are published, everything is new—even those songs from familiar artists. Additionally, this journey to 100 songs is very different from the other lists in another crucial way: rather than assembling a mix of 100 tracks, my lists for the past few years have been culled from playlists more than 50% larger.

This means that for the third consecutive year, I forced myself into a crowded corner, where I had to make difficult choices to edit my way out. Some songs I truly enjoyed were thus cast aside, tarnished only by their inability to relate themselves to the whole. And yet, that whole was pieced together more organically than this, for I made that giant playlist as the year went on. This, the so-called “best of the best” was somewhat hastily (if carefully) collated and curated in the final months of the year.

That larger list from which I studiously selected these 100 tracks was one I revisited as often as possible throughout 2016. As it was last year, my goal in collecting these songs was to summarize not only my listening year, but my year as a whole. The only way to do that is to listen to these songs as frequently as I could, in as many situations as I could, in an attempt to attach them to my memories of the year (and vice versa).

In 2016, that meant they travelled with me, on trips to Hawaii and Morocco. They backed summer drives to and from Hood Canal. They soundtracked walks around Seattle, in search of hoops and unexplored territory. They played for friends and family, were shared across social media, text messages and in-person conversations. They too, were suggested by friends, introduced by podcasts and radio, and experienced in a live setting.

With a (slowed, but) ever-growing music library, to listen to these songs—and, for that matter, all my other Best of lists published this year—as often as I did meant from time to time I shut myself off from a large chunk of my music collection. Because of that, I can safely say that these songs (and to a lesser extent their five-year-interval counterparts) truly represent my music listening year. I hope you enjoy them nearly as much as I do.

For these year-end lists, I like to undertake the seemingly impossibly task of creating an hours-long mix. The order you see below represents that effort, which you can listen to via Spotify. Sadly all 100 tracks aren't available, but you get the general idea. Track notes to come eventually or maybe never.

  1. Matter

    Dancing on Glass

    St. Lucia

    Matter

    Columbia

    via past experience

  2. Love You to Death

    Dying to Know

    Tegan and Sara

    Love You to Death

    Warner Bros.

    via past experience

  3. Nothing's Real

    What’s It Gonna Be?

    Shura

    Nothing’s Real

    Interscope

    via past experience

  4. Need Your Light

    Call Me Out

    Ra Ra Riot

    Need Your Light

    Barsuk

    via past experience

  5. I like it when you sleep

    The Sound

    The 1975

    I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it

    Interscope

    via Saturday Night Live

  6. Amen & Goodbye

    Silly Me

    Yeasayer

    Amen & Goodbye

    Mute

    via past experience

  7. Blue Wave

    Cold Light

    Operators

    Blue Wave

    Last Gang

    via past experience

  8. Otero War

    Human

    Caveman

    Otero War

    Cinematic Music Group

    via past experience

  9. Secrets

    Secrets

    Deep Sea Diver

    Secrets

    High Beam

    via past experience

  10. Psychopomp

    Everybody Wants to Love You

    Japanese Breakfast

    Psychopomp

    Yellow K

    via Cody Goins, Fluxblog

  11. Radius

    Radius

    Hater

    Radius

    Pnkslm

    via Spotify Discover Weekly

  12. Talk Tight

    Clean Slate

    Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

    Talk Tight

    self-released

    via Cody Goins

  13. Human Performance

    Human Performance

    Parquet Courts

    Human Performance

    Rough Trade

    via past experience

  14. Goodness

    Soft Animal

    The Hotelier

    Goodness

    Tiny Engines

    via Celebration Rock

  15. Holy Ghost

    Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind

    Modern Baseball

    Holy Ghost

    Run for Cover

    via past experience, Celebration Rock

  16. Camp Cope

    Lost (Season One)

    Camp Cope

    Camp Cope

    Poison City

    via Cody Goins

  17. A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings

    Young Hearts

    Beach Slang

    A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings

    Polyvinyl

    via past experience

  18. Wild Stab

    Outta My System

    The I Don’t Cares

    Wild Stab

    Dry Wood

    via NPR First Listen, past experience (Paul Westerberg)

  19. In Glendale

    Cleaning Up the Dog Shit

    Tim Heidecker

    In Glendale

    Rado

    via Julia Paleski

  20. Sheer Mag III

    Can’t Stop Fighting

    Sheer Mag

    III

    self-released

    via past experience

  21. Southland Mission

    Warts

    Hinds

    Leave Me Alone

    Mom and Pop

    via someone on Spotify?

  22. Pink Gum

    Jelly

    Magic Potion

    Pink Gum

    Pnkslm

    via Spotify Discover Weekly

  23. City Sun Eater in the River of Light

    Hollow Home

    Woods

    City Sun Eater in the River of Light

    Woodsist

    via past experience

  24. LNZNDRF

    Kind Things

    LNZNDRF

    LNZNDRF

    4AD

    via past experience (The National), Pitchfork

  25. Stranger Things

    Yr Face

    Yuck

    Stranger Things

    Mamé

    via past experience

  26. Until the Hunter

    Let Me Get There

    Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions featuring Kurt Vile

    Until the Hunter

    Tendril Tales

    via past experience

  27. I Had a Dream That You Were Mine

    A 1000 Times

    Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam

    I Had a Dream That You Were Mine

    Glassnote

    via past experience

  28. Painting of a Panic Attack

    Get Out

    Frightened Rabbit

    Painting of a Panic Attack

    Atlantic

    via past experience

  29. Tween

    Watching the Waiting

    Wye Oak

    Tween

    Merge

    via past experience

  30. Visions of Us on the Land

    Cinco de Tomorrow

    Damien Jurado

    Visions of Us on the Land

    Secretly Canadian

    via past experience

  31. Sleeping in a Car

    Outlaw

    The Staves

    Sleeping in a Car

    Nonesuch

    via past experience

  32. Good Grief

    Madness

    Lucius

    Good Grief

    Mom and Pop

    via past experience

  33. Hey Marseilles

    Perfect OK

    Hey Marseilles featuring Reggie Watts

    Hey Marseilles

    Shanachie

    via past experience, Julia Paleski

  34. Delusions of Grand Fur

    Endless Supply

    Rogue Wave

    Delusions of Grand Fur

    Easy Sound

    via past experience

  35. Blanco

    Both Hands

    David Bazan

    Blanco

    Barsuk

    via past experience

  36. If You See Me, Say Yes

    Everything Is Happening Today

    Flock of Dimes

    If You See Me, Say Yes

    Partisan

    via past experience

  37. Porta Bohemica

    Salt

    Trixie Whitley

    Porta Bohemica

    MRI

    via past experience

  38. A Seat at the Table

    F.U.B.U.

    Solange

    A Seat at the Table

    Columbia

    via past experience

  39. The Life of Pablo

    30 Hours

    Kanye West

    The Life of Pablo

    Roc-A-Fella

    via past experience

  40. The Sun's Tirade

    Free Lunch

    Isaiah Rashad

    The Sun’s Tirade

    Top Dawg

    via Alli Adamonis

  41. Highlights

    Lyk Dis

    NxWorries

    Yes Lawd!

    Stones Throw

    via past experience (Anderson .Paak)

  42. Blonde

    Pink + White

    Frank Ocean

    Blonde

    self-released

    via past experience

  43. Untitled Unmastered

    Untitled 06 (06.30.2014)

    Kendrick Lamar featuring Cee-Lo Green

    Untitled Unmastered

    Aftermath

    via past experience

  44. Malibu

    Am I Wrong

    Anderson .Paak

    Malibu

    OBE

    via Julia Paleski

  45. 99.9%

    Bullets

    Kaytranada featuring Little Dragon

    99.9%

    XL Recordings

    via Julia Paleski

  46. The Dreaming Room

    Phenomenal Woman

    Laura Mvula

    The Dreaming Room

    RCA

    via past experience

  47. 99 Cents

    All I Got

    Santigold

    99 Cents

    Atlantic

    via past experience

  48. Alaska

    Alaska

    Maggie Rogers

    Alaska digital single

    Debay Sounds

    via Spotify Discover Weekly

  49. Radio

    Radio

    Sylvan Esso

    Radio digital single

    Partisan

    via past experience

  50. Emotion Side B

    Body Language

    Carly Rae Jepsen

    E•MO•TION Side B

    Interscope

    via past experience

  51. Big Black Coat

    Baby Give Up on It

    Junior Boys

    Big Black Coat

    City Slang

    via past experience

  52. Roosevelt

    Fever

    Roosevelt

    Roosevelt

    City Slang

    via Spotify Discover Weekly

  53. Wildflower

    Colours

    The Avalanches

    Wildflower

    Modular

    via past experience

  54. Wow

    Wow

    Beck

    Wow digital single

    Capitol

    via past experience

  55. The Mountain Will Fall

    Nobody Speak

    DJ Shadow featuring Run the Jewels

    The Mountain Will Fall

    Capitol

    via past experience

  56. Puberty 2

    Happy

    Mitski

    Puberty 2

    Dead Oceans

    via Cody Goins

  57. Pretty Years

    Wish

    Cymbals Eat Guitars

    Pretty Years

    Sinderlyn

    via past experience

  58. EP 4

    Mr. Startup

    Wolf Parade

    EP 4

    self-released

    via past experience

  59. A Moon Shaped Pool

    Desert Island Disk

    Radiohead

    A Moon Shaped Pool

    XL Recordings

    via past experience

  60. Time of the Blue

    Time of the Blue

    The Tallest Man on Earth

    Time of the Blue digital single

    Dead Oceans

    via past experience

  61. Montana

    Embers of Midnight

    The Dead Tongues

    Montana

    601610 Records

    via opening for Phil Cook

  62. Introducing Karl Blau

    No Regrets

    Karl Blau

    Introducing Karl Blau

    Raven Marching Band

    via Cody Goins, Jonathan Zwickel

  63. Jettison the Valley

    Twentynine Palms

    Carter Tanton featuring Sharon Van Etten

    Jettison the Valley

    Western Vinyl

    via past experience

  64. Light Upon the Lake

    No Woman

    Whitney

    Light Upon the Lake

    Secretly Canadian

    via Cody Goins

  65. Stiff

    Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)

    White Denim

    Stiff

    Downtown

    via past experience

  66. Changes

    Nobody But You

    Charles Bradley

    Changes

    Daptone

    via past experience

  67. Love & Hate

    One More Night

    Michael Kiwanuka

    Love & Hate

    Polydor

    via past experience

  68. Eyes on the Lines

    Heavy Sails

    Steve Gunn

    Eyes on the Lines

    Matador

    via past experience

  69. Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

    The Roundabout

    Ryley Walker

    Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

    Dead Oceans

    via past experience

  70. case/lang/veirs

    Atomic Number

    case/lang/veirs

    case/lang/veirs

    Anti

    via past experience

  71. Away

    Judey on a Street

    Okkervil River

    Away

    ATO

    via past experience

  72. MY WOMAN

    Heart Shaped Face

    Angel Olsen

    MY WOMAN

    Jagjaguwar

    via past experience

  73. A Sailor's Guide to Earth

    Brace for Impact (Live a Little)

    Sturgill Simpson

    A Sailor’s Guide to Earth

    Atlantic

    via past experience

  74. Ash & Ice

    Doing It to Death

    The Kills

    Ash & Ice

    Domino

    via past experience

  75. A Man Alive

    Astonished Man

    Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

    A Man Alive

    Ribbon Music

    via past experience

  76. New View

    Two Versions of Tomorrow

    Eleanor Friedberger

    New View

    French Express

    via past experience

  77. Hopelessness

    Why Did You Separate Me From the Earth?

    ANOHNI

    Hopelessness

    Secretly Canadian

    via past experience (Antony & the Johnsons)

  78. The Colour in Anything

    I Need a Forest Fire

    James Blake featuring Justin Vernon

    The Colour in Anything

    Polydor

    via past experience

  79. Return to the Moon

    8 (circle)

    Bon Iver

    22, A Million

    Jagjaguwar

    via past experience

  80. Good Luck and Do Your Best

    Pink and Green

    Gold Panda

    Good Luck and Do Your Best

    City Slang

    via past experience

  81. Thistle EP

    Simple Lessons

    Manatee Commune

    Thistle EP

    Bastard Jazz

    via past experience

  82. Last Year Was Complicated

    Close

    Nick Jonas featuring Tove Lo

    Last Year Was Complicated

    Safehouse

    via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

  83. We Move

    Rising Water

    James Vincent McMorrow

    We Move

    Burning Rope / Faction

    via past experience, NPR First Listen

  84. Freetown Sound

    Best to You

    Blood Orange featuring Empress Of

    Freetown Sound

    Domino

    via past experience

  85. Life of Pause

    Reichpop

    Wild Nothing

    Life of Pause

    Captured Tracks

    via past experience

  86. A Mineral Love

    Town & Country

    Bibio

    A Mineral Love

    Warp

    via past experience

  87. Chasing Yesterday

    Waves (Tame Impala Remix)

    Miguel

    Rogue Waves

    RCA

    via past experience

  88. Hymns

    Exes

    Bloc Party

    Hymns

    BMG

    via past experience

  89. Nat Love

    Death of a Salesman

    Kweku Collins

    Nat Love

    Closed Sessions

    via Alli Adamonis

  90. HEAVN

    Blk Girl Soldier

    Jamila Woods

    HEAVN

    self-released

    via Alli Adamonis

  91. Coloring Book

    No Problem

    Chance the Rapper

    Coloring Book

    self-released

    via Julia Paleski, Cody Goins

  92. We Got It From Here

    The Space Program

    A Tribe Called Quest

    We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service

    Epic

    via past experience

  93. and the Anonymous Nobody

    Pain

    De la Soul featuring Snoop Dogg

    and the Anonymous Nobody

    AOI

    via past experience

  94. The Divine Feminine

    Dang!

    Mac Miller featuring Anderson .Paak

    The Divine Feminine

    Warner Bros.

    via Fluxblog, Julia Paleski

  95. Yoncalia

    Yesterday

    Yumi Zouma

    Yoncalia

    Cascine

    via Alli Adamonis

  96. Dark Bird Is Home

    Love Me Like That

    The Knocks featuring Carly Rae Jepsen

    55

    Big Beat

    via Julia Paleski

  97. Trolls

    Can’t Stop the Feeling!

    Justin Timberlake

    Trolls soundtrack

    RCA

    via past experience

  98. Moth

    Moth to the Flame

    Chairlift

    Moth

    Columbia

    via past experience

  99. Three

    Same Old Blues

    Phantogram

    Three

    Republic

    via past experience

  100. Lemonade

    Freedom

    Beyoncé featuring Kendrick Lamar

    Lemonade

    Columbia

    via past experience