The 2016 Single of the Year

1. MØ, “Final Song” On the heels of her guest vocal performance on Major Lazer and DJ Snake’s 2015 global smash “Lean On”, Danish singer-songwriter Karen Marie Aagaard Ørsted Andersen, otherwise known as MØ, released the exuberant single “Final Song”. Unlike “Lean On”, “Final Song” is the sound of a young artist finding her own […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #2

2. Tove Lo, “True Disaster” Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo made a name for herself two years ago with her unflinching approach to pop music tropes: euphoric highs, devastating lows, all with explicit, honest depictions of love and lust. “True Disaster” keeps an even keel musically, its hypnotic, ominous electropop arrangement mirroring the sound of CHVRCHES, […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #3

3. Kaytranada featuring Craig David, “Got it Good” It’s been a marvelous year for Craig David. In addition to scoring his first UK number one album in 16 years, he collaborated with Katy B on her single “Who Am I”, and best of all, he contributed vocals to the best song on Kaytranada’s astounding debut […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #4

4. Metallica, “Atlas, Rise!” The best song on Metallica’s best album in 28 years finds the band going back to the music they grew up with, capturing that energy, and coming up with a track that shows they are big, nerdy fans just like the rest of us. They’re in full early-‘80s mode on “Atlas, Rise!”, […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #5

White Lung, “Below” Vancouver band White Lung hit their stride in 2016, and in so doing put out the best rock single of the year. Much like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps”, it’s an unusual moment of confession and emotional vulnerability from a very outspoken and confrontational singer atop some ingeniously atmospheric guitar work. To […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #6

6. Jenny Hval, “Conceptual Romance” Norwegian artist Jenny Hval has mesmerized me these last couple years with some of the most striking music I have heard this decade, but for all her confrontational performance art and experimental music, “Conceptual Romance” is a huge creative breakthrough, in which her poetry is underscored by the prettiest melodies […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #7

7. Ghost, “Square Hammer” Coming on the heels of the superb 2015 album Meliora, which cemented Ghost’s status as one of the best heavy metal bands in the world right now,the Swedes continued that positive momentum with Popestar, a very fun five-track EP featuring four creative covers and an inspired original track called “Square Hammer”. […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #8

8. Chelsea Lankes, “Bullet” Some people might disagree with me, and that’s just fine, but personally one of the great musical joys in life is a good, concise pop song whose sole ambition is to be a perfect pop song, and nothing else. Not maximizing a brand, not serving as a showcase for obnoxious reality […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #9

9. Black Mountain, “Florian Saucer Attack” Sometimes you need a great big, gigantic, dystopian rock ‘n’ roll song about flying saucers. Huge guitars, wicked singing by an unusually boisterous Amber Webber, a GREAT synthesizer solo lifted right out of Rush circa 1981, and crazily vivid lines like, “Cold bodies with the cement eyes / Over […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #10

10. Alessia Cara, “Wild Things” It’s funny where and when a song will click. When it comes to Alessia Cara’s anthemic “Wild Things”, it captured my attention when I was taking a taxi to my hotel in Montreal. “No mistakin’, we make our breaks, if you don’t like our 808s”: what a line! It kept […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #11

11. Radiohead, “Burn the Witch” I haven’t been this riveted by a Radiohead song since “Pyramid Song” 15 years ago. This is the kind of daring rock music the band excels at, a slow-burning track that essentially puts Thom Yorke against a backdrop of strings that saw away (col legno battuto, according to Wikipedia) maniacally […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #12

12. Katy B, “Honey” One of the coolest things about Katy B’s third album Honey is how she takes existing tracks by some of the coolest beat-makers in the world and creates something new and entirely hers. A fine example is what she does to a slinky little loop created by Montreal artist Kaytranada. Atop […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #13

13. Jessy Lanza, “VV Violence”  Sounding at first playful but possessing an undercurrent of menace, “VV Violence” is the most confrontational track Lanza has produced to date, both lyrically and musically. Touching on being a marginalized woman, its sense of catharsis is palpable. “I say it to your face, but it doesn’t mean a thing,” […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #14

14. CHVRCHES with Hayley Williams, “Bury It” As the album/touring cycle for the brilliant Every Open Eye wound down, CHVRCHES did a good job staying in the public eye by releasing a new version of the standout track “Bury It”, featuring re-recorded vocals and a special appearance by Hayley Williams of Paramore. Accompanied by a […]

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The Best Singles of 2016, #15

15. Kitten, “Fall on Me” I hadn’t heard of Kitten until early this year when a writer I respect recommended their new single. There’s nothing particularly original about what the Los Angeles band does, it’s basically a blend of thunderous ‘80s pop, the shoegazey tendencies of M83, and the orch-pop melodrama of Camera Obscura, but […]

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