To any music fan, the best part about the end of the year is not holidays, vacations, or time spent with family and loved ones: it is the end of the year music countdowns. This year, to commemorate the 7th year of Ryan’s Countdown’s “Best Songs of the Year” there will be a Top 100 Songs of 2016 Countdown.
Each list of 10 songs will be released every few days throughout the month of December, until the reveal of the #1 Song of 2016.
While the majority of the Top 100 Songs of the Year are all Rock based, there is still a wide array of sub-genres represented in this years countdown. The list is littered with Alt-Rock songs, including Indie Rock and Folk Rock. But, there is also a significant showing of Pop Rock, Country Rock, Hard Rock, and even a dusting of Electric Rock songs.
Certainly the lines of what is considered “Rock” may be blurred, but each of these listener friendly songs, were either released in 2016, or released in 2015, but gained notoriety, in 2016.
Please feel free to chime in (comments section) and let me know whether or not you agree with my well thought out, carefully selected, and correct choices. Enjoy the countdown, and happy holidays!
TOP 100 Rock Songs of 2016…
100. “Shine A Light” – BANNERS
BANNERS, also know as Michael Joseph Nelson, is an English musician from Liverpool, UK. While “Shine A Light” technically was released in mid 2015 overseas, it was not until 2016 that it gained popularity and exposure in the States.
“Shine A Light” starts as a piano ballad and quickly escalates to anthem rock. BANNERS perfects both the sweet and savory as he sings about having a beacon of light that brings him through the storm. Dedicate this song to anyone that has gotten you through a rough patch in your life, and the lyrics will speak for themselves….. or play it for a loved one that wakes up before you and insists on turning a light on while you are trying to get some much-needed beauty sleep. They, too, will get the point.
99. “Up&Up” – Coldplay
As with just about every other Coldplay song that has ever been written, I have no idea what “Up&Up” is about, and to be honest, I’m pretty sure Coldplay doesn’t even know what they are singing about anymore.
Fortunately for the band, Chris Martin can sing about anything and people will swoon. And if having Chris Martin as your lead singer isn’t enough, the band also recruited Beyoncé to sing backup vocals, and Noel Gallagher to play guitar. You know you are one of the biggest bands in the world when you get Beyoncé to sing backup vocals on a track. The real life equivalent of that would be if I walked past Gisele Bundchen on the street and stopped her to ask if she could take a picture of me because I had just gotten a fresh haircut and wanted to show it off to all of my Instagram followers.
But anyway, “Up&Up” is catchy as hell, and with over 100 million views on YouTube it is yet another reason why Coldplay is one of the most iconic bands of the past 20 years.
98. “Sister Of Pearl” – Baio
It has been a few years since Vampire Weekend released any new music, which is heart-breaking, but manageable now that bassist, Christopher Baio released his solo album, The Names, in the second half of 2015. This song, “Sister Of Pearl” is an 80’s style, indie rock track that you can’t help but sing along with. And while “Sister Of Pearl” was released in mid 2015, it was in its peak of radio airplay at the beginning of 2016.
The song is about one a simple message: to be who you want to be. And from watching the video, I am damn sure I know who I want to be: best friends with Christopher Baio.
And yes, he is related to Charles in Charge’s Scott Baio. First cousins, once removed. Whatever the hell that means.
97. “Happy Pills” – Weathers
Quite possibly the happiest song about being sad since Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life”, the jolly track about ones decent into crystal meth addiction, “Happy Pills” will almost certainly brighten up your most dreary, depressing days. Weathers, the young rock quartet from LA perfectly summarizes the continuously rising trend of taking “happy pills” to deal with your problems.
Not only will you find yourself singing along to the catchy chorus…
“I take my pills and I’m happy all the time, I’m happy all the time, I’m happy all the time…”
But you will also find it impossible to not sing along with the “LA LA LA LA LA LA’s” even more enthusiastically than the Smurfs do after yet another victorious encounter with their rival, Gargamel.
96. “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” – Phantogram
Only by sheer coincidence is Phantogram’s first single of their album Three, “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” on the countdown directly after “Happy Pills,” but I am going to pretend that it was a stroke of genius.
“You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” is dark, edgy, and the definition of what good 2016 electronic rock sounds like. In an interview with Pitchfork the duo said of the song:
“Metaphorically, it’s about addiction. It’s also about certain things that we see in culture, pop culture, and even music that we find redundant, that we’ve always kind of strayed away from as a group…. It also taps into this idea of wanting to feel something. Basically, wanting to feel something strong and doing whatever it takes to feel it again, because you know it feels good and you miss it.”
Hopefully Phantogram will continue to get us high off their music in the new year.
95. “When The Tequila Runs Out” – Dawes
LA folk-rock band, Dawes, released their fifth studio album this year, and while their lead track, “When The Tequila Runs Out” sounds very similar to their previous work, it is one of their most laid back songs to date.
The video for the folky jam shows the band at a house party and is filmed entirely in slow motion. “When the tequila runs out, we’ll be drinking champagne” is the theme of the song, implying that the Dawes guys are not going to call it a night anytime soon. The fun, playful song is quite a variation from the guys that brought us 2015’s tear-jerking “All Your Favorite Bands.” And unlike “All Your Favorite Bands,” which was included on last year’s top 100 songs countdown, it is a track you can listen to when laying by a pool, without fear of crying your eyes out.
Now, to the laboratory, to test my holiday season drink special, The Dawes: 2 parts tequila, one part OJ, fill with champagne. Repeat. Then repeat again. And then repeat 3 more times.
94. “HandClap” – Fitz and the Tantrums
Not since the early 1900’s “If You’re Happy And You Know It” has a song about clapping your hands been so accepted into pop culture.
“HandClap,” the first single off Fitz and the Tantrums self-titled third studio album, is one of the most infectious tracks of the year. And fans of all genres of music are equally infected by how catchy it is. People of all ages can be caught clapping their hands and singing “I can make your hands clap.” Additionally, “HandClap” is a DJ’s wet dream, as even the most stubborn “I don’t dance” club visitors will find themselves out on the dance floor, because even they can’t mess up clapping their hands in unison with the crowd.
Fitz and the Tantrums were 100% right, they certainly can make our hands clap. They make us happy. And they know it.
93. “Heart Of My Hometown” – Matthew Szlachetka
Regardless of whether or not you still live in the hometown you grew up in, Matthew Szlachetka’s “Heart Of My Hometown” will have you reminiscing about your 1st grade teacher, your high school prep rally, your childhood best friends, the pharmacy that used to be where the new McDonalds is, that is the home of the former Blockbuster, and whatever else may remind you of the good old days.
“Heart Of My Hometown” is John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Small Town,” for a whole new generation. It is hard to decide if the track is folk-rock, country, pop, or just plain rock, but that doesn’t even matter. It is Americana at its best.
“Hometown” is the first track I’ve heard from Szlachetka, but it is difficult to imagine anyone else singing it, as his voice is both poignant and comforting at the same time. And it could be just because I wouldn’t want to have grown up anywhere in the world other than my hometown of Westerly, RI, but the lyrics “Farewell to the love forged in this ground / Farewell, don’t look back, just make ’em proud / No matter where I go, can’t let go to the heart of my hometown” may be some of my favorite lyrics of the year.
Hopefully we get more solid music from Matthew Szlachetka in the coming year, but one thing is for certain, “Heart Of My Hometown” will forever be a staple of all of my 4th of July playlists.
92. Regular World, Spirit Animal
Spirit Animal’s “Regular World” sounds like it could have received a coveted spot on NOW! That’s What I Call Music: Volume 1 back in 1998. And I mean that in the highest form of flattery.
“Regular World” is a big, bold, alt rock track that defines the genre. The song is about making the best with what you have been given, and focusing on what you need in life, rather than obsessing over the things you want.
Back in late 2015 the band told Consequence of Sound that “There’s a delicate balance between always demanding more — from life, from friends, from your job — and being satisfied with what you’ve got… This song is about walking that tightrope; about being able to want, want, want without having to need, need, need.”
I want more Spirit Animal in 2017, and I am pretty damn sure I need it too.
91. “Ringer” – The Unlikely Candidates
Move over Beyoncé and all of you single ladies, The Unlikely Candidates are here with some bromance advice to tell you to put a ring on her finger before she turns into a scorned woman who unapologetically tells you that if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it.
Just when I thought that the upbeat, pop-rock song couldn’t get any better, the acoustic version of the song appears on YouTube, and is just as good, if not better than the studio version. Listen to them both and judge for yourself which one you prefer.
So fellas, if you have that special someone, a “ringer” if you will, then take The Unlikely Candidate’s advice and put a ring, put a ring, put a ring around her finger.
Come back on Wednesday for #90-81 of the Top 100 Songs of 2016.