It’s safe to say that 2016 has brought a whole new meaning to “a year to be remembered by”. It’s got to be said also that for the most part that’s been for all the wrong reason – but there’s no doubting that the year will go down in history as a turning point in so many ways.
But in music, 2016 has been quiet. Pop hits haven’t been as ever-lasting as they used to be, there were few big album releases that really set the airwaves alight. Dare I say it, 2016’s been pretty dull on the music front.
Still though, there’s been some great tunes rising out of the thin pickings – with many of them deserving far more credit than some of this year’s most famous – and as usual I’ve put together a list of the 40 songs that have made my year so that when I look back on 2016 I can put a soundtrack to it.
As usual there’s a couple of tracks that don’t quite make the list but that I wanted to give a little credit to, and this year they are: CHVRCHES songs “Now is Not the Time” and “Up in Arms” and A-Trak remixes of Alesso’s “Cool” and Disclosure’s “Magnets”.
Let’s get started, shall we?
40. Galantis & Hook ‘n Sling – “Love on Me”
Galantis’ natural talent for fun and uplifting dance music comes up trumps here again, with a song that’s packed full of happy moments that are made to entertain. It’s maybe not the most original, or dance-orientated, song they’ve ever had – but it’s one that’s well worth listening to all the same.
39. Disclosure – “BOSS”
Disclosure’s Moog for Love EP this year was a statement of intent, that the disappointment of Caracal was behind them and they’d be taking things forward – and this song was the track that led the charge.
It’s got the Disclosure deep house charm that made them famous, and the stock vocal performance that ties it all together – and it works to show that Disclosure’s roots of fun and simple dance music is still there.
If you doubted Disclosure a bit after last year, check this out and get excited for a potential album 3 next year.
38. The Chainsmokers – “Roses” (Zaxx Remix)
The Chainsmokers made it big this year; proving that the infamous “#Selfie” (number 14 on my 2014 list btw) wasn’t a one-hit wonder. Their new brand of EDM mixed with a more relaxing vibe has obviously clicked with the public big time.
For me their songs are a little self-important at the moment, and they lack the all-out dance fest that “#Selfie” was back in the day. That’s why this remix of their tune “Roses” hit the spot better, amping up a tune that had potential and giving it the feel that a DJ duo should be bringing to their top tracks.
A proper dance tune that beats the original, it’s an ideal Saturday night party tune and will be for a while.
37. LCD Soundsystem – “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” 
I’ve said before that arguably my best Christmas present last year was when I sat scrolling through Twitter on Christmas Eve and saw this song, the first from my favourite band in over four years, appear. It was a Christmas miracle if ever there was one!
The song captures a certain glumness that can befall you at Christmas, when the festivities of the season don’t quite work with you for whatever reason. It’s a powerful musical journey building to a great ending, and a perfect encapsulation of James Murphy’s talent and song-writing.
Seeing LCD live at T in the Park this year was an amazing experience, and I’m super confident that their promised new album next year will deliver. Another reason to get this year over with for sure.
36. The Naked and Famous – “The Runners”
I loved The Naked and Famous’ latest album, Simple Forms, and this was a stand-out track that embraced a different style. It wasn’t overtly strong sounding, with a simple driving nature to it broken up by slow and ethereal moments. It shows the sort of emotional presence that’s layered throughout the album and hits its’ peak in the album’s best track, but more on that later…
35. Illenium – “Sleepwalker” (feat. Joni Fatora) 
“Sleepwalker” is a more obscure song than most on this list, but it doesn’t mean that the dance pedigree that it has is any diminished. This is a fantastic song, very much in the mould of the likes of Porter Robinson, that blends a softer tone with a drop that hits hard as well.
Illenium might not be storming the charts at the moment, but with the successes of Alan Walker with similar tunes this year, maybe it’ll be a name to remember for future.
34. DATA – “Don’t Sing” (feat. Benny Sings) 
This is a piano-driven track that seems almost perfect for adverts, with a calm but sure beat going through it that manages to hook itself in your ear perfectly.
It doesn’t go out of it’s way to do anything amazing, but it’s a solid song that you’ll very rarely find yourself skipping when it comes on shuffle.
The video’s also something pretty different too, but an interesting watch if you’re interested:
33. Offaiah – “Trouble”
Charlie Puth wouldn’t have a hope in hell of making this list, but a sample of his is treated brilliantly by this dark dance track which makes the impossible happen.
This is one of those songs that grabbed me on a night out and I had to find out what it was. The drop is simple and builds a lot of drama, and it’s got a popular appeal that was well deserved this year.
32. Sigma – Glitterball (feat. Ella Henderson) 
Sigma’s brand of drum and bass can be a bit plain at time, with a standard beat layered with a flavour-of-the-month singer on top. But Glitterball is quite different.
Something about the lyrics, the beautifully delivered vocals and the euphoric highs of the chorus and breakdowns make this such an emotionally charged song that breathes new life into Sigma’s style.
It’s well worth listening to with proper headphones on, as the radio doesn’t quite do it justice, and I’m sure then you’ll agree it’s something a bit more special than you thought.
31. AlunaGeorge – “I’m in Control” (feat. Popcaan)
AlunaGeorge’s new album brought a new style to them, with leading lady Aluna Francis taking no prisoners whilst stamping her authority over whatever she sees fit.
“I’m in Control” is about her taking charge of a relationship and is backed by a distorted chorus and breakdowns provided by one of reggae’s biggest stars, Popcaan. This adds a power and a force to the lyrics and makes it an irresistable listen.