Best of the Year
You could say that 2016 was a weird year, or a year of change. It was a year where 3-1 leads were no longer safe, Kermit The Frog ran the internet, Snapchat took over the world, dabbing continued to exist, an inebriated Bill Murray took you out to the ballgame, and much, much more. In music, it was the year of the “surprise” release. Long gone are the days where we’re told an album is due ahead of time. You wake up, brew your coffee, check Twitter, and there you find a live video feed of Frank Ocean taking on a DIY project, while simultaneously setting the world on fire to burn in speculation about what is happening.
Welcome to our best songs of 2016. A list of 149 songs spanning the course of a completely reasonable 9.5 hours. We picked songs from 113 different artists, but there were a handful* of artists who seemed to win the year, landing the highest number of songs in our list. Most of these artists had songs chosen as a top song of 2016 by multiple members of our team.
Here are those winners, ranked with their number of song nominations in parenthesis:
- Frank Ocean (14)
- Francis and the Lights (7)
- Chance The Rapper (7)
- Drake (7)
- Kanye West (6)
- Bon Iver (6)
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (5)
- Allan Kingdom (4)
*We listed the top 8 because there were many artists who tied for #9.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: life will throw you curve balls any chance it can. How you take that curve ball is one thing, but the music in your life will always be your constant among infinite variables. It will be there when you’re at your best and at your worst. Find your vibe, and spread the love. That’s the best part about blogging; being able to share and open other people’s eyes to different artists and genres. That is the point of this list. We are sharing what we loved about 2016. Despite all the weirdness that happened, whether for good or bad, 2016 was an incredible year for music, and it will only get better in 2017.
NOTE: Original cover image by Samantha Friend.
We’ve officially reached the halfway point of 2016. We’ve heard from Chance The Rapper, Drake, Kanye West, Rihanna, and plenty more. However, we still have yet to hear from Frank Ocean. This upsets me, but we’re getting close. He teased his release a few days ago. In the meantime, the SunsetFam has put together one hell of a playlist for you to vibe out to with our favorite cuts (so far). Follow the playlist on Spotify, and we can’t wait to let you know our favorites from 2016 in December!
By now you have probably read 5-10 “Best Albums” lists compiled by your favorite music conglomerates. This list is different for several reasons. First, this is a list of my (Arjun’s) personal favorite projects from the year. I did not have to dilute my taste through a group dynamic. This is my unfiltered opinion, which I think makes for a more honest list. Secondly, I did not include any artists for political reasons, which larger sites are prone to do. Lastly, this list is a bit unusual in that it combines albums, mixtapes, and EPs under the blanket term “project,” which in the age of long EPs, free albums, and high quality mixtapes is a necessity.
I am not going to write about every album on the list. Nobody has time for that. Instead, let’s hit the highlights and the lesser known projects.
It’s been a helluva year for music. We had a legend return to us (D’Angelo), new indie darlings to worship (Oh Wonder), and a kid from Chicago show us the power of authentic, positive, and more importantly, independent music (Chance The Rapper). In the midst of a raging war between Spotify, Tidal, and SoundCloud for our bandwidth, we had more music to consume–and more ways to access it–than ever before. Yet in a year when streaming dominated more than ever, an English songstress broke record after record for units sold in consecutive weeks (Adele). We’ve had plenty of highs (Drake & Future teaming up) and we’ve had some lows too (*cough* Meghan Trainor), but it’s seldom a dull moment in the universe of music. With 2015 coming to an end, the #SunsetFam is sure as hell excited for 2016 and the jams that it has in store. But before we all move on to the new year, relive our favorites from this year below. Stream on SoundCloud, listen on Spotify, or download them for your collection. We got you covered! Until 2016 ya’ll.
Editors note: SoundCloud playlist has about 70% of our picks. Spotify has about 90% of our picks. The download links have all of them. Hit the jump for full tracklist.
We are only three days away from a brand new year. Crazy. How you spent your 2014 is on you, but I can tell you the music scene in 2014 was quite successful. This is by far my favorite post of the year and I’m glad I can share it with all of you. The writers over here at SITR were very high on some artists this year, and it shows in this playlist. Artists such as BANKS, Childish Gambino, Chance The Rapper, Skizzy Mars, G-Eazy, Kevin Abstract, Milky Chance, Sam Smith, Zhu, and Young The Giant have multiple appearances while Skizzy Mars has the most. Safe to say 2015 is Skizzy’s for the taking? I know I’m most looking forward to him and Chance (he had a relatively quiet year) the most!
Here’s how we did the playlist this year:
- There’s a Spotify and Sound Cloud playlist
- Not all of the songs are on Sound Cloud
- Not all of the songs are on Spotify
- The following download links below are the tracks that aren’t on Spotify so you can upload them in your Spotify with ease
- Part 1 contains tracks 1-34 while part 2 contains tracks 35-69
- The Leftovers Track List: 1-26, 27-52, 53-69
- Hit the jump for the playlists
It’s already been six months into 2014, and that’s just weird. So weird that we had to tell you our top 100 songs from the last six months. All of them are compiled into one giant SoundCloud playlist with over 5 hours of tunes to fill your ears with. No particular order. Special shoutout to our writers for helping me put this together, and to our readers that are on this page checking out our picks. Y’all are awesome!
2013 came, and went in a blink of an eye. That’s what happens though, right? And on top of that, all this shit happened in 12 months. For example, Chance blew up in a matter of 8 months, and Kanye talked to Jesus (he said what-up Yeezus). Then we have Lorde, the 16 year old sensation, and R. Kelly having a song with Lady Gaga. On paper, 12 months seems like a while, but realistically, it’s quite the opposite. Before we knew it, December came upon us, and we had to gear up for all of our “2013″ releases. Well, look no further, as here is Sunset in the Rearview’s Top Songs of 2013.
This year is slightly different than what we’ve done in the past. We decided to increase our top song count from five to ten because who in the hell can narrow it down to five and not feel like songs got snubbed?
Hit the jump to read all of our picks.
It’s hard to accuse 2013 of being boring. Kanye released the most adventurous album of his career, Miley Cyrus found an exciting new use for foam fingers, a previously unknown sixteen-year-old girl from New Zealand had one of the biggest songs of the year (read that sentence again), Jay-Z invented #newrules that made Samsung relevant for a couple minutes, streaming services like Spotify changed the way we listen to music, Chance The Rapper took a giant step in his inevitable journey to replace Kanye as the King of Chicago/The Universe when ‘Ye eventually quits rap for a career in medieval architecture and water bottle design, and just last week Beyoncé reminded everyone why she’s the queen by releasing a secret “visual album” without any nerdy bloggers like us finding out first. (Whew).
It wasn’t just about the story-lines, though. Not to get overly dramatic or anything, but this might’ve been the best year for pop music since my parents were getting stoned in their friend’s San Francisco basement listening to new Bob Dylan and Rolling Stones records. Seriously. This was the year we’ve been waiting for — the year your favorite blogger’s favorite artists actually broke out and saw mainstream exposure. Can you imagine rookies like Chance and Lorde seeing the success they saw in 2013 even just a few years ago? Independent artists like Macklemore have been waiting their entire careers for the industry to break open like it finally has. When you turned on your local pop radio station this year, you started to hear what was actually popular, not what fancy record label executives thought would sell. Those executives are outdated. People who keep up-to-date with music blogs and tell all their friends about talented new artists are who matter now. You get to decide what’s popular. Finally.
On that note, we’ve put together a list of our 20 favorite albums of 2013. The list is a compilation of each of our writers’ individual rankings (using some crazy sophisticated mad-scientist metric that Lydia came up with), which should give a pretty balanced perspective of the year’s best releases. Cheers!
Ahh, 2012. We laughed, we cried, but we laughed a lot. And more often than not, those laughs came at the expense of more than a couple people in the music industry. Since we got all nostalgic for last year, we decided to grab a few of our favorite moments and tack on some commentary in an attempt to make you laugh. Let us know how we did.
Here we are again, standing at the end of the year, looking out, hoping we don’t all meet our end on December 21′s “apocalypse.” But in the event that does happen, at least we can look each other in the eyes at this point and say it’s been a fun ride. The music was pretty damn solid. I wouldn’t say it was the absolute best year in music, because frankly it just wasn’t. There was a lot of good music, but I had a tougher time this year pickin 20 albums for my top 20 than I did in 2011, mostly because I didn’t want to put any albums on there that I wouldn’t choose to come back to for years to come. So hopefully it turns out that way, but who knows. Only time will tell, and that’s one thing we’re unsure of. So, cheers, bishes, hope to see y’all come 12/22/12.
Oh and one more thing…and this will come every year. I have to proclaim that most of these opinions are mine and only mine. I did some crowdsourcing from my Sunset fam here, but in the end, my opinion trumped all. Pretty terrible, right? Hey, don’t hate on efficiency. But really, I can’t say I was able to listen to every album that came out in 2012. I think I’d have been fired from my day job long ago if that was case. But I did listen to a ton of albums, and some of the ones that you might expect to make the cut just didn’t do it for me. A bunch of music bloggers are likely going to say that Grimes, Sleigh Bells, and Death Grips’s releases were hands down album of the year material. But they didn’t do it for me. So I didn’t include them. That’s the nature of this blog, and I intend to keep it that way. Straight talk: these are my opinions, and with that, these are my jams.
Click through to continue reading about our Best Albums of 2012
2012 has been a good year for music. I know I found some songs and albums that will be with me for years. More importantly, however, I discovered some young artists whose careers I will follow. A lot of these EPs and mixtapes are debuts for artists. These are, perhaps, the first glances at the future of music. Check it out.
Hit continue reading to see the lists and hear a sample from each EP and mixtape.
One of my favorite mixes of 2011 was our “Top Songs of 2011″ mix. Why? Because we rule. No, but it’s because it’s a bunch of different writers with different music tastes (some overlapping) sharing their top 5 releases from that year with the rest of the blogosphere. That’s why. The beauty of Sunset writers is the diversity in tastes we have, and collectively as a whole, you get a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. 2012 had its ups and downs, but this mix clearly highlights the ups.
Similar to last year, I asked each writer to send me their top 5 songs of 2012 with a brief paragraph describing their choices. The results? Gold. Enjoy it!
^^Once on Sendspace, click “download file from Sendspace”
(Below contains most of the songs. Mixtape songs aren’t on Spotify, thus not on this player.)