As MAD Magazine might say, here we go again with another ridiculous list of Dan’s 20 favorite songs of the year. Can we just all agree that 2016 really blew chunks? How many people did we lose, how many tragic things happened and that’s not even mentioning the presidential election! Fortunately, the music was pretty kickass this year by and large. Anyway, I figured now’s as good a time as any to start with the first 10 songs of my 20 favorite songs of the year. Reminder: These are in no particular order other than the order that they will be on my year-end CD, of which many of you will be recipients. So as Kylie would say, let’s get to it.
Absolutely / Ra Ra Riot
Every year, I cull this list from a list I keep all year long of songs that get my attention. “Absolutely” was added to that list on January 2, 2016. At the time, it seemed like anything was possibly in 2016. Little did we realize that the anything that was possible was not anything we would want. Still, I love that “Absolutely” survived almost the entire year to land on the year-end list.
Can’t Stop The Feeling / Justin Timberlake
By rights, I should be so burned out of this song from radio overplay at work. Somehow, I remain charmed by it all these months later. I’ll admit that I resisted this song at first, but eventually succumbed to its wily charms. I would have never predicted that out of all the boy bands of the late 90s/early 00s, Justin Timberlake would be the one that went on to bigger and better things – one of those things apparently being to just dance, dance, dance.
Love Like That / Mayer Hawthorne
On “Love Like That”, Mayer Hawthorne takes a scoop of Hall & Oates and a helping of Steely Dan and comes up with a winner. A highlight from his good-but-not-great Man About Town album, I knew the second I heard this song that I would be writing about it on the year-end list come December.
Friend Ship / The Candle Thieves
There wasn’t even supposed to be another Candle Thieves album after 2014’s All’s Well That Ends Well, but I’m really glad that there was. Those of you that know me well know that “Friend Ship” was a song that I was going to naturally gravitate toward. It came out during a time when I was cultivating a new friendship and I couldn’t help but notice how well the lyrics summarized how I feel about friendship. “Let’s just be friends ’cause I want nothing more/But if you want to stick around, then climb on board.”
Something Tamed Something Wild / Mary Chapin Carpenter
There was a lot riding on Chapin’s new album. I had been lukewarm to her last couple albums. Her live show that I saw in 2015, while good, underwhelmed me because of its emphasis on slow songs – even slowing down barn burners like “Passionate Kisses.” But the instant I heard “Something Tamed Something Wild” I knew that it was going to be ok. A nice little mid tempo track that is in the vein of classic Chapin, it became my most played track of the year according to last.fm.
Nothing’s Real / Shura
The first of two appearances by English singer Shura, “Nothing’s Real” kicks off her album of the same name with a bang. The song was written about a panic attack that she had, and she sings about her heartbeat inside a TV screen (EKG) and how she needs medicine, only to be told that “nothing’s real.” I’d argue that the feelings in a panic attack are real but not true, but this is a fun list of songs, not a heavy post about how feelings aren’t facts.
Higher / Carly Rae Jepsen
Arriving with almost no fanfare at the end of summer, Carly Rae Jepsen’s EP, Emotion Side B, is as close as you can get to an aural antidepressant. Frankly, it’s probably more effective than most of the ones you can buy at the pharmacy. “Higher” was my favorite track of the bunch, a joyous over-the-top song about how a relationship “takes [her] higher than the rest, everybody else is second best.”
Brand New / Ben Rector
I discovered Ben Rector because he showed up on the BandsInTown app as having a show close to me. He was playing in Des Moines at a general admission venue and I thought what the hell, I’ll give him a listen. I downloaded his album almost immediately, based solely on the strength of “Brand New.” I’ve tried his other albums on for size and none of them have resonated with me like this one, and especially “Brand New.” I toyed with going to see him when he was in Des Moines, but didn’t. I kind of regret it now.
waves (Remix) / Miguel feat. Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves didn’t even have an official release this year (not counting her Christmas album) and she puts in not one but two appearances on my list. Miguel’s original version of “waves” is ok, but add in a female country voice and suddenly, I’m much more interested. My daughter thought that Miguel and Kacey Musgraves were odd bedfellows, but it really seems to work.
This Wheel’s On Fire / Kylie Minogue
The gayest thing in music this year was Kylie Minogue recording the theme to the Absolutely Fabulous movie. Having never watched the TV show, I wasn’t sure what to make of this track, but like most of Kylie’s music, it wormed its way into my head and never left. At first I thought I might not include it in this year’s list, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I couldn’t exclude it.
11-20 coming later this week, followed by my CD cover reveal and full Spotify playlist!