The votes have been counted and compiled, and here, in all its glory, is NME's list of the best songs of 2016. The Top 20 is below, featuring rap megastars, grime heroes, departing legends and indie upstarts. You'll also find the full Top 50 in a playlist – give it a spin now, and let us know what your tracks of the year are in the comments.
20. Angel Olsen – ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’
Here the Missouri-born musician takes the folk label she was previously pegged with and smashes it to bits with a three-minute grunge banger that’ll warm your cockles and rattle your bones. “Shut up, kiss me, hold me tight,” she demands, sounding like the ultimate badass.
Angel Olsen – “Shut Up Kiss Me” from ‘MY WOMAN’ out September 2, 2016 on Jagjaguwar Pre-order ‘MY WOMAN’: Jagjaguwar (ltd. edition): //smarturl.it/angelolsen Rough Trade (ltd.
19. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam – ‘A 1000 Times’
What initially seemed an unlikely union – the raspy ex-Walkmen frontman plus Vampire Weekend’s baroque-pop producer pro – became a totally disarming one with the timeless, infatuated roar of ‘A 1000 Times’. You could imagine this deceptively simple song in a book of standards: shuffling but sinewy, misty-eyed but moody, and rip-roaringly romantic.
Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam’s ‘I Had A Dream That You Were Mine’ is out now – iTunes/Download: //smarturl.it/IHadADreamiTunes Spotify: //smarturl.it/IHadADreamSpt Amazon: //smarturl.it/IHadADreamAmz Google Play: //smarturl.it/IHadADreamGP Lyrics: I had a dream that you were mine I’ve had that dream a thousand times A thousand times, a thousand times I’ve had that
18. Blossoms – ‘Charlemagne’
Shimmering guitar riffs, a disco bassline, and just a touch of lover’s anxiety; ‘Charlemagne’ was the made-for-radio indie-pop song 2016 needed. Opening lyrics ‘Hello, Hello’ were equal parts whining and gut-wrenching, the fussy top layer on a glittery, crowded single. There was a lot going on in this record – all of it good.
Charlemagne. Get it on iTunes: //po.st/BlChariT Listen on Spotify: //po.st/BlCharSP or Apple Music: //po.st/BlCharAM The debut album ‘Blossoms’ is OUT NOW. Buy on iTunes: //po.st/BB28iT Listen on Spotify: //po.st/soBsp Facebook: //po.st/BLfb Twitter: //po.st/BLtw Instagram: //po.st/BLin //www.blossomsband.co.uk Facebook: //po.st/BLfb Twitter: //po.st/BLtw Instagram: //po.st/BLin //www.blossomsband.co.uk //vevo.ly/lsMj70
17. Drake – ‘One Dance’
15 weeks at Number One, Spotify’s most-streamed song ever, 1.8 million sales – but was ‘One Dance’ actually any good? Yes, of course it was: its inescapable dancehall rhythms burrowed their way into your ear like Drake never has before – with more than a little help from contributors Kyla and Wizkid, of course.
ORIGINAL SONG: www.newsongof.wixsite.com/onedance NS RECORD Available for download here! www.newsongof.wix.com/nsrecord Share “ONE DANCE” on Youtube: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyGm-dpJWn0 Production Company: nsrecord Music video by ns record. © 2016.
16. Kaytranada – ‘Lite Spots’
A souped up version of Gal Costa’s 1973 Tropicalia tune ‘Pontos De Luz’, ‘Lite Spots’ was frenetically sunny, impossible to ignore low-key smash. The standout track on an album full of standout tracks, this marked the Canadian producer’s beautiful birth into the mainstream.
Taken from KAYTRANADA’s debut album 99.9%, out now. Order: //x-l.co/kaytra999 Vinyl: //x-l.co/kaytravinyl999 Video directed by Martin C. Pariseau. Produced by Evren Boisjoli, Romeo & Fils. //kaytranada.com //soundcloud.com/kaytranada //www.facebook.com/Kaytranada //twitter.com/KAYTRANADA //www.xlrecordings.com Produced with the financial assistance of MuchFACT, a division of Bell Media Inc. //www.muchfact.ca
15. Bastille – ‘Good Grief’
The comeback single from Dan Smith and co was brilliantly subversive: a cheery pop song about coping with death. It made up for its lack of ha-has in its hum-ability, and the dialogue tapped into ’80s movie nostalgia.
“WILD WORLD” is OUT NOW! | Listen and share on Spotify //po.st/WWsP | Listen and share on Apple Music //po.st/WWaPP | Download on iTunes //po.st/WWiT Say hi to the Bastille Facebook Messenger Bot here for more information on new music from Bastille://po.st/BASTILLEBOT Join Bastille online: //www.facebook.com/bastilleuk //twitter.com/bastilledan //bastilleuk.tumblr.com/ //instagram.com/bastilledan/ //soundcloud.com/bastilleuk
14. Tove Lo – ‘Cool Girl’
Sweden’s sex-positive darkwave synth-pop sensation delivered an impossibly chic appraisal of the joys of casual relationships. “Let’s not put a label on it / Let’s keep it fun,” she sang. Whatever you say, Tove. Features the year’s best key change, too.
“Lady Wood” Out Now: //lnk.to/LadyWoodYD Listen to “Cool Girl”: //lnk.to/ToveLocoolgirl Watch “Fairy Dust”: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=abZ0PXadpB0 Director: Tim Erem Executive: Producer Ian Blair Producer: Nathan Scherrer Production Company: DIKTATOR Makeup: Colby Smith Hair: Korey Fitzpatrick Styling: Annie & Hannah //vevo.ly/0i99vq
13. Warpaint – ‘New Song’
The notoriously proggy LA quartet took their first turn to out-and-out pop with ‘New Song’, and goodness did it suit them. Like Stevie Nicks getting down on a Friday in an Essex nightclub, it was carefree and just a tiny bit weird.
Taken from Warpaint’s new album ‘Heads Up’, out now and available to buy and stream here: //smarturl.it/HeadsUp Purchases from the Rough Trade webstore will receive special exclusive items: – Album on limited edition pink and black colored vinyl – “No Way Out (redux)” b/w “I’ll Start Believing” 7″ – Autographed postcard (SOLD OUT) – Custom-printed flower seed packet – the gift that keeps on “growing”!
12. The 1975 – ‘The Sound’
Referencing every trashy ’80s synth band from The Human League to ABC, ‘The Sound’ still managed to perfectly nail the sound of 2016, soaring above the bulls**t with style, grace and one hell of a chorus. Impossible to shake out of your head once heard – and it didn’t matter in the slightest.
‘The Sound’ from The 1975’s new album ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’. Out now – //the1975.com //vevo.ly/MiGTsQ
11. David Bowie – ‘Lazarus’
Released just days before his death, ‘Lazarus’ was David Bowie saying goodbye. “Look up here / I’m in heaven,” he whispered in the track’s devastating opening lines. As exits go, it was classy as hell and one of the most powerful songs of his career.
“‘Lazarus” off David Bowie’s album Blackstar available now on iTunes: //smarturl.it/blackstar_itunes Amazon: //smarturl.it/blackstar_amazon Spotify: //smarturl.it/blackstar_spotify Vinyl: //smarturl.it/blackstar_vinyl Follow David Bowie: //davidbowie.com //facebook.com/davidbowie //twitter.com/davidbowiereal //instagram/davidbowie
10. Charli XCX – ‘After The Afterparty’
Girl power was strong in ‘After The Afterparty’, a candy-coloured techno-pop daydream that came over like the Spice Girls produced by Major Lazer. “I got glitter in my underwear like it was Studio 54,” sasses Charli, before Lil Yachty rocks up to worship at the altar of partying.
Get After The Afterparty: //lnk.to/AfterTheAfterparty 🌹🔪 angels i’m so happy to bring out my first single from the new record… after the afterparty ft Lil Yachty!!!!🔪🌹 ►Subscribe to channel: //goo.gl/D8kLMn ►Twitter – //twitter.com/charli_xcx ►Facebook – //www.facebook.com/charlixcxmusic ►Instagram – //www.instagram.com/charli_xcx/ ►Website: //xcx.world ►Snapchat: xcxworld
9. Lady Leshurr – ‘Where Are You Now?’
The Brummie grime queen was on fast, furious and downright funny form on this supercharged smash, which channelled Dizzee Rascal at his most outrageous. A guest verse from Wiley was the icing on an already delicious cake. Mouthy as f**k and all the better for it.
Where Are You Now – Lady Leshurr feat.
8. Skepta – ‘Man’
“I got bars like Camden Town,” shrugged a casual Skepta on the heavy but hilarious ‘Man’. A heady mixture of north London knowledge and social media shout-outs, here the Tottenham titan pledged allegiance to his crew over some seriously gnarly beats.
Skepta ‘Man’ (Boy Better Know) buy the album ‘Konnichiwa’ now //smarturl.it/Skepta Amazon: //smarturl.it/skeptacd Produced by Skepta. Mixed by Jake Gordon. Listen on Spotify: //smarturl.it/skeptaman //helloskepta.com //twitter.com/Skepta //instagram.com/Skeptagram //facebook.com/skeptaofficial The official Skepta YouTube Channel.
7. Kanye West – ‘Ultralight Beam’
The gorgeous gospel opener of ‘The Life Of Pablo’ proved that Kanye can be chill when he wants. Lifted further by a guest spot from Chance The Rapper, it showed hip-hop giants present and future united in the pursuit of greatness. Good for an off-key singalong.
6. Beyoncé – ‘Formation’
This year there was no pop cultural image as iconic as Beyoncé lounging on a sinking police car in a flooded New Orleans for the ‘Formation’ video. The song itself was just as powerful; here was Beyoncé celebrating black culture through the medium of transcendent trap. She slayed this year.
Beyoncé performs Formation and the opening of the Formation World Tour in Houston, Texas on September 22nd. Twitter: //twitter.com/seanmpeters Instagram: //instagram.com/seanyonce
5. Christine & The Queens – ‘Tilted’
One of those songs that stops you in your tracks, ‘Tilted’ was the English language version of Christine & The Queens’ French hit ‘Christine’. Nothing was lost in translation: utterly gorgeous electro-pop with a smooth R&B edge, ‘Tilted’ remains totally timeless.
Get Chaleur Humaine now : iTunes po.st/ChaleurHumaineiTuk Amazon po.st/ChaleurHumaineAmazuk — //www.christineandthequeens.com Like Christine on Facebook: //www.facebook.com/christineandt… Follow Christine on Twitter: //www.twitter.com/queenschristine Follow Christine on Instagram: //www.instagram.com/queenschristine Subscribe to the channel : //bit.ly/ChristinetheQueens — //www.because.tv //po.st/because
4. Iggy Pop – ‘Gardenia’
Iggy’s gloriously weathered baritone was at the helm of this strutting garage groover. Deeply sexual, this was Iggy channelling his inner Leonard Cohen as Josh Homme led the band down some dark and sinister backstreets. Divine.
From the new album ‘Post Pop Depression,’ out now. iTunes: //found.ee/PPD_iTunes Vinyl/Merch: //found.ee/PPD_OnlineStore Amazon: //found.ee/PPD_Amazon iTunes: //found.ee/PPD_iTunes Vinyl/Merch: //found.ee/PPD_OnlineStore Amazon: //found.ee/PPD_Amazon GooglePlay: //found.ee/PPD_GooglePlay //iggypop.com //www.facebook.com/iggypop //twitter.com/iggypop //www.instagram.com/iggypopofficial/
3. Chance The Rapper – ‘All Night’
Chance’s third mixtape, ‘Coloring Book’, may have been typified by some serious spirituality, but he didn’t let that get in the way of a damn good night. The golden age of hip-hop got its due on this devilishly good dancefloor jam.
Chance The Rapper ‘Coloring Book’ (Chance 3) on iTunes //itun.es/us/C3Qwcb Artist Social Networks for Chance The Rapper – No Problem: //soundcloud.com/chancetherapper //chanceraps.com/ //twitter.com/chancetherapper //instagram.com/chancetherapper/ //www.facebook.com/chancetherapper Listen to Chance The Rapper’s new mixtape “Coloring Book,” featuring Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Future, and many more!
2. The 1975 – ‘Somebody Else’
Matt Healy enters full heartbreak mode on this slow-burning beauty that sounds like it’s been lifted off the most atmospheric part of the Drive soundtrack. Also notable for the fact that Matty has sex with himself in the back of a car in the song’s moody video.
‘Somebody Else’ from The 1975’s new album, ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’. Out now – //the1975.com
1. Rihanna – ‘Work’
This downbeat dancehall anthem was the hottest thing to hit 2016 – a mating ritual set to music, and yet another chance for Rihanna and Drake to flirt outrageously on record. “If you had a twin / I would still choose you,” purred Drake on this sonic fireball.
Get Rihanna’s eighth studio album ANTI now: Download on TIDAL: //smarturl.it/downloadANTI Download on iTunes: //smarturl.it/i_dlx_ANTI Download on Google Play: //smarturl.it/ANTIdlxgp Download on Amazon: //geni.us/amzANTI Stream on TIDAL: //smarturl.it/streamANTIdlx Production Company: Hound Content // Creative Soul // Diktator Director: Director X // Tim Erem Producer: Ciarra Pardo // Harv Glazer // Melissa Larsen Editor: Laura McMillan // Nick Rondeau Director of Photography: Daniel Bouquet // Alexi Zabes //vevo.ly/1G6p5y