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Top 40 Songs of 2016

Lots and lots of superior music in 2016 by artists old and new, fairly bursting with melodic goodness and all that sort of stuff.

by John M. Borack

I listen to tons of music each year, and 2016 was certainly no exception. As the year went on and the MP3s kept pouring in and the stacks of discs (both CDs and vinyl) to review grew and grew, I began to fret that I'd never catch up with my listening. But catch up I did, and what a year it was! Lots and lots of superior music by artists old and new, fairly bursting with melodic goodness and all that sort of stuff.

Since pop music has always been by and large a singles medium, this year I decided to compile a list of the forty best songs I heard in 2016. (I could have listed many more, but a top forty seemed very Casey Kasem-like.) So here are what I consider to be the cream of the crop, ranked in order. A few of these are of slightly older vintage but they were new to me in 2016, so I included 'em. Listed after the song and the artist is the CD (or album) (or EP) from whence it came. Some of these artists and albums will make in appearance on my top 20 albums of 2016 list, to be published soon. Here we go!


 1. “She Loved Her Jangle Pop” – Erik Voeks (from So the Wind Won't Blow it All Away; Hanky Panky Records)

2. “Go Away Girl” - Rocket Bureau (from Phantoms Ringing 67-73; Overdue Miracle Records)

3. “Melvista” – Wesley Fuller (from Melvista; 1965 Records)

4. “Tired of Running” – Arvidson and Butterflies (from Arvidson and Butterflies, Kool Kat)

5. “Stay Gold” – Butch Walker (from Stay Gold; Dangerbird Records)

6. “Maybe Tomorrow” - Diamond Hands (from Diamond Hands; You are the Cosmos Records)

7. “Try to Make It” – Gretchen’s Wheel (from If It Feels Good Do It - A Sloan Tribute; Futureman Records)

8. “Never Be It” - Cotton Mather (from Death of the Cool; Star Apple Kingdom Records)

9. “Morning, Noon & Night” – The Weeklings (from Studio 2; Jem Records)

10. “Didn’t We 1979” – Mimi Betinis featuring Cliff Johnson (from Basement Tapes Volume 1; Mimi-Tone Records)

11. “In Case You Wanna Know” - Joey Sykes (from Classic New Rock; Purple Virgo Records)

12. “Short Term Memory” - Legal Matters (from Conrad; Omnivore Records)

13. “We Go High” - Pacific Soul LTD (from The Dance Divine; Karma Frog Records)

14. “Watching Dawson’s Creek” – Eytan Mirsky (from Funny Money; self-released)

15. “Trying to Keep it Simple” – Seth Swirsky (from Circles and Squares; self-released)

16. “All the Way” - Trolley (from Caught in the Darkness; Easter Records)

17. “I’m in Love With Your Wife” – David Brookings and the Average Lookings (from David Brookings and the Average Lookings; self-released)

18. “This Wall Between Us” – Emitt Rhodes (from Rainbow Ends; Omnivore Records)

19. “Something New” - Gleeson (from Curse My Lucky Stars; Almost There Records)

20. “I Love You No More” – Bun E. Carlos (from Greetings from Bunezuela!; eOne Music)

21. “Love You Too” – The Jangle Band (from Edge of a Dream; Off the Hip Records)

22. “See You Again” – Charlie Faye and the Fayettes (from Charlie Faye and the Fayettes; no label listed)

23. “Hello” – Andy Bopp (from Blisters and Thorns; self-released)

24. “I Should Have Known” – Ken Sharp (from New Mourning; Jet Fighter Records)

25. “Cracked Up” – The Jetz (from Cracked Up; Queen Mum Records)

26. “Hold Me Tight” – Coke Belda (from Nummer Zwei; Rock Indiana Records)

27. “Mind Over Matter” – Tuns (from Tuns; Royal Mountain Records)

28. “I Saw That Photograph” – Shennon and Lotton (from PM Songs; Rock Indiana Records)

29. “Need Your Love” – Tommy and the Rockets (from Beer and Fun and Rock 'n' Roll; Ghost Highway Recordings)

30. “The Passing” - 13 Frightened Girls (from Big Stir: Power Pop and More at CIA; Minco Records)

31. “One Hit Wonder” - Nick Piunti (from Trust Your Instincts; Jem Records)

32. “Blood Red Lips” – Cheap Trick (from Bang Zoom Crazy...Hello; Big Machine Records)

33. “When She Comes to Town" - Rob Martinez (from New Love Environment; Karma Frog Records)

34. “Sun of a Gun” – Swedish Polarbears (from The Great Northern; Sound Asleep Records)

35. “You Don’t Have to Prove Your Love” - Ray Paul (from Whimsicality; Permanent Press Records)

36. “Back in the Day” – Radio Days (from Back in the Day; Rock Indiana Records)

37. “Cadillac Star” – Steve Somerset’s Shadow Kabinet (from Kabinet of Kuriosity; Kool Kat Records)

38. "A Boy Downtown” – Cliff Hillis (from Love Not War; Tallboy Records)

39. “End of the Rope” – Brett Harris (from Up in the Air; Hit the Deck Recordings)

40. “Slow Down” – Dropkick (from Balance the Light; Rock Indiana Records)

If you're interested in hearing anything on the list that might be new to you, a quick Google search or a trip to Bandcamp or iTunes should set you up nicely. Happy listening!