The Music That Moved Us In 2016

By Newsy Staff | December 21, 2016

2016 took many, many cultural icons from us — especially people who moved us through their music. We said goodbye to royalty, the being known as Ziggy Stardust, one of the elements and Malik, "The Five-Foot Freak."

Fortunately, 2016 has also given us a trove of new music to fill the void left behind by the giants who passed away. We asked our Newsy colleagues to share some of their favorite songs from this year (and a few others from years past).


"Good As Hell" — Lizzo

There isn't a single situation this song won't fix. It's a two-minute spell of black girl magic, smiles, happiness, confidence and ass-kicking. Lizzo is queen of 2016. — Kate Grumke


"Zombies" — Childish Gambino

I don't even know where to start with how much I love this song, this album and this artist. It's a different sound for Gambino, and he slipped into it so damn well. Ultimately, I love that he managed to switch up his musical style without sacrificing any of his lyricism. Who better to bring you into his world while also chastising the obsession with celebrity, or the obsession with anything that is normalized sociality? Even with a switched-up sound, Gambino's doing what Gambino does best: delivering a lesson that might be hard to hear in a way you can't wait to keep listening to. — Tori Partridge


"We Own The Night" — The Chainsmokers

This makes me wanna go rule the world. I just love how inspirational this song is to me. — Christine Slusser


"Sorry" — Beyonce

It was super relevant to current events in my love life. — Katie Link


"On Hold" — The xx

I couldn't stop listening to it. I've listened to it probably every day since it came out. The xx made us wait for something for a while, and they didn't disappoint with something that kept their past appeal, but evolved in their sound / creativity to stay relevant. And they piqued interest for their upcoming album. (It comes out in Jan.) — Melissa Prax


"White Flag" — Joseph

I love a good girl group, and I'm a sucker for lyrics that stick with you. This song is such a catchy, upbeat way to say, "Screw it, I'm not giving up." It's a mix of pop and folk, and it's the kind of song you can blare and jam to in your car, or cry to at home eating ice cream and singing off key. Whatever floats your boat. — Danielle Dieterich


"Miss Right" (Live from Spotify House SXSW '16) — Anderson .Paak

I, like so many music lovers, listened to Anderson .Paak A LOT this year. Technically, "Miss Right" was released on his 2014 album "Venice," but this live version is from 2016. From about 4:19 on, that combination of Paak's drum work and the guitar solo from Jose Rios is pure funky magic. Paak tells Rios to "get nasty with it," and he does. I can't listen to that section without making a stank face. — Sadé Carpenter


"River" — Leon Bridges

I love everything about this song. Leon Bridges said he hopes it can be a message of light. And reflecting on the year we've had, I think it's a message we can all appreciate. — Kristin Rohlwing


"Hamilton" soundtrack

My brother got me hooked on the "Hamilton" soundtrack — and I'm not usually much of a hip-hop person. I love the storytelling and the poetry, and the music is so catchy. It's hard to choose a favorite song, but if I had to, I'd probably say "The Room Where It Happens," "Helpless" or "Guns and Ships." Thanks for giving us this gem, Lin-Manuel Miranda! — Kellie Moore


"The Curtain" — Snarky Puppy

From a number of plays perspective, my top song was "The Curtain" by Snarky Puppy and Metropole Orkest. Jazz, classical and funk influences all get 15 minutes (!) to romp around, but the reason to replay over and over is Jay Jennings' incredible flugelhorning. — Evan Thomas



"Shut Up Kiss Me" — Angel Olsen

This is a great song to sit around and sing to whilst thinking of some hot guy you used to know. It's upbeat, has just the right amount attitude and it makes you want to move around and sing along. Angel is a badass babe! — Madeline Carl


"Wild Things" — Alessia Cara

I have amazing memories driving to this, and there's this video from Broccoli City Fest that my friend Sunni made to this song, and since then, it just defined my spring/summer — and it was amazing. — Noor Tagouri

"What It Means" — The Drive-By Truckers

Of all of the music I heard this year, The Drive-By Truckers were the only group of older white men in the country tradition who dared to pen new songs that asked white people to think critically about our societal climate and how they may have contributed to said problems. So, while "What It Means" is nowhere near a "new" sound or direction for the band, this arresting staple of the DBT's catalog resonates louder than anything they've ever written, because there's no nuances or similes to try and mask these issues. The song is incredibly depressing to think about, but that's its point — before we can repair our country — we need to look and see how we fractured it. — Tyler Adkisson


"24K Gold" — Bruno Mars

It's catchy and gets stuck in my head. It always reminds me of the time my friends and I danced to it at our friend's wedding. Everyone was so happy and dancing like crazy. Most importantly, we were all together. (We live in different states.) — Lauren Stephenson