Ask Billboard: Readers' Favorites of 2016
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As always, the last "Ask Billboard" of the year is all about your charts! Here's a look at your favorites of 2016 (along with those from some of Billboard's chart makers).
Thanks once more for giving readers a chance to share our favorites from the past year. This year, I have 16 tracks for 2016, along with my 10 favorite albums of the year. I think that this is the first time my favorite song of the year was also the year-end Billboard Hot 100 No. 1.
And, after 40-plus years of following Billboard's charts, I still have no problem finding current music that I enjoy, and I don't expect that to stop anytime soon. Hoping for a new Ed Sheeran album, which will likely be at the top of my 2017 list next year!
Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year 2017!
1, "Love Yourself," Justin Bieber
2, "Can't Stop the Feeling!," Justin Timberlake
3, "The Sound of Silence," Disturbed
4, "I Want to Write You a Song," One Direction
5, "This Town," Niall Horan
6, "Perfect Illusion," Lady Gaga
7, "False Alarm," The Weeknd
8, "Setting the World on Fire," Kenny Chesney feat. P!nk
9, "Cake by the Ocean," DNCE
10, "Starboy," The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk
11, "Million Reasons," Lady Gaga
12, "Love to Lay," The Weeknd
13, "Die a Happy Man," Thomas Rhett
14, "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)," Adele
15, "Different for Girls," Dierks Bentley feat. Elle King
16, "Let Me Love You," DJ Snake feat. Justin Bieber
1, Hamilton, Original Broadway Cast
2, Joanne, Lady Gaga
3, Starboy, The Weeknd
4, Black, Dierks Bentley
5, Blue Neighbourhood, Troye Sivan
6, Tangled Up, Thomas Rhett
7, 25, Adele
8, Purpose, Justin Bieber
9, Last Year Was Complicated..., Nick Jonas
10, Blackstar, David Bowie
FAVORITES, IN 'FORMATION'
Here I am, back at it again with an R&B and hip-hop list, with a couple pop gems! Some personal highlights: Beyoncé on the list twice, Nigerian artists P-Square and Yemi Alade included and Tory Lanez, who had a very good 2016!
1, "Formation," Beyoncé
2, "Ride of Your Life,", Tinashe
3, "For Free," DJ Khaled feat. Drake
4, "Buried Alive," Logic
5, "Cranes in the Sky," Solange
6, "6 Inch," Beyoncé feat. The Weeknd
7, "Cut It," O.T. Genasis feat. Young Dolph
8, "Work," Rihanna feat. Drake
9, "Be Alright," Ariana Grande
10, "Keep Dealing," Pusha T feat. Beanie Sigel
11, "Testimony," P-Square
12, "Ferrari," Yemi Alade
13, "Cold Hard Love," Tory Lanez
14, "Pink + White," Frank Ocean
15, "A-YO," Lady Gaga
SONGS WE 'NEEDED'
As a big fan of Billboard, I wanted to share my favorite music of 2016 with you!
1, ANTI, Rihanna
2, Oh My My, OneRepublic
3, Starboy, The Weeknd
4, 25, Adele
5, Views, Drake
6, HERE, Alicia Keys
7, Mind of Mine, Zayn
8, Glory, Britney Spears
9, Long Live the Angels, Emeli Sande
10, Dangerous Woman, Ariana Grande
1, "Needed Me," Rihanna
2, "Controlla," Drake
3, "Better," One Republic
4, "Into You," Ariana Grande
5, "Lucozade," Zayn
6, "Oh My My," OneRepublic feat. Cassius
7, "Party Monster," The Weeknd
8, "The Greatest," Sia feat. Kendrick Lamar
9, "Kiss It Better," Rihanna
10, "Better," Meghan Trainor feat. Yo Gotti
NO DOUBT ABOUT IT
I'd have to say that my favorite album of the year is Gwen Stefani's This Is What the Truth Feels Like. As a longtime Gwen fan, it was thrilling to see her turn heartbreak into triumph and score her first-ever No. 1 solo album on the Billboard 200.
I also loved her single "Make Me Like You" and its accompanying video, which, as you may recall, was historic for being the first music video to debut on live TV. Gwen's summer tour with rapper Eve was exciting and memorable, as well; just fantastic to see Gwen perform her solo material again.
Another 2016 album I loved was from the irrepressible Cyndi Lauper, whose foray into country music with her Detour album proved that she still wants to have fun, and bring her fans along for the rollicking ride.
Thanks for giving music fans the chance to speak our minds!
My favorite songs of 2016 are "Fire" and "Blood Sweat & Tears," both by BTS. And, my favorite album? Wings … also by BTS.
My favorite song of 2016 is "Treat Your Better" by Shawn Mendes. And, my favorite album: Confident by Demi Lovato.
I am currently in school studying the music industry. Here are my favorite songs and albums of 2016!
Dangerous Woman, Ariana Grande
E-MO-TION: Side B, Carly Rae Jensen
Glory, Britney Spears
Lady Wood, Tove Lo
Vroom Vroom, Charli XCX
Starboy, The Weeknd
Mind of Mine, Zayn
"Cold Water," Major Lazer feat. Justin Bieber and MØ
"One Dance," Drake feat. WizKid and Kyla
"Work," Rihanna feat. Drake
"Let Me Love You," DJ Snake feat. Justin Bieber
"Black Beatles," Rae Sremmurd feat. Gucci Mane
"Deja Vu," Post Malone feat. Justin Bieber
"Blow Your Mind (Mwah)," Dua Lipa
New City, New York
HIDDEN & HITS
My favourites of 2016. They're not all chart hits; some great hidden and lesser-known album cuts.
10, "Thinking Bout You," Ariana Grande
9, "Way Back," Travis Scott
8, "Liar," Britney Spears
7, "Sinner's Prayer," Lady Gaga
6, "Borderz," Zayn
5, "I Feel It Coming," The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk
4, "Ghetto Boy," Tinashe
3, "WTF Love Is," Tove Lo
2, "Formation," Beyonce
1, "Same Ol' Mistakes," Rihanna
5, Lemonade, Beyonce
4, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, Travis Scott
3, Lady Wood, Tove Lo
2, Starboy, The Weeknd
1, ANTI, Rihanna
Mustafa Can Demir
I made a list of my favorite songs of this year … and a list of my favorite Joanne songs (since Lady Gaga is in a league of her own).
5, "Ain't My Fault," Zara Larsson
4, "All I Ask," Adele
3, "Purple Lamborghini," Skrillex & Rick Ross
2, "You Don't Own Me," Grace feat. G-Eazy
1, "Don't Let Me Down," The Chainsmokers feat. Daya
5, "Come to Mama"
4, "Hey Girl," feat. Florence Welch
3, "Angel Down (Work Tape)"
2, "Dancin' in Circles"
1, "John Wayne"
LEADING LADIES (+ CALVIN)
My top 5 albums:
1, Dangerous Woman, Ariana Grande
2, ANTI, Rihanna
3, Lemonade, Beyonce
4, 7/27, Fifth Harmony
5, Know-It-All, Alessia Cara
And top songs:
1, "This Is What You Came For," Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna
2, "Love on the Brain," Rihanna
3, "Side to Side," Ariana Grande feat. Nicki Minaj
4, "Body Say," Demi Lovato
5, "Change," Christina Aguilera
Matías Ulloa Paredes
BEYONCE & SOLANGE
I'd be glad to share my favorite 2016 songs and albums.
1, Lemonade, Beyoncé
2, A.I.M., M.I.A.
3, Blackstar, David Bowie
4, A Seat at the Table, Solange
5, Long Live the Angels, Emeli Sandé
1, "Formation," Beyoncé
2, "Lazarus," David Bowie
3, "The Big Big Beat," Azealia Banks
4, "Chantaje," Shakira feat. Maluma
5, "Final Song," MØ
BRYSON & BEYONCE
These songs and albums were some of my most played in 2016:
1, "Exchange," Bryson Tiller
2, "Don't," Bryson Tiller
3, "White Iverson," Post Malone
4, "Dessert," Dawin
5, "Side to Side," Ariana Grande feat. Nicki Minaj
6, "Sorry," Justin Bieber
7, "Me, Myself & I," G-Eazy x Bebe Rexha
8, "Stressed Out," Twenty One Pilots
9, "Broccoli," D.R.A.M. feat. Lil Yachty
10, "Jumpman," Drake & Future
1, Lemonade, Beyoncé
2, Coloring Book, Chance the Rapper
3, T R A P S O U L, Bryson Tiller
4, ANTI, Rihanna
5, Blonde, Frank Ocean
6, The Life of Pablo, Kanye West
7, Purpose, Justin Bieber
8, Views, Drake
9, A Seat at the Table, Solange
10, 25, Adele
East St. Louis, Illinois
Top 10 albums
1, Southern Family, various artists
2, Blackstar, David Bowie
3, Skeleton Tree, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
4, E•MO•TION: Side B, Carly Rae Jepsen
5, Metal Resistance, BABYMETAL
6, Love You to Death, Tegan and Sara
7, Wonderful Crazy Night, Elton John
8, Sailor's Guide to Earth, Sturgill Simpson
9, EVOlution, Sabrina Carpenter
10, Brave Enough, Lindsey Stirling
Top 10 songs
1, "Tiimmy Turner," Desiigner
2, "Superstitious," MKTO
3, "This Town," Niall Horan
4, "Awadama Fever," BABYMETAL
5, "Cry," Carly Rae Jepsen
6, "Atlas, Rise!," Metallica
7, "Into You," Ariana Grande
8, "The Great Divide," Rebecca Black
9, "Kodama," Alcest
10, "Fool's Gold," Aaron Carter
Have a good new year!
AND … CHARTS DEPT. CHARTS
Xander Zellner, Billboard associate chart manager:
10, "Shut Up Kiss Me," Angel Olsen
9, "Fill in the Blank," Car Seat Headrest
8, "Am I Wrong," Anderson .Paak Feat. Schoolboy Q
7, "Your Best American Girl," Mitski
6, "We the People…," A Tribe Called Quest
5, "No Problem," Chance the Rapper feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
4, "Nikes," Frank Ocean
3, "Lazarus," David Bowie
2, "Formation," Beyonce
1, "Ultralight Beam," Kanye West
10, My Woman, Angel Olsen
9, Malibu, Anderson .Paak
8, Puberty 2, Mitski
7, We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your Service, A Tribe Called Quest
6, Lemonade, Beyonce
5, Teens of Denial, Car Seat Headrest
4, The Life of Pablo, Kanye West
3, Blonde, Frank Ocean
2, Coloring Book, Chance the Rapper
1, Blackstar, David Bowie
Bruce Springsteen, The River Tour 2016, Madison Square Garden (Jan. 27)
In his fifth decade in music, and at age 67, Bruce Springsteen still puts on the best show in the business. In front of a sold-out crowd, the audience was packed with both folks who'd been listening to The Boss for years and younger generations maybe witnessing their first Springsteen show. I fell into the latter category. You'd be remiss to find anyone not singing along to nearly every song on the 32-song setlist, which included each track from his album The River, along with classics like "Thunder Road," "Born to Run" and "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)." Including a four-song encore, the show finished at more than three hours long. A few months after his show at the Garden, Springsteen broke the record for longest concert performance in history (four hours and four minutes), proving that The Boss has no intention of slowing down.
Kevin Rutherford, Billboard social, streaming, rock chart manager:
1, Sturgill Simpson, "Call to Arms." Talk about a closer to an already great album. It's a call to arms, indeed: to lay down said artillery or avoid it entirely, to resist propaganda, to question what you're taught. His son just received quite the mission statement.
2, PUP, "DVP." Chaos. Sheer, utter chaos. Yeah, the future's looking bleak, but what's three more beers, anyway?
3, The 1975, "The Sound." You can hear the moment The 1975 decidedly to fully embrace its indie pop side: it's in those piano stabs in the chorus, that synthetic vocal from Matt Healy. It's the best decision the band has made yet.
4, Japandroids, "Near to the Wild Heart of Life." The galloping percussion that kicks off Japandroids' comeback after four-and-a-half years away is the perfect way to trumpet the return of a duo that's poised to become absolutely huge in 2017. Try to deny that chorus. You can't. You absolutely cannot.
5, Leonard Cohen, "You Want It Darker." The chills elicited by this brooding dirge of a track – particularly Cohen's booming declaration of "I'm ready, my Lord" – only intensified with the news of the singer-songwriter's death just after its release.
6, Sarah Jarosz, "House of Mercy." Jarosz already has quite the catalog four albums in, but this could quite well be her opus; a rich, ruminating kiss-off of a track with downright sinister double bass underlying the whole thing.
7, The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk, "I Feel It Coming." We were blessed with two, not one, Weeknd and Daft Punk collaborations in 2016, and who knew "Starboy" wouldn't be the highlight? "I Feel It Coming" could have slid onto the electronic duo's brilliant Random Access Memories and no one would've batted a helmet-covered eye.
8, Beyonce feat. Jack White, "Don't Hurt Yourself." Beyonce went rock. Repeat: Beyonce. Went. Rock. And big surprise, it slaps. Savage, Bey.
9, Brandy Clark, "Three Kids No Husband." The country singer-songwriter is at her best detailing the seemingly mundane and giving it vitality. And if you're already familiar with co-writer Lori McKenna's work, the quality of this tune comes as zero shock to you.
10, Chance the Rapper feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz, "No Problem." If Chance's aversion to major labels continues to result in material like this, let's pray to our lucky stars he never, ever signs to one.
1, Brandy Clark, Big Day in a Small Town. A strikingly tight collection of country songs, somehow better than her already-exceptional 2014 debut 12 Stories. Clark can shift between radio-ready and upbeat ("Girl Next Door") and wistful and pitying ("Homecoming Queen") without missing a beat, and her penchant for storytelling strengthens with each song you know – and didn't know – she wrote.
2, M83., Junk. Anthony Gonzalez and co. didn't need to follow up the sweeping, at times larger-than-life Hurry Up, We're Dreaming with something even more grandiose. A deep dive into '80s TV – and a blistering Steve Vai guitar solo on "Go!," the answer to the fist-pumping sax outro of "Midnight City" – will do just fine.
3, Bon Iver, 22, A Million. The song names may seem more like runes from Gravity Falls than coherent titles – but, what songs they are. Justin Vernon's folkier side may be gone (or at least in cold storage somewhere in Eau Claire), but the plug-and-chug elements and samples that litter 22 makes up for it – and, if nothing else, there's always that falsetto.
4, Sarah Jarosz, Undercurrent. If you're looking for an album that just sounds great – and that's merely from a standpoint of the notes coming through your speakers, not even counting the top-notch songwriting – then Undercurrent, a nominee for best engineered album, non-classical, at 2017's Grammy Awards, is absolutely for you.
5, Beyonce, Lemonade. Is it even possible to listen to this thing out of order? Nah, absolutely not. Sit down, go cover to cover and take in this stunning, profoundly personal journey of a record.
6, Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor's Guide to Earth. Simpson's young son is going to turn out just fine if he has this horn-infused country-rock mission statement as his moral compass. Curious about whether he'll prefer his dad's "In Bloom" or Kurt's.
7, Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker. Could Cohen have gone out any better than this? His best album in decades achieved greater significance after passing, but even by itself, it's an awe-inspiring masterclass in songwriting and delivery.
8, White Lung, Paradise. If you need a rock record to kick your ass with time to spare before it even reaches a half-hour long, look no further. Mish Way's wail continues to impress on its own, but those guitar licks absolutely pummel.
9, Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book. OK, album, mixtape, whatever you wanna call it, Coloring Book's uplifting gospel is infectious and joyous, and one of the year's biggest delights.
10, Adam Torres, Pearls to Swine. A decade after releasing his locally-lauded, self-released debut Nostra Nova, Torres returned with yet another remarkable LP highlighting his sometimes ethereal vocal, alongside delicate, understated folk.
Jim Asker, Billboard country, Christian/gospel, bluegrass chart manager:
My top 10 albums:
1, Hillary Scott & The Scott Family, Love Remains. Produced by Ricky Skaggs, it's contemporary Christian-pop meets Appalachia. Its single "Thy Will" is one of the year's best.
2, Maren Morris, Hero. An impressive first effort, in its varied styles, vocal strength and the fact that she had a hand in writing all 11 tracks.
3, Dierks Bentley, Black. He just gets stronger and stronger with every release and is one of the few artists that can go from bluegrass to country to pure pop. "Different for Girls" with Elle King was my favorite of all the country/pop meetups of 2016.
4, Joey + Rory, Hymns. For the mere fact of their courage to record this set in Joey Feek's final months, but also the strength and beauty of these spiritual songs, the set will be a favorite for years to come.
5, Keith Urban, Ripcord. Another artist that keeps furthering his stride in every release. A great album.
6, Lauren Daigle, How Can It Be (Deluxe Version). The rerelease in spring of this 2015 album gives me a reason for me to list this one (again) this year. The talented singer-songwriter is Billboard's No. 1 Christian artist of 2016, and "Trust in You" is one of those great singles that transcends genres.
7, Brandy Clark, Big Day in a Small Town. A fine songwriter, and this country and Americana set showcases her talents well.
8, Jon Pardi, California Sunrise. Pardi represents the traditional wing of the country format and his music is infectious and fun.
9, Hillsong United, Hillsong: Let Hope Rise soundtrack. From the film that chronicles the worship music collective, Taya Smith's vocal performance on the live version of "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" is quite amazing.
10, Lauren Daigle, Behold: A Christmas Collection. Her New Orleans background sparked a jazzy take on Christmas classics that sound fresher than ever.
Amaya Mendizabal, Billboard R&B/hip-hop, Latin chart manager:
10, "Alaska," Maggie Rogers
9, "Location," Khalid
8, "Gold," Kiiara
7, "Honeybody," Kishi Bashi
6, "Safari," J Balvin feat. BIA, Pharrell Williams & Sky
5, "Broccoli," D.R.A.M. feat. Lil Yachty
4, "Freedom," Beyonce feat. Kendrick Lamar
3, "Cranes in the Sky," Solange
2, "Caroline," Amine
1, "Starboy," The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk
10, Energia, J Balvin
9, Freetown Sound, Blood Orange
8, WALLS, Kings of Leon
7, Sonderlust, Kishi Bahi
6, Coloring Book, Chance the Rapper
5, Blonde, Frank Ocean
4, Starboy, The Weeknd
3, We Got It From Here …Thank You 4 Your Service, A Tribe Called Quest
2, A Seat at the Table, Solange
1, Lemonade, Beyonce
5, Bomba Estereo
3, Guns N' Roses
Gordon Murray, Billboard dance chart manager:
My favorite songs of 2016:
1, "Banana Brain," Die Antwoord
2, "Rendez Vous" (extended mix), Inna
3, "This Girl" (extended mix), Kungs vs. Cookin' on 3 Burners
4, "Run Run Run," Junge Junge feat. Kyle Pearce
5, "Emelie," Filous & MOUNT feat. Buster Moe
6, "Believer," Major Lazer & Showtek
7, "Summer on You" (club mix), Sam Feldt x Lucas & Steve feat. Wulf
8, "Say It to Me," Pet Shop Boys
9, "Big Bird," BlasterJaxx
10, "Rockabye," Clean Bandit feat. Sean Paul & Anne-Marie
Alex Vitoulis, Billboard associate chart production manager:
1, James Arthur, "Say You Won't Let Go." This heart-wrenching ode is perfection in every possible way.
2, Parachute, "What Side Of Love." Written with such poignancy, this song perfectly captures the highs and lows of being in love.
3, William Singe, "Say It." His falsetto just kills it and showcases that this future superstar's voice is the gift that keeps on giving.
4, Rag'n'Bone Man, "Human." This mesmerizing, foot-stomping song is sure to saturate U.S. airwaves in 2017.
5, Major Lazer feat. Justin Bieber & MO, "Cold Water" / DJ Snake feat. Justin Bieber, "Let Me Love You." Bieber continued to soar with these two dance collaborations. They show his growth musically, solidifying that he is one of the top artists releasing pop music today.
6, Sheppard, "We Belong." The Sheppard siblings returned with another infections pop record, following 2014's "Geronimo."
7, The Rebel Roads, "First to Know." John and Veronica's voices mesh so beautifully, and this first taste leaves me yearning for more.
8, Hailee Steinfeld & Grey feat. Zedd, "Starving." Hailee has shown that she can pick great songs and make them connect with the masses. This lyrically witty pop ditty has become her biggest hit to date.
9, Charlie Puth feat. Selena Gomez, "We Don't Talk Anymore." One of the most talented writer/singers to emerge in recent years, Charlie knows how to write a hit. This Gomez collab depicting a shattered relationship was no exception.
10, Matthew Koma, "Kisses Back." This single from Matt's upcoming debut album demonstrates in just three minutes and 49 seconds his masterful grasp on melody and stellar wordplay.
1, Parachute, Wide Awake. Lead singer Will Anderson is a lyricist extraordinaire and has crafted a touching album intertwining stories of love and its power over one's psyche. Bandmates Kit French and Johnny Stubblefield help breathe these songs to life with their remarkable musicianship.
2, James Arthur, Back From the Edge. When most had written him off, James returned with a raw, honest and powerfully astounding release. The 2012 X Factor UK winner, through reflection and openness, found redemption and reignited his career to new heights.
3, The Weeknd, Starboy. With every album, he gets better and better. A soulful, moving set.
4, Metallica, Hardwired...To Self-Destruct. Playing with a thirst that is both intoxicating and bone-crunching, these metal pioneers proved they still have it.
5, Bruno Mars, 24K Magic. His tribute to the soul/funk of the '80s and '90s further showcases his superb creativity, further cementing his superstar status.
6, Charlie Puth, Nine Track Mind. Puth is no one-hit wonder. This album is chock full of melodic tunes that showcase his beautifully-toned voice and songcraft.
7, Sia, This Is Acting. This album of rejects penned for others simply helped solidify Sia's standing as one of today's top artists.
8, Jon Bellion, The Human Condition. His major-label debut leaves me awestruck in its complexity.
9, Beyonce, Lemonade. It made such an impact, visually as well as audibly. At times shocking and others painful, Bey keeps the viewer/listener engaged.
10, Miranda Lambert, The Weight of These Wings. Lambert's sixth album shines from start to finish. Once the lyrics-induced pain subsides, you realize she is one of the great songwriters of our time.
And, my top 10 songs of the year:
10, "Night Song," Savoir Adore
9, "All Those Faces," Timothy B. Schmit
8, "For the Weak," Lily & Madeleine
7, "Map of My Heart," Mary Chapin Carpenter
6, "Something Tamed Something Wild," Mary Chapin Carpenter
5, "Be My Sin," Kathryn Dean
4, "You Haunt Me," Liz Longley
And ... a sincere thank you to all in the past year who've read and/or contributed to Chart Beat, which celebrated its 35th year as a Billboard column in 2016. As for a musical New Year's resolution for 2017? This seems like a good one, from famed Billboard chart historian Joel Whitburn: to always have "so much new music to listen to."