Saturday, January 28, 2017

Top 101 Favorite Albums of 2016 and Top 10 Songs of 2016

Hello Everyone!

I know it's been a while, but the moment has finally come. My list of what I consider the best music of 2016, and believe me, there was a lot a GREAT music. Great albums from practically all genres. I listened to about over 150 albums this year, so making this list was not easy. It changed dramatically since October with the mass release of many new albums from well-renowned artists. The albums I consider the best are creative, well-executed, relevant, and are just at the right length where they don't overstay their welcome. Now before we get to the list, I would like to make a few disclaimers.

Number one: I did not include the album Run The Jewels 3 because even though it was released digitally on Christmas Day 2016, the official release date is January 13th, 2017. 

Second, I decided to use a Tier system this time to categorize and rank more specifically the albums I thought were the best. But to be honest, there aren't any less than decent albums on this list. All albums are ranked from 6-10 with 10 being the highest.

Third, there were a few albums I did not include on this list because I did not listen to them and I was more than satisfied with how the list turned out. These albums included Sorceress by Opeth, Jeffery by Young Thug, Affinity by Haken, The Astonishing by Dream Theater, Lady Wood by Tove Lo, Puberty 2 by Mitski, Human Performance by Parquet Courts, (only listened to half of the album), The Ghost of Highway 20 by Lucinda Williams, The Prelude Implicit by Kansas, Return To Love by Lvl Up, Islah by Kevin Gates, and Hopelessness by ANOHNI, Blossoms by Blossoms, 99.9% by Kaytranada, and Telefone by Noname.

And finally, for the sake of space on the list, I did not include an compilations of previously unreleased/unfinished material, demos, or B-sides. I also did not include any soundtracks, EPs or live albums. But don't worry. I will also make a new blogpost discussing honorable and dishonorable mentions. Stay tuned for that.

But for now, I give my top 101 favorite album of 2016. Unlike last year, every album on this list is worth owning and listening to multiple times. I wish I could talk about all of them, but as of right now, I'll just put paragraph explanation of why I love the albums in Tier 1. Enjoy!

Top 101 Albums of 2016

[Tier 1 - 10]

1. Blackstar by David Bowie

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The world was shaken at the beginning of 2016 with the sudden death of David Bowie only 2 days after he released what would be his final album Blackstar. This album is incredible. Bowie takes the modern influences of jazz, hip-hop, and electronica to create a record that sounds like nothing he's done before. The production is wonderful. The instrumentation is exquisite. Every song is a masterpiece. Bowie has been the poster child for post-modernism in music his entire career. He's broken down barriers and challenged the conventions of being a rock and roll artist. The final song on Blackstar is Bowie communicating that he has accepted who he was and how the public views him with confusion, admiration, mystery, and love. At some point, Bowie must have been well aware of his imminent death to cancer. Blackstar is presented as Bowie's goodbye letter to the world, to this dimension. Bowie has left this world and returned home.

Highlights: "Blackstar", "Lazarus", "Dollar Days", "I Can't Give Everything Away"

2. You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen

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Leonard Cohen's final album is stark and eerie. Given the circumstances of his death shortly after the album's release only enhances these notions. Nonetheless, Cohen delivers his best late-period record You Want It DarkerMost of the recordings was done from Leonard's laptop in collaboration with his son to fill in the production gaps. The songs are minimal, yet profound. Cohen's low bass vocal hypnotizes you and pulls you into his stories of mortality, coming to terms with death and the circumstances that surround his life from the past to the present. Cohen has once again redefined with self as one of the greatest poets in music. Yet throughout his life he's remained humble, light-hearted, and grateful to be alive. And you hear him embrace every last breathe he takes on this album. This love letter to death is a testament not only to music, but to humanity as a whole. Cohen accepts death with grace, resistance, and understanding.

Highlights: "You Want It Darker", "Treaty", "If I Didn't Have Your Love", "Traveling Light"

3. In My Room by Jacob Collier

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Jacob Collier has been an internet sensation for a number of years. The now 21-year-old jazz prodigy made waves on youtube for his insane arrangements of timeless classics such as "Fascinating Rhythm", "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing", and "P.Y.T.". He was discovered by  acclaimed producer and jazz musician Quincy Jones, and through his advocation, Collier secured a record deal and worked for almost two years on his debut album In My Room. It was record entirely by Jacob in his music room at his flat in London, playing, singing, engineering, producing, mixing and mastering every single note and sound. The album also features Collier's first original compositions ever including "Hideaway", "In The Real Early Morning", and "Saviour". The album also features new arrangements of classics such as The Beach Boys' "In My Room" and Stevie Wonder's "You And I". I know most critics like this album, but I personally don't believe they praise it enough. Jacob Collier is a force to be reckoned with and his genius deserves to be held in high regards. For a young individual to create a piece of work this professional is a rarity these days. This record is a labor of love. You hear his passion and love for the music. It seems effortless and that's what is most admirable. He is far ahead of most of his contemporaries. If you're not hip to Jacob Collier, well now is the time to be.

Highlights: "Hideaway", "Hajanga", "Saviour", "In The Real Early Morning", "Don't You Know", "Flintstones"

4. Good Times! by The Monkees

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The first Monkees album in nearly 20 years finds all three surviving Monkees reunited to create their best album since Head. When they announced that Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), the king of pastiche soundtracks, would be producing the new album, I knew it would be a smash. The album contains songwriting and vocal contributions from every Monkee, including an unissued recording of Neil Diamond's "Love To Love" with a vocal from the late Davy Jones. There are also contributions from other contemporary songwriters including River Cuomo of Weezer, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller, and Andy Partridge of XTC, as well as unreleased songs written by Harry Nilsson, Boyce & Hart, Carole King & Gerry Goffin, and Jeff Barry & Joey Levine. Good Times! is full of good times. It's joyful and fun while also having moments of melancholy and reflection. It's well balanced and the production is fantastic. If you wanna feel happy and then some, give this album a listen.

Highlights: "Me & Magdalena", "She Makes Me Laugh", "Birth of An Accidental Hipster", "You Bring The Summer", "Our Own World", "Wasn't Born To Follow"

5. Family Dinner - Volume 2 by Snarky Puppy

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Snarky Puppy is the best band in the world right now. Yeah, I said it. Come at me. But in all seriousness, how could you disagree. The best musicians in the business. The best composers. The best arrangers. The best producers. They can do no wrong. The second charity collaboration record Family Dinner - Volume 2 finds the band at its peak while also giving listeners the best collaborations they've ever been part of, with featured artists such as Becca Stevens, Susana Bacca, David Crosby, Laura Mvula, Charlie Hunter, Jeff Coffin, etc. The spirit of these fine musicians and songwriters and the music they create transcends. The atmosphere Michael League and company have created is immensely open and loving. The love is pure and the music is pure. Period.

Highlights: "Don't You Know", "Somebody Home", "Liquid Love", "Molino Molero"

6. Emily’s D+Evolution by Esperanza Spalding

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Esperanza Spalding has been highly respected in the jazz community for many years now. After releasing two commercially successful albums, Spalding decided to abandon her traditional jazz morales in pursuit of a more creative an unconventional approach. With David Bowie producer Tony Visconti at the helm, Esperanza delivers a concept revolving around her alter-ego Emily. Emily's D+Evolution finds her on the electric bass in the entire record. Her voice still contains the purity of a jazz singer, but the instrumentation possess more progressive rock leanings. Think Joni Mitchell meets King Crimson. And what you get is a mind-numbing, mind-bending record that not only exceeds expectations, but defies expectations. It will be interesting to see where Esperanza goes from here.

Highlights: "Good Lava", "Unconditional Love", "Judas", "Change Us"

7. Coloring Book by Chance The Rapper

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2016 has definitely been a year of great hip-hop, and the leader of the pack is none other than Chicago native Chance The Rapper. Chance has been in the game for a good number of years and has even collaborated with Kanye West along the way. His previous mixtape Acid Rap initiated his presence, but it's his newest mixtape Coloring Book catapulted him into the mainstream without being signed to a major record label. This mixtape is full of positivity, good vibes, social consciousness, and great gospel and soul influences. Without a doubt the best hip-hop record of 2016.

Highlights: "No Problem", "Blessings", "Juke Jam", "Summer Friends"

8. American Band by Drive-By Truckers

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I only recently got into the Drive-By Truckers through their association with Jason Isbell. American Band is a liberal white southerner's perspective on the social issues that plague the American condition including immigration, racism, the economy, etc. The Drive-By Truckers have always been a political band, but this may be their most politically charged album yet. Combine those elements with gritty electric guitars and southern rock styles, you have an album that sets itself apart from the rest of current music with a message of hope, peace, and the motivation to overcome our struggles.

Highlights: "Ever South", "Ramon Casino", "What It Means", "Surrender Under Protest"

9. Lemonade by Beyonce

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I'll be honest. I'm not much of a fan of Beyonce. Never bought her albums and was never that interested in her songs. But this album changed everything, well sort of. This album was a drastic departure musically for Beyonce. While the overall theme of infidelity on Lemonade might seem a bit on the nose, Beyonce approaches it in full bombastic force holding nothing back. She experiments with her vocal abilities to deliver performances that are raunchy, dark, passionate, and fierce. Musically, the album ranges from hard rock to country to electronic. This album was risky and ambitious, especially by Beyonce's standards. It's as if she listened to a bunch of late career Tom Waits albums and decided to make her own version of Rain Dogs or Bone Machine. I was thoroughly impressed and who knows where she'll go after this masterpiece.

Highlights: "Hold Up", "Don't Hurt Yourself", "Daddy Lessons", "Forward", "Formation"

10. See Us Through by Michelle Willis

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I discovered Michelle Willis through her collaborations with Snarky Puppy and with David Crosby. Crosby spoke extremely highly of her while preparing for his Lighthouse tour which included Willis along with Becca Stevens and Snarky Puppy's Michael League. Naturally, I was curious so I looked up her music. Turns out See Us Through is her debut album released last year. I listened to the entire album and absolutely fell in love. OH MY GOD!!! This album is gorgeous. Her voice is beautiful, the harmonies and instrumentation are spot on, and the songs are incredibly top-notch. I adore this album. I listened to it multiple times and even ordered it from Amazon because I NEEDED to own it. Please, if there's any album you should be curious to check out, it is THIS ONE!!! Michelle Willis is a beautiful soul and a force to be reckoned with. And as David Crosby put it: "Michelle Willis sounds like god on a good day."

Highlights: "It'll Rain Today", "Battlefield (A Letter To You)", "Persimmon"

11. Lighthouse by David Crosby

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For me, this was the most anticipated release of 2016. I have been waiting for this album since I heard that Michael League from Snarky Puppy was producing it. This was a great follow-up to their collaboration on Snarky Puppy's Family Dinner Vol. 2 album. Three songs were written in 3 days, and the entire album was recording in 12 days. Crosby and League co-wrote most of the songs and the results couldn't have been better. The entire album is completely acoustic with wonderful vocal harmonies from League, Becca Stevens and Michelle Willis, plus instrumental contributions from Cory Henry and Bill Laurence. The song topics range from true love, Syrian refugees, New York City, and the human spirit. It's a beautiful record and, in my opinion, ranks as Crosby's best solo effort along with his debut solo album.

Highlights: "By The Light Of Common Day", "Things We Do For Love", "Drive Out To The Desert"

12. Black America Again by Common

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This year was filled with politically charged albums, and Common's new album was one of the best. Common approaches his lyrics addressing racial and social issues that plague the black community from the perspective as an African-American. In the past, Common can tend to get a bit too preachy or superfluous, but here his message is well balanced. He communicates his perspective while also expressing empathy to all those whom these issues affect. Add in some wonderful production and instrumentation by Robert Glasper and you have a record that's musically rich and lyrically impactful.

Highlights: "Black America Again", "Pyramids", "Rain"

13. Blue Mountain by Bob Weir

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Another anticipated release this year. This album is a collection of newly written cowboy folk songs that describe Bob Weir's dreams of being a cowboy juxtaposed with his real life experience as a teenager working at a ranch in Wyoming, the state where he currently resides. With the help of members of the band The National, Weir's created an album that's atmospheric, intimate, and haunting. The Grateful Dead have always had the appeal of Americana, and Bob Weir's new album brings that notion full circle. 

Highlights: "Only A River", "Blue Mountain", "Gonesville", "Lay My Lilly Down"

14. A Sailor’s Guide To Earth by Sturgill Simpson

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I had only discovered Sturgill Simpson this past year when he announced his new album. His previous albums were produced by Dave Cobb, but this one was self-produced. Simpson has created a unique and dark country record that fits within the Americana spirit, containing other influences or R&B/Soul, folk, and rock. The album is written as a sailor's letter to his wife and son. His singing is great, the production is rich yet subtle, and every songs flows well. You find yourself on a journey with the 'sailor', finding your way through this world in search of perspective, meaning, and answers.

Highlights: "Call To Arms", "Welcome To Earth (Pollywog)", "In Bloom"

15. 22, A Million by Bon Iver

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Another anticipated release for 2016. Justin Vernon has been on a hot streak of various album projects including producing other artists and collaborations with Bruce Hornsby and Mavis Staples. After a nearly four year hiatus, Justin Vernon returns as Bon Iver with a new record. Here he presents a dramatic departure from both previous Bon Iver albums, embracing his abilities with electronic programming and sampling. 22, A Million is piece of work that is both creative and lyrically esoteric. What's most interesting is that this album crossed over into the Billboard Americana charts, marking perhaps the first electronic music influenced commercially released album to do so. Most of the songs are short, but the tracklist flows very well. The album bends genres and leaves the listener confused but pleased and wanting more. Vernon can do no wrong. 

Highlights: "33 "GOD"", "21 M◊◊N WATER", "8 (circle)", 

16. “Awaken, My Love!” by Childish Gambino

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I wasn't really much of a fan of Childish Gambino's previous work, but when a friend of mine shared with me the first single, I immediately fell in love. This album was a complete 180 from his normal work. It oozes influences of Funkadelic, Sly & The Family Stone. "Awaken, My Love!" is a completely sung hip-hop record full of great beats, funky instrumentation, and passionate non-autotuned lustful vocals from Donald Glover. Funkadelic and the Family Stone were known for blending rock, soul and funk, and Glover honors that tradition and influence with this passion project. It is unclear whether he'll make another record like this again, but at least we can be grateful for this great work of art.

Highlights: "Me and Your Mama", "Baby Boy", "Redbone", "Zombies"

17. We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest

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The tragic unexpected deaths of musicians in 2016 included legendary Tribe Called Quest member Phife Dawg. Before his death he managed to record a new album with his veteran hip-hop posse. The topics discussed in the album range from politics, blackness, and everything else in between. We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service was the first albums in 18 years by A Tribe Called Quest and easily ranks among the group's best work.

Highlights: "The Space Program", "Dis Generation", "Black Spasmodic", "The Donald"

18. Life by Knower

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Another surprise discovery courtesy of a Snarky Puppy collaboration. This album absolutely BLEW MY MIND when I heard it. The album is pure electronic funk. Great production. Funky drums and bass. The vocals are great and the songwriting is wild and creative. I highly recommend this release. It will melt your face off and you will not be disappointed.

Highlights: "Hanging On", "The Government Knows", "BUTTS TITS MONEY"

19. A Seat At The Table by Solange

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A surprise release from artist Solange Knowles. This record took many years to make, and results have exceeded all expectations. The album explores issues of racism, blackness, and identity. Musically, the album is well balanced with moments of subtlety and moments that are more aggressive. There are great samples and great features on this record and deserves multiple listens to really sink your teeth into it.

Highlights: "Mad", "Don't You Wait", "Don't Touch My Hair", "F.U.B.U."

20. Atrocity Exhibition by Danny Brown

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This was the last album of 2016 I listened to before finalizing the list. I saw it listed high on many other best of 2016 list, so I was pretty hyped. After listening to it, I was pretty satisfied. I never really listened to Danny Brown's style of rapping. His phrasing sounds very jazz-esque. His flow was great, the lyrics were great sounding, and the whole record was very rich musically containing influenced of R&B, neosoul, etc. It's definitely adventurous and diverse. I want to listen to it again.

Highlights: "Really Doe", "Pneumonia", "Ain't It Funny"

 [Tier 2 - 9]

21. Dissociation by The Dillinger Escape Plan
22. The Beautiful Game by Vulfpeck
23. Blank Face LP by ScHoolboy Q
24. Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
25. Midwest Farmer’s Daughter by Margo Price
26. This Is Where I Live by William Bell
27. Joint Effort by Tacuma Bradley’s Unity Band
28. Man Made Project by GoGo Penguin
29. Changes by Charles Bradley
30. Dig In Deep by Bonnie Raitt
31. Keep Me Singing by Van Morrison
32. Southern Family by Various Artists (Produced by Dave Cobb)
33. American Football by American Football
34. Love Letter For Fire by Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop
35. Rich Man by Doyle Bramhall II
36. The Dreaming Room by Laura Mvula
37. Velvet Portraits by Terace Martin
38. A Man Shaped Pool by Radiohead
39. Yes Lawd! by NxWorries
40. The Weight of These Wings by Miranda Lambert
41. Everything’s Beautiful by Robert Glasper
42. Aftersun by Bill Laurence
43. and the Anonymous Nobody by De La Soul
44. Magma by Gojira

 [Tier 3 - 8]

45. I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it by The 1975 
46. Mudcrutch 2 by Mudcrutch
47. The Colour In Anything by James Blake
48. Freetown Sound by Blood Orange
49. Malibu by Anderson .Paak
50. Blue &Lonesome by The Rolling Stones
51. Invention Of Knowledge by Anderson/Stolt
52. Fallen Angels by Bob Dylan
53. The Life of Pablo by Kanye West 
54. Post Pop Depression by Iggy Pop
55. Big Day In A Small Town by Brandy Clark
56. Schmilco by Wilco
57. Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka
58. 24K Magic by Bruno Mars
59. Till They Bang on the Door by Lucy Woodward
60. Cayamo Sessions At Sea by Buddy Miller & Friends
61. Stranger To Stranger by Paul Simon
62. Apache by Aaron Neville
63. Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not by Dinosaur Jr.
64. Livin’ On A High Note by Mavis Staples
65. Blues And Ballads (A Folksinger’s Songbook) Vol. I & II by Luther Dickinson
66. Soulsville by Beverley Knight
67. Love You To Death by Tegan and Sara

[Tier 4 - 7]

68. 4 Your Eyez Only by J. Cole
69. Full Circle by Loretta Lynn
70. Darkness & Light by John Legend
71. Let Me Get By by Tedeschi Trucks Band
72. American Tunes by Allen Toussaint
73. Someday/Somehow by Steve Porcaro
74. Fingers Crossed by Ian Hunter and the Rant Band
75. A Cure For Loneliness by Peter Wolf
76. Braver Than We Are by Meat Loaf
77. Blonde by Frank Ocean
78. SremmLife2 by Rae Sremmurd
79. Day Breaks by Norah Jones
80. Alone by The Pretenders
81. Bottomless Pit by Death Grips
82. blackSUMMERS'night by Maxwell 
83. Shine On Rainy Day by Brent Cobb
84. Hardwired…To Self-Destruct by Metallica
85. Loud Hailer by Jeff Beck
86. ArtScience by Robert Glasper Experiment

[Tier 5 - 6]

87. Radio Revolution by Green Day 
88. Leap of Faith by Timothy B. Schmit
89. Rehab Reunion by Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers
90. Big Boat by Phish
91. Greetings From Bunezuela by Bun E. Carlos
92. This Changes Everything by Jim Lauderdale
93. Santana IV by Santana
94. The Revival by Cory Henry
95. Joanne by Lady Gaga
96. Culcha Vulcha by Snarky Puppy
97. Beulah by John Paul White
98. Teens Of Denial by Car Seat Headrest
99. We’re All Gonna Die by Dawes
100. Heal Thyself Pt. 1: Instinct by Steven Page
101. Studio 2 by The Weeklings

Top 15 Songs of 2016

1.“Black America Again” by Common feat. Stevie Wonder (Lonnie Lynn/Stevie Wonder/Karriem Riggins/Kenny Clarke/Rita Greene/Jake Riley/George Clinton/Carlton Ridenhour/Eric Sadler/Hank Schocklee/James Brown/Robert Glasper) 

“What It Means” by Drive-By Truckers (Patterson Hood)

I had to put these two songs together because they present a similar message but from different perspectives. "Black America Again" is from the African-American perspective and "What It Means" is from the liberal white southerner's perspective. Both songs discuss issues of inequality, institutional racism, police brutality, prejudice, and justice for blacks and other minorities. These songs hold extreme relevance given the most recent events in the United States. Both achieve to communicate the message of recognizing these issues and inspiring listeners to do what it takes to overcome.

2. “Me & Magdalena” by The Monkees (Ben Gibbard)

This is a great song. It's difficult to explain why. The song is simple, yet emotional. The vocal performances from Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz are so subtle yet profound. Ben Gibbard's contribution to the new Monkees album was an unexpected delight. The song hits all the right nerves to release those bittersweet endorphins. I never get tired of hearing this song and I will be listening to it plenty more times in the future.

3. “Hideaway” by Jacob Collier (Jacob Collier)

This song has meant a lot to me during 2016. It helped me cope with a lot of emotional and lonely moments. The lyric is simple and direct, but it describes the idea of having your own space that only a few people can go. I have my own hideaway that very few people enter, but that is out of my control. I don't get many opportunities to truly let people in, and this song reminds me that is okay. It also reminds me that the answers I seek are inside myself, and if I look deep down I will find what I'm looking for. This was the first song Jacob wrote, and it's a mini-masterpiece of a production. The melody is rich and the harmonies give the song dynamic and presence.

4. “Only A River” by Bob Weir (Bob Weir/Josh Ritter/Josh Kaufman)

The first single and lead track off Bob Weir's new solo album Blue Mountain, "Only A River" is a reflective melancholy tale about growing up in a desert town, longing for the beauty and majesty of Shenandoah, D.C.. Again, it's difficult to explain why I think this song is great. Maybe it's because of my personal growing up in a desert town. Whatever the case, I'm always overcome with emotion when I hear this song and the rest of the album follows the same suit.

5. “Somebody Home” by Snarky Puppy feat. David Crosby (David Crosby)

Crosby described this song as an apology to all women from all men. The song is about how men see women and think that the exterior appearance is the gift when it's really only the gift wrapping. The real gift is what's inside the woman: who there are and what they're about. Crosby's performance here is raw and passionate, complimented by the sparseness of Bill Laurence's piano and Cory Henry's organ. "Somebody Home" is an honest sentiment of Crosby's love, admiration and affection for his wife. It's an honest sentiment of appreciation for those we love and care for.

6. “Pain” by De La Soul feat. Snoop Dogg (Supa Dave West/De La Soul)

I never thought I would be discussing a late career De La Soul track, but here it is. From there newest album and the Anonymous Nobody, "Pain" is a song simply about the pain we all go through and the steps we take to get through it. The instrumentation is smooth, catchy, and laid back, giving room for the words to breathe and make there impact. This also contains perhaps the best Snoop Dogg feature in a long time. Snoop owns his verse and it doesn't feel forced. His stream of consciousness approach compliments the song and never deviates away from the message. I highly recommend the album and this song will make the pain better and make you feel good.

7. “Here Comes A Thought” by Estelle & AJ Michalka (Rebecca Sugar)

I never thought a song from a modern kids cartoon would have so much depth and emotion. Then again, it is Steven Universe, a show that has proven itself to demonstrate pure emotion and depth that young people identify with and relate to. This song is perhaps the epitome of how the show achieves it. "Here Comes A Thought" is about the thoughts and motions we as people go through when he have done wrong towards someone, whether intentional or not, and the guilt that haunts our state of mind. The fear, confusion, and guilt consumes us to the point where we feel that we lose ourselves and everything is in shambles. The song reminds us that things are never as bad as they seem and finding the comfort to know that things will be okay. Estelle and AJ Michalka give a beautiful performance here. If you haven't seen the show, go watch it. It's delightful. And if you ever feel guilt about to overtake you, meditate and listen to this song. It will be okay.

8. “She Makes Me Laugh” by The Monkees (Rivers Cuomo)

This song pure unadulterated sentimental bliss. It's so goddamn happy I could cry. This song will brighten anyone's day. What more can I say. Just stake a listen.

9. “It’ll Rain Today” by Michelle Willis (Michelle Willis)

This song is absolutely beautiful. Everything about it beautiful. Michelle's vocals, her piano playing, the harmonies, the production, the lyrics. The song is about being trapped in the fear and darkness and seeking out the light that will help you carry on. This song makes me feel good and it will make you feel good with every listen.

10. “Drive It Like You Stole It” by Sing Street (Gary Clark)

An anthem of the disenfranchised teenage youth from the perspective of a teenage Irish boy in Dublin 1985. The film Sing Street, directed by Once director John Carney, contains new songs that are pastiches of popular 1980s songs. "Drive It Like You Stole It" is one part "Maneater" by Hall & Oates and one part "Gold" by Spandau Ballet. But the song stands as it's own piece of art. The song is about the longing for freedom to fulfill your dreams without anything holding you back. It's a crime that this song wasn't nominated for a Golden Globe nor an Oscar give John Carney's track record. It's memorable, catchy, and thrilling. You'll definitely want to see this movie.