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Best of 2016

The 20 Best Songs of 2016

From Rae Sremmurd to Christina Aguilera to—well, you'll just have to read to find out who nabbed our #1 spot—Fuse picks the best songs from 2016

20
20 / 20

“Fuck Donald Trump," YG & Nipsey Hussle

The most flagrant anthem of wokeness this year is a stark deviation from Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 staple, “Alright.” "Fuck Donald Trump" took on two essential lives—first as a loud, visceral taunt against the racist bully liar who could never possibly win the White House, and second as a cheer-up, a rev-up, a pour-up-in-despair banger. – Zach Dionne

19
19 / 20

EXO, "Monster"

The K-pop phenoms proved why they're still at the top of the game with this pristine pop smash. While the dark, hip-hop sound pulls the listener in initially, it's that undeniable chorus that layers the ninesome's boy-band harmonies, staccato-notes and ad-libs for another level of pop perfection. – Jeff Benjamin

18
18 / 20

"Lazarus," David Bowie

In a hurry or a playlist-y mindset, there are a few one-off songs you can play from David Bowie’s perfect final album, hauntingly released two days before his death. “Lazarus” is the most versatile, modern and sorcerous. We go to it often still, and will for years to come. – Zach Dionne

17
17 / 20

"Million Reasons," Lady Gaga

The verdict is still out on where Joanne will sit in Lady Gaga's diverse discography, but one thing for sure is that "Million Reasons" is one of her best ever. The country-tinged ballad saw Gaga working with actual Nashville songwriters (including Hillary Lindsey on backup vocals) to craft an honest, heartbreak tune that made the out-of-this-world diva—astonishingly—human. – Jeff Benjamin

16
16 / 20

"The Sound," The 1975

One of the year's most exuberant singles, this undeniable track gets stuck in your head with its chant-y chorus but gets lodged in your heart for the out-there love lyrics like: "We left things to protect my mental health / But you'll call me when you're bored and you're playing with yourself." – Jeff Benjamin

15
15 / 20

"Friends," Francis and the Lights feat. Bon Iver

The video reeled us in by putting Kanye West and Bon Iver in the same place again, but it took only one time through for us to not care that ’Ye contributed zero actual sounds. (He just wanted to hang out, okay?) Plenty early listeners of Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book wondered if Francis—a person, not a group; surname Starlite—was just a Bon Iver ripoff. Turned out the two are collaborators in pushing the frontier of symphonic, voice-meets-computer art. And while both guys' albums were individually excellent and played with lots of the same toys, their infinitely replayable collaboration brought us more joy than most things in 2016. – Zach Dionne

14
14 / 20

"Telepathy," Christina Aguilera feat. Nile Rodgers

Despite our hopes she’d drop a new album this year, 2016 has been relatively quiet for Christina Aguilera. Still, she managed to drop a few gems to hold fans over. Released for the soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down, “Telepathy” captures the disco vibes of the show, set in the late '70s. With smooth and sexy vocals, Aguilera once again proves her versatility as a singer. The track, a collaboration with the iconic Nile Rodgers, is the most-successful original song off The Get Down soundtrack and even hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart, which moved Xtina to drop a fun, homemade video for it as a "thank you" to fans. We hope this means more disco-inspired jams on X’s next studio album, reportedly set for an early 2017 release. – Mark Sundstrom

13
13 / 20

"Heathens," Twenty One Pilots

Even though Twenty One Pilots' latest album contained some powerful breakout singles, it was their song for the Suicide Squad soundtrack that gave 2016 a run for its money. The lyrics have you questioning everyone around you, and more bleakly, it can be interpreted as a comment on mass shootings and how you'd never expect your neighbor to be the psychopath. The production is equally as creepy and spacey, while still encouraging you to scream and head-bang appropriately. It's eerie for a radio hit, but maybe that's just how we were all feeling this year. – Emilee Lindner

12
12 / 20

"Starboy," The Weeknd

Who knew MJ-tinged songs with arena-sized choruses and oodles of oohs and ahhs could still hit us this hard? The Weeknd loudly announced his third album with grabby cover art, a dramatic title and an equally dramatic hairvolution. The next day, the title track immediately assured us that this Canadian's still all about the music, the songcraft, no matter how huge he's gotten. His narrative loops lost all their élan midway through 2015’s Beauty Behind the Madness, and nothing changed this time, but it’s still staggering that this guy’s written a pop song this vital with “Can’t Feel My Face” still moonwalking so close in the rearview. – Zach Dionne

11
11 / 20

"One Dance," Drake feat. Kyla, Wizkid

Drake’s done this magic trick twice: in 2015, he put out “Back to Back” and “Hotline Bling” in two days; this year, “One Dance” and “Pop Style” in a single April breath. An event-rap song (RIP Meek; hi, The Throne) and a breezy dance-floor ditty. Neither time did the rap song win.

Like “Hotline Bling,” “One Dance” crept to crazy, weeks-and-weeks-and-weeks longevity on the Hot 100. But “Bling” only got to No. 2—“Dance” shot Drizzy to his first No. 1 as lead artist. And it did it without a standalone music video (remember, those streams count), much less a viral one that became the owner of 1 billion memes and YouTube views. “One Dance” is just that much of a step up, from Drake’s vocal performance to the way Views MVPs 40 and Nineteen85 deliver the old-school sample. It really doesn’t matter if your favorite on the album was “Controlla,” “Too Good” or “The Meme Song”—“One Dance” was the Drake single of 2016. – Zach Dionne

10
10 / 20

"This Is What You Came For," Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna

Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris never intended to reveal that Swift actually wrote "This Is What You Came For," sung by Rihanna. But after a weird breakup and some speculation that Swift's vocals were on the track, she came forward as the songwriter behind pen name Nils Sjoberg. Despite the drama around the ditty, the dance track is still one of the catchiest of the year. With a glittery video and uniquely singalong chorus, you can't help but bob around to it. – Emilee Lindner

9
9 / 20

"Dang!," Mac Miller feat. Anderson .Paak

With a retro, cruisin' beat and funky, upstrokin' guitar, "Dang!" has Mac Miller and Anderson .Paak feeling frustrated about their lady situations. Mac's verses flow freely and easily, with one of them declaring so epicly, "I just eat pussy, other people need food." Add those juicy horns and a trippy breakdown at the end, and "Dang!" is one of the most feel-good tracks of 2016. – Emilee Lindner

8
8 / 20

"Black Beatles," Rae Sremmurd

Rae Sremmurd already proved they are a force to be reckoned with in the hip-hop world, but that status became even more undeniable once “Black Beatles” descended into our ears and catapulted Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee even further into the mainstream arena. Mike WiLL Made-It’s brilliant synths and New Wave–inspired production drifts you away to another dimension, while the brothers' melodic flow are almost as artful as the Fab Four. If you thought rappers couldn’t be rock stars before, Rae Sremmurd have permanently crushed that stigma. – Bianca Gracie

7
7 / 20

"Panda," Desiigner

Never forget the first time you heard "Panda." The first time you heard the then-unknown rapper's "bllllllaah" and "geeet geet geet." The first time you heard him liken a white X6 and a black X6 to a panda. The first time it became the No. 1 song in the nation. The first time you actually saw Desiigner perform in his full energetic glory. Remember this. – Emilee Lindner

6
6 / 20

"Side to Side," Ariana Grande feat. Nicki Minaj

Who knew that Ariana Grande's song about having so much sex that it hurts to walk would be so fun? With a dancehall flair and a questionable verse from Nicki Minaj, you have to admit, this track is a blast. – Emilee Lindner

5
5 / 20

"24K Magic," Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars returned to the scene in the most lavish way possible with “24K Magic,” his first solo single since 2012. It displays what Bruno does best: putting a fresh spin on classic funk and R&B. Every inch of the song is packed with feel good vibes, from the Talkbox introduction to the retro synthesizer melodies and the West Coast G-funk swagger. I definitely plan to ring in the New Year grooving to “24K Magic” with a bottle of champagne in hand, feeling #blessed of course. – Bianca Gracie

4
4 / 20

"Needed Me," Rihanna

“Didn’t they tell you that I was a savage?” A single line uttered so calmly by Rihanna soon became a defiant statement for women across the world. It flooded our Twitter timelines, was the cause for rifts in relationships, was the go-to caption for photos and transformed into an inescapable anthem on the charts, radio and clubs. The star’s “Needed Me” is one of her most minimalist singles to date, but that’s the beauty of it. The execution is flawless, from the chilling vocals that could slice the coldest of hearts to the trap-laced atmospheric production courtesy of DJ Mustard. Thanks to Rih, it gave us girls the power to feel confident enough to toss out the fuckboys in our lives as quickly as we change our lipstick. – Bianca Gracie

3
3 / 20

"No Problem," Chance the Rapper feat. 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne

Chance wanted us to know he’d seriously leveled up for his third mixtape, dropping this song just before setting Coloring Book loose. Where 2013’s Acid Rap had Childish GambinoTwista and Action Bronson, the tape once known as Chance 3 had Lil fucking Wayne and 2 goddamned Chainz. Lots more of rap’s tallest titans, too, but none of them in this tight, bright or topical a package. 

Weezy, then 33, and Chance, barely 23, torch record labels from completely opposite ends of the music industry. Tity Boi comes in with just the chorus of Petey Pablo’s “Raise Up" recited really fast, then gives us a new GOAT couplet, "Aye aye, captain / I'm high, captain." The chorus tickles kids from one to 92. Chano’s punchy dance moves get their exact right soundtrack. And we remember, every time, just how much life a single beat can give us. – Zach Dionne

2
2 / 20

"Cranes in the Sky," Solange

2016 was one of the roughest years I’ve experienced in a long time, but I always tried to keep it together and not let emotions get the best of me. But the first time I heard “Cranes in the Sky,” I couldn’t help but rip down that wall blocking my heart and cry. Its immediate vulnerability was soothing and gave a sense of comfort that things will get better. What makes the song so stunning is its mystery, as Solange isn’t singing about a certain topic. “I tried to drink it away, I tried to put one in the air / I tried to dance it away, I tried to change it with my hair,” she whispers in the opening verse. She never goes into what that “it” is referring to, but the song still tugged at endless heartstrings. Whatever you’re going through, if it was a bad breakup or the end of a longtime friendship, you were able to resonate with such simple lyrics that held the weight of a thousand tears. If you were still fighting the urge to cry, just give “Cranes in the Sky” a single listen, take a deep breath and let it go.  – Bianca Gracie

1
1 / 20

"Formation," Beyoncé

The word “slay” has been used in the drag and LGBT scene for years, but Beyoncé breathed new life into the word with Lemonade’s “Formation.” “Slay” became an unapologetic statement piece for Black women all over the world, who don’t give a fuck what you think about our glorious afros or our resilience to preserve our culture that many have tried to rip from our hands. Yes, Beyoncé gravels on about styling on her haters, having a penchant for hot sauce and post-sex seafood meals over Mike WiLL Made-It’s rubbery, club-ready production. But she’s also pushing for us to come together and stand powerful as a unit. Through all of the police brutality against our Black sons, we still rise. Despite racists continuing to spit in our faces just like their ancestors did, we still rise. Even though America elected a president who could care less about our well-being, we will still find a way to fight in formation. – Bianca Gracie

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