The 25 Best Songs of 2016 (So Far)

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The 25 Best Songs of 2016 (So Far)

Yesterday we shared The 25 Best Albums of 2016 (So Far), but a great single can hold as much power as a full LP, if not more, so today we’re focused on the best songs of 2016 so far. In this mid-year poll Paste staff, writers, and interns voted for the best tracks thus far, resulting in a range of more pop-oriented songs than we often highlight. Get these songs stuck in your head and check out the 25 Best Songs of 2016 (So Far) below.

25. Kristin Kontrol, “X-Communicate”
When Kristin Welchez, better known as Dee Dee of the Dum Dum Girls, visualized the idea for her new pop-centered project Kristin Kontrol, she began to make the music that she longed for during her garage pop days. Comparing herself to “Kate Bush covering Mariah,” Welchez’s debut solo effort is a shimmering, energetic collection of ‘80s progressive pop not unlike an amalgamation of David Bowie, Siouxsie Sioux, and Debbie Gibson. The album’s titular track “X-Communicate” is a prime example of this bizarre combination—dark but danceable, effervescent but sill emotive. Pulsating synths outline the track’s blatant pop influence, but the sharp guitars of the songs ending cadence help to retain the post-punk edge that permeates Welchez’s discography. Kristin takes total control her music, with “X-Communicate” finding Welchez in her highest spirits and confidence. —Kurt Suchman

24. Charles Bradley, “Change for the World”
This year’s been a rough one so far. Too many lives lost to guns. Too many discriminated against for whom they love. Too many political decisions based on fear. But in swoops Charles Bradley—the Screaming Eagle of Soul—to save us in “Change for the World” with achingly relevant lyrical admonitions amidst uplifting brass. Unlike his previous work, however, Bradley begins this song with spoken word before unleashing his soulful howls and seductive croons. Because if Bradley, a man who has known trouble and trauma, is insisting we do better in this world, then we best listen. —Hilary Saunders

23. Angel Olsen, “Intern”
Angel Olsen’s parables never let you down easy, and unsurprisingly, “Intern” deals with the crushing realities of life, too. We all have a way of feeling inadequate in whatever we do, whether that’s manning a Fortune 500 company or selling dreamcatchers on Etsy. In a sense, everyone is an intern—the novice trying to make sense of it all with nervous laughter and a rumble strip of sweat across their forehead. Sure, you know how to make a pie chart on Excel (sort of) and can brew a decent cup of coffee (sort of), but what of it? You start tilting at windmills in your cubicle and think about what it might be like to fall in love for the last time. Olsen swiftly shuts this down and lets us know it’s not the last time for anything, and probably won’t ever be for as long as we’re going through the motions of this “internship.” Sorry everyone, there’s no daydreaming in society proper. —Mady Thuyein

22. Frankie Cosmos, “On the Lips”
“On the Lips” is the anthem for Craigslist Missed Connections, perfectly capturing the yearning for a second chance with the lyrics “Sometimes I cry cause I know / I’ll never have all the answers / Separated by a subway transfer.” Through the dream pop song isn’t even two minutes long, each word carries a weight, not wasting a second of the song. Disguised by the song’s misleading upbeatness and singer Greta Kline’s soft and melodic voice, the song details a subway ride where lead singer Kline reflects on if she should have reached out to a stranger at on a subway until he leaves the train car: “I watch you disappear / As my train rolls away.” —Lily Lou

21. Twin Peaks, “Walk to the One You Love”
“I will let you walk to the one you love, but tell me, who is the one you love?” Tale as old as time, right? But just because this is an unrequited love story doesn’t mean it’s mopey. On the contrary, “Walk to the One You Love” off of this year’s Down in Heaven is just as catchy as we’d expect from Twin Peaks, full of T. Rex-inspired riffs, an insistence that “I won’t cry or beg for you to stay” and a general feeling that as long as the Chicago band keeps churning out tracks like this, everything’s gonna turn out just fine. —Bonnie Stiernberg

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