Let it be known that we here at Howl & Echoes are not just a bunch of hardened, arrogant cynics. Sure, there has been some terrible music in 2016, and we were recently quite happy to tell you all about our deep loathing of it, but we consider that to be our one-time exception. The reason we do what we do is because we’re fans. We’re obsessed with listening to music, with loving music, with finding feeling in it.
2016 has been a wild musical soiree of hedonistic proportions. We have been shamelessly gorging on all the amazing sonic ambrosia that has been bestowed upon us over the last six months, so much so that any attempt at a top ten list would be not only unfair, but impossible. So in our best interest and yours, we narrowed it down to a scorching playlist of 100 tracks instead.
It has certainly been a year of girl power. With a force that makes the mother of dragons look like Mother Theresa the queens of pop unleashed albums that will be battling for the top spot on many end of year lists. We are of course talking about Rihanna (Anti) and Beyonce (Lemonade) who packaged up raw emotional honesty with flawless production and exceeded all already towering expectations. Then we are supposed to pick just one song from each? Please.
The males certainly haven’t been slouching either. 2016 has been spearheaded by ridiculous album from Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, James Blake, Drake, Radiohead and David Bowie among others. Any day in 2016 could be like Christmas day, and we haven’t even got to the Australian releases yet. You might just wake up to an album from your favourite artist sneakily dropped in the middle of the night like a gift down the chimney from a sonically gifted Santa. The rules have changed, and while the era of the surprise release might just be another marketing ploy in some cases, it has opened the door for a time when you can be subjected to three albums from the biggest names in music in a single week and no one bats an eyelid.
Then there was Kanye, let’s not forget Kanye. So Help Me God, Swish, Waves, The Life of Pablo got more media attention than if every celebrity sex tape ever was broadcast in the Play School time slot. I have cultural fatigue even reliving those tumultuous weeks of tweets and memes. Despite a very mixed critical reception and solidification of the widespread suspicion that West is actually insane, there was still some Yeezy magic among the wreckage.
While there was enough going on in the international the limelight to distract us all, there was also plenty of gems coming from home. The Avalanches finally appeared from a sixteen year long hiatus with two singles and album Wildflower due out July 8 in the lead up to their much anticipated Splendour in the Grass performance. Flume also flexed his production muscles with a vast and eclectic release, Skin.
Without further ado, Howl & Echoes is proud to present our top 100 songs of the year so far.
This is brought to you as a collaborative effort from our entire editorial team. Also, as this list has been made on Spotify, there’s a whole bunch of tracks we love that we couldn’t include, but we’ve done what we can. Enjoy!