• 2016 was the year we went back to the jungle with Guns N’ Roses, lost “Starman” David Bowie but dubbed the Weeknd Starboy, and drank Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Here are some of the songs and albums that sculpted this crazy year for us here at Occur:

     

    BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Blink-182 – California
    Does this have the emotional heft of Frank Ocean’s Blonde or Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker? Not by a long shot. But its success lies with pinch-hitter Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio. He simultaneously brought the goth and the humor back to Blink-182 as original guitarist Tom DeLonge departed.

     

    BEST EP OF THE YEAR: Lush – Blind Spot
    Another reunion does a body and a soul good. Shoegaze in all its glory.

     

    BEST REISSUE: The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
    The marketing selling point is the foreword by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame, but the treasure is the outtakes and demos of these powerful, poetic songs.

     

    BEST SONG OF THE YEAR: Thao & the Get Down Stay Down - “Nobody Dies”
    The folk/hip-hop experimentalist wows us once more.

     

    WORST SONG OF THE YEAR: Fall Out Boy and Missy Elliott – “Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid)”
    This pair slimed all over the feel-good original. Some might say the movie remake did the same to the ’80s classic.

     

    BEST SURPRISINGLY GOOD ALBUM: Day of the Dead
    The lineup was impeccable: Sharon Van Etten, Charles Bradley, Unknown Mortal Orchestra… but being that the Grateful Dead are a cult band, it was risky to put out this tribute without angering hardcore fans or boring youthful listeners. Thankfully, artists such as the War on Drugs nail the beloved Jerry Garcia songs.

     

    BEST ALBUM NO ONE HEARD:  Wu-Tang Clan – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin
    And the situation could not have been stranger: Revered rap group releases a single copy of their much-anticipated album; villainous pharma mogul buys it and holds it hostage unless another villainous mogul wins the American presidency. Viola, he does, and we get morsels of Shaolin. Greed is good?

     

    CRITICS’ FAVORITE ALBUM TO JACK OFF TO: Any album that got a “surprise” release (Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool…) Stop it, marquee musicians. The jig is up.

     

    BEST REASON TO RAID YOUR PARENTS’ ALBUM COLLECTION: Can we agree that 2016 was a banner year for legacy acts? Bowie, Cohen, the Rolling Stones and Neil Young all released albums this year. Not too shabby, seniors.

     

    BEST REASON TO RAID YOUR YOUNGER SIBLING’S ALBUM COLLECTION, THEN DESTROY IT: Meghan Trainor – Thank You
    No thank you, Miss Trainor. Our taste in you is “No.”

     

    BEST MUSIC VIDEO: Marilyn Manson – “Say10”
    Taking freedom of speech to its farthest level, the god of f—k decapitates Donald Trump. (Watch at The Daily Beast.)

     

    BEST LYRICS: “I’m a stone’s throw from everyone I love and know / But I can’t show up looking like I do.” (Conor Oberst, “Tachycardia”)
    Our generation’s Bob Dylan does it again on his latest solo record.

     

    BEST (CHEEKY) LYRICS: “You know what they say, yeah / The wicked get no rest.” (Cage the Elephant, “Trouble”)
    It tickles our hearts that Cage the Elephant have been around long enough to reference their own songs from nearly a decade ago.

     

    THE "DON’T TELL MY COOL HIPSTER FRIENDS I LIKE THIS ALBUM" AWARD: The Suicide Squad soundtrack
    Because Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco is pretty much the only person still living on the planet who does an adequate cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

     

    THE "DON’T TELL MY COOL HIPSTER FRIENDS I LIKE THIS SONG" AWARD: Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Dark Necessities”
    Funk-soul frat boys go jazzy? Count us in.

     

    BEST LIVE ACT: Kendrick Lamar
    The Grammys performance gave us chills. Expect the same on his tour.

     

    BEST EMERGING BAND/ARTIST: Cocofunka
    These Costa Rican rockers have been around since 2008 but made a splash in the States with the addictive 2016 single “Chúcaro.”

     

    BEST COMEBACK: Again, Blink-182
    What’s their age again? Who cares? They still rule. (Honorable mentions to Tribe Called Quest and Lush, but they’ve signed off again.)

     

    LEAST WELCOMED COMEBACK: Metallica
    We truly hope they are Hardwired to Self-Destruct, cos they’re past their prime.

     

    THE "OMG I WANNA HAVE YOUR BABIES" AWARD (MALE): Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day.
    Both of his sons turned into musicians, so he’s doing something right.

     

    THE "OMG I WANNA ADOPT A BABY WITH YOU" AWARD (FEMALE): Shirley Manson of Garbage.
    Pink hair into her 50s? Rawk.

     

    MUSIC-RELATED AWESOMENESS I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2017: A possible(?) reunion of the Smashing Pumpkins with D’Arcy; new music from Letters to Cleo and Save Ferris; the No Doubt-AFI supergroup DREAMCAR; maybe possibly finally hearing a new Tool record

     

    Lead image credits: Press, HR Booking, Sacks & Co.

     

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