Vanguard’s top tunes of 2016

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Madison: My favorite songs are always attached to a wonderful memory or I like how they make me feel. I think that out of the songs released in 2016, I have to say “Closer” by The Chainsmokers is my favorite. If I am being completely honest, I have never really paid attention to the band before the release of this song. I remember the first day that I truly paid attention to the song was on my best friend’s wedding day. We were driving around in between the wedding and the reception, and we were all taking turns DJ-ing. When my friend played “Closer” and we all started singing along, it was one of those moments that makes you really happy to be alive. Because of that, I will always love that song and the memories attached to it.

Tori: To many of us, 2016 was a year punctuated by too much death and political anxiety. It is fitting that one of my favorite songs of the year was “Who Tells Your Story” by The Roots (featuring Common & Ingrid Michaelson) from “The Hamilton Mixtape.” I am cheating a bit because the original soundtrack for “Hamilton” was released in 2015, but the mixtape makes a name for itself not only in its star-studded cast but also in reimagined styles and lyrics. It reminds us history is still unfolding today, shedding much-needed perspective on 2016. “Who Tells Your Story” is remarkable in its catchy beat and pointed lyrics. It examines American history from a black perspective in keeping with the musical’s themes. Common writes himself into the story, too, reminding us we have the ability to carve our own way in history by the actions we take today. In a sobering year, it was an important takeaway.

Maria: Two of my favorite bands released albums in 2016, Panic! at the Disco’s “Death of a Bachelor” and The 1975’s “I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it.” I would have to say my favorite song off “Death of a Bachelor” would be “Impossible Year.” The slow ballad gives off a Sinatra-esque vibe that occurs in several songs on the album. It is different than anything else Panic! at the Disco has done, and I think it is a unique change. I am seeing Panic! at the Disco in March, and I could not be more excited to see how their new style sounds live.

Dylan: As someone who rarely, if at all, listens to the radio, it is a little difficult for me to pinpoint exactly what my favorite song of 2016 was. However, even if no one cares about or has never heard of them, the British pop-punk band Moose Blood put out a fairly strong record in 2016, and the single “Honey” has been one that has always sunk its talons into me. The song itself is not super special, by any means, but it is its catchy melody, vague-enough-to-relate-to-yet-specific-enough-to-not-feel-contrived lyrics and overall bouncy feel that makes it a hard one to put down after a couple of listens. Not only that, but as Michigan goes through its sporadic changes throughout the winter, it is always good to remind yourself that whatever issues you are having will definitely “pass like the weather.”

Joshua: I wanted to write about a song from Modest Mouse’s “Strangers to Ourselves” (2015), or Spoon’s “They Want My Soul” (2014), or something from Margot’s Slingshot to Heaven (2014) or even David Gilmour’s “Rattle that Lock” (2015), but then I realized it has been over a year since I have listened to a new album. Which was a problem. But, then, by the grace of rock, I remembered that David Bowie released “Blackstar” shortly before his death in 2016. The track “Lazarus,” particularly, is excellent. It is moving and nostalgic, while the production maintains a modern edge. For example, distorted guitars act as musical texture while reverb-laden brass play forlorn melodies which are seemingly pervasive elements in contemporary indie-rock. And, while “Lazarus” is more profound due to Bowie’s death, it still shows that after decades of changing styles and evolution, he was still writing interesting and compelling music comparable to today’s best acts.