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The 100 essential songs of 2016

Editorial Staff

2016 will likely be remembered for the great artists we lost, but lest we forget there was some truly fantastic music that came out this year. As we approach 2017, we here at CBC Music along with our colleagues at Radio 2 and q were tasked to pare down this year in recorded music, distilling the highlights till we found what we believe are 2016’s essential songs.

Before we begin, a few notes about the methodology: These are songs that were in high rotation on Radio 2 that were then ranked by their performance in digital sales, national airplay and peak chart position on the Radio 2 Top 20. Representatives from q, CBC Music editorial and Radio 2 were then asked to determine songs that were editorially significant. These songs were then ranked alongside the Radio 2 list on sales and spins, and voila, we had a list of 100 songs that were sorted purely based on math.

So, without further ado, here are CBC Music's essential songs of 2016.

100. Mavis Staples, "High Note"
99. The Head and the Heart, "All We Ever Knew"
98. Big Little Lions, "Fills Me Up"
97. Bon Iver, "33 'GOD'"

96. Nigel Hall, "Gimme a Sign"
95. Alysha Brilla, "No More Violence"
94. White Lung, "Below"
93. Tory Lanez, "Luv"
92. Julian Taylor Band, "Set Me Free"
91. Tafari Anthony, "Know Better"
90. Sara Hartman, "Satellite"
89. Regina Spektor, "Bleeding Heart"
88. Blue Rodeo, "I Can't Hide This Anymore"
87. Chloe Charles, "Smiling"
86. Son Little, "Toes"
85. Charlotte Day Wilson, "Work"

84. Harrison Brome, "Midnight Island"
83. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, "I'm Still Here"
82. Gregory Porter, "Don't Lose Your Steam"
81. Jain, "Come"
80. Santigold, "Can't Get Enough of Myself"
79. Gord Downie, "The Stranger"
78. A Tribe Called Quest, "We the People"

77. Megan Bonnell, "Can't Have You"
76. Tim Moxam, "Harvest for the Queen"
75. Nuela Charles, "Crumbling Down"
74. Blood Orange, "Best to You"
73. Dylan Menzie, "Kenya"
72. Mitski, "Your Best American Girl"

71. Jessy Lanza, "It Means I Love You"
70. John K Samson, "Vampire Alberta Blues"
69. Tor Miller, "Always"
68. Tami Neilson, "Holy Moses"
67. Andrew Bird, "Capsized"
66. Declan McKenna, "Brazil"
65. Royal Wood, "Long Way Out"
64. Tanika Charles, "Soul Run"

63.Laura Mvula, "Phenomenal Woman"
62. Jim Bryson, "Depression Dance"
61. Scenic Route to Alaska, "Love Keeps"
60. Matt Andersen, "Honest Man"
59. Oh Pep!, "Doctor Doctor"
58. Charles Bradley, "Ain't It a Sin"

57. Chantal Kreviazuk, "All I Got"
56. Lizzo, "Good as Hell"
55. Chance the Rapper, "Blessings"
54. Donovan Woods, "On the Nights You Stay Home"
53. The Zolas, "Get Dark"
52. David Myles, "it Don't Matter"
51. Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Dark Necessities"
50. Arkells, "Drake's Dad"

49. Charlotte Cardin, "Big Boy"
48. Begonia, "Juniper"
47. Solange, "Cranes in the Sky"
46. Bastille, "Good Grief"
45. BADBADNOTGOOD, "Time Moves Slow"
44. Jack Garratt, "Worry"
43. TUNS, "Mind Over Matter"
42. Andy Shauf, "The Magician"

41. Little Scream, "Love As a Weapon"
40. Aurora, "Conqueror"
39. Rae Sremmurd, "Black Beatles"
38. Rihanna, "Kiss is Better"
37. Fitz and the Tantrums, "HandClap"
36. High Valley, "Every Week's Got a Friday"
35. Banners, "Start a Riot"
34. Bob Moses, "Tearing Me Up"
33. Sia, "The Greatest"
32. Tegan and Sara, "Boyfriend"
31. Desiree Dawson, "Hide"
30. Frank Ocean, "Pink + White"
29. BROS, "Tell Me"

28. Tanya Tagaq, "Centre"
27. Kings of Leon, "Waste a Moment"
26. Reuben and the Dark, "Heart in Two"
25. Leonard Cohen, "You Want It Darker"
24. Michael Kiwanuka, "Black Man in a White World"
23. Basia Bulat, "Infamous"
22. Case/Lang/Veirs, "Atomic Number"
21. Cage the Elephant, "Trouble"
20. Radiohead, "Burn The Witch"
19. A Tribe Called Red, "R.E.D"

18. David Bowie, "Lazarus"
17. Hannah Georgas, "Don't Go"
16. Kaytranda, "Lite Spots"
15. Adele, "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)"
14. Kaleo, "Way Down We Go"
13. Sam Roberts Band, "If You Want It"
12. Joseph, "White Flag"
11. Bobby Bazini, "C'est La Vie"
10. Alessia Cara, "Outlaws"
9. Ria Mae, "Gold"
8. The Weeknd, "Starboy"
7. The Tragically Hip, "In a World Possessed By the Human Mind"
6. Wintersleep, "Amerika"

5. The Chainsmokers, "Closer"
4. Beyonce, "Hold Up"
3. Serena Ryder "Got Your Number"
2. The Lumineers, "Ophelia"
1. Drake, "One Dance"

Hear these countdowns on CBC Radio 2 at the following dates and times:

The Essential Songs of 2016, hosted by Raina Douris
A countdown of the most essential songs of the year. Our Essential Songs of 2016 is a snapshot of all the great music Canadians streamed, heard on the radio, and read about online at, all through 2016.
Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016
7:00 p.m. to midnight (7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. NT)

Radio 2 Morning with Raina Douris, featuring Radio 2’s Top 100 Songs of 2016
Join Radio 2 Morning host Raina Douris as she counts down your favourite songs heard on Radio 2 this year, all based on national airplay, digital sales and their peak position on the Radio 2 Top 20 in 2016.
Monday, Jan. 2, 2017
6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. (6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. NT)