Written by: the interns

the interns’ Best Songs Of 2016

Kanye West – Father Stretch My Hands Pt.2

Kanye‘s The Life of Pablo is a gorgeous, sprawling mess that was just dripping with creative juice, almost to its own detriment. Ideas were splattered across the project that alternated between laborious commitment (No More Parties in LA runs over six minutes), subdued introspection (Wolves, FML, Ultralight Beam) and, perhaps best of all, the warpspeed blurs of sheer chaos.

Pt. 2 captures that anarchy in a bottle, then proceeds to throw said bottle at a brick wall. It bursts out of the gate as an intense, unravelling confessional before darting to Desiigner’s Panda, cutting across to Caroline Shaw channeling Laurie Anderson and before you can blink, Pt. 2 wraps with the Pastor T.L. Barrett sample that it opened with. Contrary to most pieces on this list that were finely curated, refined pieces of carefully handled art, Pt. 2 shines because it lets itself be a mess. Kanye West welcomes it. This excursion into the mind of music’s most polarising mastermind is brief, but it’s impactful enough to still be a highlight at the end of 2016. – Reece Hooker

Blood Orange – Best To You

Blood Orange‘s Freetown Sound was so expertly weaved together that it feels criminal to break it apart but if one songs survives solely on its own it’s the Empress Of-featuring Best To You. Its sonic backdrop is flirtatious and light-hearted but the lyrical content is heartbreak. Best To You is a cry for attention, a desperate attempt to save a relationship that may not even be worth it in the end. Throughout, Hynes acts a steady-hand and a friend to Empress Of, serving as the voice in her head that asks whether it’s all worth it in the end. Empowerment runs deep through Hynes’ Freetown Sound and even though his backing vocals on this track are a minute detail, it’s him telling a friend (and everyone who is giving more that they’re getting) that she’s better than this and that’s the main takeaway here. – Sam Murphy

Tourist – Run

Retaining a spot amongst our favourites from the mid-year placings, there is a reason Run has instilled itself as one of this year’s premium dance tracks. It’s a track that beckons movement through all the emotion packed in the sound. Alone or in the club, it’s a jack-of-all-trades, euphoric anthem that has had us talking all year. Dance music needed something fresh, better yet the scene lacked a producer like Tourist and what he has embodied in both Run and his incredible debut album U is nothing short of a masterpiece. Everything we said about Tourist and Run mid-year still sticks, and if his return down under for Laneway Festival early next year doesn’t get you excited than you best go lock yourself away in a room and chuck on U because we cannot wait! – Harrison Kefford

Ariana Grande – Into You

Honestly, the fact that this didn’t become an instant smash hit should have been our first warning that 2016 was doomed. While our latex-bunny-eared heroine came through on a dick bicycle with Side to Side later in the year and lit up the charts, I can’t help but feel Into You didn’t get the commercial acclaim it deserved. From the opening notes to the soaring chorus, Into You is one of the most perfect slices of ‘big’ pop perfection we’ve had in years. – Matthew Fiacchi

Bon Iver – 33 “God”

33 “God” is a direct descendant of the dark twisted fantasy era of Kanye West. The piano has a hip hop bounce to it, and then it fades into a spectacular clusterfuck of momentary disruption followed by a musical restoration in the form of Justin Vernon’s scattered falsetto. Lyrically beautiful, it leads you to the very common escapism you want from Bon Iver. The melody crashes in the end and goes running off into the night. 33 “GOD” is the pre-drinks song for the lives of the broken hearted and obscure. – Jack Cain

Rihanna – Kiss It Better

After a slow, moody start to ANTI, you’d typically expect a Rihanna album to take off around track three but instead we got Kiss It Better. It’s not a dance track or an urban club track or even single-worthy for that matter. Instead, it’s a howling, laid-back scorcher that may ooze the most feeling of any RiRi track ever. Instead of extrovert Rihanna which we’ve been given so many times, this is her as an introvert, singing only about what’s going on inside her four walls. “Man, fuck your pride,” she sings, as you get the feeling RiRi’s the one that could strip any man of his ego inside the bedroom. She’s in total control and she glides above that guitar like her voice is a magnet to it. She’s had plenty of brash, bedroom anthems (think S&M) but never has she been this honest and intimate. – Sam Murphy

Kaytranada – Lite Spots

Among two or three other songs from his debut album 99.9%, Lite Spots emerged as one of the songs that truly defined 2016 for Kaytranada. Based around that ridiculously infectious vocal sample (that’ll still be in your head in two years’ time), Lite Spots is a perfectly crafted house track that faultlessly manages to reference glitchy hip hop and funk, all the while still retaining the essence of a danceable banger. That it’s so different from the rest of the tracks on his record yet became one of his most well-known this year says a lot about how talented and versatile Kaytranada is, and holy crap dat video clip tho. – Zanda Wilson

The Range – Copper Wire

Euphoria and sadness are juxtaposing emotions and yet on Copper Wire, The Range’s emotional dedication to his late mother, they feel as if they go hand in hand. There’s a certain point in the grieving process when you lose someone when you’ve healed enough to truly feel some comfort and jubilation in the memories that you have of them. It’s an uneasy balance between wishing for them back and celebrating your memories. Through expertly placed vocal sample and a soundscape that gradually elevates, The Range beautifully captures that balance. It’s heartbreaking at times and uplifting at others, crystalising a beautifully fragile emotion that he’ll probably carry with him for the rest of his life. The voice he’s sampling is a 13 year-old internet rapper Kruddy Zak who was also mourning the loss of a loved one, as The Range later found out. It explains why the voice connects so effortlessly with the sonic feeling of the song but it also goes to show that while loss can feel like a solitary emotion, it’s being felt all around the world by people of every age. – Sam Murphy

Frank Ocean – Solo

Let’s be honest. 2016 was the year for Frank Ocean. Granted, he frustrated the hell out of us with his sporadic updates and cryptic woodworking escapades, the man sure did deliver with his long awaited sophomore album Blonde. The sheer talent of Ocean is on full display with Solo, which greatly utilises both the simplicity and minimalism of a single church organ for backing, as well as the unbridled intricacy of Ocean’s always impressive vocal aerobatics. The verses flow well and serve for a casual warm up to a glowing and heartfelt swelling chorus. And when it hits, it really hits. I challenge you to not feel weak at the knees as Ocean belts out some of the best vocal work of his career. Truly in his element, Frank Ocean has yet another notch to add to his ever impressive belt with Solo. It’s good to have you back, Frank. – Ben Kyi

Beyoncé – Freedom

From Survivor to Flawless, Beyoncé has never had a problem creating an empowering anthem. Freedom is Lemonade‘s empowerment anthem but it has more dimensions than those aforementioned hits. This isn’t a hit. It’s a rally-cry. It’s a call for the black woman to rise up and rightfully claim their bodies, their speech and their freedom. There’s only so long you can silently protest before the tears turn to flame and this is the exact moment where Beyoncé has had it. Every piece of imagery in Freedom from breaking chains to fighting a storm feels like a fist clenching. Then Kendrick Lamar comes through with the same thought-out fury that he harnessed on To Pimp A Butterfly, sounding like a giant as he raps, “open our mind as we cast away oppression.” Freedom isn’t destined for merch tees like Flawless, because it hits deeper than that. It crawls under the skin of anyone who truly needed that strength and anger. – Sam Murphy


See numbers 10 to 1.