Pazz & Jop, the Village Voice Music Critics Poll: The Top Singles of 2016


Beyoncé, “Formation”

A song unapologetically black, celebrating distinctly black features from Afros to flared nostrils? Yes, please. Empowering doesn’t even begin to touch on the magnitude of this track. Nilina Mason-Campbell

Some years, “single of the year” seems like a personal preference, basically meaning “favorite song.” Other years, there seems to be an empirically provable Single of the Year. This is the latter case. Josh Timmermann

Solange, “Cranes in the Sky”

Trust Solange to stare down the weights of the world and transform them into something so effortlessly light. Sasha Geffen

A Tribe Called Quest, “We the People…”

Hip-hop’s first step in developing a coalition between gay people and Muslims. Wes Flexner

David Bowie, “Lazarus”

He videoed his own wake. He knew. He knew. Eugene Holley Jr.

Angel Olsen, “Shut Up Kiss Me”

Forget roller-rink drama and pre-Trump literature, this firebreathing rocker made me wanna kiss with my eyes open. Brent Baldwin

YG feat. Nipsey Hussle, “FDT”

The most important song of the year, for obvious reasons. Natalie Weiner

Miranda Lambert, “Vice”

A catalog of no-nos, a real woman’s rap sheet, and a lack of guilt or shame about any of it. Who knew liberation sounded like a Victrola’s hiss? Holly Gleason

Young M.A, “OOOUUU”

This ran the streets of New York for much of 2016 and rendered any naysaying about gay female rappers moot. Ian Steaman

D.R.A.M. feat. Lil Yachty, “Broccoli”

Because you can’t name a children’s song “Higher Than a Witch Doctor.” Hobey Echlin

Young Thug & Travis Scott feat. Quavo, “Pick Up the Phone”

“Hotline Bling,” minus the cynicism and lazy misogyny and with more original production. Natalie Weiner

Frank Ocean, “Ivy”

Who knew Frank could take what sounds like a Real Estate demo and turn it into one of the most affecting songs of the year? Probably everybody. Martin Douglas

Justin Bieber, “Love Yourself”

In a year of unprecedented narcissistic self-indulgence sans consequences, this emerges as the most of-the-moment song I can think of. Add that smooth, Motown-feeling melody and my anger has a sweeter place to channel. Holly Gleason

Charles Bradley, “Changes”

Yeah, it’s a Black Sabbitch cover — the only one to make Ozzy pour orange juice into the correct receptacle. Brent Baldwin

Lizzo, “Good as Hell”

A shining light to lift us up out of the garbage fire, and a true anthem for radical size acceptance. Andrea Warner

Maren Morris, ” ’80s Mercedes”

I want a white leather jacket and a neon soul, too. Thomas Inskeep

Margaret Glaspy, “You and I”

Her purrs have a snarl at the edges, and she strums that Telecaster like she’s picking at a blister. Jim Macnie

Tim McGraw, “Humble and Kind”

It makes me cry, like the sentimental country boy I’d never be. Also, it’s not terrible advice. I like McGraw as an elder statesman, his voice burnished to burled walnut. Anthony Easton

Sheer Mag, “Nobody’s Baby”

I triple-emoji dare you not to fist-rock your heart to these big Philly hooks. Brent Baldwin

Tiwa Savage feat. Dr. Sid, “If I Start to Talk”

Catchy Afropop that needs to be put on a compilation and get pitched to hipster media. Steve Kiviat

Lori McKenna, “Wreck You”

Sometimes we all push and shove, but this micro anthem about relationship bruises is about those seasons when it’s nothin’ but pushin’ and shovin’ and hidin’. And leavin’. Jim Macnie

A Tribe Called Red Feat. Black Bear, “Stadium Pow Wow”

A big-sounding slab of electronica, full of looped ululations, artful noise samples, acoustic tribal rhythms, and spoken-word exhortations. Carol Cooper

Don’t miss the rest of the 2017 Pazz & Jop, Village Voice Music Critics Poll coverage:

The Top Albums of 2016

This Year’s Most Far-Out Ballot

The Best of the Rest

This Year’s Tabulation Notes

The Black Stars of 2016: From the Knowles Industrial Complex to the Hip-Hop Avengers

In a World of ‘Lemonade,’ Misogyny Creeps Onto the Pop Charts

Chance the Rapper’s ‘Coloring Book’: Digital Music Victory or Corporate Land Grab?