NPR Music's 100 Favorite Songs Of 2016 (So Far)
Playlists are a dime a dozen these days. Cheap and charming, updated by algorithm or "curated by hand," the grab bag anchors this post-album, post-download, post-mixtape moment. Still, we don't think you'll find anything quite like this list of 100 songs. Beyonce's here; so is Bowie. But in between, you'll find songs spread across a dozen genres and all the spaces in between, picked by NPR Music's station hosts, staff and contributors to represent the best of the first half of 2016. Songs we couldn't stop listening to, and couldn't wait to share.
We had just a couple of rules: Only one song per artist, presented here in alphabetical order. But if shuffle's your thing, you'll find a stream at the top of this page where you can listen to every song on the list. (Or if you prefer, you can listen to a Spotify playlist of most of them.)
NPR Music's Favorite 100 Songs Of 2016 (So Far)
Ana Moura, "Ninharia"
On an album that pushes traditional Portugese fado music in new directions, "Ninharia" sticks out as decidedly old school. There's the typical 12-stringed Portuguese guitar, with its sad, tinkling teardrops of notes. There's the subject matter: a lover lost over "ninharia" (nothing much). And then there's that voice, Moura's smoky mezzo, which expresses so directly the crippling regret, the darkest melancholy that truly inflames the heart of fado. --Tom Huizenga
Anohni, "Drone Bomb Me"
song about the war in Afghanistan, voiced from the perspective of a young girl who has lost her family — with a video featuring a lip-syncing supermodel, no less — could have been soggy, earnest and utterly dismissible, if not outright contemptible. But instead, Anohni has created something of shattering bleakness and harrowing depth, her burnished voice arcing over dark pools of electronics. --Anastasia Tsioulcas
Anthony Hamilton, "Amen"
Hamilton has long been a master at infusing contemporary southern R&B with gospel-y, rooted textures. In "Amen," over a skittery, unhurried beat and church organ swells, he testifies to domestic ecstasy with a marvelously playful blend of loverman swagger and Sunday morning conviction. --Jewly Hight
A$AP Ferg, "Strive"
A$AP Ferg's dynamics pair with the once and future queen of phrasing, Missy Elliott, in this shot in the arm, a three-minute pep rally. --Frannie Kelley