Rewind: Favorite Songs + Singles Of 2016

Quoting myself as the sentiment still carries...

Many words are used to describe the word "song" --- melody, ditty, tune, aria, earworm, anthem --- but what does the word mean beyond its definition? 

At the end of every year whenever I'm in the process of compiling this particular list, I ask the same questions: What are the songs that encouraged me from within? What are the songs that felt ripped from the pages of my own journal? That cradled me in comfort when I needed it most? That had me recall good times and bad ones too? That had me thinking and re-thinking? That have me dancing on the ceiling or wiping tears away? That made me feel joyful to be a woman? What are the songs that made me essentially feel throughout the year? 

In no particular order, here are the femme anthems of 2016 that answered all of those questions and then some... 

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Melt - JONES

Awakens all senses with its tender hooks in tranquil guitars and JONES' velveteen vocals. Even though it's designed summer soft, I'm listening to this one all-year-round.

Falling - Lulu James 

Like a hymn you want to recite 24/7/365.

Mediator - AlunaGeorge 

Nocturnal jazzy coolness that doubles as a great song about being there for your girl when she's down and out. Aluna Francis' voice is totally suited for this kind of chill-out that graduates from the School of Sade.

Worship - Lizzo 

Self-confidence in a brassy n' sassy package. You're guaranteed to feel 10ft tall when you put this on and strut down the runway that is life.

Focus - Emily King

Channels the charm of Prince, but Emily King has her own melody to sing here, and it's one lovely serenade.

Body Talk - Foxes 

Sultry 1980s power pop in a svelte 21st Century bottle. Like the Kim Wilde song that never was.

Crush - Yuna (feat. Usher) 

Usher serenades as if it's his My Way days, while Yuna announces herself as a new breed of R&B chanteuse, both reviving the idea of the romantic duet. If someone is smart, a duet album between these two should come into fruition as Usher has (finally) found his match.

Judas - Esperanza Spalding 

Has the feel of Joni Mitchell's lost weekends where the '70s icon made jazz and folk into strange, yet intriguing bedfellows.

Hurts - Emeli Sande

One tuff power ballad. It's kind of frustrating for me that Emeli Sande loads her albums with meandering softball material, but then turn around and light a firecracker like this, proving she's one of our most capable and emotive vocalists today --- even besting "the other Adele".

Had To Feel Something - Cosmia

Cosmia's silken alto is hypnotic and this song rattles you right down to the soul.

Elizabeth Taylor - Clare Maguire

Fraught 1960s pop balladry that is about as dark and sharp as Dame Taylor's eyebrows.

The Greatest - KING

It's eerie? purely coincidental? that KING would give props to the life and legacy of champion heavyweight Muhammad Ali in the year of his passing, but once you become awash in the 8-bit digital display of its video and the laid-back synthesized Nintendo grooves, it transmutes to a truly fitting tribute that right hooks with soulful acuity as Ali himself.

Truth - Gwen Stefani 

On an album that doesn't sound much like her, "Truth" shows Gwen Stefani at her classic, vulnerable best.

Cranes In The Sky - Solange

A beautiful mediation about self-care. Go on Solo, soar above those metal clouds and preach on.

Phenomenal Woman - Laura Mvula

Ms. Mvula sprinkles some of her #BlackGirlMagic on a buoyant Afro-Beat anthem that embodies Maya Angelou's seminal poem in name and essence.

Make It Up - Shura

With a fragile and wistful heart, Shura serves some chilled-out synthpop that feels oh so 1987.

If You Let Me - Sinead Harnett (feat. GRADES)

The theme song of your worst heartbreak ever. This has got to be the most devastating ballad of the year.

Green Aphrodisiac - Corinne Bailey Rae

It's obvious that the ladies of KING are behind this as it rock-a-byes their brand of electronic California soul, but Corinne brings her own sultry boho enchantment to this, throwing a little love Neo-Soul's way for the 21st Century.

Gorgeous - Muhsinah

Muhsinah ambitiously gave us an EP a month, and you bet it was hard to narrow down which songs stood out as there was something to like off of each set, but this? This won out as the title says it all...this song is truly and unequivocally, gorgeous.

Thinking Of You - Mabel 

As if being Neneh Cherry's daughter was cool enough, now she comes out with the crazysexycoolness that is this ode to the first flutterings of schoolyard crushes.

Blk Girl Solider - Jamila Woods 

I'm more in 'formation' with this. A theme song for those of us who pray at the church of #BlackGirlMagic.

In Common - Alicia Keys 

Though this subdued digitized love letter didn't make the cut on the socially-sound Here, I preferred this over every song on that album --- I'm a strange one, remember that.

Fuck With Myself - BANKS

A little bit of selfishness does the self-esteem good and BANKS teaches us how by going beyond touching herself in the literal sense, to getting in touch with her inner awesomeness on a dark electronica track that would make Bjork proud.

Second Nature - Stalking Gia

There is some serious supple beauty amid these basslicks.
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