By Josh Schonfeld
Best Album – ANTI – Rihanna
Honorable Mention – Starboy – The Weeknd
When this album first dropped, I was the first one to denounce it. It felt sloppy from the jarring sound to the genre-bending tracklist to even the way it was released to the consumer. Looking back on it 11 months later, ANTI is one of the brightest highlights of 2016. While half the tracks are typical rebellious Rihanna, the other half reveals a more mature and invested singer/songwriter than we have ever seen before from the Barbadian singer. Had this been released in the spring/summer like it was supposed to, it would have been even more of a smash than it already is. “Kiss It Better” has become a new mainstay on all summer playlists, while “Work” makes even the most awkward dancer believe they can twerk it out with the best of them.
Best Sob Song – “We Had Everything” – Broods
Honorable Mention – “All We Know (feat. Phoebe Ryan)” – The Chainsmokers & “Dancing On My Own” – Calum Scott
We all have our moments, those breakdown moments where we just need a good sob before going to bed. Maybe you’re the type to take a drive around town and replay that one song the whole time as you lament a lost love or the tragic state of the world. For me, this song was “We Had Everything.” The mix of whispering vocals filled with tormented nostalgia and stiff 808 drum beats will get you dancing with tears in your eyes, which is an elusive feat that I will always reward. Its introspective lyrics like this that will keep you up thinking all night long: “I turned you into a reason to keep myself tied up. So, when I think that I’m crazy, it was you that screwed me up. But I don’t wanna let you go, no I don’t wanna let you go…”
Best Dance Song – “This is What You Came For (feat. Rihanna)” – Calvin Harris
Honorable Mention – “Don’t Let Me Down (feat. Daya)” – The Chainsmokers
While 2016 was all about the chill EDM songs like “Cold Water,” “Closer,” and “Let Me Love You,” there were still some high-energy dance tracks that got us out on the dancefloor every time. Five years after Calvin Harris and Rihanna created one of the greatest masterpieces known to the music world in “We Found Love,” they finally reunited on another major smash. While most of the notes are out of Rihanna’s range and were forced to be digitally altered to not sound like a dying cat, the beat itself is so powerful that it masks any imperfections in her vocals. The thunder and lightning style beat matches perfectly with the imagery of the instantly quotable lyrics and shows off a richer, more cohesive side of Harris’s discography.
Honorable Mention – “Closer” – The Chainsmokers & Halsey
With collaborations being so prevalent in the music industry these days, it’s tough to really wow the audience anymore, but The Weeknd and Daft Punk did so not just once, but twice, with their songs “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming.” I had never been a fan of either party, with Daft Punk being too trippy and robotic and The Weeknd being too meek and lovey-dovey. “Starboy” gives The Weeknd confidence he so sorely needed and it gives Daft Punk structure, creating a brooding gem of pop perfection. “I Feel It Coming” is another lovey-dovey song but the strong instrumental by Daft Punk gives it a meatier tone that gives it more substance than his previous singles.
Worst Lyrics – “M.I.L.F.$” – Fergie
Honorable Mention – “Starving (feat. Zedd)” – Hailee Steinfeld and Grey
After a failed attempt at a comeback back in 2014, Fergie decided to try again with the spastic track called “M.I.L.F.$.” While the beat is bumpin’ and will get you droppin’, the lyrics will leave you scratching your head as the chorus repeats, “You got that- You got that- You got that milk money. I got that- I got that- I got that M.I.L.F. money.” What? Who still has milk money anymore and even is M.I.L.F. money? As if that’s not bad enough, Fergie shows she’s still bitter about losing that spelling bee in 5th grade by spelling out the words “independent,” “broke,” and “paid” to show off her “s-k-i-l-l-s.”