Best 2016 Rock Songs

SLIS’s 16 Best Rock Songs of 2016

SLIS’s 16 Best Rock Songs of 2016: the greatest songs got us through a tragic, brutal and bewildering year.

Last week we released our list of the best albums of 2016: the discs that soothed and excited us during a very stressful year. But we can’t leave out best rock songs either. The individual sonic statements, earworms that energized and soothed.

With that in mind, here’s our (as always) eclectic list of the most memorable rock songs of the year, straddling the line between alternative, Goth, metal, electronic, shoegaze, Britpop and more.

If you’d like to buy any songs on Amazon, simply click on the song title to preview/purchase. Or if you prefer iTunes we have a playlist at the bottom of the post. Let’s get started. Without further ado, here’s our list of best 2016 rock songs:

16. The Cult Birds of Paradise

The Cult’s 2016 release Hidden City wasn’t an instant classic, but it’s certainly their best work since 2001’s Beyond Good and Evil. And on this moody tune, Vocalist Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy recapture the Goth grandeur of their 1985 album Love with a melancholy spaghetti western riff and soulful bellow.

Click here for my interview with Duffy discussing the album


15. Primal Scream Carnival of Fools

Primal Scream’s latest Chaosmosis may not be their best album, but it featured some of the most instantly satisfying tunes of their career. This track is the perfect example, with a stomping, glitch synth-hooks and Bobby Gillespie’s groovy vocals.


14. Deftones Hearts / Wires

Gore wasn’t the stellar successor to Deftones hight-water mark (2012’s Koi No Yokan), but it had its moments. Hearts/Wires is one of the album’s best songs, exposing the mix of fragility and furor that makes them stand out so uniquely from their metal peers.


13. The Mission Can’t See The Ocean For The Rain

Who knew The Mission could match their 80s glory days in 2016? Well their latest album, Another Fall From Grace was a resounding return to form, and this melodramatic number might be Wayne Hussey and co’s catchiest tune since Wasteland.


12. The Black Queen Ice to Never

Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Greg Puciato goes Synth-pop on this silky smooth retro number from début album Fever Daydream.


11.Moby Are You Lost In the World Like Me?

Moby examines the breakdown of personal relationships via our over reliance on technology in this propulsive, haunting tune off his excellent new album These Systems Are Failing.


10.Prong Do Nothing

Prong doing a power ballad? It’s weird…but it works, culminating in of their catchiest and most arresting tunes to date off one of their strongest albums in years.


9.Aphex Twin Cirklon 3

An alien mix of arcade game blips, squelchy ambient textures and funky percussion as only Richard D. James can deliver. 


8.True Widow Theurgist

Dallas trio keep delivering their diffuse mix of shoegaze and stoner metal, as this gorgeously distressed number demonstrates off their beautiful and bruising album Avvolgere.


7. NIN The Idea of You

Trent Reznor roars back into his  sullen angry industrial icon persona on this spiky blast of anxious fury off Nine Inch Nail’s new EP Not The Actual Events.


6.Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Jesus Alone

Cave’s Skelton Tree is an album of spectral beauty mired and rooted in the loss of his son. And on the album’s single, he explores grief and loss as only he’s able to deliver, refusing to address his tragedy literally, instead using a cast of unfortunate characters to share his pain.


5. Suede Tightrope

On Night Thoughts, the Britpop legends celebrate growing old gracefully, while also examining the anxieties and shifting values that occur when you go from hedonistic rock star to focused parent and devout spouse. tightrope ably describes the disconnect of embracing responsibility while pining for days of past glories, and the romantic cues one most embrace to keep things healthy.


4.Minor Victories A Hundred Ropes

This supergroup featuring members of Slowdive, Mogwai and Editors created orchestral synth-driven bliss on their self-titled début. And this cinematic stunner is a refreshing cocktail of noirish delight.


3.The xx On Hold

The xx haven’t graced our presence since 2012’s Coexist, but they’ve returned with I See You, which will be released this January. And their new single On Hold is a sign of great things to come. It’s perhaps their most upbeat and anthemic track to date, buoyant, euphoric and undeniable.


2.David Bowie I Can’t Give Everything Away

Lazarus and the title track from Blackstar got most of the buzz from the late icon’s final album. But its the closing track that haunts the most, where Bowie hints that he may be losing the fight, but he’s going out swinging. If you can make it through without getting misty-eyed…are you human?


1.Massive Attack The Spoils

Massive Attack came back in 2016 in bits and pieces, with a moody EP Ritual Spirit and this haunting, chill-inducing single featuring Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. It’s absolutely exquisite, a simmering torch song that soothes and saddens all at once.

Honorable Mention:

Dean Ween Group Exercise Man

While we anxiously await news of a new Ween album after their well-received reunion, Dean Ween’s recent solo album The Deaner Album certainly whets the appetite. And on this hilarious track he olds nothing back in his resentment of a cyclist slowing up traffic, as he discussed in our recent exclusive  interview: I take it personally! You think you’re better than me? I’m going to live longer than you asshole! You’re going to drop dead on that bike!

Well that wraps up our list of the best rock songs from 2016! Which ones would you add to mix? Tell us in the comments. And stay tuned in the next few weeks when we’ll list the albums we can’t wait for in 2017!

SLIS iTunes Playlist: 

About SLIS

Middle Aged Gen-Exer obsessed with Alternative rock, metal, cult movies, comic books and cable TV.

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