Music Countdown: Best 10 Hard Rock / Alternative / Progressive Rock songs of 2016

2016 would be known more as a breakthrough year for rock music than a historical one. While big guns Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Radiohead, Coldplay, Opeth came out with good albums, it’s the dark horses which define this year. As the curtain on the year falls its time to do our countdown. Before I list my rankings, let me emphasize on the methodology. I took a survey within couple of Rock/Metal Facebook groups and all my music mad friends, to get shortlist of songs which individuals feel as their best of the year. Then I Googled and listed through songs which have stayed long in Rock/Alternative/Prog Rock charts. Getting both lists, I combined them into a Spotify list and listened to each of the songs at least thrice before starting the eliminating procedure. This final list contains songs which survived all those rounds of elimination. Each of these numbers I would have heard them at least ten times each. After my Top 10 Best Heavy Metal songs of 2016, this my list of Best 10 Rock songs of 2016.

Just Missed (from the Top 10)

  • The Architect‘ by Haken – more as its high on instrumental but very low on lyrics and depth.
  • My Book of Regrets‘ by Steven Wilson – for its low recall/humm-able value comparatively
  • ‘Gloria’ by The Dear Hunter – Well, no reasons, sad just missed out!

10. A Fleeting Glance – Opeth

Just as in Top 10 Best metal songs of 2016 countdown, Opeth starts the list at Number 10 with A Fleeting Glance. Opeth’s Sorceress album hasn’t impressed me much personally but in A Fleeting Glance they have an extremely humm-able song. With zero use of electronica and jangling of pure instruments in old country backyard garage sound, it comes across as close to Classic Opeth as you can get, and as my second most liked song of album Sorceress, although Spring MCMLXXIV gave a very close run. All of which makes Sorceress a diverse and quality album.

9. Folklore – Big Big Train

Big Big Train are an English prog rock band since 1990. However its only since 2013 (winners of the Breakthrough Award at the Progressive Music Awards) that they have leaped into the big stage. Literally. Having their first live show in 17 years at London, 2015. Big Big Train’s tenth and latest album Folklore is decent, with the title track lifting the album massively aside the other gem ‘Telling the Bees’ which I have reviewed before. Folklore starts brilliantly with violins and flute which just gets you hooked onto it. Look out more for this band, in future.

8. Hymn for the Weekend – Coldplay (feat Beyoncé)

It’s tough to keep Coldplay out of any annual countdowns and Hymn for the Weekend is a type of song you fall it love with instantly, but only short-term. The video showcasing colours of India (festival of Holi) was criticized back in India for showcasing of slums and poverty-stricken kids. The song though made up for any discontent. It was Hymn for the weekend, for the month and just about for the year.

7. The Final thing on my Mind – The Pineapple Thief

I have covered The Pineapple Thief’s album Your Wilderness in detail separately so will keep this short. The Final thing on my Mind is an excellent ‘value for money and time product’. Its like two terrific tracks clubbed into one. The first four minutes hooks you to the number, and after the 4th minute, it takes off to another level.In some parts, the tune and lyric pierce so much that you even question your relationship with the band. The words go ‘How did we get to be this cold? How did I let you get so far from me?’ often makes me question how did I miss the band so easily, why was I so far away from the band so long.

6. You want it darker – Leonard Cohen

Three weeks before his demise, the best songwriter in music ever (according to my music listening guide and office super boss Michael Declan Power), 82-year-old Leonard Cohen released his last album You want it Darker. Most parts of that album speaks of a person in his last leg of life saying goodbye. In fact the lyrics of Leaving the Table are ‘I’m leaving the table, I’m out of the game, I don’t know the people, In your picture frame’. The lyrics seem soothingly haunting, if you can get what I mean. The self titled number from that album, You want it Darker, is his most heard song on Spotify and best of the album. The You want it Darker, is not a question, it’s a statement. Because ‘We killed the flame’ … I presume of life. Rest in Peace

5. Full Stop – Radiohead

After five-year hiatus, English legendary rockers Radiohead, released their ninth studio album, A Moon Shaped Pool. Several publication reviewers instantly put it amongst best albums of the year. Subsequently it became their fifth album to be nominated for the Mercury Prize, got nominated for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Song (for “Burn the Witch”) at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, topped the charts in several countries, became their sixth number-one album in the UK, a bestseller on vinyl and certified gold in the UK on 24 June. My favourite from that album is Full Stop which makes to number five in my list. It wasn’t an easy choice involving an album which has Identikit and Burn the Witch like master tracks. “Truth will mess you up, truth will mess you up, Truth will mess you up, truth will mess you up, Truth will mess you up, truth will mess you up, Truth will mess you up, truth will mess you up”

4. Dark Necessities – Red Hot Chilli Peppers

After five-year hiatus, American legendary funk rockers Red Hot Chilli Peppers, released their eleventh studio album, The Getaway. The album debuted at number one in ten different countries while reaching number two in US, UK and Canada. The best song of that album Dark Necessities became the band’s 13th number-one single on the Billboard Alternative Rock charts. It was also their 25th top-ten on the Alternative Rock chart, a record they hold over U2 (23). “Dark Necessities” became only the fourth song ever to top the Mainstream Rock, Alternative Songs and Adult Alternative charts at the same time. In some way Dark Necessities in this ranking charts synch with Leonard Cohen’s You want it Darker. “You don’t know my mind, You don’t know my kind, Dark necessities are part of my design, And tell the world that I’m falling from the sky, Dark necessities are part of my design”.

3. Cascade – The Dear Hunter

Cascade comes in at number three as my favorite song from The Dear Hunter’s Act V: Hymns with the Devil in Confessional. The strength of this song is that it’s an instantly likable song. You get hooked to the song and album on hearing this number the first time. One always needs a song that instantly hooks the listener to a new album or a band. And it was tough to choose Cascade from an album that had Gloria, The Moon/Awake, The Fire and The Flame like great numbers in the album. Cascade is brilliant.”I’ve been running through the night again, Trying to find where the wild things wouldn’t go, But I’m keeping it in, Hate the sinner, never hate the sin, I’ve been searching for a remedy, Hands to guide where the shadows never show, I’ll never know”

2. Tear you Up –  The Pineapple Thief

Tear You Up from The Pineapple Thief probably has the best lyrics written in a song in 2016. The band does tend to have depression and suicidal tone in their lyrics, but Tear You Up is something special. ‘And now I’m drifting on the open sea; What is left of me; And I keep dreaming of a distant shore; To a distant shore; What keeps calling out for me? It keeps calling out for me; What keeps calling out for me? It keeps calling out for me; I can’t tear you up; I cannot tear you up; All these currents run to you; Back to you’. The band is in a state where its needs some awards, recognition to hit the public eye. They are a band who deserve to be right up there. I have put a fan created video there for the song as it gave better effects..pardon the suicide theme.

1. Shifts – Katatonia

Swedish Metal band Katatonia’s latest album Fall of Hearts features in my Best 10 Metal songs of 2016 twice. With other songs like The Pale Flag, Decima, Serein, Sanction and Passer, its my album of the year 2016. Its one hell of a must have album inside your juke box. Shifts video is placed right on top of the Katatonia home page. Katatonia are touring and playing at Chennai, India on 7th Jan. I will miss that show. Shifts, sadly, deals with suicide and its impact to people around. The video emphasizes on life story of an average maid/worker in factory surroundings – notice the significant factory sirens. “And I fear that I’ve stayed here just a little too long. I had to go where you couldn’t follow. In my weariness I still hear you singing in my mind. All the fortunes they took away! The shifting earth beneath us. Nothing to observe! The clouds at our feet. Nothing to observe!”. Yes nothing to observe, lots to feel, hear and love about the music.

Would you agree with this list? Have a musically great 2017.

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