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Happy (almost) New Year! On the final day of our 31 Days of Holiday Awesome, it’s fitting—and necessary—that we reflect back on the positives that came out of this wildly eventful year in music. Music is meant to uplift people and bring them together, and while the many lows of 2016 often threatened to do the opposite, music still won.
Here are 16 uplifting songs, brought to you by the year 2016.
This song could have single-handedly been the one track that saved 2016 from all its darkness. Between Kanye West’s “god-dream” realization, Kelly Price’s gospel, Kirk Franklin’s preaching and, of course, Chance The Rapper’s brilliantly joyful verse—“Ultralight Beam” is the gift that just keeps giving.
Giddy up, indeed. This infectious, beat-heavy jam is about seizing the day, because, “It’s like right now / It’s like Wow!” Truer words have never been spoken.
This viral self-produced track from recent NYU graduate Rogers is a story about shedding fear and insecurities as you go through life’s motions, and its just as mesmerizing musically as it is lyrically.
Produced by Pharrell, this bouncy, self-assured single was brewed up in the face of Cudder’s battle with depression and anxiety and for that, we applaud him.
Your typical huge, pop-rock singalong, best suited to those days when things go just your way.
Well, if this wasn’t the most delectably funky curveball of 2016, then I don’t know know what was. The song boasts a straightforward message, but when paired with its discoey zips, zaps and warped vocals – it’s even more convincing.
Sia and Kendrick’s messages about perseverance and achieving greatness in the face of adversity are incredibly touching; especially as this song and video became a tribute to those lost in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub shooting.
It’s not uncommon to be scared of the unknown, and The Strumbellas commendably highlight that, as well as the power of hope, with this triumphant anthem.
Similar to Pharrell’s “Happy,” JT’s sunny pop earworm is guaranteed to get you feeling very high on life.
A pre-teen piano songstress no more – Birdy is now older, wiser and ready to help a friend out with her soaring dance track.
This song is particularly well-suited to 2016, with its lyrics about being in the thick of tough times, yet ready to wash it all off and start over.
We’re always here for a new song about girls building up girls and keeping each other safe. Here’s to more of that in 2017.
Chance The Rapper took us to church too many times to count this year—but, each time and especially this one, he reminded us of all the things we have to be thankful for.
With her bubbly, reggae-infused single, Santi doles out some realness—admitting that sometimes the only way to your dreams is the long way.
Here you’ll find a thundering pop gem, where Norwegian forest fairy Aurora addresses the misconception that you need someone other than yourself (“the conqueror”) to save you.
Off his latest experimental soul album, ‘Bino recalls meaningful lessons his parents passed on, including: smile, keep all your dreams, stand tall. We agree wholeheartedly.