Despite how horrific 2016 was, it was a year that blessed us with an abundance of exceptional music. With great releases from familiar artists like Beyonce and The Weeknd to rising stars like Lil Uzi Vert and The Chainsmokers, we can truly appreciate at least one thing about 2016. But who ruled this year? With so many artists dropping tremendous material, it’s hard to narrow down the top 5. I decided my top 5 based on how momentous the artist’s year was, depending on acclaim, radio play, or chart topping. So no, you’re favorite pop-punk band won’t be on this list, nor will that EDM producer that only makes sub-par remixes. This list contains the five artists that truly dominated this year.
5. The Chainsmokers
Love ’em or hate ’em, the EDM duo destroyed this year. Practically owning the radio with a cluster of infectious singles off their Collage EP like “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Roses”, The Chainsmokers propelled themselves into the forefront of music. Although their music is a light version of EDM, its accessibility is its driving force. Old and young can sing and dance along to catchy songs. Moreover, the songs are extremely athemic; the only way to sing them is at the top of your lungs. And for the haters out there who think The Chainsmokers are whack, we all know you never skip it when it comes up on shuffle.
With a slight shift in sound, Rihanna went from blatant pop to dark R&B on that could possibly be the greatest thing to ever happen. If it wasn’t for her song “Work” that sat atop the Hot 1o0 for nine weeks, we would not have had such an influx of dancehall music. Anti was a powerful album that was bigger than just a catchy island-vibed single. Rihanna showed amazing growth in terms of sound and vocal ability, evident on tracks like “Love on the Brain” and “Higher”. More notably, “Needed Me” was plastered to the Hot 100 for 42 weeks, Rihanna’s longest charting single. Shower a few collaborations with other prominent artists like Kanye West and Calvin Harris, and you can clearly see how much Rihanna ruled 2016.
3. Twenty One Pilots
This band had the biggest blow up of 2016. Yeah, 2015 treated them well with their number one album Blurryface, but this is the year everyone knew who Twenty One Pilots was. With a trio of top 5 singles, a tour or two that basically sold out completely, and Grammy nominations, the band was propelled into stardom. This is due to the band’s cult-like fanbase and their genre-fluid music. More important is the latter, as they seamlessly blend rock, reggae, rap, and pop into one sound that is totally unique to them. Also, their quirkiness is appealing in a music scene that is filled with artists who focus on being cool. And let’s be honest, “Stressed Out”, “Ride”, and “Heathens” were a couple of the best tracks of 2016, both sonically and lyrically.
With one of the most anticipated releases of 2016 as well one of the best releases, Drake truly showed his dominance. Views was a fresh release that gave birth to some memorable tracks. Whether you wish he rapped more or not, the album was exceptional and should be on every “best albums of 2016 list”. Like The Chainsmokers, Drake had practically every song he created this year on every chart. Every time I checked the US Top 50 Chart on Spotify, all I saw was Drake scattered throughout. “One Dance” was the summer song of 2016 according to Official Charts. “Too Good” featuring Rihanna was just that, and don’t forget his feature on Rihanna’s “Work”. Outside of music, Drake was all over the headlines with his brief romance with Rihanna and his terrific Apple Music commercial.
1. Chance the Rapper
This most likely is not a surprise as Chance has carved his name all over this year. If you single-handedly get Billboard to recognize how important streaming is nowadays and allow streaming-only mixtapes to chart, then you owned this year. Super important in that he charted at number 8 on the Billboard 200 with his Coloring Book mixtape, Chance the Rapper made it easier for artists all over. More importantly is the fact that he’s having so much success without the help(or harm) of a label. Chance’s mixtape was one of the most talked about releases from this year, offering him appearances on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show and Ellen. To deny Chance’s instrumental role in music in 2016 ought to be a crime. Chance the Rapper ruled 2016, and I have absolutely “No Problem” with that.