Our Soundtracks to 2016

Say what you will about 2016, it was an unforgettable year for music. We said goodbye to a few otherworldly and irreplaceable artists. We were introduced to some new acts who are already carving out their rightful places in history. And we all got to say "PANDA" a bunch, so that was fun.

From Blackstar to Coloring Bookwe fancy ourselves a pretty musical office. That being the case, rather than putting together a typical year-end retrospective, we're sharing some of our personal soundtracks for the past twelve months. 

Buckle up. It might get embarrassing.

ALEX ALOISE

ALEX ALOISE

My kids hijacked my playlist with Matilda the Musical. I am NOT, however, apologizing for the angel Carly Rae Jepsen. Though to be fair, I'm surprised "Your Type" didn't rank higher. I really, really, really, really, really, really like that song (see what I did there?). Kacey Musgraves is a new discovery but she's already veering dangerously close to CRJ territory. And no matter the year, there may never be a better or more romantic lyric than The Pharcyde's "Now there she goes again, the dopest Ethiopian and now the world around me begins moving in slow motion."

MERIDETH BOGARD

MERIDETH BOGARD

I wouldn’t say these songs sum up my year (because, let’s be honest, I didn’t go to the gym that much). But, I do think they sum up the times I listen to music most – when I’m working out or in need of a mood lift. It’s just a mix of good cardio songs or feel-good stuff that makes me happy.  (If you use the top 10 vs. top 5…Perhaps a bit more nostalgic southern rock and country than expected.

GRETCHEN DEVERO

GRETCHEN DEVERO

I use Spotify primarily for a pick-me-up (or when I’m tired of listening to sappy acoustic music on the office Sonos player *cough* JOEY), so my top five songs of 2016 aren't too surprising. All of these songs have the power to kick you back into gear, bring out a smile, and make you want to shoulder shimmy. I like DNCE, but I love Sia and Gwen. They’re strong women, still doing what they love (in their 40s), their lyrics are unique and raw (because they write them), and they don’t give a f*ck about what other people think. I hope they never stop (Robyn, too). #GirlCrush

BEN CHENEY

BEN CHENEY

The rhythmic chug of heavy music motivates me and helps me concentrate, whether at work, in the gym, driving the streets of Richmond, or walking the sidewalks of New York. While I can’t quantify if I was any more productive this year than past years, it appears that this year I lived a lot of my time in the zone. But it’s not all Metallica and Norma Jean—there’s also a fair amount of Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, and blink-182 below the fold.

CHIA SCHMITZ

CHIA SCHMITZ

I definitely went pretty crazy on a few songs this year and they didn't make it into my Top 5 -- but no matter, it is what it is. Looking back, I'm a bit surprised by my listening preference. But 'Tenderness' by General Public came in at #5, so I feel redeemed. 

MARTESE JOHNSON

MARTESE JOHNSON

2016 seems to have been a year of reminiscence and pride for me, with many of my top songs belonging to Chicago artists from backgrounds, social circles, and an age group that we all share. This makes sense when acknowledging my recent move to New York City. It seems the further away I go, the closer I feel to my hometown. Outside of my extreme Chicago nativism, I seem to have followed my annual tradition of playing strictly fire.

XAHRA GILBERT

XAHRA GILBERT

I normally Spotify on a "Private Session" because I'm perpetually embarrassed of the music I'm listening to. But this list isn't so bad. Can't go wrong with RiRi! Katy is a bit embarrassing, but not as much as if I did the top 10 and you started to see the Bieber :\ What does this say about 2016? That Rihanna is the perfect music for any occasion, and that I mostly listen to Pandora.

CAMILLE DRUCKER

CAMILLE DRUCKER

2016 was not the year I stopped listening to albums on repeat! I'm told I'm an optimist, but I’ve evidently been quite the downer this year... To me, Amy Winehouse is a reminder of what happens when we fail each other as humans; Willy Rodríguez and Stromae primarily draw inspiration from sociopolitical tension as songwriters. I may have to give Meghan Trainor and Rebecca Black a chance in 2017(?)

AARON POWERS

AARON POWERS

2016 was a big learning year for me. Lots of turbulence, ups and downs, and big changes (like joining the wonderful team at Sylvain Labs!). More than anything, the song titles capture the small doses of psychological self-medication I used to manage the topsy turviness of 2016: a smidge of "look on the bright side" (Surprise Party, I Didn't Just Come Here to Dance), a dash of "I hope you learned something from all of this" (Fool me Once, I Owe You This), and a little "shut up and just do it" (Hey, No Pressure).

TONY VUONG

TONY VUONG

Based on my Top 5 Spotify tracks, it is very evident that I'm single, ready to mingle, with bonus points if you happen to be Spanish.

ALLISON SOLOMSON

ALLISON SOLOMSON

I got married this year, and had many conversations with my now-husband about whether we should have a first dance (they can be awkward, right?) and if we were to have one, what it should be. Our band had a pre-set list of songs and offered to learn a new one. Since we wanted them to learn a “banger” – something everyone could dance to (“Can’t Stop the Feeling), we chose the not-too-sappy, not-too-slow “Dance With Me” for our first dance, which ended up being a perfect fit for us. Also making an appearance are my fire-up songs of 2016: “NO,” “Magnets,” and “Just Like Fire.”

KRYSTAL PLOMATOS

KRYSTAL PLOMATOS

(I use Apple music, so the following are my 5 most recently played albums. The app doesn't track play counts) Awaken, My Love! - Childish Gambino Places - Lou Doillon Wrecking Ball - Emmy Lou Harris Baduism - Erykah Badu Bella Donna (Deluxe) - Stevie Nicks This year I must have been especially drawn to the sounds of people coming into their own. These albums were released at totally different times 2016, 2012, 1995, 1997, 1981 respectively, but they are all moments in time when each artist got super in touch with their vibe, their voice, let it rip and made something pure. Emmy Lou recorded Wrecking Ball at 48 years old, Stevie and Bella Donna at 33, Erykah Badu and Baduism 26, and Donald Glover did Awaken, My Love! at 33. Interesting to see that those true-self moments can happen at any age.   

DANIEL GRIFFIN

DANIEL GRIFFIN

My playlist consists of songs I had on repeat during my commutes to and from the city most days this year. A mix of gospel, R&B and pop-soul tend to be the genres I gravitate towards. A broad range of artists yet similar themes of love, spirituality and unfortunate heartache.

JON MEYER

JON MEYER

I actually cancelled my Spotify account halfway through the year, so if this reflected my current listening habits, it would be a completely different mix of embarrassing, tacky, and pretentious tracks.

As surreal as so much of this past year was, at least we had the music. Here's hoping to a happy and healthy 2017 to all of you, from all of us. And Riri. And Carly.