The 40 Best Hey Oh! Songs of 2016

There was a lot of good music this year. I’m not saying there was more than previous years. That’s crazy. But all I can say is that based on the fact that I had to increase the amount of Hey Oh! songs I highlighted for the year by ten, that must mean something. Maybe more people just put music out or something? I don’t know. I’ll leave this one for the scientists to figure out.

But yes, it’s that time of year to look back at the songs released this year that Giddy Up America has certified as the 30 40 best Hey Oh! songs released in 2016. As a refresher…

What’s a Hey Oh! song you ask? It’s a song that when it came on incited an unsolicited, deep from the belly & soul Ron Burgandy quality Hey Oh!  Hey oh! That’s a damn good song. You might not have said it out loud, but you definitely thought it. You turned the volume up, you danced, you pressed repeat and yelled to no one in particular- DJ ONE MORE TIME. – me, 2013

We all have our favorite songs of the year and while the majority of songs on this list are my favorite tracks of 2016, that can’t be said for all of them. Regardless, these 40 songs deserve their due and a tip of the hat for being that illusive rare bird – the Hey Oh! song. It also should be noted that there are different variations of Hey Ohs! in play here. There are of course enthusiastic Hey Ohs! and surprised Hey Ohs! and oh, I like this Hey Ohs! as well as Hey Oh! that accompanies a generally silent nodding in agreement. Keep that in mind as you run through the list.

As in previous years, the songs will be broken down by categories.

Old Standbys Showing That They’ve Still Got It
Songs by some of my favorite bands and musicians that prove that they haven’t lost a step

Let’s See What You’ve Got The Second Time Around
Songs by bands who came out swinging with solid debuts and were able to follow it up with killer sophomore releases

And Who Might You Be?
Songs by new bands and musicians who broke onto the scene in 2016

Enough People Talk, I Listen
Songs that have been talked about on the Internet, on the radio, on the Twitter, on the whatever, and as a result, songs I found myself listening to

Discovered During Sports Radio Commercial Breaks
Songs that were on the radio when sports radio either went to commercial or I just needed a break

On to this year’s List!

Old Standbys Showing That They’ve Still Got It

Kanye West

“Ultralight Beam”/”I Love Kanye” Kanye West

Mr. Kanye West had himself an interesting year that is proving more and more interesting even as the year winds down. The release of his album The Life of Pablo was such a weird and wild week I don’t think anyone can clearly remember everything that happened, ‘Ye included. I’m pretty sure there were homeless people standing at attention in Madison Square Garden and a blow up backstage at Saturday Night Live, but beyond that, it’s all a little foggy. The first time I listened to The Life of Pablo, there were two very clear Hey Oh! moments. The first was made while being amazed by the opening track “Ultralight Beam” and the second when I got downright giddy at the assaulting ‘I Love Kanye.” I couldn’t decide which one to include in the list so they are rolling in tandem.

“Formation” Beyonce

Probably the song of the year for 2016 for a few reasons, the main two being it’s duel message of both female and African-American empowerment and also that it’s a killer track. Man, I’d really love to add it to the Spotify playlist but you know, politics.

“We the People…” A Tribe Called Quest

Funkmaster Flex was playing this track on repeat on Hot 97 on the night it came out and I think I listened to it, Flex Bombs and all, for at least forty five minutes straight. I love the beat – how it’s almost militaristic. It really is flat out delightful to hear Q-Tip and Phife trading verses again. Of all the shitty things that happened in 2016, the return of Tribe almost makes up for at least some of it.

“Nobody Speak” DJ Shadow featuring Run the Jewels

DJ Shadow came back into our lives in 2016 with his new album The Mountain Will Fall and his return was announced by this track, which all but kicked in the door, stole your drink from you and then made out with your lady. The video for the song is also one of the best videos of the year. The rest of Shadow’s album didn’t really match the bruising bluster of “Nobody Speak” but hey, who cares. I don’t.

“Standing In The Rain” Action Bronson with Mark Ronson & Dan Auerbach

Three of my favorite dudes on one track. Pretty fantastic if you ask me.

“Mt. Crushmore” Lettuce

Lettuce, the killer funk/jam band, seemed to drop this nugget out of nowhere and dude, it was a wonderful surprise. It takes the spaced out funk that they brought with them on their 2015 album Crush and goes even further. Lettuce keep getting better and more inventive. Really makes a fan like myself excited to hear what they do next.

“Waiting on Your Love” Eric Krasno

Krasno, one of Lettuce’s guitarist and guitar player for Soulive, dropped his first solo album, Blood from a Stone, this year and the track’s opener is a dirty soul track, a highlight for the album next to the “Torture” and “Unconditional Love.”

“Can’t Get Enough of Myself” Santigold featuring B.C.

I’m declaring this The Most Fun Song of 2016.

“Dark Necessities” Red Hot Chili Peppers

Remember when I said there were different kinds of Hey Ohs? Well, this is one of those times and probably the song that made me feel the need to include the explanation I wrote waaaaay back in paragraph three. This song didn’t garner a fully enthusiastic Hey Oh from me, more like I’m interested Hey Oh. The song is kind of a different look from the Peppers – more muted and darker, definitely influenced by the producer they worked with, Danger Mouse. Their album The Getaway was pretty good and my favorite song might be “Sick Love,” but as the first song released, “Dark Necessities” belongs on this list.

“Desperado” Rihanna

I wasn’t all that hyped about “Work,” Rihanna’s first single off of Anti, but I was still down to check out the album. I was glad I did because it’s one of the best albums of the year and one of the more compelling. I was on board from the jump with it, but by song five, “Desperado,” I was drinking the Kool-Aid. The song is so slick, sexy and smooth. It sounds like a cool spy movie should sound.

“Finding Our Way” Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals

I had kind of written Harper off. He existed within a moment of time for me, roughly 1999 to 2004 and I really hadn’t thought about him or listened to him since. I wouldn’t have listened to anything from his 2016 album Call It What It Is if this song hadn’t come up on a Spotify radio station. It’s not enough to bring Harper back into my life and it’s not as if I’ve fully excommunicated him, but taken as a stand-alone act of art, I really like this song.

“Casual Party” Band of Horses

See Grammys? Good rock music did exist in 2016.

“Waste a Moment” Kings of Leon

No really, rock music was alive and well in 2016. Unfortunately not many people noticed. Either way, it was nice hearing the Kings of Leon again.

“(Girl We Got A) Good Thing” Weezer

We even had a Weezer course correction album in 2016, which means we had a good Weezer album in 2016.

“This Is What You Came For” Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I present you our Song of the Summer for 2016.

“Can’t Stop the Feeling” Justin Timberlake

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I present you our Song of the Summer for 2016 runner-up.

“Champion” The Roots

It’s not like this is a great song by the Roots or even a great hip hop song, but it kind of doesn’t matter. It’s cool to have the Roots out there, dropping new tracks that are fresh in their old-schoolness. The group’s last two albums have had moments, but have been cluttered up by Radiohead-like ambience tracks and the group has found itself missing some of their fire. “Champion” is a straight forward hip hop track, a driving back beat and relatively no muss, no fuss instrumentation. It’s also promising because the Roots have been reportedly working on a new album and if “Champion” is any indication where they’re heads are at, I’m stoked.

“Frankie Sinatra” The Avalanches

Okay, this one is tricky because it could belong in this category, but it could also be in the next category. I’ve been a fan of the Avalanches since they released Since I Left You in 2000, which, if you are keeping track, was a while ago, and thus, makes them somewhat of an old standby. However, “Frankie Sinatra” is on their follow-up album Wildflower, which wasn’t released until this year, making them a candidate for a Let’s See What You’ve Got The Second Time Around designation. In this case, I’m like Tomi Lahren, in that I too don’t believe in labels. This is a weird ass track with a great beat bookened and accompanied by equally weird, carnival-like music.

Let’s See What You’ve Got The Second Time Around


“Something to Believe In” Young the Giant

Young the Giant were slated to open for Kings of Leon at a show I was planning to attend a few summers ago. Wanting to be prepared because that’s how I roll, I acclimated myself with the band because I was only passingly familiar with them. In a sad turn of events, I became a fan only to have the show be cancelled because KoL’s drummer busted his ribs. Silver lining was that I had a new band I liked. Young the Giant are interesting in that I wouldn’t really know how to properly describe them if pressed to do so. They have a little U2 in them, but also some TV on the Radio and in turn, live somewhere in between soaring anthem rock and Brooklyn, hipster dance rock.

“Near To The Wild Heart Of Life” Japandroids

The Canadian duo known as Japandroids became pseudo-household names with their last album, 2012’s Celebration Rock, which might the most appropriate description for their sound anyone could ever even try and come up with. The Japandroids are experts at sounding bigger than their britches and they continued that with the first song off of their upcoming album. It’s soaring, it’s ambitious, it’s loud, it’s Japandroids.

“Overnight” The Wild Feathers

Shit-kicking rock, dude. I love shit-kicking rock.

“Don’t Know What It Means” Tedeschi Trucks Band

I know that “Tedeschi Trucks Band” means reliably wonderful and soulful rock ‘n roll. I’m not sure that answers the question though. What was your question again? Was it, what’s next? Or maybe, we’re 1900 plus words into this, how much longer? Well then my answer is, well, we’re like halfway done.

“All I Ever Wonder” St. Paul & the Broken Bones

These soulful gentlemen from Alabama are one of my favorite bands to come out in the past two or three years. As a fan of vintage soul music, they walked right into my wheelhouse. Yet I was slightly concerned that with a second album, they might start to go in another direction – pull a Fitz and the Tantrums, and never sound like they once sound again. Not so though and if anything, they brought new directions to their version of soul music and stayed in my good graces. Which is important. My bad graces are salty as a Triscuit.

“Time Moves Slowly” BadBadNotGood featuring Samuel Herring)

BBNG are four former jazz heads from Canada who started making moves when they hooked up with the likes of Tyler the Creator and Ghostface Killah. Their 2016 album IV was definitely less hip hop than it’s predecessor Stone Soul, but it’s still really good and this song is next level, turn the lights down low kind of schwag.

“Starboy” The Weeknd, Daft Punk

When you write a song like “Can’t Feel My Face,” you don’t set out to write another “Can’t Feel My Face.” You call up a couple French robots and make something new. You also cut your hair.

And Who Might You Be?

Image result for anderson paak

“Come Down” Anderson .Paak

Dear Anderson,

You made 2016 better.


“Rebel Heart” The Shelters

I heard this song and might as well flipped over my desk with excitement. This is what I’m talking about. This is what we, fans of rock music the world round, need. We need bands like the Shelters! The guitars are pure George Harrison/Tom Petty and it’s as if someone put the Beatles through a blender or some sort of flux capacitor and this is what came out. I love how this song sounds like sunshine.

“White Flag” Joseph

The chorus of this song is what generated a voracious Hey Oh! from me. The verse, a gentle nod of appreciation.

“No Good” Kaleo

I’m sorry. I’m a sucker for a hell of a good rock ‘n roll intro. I also like songs that I could picture myself listening to while involved in a car chase.

“Then Again” Pinegrove

I heard about these Jersey young bucks on an episode of ‘The Watch’ podcast and I’m glad I did. They make quality low-fi, alt-country. Or you could call it rock music if you aren’t into sub-categories.

“Gettin Out Alive” Greyhounds

Do you ever hear a song and think to yourself, that’d be a dope song to start a movie with? Well I do and I thought that when I heard this song. I also thought it was a really cool song. I also think right now that this post might hit 3,000 words (spoiler: it will.)

“Dutch” The Suffers

I love horns. What can I say?

“Shake, Shake, Shake” Majid Jordan

I’m not sure that if I never heard “Can’t Feel My Face” I’d like this song. I don’t know what that means, it’s what just came to me. They do kind of sound similar and maybe that helps. I like the chorus a lot.

“Off The Ground” The Record Company

Dude, it’s another rock band. Maybe rock isn’t dead? Maybe rock is just living on the fringes of society, like some sort of dangerous vagabond or misunderstood nomadic wanderer. As for the Record Company, I really do appreciate how unapologetic they are when it comes to their rock ambitions and desire. They’re not dressing their sound up in anything but denim and grit. I like that. They’re high on my list of bands I want to see live.

“My Babe” Whitehorse

What can I say, I love a song with a good stomp. So if you’re keeping track at home, my absolute ideal song would feature 1.) a killer rock opening 2.) horns 3.) a good stomp. You have your assignment, Music. Get on it.

“In Bloom” Sturgill Simpson

Covers are tough business, especially if you’re covering a very well known, iconic song like Nirvana’s “In Bloom.” There’s a science, albeit an inexact one, to covers and there are generally two routes to take. You can either stay faithful to the original or put your own spin on it. Putting your own spin on it is wading into sketchy waters if the song in question is again, a very well known, iconic song like Nirvana’s “In Bloom.” Simpson kills it though – revamping the song with twang, soul and horns. It’s pretty amazing actually. It’s certainly not better than the original, but it could at least share the same park bench with it and talk about the weather.

“Good Times Roll” GRiZ, Big Gigantic

I think GRiZ is a DJ and I know Big Gigantic is (or at least was when I stumbled upon a show of theirs in Virginia once) a duo consisting of a dude on sax and turntables and a drummer. But regardless of the makeup, this is a dope jam. I don’t even feel ridiculous using a phrase like “dope jam” because I honestly feel like it’s the best way to describe this song.

Enough People Talk, I Listen

Image result for chance the rapper

“Angels” Chance the Rapper featuring Saba

If you were to ask me if I’m a fan of Chance, I’d say no. However, I’d add that I appreciate Chance and freely acknowledge his talent. I’d also add that how he wears a hat drives me crazy. Dude, get one that fits for crying out loud.

Discovered During Sports Radio Commercial Breaks

Image result for major lazer bieber

“Cold Water” Major Lazer, MO, Justin Bieber

This song slowburned the bejesus out of me. I was initially slightly dismissive of it, but man it got me and now I love it. Biebs, if you’re reading this, I really think you should only work with Diplo and/or Major Lazer from here on out. It’s your ticket, man. The songs that Biebs and Diplo-involved projects have produced have been hot fire. So fire, it changed my feelings on Bieber. Although Biebs ability to take one step forward by doing something cool and then two steps back by just being himself is how Differing Opinions on Drake coined the phrase “pulling a Bieber” so you never can fully rely on him.

“One Dance” Drake

Drake. I don’t know, man. This song is sweet. It’s good background music. The beat and music is wonderful summer music. Now though, it’s really hard to get past the lyrics. It’s become a real hurdle. I just don’t have a lot of love for a dude who sing/raps “you gotta stick by/soon as you see the text reply me.” If you text me Drake, I’ll reply when I’m good and ready and not a moment before.












Categories: 2016, 2016 Year in Review, Music

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