“In the 17th Chapter of St. Luke it is written: ‘the Kingdom of God is within man’ – not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power. The power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure!”
– Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator
There’s no need to begin by belaboring the kind of year it’s been. That ground’s been well-trod, and that framing would discourage the hope necessary to keep pushing for positive change and undermine the personal milestones worth celebrating. And I don’t want to altogether misremember 2016, so the latter is worth capturing: I got a killer new job! I saw the Northern Lights! I high-fived Iggy Pop! I visited Paisley Park! I competed on Family Feud! I starred in a music video! Troubles, both personal and societal, needn’t be called out and given power. I have resolved to focus my energy on “the power to create happiness,” aiming to “make this life free and beautiful” for myself and others in every way I am capable.
I feel that same resolve in the strength of musical offerings this year, perhaps the best in my lifetime. Sure, the emotions and perspectives ran the gamut, but one thing felt consistent: artists poured themselves into their work as if it were all they had.
When I look back on 2016, I want to remember these high-water marks as a reminder of mankind’s possibilities – a year of people at their best. When we get to a place where that feels more common than phenomenal, we’ll know we’ve won. My favorites, and the impressions they left upon me as I went about my year, are detailed below.