2016 Summarized by Music

2016. What a year!

It was definitely a memorable year and a year that will be hard to forget. So much happened in all aspects of life including politics, music, art, lifestyle, science, technology and general news.

It was a hard year for many people, including myself. Events throughout the world shook me to my core. Since 2016 was such a defining year to me, I figured it had to be monumental to other people as well.

I channeled 2016 into something creative, which is why this article will not be the usual content I write for Loud and Alive. I created a playlist of music that summarizes, defines and illuminates the past year. It’s creative, different, and something we can all connect to.

Below you will find songs I picked out that I associate 2016 with, which means they are of all different genres, time periods and by different people.

However, while I have tried to use world events and achievements, most of the song choices have been influenced by events in my world which could be very different from yours.

And with that, enjoy!



Where Is The Love? – The Black Eyed Peas

This song first came out in 2003 but the band redid it in September of 2016. I associate so many events with this song. Many of the instances of police brutality in the United States reminded me of this song. The PULSE club shooting in Orlando. Syria’s civil war and the humanitarian crisis. Attacks in Belgium, Nice, Turkey. And everything the song talks about. 2016 was a year where I found hate and fear dominated the world and this song speaks to that.





Sorry or Formation – Beyoncé

2016 may have not been the most inspiring year for women, but to me I think it had a lot of amazing instances of women power, especially women of color. Beyoncé’s songs convey that strength and power we have seen from women and women of color. A few instances include Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, and Almaz Ayana at the Olympics. Michelle Obama and her speeches throughout the US elections. Hillary Clinton and her historic run for president. Angela Merkel and her time as Chancellor of Germany.  2016 was full of instances where women were unapologetic and powerful.




Freedom – Beyonce ft. Kendrick Lamar

This song is described as an anthem for black girl power and that is exactly what it is. The song talks about racism throughout the United States and women’s issues, both of which were major focuses in the US. Black Lives Matter took the country by storm and continues to fight in a highly publicized way. Women’s rights came under attack during the US elections and protests around the issues have been organized. In my mind, this highly energized track is the anthem for protests.




Controversy – Prince

2016 was a year we lost so many beautiful voices and artistic minds including Prince. So I had to include at least one of his songs in this playlist. I chose this specific song because I think it speaks to the division of people in 2016 and the labels that were used to define people. Immigrant. Black. White. Latino. Asian. Gay. Transgender. “We are all just the same.”




Heroes – David Bowie

Another musical voice we lost in 2016. He was so influential, especially in rock music, so of course I had to include him. If we need to be reminded of love, inspiration and aspirations at the end of any year, it has to be 2016. I know Bowie is desperate to have his love and be a hero just for a day, but so much can happen in a day. Hero for a day sounds pretty good.




Make it Happen – Mariah Carey

Are you confused by this song choice? I wasn’t planning on putting it in this playlist if I’m being honest. But 2016 was a year where people made stuff happen. South Korea impeached their president. The construction of the DAPL was halted due to protests. Civil protests throughout the world have brought publicity to certain issues that affect communities. Those people are making change happen.



Light the Sky – Grace Vanderwaal

If you’ve seen Google’s year in review video, you’ll know that this song was used. 2016 emphasized being yourself even when the entire world is yelling at you to be someone else or to go somewhere else. LGBT citizens refused to cower after the PULSE shooting. Women continue to fight for their rights even after Trump was elected. Black Lives Matter protestors are not backing down from the important issues they fight for. Minority communities have been told this year to shut up and sit down, yet they refuse. They will continue to shine bright.




Alright – Kendrick Lamar

This song is one of the best rap/hip hop songs I know. Lamar perpetuates the idea that even through suffering and pain (mainly the black community in the United States) we will be alright. The song was used as an anthem for Black Lives Matter and since the movement only grew in 2016, it is fitting to include this song in this playlist. People continue to fight discrimination and this song acknowledges it.




Stand by me  – Ben E. King

I know that division was a recurring theme in 2016. I felt it through Trump’s victory, the vote for Brexit, the divide between natural citizens and immigrants, the divide between different faiths. However, I also saw unity and support from so many communities. When people lined up to donate blood to victims of the Orlando shooting. When people joined together to protest the bathroom laws in North Carolina. When people of all different races joined together to stand up to the DAPL. When support for “Emily Doe” in the Stanford rape case poured in. When people of all different backgrounds joined to reject the bigotry the Trump presidency perpetuated. 2016 showcased the humanity in so many people.




Imagine – John Lennon

The song is a plea for unity and peace. Something everyone should be hoping for after this year. Let’s imagine a place where we all can be together.



The Currents – Bastille

This song was inspired by the bigotry that was so prevalent in 2016. It talks about how your words can hurt and how opinions can be hurtful. It’s something I’m sure so many felt throughout the year. Words define who we are and we cannot let the words of the world be filled with hate and fear. The song does an amazing job about talking about the power of ‘just words.’




Faith – George Michael

I think this song is the perfect song to close out this playlist. We lost George Michael this year as well and he was such a monumental figure not only in music, but in civil rights as well.


2016 was hurtful, divisive, disheartening, and just plain horrible. But it was also filled with hope, unity, power, and beauty. We have to have faith in our ability to be humane, to be sympathetic and to be good people. We have to have faith in hope and the prospect that life will be alright in the future.


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