It’s almost the end of the year and that means one thing for music lovers like myself. It’s time to review the year in music. And 2016 has been without a doubt a year for some of the BEST music I’ve heard in a long time. This year has given us the best work from some of our favorite artists, outstanding comeback albums from veteran rockers, successful solo efforts from well-known powerhouses, and excellent debut albums and singles from new and breakthrough artists who I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from in the near future. So, if you’re looking for some new music to fill your earbuds during your holiday travels, then read on because these are my lists of the best single releases, the best EP’s, and the best albums of 2016.

Let’s start with the best EP’s of this year first. There are only 5-6 songs on each of these EP’s, but they’re so damn good, you find yourself listening to them on repeat because you just can’t get enough of them. It takes seriously talented artists to create EP’s that are as great as these three. From the laid back grittiness of down home Georgia boy Tyler Hammond, to the smooth, easygoing crooning of Waterloo Revival, to the soulful powerhouse that is Caitlyn Smith, each of these artists has something unique to offer the country music lover.

1)Waterloo Revival – Front Row EP
2) Tyler Hammond – Take a Sip EP
3) Caitlyn Smith – Starfire EP

The next I’m going to share with all of you is what I think are the best single releases of 2016 that weren’t part of an EP or full length album. These songs are so incredible, they stand on their own and you almost don’t even care that you don’t have more new music by these artists to listen to. From new singles by veterans like Brad Paisley and Darius Rucker to the debut of new material from up and coming artists like Lindsay Ell and Jon Langston to the premier of breakthrough artists like Ryan Hurd, Bailey Bryan and Brandon Ray, I guarantee there’s a song on this list for everyone to love.

1)Brad Paisley – Today
2)Tyler Farr – Our Town
3)Eric Paslay – Angels in this Town
4)Darius Rucker – If I Told You
5)Candi Carpenter – Burn the Bed
6)Ryan Hurd – City Girl
7)Ryan Hurd – We Do Us
8)Kristian Bush – Sing Along
9)Brandon Ray – That Could Be Us
10)Jon Langston – All Eyes On Us
11)Bailey Bryan – Own It
12)Lindsay Ell – All Alright
13)Dylan Scott – Closer
14)Adam Sanders – About to
15)Lauren Alaina – Road Less Travelled
16)Logan Mize – Ain’t Always Pretty

Finally, the last list I have for you is my picks for the best albums of this year. These aren’t just the albums I’ve listened to the most frequently. These are the albums I genuinely believe were the most fantastic albums released in 2016. These albums were on point across the board vocally, musically, and lyrically. They’re packed full of hits that either pull every emotion possible out of you, get you dancing to their toe-tapping beats, singing along to their catch hooks or all of the above because they literally have it all! From country and singer-songwriter to pop punk and hard rock, this list has all the heavy hitters that brought their A game in 2016. These are the albums that deserve your attention.

1)Jon Pardi – California Sunrise
2)Blake Shelton – If I’m Honest
3)Dierks Bentley – Black
4)Maren Morris – Hero
5)Blink 182 – California
6)Good Charlotte – Youth Authority
7)Real Friends – The Home Inside My Head
8)High Valley – Dear Life
9)Jason Aldean – They Don’t Know
10)Lacey Sturm – Life Screams
11)Charles Kelley – The Driver
12)Dylan Scott – Dylan Scott
13)Florida Georgia Line – Dig Your Roots
14)Chris Lane – Girl Problems
15)Locash – The Fighters
16)Adelitas Way – Getaway
17)Through Fire – Breathe
18)Dan and Shay – Obsessed
19)From Ashes to New – Day One
20)Sixx:A.M. – Prayers for the Damned
21)Sixx:A.M. – Prayers for the Blessed

About the author

"MADD" Manda Walsh

Hey Hey, my name is Amanda, Manda to those close to me or have known me long enough, or are just ya know, too lazy to actually say, Amanda. I joined the “30 is the new 40 or at least it feels that way sometimes” club on June 22, just 3 days after I got married, and no, it wasn’t planned that way. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication from Saint Xavier University where I spent my entire 4 years volunteering as a DJ at their radio station and writing for their newspaper. My last two years there were spent working as their music director, living and breathing music, while having the privilege of interviewing some of my favorite bands and dreaming of one day working somewhere in the music industry, only to end up in an industry that doesn’t even utilize my degree other than I talk to people. To say I’m obsessed with music is an understatement. It’s always been my first love, my best friend, and the one place I can always lose myself. My tastes range from “OMG you have to hear this” to “please don’t judge me,” and I’m the person you want on your team in music trivia. I’m also an avid enthusiast of the paranormal and anything in the realm of horror or the creepy and unnerving. With that said, I love Halloween more than a normal person probably should and have a fascination with cemeteries. I enjoy reading, writing, shopping and epic adventures, but my all time favorite thing to do is attending concerts. I’m a sucker for a good mystery and anything acoustic. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Nancy Drew when I grew up. At the end of the day, if I had to sum myself up with a song lyric it would be this – “I’m somewhere in between what is real and just a dream.”