Best of 2016: KXSU Awards

Well, folks, we made it. 2016 is finally coming to a close, and what a year it’s been! We’ve witnessed political extravaganzas (or nightmares), outlasted that weird clown epidemic (actual nightmares), and made it through basically the entire city of Seattle shutting down after it turned into a winter wonderland (DREAMS). Amidst the chaos, though, we received some stellar music and films, and had the chance to enjoy some of the greatest live shows some of us have ever seen. From breakout local Seattle groups like Naked Giants to stellar films like La La Land, and all the way to this year’s undeniable reign by Beyoncé, we were all lucky enough to find some solace in art amidst twelve months of massive happenings.

Our editorial team collaborated and thought long and hard over the highlights of this year, and we’ve handed out some special awards to those that stood above the rest of the crowd, for better or for worse. Without further ado, here are the 2016 KXSU Awards!



Lemonade – Beyoncé

  • ANNA: Lemonade – Beyoncé. I’m siding with Stereogum on this one, but honestly, nothing beats this record this year. The album itself is #flawless, from each track being stand alone bangers, but also telling a full, powerful story all together. I mean, “Don’t Hurt Yourself” is enough to win this category on its own. In addition, the accompanying visuals make it transcend any other record put out this year (only other thing on par is Frank Ocean’s Blonde / Endless…).
  • CELENE: Freetown Sound – Blood Orange. This album is a statement piece. The spoken-word poetry, the look into injustices and oppression in our society… Powerful and purposeful. Need I say more?
  • JOSH: Fine, I give in. A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got it From Here Thank You 4 Your Service. The record was damn good, okay? It made me cry.
  • MARK: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping – The Lonely Island. Never have I heard so many original parody songs that are such bangers (Sorry, Weird Al).


  • ADRIENNE: “White Ferrari” – Frank Ocean. It is definitely a favorite off the album (I don’t know if it’s the favorite, okay? I change my mind once a day.) because it’s an amazing and underrated addition, the lyrics break my heart, he samples one of the sweetest Beatles songs, and the outro is stunning.
  • APRIL: “Golden Days” – Whitney. This song gets me feelin’ reminiscent, melancholy, and all kinds of tenderness. There’s just something about the simple lyrics that reminisce on the golden days, with the addition of the beautiful guitar chords, that make me feel so much love.
  • EMMA: “Your Best American Girl” – Mitski. Puberty 2 is, in and of itself, one of the best albums of the year, but “Your Best American Girl” is both catchy, and forces one to re-evaluate just how loaded the word “American” is. Diversity is the cornerstone of a progressive society and the “all-American boy” shouldn’t be so easy to imagine.
  • MARK: “A Lovely Night” – Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. A magical song from the La La Land soundtrack. Sweet in every sense of the word.



Anderson .Paak / Photo by Dan Knott

  • CRAIG: Hello, everyone. Resident mainstream loser here with another answer about—you guessed it!—mainstream. 2016 was all about Adele and Beyoncé, and that’s how it’ll be going into the GRAMMY Awards in 2017.
  • JOSH: I’m commending Anderson .Paak for his breakout this year with Malibu in January and Yes Lawd! alongside NxWorries in October. I hope the soul on these works sticks around in the world of hip hop.
  • JULIA O: Jenny Hval. The way Jenny Hval narrates is captivating, and she has some very important messages for us to hear. On her 2016 release Blood Bitch Jenny discusses vulnerability, capitalism, feminism, and yes….blood. In a time when such discussions are crucial, cheers Jenny.
  • JULIA S: Pinegrove. Pinegrove had a huge, well-deserved breakout this year. They’re insanely talented, fun loving, unique, and they still sneak some depth into their music.



Carrie Underwood’s Storyteller Tour / Photo by Steve Jennings

  • APRIL: Gary Clark Jr. at The Moore Theatre on April 10th. I have never seen such a soulful performance in my life. GCJ changed guitars so many times that I lost count.
  • ANNA: I’M TORN. I know Kanye is a tough subject right now, but Kanye West at KeyArena in October… no words. Either that, or The Strokes at The Governor’s Ball Music Festival. I was worried they wouldn’t sound as well as they did in their prime, but they were so tight and entirely on point. They opened with “The Modern Age” and I cried as soon as they started playing…
  • CRAIG: I had the absolute pleasure of seeing my ABCs this year: Adele, Beyoncé, and Carrie Underwood. Adele’s show was immaculate, and Beyoncé’s show was a force, but Carrie Underwood’s Storyteller Tour was genuinely the most creative and cohesive effort I’ve ever seen any artist put into a live show. From theatrics to the performance value, from the staging to her voice itself; it was the best headlining tour out there this year.
  • JULIA O: It was easily watching Bon Iver reveal his new 22, A Million at the Eaux Claires Music festival surrounded by strangers (and my recent ex) while rain drizzled from the sky. It’s safe to say I transcended into a flurry of emotion and feeling, and Justin’s sweet, comforting voice.
  • JULIA S: I saw Brand New at barricade on July 28th at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, California. It was a warm summer night with my best friend and my favorite band. Cue the tears. Emo levels at a new high.


  • ADRIENNE: [The Chainsmokers’] “Closer,” but also that Twenty One Pilots song. It played all summer in the restaurant I worked in. I will never forgive it. I don’t even want to name it. “Stressed Out.”
  • CAMERON: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “White Privilege II.” My feelings are still mixed about this one because he really did try to come through with that #socialjustice and it’s sick that he’s trying to use his platform to talk about important issues like these ones, but an 8 minute and 48 second song all about his white guilt was just way too much for me. Good in theory, poor in practice.
  • CRAIG: “Closer” by The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey. Minimal creativity, lame lyrics, such bland and basic production, and their live performances of this were consistently bad across the board. Also, “Different For Girls” by Dierks Bentley ft. Elle King. Awful in every way.


  • ADRIENNE: LP2 – American Football. I guess following up one of the greatest, most influential, most honest albums of alt rock after 17 years is a hard task to undertake, but …. this was just rough.
  • JOSH: I have a complicated relationship with M.I.A.’s AIM. The problem was I listened to Matangi (2013), then AIM, and then tried her fantastic first two releases (2005 and 2007), so my feelings fluctuated. I love her and I know it was supposed to be a pop album, but clearly she’s capable of more. At least the music videos were solid.
  • JULIA O: Junk – M83. Just…meh?
  • JULIA S: Cody – Joyce Manor. As a big Joyce Manor fan, I was super excited for this album. Instead, I found it boring and too try-hard. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


  • ANNA: “Same Ol’ Mistakes” – Rihanna. Rihanna x Tame Impala is all you really need.
  • CAMERON: “Faith” – Sleeping at Last. The band itself is so underrated, but this song alone is so stunning and his voice is like butter. I’m about to cry just thinking about it.
  • CELENE: FIDLAR’s rendition of “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys. Nothing can beat the original, of course, but FIDLAR did a more modern-day punk take on it for the fourth anniversary of Adam “MCA” Yauch’s passing. With an emphasis on distortion and Zac Carper’s distinct vocals, it’s surprisingly really good.
  • EMMA: Joseph’s cover of “Sister Winter” by Sufjan Stevens is a pretty lovely song for this time of year. (Speaking of, I think we’re going to see some great things from this sister trio in the upcoming couple of years!)


  • CRAIG: 3-way tie for Finding Dory, Zootopia, and Moana. And even though it’s not a category, Fantastic Beasts gets my vote for the most disappointing movie of the year. Also lol @ the 4 movies I’ve seen in theaters this year.
  • MARK: Though I’m 87% sure it will be neglected at the Oscars, The Edge of Seventeen is the best high school drama I’ve seen and one of the best films this year. It shouts out to those awkward teens in high school, and does it well. If “real talk” was a film, this would be it.


  • ADRIENNE: Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky” was super powerful to me. My friends and I all sat down by the screen in silence and watched it; very educational. The colors, scenery, and her grace were inspiring.
  • CAMERON: The whole “Ophelia,” “Cleopatra,” “Angela,” and “Sleep on the Floor” thing that The Lumineers pulled was incredible. An entire storyboard weaved together with haunting music and a visual representation of each song? It’s literally a dream for every artist, and an entire capsulation of every art form for every dreamer.
  • JULIA O: Radiohead’s video for “Daydreaming” was stellar. The cave, the fire, the symbolism
  • JULIA S: Does Beyoncé’s entire Lemonade video count? Like the queen she is, she invented the concept of a visual album. We’ve got to hand it to her.



Vampire Weekends / Photo credit to Tom Oxley & NME

  • APRIL: Fleet Foxes are reuniting! I repeat, Fleet Foxes are reuniting! As I talked about in my recent The Roundup article, Robin Pecknold has been dropping hints of a new album all over his Instagram. Fleet Foxes also confirmed that they will be reuniting on stage once again, this time at the BBK Live Festival in Bilbao, Spain. My only question now is, will Father John Misty be re-joining the clan as the drummer? Only 2017 will tell.
  • CELENE: So… despite member Rostam Batmangli leaving the band (really sad over here about that) there are rumors that Vampire Weekend signed a new record deal with Columbia Records and could release new material in 2017. I don’t know about you, but I’m in need of some of those crazy Vampire Weekend lyrics and music videos.
  • CRAIG: Tina Fey is writing a Mean Girls musical. No one is ready.


  • CRAIG: I mean, Kimye/Katy Perry/Calvin Harris/half of Taylor Swift’s squad vs. Taylor Swift herself was basically the definitive celebrity feud cornerstone of the year, excluding Donald Trump and literally every human being on planet earth. I’ll bet you he walks past mirrors and gives it the finger through his peripherals because he thinks it’s someone else.
  • JOSH: That time when Kim shared Taylor and Kanye’s phone call about that one line in “Famous.” Justice served.


  • ANNA: I genuinely believe Naked Giants are about to blow the hell up next year. Also, I’m pretty excited for Lorde’s comeback. Maybe something new from Portugal. the Man? We’ll see.
  • APRIL: As I mentioned, Fleet Foxes are getting back together, my friends. Robin Pecknold has been dropping hints of new music on his Instagram, so the countdown begins here for my most-anticipated reunion/album of 2017!
  • CELENE: Slow Hollows is definitely an artist I feel you need to watch in 2017.  I mean their recent release, Romantic, is amazing, and who can’t resist very attractive and young boys in a band with good and meaningful music?
  • CAMERON: Jon Bellion. He fell into my lap a few years ago and I’ve been in love ever since. However, I have never heard him on the radio until this year with “All Time Low.” Every single song on his album, The Human Condition, is amazing (with my favorites being “Overwhelming,” “Woke the F*** Up,” and “Ooh”) and it looks like FM has picked up one of them. He’s popular, but not popular enough, and it’s happening, people. I can feel it.

KXSU EDITORIAL STAFF | “New year, same meh.”


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