2016 was a year of truly wonderful television and cinema. From thrilling blockbusters to heart-wrenching dramas and sci-fi spectacles, entertainment audiences were treated to an incredible 12 months of emotional and provocative stories. Beyond having a ton to say, many of these stories also had a lot to sing. Music defined some of the best films and TV shows of the year, and while we won't bring you the entire horde of musical moments, we've gathered all of our absolute favorites. Here are our top 10 musical moments of 2016:
10. 'Hail, Caesar!' — 'No Dames'
We already knew that Channing Tatum had moves from films like Step Up and Magic Mike, but Hail, Caesar! added a whole new layer of talent to his inventory. Like much of the rest of the film, the big dance number from Hail, Caesar! doesn't quite live up to the hype of previous Coen Brothers films, but that doesn't mean "No Dames" isn't an enjoyable romp while it lasts.
The sequence is hilarious, highlighted by the homoerotic lyrics and fantastically choreographed tap dancing. Tatum brings the scene to life with his energy and pizzaz. Even when the Coen Brothers are producing their B-level work, they still manage to create characters and scenes that far outmatch those of their fellow filmmakers.
9. 'Hunt For The Wilderpeople' — 'Ricky Baker, Happy Birthday'
Taika Waititi's Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a coming of age film about family, and one that doesn't necessarily make your mind spring to music, but the song in this scene can bring joy to anyone's heart. Sung by Rima Te Wiata, "Ricky Baker, Happy Birthday" manages to be simultaneously depressing and entirely heartwarming. Ricky Baker's eventual embrace of the song only makes the scene even better as he attempts to harmonize with his new guardian in a song about himself. If you want a fully produced version of the song, there's a 3-minute version from Moniker on the soundtrack that you can check out.
8. 'Black Mirror' — 'Heaven Is A Place On Earth'
The majority of the entries into this list come from original songs created for their movie or #TV show, but sometimes you have to make an exception to praise the use of someone else's music. "San Junipero" has been widely lauded as the greatest episode of Black Mirror, and the fantastic soundtrack is a huge reason for that. Each of the songs do an amazing job of encapsulating both the time period of the setting, and the intimate moments that the characters are experiencing in their relationship.
None of the songs are more perfectly illustrative of the San Junipero experience than "Heaven is a Place on Earth," the song that both opens and closes the episode. If you can hear Belinda Carlisle's jam without being brought back to the romance between Kelly and Yorkie, you're almost certainly in the minority.
7. 'Sing Street' — 'Drive It Like You Stole It'
The films of Joe Carney are defined by their music, and Sing Street keeps the ball rolling at a wonderful pace. The soundtrack is filled with glorious '80s-inspired rock songs, but the uptempo pop number "Drive It Like You Stole It" is the real standout. Played to an imaginary Back to the Future-inspired music video, "Drive It Like You Stole It" is the catchy tune that could've turned the band into a success. The song makes you want to get up and dance and drives home the message of the film: Live life to it's fullest. Don't wait for the good things to happen to you, go and make them happen yourself.
6. 'A Bigger Splash' — 'Emotional Rescue'
Check out Voldemort's moves! It's not often you get to see an actor let loose and have as much fun as Ralph Fiennes seems to be having in this scene, and that wonderful sense of enjoyment is the sort of engrossing moment that makes music in movies so fun. The Rolling Stones's "Emotional Rescue" is a strong tune on its own, but the dance moves from Ralph Fiennes are what propel A Bigger Splash into the top #musical moments of 2016. Good luck ever seeing one of his movies again and not picturing those ridiculous, shirtless dance moves in your mind.
5. 'Westworld' — 'Paint It Black'
In a world where every modern blockbuster features a slowed down cover of a classic rock song, it's incredible to see how fresh and original the Westworld piano covers feel. Songs from artists like Radiohead and Amy Winehouse make for incredible thematic entries, but none of the songs fit nearly as perfectly as The Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black." The Stones make their second entry into this list with the saloon robbery scene from the Westworld pilot. The rise and fall of the song fits gorgeously with the scene's action, and the moment where the tempo picks up following Hector's execution of the deputy is absolutely perfect. Plus, the song itself is amazing as always.
4. 'Swiss Army Man' — 'Montage'
There was hardly a more original film this year than the one from Daniels Scheinert and Kwan. Swiss Army Man revolves around a man who finds a pseudo-sentient corpse that he uses to help him survive in a lonely wilderness, and the movie finds every way it can to match the delightful weirdness of its premise. Included in that weirdness is the meta song, "Montage," an acapella song performed by the Manchester Orchestra during one of the film's key moments. The whole scene perfectly encapsulates the bizarre fun of the film, and charm oozes from the artists and the actors.
3. 'La La Land' — 'Audition (The Fools Who Dream)'
La La Land is a magnificent film, harkening back to some of the great Hollywood classics, and while the wonderful story, cinematography, and directing make the movie great, it's the wonderful musical soundtrack that makes La La Land a potential Best Picture winner. Emma Stone's performance of "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" was first displayed in one of the teaser trailers for the film, and the song only gets better when you witness the full performance. "Audition" isn't the only standout (or necessarily the best song), but others — like the song from the movie's finale — are best withheld until viewing the film. The musical is littered with amazing songs, putting La La Land high up the list, both for the high quantity and high quality of the soundtrack.
2. 'Luke Cage' — 'Long Live The Chief'
When Luke Cage was released in September, the show quickly became notable for its depiction of the black experience in a mainstream superhero world. Countless elements of the show represented an audience that is continuously left out of these stories, and Cottonmouth's Harlem's Paradise, in particular, did much of the heavy lifting to bring black America to the screen. The phenomenal musical entries at the club presented an opportunity to showcase some of the best of modern music, and showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker didn't miss the opportunity.
Not a single performance is a misfire, but Jidenna's "Long Live the Chief" in Episode 5 is the crowning achievement. Intercut with shots of the cast doing their own things, the song matches the atmosphere of the show with brilliant lyrics and a fantastic on-stage performance by Jidenna. The only reason to complain would be if you wished Jidenna's song was longer.
1. 'Moana' — 'How Far I'll Go'
#Disney animations used to be defined by their exuberant musicals, and while many of their films maintain those moments, the studio hasn't produced a true musical in years. In November, Moana finally bucked that trend, delivering a show-stopping soundtrack from Hamilton's Lin Manuel-Miranda, frequent Disney composer Mark Mancina, and Oceanic musician Opetaia Foa'i, giving audiences a return to the singing and dancing films of old.
Every song in the film is beautiful and all of the performers give it their all. You can't go wrong with any of the songs, but lead actress Auli'i Cravalho's performance of "How Far I'll Go" is unquestionably one of the best songs of the year. It's not quite "Let It Go," but that might be a good thing. "How Far I'll Go" feels a touch more emotional, and because the entire film's soundtrack is so good, the children won't force you to listen to just a single song on loop for the next year. Instead, you'll get a combination of the bilingual anthem "We Know The Way," the Rock singing and rapping in "You're Welcome," and the film's comedic anti-theme song "Shiny," to help balance out your musical indulgence.
So, what did you think of our list? Anything ranked too high? Too low? Maybe we missed a particular musical moment that you loved? Let us know how you felt about the year in movie music down below!