1. Harry Styles, "Sign of the Times"
In case anyone out there thought the One Direction star was going to play it safe in his solo move, Harry Styles shut up any doubters with his first solo single. "Sign of the Times" made an instant splash – an eccentric piano ballad stretching to nearly six minutes, aiming for Bowie/Queen levels of glam grandeur, with Styles hitting heavenly high notes as he broods on death and rebirth. "Sign of the Times" just grew in resonance as the year went on. The reckless ambition of the song is only part of what's brilliant about it – the confidence and empathy in his voice just keep surging as the music builds. Styles was the only rock star all year to aim for such a giant sound, with a giant-hearted song to match. A high-risk move for sure – but only this guy could have imagined "Sign of the Times" and then made it real.