Although it wasn’t just Drake’s music that carried the year, as many hip-hop fans cite 2016 as a monumental year for the genre.
“2016 was the year rap really entered into the mainstream,” sophomore Vishanth Palanivel said. "Artists such as Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Travis Scott and Lil Uzi Vert all released albums which were huge commercial successes."
With major artists releasing songs and an anthemic track from one of the biggest faces in music, 2016 had everything going for it musically.
Still, music alone doesn’t encapsulate the legendary status of 2016. Enter Pokémon GO, an app that took the world by storm, recording the highest first-week sales ever on the iOS App Store.
“Pokémon GO successfully tapped into the nostalgia factor, and the fact they brought it to a smartphone was huge,” Palanivel said. “Everyone loved it.”
Some didn’t even need the nostalgia of their childhood favorite game to download the app and start playing.
“I wasn’t even a big fan of Pokémon, but my friends and I would still go out and play it,” Gadudasu said. “It was a fun thing for us to do together.”
The app forced people to go outside and stay active, while still using technology.
"I would just go to the park to catch Pokémon,” Thaker said. “And there would be all these other kids my age just chilling."
Thaker noted that people would stay out for hours playing the game and meeting new people.
An outdoorsy and nostalgic app coupled with musical hits during the summertime played a huge role in cementing the glory of 2016 in the eyes of Gen Zers.
The final step in solidifying 2016 as the glory year was the fact that many of its biggest fans, high school and college students, were experiencing major changes in their lives — alongside the major newsworthy events.
“I think most people my age, including myself, default to summer sixteen as being the glory days,” Thaker said. "It was a time in many kids’ lives where they were maturing and seeing more of the world."
For Gadudasu, this maturity let him enjoy and appreciate the music like never before.
And for Palanivel, 2016 provided the perfect upbeat soundtrack to his high school days.
“We were very immature at that age, thinking we were very mature, and the music at the time was perfect for driving around and having a good time," Palanivel said.
The romanticization of 2016 only grows stronger in 2020. Living in a socially distant and quarantine-driven reality makes the nostalgia even more powerful for many students.
“Especially with the stuff going on right now, it’s hard not to compare the two years,” Palanivel said. "And the comparison is quite bleak, with one summer filled with upbeat music, a fun and exciting app, the Olympics, and the other filled with a whole lot less."