It is Christmas Day and there are only five days to go for 2016. And I couldn’t let this year without letting you know which were the songs I considered the best of 2015. (This delayed list was due to travel)
It was a very difficult task to come up with a list of only ten songs. That it’s why I decided to include only those songs that were released as singles in 2015. Regardless of their original release date through an album, EP, music video, etc. As a result, this list has a more commercial and radio-friendly approach than my best albums list. From Blues-rock, to hip-hop, to alternative rock. Here are the ten best songs of 2015:
#10 Elle King — Ex’s & Oh’s
With the assistance of Patrick Carney (The Black Keys) on drums, Elle King rocked the last quarter of the year with the Americana-infused rock song, “Ex’s & Oh’s”. King sings about all the men she’s dumped from California to New Orleans and how they keep coming back hunting her as ghosts.
#9 Loïc Nottet — Rhythm Inside
Lorde’s alternative pop sounds influenced teenagers worldwide. One of them was 19 year-old, Loïc Nottet from Belgium whose “Rhythm Inside” is far darker than “Royals” with references to death, heaven, and hell. This song was Belgium’s official entry to the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, which despite its minimalist approach, managed to place 4th in a field of 27 participants that were mostly overproduced Europop songs.
#8 Fetty Wap — Trap Queen
Fetty Wap’s sleeper hit “Trap Queen” was written in 2013, recorded in 2014, and released in December last year. However, it took them until mid-2015 to reach the charts in North America. “Trap Queen” is a versatile hip-hop song heavily influenced by trap music and Jamaican reggae. Despite the title and the music, “Trap Queen” is not about the queen of the dancefloor. It is actually about a Bonnie & Clyde type of romance where both lovers are involved in drug dealing.
#7 Kendrick Lamar — Alright
Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” is one of the best hip-hop songs ever written. Following the darker themes present in To Pimp A Butterfly, “Alright” co-written with Pharrell Williams provides a more optimistic light by rapping “we gon’ be alright”. The song also compiles several themes off Lamar’s album such as street life and crime, drug abuse, God and religion, and of course the Black Lives Matter concept.
#6 Florence + The Machine — Ship to Wreck
“Ship to Wreck” is a folk-pop song and one of the singles off Florence + The Machine’s third studio album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. “Did I build this ship to wreck?” Florence sings at the end of the chorus, referring to how she destroyed her love relationship. The song is also filled with imagery from the sea and water, in general. Though it also makes references to the abuse of alcohol and sleeping pills. A far more darker concept than the video or the music suggest.
#5 Taylor Swift — Style
This 80s-infused synthpop song was one of the singles from Taylor Swift’s 1989. In “Style”, Taylor is a good girl who wears a “tight little skirt” and dates a James Dean. The on-and-off nature of their relationship and the fashion references of the 50s that are still present today is what makes Taylor Swift’s relationship with this man to “never go out of style”.
#4 Courtney Barnett — Pedestrian At Best
“Pedestrian at Best” is a grungy rock song and the first single from Barnett’s debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. It is also the heaviest song off the album. The lyrics deal with Barnett’s insecurities as a recording artist and how she refuses to sell herself out to the music industry. The line “I think you’re a joke, but I don’t find you very funny” is a direct attack to the music industry that is trying to put her on a “pedestal” and above her peers.
#3 Tame Impala — Let It Happen
This epic 8-minute long song is the introduction to Tame Impala’s third studio album Currents. It is a psychedelic rock track heavily influenced by synthesizers and other electronic elements. “Let It Happen” can be interpreted as an LSD trip in which the inner voice in your head is telling you to forget all worries and let all things to flow naturally as there’s always a silver lining.
#2 Kurt Vile — Pretty Pimpin’
“Pretty Pimpin” is the first single and the first song you will hear off Kurt Vile’s album B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down… On a Monday morning, Vile wakes up again on a pretty daze not recognizing himself in the mirror. As the song progress, Vile’s inner-self comes to light and he’s younger, handsomer, less preoccupied and taking life as it goes.
#1 Death Cab for Cutie — Black Sun
Death Cab for Cutie is known for telling personal stories through their songs. “Black Sun” is not exception as it deals with Ben Gibbard’s and Zooey Deschanel’s divorce and revolves around Gibbard’s feelings towards the city of Los Angeles. This rather depressing song is adorned with electronic and psychedelic rock rhythms that is quite different from the signature acoustic/indie-rock sounds from Death Cab for Cutie. “Black Sun”, released in late January, became my favourite song of the year 2015.
Honourable mentions (Top 20)
Adele — Hello
Alabama Shakes — Don’t Wanna Fight
Beck — Dreams
Coldplay — Adventure Of A Lifetime
Lana del Rey — High By the Beach
Highly Suspect — Layla
Muse — Mercy
Kacey Musgraves — Biscuits
The Weeknd — The Hills
Wolf Alice — Moaning Lisa Smile