Thus, I’ll keep my writing to a minimum.
I listened to ~500 new albums and ~5000 new songs this year.
This means that I wasn’t paying enough attention to most of the music. But to make this list, a song had to catch my attention and keep my thumb on the replay button. Some of the best songs did for me what I imagine powerful drugs do for other people.
(Some of the music is more than a year old; I just heard it for the first time this year.)
I’ve written down the genre, in case you’re one of those silo-bound chauvinists who can’t stand Italian comedy-rock.
I also made a playlist of all these songs (in the order they’re posted).
If you find something you like, let me know! There’s more where that came from.
The Best Songs of My 2015
In no particular order:
- Worldwide Choppers, Tech N9ne (and eight other people) (rap in three languages)
- How Could You, Maduk (melodic drum ‘n bass)
- XO, Beyoncé (Beyoncé)
- Witchcraft, Pendulum (melodic rock ‘n roll ‘n drum ‘n bass)
- Relapse, ShockOne (ft. Sam Nafie) (funky drum ‘n bass)
- Heartbeat (Calyx & Teebee Remix), Wilkinson (ft. P Money & Arlissa) (dark melodic drum ‘n bass)
- 13 Angels On My Broken Windowsill (Fractal remix), BT (trance and dubstep had a baby and the baby wrote a symphony)
- Without You, Danny L. Harle (…electronic pop? Man, f**k genres)
- California, Grimes (I give up, Grimes is her own genre)
- Damage, Special Request (deep house)
- Make It Right, Armin van Buuren (ft. Angel Taylor) (trance)
- Disarm You, Kaskade (ft. Ilsey) (EDM with a capital “EDM”)
- Everything, Maya Jane Coles (ft. Karin Park aka The Knife aka Fever Ray) (haunted house) (wear headphones)
- The Palace, The M Machine (ft. Blake Hazard) (dubstep with a long, long build)
- The Thrill, Nero (electro-rock)
- After Life, Tchami (ft. Stacy Barthe) (funktastic house)
- Pessimist, Koven & Memtrix (melodic drum ‘n bass)
- Black Ballet, JLin (lots of sounds all mixed up together)
- The Strongest Person I Know, The Streets (the love song I wish I’d written for my fiancée)
- For You I Am, Dead Sara (hard rock anthem)
- Raven, John Dahlbäck (EDM with 5% body fat, not a note out of place)
- Roses, The Chainsmokers (trap // trance)
- Major Happy (Frederic Robinson remix), Fred V & Grafix (drum ‘n bass with a very light touch — the best song Aphex Twin should have released this year)
- Love The Silence, London Elektricity & Elsa Esmeralda (drum ‘n bass with lots of empty space, but mostly I’m here for Elsa Esmeralda)
- Lift Me Up, Vince Staples (rap)
- Your Love (12″ Mix), Frankie Knuckles (classic house)
- Hide The Advisement, Nadastrom (underwater house)
- Get Dirty, Xenia Ghali ft. Wyclef Jean (electro-soul)
- Move Into Light (Koven Remix), Juventa ft. Erica Curran (melodic dubstep)
- Lights On, Big Boi & Phantogram (aka Big Grams) (pop-rap hybrid, melancholy and sweet)
Fun Songs (2015 Edition)
I wouldn’t listen to most of these on loop, but there’s something special about them — brilliant lyrics, conceptual whimsy, Missy Elliot, etc.
- Epic Rap Battles of History: Stan Lee vs. Jim Henson (the last verse is genuine fire)
- Prisencolinensinainciusol (Italian comedy-rock, absurdly catchy)
- Pop For You, Junglepussy (R&B)
- We OK, The Very Best ft. K’naan (Afro-pop)
- Alphabet Aerobics, Blackalicious (rap, listen carefully and you’ll get it) (also, Daniel Radcliffe sang it once)
- Take U There (Missy Elliot Remix), Jack U ft. Kiesza (rap // trap // pop)
- Pillow Talking, Lil Dicky ft. Brain (“rap”, but really an 11-minute short story in verse)
- Professional Rapper, Lil Dicky ft. Snoop Dogg (rap // interview, Snoop takes his job seriously)
- Thunderstruck, 2 Cellos (two cellos)
- Masschusetts, Ylvis (indescribable, see below)
The Best Albums of My 2015
In no particular order:
- Various Failures, Swans (experimental rock)
- Imani Vol. 1, Blackalicious (rap)
- Art Angels, Grimes (again, Grimes is her own genre)
- Purple, Baroness (hard rock // soft metal)
- Comfort, Maya Jane Coles (dark house, lots of echos)
- Platform, Holly Herndon (experimental glitch-pop)
- No Cities to Love, Sleater-Kinney (rock)
- Caligo, Spor (drum ‘n bass — one of the first drum ‘n bass albums I’ve heard that works as an album)
- Damogen Furies, Squarepusher (very fast computer music with percussion out the wazoo)
- EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE, Rustie (electronic pop music that drops the bass, but not “dubstep” per se)
- New Bermuda, Deafheaven (metal // shoegaze)
- The Transponder Orchestra, Starkey (upside-down EDM)
- Big Grrl Small World, Lizzo (experimental rap?)
- Blood For Mercy, Yellow Claw (trap music all the way)
- Metropolis Pt. I & II, The M Machine (orchestral semi-dubstep)
Artists I Finally Listened To In 2015
Yo La Tengo: I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One is actually my album of the year. One of my top three albums of all time. Yo La Tengo make normal indie rock, but with a sprinkling of magic dust that makes most of the songs really, really good. If you like music, you might like Yo La Tengo.
Outkast: Andre 3000 and Big Boi meeting in high school was one of the great moments of 20th-century music history.
I listened to Stankonia and Speakerboxxx/The Love Below when I was in high school, and then again this year, from start to finish. I’m glad my ears have matured enough that I can hear just a little more of what Outkast is doing on these albums (plus Aquemini and ATLiens).
Fox Stevenson: Not as classic as the first two, but that could change someday.
I’m a Fox fanboy. Everything he touches turns to gold. He does all his own vocals, he writes lyrics you don’t mind hearing for the tenth time, and his candy-coated drum ‘n bass hits hard without repeating itself. He’s inventing a new genre, and he’s never written a bad song.
It’s odd to think I could have been listening to a different radio station when “Sweets (Soda Pop)” played on Sirius BPM one day. Without Fox, my 2015 would have been a lot less interesting.
Top Drops (2015 Edition)
Songs with moments that made me want to punch through a wall, jump over a building, etc.
- December, Seven Lions ft. Davey Havok
- Reflections, Jacob Plant ft. Example
- Air Walker, Mt. Eden ft. Diva Ice
- No Turning Back, SPL
- High And Low (Juuso Pikanen Remix), Tove Stryke
- Evolution, I See MONSTAS
- Ruffneck Bad Boy, Mat Zo
- Shut Up & Sing V2.0, Greta Svabo Bech & Zeds Dead