A few months ago, I broke a limb and suddenly found myself with quite a bit of spare time. So I decided to take the arduous task of lying in bed for a few weeks, listening to as many songs from this year as possible. Here, for your (presumably very mild) entertainment, is The Definitive Top 100 Songs of 2015. Ever.
Whilst nobody could really argue that 2015 has been a vintage year for music, it has hardly passed by without event. With arguably the best hip-hop album of the decade released back in March, the emergence of Taylor Swift as pop’s newest global superstar, and the (un)fortunate return of Adele, 2016 still has a lot to live up to, as these 100 songs prove…
You – Georgia – 100
Georgia’s self-titled debut album is a cocktail of musical genres that surprisingly doesn’t end up sounding stilted or messy. Electropop and UK Bass seasoned with modern day Grime is not an easy achievement to pull off, especially for a 21-year old. The last track, You, is the perfect send off for the South Londoners quietly rated introduction.
Because a Youtube video of this song doesn’t actually exist, I’ve found the closest substitute possible and dug up a video of Georgia talking us through the song.
Charged Up – Drake – 99
Even though Back to Back is the first ever Grammy-nominated diss track, Charged Up is just better. More subtle, it teased and delivered in equal measure. Meek Mill monumentally fucked himself in the summer of 2015, and Charged Up was the start of that. It’s produced brilliantly too; the intros and outros are positioned perfectly.
Stonemilker – Bjork – 98
I think the one thing you have to realise before you listen to a Bjork track, above all else, is that she’s nuts. In her own little perfectly adorable and Icelandic way. Stonemilker is a rarity in that it is solely produced and written by the woman herself, who details the complete breakdown of her most recent relationship. The video is pretty cool too; it’s one of them new fandangled 360 video things.
Too Young To Live – All Tvvins – 97
A high-tempo burst of funk, this up and coming Dublin duo provide one of the most energetic songs of the year, with the strangely catchy hook of “Too Young To Live/Too Old To Die”. Having earned a place on the current FIFA video game series playlist, and currently touring with Kodaline, I expect we’ll hear a lot more from the curiously named ‘Tvvins’ in 2016.
I Really Like You – Carly Rae Jepsen – 96
Tom Hanks is in the video. It’s addictive as hell. It’s one of the best singalong songs I’ve ever heard. Tom Hanks is in the video! Why wasn’t I Really Like You the summer banger of this year? The first time I heard it I thought it would be plastered everywhere a la Uptown Funk, but it was not to be. It’s still an amazing little pop song though. And Tom Hanks is in the video!
FourFiveSeconds – Rihanna (Kanye West, Paul McCartney) – 95
It’s not aged well, but you can’t deny its quality. The leftfield infrequent collaboration of Kanye West and Paul McCartney throws up another hit, this time with Rihanna leading the line. More Paul was needed for this to end up higher on this list, but hopefully it is only a teaser for more hip-hop partnerships with the Beatles legend.
Blue Bucket of Gold – Sufjan Stevens – 94
The last track on a terrific album, Blue Bucket of Gold serves as a distressing yet beautiful call for help, flowing Sufjan’s abandonment by his mother as a child. Even though the song and album does not have a definitive end, musically drifting off into the distance, it adds to overall haunting experience. A little masterpiece.
Coward – Chip – 93
2015 almost became the year of the diss track, and a lot of that was down to the single-handedness of Chip(munk). Although Chippy needs to work on quality over quantity, with nearly ten sends released this year alone. Despite most of his efforts being focused on Manchester artist Bugzy Malone, it is actually the only dedicated song he’s released for Tinie Tempah in Coward that stands out above the rest. But anything using the instrumentals to Together by Ruff Sqwad would have found itself on this list.
Shutdown – Skepta – 92
We are in the age of nu-grime now. The genre has never been bigger, in part to Kanye West’s inspired Brits performance, which in turn was orchestrated by Skepta himself. A master in the arts of making mainstream grime tracks following the success of That’s Not Me, Shutdown had all the ingredients to be even bigger. He even managed to build the whole song on his burgeoning friendship with Drake, what with the sample at the start.
Forever (pt. II) – Snakehips (Kaleem Taylor) – 91
A track that borderlines on anthem territory, this song ranks as one of the most upbeat of the last 12 months. Personally, songs that sound like you could have heard them years ago rank as some of the best for me, and this sounds like it could have been plucked straight out of a 1990’s recording studio. It’s a supreme choice on vocals too with Kaleem Taylor.
Fourth of July – Sufjan Stevens – 90
Another effort heavy on the emotional side from Sufjan Stevens. Detailing the moments in which his mother passed away, the macabre Fourth of July lingers in your head, but for all the right reasons. Carrie & Lowell is a beautiful piece of art, and Fourth of July stands out at the top of that pile.
She Ain’t Me – Sinead Harnett – 89
From London, Sinead Harnett is probably best known for her regular collaborations with Rudimental, up to and including their 2015 release We The Generation. The 26 year old stands out on her own, however, with a strong range of vocal talent on show in She Ain’t Me. An infectious chorus of just four words, this song is definitely one of the surprises of the year.
S.O.B – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – 88
From a song initially recorded as a joke, to being performed on Jools Holland and Jimmy Fallon, it’s safe to say Nathaniel Rateliff has had a strange year. As it happens, his current band The Night Sweats have cooked up something worth much more than a musical equivalent of a Christmas cracker joke. It could be a strange origin to the mainstream for the world’s much needed Mumford & Sons replacement.
Elegy to the Void – Beach House – 87
The kind of song that you could imagine being the soundtrack of an apocalypse, and the strongest effort in their surprise album Thank Your Lucky Stars. Powerful yet almost effortless, Elegy becomes one of the strongest dream-pop songs created in many a year. The band themselves, fronted by the supreme Victoria Legrand go from strength to strength and are one of the best things I discovered this year.
I Will For Love – Rudimental (Will Heard) – 86
I’ll admit, I only listened to the Rudimental album because I thought I had to for this list. I wasn’t expecting to actually enjoy it, let alone add anything from it to this list. But here we are. The best song is its introduction, I Will For Love, which has the aura of being a proper pop song, something all too rare these days. The conveniently named Will Heard of Sonnentanz fame posts his best effort to date.
Your Love – Mick Jenkins – 85
Chicago is having something of a lean period. With its VIP resident in Kanye West, and Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet and Vic Mensa further down the chain, it’s fair some of the US’s best music is coming from The Windy City. A man perhaps not so well known is Mick Jenkins, although if he keeps the standard of Your Love up, it surely won’t be long. A solid party song, Jenkins takes a batch of beats from Kaytranada and produced something near masterful.
Know Me From – Stormzy – 84
Stormzy by name, Stormzy by nature. That doesn’t make sense. We’ll start again. Stormzy is hands-down the biggest grime story since Dizzee Rascal. What he’s doing in the timeframe he’s done it in is downright ridiculous. Millions of views on Youtube, charting in the Top 20 with a freestyle, and Channel 4 feature interviews. That’s ignoring the two MOBO’s he’s won this year. All this without being Lethal Bizzle an idiot. Know Me From encapsulates that better than his arguably bigger hits this year, Shut Up and Wicked Skengman 4. The energy it oozes, the powerful and comedic wordplay it has from start to finish is platinum grime. Stormzy is here to stay and I doubt he gives a shit whether you like it or not.
Downtown – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Eric Nally, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz) – 83
Fresh from controversial, award-winning (delete as applicable) album The Heist, Macklemore is in an awkward phase of trying to keep his profile up. Downtown follows the Seattle rapper’s supposed theme of supporting national causes. Though this time, instead of gay rights, sexism, drug use or the downsides of commercialism, Macky makes an impassioned defence of the motorbikes poorer cousin, the moped.
In all seriousness, the Macklemore bits in this song are, at best, cringeworthy (though the Khaled shoutout raised a chuckle). It’s probably the best chorus on this list though and that can’t be ignored.
Dumb – Jazmine Sullivan (Meek Mill) – 82
A posthumous honour for poor Meek Mill, who as detailed earlier may have handed Drake a Grammy on a plate. This song isn’t here because of him though, that is more down to the incredible vocals of Jazmine Sullivan. I knew next to nothing about her before this song, but Dumb comes across as a viable upgrade on Rihanna’s Unfaithful from 2006, and one that is expertly produced.
Leather and Wood – Deerhunter – 81
I’m so happy I found Deerhunter. They might be my new favourite band if the three albums of theirs I’ve yet to listen to are as strong as the ones I’ve heard so far. Completely hypnotic, Bradford Cox has nailed the art of tranceful music. It shouldn’t work at all, but it most definitely does, and it only gets stronger (and weirder) the further into the track you delve.