Here – Alessia Cara – 40
Here is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard that doesn’t actually start. The vocals and beat teeter on an edge, teasing and teasing, as you expect them to give way to a drop which hardly ever arrives. It’s genius from Alessia Cara. A scarily good debut single.
My Baby Don’t Understand Me – Natalie Prass – 39
Another debut track from another debut album, but My Baby Don’t Understand Me could not really be more different to Here. The turmoil of the relationship Natalie Prass is in is etched beautifully onto the soft yet harsh backdrop. There are artists who have been trying for years to convey the emotion Prass has in her first ever release.
Hotline Bling – Drake – 38
The most meme-able created this year, if not ever, Hotline Bling is a masterpiece in both song writing and marketing. Released as a surprise, it sprung straight into public consciousness the second that video was released. Drake’s “Dad dancing” is genius, in that it now means you can dance to this song however you like, and you can’t be wrong. Which is good for people like me.
Grief – Earl Sweatshirt – 37
After the brilliance of Doris two years previous, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside fell a little flat. There was nothing wrong with it, it for me just didn’t reach the bar Earl set himself. But, on a positive note, your favourite Xanax addict did have one piece of mastery on the album in Grief. The backdrop brings the best out in Mr Sweatshirt, with its distortion allowing Earl to reel off lyrics like we know he can.
Dream Lover – Destroyer – 36
It’s a big, jazzy trumpet party! It’s got more horn than Hugh Hefner at a nudist party (I am so, so, sorry) and it’s amazing for it. Dream Lover is on strangely named Destroyer’s 10th studio album. The big old positive trumpets fit the purpose though, with the song being about turning negative people around.
Get Away – The Internet – 35
In the absence of Frank Ocean, The Internet becomes the surprise winner of Best Former Odd Future Person to Release an Album This Year. I couldn’t really separate Girl and Get Away, so I went with the latter, for it is shorter and less is more you greedy bastards. Syd tha Kyd is quietly one of the most talented women in music.
Bored in the USA – Father John Misty – 34
Blimey, Father John can write a song can’t he? This supposed sequel to Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The USA is majestic in its apathy towards Middle America. It smoothly drags you through all the negative points of simply existing in The Promised Land, ending with a fantastic note. It also produced a very impressive live performance on David Letterman.
Teach Me – Joey Bada$$ (Kiesza) – 33
Released only as a bonus track on Joey Bada$$’$ album, his collaboration with Kiesza (of Hideaway fame) ends up being his best single of the year. Simply a bit of fun, it’s one of those songs where you can simply let your brain go off its hook and enjoy it. Bada$$ moved away from his typical style for this song, which attracted negative criticism, but I wish he’d do it more often.
Never Ending Circles – CHVRCHES – 32
The opening track to Every Open Eye, and also the best, Never Ending Circles brings the absolute definitive best out of CHVRCHES. Sounding like a Taylor Swift song on ecstasy, the beat is powerful in its punchiness. It’s hard to believe this song describes the melancholy of a relationship that simply goes round and round.
Third Eye – Florence + The Machine – 31
Another “best off this album” song here, with What Kind Of Man trampled on by this work of art from Florence. Her Machine is the best it’s ever been for Third Eye, with Florence herself raising her game to boot. The song asks a friend to come out of her shell, which is perfect as this song would wake nearly anybody out of a slumber.
Love Yourself – Justin Bieber – 30
The renaissance of Justin Bieber begins. After the success of both questions What Do You Mean? And Where Are U Now? (Which, whisper it, weren’t actually that good) Bieber assaults us with his new big cuddy self with Love Yourself. The lyric “My momma don’t like you/And she like everyone” is inspired and is pretty much the reason it’s number 30.
Legend – Drake – 29
Ah, you thought Hotline Bling was the best song Drizzy Drake did this year? No no, silly, as I know from personal experience, bigger doesn’t always mean better (I’m sorry again). Legend, from his immensely successful “mixtape” (it’s an album) If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Produced by PARTYNEXTDOOR, which is always a good sign, Drake lets fly on the opening song on the “mixtape”. He holds nothing back and this Drake is the best Drake.
Flesh Without Blood – Grimes – 28
With one of the strangest album covers in history, Grimes are back! And while REALiTi gets a lot of love, and probably rightly so, the high tempo of this makes it better for me. To be as powerful vocal wise and still hold everything together at the pitch Flesh Without Blood does means it’s one of the best releases this year.
All Day – Kanye West (Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom, Paul McCartney) – 27
Despite frustratingly not releasing an album this year, and Kanye focusing on making shit jumpers and becoming President, All Day is amazing. It’s got the energy that seemingly only Kanye can provide, and has a feature list to make My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy blush. To top that off, he premiered this at the Brits, upset mainstream TV and made the best hood video of all time.
Mark My Words – Justin Bieber – 26
The renaissance of Justin Bieber continues. The reason this edges past Love Yourself in this countdown is simply down to the fact that I heard this first on Bieb’s Purpose album. It shocked me as I knew then that I was (almost) a Belieber. It’s the right kind of change from his early crap that makes him justifiable as a musician.
Miss You – Alabama Shakes – 25
If you’ve never heard of Alabama Shakes, like I hadn’t, then you need to change that. I only listened to them since I heard that their album might be nominated for a Grammy, and by jove it did not disappoint. The levels in this are perfect in that it grows more and more intense before the crescendo peaks in an orgy of noise to finish. Brilliant.
Wait On Me – Kyle – 24
A lovely tribute to his inspiration, Wait On Me is a surprisingly good release from everybody’s favourite lispy singer, Kyle. Paying homage to his grandfather, in his mind the reason why he has reached such success, even in the studio version you can hear a man trying to keep his emotions in check, even saying “Trying to get through this verse without me fucking crying.” It’s just the right kind of emotion you want from a song like this.
push pull – Purity Ring – 23
Purity Ring’s first release in three years is as calming as a 2 hour visit to a sauna. I assume anyway, I’ve never visited a sauna. The chorus is near perfection, giving vigour to an otherwise relaxing sound. The Canadian outfit better fellow countryman Justin Biebers’ efforts, which as we’ve discussed is not an easy feat for a change.
Bros – Wolf Alice – 22
I did not stop listening to this for weeks. It’s extremely difficult to explain why this is so good, but Bros from Wolf Alice caught me by surprise in its quality. It has so much to it while sounding almost effortless, it completely oozes talent. Luckily this is taken from Wolf Alice’s debut album, which means we can come to expect a lot, lot more.
Loud Places – Jamie xx (Romy) – 21
This reuinion of The xx’s two x’s is the definite best song on Jamie’s In Colour album. (I Know) There’s Gonna Be Good Times gets a lot of love, but to be honest I’m not sure why, simply because of Young Thug. This is a few echelons above that though, with Romy the centrepiece on a piece of majestically made music.