Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it a rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.
DISCLAIMER: BEFORE YOU CONTINUE READING, PLEASE READ THE WORST SONGS OF 2015 LIST FIRST. IF YOU ALREADY HAVE, IGNORE THIS DISCLAIMER AND CONTINUE ON READING.
Wow. I can’t believe it’s over. I actually got through that.
No. In fact, it was too easy. I’m up for another challenge. And I know which one.
I’m gonna do a Best Songs List.
Consider it a first. I’m up for doing new things.
Good luck, Sam Jackson.
So, by now, you’ve read my Worst Songs of 2015 List. If not, what the hell are you doing? Stop reading this and go read that post right now. There’s a link above in the disclaimer. I’ll wait until you’re done. You’re back? Good. So like I said back in my Worst Songs of 2015 list, music is starting to improve from the previous year. In spite of some bad apples, 2015 was overall a good year for music, which I think everyone can agree. There’s been an increased number of good-to-great albums released, especially in hip-hop. The indie scene also has some good stuff. Pop music in general has gotten a bit better in comparison to last year. I don’t wanna waste any more of your time. Let’s start the list.
Number 10 sparked controversy for a dumbass reason. It was all because of its suggestive lyrical content that made a bunch of ignorant bigots have their panties in a bunch. But the controversy only helped the song get bigger and honestly, it deserves the attention.
In a time where mainstream country is infested with bro-country dick measuring, songs like Girl Crush are a breath of fresh air. This is just a beautiful song. It has very simple production and instrumentation that’s done well. The watery guitar riff holds this song together perfectly and it’s complimented by excellent vocals from Karen Fairchild, who sounds amazing here. This song also has some great writing. No, it’s not about lesbians. In actuality, it’s about a woman who’s envious of another woman who’s dating her ex-boyfriend. This could’ve gone in a bad direction, but the framing does it justice. It’s not bitter or smug at all, there’s no backhanded comments dissing anyone. It’s a perfect way to write a song about someone else. Props to you, Little Big Town.
Number 9 features a DJ who has made his mark this year and last year. If any of you are thinking I’m talking about DJ Mustard, slap yourself twice with both of your hands. I’m talking about the man named after a slithering reptile, DJ Snake.
I seriously regret writing this off in one of my Top 40 Review. It went from ehh to being a song that I can’t stop listening to and enjoying. Major Lazer has done some impressive work here. This is tropical EDM done right. You wanna know why Lean On works, but none of of Bieber’s EDM songs work? Aside from not sucking, it’s not weak and boring. The muffled synth melody doesn’t sound too repetitive, it’s the right amount of notes played at different times and spaced out so it doesn’t feel like noise. And it actually makes the song feel tropical. Add along some hard-hitting percussion, bass, and a drop that doesn’t sound like utter shit, plus, DJ Snake’s signature trap breakdown, and you have yourself one of the best EDM songs of 2015. Each element and layer in this song meshes together perfectly. For an artist who I didn’t care for (and still don’t care for), MØ actually impressed me here as a vocalist. She wasn’t filler, she actually helps enhance the song. Not too bad. Maybe I should check out more Major Lazer and see if I missed something… *hears Bubble Butt* Never mind.
Number 8 is one of the more “recent” entries and it’s one of the more unique songs currently on the charts. And unique in a good way.
What can I say? Ex’s And Oh’s is awesome. It’s one of the few songs of 2015 to actually rock and it comes from the daughter of an unfunny comedic actor. Funny how the world works; where there’s a negative, there’s an equal positive. I like the dustier blues rock instrumentation, giving the song a sense of grit that few charting songs have, especially with the guitar work and the drums. In the song itself, Elle King portrays herself as a bitch who’ll break a guy’s heart into a million tiny pieces, but her performance has enough confidence where I can actually buy into what she says. She’s just a badass who takes no shit from anyone. I hope we get more female artists like this in the future because all of these cream puffs and wannabe badasses are just pathetic.
Number 7 is another addition to the retro trend that’s been happening for a while, this time, going for 80s new wave.
There’s very few songs on the charts that I consider fun, so it’s always nice to see a truly fun song on the charts. Rock band Walk The Moon delivers that fun with their breakout single Shut Up And Dance. The 80s rock instrumentation sounds amazing, starting off with a frolicking guitar melody and thumping drums before exploding into an explosion of awesome. You can tell that they were influenced by the 80s, the best parts of it. It wouldn’t sound out of place in a John Hughes film. The lyrics and concept are all simple; it’s simply a dude dancing with a chick. The ultimate prom anthem and it’s effective on that platform. Like I said before, Shut Up And Dance is just nonstop fun. This is how you do effective party music. Like the song says, just shut up and dance.
Number 6 comes from an artist who’s had a huge breakout this year and he also has one of the funniest hair styles ever. Ladies and gentlemen, The Weeknd.
The Weeknd was inescapable this year, coming out with hit after hit; Earned It, The Hills, Can’t Feel My Face, In The Night. Outside of In The Night, Can’t Feel My Face is the best out of all of those singles. Normally, The Weeknd’s music is dark and moody, but with this song, he went for Michael Jackson territory and it paid off well. The production could benefit from tighter bass, but the synths, drums, and guitar make up for it to create this excellent 80s Michael Jackson sound. Combine that with a great vocal performance from The Weeknd himself, who does his best Michael impersonation. This song also has some pretty good writing. It is about doing drugs, but I believe that you can make songs about anything as long as it’s done creatively and not cliched and with Can’t Feel My Face, he talks about the effects of doing drugs and how he can’t stop doing it. The song could also be about either a woman he’s having sex with or his relationship with the music industry after achieving pop success. This is one of those songs with several interpretations according to several people. Whatever the meaning of Can’t Feel My Face is, it’s still a great song. Let’s hope the Weeknd sticks around and gives us more great music like this.
Before we continue on with the list, here’s some honorable mentions.
- The Weeknd-The Hills
- Tove Lo-Talking Body
- George Ezra-Budapest
- Wiz Khalifa ft Charlie Puth-See You Again
- Demi Lovato-Cool For The Summer
- Ella Henderson-Ghost
- Fall Out Boy-Uma Thurman
- Sia-Elastic Heart
- Ed Sheeran-Thinking Out Loud
- Pitbull ft Ne-Yo-Time Of Our Lives
The number 5 pick on this list is an anomaly of the charts and a really good one, too.
Most recently, the charts rarely have religious-themed songs make it big. Then late 2014, Irish musician Hozier scored a top three hit with the single Take Me To Church, one of the most religion-heavy songs to become a hit in recent years and one of the best ones. The instrumentation is really dark and intense with the eerie piano combined with bluesy indie-rock guitar and drums. Hozier with his more soulful, bluesy voice compares his lover to religion while criticizing the ways of the Catholic Church. This became a hit and I love it. Hozier’s self-titled album is pretty dope, so check that out if you haven’t. Can we get more hits from this guy, please?
Number 4 comes from an artist who I think is unfairly scrutinized for things that are out of his hands. It’s never easy being a white rapper, even if you are talented. This guy’s music has some deep messages and he’s got bars. That’s why I think the world should take it easy on Riff Raff. Yes, people should stop hating on Riff Raff and recognize the genius that he is because he’s made some important records that most rappers-MACKLEMORE!! I’M TALKING ABOUT MACKLEMORE!!
Just when you thought Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were done for, they come in with this smash single Downtown, featuring a whole bunch of people. This song gets better with each listen. Ryan Lewis might be one of the most underrated producers out there. His beats never disappoint and none of them sound the same. Upon first listen, the beat sounds like a mess, which it is, but it’s a good mess, one that creates something amazing like mixing chocolate with peanut butter. It’s like two or three songs mushed together to create this funky 80s hip-hop rock extravaganza. The looser tone of the song helps the song more than it hurts it, especially when it’s just Macklemore rapping about buying a moped and driving around town. The premise alone is silly, very reminiscent of Thrift Shop and Macklemore revels in it, but doesn’t sacrifice any of his skills as a lyricist. It’s was awesome to hear Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz, and Melle Mell here, further validating the whole 80s vibe. Another highlight of the song is Eric Nally, who adds a lot of personality to the track, though he does sound a lot like Freddie Mercury. Still, he’s cool. Downtown is just a lot of fun to listen to and you can tell that everyone in the song is having fun. It’s just contagious.
Number 3 is a song that I never thought would work because of the artists featured together, but strangely, it does and it’s one of my favorite songs of this decade.
If you were to tell me in 2013 that Ariana Grande and The Weeknd would make a sex song and it would be a great song, I would laugh uncontrollably at the thought, but here we are and both artists made Love Me Harder. This production is just awesome with the warping bass, the thumping drums, and the frolicking guitars and synths makes for a great sound reminiscent of great 90s R&B. The song is exactly what the title suggests, rough sex, but it works thanks to both Grande and The Weeknd working at their strengths vocally and the contrast between them musters up some great chemistry, doing a much better job at a sex song than Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor. Even though I don’t buy Grande as a sex goddess like she’s trying to sell us recently, this song works well enough for repeated listens.
I think I’ll just let the number 2 song speak for itself.
Four years after the beast that was 21, Adele comes roaring back with another mega-blockbuster of a single with Hello, which doesn’t disappoint. This is an epic song with epic production fueled by simple, but effective piano work, church bells, and reverb-heavy drums. This is production that only a few artists can do justice to and Adele is one of those few artists. As usual, her singing is godly on here. She can hit notes that many singers dream of hitting with a voice that has the power of a thermonuclear bomb. This song is also benefited by some good writing, where Adele is talking to an ex about the times they used to have when they were with each other. The framing is constructed well and shows a mature presentation, like Adele is growing as a person. The moment I first heard this song, I loved the crap out of it and I still love it now. This would have been my number one if it weren’t for one song. Which one is it? You’ll see.
My number one choice is the most predictable choice ever. The moment I first heard it, I knew it was gonna be number one on my Best list and every other song was just competing for second place. So let’s see the number one choice.
The number one best song of 2015 IS…….
Yeah, baby. There’s no stopping the funk this year and, honestly, I hope it doesn’t stop if it spawns more awesomeness like this. Uptown Funk kicks a lot of ass even a year after its release. Overplay might have worn off on some people, but not me (mainly because I haven’t listened to radio since 2013). I love this song the first time I heard it and I still love it now. I’m mostly a sucker for retro-sounding songs, but I can see why some people would be turned off by it. For some, it seems like going backwards and not evolving. Me, personally? I don’t mind this. Just like with Hollywood and movies, there’s really no such thing as an original idea, just different variations of the same 10 concepts. And if it’s done well, who cares if it’s unoriginal? Uptown Funk is just a well-done song. Mark Ronson did a fantastic job with this funky instrumentation; it never gets tiring. The guitar licks, the bass, the tight drums, the horn section on the chorus, the handclaps, the synths, the vocal melody that stays in your head for days and weeks. Nothing in the song feels dull or repetitive, it all feels like it was all improvised on the spot and every moment is engaging. This production is just nonstop fun that wouldn’t sound out of place in the 80s, but is modern enough for contemporary audiences to enjoy. The lyrics are mostly Bruno Mars ego-stroking himself along with some background vocals, but it doesn’t cross the line of being insulting. He’s clearly having the time of his life on here and you can’t help but feel the same way while listening. Uptown Funk, 4 and a half minutes of funk ecstasy and the number one best hit song of 2015.
So that was the best that 2015 had to offer. It’s going to be interesting to see what 2016 has to offer. I like to give some quick shout outs to my fellow music reviewers and music lovers: Danny Korcz (@dannykorcz), Halston Blain Wirt (@BStreetMarcy), James Koloko (@lokoreviews), Keenan Edwards (@guessilikemusic), Goog (@TheRealGoog), William S. Deaver (@WilliamSDeaver), Bobby Bobertson (@BOBeREVIEWS), Mark Grondin of Spectrum Pulse, ARTV, The Double Agent, MalaCritico, etc. I also want to give a shout out to all of my readers who give me a reason to keep doing this. To everyone out there, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
These Walls-Kendrick Lamar ft Bilal, Anna Wise, & Thundercat
In The Night-The Weeknd
Another One Bites The Dust-Queen