26 December 2015

2015 in a Bottle: Best of the Music - Songs of the Year

Another year in music has come and gone and as I'm looking back on it, what a terrible, terrible year for the audial arts. Sure we have some standouts, but taking a look over my big list of top influential songs, how many do we really care about? It's a rough crowd. Take a gander:

"Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
"Four Five Seconds" by Kanye West ft. Rihanna and Paul McCartney
"Beggin' for Thread" by BANKS
"Stay With Me" by Sam Smith
"Ghost" by Ella Henderson
"Love Me Harder" by Ariana Grande
"Not the Only One" by Sam Smith
"Style" by Taylor Swift
"Budapest" by George Ezra
"Classic Man" by Jidenna
"Love Me Like You Do" by Ellie Goulding
"Heartbreak Song" by Kelly Clarkson
"Truffle Butter" by Nicki Minaj ft. Lil Wayne and Drake
"See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth
"GDFR" by Flo Rida
"Trap Queen" by Fetty Wap
"Ayo" by Chris Brown ft. Tyga
"Worth It" by Fifth Harmony
"Somebody" by Natalie La Rose ft. Jeremih
"Pose to Be" by Omarion ft. Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko
"Shut Up and Dance With Me" by Walk the Moon
"Bad Blood" by Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar
"King Kunta" by Kendrick Lamar
"Watch Me" by Silento
"Good For You" by Selena Gomez
"679" by Fetty Wap
"Girl Crush" by Little Big Town
"Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd
"Downtown" by Macklemore
"$ave Dat Money" by Lil Dicky
"Wildest Dreams" by Taylor Swift
"Like I'm Gonna Lose You" by Megan Trainor and John Legend
"The Hills" by The Weeknd
"Ex's & Oh's" by Elle King
"Hotline Bling" by Drake
"All My Friends Are Wasted" by Snakeships ft. Tinashe and Chance the Rapper
"Hello" by Adele
"Same Old Love" by Selena Gomez

Best Singles of the Year:

"Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars This is that rare kind of song that retains its greatness the more you listen to it. It's nigh impossible to get sick of. Imbued with eternal funkiness, sublime catchiness, and maximum long-term listenability, this is that rare song that transcends all critical and commercial boundaries and can play on repeat forever.

"S.O.B." by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Part folk, part Southern Rock, "S.O.B." is a rousing ode to problem drinking with gleeful tone that throws up goofiness along with its impassioned vocal work.

"High By the Beach" by Lana Del Rey The ethereal anti-pop nightmare by Lana Del Rey is a highlight of the album, fully committed to chilling out and avoiding the pressures of life. "You can be a bad motherfucker/but that don't make you a man" Lana coos, a confident front to excessive masculinity.

"Don't Wanna Fight" by Alabama Shakes Another perfect amalgam of genres, Brittany Howard squeals her way across this funky anthem that works both as a chilled out background jam and a hard-rocking arena bolero.

"Hello" by Adele For a little bit there I actually thought Adele might be done for - four years without a major record, although "Skyfall" kept us all at attention. "Hello" unified the country, though, and along with "Uptown Funk", bookended the year with huge widespread hits.

"Trap Queen" by Fetty Wap It was tough to pick just one Fetty song as emblematic of this exaggerated style of rapping, but "Trap Queen" is probably the most rhythmically complete of his efforts. It's a cute love song fueled by hustling drugs and gettin' cheddar with bae - a truer song for our times there is none. HEYWHATSUPHELLO

"L$D" by A$AP Rocky Simultaneously soft and soothing with restrained intensity and a progression that builds to a surreal cosmological climax, this song is a journey that gets better when the video breaks down and transitions to an entirely new song three minutes in.

"King Kunta" by Kendrick Lamar For the second consecutive year I'm picking a Kendrick effort as the top track of the year, that this dropped off the same album as last year's "i" is no coincidence. "King Kunta" emphasizes this year's return to funk and provides an uncanny mix of sampled sources, complex lyrics referencing the temptation of fame, a love of Compton, and Richard Pryor. It's full of community pride, good vibes, and infectious energy along with a strong undercurrent of righteous anger all supplanted by an addictive beat. "Life ain't shit but a fat vagina."

Artist of the Year:

Kendrick would be an obvious choice, but there were so many big names that came out this year. Mark Ronson, Fetty Wap, Drake, Ed Sheeran, the Weeknd, Selena Gomez, Wiz Khalifa, Demi Lovato, Alessia Cara, but in the end, there's really one obvious choice, that's totally Tay Sway.

After dropping her most mainstream, pop-iest album, 1989, late last year, Swift had a string of ridiculous hits that carried her through 2015. It's almost like Katy Perry's Teenage Dream which seemed to be made of only Top 10 singles. As "Blank Space" carried her out of 2014, Taylor dropped "Style", "Bad Blood", and "Wildest Dreams" and in the process, never wrote herself out of the pop cultural conversation for the entire year.

It helps that all these jams are pretty legitimately good, even if "Bad Blood" ended up being kitsch-y and "Wildest Dreams" is floaty and weird. Still, she can do no wrong at the moment, and for now, 2015 is all Taylor.

What do you think about the music of 2015? Any additions or subtractions?

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