We’ve gone through my least favourite songs of the year, now is time for my favourites. Before we get to my Top 5 list though, here are some special mentions that it’d be remiss to forget:
Songs that reached No. 1 but didn’t make the list:
“King” – Years and Years
As has been pointed out in the comments of my original review, I was needlessly unfair on King when it first came out. My original post read the lyrics as being about an usual relationship when in reality they’re about a man lamenting a relationship with a highly controlling woman, providing yet another example of a song where controlling women dominating weaker men is seen as the societal ideal. This makes it much more interesting than I first made it out to be and firmly places it in the reconstructionist subgenre of modern pop. Hopefully this position on the Special Mentions list serves as an adequate apology for my previous unfair treatment.
“Are You With Me?” – Lost Frequencies
The more I listened to this, the more I got into it’s unique atmosphere and style. Unfortunately, it’s ultimately a bit too low key to get a place on the list; it took me a long time to warm to it while there were a lot of songs that I liked from the off. It definitely deserves repeated listens though and rewards putting as much effort into it as you can.
“Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
Unfortunately, this has suffered the same fate that Happy did last year: by being the first great song of the year, it’s ended up being hideously overplayed and, as such, I’m not really that interested in listening to it much anymore. An absolutely fantastic song (I think I actually prefer it to Happy) but a slight victim of it’s own success for me.
Songs that didn’t reach No. 1 but which would’ve made the list if they had:
“Love Me Like You” – Little Mix
Little Mix do it again: yet another poppy middle finger to the idea that women aren’t allowed to have sex, should be considered sluts if they do and should generally be shamed for their sexual desires. This song is literally about how much the singers want to fuck all the time: they used to have it a lot and really liked it, now that they’ve broken up with their previous fuck buddy and it’s just not the same. This song is exactly what Meghan Trainor keeps trying to make: a cheeky, subversive song utilizing a classical doo-wop sound to talk about sex. The problem is that Meghan Trainor’s songs are filled with innuendoes which are pretending to be clean and innocent, thus defeating the point; Love Me Like You is filthy and joyously so. Carry on Little Mix, you’re one of the best bands we’ve got right now. Meghan Trainor, pay attention.
“Bills” – Lunchmoney Lewis
A criminally underrated, socially conscious piece of barbed ragtime fun. The fact that this song isn’t being discussed in the same breath as Uptown Funk is a sign that the world is just unfair; this should’ve been one of the biggest hits of the year.
“I Really Like You” – Carly Rae Jepsen
Taylor Swift spent the last half of 2014 leaving her younger audience behind so she could grow up and become the most important artist working at the moment. Carly Rae Jepsen then spent the first half of 2015 trying to reclaim that audience and thank God she did. This song is wonderful. It’s optimism is infectious. It’s joy is palpable. It just makes me happy to know it exists. I really really really love it. It would’ve made the second spot of my list at least.
“Shut Up and Dance” – Walk the Moon
A man in a nightclub is agonising over the idea of a woman being his true love, up until the moment that the woman grabs his hand and tells him to “shut up and dance”; aka “get out of your own head, stop deifying women, treat them as human beings, stop over-exaggerating things, and just enjoy life, you twat”. Of course I like it. This is the song of the year that I wish I had written a full essay on.
“Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd
Oh God this is great: a fantastic groove facilitating a truly carnivalesque atmosphere, providing the perfect context to a song valorising a destructive relationship of drugs and sex. You feel like you shouldn’t like it but you just can’t stop; you feel like you’re in the middle of an addiction which all the highs and lows that entails. It’s wonderful and terrible, all at the same time. The song is a masterpiece of control.
Songs that got nowhere near the charts at all but which I love:
“Distant Buzzing” and “Lifeblood” – William D Drake
William D. Drake is the former pianist of the Cardiacs and now goes around the country, playing little ditties to his own small-but-dedicated fandom. Distant Buzzing is wonderfully pompous piece of English eccentricity that only he could write; Lifeblood meanwhile is a tribute to artists, providing a variation on Rachael Platten’s Fight Song written by someone with actual originality. Both are fun and made by a truly underrated English gentleman.
“Police Encounters” and “Things I Won’t Get” – FFS
2015 saw the merging of art rockers Sparks with indie rockers Franz Ferdinand, producing the band FFS and an identically titled album. Police Encounters is a wildly fluctuating piece of madness with a stonking bass line; meanwhile Things I Won’t Get manages to both describe my ideal type of relationship while simultaneously deconstructing it, producing one of the most romantic and deeply sad songs of the year. If you get a chance to listen to the whole album, definitely do; it is filled with more delights than most bands fit in their careers.
“Let It Happen” – Tame Impala
Tame Impala is 2015’s indie darling, particularly with his album Currents which many critics (including me) consider to be the best LP of the year. I could literally include every song from Currents on this list: Past Life is a horrifically in-depth description of an almost-relationship I once had; ‘Cause I’m a Man works as both a critique and explanation of modern masculinity; Closer is just inhumanly great; and I could go on. It’s an utterly marvelous listen.
I’ve chosen to include Let It Happen on the list though. An effortlessly tight collection of drums, synths and CD scratches, this seven minute odyssey is one of the most controlled, emotional and danceable songs of the year. It’s a work of art. Believe the hype; Tame Impala’s great.
“Inherent Grey” – Evans the Death
Ah, the band whose 2015 album was so good, I had to write an entire review of it. Evans the Death albums sound like the inside of my head; my life would be worse without them. If you miss the post-punk and indie bands of the late-80’s/early-90’s, then support them with all the money you can. I want to grow old with this band; if 2016 treats them the same way 2015 did, they might not even make the end of the year.
Highlights from this year’s album include Expect Delays (a wonderful mix of styles which Stuart Marconie described as sounding like “three records being played at once”), Enabler (which is just a great punk love song) and the colossal Don’t Laugh At My Angry Face (which genuinely sounds like someone’s dying). My top pick from the album is Inherent Grey though: a swirling, mad piece of music which is constantly on the verge of falling apart (except for the section where it does fall apart, which is glorious). The entirety of being young and angry in the 21st Century is inside that track.
Their third album is due to come out in 2016, apparently recorded in a barge with guest musicians they found through Facebook. Expect me to fawn over that one when the time is right too.
So that is what’s just missed out. Join me next time to find what made it.
EDIT (14/01/16): Bollocks, there were songs I actually forgot to put on this list. As such, please count “The Way We Are” by Alisha Dixon and “No Reptiles” by Everything Everything as my Special Mentions list’s Special Mentions.