The Final Countdown: Top 20 Songs of 2015

The best of the best. I’ve an unwavering adoration for every song that follows. My favourite songs of 2015:

20. A Silent Film – Tomorrow

I played this tune a lllllllot in the spring months. Regretfully, it’s been criminally underappreciated/underheard. This is an epic alt-pop movie of a song.

 

19. Leon Bridges – River

Only came to my ears in December, but it was immediately compelling. Musically sparse, emotionally monumental.

 

Bonus: Twenty One Pilots – Holding On To You

Where was I when this came out three years ago? I’ve no answer for that, and I’m ashamed I missed this beast for so long.

 

18. Twenty One Pilots – Stressed Out/Ride

I’m not surprised Twenty One Pilots have become as big as they are. Schizo-pop has the ability to cross over if done well, and this duo does it exceedingly so. “Stressed Out” and “Ride” are absurdly catchy.

 

17. The Helio Sequence – Battle Lines

My favourite song from The Helio Sequence’s latest, eponymous record. Summers and Weikel have a preternatural ability to infuse emotion in their (always melodic and gorgeous) songs. “Battle Lines” is a giant exhale, a sanctuary of serenity. Time always seems to stand still when I listen to the best of The Helio Sequence. They remain one of my most treasured bands.

 

16. AWOLNATION – Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)/I Am

Aaron Bruno and company are masters at Shizo-pop. “Hollow Moon” is a delicious slice of modern alt-pop, the type of song that appeals to the masses and gives classes in hook construction. Bruno is also a star at crafting interesting vocal harmonies; this is ever-apparent on the succulent “I Am”.

 

15. Marina and The Diamonds – I’m A Ruin

Far and away my favourite song on her latest LP. “I’m A Ruin” was a staple song for me throughout the year, and it’s among the very best that Marina Diamandis has ever released.

 

14. GRL – Lighthouse

One of the very best pop songs of the year.

 

13. Pure Bathing Culture – Pray For Rain

Portland strikes again. “Pray For Rain” is a hazy, sultry, foot-stomper and snare-pop romper. “Is it pleasure, is it pain, did you pray for rain?”

 

12. Best Coast – California Nights/Feeling OK

Mega-sized hits, both of them. “California Nights”: tempered, pensive, exploratory. “Feeling OK”: propulsive, energetic, incessant.

 

11. Bad Suns – Cardiac Arrest

I went nuts singing and air-drumming this slinky, sexy, sunny-day-at-the-beach anthem last year.

 

10. Houndmouth – Sedona

A grower. And how. Each time I heard “Sedona”, I liked it more. Eventually, I heard the simple truth that became obvious: “Sedona” is one of the best songs of 2015.

 

9. Glass Animals – Pools

One of the coolest songs of the year. One of the sexiest. The oddest. The warmest. The slipperiest. The slithery-est. The roam-freely-in-the-jungle-est. The earwormy-est. The sing-a-long-inside-your-yawn-est. Glass Animals, with only one album under their belts, are a band to be reckoned with. “Pools” is brilliant. (The video is too.)

 

Bonus: Broods – Superstar/Sleep Baby Sleep/L.A.F.

Slept like a baby on these tracks last year, but made up for it early in 2015 with copious plays. All three tracks are sensational pop songs, and I could’ve linked a few more from Broods’ first LP/EP. Extremely impressive work from the bro-sis Notts.

 

Depending on the day, each of the following songs could be my number one song of the year, such is how I value them. As it happens, today, this is how I’ve ranked them…

 

8. Chvrches – Leave A Trace/Never Ending Circles

Blissful, bombastic pop made by a group without peer. Chvrches dropped hit after hit on their debut, and apparently they felt like continuity was the best way forward, as their second LP moves along with nary an off-point blip on the radar. “Leave A Trace” is stunning. They couldn’t have come up with a better lead single. The staggering thing is, “Never Ending Circles” is just as good. Chvrches are well on their way to headlining duties as one of the biggest bands on the planet. I don’t think there’s a better pop-music-making group around.

 

7. Metric – The Shade

Although Metric might have something to say about that. Six albums in, Metric keeps getting better. Which is just preposterous. When I first heard “Gimme Sympathy”, I thought that’d be their pinnacle. It still shines bright enough to light up a galaxy, but “The Shade” is its equal. That’s astonishing. Without a shadow of a doubt, Metric have cemented their place as one of Canada’s best bands of all-time. I adore their way with melody. More than anything else, they care about the quality of a song, an eternally endearing quality if there ever was one.

 

6. Day Wave – Drag

That I have “Drag” this high is a surprise in a sense. It came out of nowhere. But day after day, week after week, it spoke to me. After it spoke, it sung, and clung to the strings of the beating organ in my chest. The clinging of the strings, the singing shaped like wings, and the body finds a soul to squeeze.

 

5. Purity Ring – push pull

I remember hearing this song in January and knowing right away that it’d be one of my favourite songs of the year. The thought held true, and “push pull” remains an obsession. This is electronic music drawn on a hip-hop canvas and doused with an angelic aura. It’s Purity Ring’s best song to date. “I built a constellation lair, out of the moles that hovered there, a fever billowed in the wind, and I bade the sky therein…” is one of my favourite lyrics of the year.

 

4. Miguel – Coffee/Leaves

“Coffee” is my favourite Miguel song to date. And it’s probably the best song on Miguel’s latest. But the feeling that “Leaves” induces compels me just as much, and that’s why I think it’s worthy to keep company with the lead single. FWIW, the non-explicit version of “Coffee” is a lot more captivating than the explicit one (and the version featuring Wale). “Leaves” is based off a simple guitar lick, and is carried through the seasons by Miguel’s alluring vocal. In both songs, Miguel found a way to elicit emotions and make them clear, even if they pull in different directions. He’s at the peak of his powers here, and I get lost in that zenith each and every time I hear these songs.

 

3. Tame Impala – The Less I Know The Better

I’m fucking flabbergasted at how good this song is. I could describe the way I’ve been struck with awe by this majestic piece of music, but I feel like I should let the tune stand for itself, so the less I say, the better.

 

2. Wolf Alice – Bros

I love “Bros”. It’s a romantic love. A familial one. A familiar one. Each and every second of this song is a second in which I’m enthralled. “Ohhh, jump the 43, are you wild like me? Raised by wolves and other beasts, I tell you all the time, I’m not mad. You tell me all the time, I got plans…” is a lyric I hold so, so dearly. With one song (and a teflon-strong debut album), Wolf Alice have made waves without water. In a couple years, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see them headlining arenas around the world.

 

1. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – The Ballad Of The Mighty I

This is my favourite Noel Gallagher song in almost twenty years. No big deal right. It’d be a stretch to say that Noel’s getting better with age as the music he penned for Oasis will live forever, but the fact that his material has not dipped in quality is truly amazing. I chalk it up to an obvious and simple sentiment: Noel Gallagher is one of the very few people on this earth that was born to write music. And not just any old music, but consistently catchy, consistently excellent, consistently melodic music. I believe that Mr. Gallagher is probably the best songwriter walking the earth right now. It’s also not a surprise that “The Ballad of The Mighty I”, the best and my favourite song from Noel’s most recent album, was made with a hand from the incomparable Johnny Marr. But make no mistake, Noel is captaining this ship. His vocal is stunning. The musical composition is transcendent. When you put them together, you get best-song-of-the-year type stuff. Noel Gallagher is a living legend. D’you know what I mean?

Top 30 Songs of Summer 2015 (15-1)

Without much preamble, here are my absolute favourite songs from an amazing summer of music:

15. Glass Animals – Black Mambo

Such sticky. Much sexy time. So rhythm.

 

14. Echosmith – Bright

“Bright” is rife with gorgeous melodies. I don’t want to be too reductive, but this is basically Taylor Swift doing Indie-pop. And it’s great.

 

Bonus: Zhu – Faded

Hats off to my boy Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat for this one. Don’t know why I slept on this tune. Memories of the limo ride to the beach from here to infinity.

 

13. Sylvan Esso – H.S.K.T.

At once gitchy, dirty, and throw-your-hands-in-the-air-like-you’re-an-heir-danceable. My favourite Esso song to date. Pure banger.

 

12. El Vy – Return To The Moon

I continue to play the shit out of this. If you ever wanted to hear The National’s Matt Berninger sing on top of warmer and more welcoming music (than The National usually do), this is for you.

 

11. Alabama Shakes – Future People

Future People. Gorgeous music right now. Those guitars. That melody. And as it always seems to come down to with Shakes’ songs, Brittany Howard’s soul-rattling, life-affirming voice.

 

10. Courtney Barnett – Depreston/Pedestrian At Best

The wittiest, most playful lyricist in music? Maybe. I wouldn’t care that much if she didn’t have the songs to match, but she does. These two tunes are quite different from one another, but Barnett shines in both. I adore the wistful “Depreston” and the way she lingers the line “I think you’re a joke, but I don’t find you very fu-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uhnny” in “Pedestrian At Best”.

 

It was exceedingly difficult to rank the following songs as each and every one are monsters.

 

9. Daya – Hide Away

Pop doesn’t get purer than this. Unbelievably catchy and a star turning vocal from this 16-year-old newcomer. Everywhere you look you’ll find a hook.

 

8. Houndmouth – Sedona

A grower. An unabashed summer anthem. For the pensive, for the yearning, for the nostalgic, for the happy. This is a beautiful song.

 

7. Alvvays – Ones Who Love You

I adore this track. When I saw Alvvays at Osheaga, I was really stoked to see their most known tracks, “Archie, Marry Me” and “Adult Diversion”, but “Ones Who Love You” was the one that stole my heart. It moves so effortlessly, like a refreshing gust of wind on a sun-stunned summer day.

 

From this point on, 6 could be ranked 1 and 1 could be ranked 6; their slotting probably just depends on how I’m feeling right now. These songs have all meant a TONNE to me this summer.

 

6. Glass Animals – Pools/Pools (Roosevelt Remix)

The first song I’d heard by Glass Animals was “Gooey”, some months ago. I really dug it. I listened to it but didn’t go completely apeshit for it. I started throwing primate fecal matter when I heard “Pools” though. It’s a pristine gem. Every sound in the track is so carefully assembled, fits so perfectly with what comes before and after it. Just don’t mistake the coruscating production for polish. There is an organic warmth here that not many songs can match. I wish the drum flourish at the end of the song lasted 15 minutes instead of 15 seconds. The lyrics are also a blast to sing along to. “Shake my little soul for you now toy… I’m a man of many tricks and tools and joy” is a line I sung with pleasure time and time again over the summer. Oh, and Glass Animals are incredible live and are going to be huge. Oh, and the Roosevelt remix is fucking amazing.

 

5. Chvrches – Leave A Trace

I firmly believe that Chvrches’ debut, The Bones Of What You Believe, will go down as one of the best pop records of this decade. It would be insane to expect them to match that effort, yet here we are. “Leave A Trace”, the lead single from their second album, is an absolute stunner. I think we’re at the point where we can say that Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty are preternaturally gifted at song making. And I’m pretty sure that’s an understatement. On their way to conquering the world, I have little doubt.

 

4. Twenty One Pilots – Stressed Out/Ride/Holding On To You

I knew this band for “House of Gold”. I think it’s a good song, but stylistically, it’s in the same vein as a lot of other songs in the Indie-pop arena. Man, I had no idea what these cats had up their sleeves. The masters/coiners of schizo-pop, Twenty One Pilots don’t sound like anyone else. I fell deeply in love with a bunch of their songs over the summer. These were the three I fell hardest for. I’ve listened to these tracks a tonne, yet with each listen, their appeal does not cede, it increases. This is some of the most thrilling pop music being made anywhere. I am not surprised one bit that this band has become huge. They check off way too many boxes. Similar to the reach-for-the-stars-and-neighbouring-galaxies-and-let’s-make-sure-to-get-the-kitchen-sink-in-there-too effort of Fueled By Ramen label mates Paramore (on their last, eponymous record), Twenty One Pilots clearly want to make the most appealing and melodic music possible. And they couldn’t give a fuck what genre it belongs to or how it’s classified. While that’s being talked about, they’re too busy making hits and selling out shows. Too busy holding onto you. It’s not rocket science.

 

3. Miguel – Leaves/Leaves (Adam Foster’s Sweet California Remix)

Miguel’s “Coffee”, from his third album, Wildheart, is one of the songs of the year. That is a fact. But “Leaves” is the album’s other ace up his sleeve (when he wears sleeves, which is rare, I grant you). The melody, lyrics, and Miguel’s typically stunning vocal combine to form a strange sadness. It’s part regret, part love, part infatuation, part uncertainty, part longing. It’s an evergreen in a forest of maple trees. “The leaves don’t change here, so I never saw it coming” is possibly the lyric that struck me hardest over the summer. There’s a simple beauty in those words. The leaves don’t change here, and neither does my feeling for this song’s melody, those words, that voice. The first clip is a(n incredible) live version of the track while the second is Adam Foster’s fantastic Sweet California remix.

 

2. Christine and The Queens – Paradis Perdu/Saint Claude

I shed a tear the first time I heard “Paradis Perdu”. Because emotion transcends language. Because of the Kanye sample that was so completely unexpected. Because of that melody. And that vocal. Because I knew I’d be seeing Christine and The Queens at Osheaga. I live for moments like that. Where art batters routine. Feelings compel. Where music is the only thing in the world. These are the moments that make life feel like paradise. They must be remembered.

“Saint Claude” is just as great a song. The vocals in the chorus are brilliant.

 

1. Wolf Alice – Bros

“Bros” is precious. The video yes, but the song, first and foremost. The guitars, the vocal harmonies, and most of all, the bridge. The way Ellie Roswell sings “Oh, jump the 43, are you wild like me? Raised by wolves and other beasts, I tell you all the time, I’m not mad. You tell me all the time, I got plans.”

A better ode to friendship I don’t think I can recall. Friendship with people, with wolves, with clouds, with music, with water, with road trips, with tall blades of grass and sun fades in the past.

Another summer gone. Another pack of memories to store. Music, as always, there to soundtrack it all.