The Best Songs of 2015

This list is arriving a little later than expected. It's mostly down to David Bowie dying, making me momentarily uninterested in any music other than his (and, so far, Blackstar is the best album of 2016, no contest). It did give me the chance to come back to 2015 with some relatively fresh ears again, so there is that.
Considering what an extremely shitty year 2015 was for the world, I at least take a small amount of solace in that it was an amazing year for music. Here are my 25 favourite songs of 2015.

25. Joakim Berg & Lisa Nilsson, 'Innan vi faller'
Lisa's mannered kind of voice bores me, but she does harmonise quite nicely with Joakim on one of the more restrained songs he's written in years, and his songwriting is good enough to make it work.

24. Beach House, 'Somewhere Tonight'
Beach House have always kind of sounded like they belong onstage at The Road House in Twin Peaks, but never more so than with 'Somewhere Tonight'. During the wonderful organ runs, I close my eyes and see Audrey Horne dancing.

23. The Weeknd, 'Can't Feel My Face'
One of the biggest hits of the year was a Michael Jackson pastische from a Canadian with the stupidest hair since A Flock of Seagulls. That chorus, though.

22. Blur, 'Go Out'
The best song off of Blur's great comeback album goes for the groove-riding fuzz of 13, which works for me, since that's my favourite Blur album. It's silly and borderline laddish, but it works.

21. Radiohead, 'Spectre'
It's probably a good thing Sam Smith ended up doing the theme song for the latest Bond film, since 'Spectre' is frankly too good for the film it was supposedly written for. A gorgeous, slightly off-kilter piano ballad, it makes me excited for the album they're (hopefully) releasing this year.

20. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, 'The Right Stuff'
I really didn't expect to ever love another song by Noel Gallagher, but here we are, with the best song he's written in 10 years, and one of the most subtle songs of his career.

19. Deerhunter, 'Snakeskin'
A funky, cocky rock song, that sticks out like a sore thumb on Deerhunter's latest album, but beats out the rest with sheer force of personality.

18. EL VY, 'I'm the Man to Be'
Matt Berninger takes a break from The National to form a new project where he gets to holler shit like "I'm peaceful 'cause my dick's in sunlight", and hint at autoerotic asphyxiation. It's glorious.

17. The Pop Group, 'Mad Truth'
The singer is ridiculous, the lyrics are weak, and the groove and production is unassailably amazing.

16. Kendrick Lamar, 'The Blacker the Berry'
The angriest song of the year tackles racism, police shootings and self-hatred, and it's upsetting, a little scary, and so so satisfying.
15. Tame Impala, 'Let It Happen'
A gorgeous synth pop song with some of the best production and a couple of the best riffs of the year.
14. Joanna Newsom, 'Sapokanikan'
No one really writes lyrics like Joanna Newsom, densely packed with archaic and obscure words, references and allegories. This would all count for nothing if she couldn't make them soar, and she absolutely does that on 'Sapokanikan', starting out cute and playful before steadily climbing to a beautiful crescendo.
13. Sufjan Stevens, 'Death with Dignity'
A heartbreaking song that, while never reaching much higher than a whisper, somehow manages to feel enormously loud. 
12. Kurt Vile, 'Pretty Pimpin'
Kurt Vile comes off like the laziest man in music, but he at least had enough energy to write some amazingly hypnotic guitar picking that wouldn't be close to be overstaying its welcome, even if the song was twice as long.
11. Father John Misty, 'The Ideal Husband'
Picking a favourite song from Father John Misty's I Love You, Honeybear has not been an easy process, but 'The Ideal Husband' wins out by being an absolute monster when played live.
10. Will Butler, 'Anna'
It's almost a joke song, but... it's just so fucking catchy.
9. Majical Cloudz, 'Call on Me'
Devon Welsh is a bit of a limited songwriter: there are love songs, there are anxiety songs, and there are friendship songs, and some overlap between the three. 'Call on Me' is a friendship song that might as well be a love song, a song of such intense devotion it's verging on overwhelming. "I am your friend till I lie in the ground", he sings, putting every ounce of emotion he has into it. And who doesn't want a friend like that?
8. The Tallest Man on Earth, 'Dark Bird Is Home'
In 2015, Kristian Mattson finally let a full band into his music, and the results were mixed. On 'Dark Bird Is Home', though, he made it work wonders, by saving the band for the crescendo that the whole song is steadily building up to, and when it finally does come (punctuated by a sigh, and an "oh fuck..."), it's perfect, and the best song of his career.
7. Dan Deacon, 'When I Was Done Dying'
'When I Was Done Dying' is basically The Lion King on ecstasy, an existential journey with a tribal, primitive vibe colliding with washes of electronics. It's a glorious mess.
6. Ghost, 'From the Pinnacle to the Pit'
Anchored by a filthy bass line, this is a tight, theatrical and relentless rock song. I have listened to this song more times than any other song this year, and it is not even close to getting old.
5. FKA twigs, 'Figure 8'
FKA twigs is that rare kind of artist who makes music that feels futuristic, and 'Figure 8' is the best she's ever sounded. The music clicks and whirrs, explodes and then doubles back on itself. It's a powerful listen.
4. Sleater-Kinney, 'No Cities to Love'
I can't quite put my finger on it, but the chorus of this song just hits a sweet spot that makes it into pure ear candy. The snaking, restless guitar lines during the verses don't exactly hurt, either.
3. Jamie xx, 'Loud Places'
Speaking of ear candy, this song has it in abundance: there's what sounds like the clinking of bottles, the seamlessly sampled chorus, the production on the drums when they swell for said chorus, and then there's the guest vocals from Romy, the best she has ever sounded. This song should be mandatory for all weddings, funerals and dance floors.
2. LCD Soundsystem, 'Christmas Will Break Your Heart'
A Christmas present from one of your favourite bands is always a nice thing, but when that band supposedly broke up nearly five years ago? When the present is one of the best songs they have ever released? And when the song is closely followed by the announcement that, yes, they are reforming, touring and making another album? That's a Christmas fucking miracle.
1. Young Fathers, 'Shame'
The most uplifting song to ever feature the word "cunts". Seriously though, I might have a tendency to lean towards sad-sounding songs, but there's nothing like a song that puts a smile on your face and makes you go "fuck yeah", and no song in 2015 did more of that for me than 'Shame'. It's an unstoppable fist-pumper, a loud, chaotic mess, and it is, no question, my favourite song of the year. Aaron, I still owe you a beer or three for turning me on to these guys.


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