Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top 30 Singles of 2015 Countdown: Part 1

Now that 2015's coming to an end, it's time to talk about the best singles I've encountered this year. It seems that everyone can agree that 2015 was an epic year for music, from metal fans to pop fans and everyone in between. Hence, my list is a lot bigger than usual. I had to split the countdown in half. But, as per usual, I listen to a pretty interesting variety of music so don't be surprised if it seems like this list was compiled by about five different people (it wasn't), and I'm sure most will find a song of interest on this list (sorry, country fans). 

"On My Mind" - Ellie Goulding
When it comes to Ellie Goulding's music, I either really love it or really hate it. I wasn't a fan of the overplayed "Love Me Like You Do," but I can't resist "On My Mind." Goulding's semi-raspy voice is a great fit for the guitar-meets-electronics instrumental. It's choppy in a way that's flowy and it stands out among the typical Top 40 material because of that.

"Trini Dem Girls" - Nicki Minaj ft. LunchMoney Lewis
LET ME EXPLAIN HOW CONFUSED I AM. I have never liked Nicki Minaj's material. Ever. Then one day my BFF had me listen to "Trini Dem Girls" and alas, 2015 became the year I liked a Nicki song. I can't blame myself - this instrumental is a banger perfect for any and all club settings... But lyrically? I have no idea what's going on. That's hardly the point though: It's a fun, catchy-as-hell song that I can dance to. Funny how music we least expect to leave an impression can end up on a list of favorites in the end.

"Failure" - Breaking Benjamin
2015 also marked the long-awaited return of Breaking Benjamin with four all-new members. While their album Dark Before Dawn didn't impress me much overall and they admittedly don't have a ton of variety in their music, their songs are usually full of emotion and easy to appreciate. "Failure" stuck out to me for some reason. It reminds me a bit of Phobia, my favorite of their albums. But even though it's not too different from anything they've done, the fact of the matter is that this song is too likable to turn away from: Ben's voice is pure gorgeousness as usual, the chord progression is great, and the lyrics describe a special kind of exhaustion and frustration: "Tired of feeling lost / Tired of letting go...Tired of wasted breath / Tired of nothing left."

"Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing" - Amy Lee
Evanescence frontwoman Amy Lee has been doing some solo work scoring indie films during the past couple years, but this year she created a YouTube channel and uploaded kickass covers. Personally I have never heard the Chris Isaak tune "Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing" before this cover (and I was a little too annoyed with it to listen to that original the entire way through) but Amy made it awesome. It's the most upbeat of all her covers as it's a great combination of electronic and rock elements. This cover proves once again that I love Amy's musicianship - with or without Evanescence behind her.

"SCREAM" - Grimes ft. Aristophanes
(Is this technically a promo single? Well, it's obviously on the list anyway so I don't care.) This track may be little but it's a monster. It's mind-blowing. It's scary. Plus, it's difficult to tell what's going on for a multitude of reasons: Aristophanes isn't rapping in English, the translations are rather explicit, Aristophanes makes scary noises, and the only part that Grimes has in this song is the screaming. It's... kind of wonderful. The instrumental sounds like it could have been used in one of the Underworld films, and the guitars thicken a great deal by the time the second chorus hits.

"Stonemilker" - Björk 
When you have a musical career as long and as innovative as Björk's, I imagine it would be kind of scary - what if future releases can never top the classics? Well, the Icelandic legend apprantly doens't have to worry about something like that because released some of the best work of her entire career this year. "Stonemilker" is a string-led piece that has the power to instantly soothe. Even once the percussion comes in, it's light and echoey. It may in fact be one of the prettiest songs she's made - even those who cannot get past her unique voice can at acknowledge the instrumental beauty. Björk certainly knows how to create a whole atmosphere with her songs, and it's usually one I want to come back to. 

"Uma Thurman" - Fall Out Boy
Leave it to Fall Out Boy to make one of the most fun-sounding singles of the year. I wasn't crazy about "Uma Thurman" when I first heard it (much like "American Beauty/American Psycho," which I became crazy about long after I compiled last year's singles list) but it eventually grew on me. It's easy to dance and be crazy to... And it puts some kind of odd curse on me once in a while and I can't stop singing it. It makes me want to dance like Uma Thurman and I can't get it out of my head.

"Sparks" -  Hilary Duff
Early 2000-era Disney fans, 2015 was a Code Red Emergency: Hilary Duff made new music! Just in time to get us ready for her presidential election! I wasn't initially impressed with her single "Sparks" but then it just hit me like a ton of bricks in the second half of the year. But, I mean, it's  Hilary Duff, so it was only a matter of time before it grew on me. The melody of the chorus kind of reminds me of Rihanna's "Only Girl in the World," but I like this better. Everything from those whistles to the fun vocal line is purely infectious.

"Operator" - Vanessa Carlton
Vanessa Carlton finally released some new material this year. While I haven't listened to the entirety of Liberman yet, the singles are making me fall in love with her all over again. "Operator" is the perfect mixture of a soothing piano line and a hint of adventure that only Carlton can deliver. It's a piano-led song about running away - who doesn't love one of those? Indie fans will devour it - in a way, she was indie before indie even existed.

"True" - Amaranthe
Amaranthe is known for fusing electronic elements with metal, thus creating a catalog of high-energy tracks shared by their three unique vocalists. However, their latest single, "True," is a bit different. While it's still heavy and band-oriented, is one of the most melodic of their songs. A light piano line cascades atop the rest of the instruments throughout the track and only clean vocals are featured. It's ultimately quite pretty, and it has a nice message: "And if my dreams set everything on fire / Then I would still belong to you."

"I Want You to Know" - Zedd ft. Selena Gomez
Sometimes even the most potentially-energizing pop/electronic tracks can get boring since they follow similar patterns, but as long as there's an interesting chord progression I tend to be on board. Furthermore, I'm happy with most things Selena Gomez is a part of, and I most definitely approve of this Zedd track she's featured on. The two apparently make a good pair. This catchy, melodic electronic track boosts my energy level every time I hear it. It's one of those songs perfect for both clubbing and late night driving.

"High by the Beach" - Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey's unique fusion of indie, R&B, and electronic elements is epitomized in the Honeymoon lead single "High by the Beach." The electronics are subtle and Lana's voice is soothing as ever. The chorus can become one of the most annoying things in existence when stuck in your head, but that's just because it's catchy as all get out. Between the lead and backing vocals, I can't tell which is more entrancing.

"Giant Peach" - Wolf Alice
Wolf Alice was a lovely surprise in 2015. This new grungy/alt band from Britain impressed me immediately with their single "Moaning Lisa Smile," and eventually I stumbled into "Giant Peach" and loved it about as much. While not every song on their album My Love is Cool throws back to grunge, "Giant Peach" certainly does a little bit and seems to also mix it with a little classic rock with its too-cool riffs. The vocals are a great combination of soft and sassy. Altogether, it's just so damn enjoyable for the ears!

"Soap" - Melanie Martinez
Melanie Martinez's dark pop music and her odd correlations to childhood are intriguing. My closest friends fells in love with her music just as her debut album, Cry Baby, was released, and the whole Internet seemed to be falling in love with her as well. She takes huge risks with her music, and this is so evident in "Soap." The drop consists of bubbles popping. Bubbles, people - this is genius! The whole song has a great atmosphere - light enough not to be depressing, but dark and interesting enough to be attention-grabbing.

"American Oxygen" - Rihanna
Rihanna's made some pretty awesome singles throughout the her career despite a bit of a semi-recent dry spell. However, the keyboard-led "American Oxygen" is probably the best of them all. This song paints a picture of the American Dream and the tough reality of actually achieving it: "We sweat for a nickel and a dime, turn it into an empire." The fact that someone who's from a foreign country is performing this song makes even more special, contrary to what some conservatives might say.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness, your list is so diverse! I have been slain already.