Best Songs of 2015

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We were provided with an embarrassment of riches in 2015. Beloved artists returned with flawless albums (Sufjan Stevens, Sleater-Kinney), artists in their peak pushed the boundaries into completely new territory (Kendrick Lamar, Grimes, Tame Impala), and newcomers hearkened back to classics from days past (Leon Bridges, Natalie Prass, Tobias Jesso Jr.). This was my favorite year for music since 2012 — there were so many songs that would have qualified for this list if they had come out any other year, but the competition was just too much in 2015.

D-Brad’s Best Songs of 2015: Spotify Playlist
D-Brad’s Best Songs of 2015: YouTube Playlist

Also, special thanks to Taylor for the awesome cover art.

Before we get to the top 50, here are 15 honorable mentions that it killed me to exclude.

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Five Quality Tracks: October 2015

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This was a feature that I used to do for the Daily Californian’s Arts & Entertainment blog. I decided to give it life again here. At the end of each month, I’ll post a feature highlighting five quality tracks released during that month.

October will probably remembered as the month that Adele said “Hello”. I thought about including it as one of my five tracks, but the idea of this post is to introduce people to songs that they maybe haven’t heard, or to songs that they can maybe appreciate in a new way. Everyone on the planet knows about “Hello,” so here are five additional songs that ruled my Spotify this month.

1. Grimes: “Flesh Without Blood”

Grimes finally announced her much-anticipated follow-up album to 2012’s Visions (which contained one of the best songs of the decade so far) — Art Angels, which comes out this Friday. Over the last year or so, Grimes has generated a lot of questions about what direction she would take on the new album, the primary question being: how ‘pop’ will it be? Last year, she released the extremely polarizing, intended-for-Rihanna track “Go”, which saw Grimes embracing full-on, drop-heavy, banger pop like never before. Would the new album go further in this direction, or was “Go” just a one-off? The questions only grew when reports came out that she scrapped an entire album because she believed it “sucked”. And it didn’t make her intentions any clearer when she denounced her own songs publicly, saying she hates “Oblivion” (which is ridiculous) and doesn’t like “REALiTi” a demo she posted on YouTube in March that I consider to be one of the best songs this year. If she hates her best songs, then what does she think is good?

ANYWAY, I’m just glad that all the speculation will be put to rest very soon. “Flesh Without Blood” is, without a doubt, another embrace of pop. On first listen, I was slightly disappointed — I thought it wasn’t as imaginative as her best work on Visions. It certainly was catchy, but it seemed a little too basic, too obvious, too simple. It just felt like all she did was provide a slight update to the guitar riff from “Since U Been Gone” — which, don’t get me wrong, is a pop masterpiece, but it’s not weird. The ultimate credit to Grimes — in both her music and her personality — is her innate weirdness. Where was the weirdness?

I was dead wrong though. Nuances and intricacies revealed themselves on repeated listens, and I realized that “Flesh Without Blood” isn’t basic at all. It’s teeming with unexpected sound effects sprinkled throughout, it skillfully adds and takes away elements at just the right time, and the various intersecting melodies are perfect. The lyrics are well-constructed and vivid: “Your voice, it had the perfect flow / It got lost when you gave it up though” and “I don’t see the light I saw in you before.” And did I mention it was catchy? This is a blast-in-the-car type of song. Art Angels looks to be very, very interesting.

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