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Last day of 2015, so let’s wrap it up with another Top 10 of the year: My top 10 songs of 2015. Another set of tough choices, but here they are. This is solely based off of my opinions - not looking at charts or popularity. Just the songs I enjoyed the most from the year! Be sure to check out my Top 10 Albums of 2015, too. Click on the song titles for my review of their respective albums!
10. Father John Misty - “Bored In The USA”
No one does satire better than Father John Misty. “Bored In The USA” off of this year’s I Love You, Honeybear offers the perspective of an ordinary citizen being bored with life. Throughout the piano ballad, Mr. Tillman offers many questions that get your head thinking. The song is clever enough to grab the laughs of any middle-aged individual (looking at you, Dad). Hell, the crowd laughing of a soap opera is even featured in the track! That’s gotta be indicative of something. There’s too much fantastic lyricism too comment on. “Bored In The USA” is the best satire of 2015.
9. Radiohead - “Spectre”
This song was only released a week ago, but it’s had enough of an impact to earn it a spot on my Top 10. Had it been given more time to grow on me, it would’ve definitely scored a higher spot. Before Sam Smith made it to the cinematic opening of Spectre this year with “Writings On The Wall”, Radiohead were approached to create the theme instead, offering “Spectre” on Christmas Day. Best Christmas gift, period. The song has the ominous vibe Radiohead so perfectly radiates in all of their music, and features their signature syncopation and a beautiful symphony backing Thom Yorke’s haunting voice. There’s so much in this song that it’s hard to single out any specific element. The symphony sends chills down my spine. The song is everything any fan would want of Radiohead. Hopefully the hype of their forthcoming album lives up to this huge track.
8. Kendrick Lamar - “The Blacker The Berry”
2015 was a big year for hip-hop. A lot of ground was broken. Perhaps the biggest contender in the rap race this year was Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. “The Blacker The Berry” is a demanding track, Kendrick going off with dirty verses and a giant beat accompanying the ominous instrumental. The subject of the song is politically charged all the while sliding in the message of internal struggle. “The Blacker The Berry” is the best hip-hop song of the year, and it deserves all the praise it should get.
Fall Out Boy came triumphantly into the new year with American Beauty/American Psycho, edging deeper into pop rock than they had before. “Twin Skeleton’s (Hotel In NYC)” is the most cinematic song on the album, featuring Patrick Stump crying out his vocals. This is the best song on the “rock” half of the album, featuring some great (while still admittedly subtle) guitar work throughout. The harmonies towards the end of the song are what make this track so big, ending the album on such a haunting note. Andy Hurley’s drumming can’t be ignored - it’s fantastic on this song! “Twin Skeleton’s” is a giant song to end a great album.
“Afterglow” is the most subtle track on CHVRCHES’ new album, Every Open Eye. In the same way, it is the most beautiful. The song features Lauren Mayberry singing over an atmospheric array of synths. There’s not much to the song, it’s very stripped down. The song is the biggest highlight on the album for it’s simplistic beauty - everything in it is perfect, for what it does have going on. Definitely a song that’s hard to grasp at first, but is an amazing one to experience all the same.
Bring Me The Horizon continued their evolution that began with 2013′s Sempiternal with this year’s That’s The Spirit. While the new effort doesn’t match what Sempiternal began, the album is still undeniably great. With lots of fantastic songwriting, and the band distancing itself form it’s metalcore roots, the band is continuing to focus more on the words than the aggression. “Avalanche” is the peak of this album, where Oli Sykes opens up his heart to needing a cure for his pain. Perhaps a cliché subject (though important all the same), but the song gets across the emotions and message very well, and is definitely one of the best songs of the year.
10 Years returned this year with a follow-up to 2012′s Minus The Machine, with this year’s From Birth To Burial. The self-titled track of the album is one of the best songs of the year, 10 Years bringing everything they’ve got into one track. The ominous piano buildup explodes into a bustling track with a huge riff and loud playing. Perhaps what really sells this song to me is Jesse Hasek’s rapping before the first pre-chorus, which reminds me a lot of Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. Regardless, this song is huge in its own way, and all the ways 10 Years have built themselves up to be.
Muse promised a sequel to the fan-beloved track, “Citizen Erased” would make it onto Drones. That song ended up being the progressive rock anthem, “The Globalist”, the story of the rise and fall of a dictator. Beginning with whistling akin to Ennio Morricone’s “L’Arena” and a huge symphony, the drama of the tracks begins early. Matt Bellamy continues with his reverb-filled slide guitar as the verse kicks in with the rest of the band. Perhaps one of the moments in music from this entire year is the heavy part of this song, the giant riff (taken from a previous jam known as the “Helsinki Jam”) in the bridge of the song is as metal as Muse have ever gotten, with a countdown to the firing of a nuclear missile and the marching of an army helping make this part so loud. The bridge concludes with a Spanish-influenced solo before concluding with one final piano ballad - a send-off of sorts. Sure, the track has it’s faults - perhaps it would’ve been better as three separate songs instead of one, as to better the flow, but it is undeniably a huge track that deserves a place on this list.
Arcane Roots returned to the scene this year in a big way. Coming off of their first full debut album, Blood & Chemistry, the trio had a big weight on their back to follow it up. With this year’s Heaven & Earth EP, the band smashed all expectations. Introducing it in July with “If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves”, fans knew to expect something absolutely huge. “Slow Dance” comes from this very EP, and is everything you’d want from the trio and more. From a buildup opening that blows into a massive breakdown and chorus, this song will have you on your feet in no time. Excellent guitar work and vocals by Andrew Groves add to the sheer massiveness of this track. If you haven’t heard it yet, check it out.
It’s probably unfair of me to include Muse on this list twice, but it’s warranted for me. But this year, Drones was huge. Muse at the top of their game (perhaps not lyrically, but definitely from a jam standpoint) with their back-to-basics approach. “The Handler” is a combination of everything Muse is made of. With the huge arena-filling opening riff to the wah-filled bridge harkening back to the band’s old b-side, “In Your World”. Bellamy’s fantastic vocals and lyrical play (”trance formation”? Hmm) contribute to making this song the most massive song of the year, if the demanding riff and incredible bass work didn’t already win you over. The song is an absolute beast live, too.
- Justin Bieber - “Love Yourself”: a track that you couldn’t have expected from Bieber before this year, but is definitely a standout from 2015.
- Halsey - “Castle”: the song that kicked off the rebellion that is BADLANDS, and the most demanding track on the album.
- Years & Years - “Foundation”: the darkest track the trio has to offer, and the one that’ll be trapped in your head for weeks.
Thanks everyone for a great year. It’s been an adventure for me, and I’m sure it has been for many others. If it wasn’t the greatest year, hold on. Everything will find it’s right place. Here’s to 2016, it’s gonna be a big one.