This was the first year I seriously flirted with going past the usual 250 slots for my favorite singles of the year, simply because there is seemingly something worth sharing that comes out everyday. Going up to 300 or 400 could very well be a possibility in the future, but for now, I really like the sound and legitimacy of 250. As always, there's a Spotify playlist included at the bottom of the list and all entries marked with a (*) have direct links to the song since they're not on Spotify. Make sure to check out my best albums list as well.
1. The Internet feat. Kaytranada - Girl
The overwhelming desire to touch and be touched becomes a reflex over the course of this song. There are multiple tracks in the catalog of The Internet that cover this sort of ground, but none quite as potent as "Girl." Syd tha Kid's delivery barely goes above the hushed volume that's expected from speaking in the dark, which is complementary for a song that has more than a few textures of the interstellar in it. Her voice is a calming presence in the void, like it would be if one were to float in space. As airy as "Girl" is, the entire thing drips more than anything. The deep bass tone, which could've come from none other than Kaytranada, is as patient as it gets and moves with the speed of honey, making sure that every drop of sensuality lands perfectly. Light a candle, let your hands flow and send a thank you card to The Internet for breaking your cold streak.
2. Peach Kelli Pop - Princess Castle 1987
When it comes to bleak, realistic visions, Super Mario Bros. doesn't exactly have the greatest track record. If anything, that ill-fated 1993 movie filled all that we could stomach on nightmarish interpretations of one of the most beloved video game franchises ever. In less than 90 seconds, Peach Kelli Pop's " Princess Castle 1987" presents a psychologically intense viewpoint that would have been a much more welcome addition to my childhood and is infinitely more addictive ("I saw you in a dream/I woke up from a scream/You glowed pink and green/Death stare and laser beam"). Whether the narrator is Mario or a young gamer, " Princess Castle 1987" captures the thrill and sugar high of getting past Bowser on the original game, with a giddily paced riff that's suitable for jumping up and down on your parents' sofa. Sure, we didn't think about the possible PTSD Mario might have incurred from going through eight worlds of the Mushroom Kingdom, but with him being so noble I'm pretty sure he'd do it all over again, just like many did a generation ago. Thanks to Peach Kelli Pop, we now have a higher appreciation of what he went through.
3. Kendrick Lamar - Alright
If you didn't know any better, you would have thought that "Alright" peaked higher than #81 on the Billboard Hot 100. With the exception of "These Walls," it's his lowest charting single as a lead artist, yet it was the most visible song from To Pimp A Butterfly and will probably live on longer than anything he's done so far. During a time of higher awareness for racial injustices in America, "Alright" has been adopted as an anthem for the movement and it's not hard to see why. From the moment the opening harmonies kick the song off amid Kendrick's optimism in the face of strife, "Alright" is an aggressively hopeful song that carries the energy of the hardest trap songs and the jubilance of a massive parade. It doesn't hold back either as there's a ferocious double time flow employed for most of the song to paint a picture of the pitfalls there are to rise from. That honesty, along with some brilliant production from Pharrell Williams and Sounwave made "Alright" difficult to overlook in spite of its sales and airplay.
4. Jhené Aiko - Eternal Sunshine
My own mortality and those of my loved ones is something I think about more as I get older. I don't expect this to make me unique since it's only natural as we age, but it's certainly made me more sensitive to things like Jhené Aiko's "Eternal Sunshine." Sonically, the song feels like a dream, with strings, a somber piano and Aiko's lower register providing the track with a floating feel. It's appropriate background music for clouds plaintively parting in the sky as rays of sunlight and the heavens peek through. With Aiko making peace with her life and remembering all of the good things, she's more ready to accept her fate than most. No explanation is needed for how difficult that is.
5. YG - Twist My Fingaz
YG lives in his own world, one that has long been forgotten in favor of adhering to corporate sponsors or being accessible. Making music for the streets was once a top priority, even ahead of crossing over and reaching the clubs, but it's since been stigmatized as having a limited appeal. Balance is the key to any genre's longevity and hip hop is healthier with songs like "Twist My Fingaz," a slick throwback to G-funk that doesn't shy away from YG's Blood ties or his unwillingness to back down from a fight. It's also one of the hardest tracks of the year, with producer Terrace Martin doing his best Ant Banks tribute, complete with laid back synths, talk box runs and YG doubling down as a man who dances to his own beat ("Hold up, I got something to say/I'm the only one that made it out the West without Dre/I'm the only one that's about what they say/The only one that got hit and was walking the same day"). Step up if you dare.
6. Charlie Belle - Shake You Off
"Shake You Off" easily sounds as if it could have been in the background of a café scene on a WB show, which is 100% intended as a compliment given how much that network was at the forefront of placing off the radar music in their programming. It comes with all the charm and sting of '90s teenage romance where cynicism and sweetness could go hand in hand. In the song, lead singer Jendayi Bonds has had enough of a smothering suitor and lets them down harshly in the catchiest of ways with a breezy melody more suited for an afternoon bicycle ride in the park. This track has more than its full share of sunniness, but never forgets that the sun is capable of leaving a pretty nice burn as well.
7. Speedy Ortiz - Raising The Skate
With plenty of time studying the Pavement discography, Mass. band Speedy Ortiz have developed a knack for a lot of the crunchy soft/loud dynamics that defined mid-'90s alternative rock. "Raising The Skate" might've been their finest effort yet with a chorus that bends and sludges along powerfully into a mantra for assertive women. "I'm not bossy, I'm the boss/Shooter, not the shot" is a jab playfully delivered with the kind of venom one might've found on MTV 20 years ago at a male ego that can't quite fathom a female in charge. I can't deny there's a definite warm spot in my heart that gets reignited hearing a band bring back such familiar sounds. Luckily, long after the nostalgia has worn off, "Raising The Skate" holds its own as a crunchy slice of a good time.
8. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment - Sunday Candy
The big ball of joy known as "Sunday Candy" makes no reservations in its quest to be as smile-inducing as humanly possible. Packing the energy and enthusiasm of a splashy Broadway number, Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment provide a multi-colored affair complete with joyous horns and Chance The Rapper grinning endlessly about the world's greatest grandma. Even as Chance's experiences are unique to a specific culture, the love for family is as universal a language as great music. Everyone involved here is still young enough to have few cares in regards to throwing just about anything at the wall to see if it sticks. We get a sampling of everything from juke to gospel and when the results come out as glorious as this, it's a great reminder of how fun the results can be by being wildly audacious.
9. Fleur East - Sax
If a young Neneh Cherry had ever become one of Prince's protegés back when he was still concerned about ruling the world, the results might have sounded awfully close to "Sax." Fleur East strikes a buffalo stance over a poppy hard funk track whose explosiveness is one of the song's major delights. The chorus is a wordless wonder that's the equivalent of a bass drop in the way it builds anticipation as Fleur sings of a man that can please her until all hell breaks loose and the most candied of horn lines burrows its way into your ears. Songs like this were created with every intention of global domination. Choose a side now and you might be spared.
10. Kehlani feat. Coucheron - Alive
All of the trademarks of crossover success were a part of the DNA for the album closer of Kehlani's You Should Be Here. Even if it's ultimately about a break up, "Alive" still has a bright outlook on life backed up by some glossy production that embellishes Kehlani's precious vocals that would have made it accessible for mainstream audiences. Along with some clear-cutting synths and a sugary chorus, "Alive" is about as close as one can get to sounding like the radio without actually charting, which is a shame. During a time where radio is as monotonous as its ever been, a presence like Kehlani's would have injected some flavor to those desiring a change of pace.
11. Lunchmoney Lewis - Bills
Working class strife meets Top 40 tactics.
12. Hot Chip - Huarache Lights
A strobelight groove that constantly teases you with an explosion.
13. D'Angelo & The Vanguard - Really Love
"Well son, if I recall, it was a cold winter night in 2015 when you were conceived..."
14. D.R.A.M. - Cha Cha*
15. Courtney Barnett - Pedestrian At Best
"Put me on a pedestal and I'll only disappoint you/Tell me I'm exceptional, I promise to exploit you." No way was this falling below #20.
16. Ngaiire - Once*
Dreamily sung downtempo track from Down Under.
17. Snoop Dogg feat. Stevie Wonder & Pharrell Williams - California Roll
The soundtrack to driving past palm trees in a Cadillac in slow motion.
18. Kanye West feat. Paul McCartney - Only One
Hymnesque keyboard work from Macca helps Ye become as relatable as he's been in years.
19. KING - The Greatest*
Sparkling synths and subdued harmonies keep this trio's magical streak alive.
20. Rae Sremmurd - This Could Be Us
After handily shunning flexers, these two brothers bare their hearts by way of a meme and contemplative production from Mike Will Made It.
21. Grimes - Flesh Without Blood
Plenty of studio pyrotechnics, but the quieter moments speak the loudest.
22. CHVRCHES - Clearest Blue
Gorgeous synthpop that glides calmly over water before causing a tidal wave.
23. Beach House - One Thing
As close as anyone came this year to capturing the ethereality of Heaven Or Las Vegas.
24. Kendrick Lamar feat. Bilal, Thundercat and Anna Wise - These Walls
A dream team of underground soul artists help seal the deal for Kendrick's Netflix and chill plot.
25. Tame Impala - Cause I'm A Man
Multiple shades of purple and some heavy hitting quiet storm tactics.
26. Janelle Monáe feat. Jidenna - Yoga
"Get off my areola" should have been a top hashtag this year.
27. Erykah Badu - Cel U Lar Device
"When young Aubrey saw his song sail over the fence and into Old Lady Badu's yard, he knew deep down that it would never belong to him again..."
28. FKA twigs - Glass & Patron
Where sex and the dance floor meet the abstract.
29. Little Big Town - Girl Crush
Nashville and slow Memphis soul are the path to true longing.
30. Jess Glynne - Hold My Hand
Sunny house pop that will make you spin around in the middle of the your favorite mall from the '90s with your arms wide open.
31. Jason Derulo - Want To Want Me
Superb post-millennial Jacko pop from the most unlikeliest of sources.
32. Giorgio Moroder feat. Kylie Minogue - Right Here, Right Now
The Yoda and Luke Skywalker of dance pop save the galaxy with a combination of funk and disco.
33. Kendrick Lamar - King Kunta
A rib-rattling bass line and a million birds flipped.
34. Chance The Rapper & NoName Gypsy - Israel (Sparring)*
The perfect combination of Biblical and lyrical.
35. Young Thug feat. Birdman - Constantly Hating
Young Thug wriggles his way through a bare bones background employing everything from a whisper to a yelp.
36. Raury - Friends
The part at an arena concert where everyone holds hands and world peace is accomplished.
37. Vince Staples - Norf Norf
Those sirens in the background give the effect of a nightmare, which is essentially what Staples is living through.
38. Ty Dolla $ign feat. Babyface - Solid
For the coffeehouses that don't mind putting a little rum in your drink.
39. Miranda Lambert - Little Red Wagon
"Turn around! Stick it out! Even Shelton got to shout!"
40. Kendrick Lamar - The Blacker The Berry
You could try to pull an inception on this, but it's too damn woke.
41. Wolf Alice - Freazy
Self-censored chorus that oddly pops out even more amid a nice groove.
42. Jenny Hval - That Battle Is Over
Rousing art pop with some off-kilter spoken word.
43. Daye Jack - Easy
Colorful laid back boom bap and a few modern flourishes.
44. Rihanna feat. Kanye West & Paul McCartney - FourFiveSeconds
For when you're trying to wind down on a Sunday morning after a late night out, but you're still too turnt.
45. Winter - Crazy
Absolutely adore how the chorus is just a big lovely wave of distortion.
46. Deerhunter - Living My Life
Stare out into the wilderness as its snowing. Preferably during nighttime. Press play.
47. Rihanna - Bitch Better Have My Money
A rear naked choke of a jam that's seconds away from being disqualified for refusing to break the hold.
48. David Bowie - Blackstar
Legendary act with still more than a few eerie tricks up his sleeve.
49. Kelly Clarkson - Heartbeat Song
Beautifully awash in neon and optimism.
50. Panda Bear - Tropic Of Cancer
Could easily pass for a mermaid lullaby.
51. DeQn Sue - Calimazoo*
Eclectic arrangements are always par for the course for this pop/R&B hybrid artist.
52. Tori Kelly - Unbreakable Smile
Undeterred spirit set to a skipping hip pop beat.
53. Miguel feat. Wale - Coffee (Fucking)
Sunrise love in the valley of guitars.
54. Frank Ocean - At Your Best*
The most sensitive falsetto in the game makes a move on our hearts once again by way of Aaliyah by way of The Isley Brothers.
55. All Dogs - That Kind Of Girl
Loud and messy enough to wake up someone who's been in a coma since 1994.
56. Carly Rae Jepsen - All That
And it all comes down to the fact that's a grown ass woman. No, seriously, check her age.
57. Blood Orange - Sandra's Smile
Another excellent MJ-influenced track that speaks to the current cultural climate.
58. Kehlani feat. Lexii Alijai- Jealous
What Aaliyah might have sounded like if she came of age today and got a few extra tattoos.
59. Alessia Cara - Here
Never thought I'd use the words "Isaac Hayes" and "worst party ever" in the same sentence, but stranger things have happened.
60. Kanye West - All Day
A nonstop barrage of punchlines and car alarm-triggering drums.
61. Sports - Get Bummed Out
The chorus builds in a major chord similar to the great Scottish indie pop bands of the early 2000s.
62. Lim Kim - Awoo*
With renaissance-period Timbaland as the inspiration, this K-pop standout was one of the best exports from the country this year.
63. Cool Uncle feat. Jessie Ware - Break Away
When Jessie RSVPed to Bobby Caldwell and Jack Splash's steppers party, the pair immediately searched for the snazziest tailor in town.
64. Carly Rae Jepsen - Run Away With Me
The sounds at the beginning are atypical of someone coming off the success she did, but if it means a long-term career as the U.S. answer to Kylie Minogue, she's off to a good start.
65. Empress Of - Standard
Poverty explored through the lens of dreamy, experimental pop.
66. Ameriie - Mustang
Purified in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
67. Miami Horror - Love Like Mine
Technicolor funk that refuses to leave the '80s behind.
68. Solo Lucci - Whip It
One of hip hop's most underrated choruses of 2015 in a year that saw no shortage of hook driven smashes.
69. Mothers - No Crying In Baseball
The most addictive part is the last minute where it breaks out into a guitar-driven quasi-hoedown.
70. TiRon & Ayomari - All We Are
For a song about dreams and ambitions, it’s fitting that it has the aura of a jet slowly getting ready for take off.
71. Hudson Mohawke - Ryderz
A dizzying whirlwind of trap and classic soul.
72. Hiatus Kaiyote - Shaolin Monk Motherfunk
Crafted purely for the cosmos with a jazzy swing to it.
73. Lianne La Havas - Unstoppable
It's like she underwent hypnosis to delve deeper into her sultrier side and woke up realizing all she had to do was add some atmospheric textures.
74. Joanna Gruesome - Last Year
You know this band isn't afraid to slip in some summery harmonies during the most chaotic of times, but I'll be dammned I it doesn't get me each time.
75. Erykah Badu feat. Andre 3000 - Hello
Nobel Prize level chemistry.
76. Alina Baraz & Galimatias - Fantasy
If slow grinding on a carousel were your thing, this would be the go to song.
77. Jeremih - Oui
Warning: do not attempt to use the chorus as a pick-up line. It only works with a smoke machine and pelvis-oriented choreography.
78. Gal Pals - Here's To The Gals
Picture The Go-Go's cutting their teeth in the garage instead and cruising the streets for trouble every Saturday night.
79. Janet Jackson - No Sleeep
Pretty much the moment she got tired of trying to be a mediocre twentysomething and became the most awesome 49 year-old there is.
80. Sheer Mag - Fan The Flames*
Feels like a dusty AM radio relic that specializes in chipped teeth and grease stains on guitars.
81. Tate Kobang - Bank Rolls (Remix)
Minimalist old school-flavored cut that dares you not to shimmy on the dance floor.
82. Them Are Us Too - Us Now
Dream pop to slow dance at prom to for the class of '85.
83. Action Bronson feat. Chance The Rapper - Baby Blue
Chance's MVP-caliber year started off here with an Eminem-inspired, scene-stealing verse.
84. Empire Cast feat. Serayah - Get No Better (2.0)
Alternate universe Rihanna sans the tabloids.
85. SHINee - Romance
K-pop meets bossa nova on this giddily-paced track.
86. Lady Leshurr - Queen's Speech Ep.4
Never has the phrase "brush your teeth" caused anyone to pump their fist in the air and bounce around aggressively.
87. BJ The Chicago Kid feat. Big K.R.I.T. - The Resume
Audio foreplay in the form of a job interview. No, seriously.
88. Sufjan Stevens - Should Have Known Better
89. Braids - Miniskirt
The "Please Check Your Male Privilege At The Door" anthem of the year.
90. Diet Cig - Breathless
The sound of independence by way of unpolished pop-punk.
91. Towkio feat. Vic Mensa - Involved*
Two of Chicago's trendiest artists get some house assistance from Kaytranada, who's kind of killing it right now with that sort of thing.
92. Bully - Trying
Scratchy vocals and a grungy rhythm section that would have been at home on Alternative Nation.
93. Skepta - Shutdown
A chalk-line inducing monster of a grime track.
94. Ellie Goulding - Love Me Like You Do
A dramatic declaration of devotion with a huge chorus that sets off fireworks.
95. Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color
So engineered to perfection that there couldn't have been a more appropriate song title.
96. Omarion feat. Chris Brown & Jhené Aiko - Post To Be
DJ Mustard oversees the festivities as fellow R&B singers try to out-crass each other with Aiko taking the crown.
97. Majical Cloudz - Downtown
Deep infatuation you can drive along to at 2:00 in the morning.
98. The World is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - January 10th, 2014
A tale of retribution with varying dynamics and clashing drums.
99. Róisín Murphy - Gone Fishing
Dark synthpop for the outcast in us all wanting inclusion.
100. Chromatics - Shadow
Soaked in 100% haze.
101. Jamie xx - Gosh
102. And So I Watch You From Afar - Animal Ghosts
103. HeCTA - Till Someone Gets Hurt
104. Destroyer - Dream Lover
105. Jamie xx feat. Romy - Loud Places
106. Camp Lo - You
107. Jill Scott -You Don't Know
108. C. Duncan - Garden
109. Girlpool - Chinatown
110. Thundercat - Them Changes
111. Sevyn Streeter - 4th Street
112. Shift K3Y - Beep Beep
113. SOAK - Sea Creatures
114. Girl Band - Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?
115. Future feat. Drake - Where Ya At
116. Wally Clark - Wally World
117. DeQn Sue - Aspire*
118. Wolf Alice - You're A Germ
119. Tyler, The Creator - Fucking Young
120. Joyner Lucas - Ross Cappichioni
121. Ninsun Poli - Great Leap Forward
122. Son Little - O Mother
123. The-Dream - Black Magic
124. Chromatics - I Can Never Be Myself When You're Around
125. Kali Uchis - Rush*
126. Kelela - A Message
127. Young Buffalo - My Place
128. Carrie Underwood - Smoke Break
129. St. Beauty - Going Nowhere
130. Panda Bear - No Mans Land
131. Eden xo - The Weekend
132. Ashley Monroe - On To Something Good
133. Weaves - Tick
134. Vince Staples - Lift Me Up
135. Lia Marie Johnson - Moment Like You
136. Victoria Monet -'90s Babies
137. Holly Herndon - Home
138. Knife Pleats - One Step Too Far*
139. Kacey Musgraves feat. Willie Nelson - Are You Sure*
140. Father John Misty - The Night John Tillman Came To Our Apt.
141. Charisma.com - Otubone Rock*
142. Beach House - Sparks
143. Young Fathers - SHAME
144. Kate Boy - Midnight Sun
145. Gosh Pith - Window
146. Algiers - Blood
147. Bilal - Satellites
148. Olamide - Bobo
149. Boogie - Oh My
150. King Khan & BBQ Show - Alone Again
151. Kacy Hill - Foreign Fields
152. Pure Bathing Culture – Pray For Rain
153. Day Wave - We Try But We Don't Fit In
154. DJ Spinn feat. DJ Rashad and Danny Brown - Dubby
155. Caravan Palace - Lone Digger
156. FKA twigs - In Time
157. Natalie Prass - My Baby Don't Understand Me
158. Gunakadeit - After School Special*
159. George Ezra - Budapest
160. Camp Lo - Sunglasses
161. Andreya Triana - That's Alright With Me
162. Jill Scott - Closure
163. Peach Kelli Pop - Plastic Love
164. Dâm-Funk - Free
165. Via App - Baby K Interaction
166. Young Guv – Ripe 4 Love
167. Ty Dolla $ign feat. Future and Rae Sremmurd - Blasé
168. Shamir - In For The Kill
169. Tkay Maidza - M.O.B.
170. Janelle Monáe / Wondaland Records - Hell You Talmbout*
171. Rich Homie Quan - Flex (Ooh, Ooh, Ooh)
172. Frankie Cosmos - Young
173. The Weeknd - Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)
174. Drake - Hotline Bling
175. Meridian Dan - The Bits
176. Lord Huron - Fool For Love
177. Jamie Woon - Movement
178. Demi Lovato - Cool For The Summer
179. Deradoorian - Beautiful Woman
180. Skylar Spence - Can't You See
181. Lianne La Havas - What You Don't Do
182. Lula - H̄̀āng mị̀ kịl*
183. Dawes - All Your Favorite Bands
184. Mariah Carey - Infinity
185. Gesu no Kiwami Otome - Watashi Igai Watashi Ja Nai no*
186. Marrow - Paulson
187. Houndstooth - No News From Home
188. Dwight Yoakam - Liar
189. Sydney Eloise & The Palms - Tell Me What I Want To Hear
190. Joey Bada$$ - Paper Trail$
191. Rudimental feat. Mahalia - We The Generation
192. Jimmy Whispers - Heart Don't Know
193. Lady Lamb The Beekeeper - Billions Of Eyes
194. Waxahatchee - Breathless
195. Le Thug - Losing Song
196. Galantis - Peanut Butter Jelly
197. Sophie - Just Like We Never Said Goodbye
198. Cabane - Sangokaku
199. Chris Stapleton - Tennessee Whiskey
200. Nick Jonas - Levels
201. Death Team - Dolphin Style
202. N*E*R*D - Sandy Squirrel
203. KStewart - Keeping You Up*
204. Oddisee - That's Love
205. Papoose - The Plug
206. Kyla La Grange - So Sweet
207. Lower Dens - To Die In L.A.
208. Titus Andronicus - Dimed Out
209. ANOHNI - 4 Degrees
210. Miranda Lambert feat. Little Big Town - Smokin' and Drinkin'
211. Lil Mama - Sausage*
212. Dumblonde - Dreamsicle
213. RP Boo - Bangin' On King Drive
214. Kero Kero Bonito - Picture This
215. Zara Larsson - Lush Life
216. Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique feat. Maluca - Love Is Free
217. Death Team - Fucking Bitches In The Hood
218. Leon Bridges - Coming Home
219. Teen Girl Scientist Monthly - Games
220. Viet Cong - Continental Shelf
221. Savages - T.I.W.Y.G.
222. Holly Miranda - All I Want Is To Be Your Girl
223. Gavin Turek - Don't Fight It
224. Blur - Go Out
225. Leikeli47 feat. City Boy Bug - Fuck The Summer Up
226. Selena Gomez feat. A$AP Rocky - Good For You
227. Pupppy - Beans
228. Björk - Stonemilker
229. Pender Street Steppers - The Glass City*
230. The Weeknd - Can't Feel My Face
231. Snakehips feat. Tinashe and Chance The Rapper - All My Friends
232. Rahel - Serve
233. Blonde feat. Alex Newell - All Cried Out
234. Cam - My Mistake
235. Missy Elliott feat. Pharrell Williams - WTF (Where They From)
236. Moses Sumney - Seeds
237. Joanna Newsom - Sapokanikan*
238. One Direction - End Of The Day
239. Juan Wauters – I'm All Wrong
240. Ratboys - MCMXIV
241. Stevie J & Joseline - Stingy With My Kutty Kat
242. Earl Sweatshirt - Grief
243. Marie-Pierre Arthur - Rien à faire*
244. Braids - Taste
245. Minah - I Am A Woman Too*
246. Spritzer - Melt
247. Ariana Grande - One Last Time
248. Gardens & Villas - Fixations
249. Damaged Bug - The Mirror*
250. Florence and the Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful