Top Ten Songs of 2015
The Best: “Let it Happen” by Tame Impala
This year, Kevin Parker’s one-man-band, Tame Impala, took a hard left turn from guitar based psych-rock to bass-heavy, synth driven electro-funk – for an album like Currents, so stuffed with lyrics about change, the aesthetic switch makes sense. “Let It Happen,” which leads off the album, is not only its thesis, but also the most infectious pop song of the year. “Let It Happen” starts with an infectious drumbeat and synth line, cannily deconstructs itself in the middle, and reconstructs itself as a throbbing, festival-ready electro-disco dance party. In eight minutes, “Let It Happen,” Currents, and Tame Impala completely and giddily change their stripes without ever taking their feet of the gas.
“Get Out” by Autre Ne Veut
After an entire album of alternately thrilling and alienating bedroom-R&B-meets-severe-anxiety attack, “Get Out” finishes up Autre Ne Veut’s Age of Transparency with a thrilling, passionate Gospel-inflected finale
“Dream Lover” by Destroyer
Dan Bejar’s hipster-lothario persona meets The Boss on this Poison Season highlight, full of wailing guitars, horns and saxophones and the already immortal lyric, “oh shit, here comes the sun.”
“Realiti” by Grimes
Grimes’ Art Angels swings wildly between Claire Boucher’s most experimental and most poppy compositions, but “Realiti,” with its K-pop meets Cali strut, glides along effortlessly and effervescently.
“Loud Places” by Jamie xx
In Coulor, by Jamie xx, feels like an album of forgotten, dusted off rarities spun by an expert DJ, and in “Loud Places” you can almost hear the analogue hiss alongside his xx bandmate Romy’s smoky vocals.
“King Kunta” by Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar became hip-hop’s most acclaimed star this year with his scattershot, often brilliantly esoteric To Pimp a Butterfly, but for all its intelligent bluster and social commentary, it’s never better than when it applies a slamming bass-line to Kendrick’s unimpeachable flow on “King Kunta”
“Boys Latin” by Panda Bear
The Animal Collective figurehead released another great solo record this year with Meets the Grim Reaper, and this pig-Latin, Beach-Boys-on-mushrooms slice of psychedelic is the highlight
“Fourth of July” by Sufjan Stevens
Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell is gorgeous and unbearably sad, no more so than this late-night lament that sees Stevens imagining a conversation with his estranged mother on her deathbed. I wept the first time I heard this song, and the second, and third…
“Can’t Keep Checking my Phone” by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
UMO trades guitar heroics for synths and funky bass on Multi-Love. “Can’t Keep Checking my Phone” is one of the band’s most straightforward tracks, but it’s so damn catchy that it becomes lodged in your head almost immediately.
“The Knower” by Youth Lagoon
Trevor Powers, aka Youth Lagoon, is known for his hushed bedroom pop and psychedelic studio wizardry, but this horn inflected blast of a song sees his project stepping into a more extroverted spotlight