This is it, the top 20 songs of the year! Apologies to Hospitality and to d’angelo both of whom made albums I didn’t listen to until the last week or so which I find really excellent. You can see here that most of my tastes lean toward hip-hop and punk tinged indie rock, so prepare to see a lot of that. I don’t really have any wide reflections on the musical year, I’ll let the list speak for itself. Enjoy!
(Note: Not every song is for every person, there may be some songs that you consider innapropriate; I do not recommend everything that I like for everyone. Proceed with your own discretion.)
20. Chance the Rapper “Wonderful Everyday”
Chance only released a couple of songs this year, but this is the one that fully captured my attention–a fairly straightforward cover of the theme song from Arthur. Featuring no rapping at all, its greatness comes from the way that it builds upon itself slowly with its near a cappella musical stylings.
19. J Cole “Be Free”
J Cole released this song in the response to the Michael Brown tragedy and the aftermath of what happened in Ferguson. Another rapper that chooses to sing instead of rap and it creates a raw and emotional tone, filled with lament that cannot be expressed through lyrics alone.
18. Ex Hex “Don’t Wanna Lose”
A pretty straight forward rock song with a female fronted punk/garage vibe that keeps moving infectiously. It’s the perfect album opener.
17. FKA Twigs “Pendulum”
Dark and broody, Twigs’ slowed down artsy pop is catchy in its own unique way, this song takes a while building before it gets to the payoff but when it does every second of the previous tension was worth it.
16. Tune-Yards “Time of Dark”
Merrill Garbus shows off her lung capacity here proving that she not only excels at being eclectic, but that she also has big pipes.
15. FKA Twigs “Kicks”
The album closer proved to be my favorite, she truly excels at building up the atmosphere of a song while quietly inserting her voice into it breaking through in its own quiet way.
14. The Hotelier “An Introduction to the Album” (explicit)
An album opener whose title does not live up to its pop-punk epic-ness. A song that was truly built to be sung along to live every poetic word shouted out. Lyrically the song is unique by using the last word of each verse to start the next one. This song encapsulates all the emotion, passion, and angst that comes with pop-punk and emo and is truly great.
13. Wild Beasts “Wanderlust”
Indie rock and electronic at its finest, another song that rides on atmosphere with its dark and almost creepy feel.
12. Jungle “Busy Earnin'”
Pure joy; an EDM take on old funk jams, Jungle may not nail it every time, but here they certainly do.
11. Isaiah Rashad w/Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q “Shot You Down” (explicit)
The 7 minute version absolutely crushes it with all three rappers crushing their verses. The chorus isn’t as good as the rapping but after each rapper is done it doesn’t matter.
10. Taylor Swift “Blank Space”
I talked about this before, but it really is the best song to be released this year. The T-Swift album as a whole is overrated, but this song is pure sugar.
9. Joyce Manor “Falling in Love Again”
This song would have been my high school jam, number one on my mixtapes for the girl I had a crush on, there’s no doubt about it.
8. Vince Staples “Blue Suede” (explicit)
Staples’ combines one of the best beats of the year with a song about violence that is also a sort of ode to the classic rock ‘n roll tune–it works on every level.
7. Makthaverskan “Antabus” (explicit)
A fast, driving punk song in which the Swedish punks tell off whoever this song was intended for with a forceful use of F-bombs.
6. Rick Ross w/Kanye West and Big Sean “Sanctified” (explicit)
Using a Gospel song for not so holy means, these three confess what their true desires are, but ultimately Kanye is transcendent in his own Kanye way.
5. Iceage “The Lord’s Favorite”
A sort of hardcore song done in a slack-jawed alt-country manner. The song probably deserves to be blasted in a dusty bar, but works just as well coming through your laptop speakers.
4. Run the Jewels “Blockbuster Night Part 1” (explicit)
I don’t know if there was another song out there that got me more hyped when listening to it. Killer Mike and el-p absolutely devastate the listener here. The song is only 2:32 which is too short, but honestly I don’t think I could handle another verse–it would slay me.
3. Makthaverskan “Asleep”
The band has two main influences: 80’s pop and punk rock; here they show off that 80’s influence going heavy on the synths.
2. The War on Drugs “Red Eyes”
“Red Eyes” is that song you listen to after the party is over. It’s catchy enough, but laid back and calming to the point that it’s like the wind coming on a hot summer day.
1. Cloud Nothings “I’m Not Part of Me”
This was my favorite song at the halfway point and it has stuck at the top ever since. At its core it’s an ‘I’m over this’ track, from the opening verse “it’s over now”, Dylan Baldi expresses that he has moved on in the most wonderful way. It’s an empowering song, but to say this gets away from what makes it so great, which is that it is a wonderful rock song.