The best of the year lists have begun (click here to see the schedule of what I plan on writing). I’m starting like I always do with the list of probably the least or most importance to you depending on who you are.
The rules are: these songs had to place in the Billboard Top 10 at some point during 2015 and must also not be a part of my list last year. Here we go, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
10. Taylor Swift w/ Kendrick Lamar “Bad Blood”
T-Swift’s releases this year were more B-singles compared with “Shake it Off” and “Blank Spaces” and though the Kendrick verse (surprisingly) takes away from the single, “Bad Blood” is still a fine pop song.
9. The Weeknd “Earned It”
It’s weird to think that the first mainstream view we got of The Weeknd was from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack. Nonetheless, “Earned It” in all its cinematic sensuality is my favorite of the many hit singles.
8. Fetty Wap “Trap Queen”
Another breakout star, Fetty Wap ruled the charts with his infectious brand of hip-hop. “Trap Queen” lead the way for a Fetty Wap invasion and a really solid album, but “Trap Queen” still stands as the best–I mean who doesn’t love cooking pies with their baby?
7. Major Lazer, MØ, DJ Snake “Lean On”
We’ve got an overload of EDM producers featuring big and small pop stars alike with mixed results all around. This is one of the prime examples of the trend with catchy vocals from Danish electropop artist MØ, whose own work is similar to the result here. It’s a fun song, better than its inevitable designation as an advertisement backer.
6. Justin Bieber “Sorry”
A lot of Bieber’s latest album shows he is still lacking as a lyricist (so forthcoming in humility), “Sorry” fits into that mold for me. Luckily for all of us, Bieber’s strong suit is in his crafting of melody which shines through here.
5. Jack U, Skrillex, Diplo, Justin Bieber “Where Are U Now?”
Another of the aforementioned EDM/pop star collaborations, this single was a precursor to what is now Bieber’s 2015 (or wait, is it Adele’s?). “Where Are U Now?” is quietly transcendent especially for a song EDM song produced by Skrillex, but for some reason the Bieber/Skrillex combo gives the right touch of engaging beats and infectious melody.
4. Omi “Cheerleader”
I’ve seen more hate for this song than any sort of adoration, but let me tell you, I love this song. Omi may have lucked into stardom via random remix, but the way “Cheerleader” washes you in chilldom it doesn’t really matter. In fact, “Cheerleader” is so chill it takes all of your complaints away, yes even that it is made up of a ridiculous premise that plays out with the utmost kitsch.
3. Rihanna, Kanye West, Paul McCartney “FourFiveSeconds”
Kanye opened the year with a couple of strange decisions, premiering a sweet song about his daughter with Sir McCartney and then following it up with a Rihanna/McCartney collab that sounds nothing like you would imagine it to. It’s an acoustic duet that couldn’t be further away from fiery reputations of its stars and somehow this works absolutely wonderful.
2. Justin Bieber “What Do You Mean?”
What makes this song work so well is that it stays in the same zone. It’s entirely filled with questions and fittingly the beat never really proceeds with confidence, letting us revel in Bieber’s state of melancholy without ever letting the beat drop.
1. Drake “Hotline Bling”
Apparently it was the year of chill pop as Drake delivers a chill anthem, reggae-ish electronic backing and all. Drake’s tale of a former lover has inspired many covers and reasonably so because this song unrelentingly singable.
Honorable mentions: Fetty Wap “My Way”, Ellie Goulding “Love Me Like You Do”