As 2015 comes to and end, it’s time to look back onthe year’s greatest tracks. With a clear pace-change in electronica, a fight for integrity in hip hop, some legends being made, newcomers being introduced, and some huge comebacks in the mix, it has certainly been a noteworthy year. From massive hits to some key cuts, here are the 100 Best Songs of 2015.
100. “I’m Ready” Twin Shadow
At points, Twin Shadow’s “I’m Ready” feels ready for a sports highlight reel, but that’s hardly a negative thing. There’s an uplifting spirit throughout that sometimes borders on cheesy, but he always pulls it back just in time.
99. “Black & White” Kylie + Garibay featuring Shaggy
Kylie Minogue desperately needed to pair up with someone like Fernando Garibay simply for the sake of broadening her horizons; “Black & White” is the luscious fruit of their labor. Who would have thought Shaggy would fit in so well?
98. “Crystals” Of Monsters & Men
Of Monsters & Men’s sophomore effort wasn’t instant, and probably won’t have the same sleeper effect as their debut, but the quality was on par. True to form, “Crystals” is uplifting and anthemic, but it feels far more confident.
97. “Only One” Kanye West featuring Paul McCartney
The first Kanye West and Paul McCartney collaboration we were gifted this year was strikingly low-key. The ode to his daughter North features just West’s vocals and Macca’s keys, but nothing else was necessary.
96. “BURNITUP!” Janet Jackson featuring Missy Elliott
If “No Sleeep” represented Janet’s yin, then “BURNITUP!” is her yang. The R&B-dance jam is classic Miss Jackson, even featuring an all-too-brief feature from Missy Elliott. For embodying so many classic elements, it feels strikingly fresh.
95. “The Fool” Ryn Weaver
The title track to Ryn Weaver’s debut album does sound like a desperate attempt to tap into Florence Welch’s patented Machine, but she definitely reminds us that she has something different to offer. The track is a winner, regardless.
94. “Believe” Mumford & Sons
Mumford & Sons mixing up their sound was just as vital as it was risky. The jury is still out, but “Believe” is a glimmer of hope that a group as one dimensional as them trying to go 3D could actually lead somewhere pretty exciting.
93. “Love Me Like You Do” Ellie Goulding
For better or worse, Ellie Goulding has found a comfortable home in the Top 40. “Love Me Like You Do,” her offering to the Fifty Shades Of Grey soundtrack, has a little bit of spark left in it to remind us how great she actually is.
92. “U Mad” Vic Mensa featuring Kanye West
Kanye’s current protege, Vic Mensa, is slowly making some headway. With West’s clear stamp of approval (and participation, too boot) and a hard-hitting track like “U Mad,” it won’t be long before he’ll be hitting his stride.
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91. “Uma Thurman” Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy’s “Uma Thurman” is kind of a novelty, but it’s so well executed and deliriously fun that it’s worth taking seriously. Sampling The Munsters theme song was brilliant, but the track around it is awesome.
90. “Hold My Hand” Jess Glynne
After lending her voice and gifting Clean Bandit a few massive hits, Jess Glynne was ready rack up some of her own. “Hold My Hand” is a dazzling dance pop record that certainly showcases her ability to do just that.
89. “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party” Courtney Barnett
It’s a shame that tracks like this have no chance at radio success anymore. The catchiest cut from Courtney Barnett’s debut LP, “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party” sacrifices zero integrity to try and score a hit.
88. “Cause I’m A Man (HAIM Remix)” Tame Impala
Tame Impala’s “Cause I’m A Man” was a proper stand out from Currents on its own, but bringing HAIM on board to remix (or rather re-record) was brilliant. The lyrics resonate that much stronger sung from a female perspective.
87. “Bang That” Disclosure
Long featured in Disclosure’s live sets, “Bang That” was given a proper due, and although it was downgraded to bonus track status, ended up being one of the duo’s best releasees this year. It simply exemplifies their inherent genius.
86. “Entropy” Grimes and Bleachers
Hearing Grimes’ spacey voice atop a delicate arrangement of Bleacher’s real-life instrumentation is jarring, if not completely unrecognizable, but, much like chocolate and peanut butter, it’s a pairing that undeniably works.
85. “Lampshades On Fire” Modest Mouse
Modest Mouse are constantly toggling back and forth between trying to score a radio hit and doing everything possible to avoid one. The hooky “Lampshades On Fire” is undeniably the former, but they rise to the occasion.
84. “Used To Love You” Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani channeled her intense heartbreak into one hell of a pop banger. “Used To Love You” is low-key, still catchy, and well-executed, but Gwen’s vocals, sitting front and center, are its most remarkable aspect.
83. “Girl” The Internet featuring KAYTRANDA
The Internet is hardly Odd Future’s most in-your-face act, but their “Girl” proves they’re still a force to be reckoned with. The smooth, hypnotic 6-minute piece may feel repetitive, but it constantly feels intentional and inspired.
82. “Bored In The USA” Father John Misty
The only thing that reminds us that “Bored In The USA” isn’t an Elton John reject is its particularly scathing lyrics. Father John Misty’s slight of hand really makes for a brilliant track, but it’s considerately never quite fulfilling.
81. “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” Unknown Mortal Orchestra
There’s almost too much going on in “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” to rationalize, but the end result is astounding. From the funky bass line and to the uplifting handclaps to the hypnotic melody, it all just kind of comes together.
80. “Our Own House” MisterWives
Indie pop acts these days tend to walk the ever-thinning “coolness” tightrope pretty intensely, but MisterWives seem up for the challenge. “Our Own House” is a bonafide herald.
79. “Dopamine” DIIV
Shoegaze masters DIIV clearly don’t have an intent on straying far from their distinct sound, but, if “Dopamine” is a fair indication, they are still crafting compelling tracks. It’s as if the reverb can’t possibly get any bigger.
78. “Tutti Frutti” New Order featuring Elly Jackson
Peter Hook-less New Order is a grim concept, but Elly Jackson’s featured role on “Tutti Frutti” may just be a needed distraction. Nonetheless, the group’s dance floor instincts are clearly still very much in tact.
77. “Coming Home” Leon Bridges
The title track from Leon Bridge’s debut album is aptly titled. Despite his young age, his old soul delicately injects itself into the otherwise straightforward song. “Coming Home” captures the essence of a time and a place.
76. “Giant Peach” Wolf Alice
Newcomers Wolf Alice captured the spark of female-led 90’s alt rock and built a raging fire out of it. “Giant Peach” is seductively unhinged, yet beautifully atmospheric, and through all of its twists and turns, the ride is beautiful.
75. “Pressure Off” Duran Duran featuring Janelle Monáe and Nile Rodgers
It’s been a long time since Duran Duran’s hey day, but “Pressure Off” is as vibrant and exciting as they’ve ever been. Janelle Monáe and Nile Rodgers breathe life into the track, but it’s the band sticking to their guns is most remarkable.
74. “Random Name Generator” Wilco
Wilco have historically been reliable, and their Star Wars LP was hardly and exception. “Random Name Generator” is just as quirky and catchy as you’d expect, but there’s a rejuvenating spirit subtly tucked underneath it.
73. “Johnny Delusional” FFS
Supergroups so rarely work out, but even on paper Franz Ferdinand and Sparks joining forces makes sense. Standout “Johnny Delusional” is exciting, sparkly, and compact, and to top it all off, it’s undeniably fresh.
72. “Run Away With Me” Carly Rae Jepsen
For all intents and purposes, Carly Rae Jepsen is a one hit wonder, but she is sticking to a strikingly high caliber of bubblegum pop. “Run Away With Me” follows many classic formulas in sound and structure, but feels like a renaissance.
71. “Til It Happens To You” Lady Gaga
“Til It Happens To You” may be more of a gap-filler while Lady Gaga keeps her (relatively) low profile, but it’s not to be written off. Co-penned with Diane Warren, this gorgeous ballad truly showcases her raw talent.
70. “Stressed Out” Twenty One Pilots
There’s a lot of whim and chaos injected into “Stressed Out,” but the end result is strikingly refined. The parts shouldn’t come together as well as they do, but there’s more than enough evidence that this track isn’t a fluke.
69. “I’m A Ruin” Marina & The Diamonds
Marina is one of pop’s most under-appreciated gems (err… diamonds.) “I’m A Ruin” is an elegant pseudo-ballad that both highlights her voice and her ability to craft a hook. For an artist like her, that’s business as usual.
68. “Everyday” A$AP Rocky featuring Rod Stewart, Miguel, and Mark Ronson
The most striking aspect of “Everyday”, with so many power players involved, is that A$AP Rocky is able to hold our attention so well. What could have been a sensory overload ended up just solidifying the lead artist’s value.
67. “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” Jamie xx featuring Young Thug and Popcaan
By Jamie xx standards, this is pretty pure pop; in reality, it’s far from it. Inviting Popcaan was fun, Young Thug was definitely interesting, but it’s the Persuasions sample that’s the most left-field, but ingenious component.
66. “bodyache” Purity Ring
“Bodyache” is part trip hop, part dream pop, and completely mystifying. With a masterful trap beat and bewitching vocal, the electronic duo gave us something equally as delicate as it is explosive and as whimsical as it is tactful.
65. “Can’t Deny My Love” Brandon Flowers
Brandon Flowers clearly feel (a little) freer to indulge his ’80s new wave infatuation than with The Killers, but that’s really quite ok. “Can’t Deny My Love” is riddled with modern production, but is pretty damn authentic otherwise.
64. “Mountain At My Gates” Foals
When you hear “Mount At My Gates,” you really have to wonder why Foals isn’t one of the biggest bands in the world. With its poppy bounce, building energy, and festival-ready chorus, the track is a total knockout on all fronts.
63. “The Answer” Savages
After their gobsmacking debut, Savages is back, and these ladies main business. “The Answer” is more frenzied, more scathing, but noticeably more melodic than previous works, but they certainly haven’t lost any of their spark.
62. “Stole The Show” Kygo featuring Parson James
“Stole The Show” feels like Kygo is on the verge of something big. Whether or not he follows in the footsteps of Guetta, Harris, and Avicii and reigns as EDM’s brief DJ-Du-Jour is still to be seen, but with a track this good, he could pull it off.
61. “Lionsong” Björk
If there’s one thing Björk is undeniably, it’s avant garde; “Lionsong” only reiterates that point. With its delicate strings and intricate vocal arrangement, the track stands out as a striking, delicate, and gut-wrenching piece of work.
60. “Grief” Earl Sweatshirt
You either get Earl Sweatshirt or you don’t, but “Grief” is kind of hard to just pass over. His lyrics hold nothing back, almost to a fault, but it’s his detached delivery that really drive the point home. The beat is pretty great, too.
59. “Teenage Talk” St. Vincent
While on surface, “Teenage Talk” may seem little more than a reject from St. Vincent’s 2014 self-titled album, the track jam packs a ton of atmosphere and emotion into an otherwise compact space, and the result is near-perfect.
58. “Leave A Trace” CHVRCHES
CHVRCHES know how to make great synth pop; that’s no secret. The band is more assertive and confident on “Leave A Trace,” that ever before, and it’s proof that they can move their sound forward, a rare feat for an act like them.
57. “Depreston” Courtney Barnett
A proper standout from Courtney Barnett’s stunning debut LP, “Depreston” presents a welcomed cool down from her hectic bangers. It’s repetitious progression gives her deadpan vocals and dazzlingly witty vocals the spotlight.
56. “Breathing Underwater” Hiatus Kaiyote
Hiatus Kaiyote throw everything at us from funk to jazz to prog rock in “Breathing Underwater,” but they weld it together flawlessly. It’s really been quite some time since soul has felt the rejuvenating and innovate.
55. “These Walls” Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise, and Thundercat
The contemplative “These Walls,” musically feels ripped right out Prince’s songbook, but it’s (per usual) the lyrics that resonate strongest. When Kendrick talks, we listen, and when he flips the switch, it’s awe-inspiring.
54. “DEATHCAMP” Tyler, The Creator
Tyler, The Creator’s fearlessness is always exciting. “DEATHCAMP” swirls with a hard-hitting Dee Edwards sample that injects a level of rock that Tyler hasn’t quite hit before. His biting lyrics only add fuel to the fire.
53. “Sparks” Beach House
Dream-poppers Beach House gifted us two full studio albums this year, and in the hoard of exciting material sits the astounding single “Sparks.” They fill the empty space with reverb galore, but it’s magnificently uplifting.
52. “Antidone” Travi$ Scott
“Antidote” parallels Travi$ Scott’s own polarizing nature. With it’s dumbed-down melody, questionable lyrics, and true-to-form autotune, it’s pretty easy to forget how well it actually works together in the end.
51. “REALiTi (Demo)” Grimes
When Grimes released “REALiTi” as a placeholder, she dubbed it a demo. She did touch it up a bit for Art Angels, but the original is a total knockout. It really is a complete experience with just enough hook to go back for more.
50. “Ghost Town” Adam Lambert
With a track like “Ghost Town,” it’s difficult to understand why Adam Lambert has struggled commercially. With its extremely current dark house production and stellar vocal performance, the track is truly pop gold.
49. “Magnets” Disclosure featuring Lorde
It’s a collaboration that makes almost too much sense, and they didn’t disappoint. Lorde takes complete command over “Magnets,” but something has to be said for Disclosure’s restraint that honors their integrity.
48. “Hotline Bling” Drake
Sometimes it’s hard to blur the dichotomy between “smart” and “novelty” in pop-oriented hip hop, and “Hotline Bling” is no exception. When it comes down to it, though, any track this infectious is worth celebrating.
47. “Black Sun” Death Cab For Cutie
No matter where Ben Gibbard goes, his legion of hipsters will follow; it’s nice that he stopped by Death Cab this time. “Black Sun” is fairly true-to-form, but there just enough of a hint of modernity to make it a highlight.
46. “Gosh” Jamie xx
“Gosh” epitomizes Jamie xx’s brilliance. The creative, almost back-to-basics layering of samples creates such a dynamic atmosphere that never quite reaches its potential height, but leaving us a bit unfulfilled endears us back for more.
45. “Bitch Better Have My Money” Rihanna
Rihanna has been alarmingly elusive these past few years, but her few emergences from her reclusive state have been epic, and quite diverse. “Bitch Better Have My Money” is intense and a little frightening, but it’s a showstopper.
44. “Adventure Of A Lifetime” Coldplay
Coldplay have dabbled in dance before, but disco? It works almost effortlessly. Chris Martin thankfully doesn’t steal most of the focus here allowing that infectious groove to do most of the work. It sits nicely in their canon.
43. “Swords” M.I.A.
You can always bank on M.I.A. sending forth a great track; it’s almost clockwork. “Swords” is no exception, utilizing the namesake weapon as a percussive element that (of course) pairs spectacularly with her melody.
42. “Should Have Known Better” Sufjan Stevens
When Sufjan introduces a hopeful keyboard and bare-minimum percussion halfway into “Should Have Known Better,” it feels like a black and white movie slowly transitioning into color. He has an uncanny ability to hold our emotions captive.
41. “Air” Waxahatchee
Waxahatchee’s earthy “Air” is a mountain of sound, which is saying something considering how restrained and scaled back it is. There aren’t that many parts throughout, but the space in between resonates like a wolf’s howl.
40. “Living For Love” Madonna
From Diplo’s masterful knob-work, to Alicia Keys’ clunking piano, to the array of bombastic backing vocals, “Living For Love” was both a step forward and a needed return to form for Madge. The timing was perfect.
39. “WTF (Where They From)” Missy Elliott featuring Pharrell
The fact that Missy Elliott allows Pharrell such a prominent guest spot on a comeback single this decisive only showcases his pull. Luckily, Misdemeanor (expectedly) slays the uniquely structured piece and walks away a winner.
38. “False Hope” Laura Marling
Laura Marling has built such a rapport with critics that her every move is going to be acknowledged. Cue the perfect opportunity for her to evolve her acoustic folk into folk rock, and “False Hope” is the glorious byproduct.
37. “King” Years & Years
This is a pop song so momentous and dazzling that it never really ran the risk of getting lost in the shuffle. A chorus this explosive only comes around every so often, and hopefully Years & Years remembers that.
36. “Buffalo” Toro Y Moi
Toro y Moi’s unique brand of electro-R&B is always evolving. “Buffalo” has a slight touch of jazz, but the presence of guitar really helps him further blur the line between “excitement” and “chill,” and it’s a cool ride.
35. “Clearest Blue” CHVRCHES
“Clearest Blue,” in a lot of ways, feels like CHVRCHES just wanted to put their heads down and go to avoid a sophomore slump; it worked. The climatic synths are a herald and Lauren Mayberry’s vocals are a life source.
34. “River” Leon Bridges
Leon Bridges decided to throwback to a very meaningful and important era of soul and gospel, and his “River” really exemplifies his authenticity. He may not be Sam Cooke, but the powerful backing vocals make up for lost ground.
33. “Ballad Of The Mighty I” Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Post-Oasis Gallagher brother material has been hit or miss, but Noel and his High Flying Birds knocked this one out of the park. Featuring the incomparable Johnny Marr on guitar, “Ballad Of The Mighty I” is invigorating.
32. “Alright ” Kendrick Lamar
In true Pharrell fashion, the production is lush, highlighted by a looped backing vocal-led progression. Still, Kendrick’s hopeful lyrics and impassioned delivery sit front and center, and the impact is undeniable.
31. “Coffee (F***ing)” Miguel featuring Wale
Miguel has never shied away from sensuality, almost to a fault. Following suit, “Coffee” is great, but the Wale-featuring, slightly more lyrically formidable “Fucking” version only enhances his velvety vocal work.
30. “No Sleeep” Janet Jackson featuring J. Cole
Janet Jackson made a comeback the way only Janet Jackson could: simply. Akin to previous lead-singles like “That’s The Way Love Goes” and “Got Til It’s Gone,” the J. Cole-featuring “No Sleeep” is a masterful earworm of a slow jam.
29. “A New Wave” Sleater-Kinney
The chorus kicks off with, “no one here is taking notice,” but even after a decade long absence, Sleater-Kinney are not suffering that particular fate. The simple three-instrument punk formula is all they need to shine.
28. “Dreams” Beck
In a noticeable contrast to his last studio effort, Beck’s currently-stand alone single “Dreams” is upbeat, funky, even slightly disco-tinged, not to mention catchy as hell. It all seems so effortless, but simply because it’s Beck.
27. “Bros” Wolf Alice
Newcomers Wolf Alice’s wistful and sentimental “Bros” delicately walks the tightrope between forward-thinking alt rock and ’90s throwback, but it is undeniably one of the most gorgeous tracks of its kind this decade.
26. “How Could You Babe” Tobias Jesso Jr.
This track could have been any arbitrary piano-led singer-songwriter ballad of the 1970s, but it’s 2015, and Tobias Jesso Jr.’s heartbroken lament sounds far less a throwback than a tribute. He sells the hell out of it.
25. “L$D” A$AP Rocky
It’s almost 2 and a half minutes into the track before A$AP Rocky even begins to rap, and even then it’s barely audible and short-lived. The grimy, downplayed, and overtly trippy “L$D” absolutely thrives in its absence.
24. “Flesh Without Blood” Grimes
This track once again proves that Grimes’ genius knows no bounds. The perfect balance of pure pop and decisive anti-pop, “Flesh Without Blood” is a whirlwind of excitement and euphoria, and it manages to be pretty catchy, too.
23. “No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross” Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens’ soul-baring “No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross” is chillingly sparse, both in instrumentation and melody. There are no need for tricks here; his lyrics are touching, poignant, and painfully honest enough.
22. “Energy” Drake
Drake (thankfully) didn’t hold his tongue much this year. Although he doesn’t directly call anyone out in “Energy,” he sneaks in plenty of one-liners that successfully assert his power; the experience enjoyable.
21. “Go Out” Blur
The lead single from Blur’s reunion album was everything we didn’t know we wanted from them. “Go Out” is raw, clunky, loosely structured, albeit still fairly hooky, but it sounds like a welcomed audible rejuvenation.
20. “All Day” Kanye West featuring Paul McCartney, Theophilus London, and Allan Kingdom
There is far too much personnel to rationalize for a track this simple, but no matter how Kanye lands on the final product, it’s always captivating. “All Day” is a step forward, but the exact direction is, excitingly, still a mystery.
19. “Biscuits” Kacey Musgraves
“Biscuits” doesn’t particularly take Kacey Musgraves into new territory, but her witty lyrical handiwork and delicate instrumentation are surefire winners 100 percent of the time. The track is a masterwork.
18. “What Do You Mean?” Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber’s against-all-odds transition into a likable, adult-friendly pop star seemed complete upon the release of “What Do You Mean?” Following sonic suit with his Jack Ü collabo, his low-key electro thumper is truly decadent.
17. “High By The Beach” Lana Del Rey
True to form, “High By The Beach” never quite challenges a particular range of emotion, but Lana never ceases to amaze with how much she can do with so little. Not to mention, it’s easily one of her catchiest works.
16. “Black Lake” Björk
For an artist as fearless as Björk, a ten minute work like “Black Lake” hardly comes off as shocking. It’s the masterful tension between the strings and synthesizers and her soul-baring lyrics that truly make it an opus.
15. “What Kind Of Man” Florence + The Machine
“What Kind Of Man” is exactly the record Florence + The Machine needed to make to reach a new peak. The guitars are piercing, the drums are thundering, and at the center of it all is Welch’s commanding vocal. It’s uplifting.
14. “Loud Places’ Jamie xx featuring Romy
Jamie xx’s “Loud Places” is a prime example of where EDM needed to go, and thankfully did. The track goes against the grain, remaining slower, simpler and more spacious, but strikingly climactic at the same time.
13. “Hello” Adele
A typical Adele track sets her vocals front and center, often running the risk of not giving us much else, but the aptly titled “Hello” leaves us feeling fully nourished, and, if anything, approaches going a tad too far; it never does.
12. “Don’t Wanna Fight” Alabama Shakes
“Don’t Wanna Fight” reiterates the group’s determination to restore integrity in modern music. Its infectious groove paired with Brittany Howard’s vigorous soulful bellow still manages to feel strikingly fresh, though.
11. “Blackstar” David Bowie
The ever-reclusive Bowie has trained us to expect the unexpected, but no one saw this terrifying ten minute epic coming. Within its two seamlessly woven sections, there’s still an underlying beauty that cuts through the tension.