Last week I had my “Top 5 Songs of 2015” narrowed down to 13 songs.
I looked at it and thought “That’s it, nothing can be cut down further. It’s just gonna have to be 13 songs this year.”
But I pressed on and cut it down to five. It’s not a perfect five, no year-end list can be, but it’s my five. These are the songs that I loved wildly. I felt them in my chest. I sang them loudly at concerts. I listened to them quietly in my room.
These are my five favorite songs of 2015.
5. Car Seat Headrest – “Times To Die”
This song is an epic. It starts with our hero, Will Toledo, looking around and seeing all his friends getting ahead in life. Then he has a vision. Job lying in his bed, thinking about why God would test his faith as he had. He thinks about his own trials and tribulations with success in the music industry. A plan forms. To cut a covenant. To get a deal. A record deal. He goes to the temple, gets fed to the devils of the recording industry who see if he has what it takes to make it to the Divine Council of respected artists.
Will he make it? Will he come out on top? With this song, I think he does.
- Car Seat Headrest’s “Teens of Style” came out on October 29th via Matador Records.
- Listen if you like: Greek epics, The Hold Steady, metaphors
4. Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”
This song is for Dontre Hamilton. This song is for Eric Garner. John Crawford III. Michael Brown Jr. Tony Robinson. Freddy Gray. Sandra Bland. This song is for Black Lives Matter. This song is for the families, friends, and acquaintances, of anyone who has died of gun violence this year. This song is for anyone who has felt the effects of racism, or can see those effects. It’s for a nation who is having a very difficult discussion about race right now.
For all the songs this year that were great because they were intimate and personal, this song was anything but. This song captured the zeitgeist in 2015.
I wish that this wasn’t the anthem for 2015. I wish it didn’t have to be. But we gon be alright.
- Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” came out on March 16th via Top Dawg Entertainment.
- Listen if you like: the anthem to a movement, the zeitgeist of 2015, optimism
3. SWMRS – “Miley”
Miley is like a well written paper written directly to its subject. It has a thesis: Miley Cyrus, you’re a punk rock queen. Then it backs up its argument with a series of facts, opinions, and observations. “She’s a Sisyphus eating in a corporate scene.” “Dressed in all black you revel in your ego.” “She pushes the envelope on all sides”
It’s even surprisingly pragmatic bringing in criticism of its thesis saying, “My favorite magazine just published all your questionable words.” And even looks to the future, “Miley what’s your next move gonna be?” and concludes with, “We need you.”
At one point it turns and starts to address Miley Cyrus directly and becomes an argument for a friendship.
It’s a well stated argument and I’m convinced by it. A+.
- “Miley” came out as a single on September 8th via Uncool Records.
- Listen if you like: Weezer, well stated arguments, Miley Cyrus
2. Father John Misty – “Bored in the U.S.A.”
When this song was released it nearly split my head open because it was so brilliant. There was a point where I was in Tennessee, walking around East Nashville, listening to this album, and I had to turn it off because it was too good. I could not listen anymore.
Bored in the U.S.A. tells harrowing truth after harrowing truth about love and relationships while simultaneously lampooning the whole institution and everything that comes with it at the same time. There is a laugh track on the song for Christ’s sake. Without the laugh track comedy schtick of it, the song would be wrought and overdramatic. Eye-rolling even. And if was all schtick with no sincerity he would just be a dick. And that’s life. Every situation has good and bad. Every person can be earnest at times, but can also be a wise ass. To convey that in a 4 minute song is something almost no one else does, or is even capable of doing.
- Father John Misty’s “I Love You Honeybear” was released on February 10th via Sub Pop.
- Listen if you like: sarcasm, wit, ballads
1. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment – “Sunday Candy”
There were times this year where I teared up listening to Chance the Rapper sing about his grandma in this song. There were also times where I turnt up listening to the raw energy of “Sunday Candy.” No other song this year ran me though so many feelings at different points during this song. Chance’s themes of family, inclusion, love, and growth are ideas that are core to my being. When I listen to this song I feel a connection with Chance, with my grandma, with my family, with my friends, with anyone around me, with everyone.
From tearing up to turning up. “Sunday Candy” was my favorite song of 2015.
- Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment’s “Surf” was released for free on May 29th. They are not on a record label.
- Listen if you like: your grandma, love, the best song of 2015