￼Tracks Of The Year 2015
This list presents a broad cross section of songs we’ve been borderline obsessed with, along with those we just couldn’t shake this year. Some took the floor from under us one time in a pounding club, others existed purely on our laptops, to be replayed, replayed, replayed. Some we’d heard every morning before we left for work, others we’ve garbled at the top of our lungs on the late journey home. We started with a huge longlist of great tracks – here are the 50 which made the final cut.
DrakeHotline Bling Cash Money / Republic
Aubrey shifts his weight in front of the mirror, tries his new Stone Island puffer. Zipped, and then unzipped. Even Miami gets cold this time of year. He hits the clubs, always knowing that out past The Bluffs, in Hamilton or Oshawa, there are clearer skies.
Right here there’s nothing but smog-sunk horizons. Stone Island can’t bring her back. Dancing can’t bring her back. She used to call him on his cell phone.
BicepJust Aus Music
Bicep have come a long way since 2012’s retro smash Vision of Love. Their releases in the past few years have carried that similar instant classic feeling through denser, tougher sounds. Yet the Northern Irish duo achieved a new kind of elegant ubiquity with this year’s Just. It gripped you instantly – its chilly breakbeat locking you down while a whirling melody crept up your spine and slowly consumed you.
Just yearned to be played in a club – the aural encapsulation of cold blue light enveloped in foggy haze. No bicep emojis here, just the time-suspending pre-peak rush of a dancefloor captured in song.
FKA Twigsin time Young Turks
in time is part aspirational mantra, part fierce diatribe directed at an emotionally distant significant other. Twigs presents a multi-faceted picture; at times it’s like she’s speaking to herself in her head in whispered, brooding tones, looking to the future for solace; other times she flips into present tense, railing against her lover in ferocious double time.
Underpinned by ethereal production and icy, razor sharp percussion, twigs’ shifting sentiments and stark honesty are amplified to a monumental scale, making in time a majestic anthem about hope and unrest in love. As another spectacular year for twigs passed, this was her crowning glory.
Levon VincentWoman Is An Angel Novel Sound
The tape slice jolting you out of rhythm half way through Woman Is... was a display of Levon’s unflinching imperfection. A U-turn from 2008’s Woman Is The Devil, the track was one of the LP’s dancefloor friendly offerings, where, arriving last, its brooding energy was laced with triumph, feeling like a victory lap at the end of the race, or a simmering, skyward leap into the arms of a loved one. With this track, Levon Vincent was back with typically bracing brilliance, making hairs stand on end across dancefloors worldwide.
Jenny HvalThat Battle Is Over Sacred Bones
Sitting somewhere between hallucination and reality, Hval’s album Apocalypse, Girl is a lucid experience. The Norwegian artist’s razor sharp wit and sprawling narrative unraveled in this vital track, gliding across woozy orchestral swells and sending it skywards, the track practically achieving lift off with the line that underpins Hval’s frustrations: “You say I’m free now, that battle is over, and feminism is over and socialism’s over. Yeah, I say I can consume what I want now”. As That Battle… showed across its lush swirling stretch, Hval’s eloquent articulation of modern frustrations comes wrapped up in an addictive haze, like a bitter pill made easier to swallow. One of 2015’s surprise obsessions.
Kendrick LamarKing Kunta Top Dawg / Aftermath / Interscope
With one eye on the dancefloor and the other on a copy of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Kendrick managed to pack serious emotional and intellectual depth into this irresistible funk freakout without sabotaging the party. With references to the legendary enslaved man Kunta Kinte brushing up alongside Smooth Criminal quotes, King Kunta forced your feet to move and your head to implode. Four minutes of pure perfection.
Courtney BarnettPedestrian At Best
A typically idiosyncratic and darkly funny groan about imposter syndrome transformed into a garage grunge hit? A timeless anthem with a chorus about origami? Please forgive us, but this is anything but pedestrian. When we watched Barnett play this in the summer, she went mad, swung her hair around and head-banged, and who can blame her? This was the crowning glory of Courtney’s glorious year.
JMEMan Don't Care ft. Giggs Boy Better Know
Anyone who’s been at a JME show or heard Man Don’t Care on a good soundsystem in 2015 will testify that the crowd’s adrenaline levels surge the moment those whirring organs begin to simmer from the speakers. With machine-gun delivery and a dextrous display of (figuratively) violent lyricism, the BBK veteran asserts his authority before Giggs – who sounds as good as he ever has here – creates a sense of brooding menace without loosing an ounce of cool. A masterful declaration of independence.
Young ThugPacifier 300 Entertainment / Atlantic
With moments of spontaneous genius to be discovered in an abundance of leaks, numerous full lengths and a constant stream of loose tracks, picking the best Young Thug song of 2015 is like choosing your favourite child – if you have hundreds of them. But if there was one track which encapsulated the thrill of this year’s victory, it was the criminally overlooked single Pacifier. Press play, turn it up and let your heart soar as Thug ascends with a gospel choir before exploding all over Mike WiLL Made It’s thunderous beat. It demands classic status.
GrimesFlesh without Blood 4AD
As details of her impending album drip fed our anticipation throughout the year, all the hints Grimes dropped about her feverishly-awaited, much-teased, hyped-to- within-an-inch-of-its-life fourth LP proved useless at deciphering what was to come: “trippy free association about nature and shit” and “bro-art” were just two inspirations offered by Boucher, who remained free-spirited despite all the pressure mounted on her.
So when Flesh without Blood suddenly appeared – recognisably ‘Grimesy’ but cleaner, fresher and freer than ever before – it’s no wonder the world’s jaw dropped. Art Angels is proudly filled with noughties pop nostalgia, helium squeaks and bubblegum melody. This diss track, aimed an an ex-best friend, is the album’s high-kicking, shackles-breaking, propulsive core – and it has surely cemented Boucher as an alt-pop megastar. Released during the latter half of 2015, Flesh without Blood was the anthem we’d been craving all along.