My Top Ten Songs of 2015 + ExplanationMartin_Canine NOTE: This list was made retrospectively in 2018. I had a lot of time to select my ten favorite tracks of the year, and I carefully thought about their ranking. Nevertheless, I don’t know every single song released in 2015, and there maybe are a few that would make my list, but are obscure to me right now. Nevertheless, have fun with the list, and tell me what you think about it, and what your picks of the year were.
10. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Eric Nally, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee & Grandmaster Caz - Downtown
Album: This Unruly Mess I’ve Made (2016)
Genre: American hip hop, broadway style pop
Regarding “The Heist” as one of the three or so best American hip hop albums of the decade, the first single of the follow up was highly anticipated by me. To be fair, it would turn out to be the record’s greatest song (with “White Privilege II” at number two, but for entirely different reasons), but wow - have you ever listened to this song when in the city? It just gets you hooked on the feeling and pace of the place - all the different roots are captured on the sound: huge broadway style production with a chorus, raspy rock vocals, a soft hipster-ish singer-songwriter pre-hook, a group of rappers with an old school flow, Macklemore’s modern day rapping, jazz samples, and more. Musically, there is just so much to explore.
9. Miley Cyrus - Dooo It!
Album: Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz
Genre: art pop
Instead of releasing a bunch of hit singles supporting a catchy, neat follow up album to her 2013 worldwide blockbuster “Bangerz”, Miley Cyrus recorded an experimental 90 minute mixtape in cooperation with The Flaming Lips that she released for free, without further promotion (it was not until 2 years later that the project was made available for purchase - unfortunately not on CD like her other records). The drugs are strong on the distorted, spacey, chopped up soundscapes that form “Dooo It!”, they even make it an entirely surreal experience far away from her previous records’ pop roots, but still maintaining a massive earworm appeal.
8. SpongeBozz - A.C.A.B.
Album: Planktonweed Tape
Genre: German hip hop, hardcore hip hop
When his debut album “Planktonweed Tape” topped the German charts, SpongeBozz began to polarize the entire scene. A ridiculously violent, gangsta-fied version of a popular cartoon character, but of a multisyllabic rhyming quality and skilled machine gun flow that only a handful of other artists have on a worldwide scale. Two years later, he would become more personal and introspective, credible artist, but back on here, he was all about the fun of it. And with an orchestral beat, not one but two earworm chorusses and a doubletime verse that’s audibly faster than Eminem’s “Rap God” two years earlier, “A.C.A.B.”, which is basically little more than a song about attacking cops without motivation, is about as much as it gets.
7. Jack Ü with Justin Bieber - Where Are Ü Now?
Album: Jack Ü (Jack Ü) / Purpose (Justin Bieber)
Genre: art pop
Okay, if it wasn’t already clear at this point: Justin Bieber is a legit singer-songwriter in the meantime, and songs like this show just how much he matured since his “Baby” days. Sung with a credible melancholy and written with empathy for the feeling of heartbreak, “Where Are Ü Now?” (NOTE: an Ü is not the same as an U) would have been a great pop ballad on its own, as it was initially intended to be before Skrillex and Diplo got their hands on the demo. The outcome was incredible: keeping the song’s sentimental mood, yet adding oriental flutes as drops and a thunderous hi-hat storm as a beat. It’s electrifying, and it is unlike anything heard before or after, not even songs by any artist involved.
6. Kollegah - Blutdiamanten
Album: Zuhältertape, Vol. 4
Genre: German hip hop, hardcore hip hop
Kollegah perfectly sums up his appeal in a line translating to something like this: “I don’t reinvent the wheel, but add a few platinum rims to it”. There were gangsta rappers before him, also pimp rappers, but no one ever did it at his level of quality. The beat sounds like Hans Zimmer decided to produce a hip hop song, and Kollegah finds homonyms and double meanings where little others would see them: out of the fact that “Rolle” means both “character”/”persona” and “roll”, he compares a rapper who drops out of his stage persona to a mentons scotch mints unwrapped of their roll. Not to mention that no other rapper would compare shredding money to an orgy of Ninja Turtles characters (due to the double meaning of “Kröten”, meaning “turtles”/”toads” and being a slang term for cash, and the name “Shredder”). Oh, and don’t forget that “Ausschlag” means both “exanthem” and the deflection of a compass. Oh, and… well, you get the idea.
5. Sleeping With Sirens - Better Off Dead
Sleeping With Sirens go back to the initial punkish emo sound that once dominated the genre and subculture, and without coming off as preachy, they talk about the serious topic of suicide. Their approach is different from most other similarly themed tracks, exactly recognizing the core of a problem and then exploring the results. Their protagonist is not someone who gets bullied a lot, and not what society typically calls a misfit. Rather than that, she is a wallflower, who feels lesser than others because nobody seems to care about her, nobody ever gave her a compliment, or made a friendly gesture. “All she wanted to be enough.”
4. Adele - Sweetest Devotion
Genre: soul, indie pop
Adele may be the greatest music artist of the decade. So far, she released two albums in the 2010s and made the music world go crazy. Not with her image, not with having introduced brand new gimmick, not with some incredibly catchy new house jam, but with talentedly written and performed music in the most traditional kind of way. “Sweetest Devotion”, her third album’s closing track, has the power of a great soul classic from the 60s. Not one of those that get you moving on the floor, one that soaks you up in the moment and leave you in awe. It’s funny that the acoustic guitar in the verses seems to prepares you for a neat indie inspired tune, before suddenly an almost gospel-like chorus kicks in and blows you away.
3. Tech N9ne - Aw Yeah? (InterVENTion)
Album: Special Effects
Genre: American hip hop, conscious hip hop
Tech N9ne has an intervention with god. And he is mad furious. He asks how all the war, violence, police brutality, sexual assault, and more can occur if he has everything is control and everything happens as he wishes to. He wants a reason, an explanation. He jots down everything that is wrong with the world, and if god really is serious with all the bloodshed and misery. “Listen, lord!” he demands, “Audire domine!”. But the most tormenting, jaw dropping moment is the final line. This is the single most heartbreaking, saddening and painfully honest scream in music history. Just listen closely as how his intensity and pitch suddenly increases halfway through the last syllable. In that particular moment, you can tell he saw pictures of his deceased mother flash before his eyes.
2. Nightwish - Our Decades in the Sun
Album: Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Genre: symphonic metal
“Our Decades in the Sun” is the ultimate symbiosis of Tuomas Holopainen’s wonderfully poetic wordings and Floor Jansen's divine singing voice, not to mention the first one’s heavenly composition that sets the tone. The song is a ballad about our parents forever being with us, no matter if and in what way we are separated from them. The melody has something so bittersweet. As hopeful and bright as the chorus is, as slightly woeful and nostalgic is the piano that follows it. This, my friends, is the beauty of Nightwish.
1. Rihanna - American Oxygen
Genre: art pop
For many foreigners, America is synonymous with the so called American Dream. The basic idea of making it from the bottom to the top, of getting the possibility of fame and fortune while starting off with nothing at all. Or, as Rihanna puts it on “American Oxygen”: “We sweat for a nickel and a dime, turn it into an empire”. What this Barbadian singer captures on here is the sheer atmosphere of the United States and the unique and individual vibe it has compared to other countries around the world. Each country has them, although those who came there from outside seem to see it differently than those living in the place. Rihanna’s description of the USA, its spirit that you inhale when coming there (hence the title “American Oxygen”) is what many of us not living there immediately feel, and that very authentically. Also compliments to Kanye West and Alex da Kid for the anthemic instrumental. Oh, and… does anybody know why it wasn’t included on any album? Even the cover artwork looks as if it was intended to be featured on “Anti”.