28 December 2015

top 50 traxx of 2015 (30-21)

<-- 40-31

20-11 -->

30. "Sledgehammer" by Fifth Harmony

Fifth Harmony were formed on The X-Factor in summer 2012, but it took them until February of this year to release their debut album. I'm not sure how "worth it" the wait was, but this track is a banger of the highest order.

29. "Elastic Heart" by Sia

Despite her on-stage masking, Sia does not shy away from sharing deeply personal parts of herself in her music. These lyrics find her vulnerable as ever, a strong-willed woman who seems to have found the one person that she's scared can break through her walls.

Supported by another video of excellent Maddie Ziegler dancing, this time also featuring Shia LaBeouf being the wonderful strange person that he is.

28. "Trap Queen" by Fetty Wap

Trap music arguably had the best year of any on-the-rise subgenre, and this track led the charge. I love the groan of Fetty's voice, I love seeing a successful musician not shy away from a disability, and I love his adorable child.

27. "Sorry" by Justin Bieber

I have accepted the fact that Biebs has finally grown into himself and is now an actual musician and you should too. The fact that his music gets more compelling and complex the more creative control he takes of it speaks volumes. I bounced back and forth several times on whether to include this track or the lead single, and since they're about equal in lyrical mediocrity, it came down to composition; this one sounds better as an acoustic track.

26. "Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)" by Omi

You could easily make the argument that this is the #1 pop song of 2015. Not only was it around every single turn of the dial, flip of the station, trip to the stadium, and shuffle of Spotify, it's an earworm of the highest intensity. We'll all be whistling this hook for the rest of our lives, so thanks for this musical infection, Omi.

25. "You Know You Like It" by AlunaGeorge and DJ Snake

This is absolutely a case of the remix making the song (in terms of having a US hit, anyway). The original is a bouncy little UK garage track that never stood a chance outside Britain. As soon as it fell into the hands of a French DJ, though, an international club banger was born.

24. "When You Go" by Avec Sans

Gorgeous downtempo electropop from a British duo with a French name. I'm a sucker for any song with a hook you can sing after hearing it once.

23. "Do What You Like" by Taio Cruz

For reasons that aren't clear, Taio Cruz has had a hard time getting his fourth album out, but considering the over-year-long struggle it took to get his third one finally released in the US in late 2012 (when it was released elsewhere nearly a year earlier), we could be waiting a while. In the meantime, Taio gave us this midtempo R&B dancepop ditty, whose fantastic synth bass line recalls mid-'80s Jeffrey Osborne and Al Jarreau.

22. "Fuck It" by Ester Dean

I love Ester Dean. Adore her. This woman is an unsung hero of the music industry, working largely unnoticed but writing massive hits for Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, and others. She finally had a proper release in 2015, an EP called Miss Ester Dean. It's my favorite non-single release by any artist this year. Its six songs perfectly showcase everything that is great about her songwriting and powerful, palpable voice. You hear the pain in her voice as her high notes in this track wail her frustration with this relationship -- she's over it, has nothing left to lose, and is embracing her right to feel better.

21. "Firestone" by Kygo ft. Conrad Sewell

Kygo sort of made my list last year for his remix of Seinabo Sey's "Younger," and he's back with more of his popcorn synth sounds and piano-based bass lines. For his first solo single, he tapped indie-rock-voiced Conrad Sewell, whose high voice contrasts surprisingly well with the treble-heavy production.

Here is a bonus video of an adorable small Swedish child reproducing the hook from this song on some small sequencers.