20 December 2015

top 50 traxx of 2015 (40-31)

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40. "Hit The Quan" by iLoveMemphis

iLoveMemphis is the stage name of 22-year-old Richard Colbert, who wrote this track after watching Rich Homie Quan dance in his video for "Flex." He claims that he spent just $35 recording it. The video is tongue-in-cheek almost to the point of irreverence, featuring various Viners and Snapchatters doing the dance while a stunned Colbert tries to cope with his sudden spotlight. This is pop music at its most fun.

39. "Ex's And Oh's" by Elle King

Elle King is kinda like if Adele were from the American southwest. This is her debut single, and that's pretty damn impressive. She delivers the song with appropriate snark and grit, and the line "they always wanna come but they never wanna leave" is just pure pop brilliance.

38. "Imperium" by Madeon

You probably know Madeon from his "Pop Culture" mashup video, in which he recorded himself making a live 3-minute song built purely from samples of top 40 hits with a MIDI controller. That video was enough to get him noticed by Yelle (for whom he opened later that year), Lady Gaga (with whom he co-wrote and produced the songs "Venus," "Mary Jane Holland," and fan-favorite "Gypsy"), and Columbia Records, who finally released his debut album this year. The entire thing is a sharp, neon blend of vaporwave and French house, but this track stands out as a perfect theme song for walking around at night in a leather jacket with sunglasses on.

37. "Love Myself" by Hailee Steinfeld

Self love is a popular theme in millennial music, because, contrary to what our parents seem to think, we're pretty bad at it. Steinfeld presents this message through the lens of picking herself up after a bad breakup, but the message is further reaching. The chorusing in both her voice and the backing vocal track gives the hook an anthemic feel -- it's meant to be yelled and repeated as necessary.

36. "Nasty Freestyle" by T-Wayne

Another track that owes its success to usage in Vine and Instagram videos, but don't let that detract from Texas rapper T-Wayne's talent. He lays down one hell of a freestyle. This is my favorite kind of rap track -- done for the love of the flow.

35. "Cool For The Summer" by Demi Lovato

Yes, the lyrics are atrocious and her vocal performance is nothing special, but the production on this track is some of the best of the year. The kickdrum almost spits at you, and distorted guitars provide perfect dissonance to her saccharine vocals.

34. "Bombastic" by Bonnie McKee

Bonnie McKee has worked mostly behind the scenes as a songwriter for the better part of a decade. This is only her second single (I don't count the weird Christmas one), behind 2013's on-point banger "American Girl." This release is a nice blend of everything that's great about Gwen Stefani, Ke$ha, and Katy Perry when they're at their best, all wrapped in Bonnie's love of all things egregious, colorful, and retro.

33. "Information" by Eliot Sumner

A beautiful new wave rock song delivered with the detachment of the early-'80s greats of the genre and the disaffected snarl of '90s alt rock. It took me way too long to figure out that she's Sting's daughter.

32. "Velcro" by Clairity

Nashville's Clairity is a 17-year-old singer/songwriter whose husky voice recalls some of the indie greats of the last decade. Her debut EP Alienation includes "Scarecrow," a great track about self-consciousness, but she won me over with the Yaz sample here and awkwardly adorable lyrics like "crush a bag of pretzels."

31. "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd

Nobody had a bigger 2015 than The Weeknd, who topped the charts for nine weeks and received a pile of Grammy nominations for his sophomore album, Beauty Behind The Madness. The dude is poised to be the next pop powerhouse, probably largely due in part to the fact that his songs have no pretense whatsoever. He sings relatable songs about 5 a.m. hookups and recreational drug use, but masterfully writes his songs in such a way that they still receive widespread airplay. This snappy ode to a coke-fueled relationship kept asses moving this year despite its morose lyrics.