A waltz time country song about wanting to kiss your husband’s mistress because she tastes like him? Girl Crush is unlike anything else on this list, or anything else released in 2015 really. There’s a reason it’s the first country song to make it into the top 10 of one of my end of year lists. Everyone involved in Girl Crush helps to make it a modern country classic, from the writing team who deservedly earned a Song of the Year Grammy nomination, to Karen Fairchild who delivers a career best vocal performance that’s equal parts sexy and heartbreaking. Girl Crush is one of 2015’s most memorable songs.
What can I say about The Weeknd in 2015 that hasn’t been said already. A regular on this blog since his mixtape releases in 2011, even as a fan I could never have predicted the impact he has had. ‘He’s the next Michael Jackson’ ‘He’s going to be an artist of the generation’ things I have said agreeing with a lot of other people. Can’t Feel My Face is the moment he lived up to those lofty expectations, it’s literally more of a jam than the Michael Jackson song titled Jam. The idea of my mum recognising a song by The Weeknd is still alien to me, but bloody hell Can’t Feel My Face deserves the universal praise it has received.
A song I doubt will be mentioned in many other Best of 2015 lists, Not Letting Go was the soundtrack to summer for me. I’ve always been a big fan of Tinie Tempah, who has successfully managed to emulate and more importantly improve on the blueprint for a crossover grime act that Dizzee Rascal laid down in 2009. In fact Not Letting Go is the spiritual successor to Dizzee’s Holiday, a joyous summer tune that sends you to the beach and is impossible to hate. For Jess Glynne it did nothing more than extend her run of fantastic hit singles, the fact that this was her 5th #1 and Tinie’s 6th of 7 is obvious when you think about it.
A lot has been said about Carly Rae Jepsen in 2015, the word ‘underrated’ appearing as much as ‘underperforming’. Get all of the ‘Call Me Maybe’ nostalgia away though and we are left with Run Away With Me, the best song on Emotion and by far one of the pop songs of the year. Run Away With Me is effortless, in a year where it felt like everyone nailed the ‘pop song’ formula, it felt like Carly didn’t even have to try.
Sorry was released the same day as Hello by Adele. I was so preoccupied that I didn’t even pay the song any attention for the 2 weeks that followed. By the time I finally heard it, it was on course to become Justin’s 2nd #1 of the year and everything just clicked into place. Bieber owned 2015, but Sorry is the peak moment where all of the things aligned. Danceable, relatable and emotive Sorry works perfectly because of the context of Bieber’s year. I once said Justin should just be the new Usher and with Sorry he’s managed it and more.
I was 100% on board with Ship To Wreck within the first 5 seconds. It’s an immediate song that gets to the point instantly. It manages to sound exactly like Florence and the Machine do and yet totally new, no one else could possibly release this. The most impressive thing is that the pace is kept up from start to finish. Even during the build of the middle eight, you are bouncing along. Hearing the opening crash of Ship To Wreck in an arena was a moment of 2015 I’ll not soon forget. An electric pop record and the best of Florence’s career yet.
Jess Glynne isn’t the best popstar of the year. She has a serious case of faltered potential when it comes to performing live for instance, but my god does she know her way around a pop hook. Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself manages to be inspirational without being patronising, this is a song that shouldn’t work at all. I found that I just couldn’t stop listening to this. I can’t really explain it, especially next to so many obvious deserving songs on this list. Sometimes you just need a massive inspirational banger to get you through the day and in 2015 Jess Glynne had the best.
Black Magic is the best song by a girl group since The Promise. Actually scratch that. Black Magic is BETTER than The Promise. A song so full of life and energy that Little Mix pretty much didn’t need to release anything else to have the year of their career. Much like Ship To Wreck it starts as it means to go on. ‘All the girls on the block knocking at my door’ is the first of 4(!) hooks that Black Magic offers up, each better than the last. Black Magic is a killer track.
‘I go to loud places, to find someone to be quiet with’ is my favourite lyric of 2015. Minimalist, but with enough space to breathe so it can build into the monumental ‘higher’ moment later on, this is by far the best thing that anyone from The xx has been involved in, Romy delivers her best performance yet, you can even hear hints of the guitar riffs they built their name from. Loud Places feels like a culmination of 6 years of music building to an indie pop song about going to clubs. It’s euphoric in a way that just about nothing else in 2015 was and would probably have a shot at the top spot if it hadn’t been for the last song.
I knew Love Me Like You Do would be #1 on this list on my very first listen. I’ve said similar things about songs like Haim’s Falling and Robyn’s Dancing On My Own, but in 2015 I am 100% certain that I knew. 2 minutes is how long it took for it to happen, the moment the true chorus emerged I just knew. The song teases you for two whole minutes before exploding into the years best chorus, also the exact moment that Ellie Goulding went from being a great singer to a global popstar. She may not have written this, but the whole thing is undeniably an Ellie record, she owns her performance here. No other song in 2015 had me coming back time and time again, at one point I was hitting back to listen again, my iTunes says 125 plays, but this count is definitely lower than the real number of times I’ve listened to Ellie Goulding’s best song. I know I’m probably in the minority here, but for me 2015 was the year of Love Me Like You Do, a perfect pop song.
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