With 2015 in the books, it’s time to look back at the year and see what songs stood out and are worth carrying into 2016. After tallying up the numbers, here are the top 10 songs of 2015 voted for by our staff here at WRVU.
10. “Depreston”- Courtney Barnett
On the surface, “Depreston” seems like an incredibly mundane song sung in a half-hearted way about buying a new house. However, a subtle change in perception by Barnett during “Depreston” allows the song to make the jump from banal to thought-provoking, and suddenly everything about the song makes sense. The singing no longer seems half-hearted, and buying a house no longer mundane; we are left with an incredibly earnest and vulnerable song about growing up, life and death, and remembrance.
“An emotionally devastating episode of House Hunters International”- Logan Wilke
9. “Texas Funeral”- Hop Along
If the delightfully gritty voice of Frances Quinlan wasn’t enough to put “Texas Funeral” on the list, then the gratifying song structure definitely was. With a build-up of three tantalizing verses, we aren’t rewarded with the thunderous chorus until about 1:30 into the song. Hop Along’s sophomore album, Painted Shut, was a pleasant surprise for many new fans, and they will be eager to see what the Philadelphia band has to offer in the future as they master the art of jamming out with infectious sing-along lines.
“Hop along MVP”- Travis Villatoro
“BUT NONE OF THIS IS GONNA HAPPEN TO ME NONE OF THIS IS GONNA HAPPEN TO ME NONE OF THIS IS GONNA HAPPEN TO ME” – Douglas Lee
8. “Pretty Pimpin”- Kurt Vile
Coming in at #8 we have Kurt Vile with “Pretty Pimpin.” True to form, the folk-tinged indie rocker drawls introspective lyrics about serial instances of dissociative states he experiences while doing his daily routine.
7. “King Kunta”- Kendrick Lamar
Featuring a remake of DJ Quik’s beat in “Get Nekkid,” Kendrick Lamar’s “King Kunta” was one of the funkiest things you could hear on the radio in 2015. Lamar’s incredible story-telling talent shines through in this track off of To Pimp a Butterfly, illustrating how the battle against oppression for a black person doesn’t end with success. This theme is a central part of the album as a whole, so “King Kunta” serves in many ways as a somewhat light introduction for the heavier parts later in the album.
“A crazy cool old school jam by the current king of the hip-hop scene, and probably the best song to put on at the party.” – Sammy Spencer
6. “Kill V. Maim”- Grimes
Arguably the best song on arguably one of the best albums of 2015, “Kill v. Maim” is at the same time infectious and slightly terrifying. The chant leading into the chorus (“B-E-H-A-V-E aggressive!!”) that ends in a guttural war cry sounds sort of like an angry cheerleader from outer space, and the chorus itself is a manic climax of semi-unrecognizable words ending with “I’m only a man/I do what I can”. Apparently the song is supposed to be from the perspective of Al Pacino as a genderfluid vampire, which perhaps gives that last line a bit more context (but then again, does it?). Despite its eccentricity (or more likely because of it), the track literally screams energy and ambition, but more importantly, it is evidence that Grimes refuses to stick to the status quo of mainstream pop.
“Love Grimes, and “Kill V. Maim” may just be her finest moment; impeccable production, ungodly catchy, and the guttural vocals/varied delivery are so hype. An utterly manic, near perfect pop banger.”- Andrew Clark
“Claire Boucher said that this track is from the perspective of Al Pacino in Godfather II, “except he’s a vampire who can switch gender and travel through space”… if the sheer danceable, joyous aggression didn’t make me love the song enough, that did it.” – Nick Kline
5. “The Blacker the Berry”- Kendrick Lamar
Compared to the other tracks on Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, “The Blacker the Berry” does not have the complexity of a funk or jazz-influenced beat–but its biting lyricism is anything but simple. By tackling daunting issues of race and self-esteem, Kendrick Lamar reminds everyone of the powerful impact of socially conscious hip-hop.
“When shit gets real at the end of “The Blacker the Berry” it’s all I can do to keep my jaw from literally dropping.” – Andrew Clark
4. “Space Song”- Beach House
Beach House titles don’t often make a whole lot of sense to the casual listener, but the ethereal guitar solo and dreamy synth chords of “Space Song” give the song the perfect name. Beach House opted for a more intimate and less grandiose sound for Depression Cherry–reminiscent of earlier works by the Baltimore duo. Undoubtedly, this may have alienated some of the fans they picked up with Teen Dream and Bloom, but for those that have been waiting for that dose of melancholic nostalgia, “Space Song” might be the answer.
“Beach House had to be on this list somewhere”- Gabriel Rios
3. “Alright” – Kendrick Lamar
2015 was a year of death in a lot of ways, as the names of black victims of police violence climbed with each passing month, and with the abundance of smartphones and personal cameras, capturing footage and evidence of these acts of aggression has never been easier. As a result, raised awareness dovetailed with #BlackLivesMatter and many of us began to really ask why black lives were being cut short with such brutality and frequency. However, this awareness also brought the crushing realities of America’s climate of violence right to our faces, again and again, and Kendrick works right in this depressing space, striving to find hope amongst a seemingly hopeless situation. “Alright” is a lot of things: a genuine rallying cry and protest song that still slaps, an exploration of addiction and grief, and an honest to God study in resilience. But its strongest message is written clear as day: we’re gonna be alright, somehow, and as protestors in Chicago, Washington, Cleveland and elsewhere showed, sometimes hope is as simple as that.
“Not to sound like an old person, but 2015 has been very chaotic at times, and Kendrick Lamar made a very amazing and powerful song that addresses a lot of these issues. It’s also very life-affirming and it’s a banger.” – Jaxie Parker
“Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” was the life-affirming centerpiece of his masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly.”- Bo Kennedy
2. “I Know There’s Gonna Be [Good Times]”- Jamie xx feat. Young Thug and Popcaan
There’s just something about a jaunty dancehall beat that works as the perfect pick-me up, and Jamie xx is well aware of that–enlisting the help of rising star Young Thug and Jamaican artist Popcaan for this club banger. It’s hard to shine as a feel-good song because for many artists it has become the go-to way to stay relevant, but Jamie xx managed to stay ahead of the pack with “I Know There’s Gonna Be [Good Times]”.
“Feel-good hit of the summer, best album of the year.”- Bradley Wheaton
“Young Thug has had himself quite a year, here bouncy and joyous over the best beat on Jamie xx’s excellent debut album. No matter where you’re at when you hear it, listening to this will make you believe that there will be good times ahead.” – Nick Kline
“I’m never ever going to ever die ever.”- Jaxie Parker
1. “Let It Happen” – Tame Impala
“Let It Happen,” the crowning jewel of an otherwise-decent album, served as a kind of alternative anthem of the summer for longtime Tame Impala diehards and new fans alike. The song blends Tame’s instantly recognizable sounds with a more processed and electronic feel, introducing somewhat of a stylistic pivot for the group. Even at nearly eight minutes long, “Let It Happen” is hard to get sick of.
“This year my favorite song to do a little jig to was “Let it Happen” by Tame Impala.” – Harrison Cates
” “Let it Happen” is 7 minutes of psychedelic bliss (also has a great beat for walking to class).” – Sara Keller
“All of Currents was amazing, but this song in particular is lyrically and instrumentally astounding and beautiful.” – Sammy Spencer