The final part of my 2015 countdown of the best songs from January until June:
20) Skrillex Feat. Diplo and Justin Bieber – Where are U Now
“Where Are U Now” is without a doubt one of the least likely collaborations ever but just serves to show that anyone is redeemable, even the notoriously annoying Bieber. It’s is definitely one of the most interesting songs released this year and for that we have to give some kudos to the Canadian popstar, even though I suspect it has more to do with Diplo…
19) Olly Murs Feat. Demi Lovato – Up
I really don’t know how Olly Murs does it. By all rights he should be washed up by now like so many X Factor contestants who got a bit of success after the show and then realised it wasn’t a lifetime gig (Shayne Ward, Alexandra Burke, JLS, Cher Lloyd….poor things). But somehow he has managed to keep plugging away producing chart topping albums and quality singles. His story has been one of quiet success, rather than the furore surrounding One Direction right now or Leona Lewis when she first came out. And that, my friends, is the secret to longevity. “Up” is the second single from Murs fourth (already??!!!) album Never Been Better and, seeing as the hits keep coming, it does really seem that the only way is up.
18) Madonna – Ghosttown
Another quality Madonna single doomed to fade into obscurity due to the disaster that has been the Rebel Heart era. Madonna’s vocals have never sounded better or more emotive than on “Ghosttown”. It has even drawn comparisons with the legendary vocalist Karen Carpenter. It’s just a shame that it failed to make an impact on the UK or US singles charts. A lot of crap does. The video for “Ghosttown” had the right idea but Madge definitely went a bit too far with the melodrama, rendering it practically unwatchable. Sigh…
17) Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth – See You Again
It’s songs like this and Pharrell’s “Happy” that make me wish that radio didn’t exist. Every time I hear this song on the radio now I have to switch it off which is a massive shame because, actually, I remember hearing this song for the first time and liking it a lot. It’s just radio has used and abused this single which has made it impossible for me to place it higher on my list. It’s also a wee bit overrated. It’s a good song but not good enough to be No.1 for weeks and weeks and weeks. “Uptown Funk” was that good. Still, it remains a lovely blend of soulful vocal matched perfectly with gritty rap lyrics. Gotta take the rough with the smooth.
16) Taylor Swift Feat. Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood
Swift’s star-studded video for “Bad Blood” not only proved her celeb pulling power, but also ensured her another smash single off her already classic fifth album 1989. The remixed version featuring Kendrick Lamar improves the original’s production and adds some killer rap sections. The result is a brutal, stadium-ready war cry which features some of Swfit’s best lyrics to date. “Band aids don’t fix bullet holes”. Indeed.
15) Tove Lo – Talking Body
This is just one of those songs that makes you feel all dirty and sexy. Tove had already established as a force to be reckoned with, producing the global smash “Stay High (Habits)” last year and lending vocals to Alesso’s “Heroes”, but “Talking Body” was her make or break single. And boy did it make. It’s reminiscent of Rihanna at her best in that both singers surround themselves with a dark, brooding persona of party girl gone wild. Tove’s ascendance to the clouds has already begun.
14) Echosmith – Cool Kids
Sorry Americans, you may be wondering why this song is included in a best of list from 2015 and not 2014, well it’s because this song hit the UK a bit late I’m afraid. We only just got it at the start of this year but we love it a lot too so I had to include it on this list. For me, the magic of “Cool Kids” special quality lies in the fact that it takes you back to high school (unless you’re still there) where you were insecure and just wishing to be someone else. It taps into those old feelings which is a powerful feat for a little ditty about being cool. The melody is also tremendously catchy with some interesting instrumental choices. Does the lead singer’s voice sound a bit like Katy Perry to anyone else or is it just me? And she looks a bit like Anna Kendrick.
13) Calvin Harris Feat. HAIM – Pray to God
No-one seems to love this song as much as I do so I compromised and put it further down the list than I would have it. Please guys tell me why this was not a worldwide smash? The HAIM sisters are devilishly delicious as satanic enchantresses in the striking video. This is without a doubt one of Harris’ most satisfying drops and the sister’s to-die-for harmonies are reminiscent of Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac fame. What’s not to like? Maybe I’m just partial to a good bit of witchiness.
12) James Bay – Hold Back the River
James Bay has timed his ascendance to pop stardom to perfection. Just as last year’s golden boys Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and George Ezra were winding up their album campaigns he decided to launch into the pop-o-sphere. Flooding the radio waves “Hold Back the River” is a masterclass in understated, contemplative pop. From the quiet, restrained beginning “River” builds and builds with the drama of a Celine Dion power ballad (but with much more attitude) until it becomes a powerful maelstrom of emotional turmoil. James Bay conveys such emotion with his voice that you cannot help but be moved.
11) Taylor Swift – Style
Taylor Swift is just a goddess. She has cemented her place as the top female in music right now with her current album 1989 which is full to the brim with genius hooks and playful lyrics. “Style” is one of the more superior cuts of this already superior album. It may have failed to match the success of the Billboard number ones “Shake It Off”, “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood”, only peaking at No.6 in the US, but it is just as good as any of them. It’s more subtle and less in your face, which means that it takes longer to grow on you but, when it does, it never goes out of your head.
10) Sia – Elastic Heart
I had all but given up on Sia releasing another single from 1000 Forms of Fear. It seemed that she forgotten about the album after the release of “Chandelier”, despite the single’s overwhelming success. But lo and behold the unpredictable, fame-shy Sia dropped a bomb of a video on us early in 2015!
Sia is the whole package, even if she doesn’t know it. She’s got the knack for writing intelligent, sensitive lyrics and to inspire without being cheesy. It’s the vulnerability, combined with the powerful vocal that really . It seems at points that her voice is cracking, but then it soars. She is truly one of the great vocalists of our time and when the production quality matches the quality of her songwriting and voice, she is unstoppable. And Shia LeBeuf…What was that all about?
9) Galantis – Runaway (U & I)
Galantis are one of those bands that have been hanging around on the periphery for a while on the cusp of stardom, searching for that big breakthrough hit. Well, they sure found that. “Runaway” is bold, brash and in your face. It’s no wonder it’s been making massive waves in the UK, where it has already peaked in the top 5. Released just in time for festival season, this is definitely one you’ll be hearing all summer.
8) Kygo Feat. Parson James – Stole the Show
Kygo is fast becoming one of the premier DJs in the world and a lot of the praise should be heaped upon this stellar collab between the Norwegian and singer Parson James. Anything with panpipes is just guaranteed to win me over but when it also has a drop like this and passionate lyrics there is literally no escape. There is something ethereal and even sad about the track. It’s another big hit for the unstoppable Norwegian.
7) Years and Years – King
Dance floor ready and box fresh Years and Years are one of the biggest revelations of 2015. Despite achieving chart success with previous single “Desire”, it was “King” which proved to be their big breakthrough, peaking at No.1 in the UK in its debut week and selling over 100,000 copies. The effortless, soaring vocals are definitely enough to capture your attention but it’s the nuanced production that really makes “King” a winner.
6) Jess Glynne – Hold My Hand
Not satisfied with her two previous number one singles with Route 94 and Clean Bandit, Jess Glynne concocted a formula to invade our brains all by herself this time. Just as Meghan Trainor is all about the bass, Glynne’s “Hold My Hand” is all about the voice which she uses to great effect on the track. Each line of the verses starts goes from low to high which Glynne navigates deftly and with joyous aplomb. This is her vocal tour de force and her muscled voice is the star of the show. Anticipation could not be higher for her debut album coming out in August I Cry When I Laugh.
5) Omi – Cheerleader
Here’s a piece of advice for every wannabe popstar out there. If you ever want to have a sure fire hit in 2015 just add a bit of trumpet or sax to your track on a loop and bobs your uncle. You have a hit on your hands. I’ve seen it time and time again with Cheryl’s “Crazy Stupid Love” and Faul’s “Changes” to name but a few! Poised to one of the biggest tunes of the year, the bright and breezy “Cheerleader” is a breath of fresh air and one to be turned up to the max while riding in a drop top down an endless road with your friends.
4) Alesso Feat. Tove Lo – Heroes
Alesso’s remake of David Bowie’s now classic “Heroes” may have stripped the original of all its pithy irony, but it more than makes up for it with its uplifting message pushed to infinity by Tove Lo’s soaring vocals. The song emanates a pure and beautifully exuberant naivety together with an youthful innocence. This is one for the festivals and I can see 100,000 “heroes” bouncing up and down in harmony all summer long.
3) Major Lazer Feat. DJ Snake and MO – Lean On
This has already been one of the biggest songs of the summer, nay of the year. It has taken over the UK completely and mercilessly, monopolising radio play and peaking at No.2. It is also fast scaling the US charts, nestling nicely into the top 10 already. Why you ask? Well it’s because by fusing reggae and dance music Major Lazer has created a completely unique sound which has struck a chord all around the world and has turned into a formidable epidemic. It was played about 500 times at Ultra Europe festival this year.
2) Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do
Ellie Goulding has gone from strength to strength ever since her debut single “Starry Eyed” introduced us to her ethereal, magical voice. Time and time again she has proved herself to be capable of musical greatness, even managing to conquer the American market, which is no mean feat for British artists. Unlike some of her contemporaries, Goulding deftly avoids pandering to the sex crazed teen market who above all else crave flesh shows (Rihanna, Shakira, Tove Lo etc.). Let me just say that there is nothing wrong with this. Everyone loves a bit of Shakira. But it’s just not Ellie’s style that’s all. On the whole, it’s probably a smart move. Goulding clearly has her sights set on career longevity and she is definitely going the right way about it. Her brand of mystical, vulnerable pop falls somewhere manages to appeal to everyone which is exactly what makes her one of the biggest popstars on the planet right now. “Love Me Like You Do” came out of the blue at the beginning of this year and immediately shot to the top of the UK single charts, retaining this positions for a massive 4 weeks and becoming a constant fixture on mainstream radio. Of course, the song’s place in the 50 Shades of Grey film soundtrack did nothing to harm its commercial appeal, but it definitely would have been a big hit either way. Ellie is a force of nature.
1) Kygo Feat. Conrad – Firestone
I remember there was a time when dance music did nothing for me. Good for a quick sweaty dance but it left me feeling cold afterwards (literally and physically!). The sentiments just weren’t there like in a good emotional pop song (Whitney and Mariah come to mind). But over the past five years dance music has had an injection of life. Somewhere along the line dance music got its soul back and nowhere is this more present than on Kygo’s recent smash “Firestone”. I had liked Kygo for a while before “Firestone”, which is, to all intents and purposes, his debut single, but by far from his first production. He has a chilled out style which stands out amongst the David Guettas and Afrojacks. “Firestone” was the moment when Kygo went from an underground artist to the next biggest thing. There’s something magical about the feather-light piano line and breezy vocals provided by Australian singer Conrad Sewell. Everything is just effortlessly comes together to create a truly inspirational, beautiful song.
Thank you for reading and feel free to leave any comments or suggestions. I love hearing from you!