45. Talking to My Diary---Dr. Dre***###
44. Baby Blue---Action Bronson feat. Chance the Rapper
Bronson isn’t one to let his guard down often, but while the Queens-born MC’s Baby Blue is far from purely straight-faced, it’s clear that the former lover to whom the song’s directed has done some real damage. His humorous words are filled with more than a little bile, the scorn finally counter-balanced by Chance the Rapper’s miniature gem of a closing verse. It’s a track about falling out of love and learning to live through it, the narrative’s ultimate relief expressed in the form of a breezy brass outtro.
43. Turn Around---Mikal Cronin***
Mikal Cronin possesses an ear for melody that few modern American singer/songwriters can match, and his 2015 LP MCIII wastes no time in showing it off. Opening the record with a wall of guitar, violin, piano, and drums, Turn Around seems to have beauty spilling out of its every pore, proving both intimate and enormous at the very same time. Cronin’s croon is modest and welcoming, but it's his instruments and their sumptuous arrangement that lend the song its considerable emotional heft.
42. Sunday Candy---Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment***###
Surf, the debut disc of Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment, is essentially an hour-long celebration; of love, self, individuality, and life at large. It makes sense then that the album’s penultimate cut would finally drop all the confetti and streamers from the rafters, a joyous ode to the bliss that can be found in interpersonal connection that’s tricked out with all manner of jubilant, ecstatic noise.
41. Just to Put Me Down---Mac DeMarco
From exultant, grandstanding euphoria to kicking it with the modern lord of laziness, Just to Put Me Down finds everyone’s favorite six-string slacker in fine form. The song pairs the simple groove of his last pair of albums with intricate guitar lines that defined his earlier work, this time in the form of a slippery solo that ends the track at its highest point.
40. My Baby Don’t Understand Me---Natalie Prass***
Rarely has heartbreak been presented in such pristine, manicured musical stylings as on this opener to Natalie Prass’ self-titled debut. A lovelorn ballad that's so immediately familiar, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a standard, Prass’ high-pitched whisper is encased in boisterous saxophones, rousing trumpets, complimentary clarinets, and contented trombones.
39. Obvs---Jamie XX
Clearly no one told Jamie XX how you’re supposed to use steel drums. Forever inverting what we’ve come to expect from House music, the dance floor deviant employs an sound most commonly associated with caribbean bliss to create both tension and distress. As cheery as In Colour remains from almost start to finish, the LP is better for this fraught, wordless stunner.
38. All Day---Kanye West feat. Theophilus London and Alan Kingdom***
In a world where West’s public image has now fully eclipsed his musical accomplishments in the eyes of the masses, All Day is about as Kanye as it gets. Snarlingly abrasive in its chorus, skittering and minimal in its verses, and completely bat-shit crazy upon its conclusion, the backing track represents yet another left field winner from a guy with no shortage. The rapid-fire wordplay and razor sharp delivery of Yeezy’s bars doesn’t hurt either.
37. Don’t Wanna Fight---Alabama Shakes
Don’t Wanna Fight might feature as many instruments and minute studio modifications as any song, but for the four minutes that represent its runtime, only two sounds matter; a brawny bass line, and Brittany Howard’s irrepressible howl. That thumping four-string is capable of knocking down walls, but choses instead to prop up one of the finest vocal performances of the year, Howard’s voice as emotive as it is gigantic.
36. Them Changes---Thundercat***
From a track that might as well just be a voice and a bass guitar to one that only truly needs the latter, Them Changes finds Thundercat stuffing your ears with more funk than you’d previously thought possible. After years of painting groovy colors on other artists canvases, these three minutes mark a coming-out party of sorts, sludgy and sublime in equal measure, a true single in a genre more commonly enjoyable in full-album form.
35. Classic Man (Remix)---Jidenna feat. Kendrick Lamar
Guilty admission time: I still haven’t even heard the original version of Classic Man, because the moment Kendrick Lamar’s pair of verses first entered my headphones, I couldn’t bare to hear the track without them. Over a pumped-up, mid-tempo beat, the Compton MC proves that he’s just as adept at hosting a party as he is teaching a class, his tongue-twisting braggadocio prompting toothy smiles and impulsive laughter, the whole concoction sending bodies into motion.
33. *tie* Gosh and The Rest is Noise---Jamie XX
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Jamie XX's full-length debut, In Colour, is its ability to elaborate on relatable, intricate emotions without the use of words. This pair represents the disc's all-encompassing grandeur, each seeming to muse upon the vastness of the universe and life itself without ever stating as much. Gosh, the album's opener and an early single, begins as a goofy confection with oddball vocal samples to match before wiggling its way out into the stratosphere, lofty and gorgeous until it finally mists out of existence. The Rest is Noise gets straight to the point, small synthesizer repetitions swapped out for a booming piano line and a bass line heartbeat within the first minute, exploring any number of sonic nooks and crannies thereafter.
32. Huarache Lights---Hot Chip***
Anyone who can sit completely still throughout the entirety of this 5+ minute dance floor stomp ought to have their pulse checked right away. Hot Chip has always made their bones on dipping as far into cheese as possible without ever becoming fully submerged, and Huarache Lights offers a perfect example, stocked with out-of-nowhere vocal samples and gaudy robot voices. Through it all, that sinewy beat remains, seeping down into the marrow of your bones, and forcing limbs to move.
30. *waves and face the sun (feat. Lenny Kravitz)---Miguel
While we're on the subject of songs that beg for dance club air time, waves is the most purely kinetic track of Miguel's young career, an R&B smash that wears its lustful heart right on its sleeve. The lo-fi production and limited aspirations of the track might hurt were it to even last three-and-a-half minutes, the tune perfectly modulated for maximum impact, leaving the listener wanting more. face the sun is almost its perfect opposite, trading out the salacious, immediate energy of the previously mentioned cut for something sensual, subdued, and genuinely romantic. Removing his lothario cap for four whole minutes, Miguel sings of immovable commitment to a lover as the sounds beneath him build and build, eventually erupting into soulful falsetto yelps and fiery guitar guitar licks.
28. *tie* Get Away and Gabby (feat. Janelle Monae)---The Internet***
The most constant inspiration I have for these annoying ties that pop up all over my Top 100 Songs list is similarity, two tracks by one artist that are too analogous to elevate one over the other in good conscious. This pair came to be for the very opposite reason; they represent both ends of the wide spectrum that makes The Internet's Ego Death one of the year's top records. Get Away opens the album on its edgiest note, flagrant lyrics and an over-powering bass wobble refusing to waste time in announcing Syd tha Kyd as no one to mess with, sexual and intimidating all at once. Gabby's opening is also somewhat assaultive, but the veneer falls off by the 20-second mark, a warmly playful and contented sway arriving in its wake.
27. King Kunta---Kendrick Lamar
Released a mere week before To Pimp a Butterfly met the world a week sooner than expected, King Kunta must have inspired some confusion upon first listen or two. What were these weird bubbling sounds? What's going on with that chime that quickly morphs into something out of Looney Tunes? Wasn't this guy supposed to mark the return of 'real hip-hop?' As is true of all things Kendrick Lamar, the MC proved to be forward-thinking, doubling down on the track's unconventional sound, and in turn inspiring a year's worth of lyric quoting and replay button pressing. A kiss off to anyone who ever doubted his greatness, Kunta might be mad, but it ain't stressin', and has little trouble locating the funk within you.
Though Beach House will never go through a truly radical stylistic change-up, 2015 saw them try on a few new articles of musical clothing, Alex Scally's guitar allowed more edge than ever, dreary, droning abstract offerings appearing on both of their albums. Levitation, however, is old school all the way, six minutes constructed of resplendent fog that would likely disappear if you tried to touch it. This is a track that exists outside of small-minded musical ideas like melody and structure, seeming to lift you up to heaven with the slowest tractor beam it could find. "There's a place I'd like to take you," Victoria Legrand purrs in the song's opening moments, and by the end of the journey, her mission is accomplished.