Wednesday, December 16, 2015

50 Favorite Pop Songs of 2015 (Part Four)

20. "Me & The Rhythm" by Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez was a surprisingly strong candidate this year. After a rocky past with critics, her second solo LP Revival clocked critics and music buyers alike and has had great replay value. "Me & The Rhythm" is a killer pop tune from the LP with a melody line that is nearly unbelievable from someone like Gomez. 

19. "Magnets" by Disclosure feat. Lorde

The EDM premiere of Lorde was inevitable. Even the least likely candidates (i.e. Haim, Florence Welch, Lana Del Rey) ponder in the genre, whether it was an intentional collaboration or an unappreciated remix that spontaneously took off. Lorde's stab in the genre, though, is disguised as more of a powerful pop bit than a proper EDM banger -- and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

18. "Music to Watch Boys to" by Lana Del Rey

This song succeeds simply by being quintessential Lana Del Rey. It conforms to that cover-all, murky style of alt-pop that she created with Emile Haynie, Jeff Bhasker, and Rick Nowels (the latter of which takes production credit for this track) back in 2012 with her debut album without feeling repetitive. She gives a low-key nod towards voyeurism, alternating thin high notes with half-spoken low ones as she sings through the chorus, but she doesn't forget all of those idiosyncratic lyrical additions that serve the sole purpose of aesthetic (pink flamingos, lemonade... anything that represents the warm, glistening feel of a midsummer day).

17. "Your Type" by Carly Rae Jepsen

Need proof that Carly Rae Jepsen can channel '80s influences better than any of her contemporaries? Here it is. "Your Type" pops into its climaxes with a powerful shout of "I'm not the type of girl for you" and tickles of era-authentic guitars and synths. Even better? It's the perfect anthem for when you've been friendzoned.

16. "Terrence Loves You" by Lana Del Rey

"Terrence Loves You" is easily the most important track from Lana Del Rey's Honeymoon. The horns and keys brood and harmonies fall into dissonance in all the right places, allowing Del Rey's fragile vocals to gleam at the front and center of attention. With tracks like this one, it's no wonder that critics finally came around this era to see the raw talent behind the lush backdrops of her debut album.

15. "Talk Me Down" by Troye Sivan

Arguably the most intimate moment from Troye Sivan's Blue Neighbourhood is "Talk Me Down," a track that strips away the forests of electronics for a more subtle, roomy backdrop. The feels get real -- especially when the music video is taken into consideration, as well.

14. "Army" by Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding's third LP Delirium rarely leaves the pace of a moderate sugar rush. While that's not a problem, it does help "Army," a blossoming acoustic ballad dedicated to her best friend, stick out of the crowd in the best possible way. She's free to display both her mid-range and that beautiful upper register, which can convey itself through either an airy rasp or an angelic howl, depending on technique.

13. "Flesh Without Blood" by Grimes

2015 marked the long-awaited return of Grimes. In the early part of the year, she released a collaboration with Bleachers and a demo of "REALiTi" before hitting the road on Lana Del Rey's North American tour and releasing her fourth studio album, Art Angels. This track ushered in the era on a gleaming note. Upon its release, "Flesh Without Blood" was her solo first track to have this much power; while most of the tracks on Visions sound like advanced demo tracks, this track licks her synthpop style with an electric guitar to seal the deal.

12. "American Oxygen" by Rihanna

The best songs always go unnoticed; just ask Rihanna about "American Oxygen." Co-produced by Alex da Kid and Kanye West, stamped with the chase of the American Dream, and plugged with a visually-stunning video, it should have been destined for domination. Instead, it died in the bottom half of the Billboard Hot 100: a very strange thing for a pre-album release Rihanna single to do. That, however, certainly doesn't discount its position as the strongest track in Rihanna's discography. Most notably, the gritty, chaotic production adds a new flavor to Rihanna's discography. The video, with a strong focus on racism and tragedy in America, was released midst the riots in Ferguson, too - a gutsy move, but a strong statement.

11. "Queen of Peace" by Florence + the Machine

Every song from How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful deserves a spot on this list somewhere, but unfortunately, that would make it unfair for most of the other artists here. While it's hard to choose clear stand-out tracks, "Queen of Peace" is one of the many shining jewels from the album. It's a brass-powered bullet, cutting through the airwaves with a rattling chorus melody line. Florence Welch really cuts loose vocally on this one, wailing, "Suddenly I'm overcome / Dissolving like the setting sun / Like a boat into oblivion / 'Cause you're driving me away." 

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