Monday, December 14, 2015

50 Favorite Pop Songs of 2015 (Part Three)

30. "Wildest Dreams" by Taylor Swift

Lana Del Rey might have been shut out at the Grammys, but at least she bask in the satisfaction of having influenced some great acts. Musical pop-country chameleon Taylor Swift took some notes for "Wildest Dreams," a clearly Del Rey-inspired tune with a sense of Top 40 urgency and the right Swiftian (Taylor Swifian, that is) touches.

29. "Blue" by Marina and the Diamonds

As a whole, Marina and the Diamonds' third LP Froot wasn't as enticing as intended. Luckily, "Blue" is one of the few gleaming highlights in the otherwise bland offering. Diamandis finally puts a pep in her step with this one, after she spent most of an album with mid-tempo pop-rock. Her vocal delivery and lyrics give subtle nods to the days of The Family Jewels, with Electra Heart-esque quirkiness on the "gimme love, gimme dreams, gimme a good self-esteem" spiel.

28. "Traveling Song" by Ryn Weaver

Holy waterworks. "Traveling Song" is the most intimate and subtle moment of Ryn Weaver's debut album, written as a token of her love for her grandfather, Max, who passed away on the first day of this year. This song really succeeds by allowing time and space for that quirky vibrato and emotion to resonate. And as if the song wasn't enough to get the emotions rolling, Grandpa Max's home videos have been compiled into the video accompaniment to his musical tribute. Once again, holy waterworks.

27. "Alive" by Sia

Adele ought to be shaking her head for passing up this one. After she declined it, Sia kept it for her own concept album that is composed of tracks originally written by Sia for other artists. Coming off the success of "Chandelier" (which topped my 'best of' list of last year) and "Elastic Heart," we expected no less than was delivered from "Alive." The vocals alone -- the smoky lows, the soaring highs -- are enough to capture the attention of anyone within earshot.

26. "Lean On" by Major Lazer & DJ Snake feat. MØ

"Lean On" marks one of the first times Indian and Middle Eastern influences have found their way back onto American contemporary hit radio since Selena Gomez's "Come & Get It" -- and it's great. The breakdown's central feature is made out of contorted vocals -- the same tactic Diplo used in the Jack Ü collaboration with Justin Bieber that offers a level of exclusive uniqueness that cannot be replicated by any synthesizer out there.

25. "The Hills" by the Weeknd

Those who listened to the Weeknd prior to this year have been up in arms about his change towards a more digestible PBR&B, but "The Hills" is nothing but classic Weeknd material: Raunchy, sexy, and straight-up badass.

24. "Roman Holiday" by Halsey

As discussed many times before, Halsey knows how to craft some mad aesthetic. A very clear highlight from Badlands, this song's layers of smoky vocals and heavy synthesizers emit the radiance of a warm summer day.

23. "Mrs. Potato Head" by Melanie Martinez

Not sure why it took this long for someone to finally make a parallel between a toy based on rearranging facial parts and plastic surgery, but let's be really glad that Melanie Martinez was the one who finally did it. A clear highlight of her debut album, the track meets all of the requirements for a Martinez original -- childish xylophones, heavy beats, insanely wise lyrics, and one hell of a chorus.

22. "On My Mind" by Ellie Goulding

Banger alert: "On My Mind" was our first taste of "big pop" Ellie Goulding. Lyrically, it's not the strongest from Delirium, but it perfectly returns fire at Ed Sheeran's "Don't." (Although she claims otherwise, the song's lyrics perfectly rebukes the claims made in Sheeran's song, which was rumored to be penned about Goulding.) It's infectious, ground-shaking, and dance floor commanding.

21. "Amazing" by Foxes

Poor Foxes has been sorely mistreated by her record label (Sony UK), but thank goodness that she's still delivering quality material. "Amazing" is one of her best songs to date, mixing power pop and touch of soul for a great outcome. 

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