The year in music: Best songs of 2015

December 29, 2015

This wasn’t a huge year in music for me. I didn’t go to any shows, and I bought very few albums. I didn’t even make a single playlist on Spotify. Instead I was busy working, writing, and mommying, and I often felt stretched to the limit just juggling those things.

But that also means when I did make the effort to listen to new music, it had to be good. And there were some standout tracks this year. Here are 15 of my favorites.

You can also check out my best-of lists for 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Magnets (ft. Lorde) • Disclosure

I’m an old married lady now. But if I were still hooking up on the regular, this slinky, rattling tune would be my hookup jam.


Can’t Feel My Face • The Weeknd

Song of the year AND soundtrack for girls’ weekend with my high school besties.


Hotline Bling • Drake

Goofy dancing? Check. Video inspired by artist James Turrell? Check. Music that’s reminiscent of the Wii shop? Check. The result is a catchy, earwormy song that stays with me for days, as well as a video that always stops me in my tracks.


Kurt Vile • Pretty Pimpin

Every time I hear Kurt Vile, I find it difficult to believe he hails from Philly and not Joshua Tree. So when I found out his latest album, b’lieve i’m goin down…, was recorded at Joshua Tree’s Rancho de la Luna studio, the whole world suddenly made some kind of sense again.


Beck • Dreams

Even the worst Beck song is better than most other songs that dropped this year. (And maybe this isn’t the worst Beck, but it’s not the best Beck either.)

Chairlift • Ch-Ching

Soulful pop laced with stanky brass means this new Chairlift track is dangerously danceable.


Tame Impala • Let It Happen

This song is everywhere. I don’t know if I even like it anymore or if it’s holding me hostage.


Missy Elliott • WTF

Someday we’ll realize this is Missy’s world, and we’re all just marionettes in it.


Father John Misty • Holy Shit

I have a hard time choosing between all the wonderful, wry songs on I Love You, Honeybear, so I really labored over this decision. Today this one is my favorite. Tomorrow it’ll be “Bored in the USA.” And no matter my pick, Josh Tillman is brilliant. And beautiful. My god, look at that gorgeous man-beast.


Shura • 2Shy

Decades ago someone must have slipped a little bit of the ’80s into a time capsule. When it was opened in the spring of 2015, this is what came out.


Ezra Furman • Body Was Made

A body-positive, gender-fluid song that is a little bit Lou Reed, a little bit E Street? YAAASSS, BISH.


El Vy • Return to the Moon

El Vy is a collaboration between the awesome Matt Berninger, vocalist from The National, and Brent Knopf of Menomena, so that’s already enough to hook me before the song even starts. But the cleverly wrangled lyrics and classic New Order vibe are what keep me coming back.


Alessia Cara • Here

Alessia Cara has put words to much every party I’ve ever attended.


Diet Cig • Breathless 

This song is my 20s exactly, plus it has that tinny, garage-band sound I love.


Courtney Barnett • Pedestrian at Best 

(Trigger warning: Clowns.) Courtney Barnett must be my sarcastic spirit animal. I always find myself shaking my fist in the air and banging my head along to “Give me all your money, and I’ll make some origami, honey!” and I don’t even know why.


Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats • S.O.B.

My friend Lizi turned me onto this song, and it was an instant gift. I can’t tell you how many times it rips through my head on an average day. Also it neatly sums up my 2015.


So that’s me. What made the cut for your Best of 2015 list?

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