If the second half of 2015 can produce music as good as the first half has, we are in for a treat. Here are my favorite songs of the year so far.
25. Smile by Mikky Ekko
Mikky Ekko follows up his appearance on Rihanna’s smash hit, “Stay” with, “Time,” the lead single off of his debut album. Ekko’s lyrics hold the song together, “Smile, the worst has yet to come.”
24. King by Years and Years
This British group has had incredible success across the pond with this song. It’s starting to get some recognition in the United States, just in time for the summer.
23. That’s What I Like by Flo Rida ft. Fitz
It’s amazing that this song hasn’t been packaged for radio yet. Off of Flo Rida’s latest album, My House, this song reminds me of vintage Flo Rida. Paired with Fitz’s interpretation of the Ramones’ classic, this song will hit radios soon, and be played everywhere.
22. Trap Queen by Fetty Wap
Fetty Wap stormed onto the scene with a song about introducing a girl to his stove… But that’s besides the point, this is one of the catchiest songs of the year.
21. Try Me by Jason Derulo ft. Jennifer Lopez and Matoma
Norweigan producer Matoma continues to be a hot commodity combining with one of the top performers out there. It’s only a matter of time before this hits pop radio.
20. Raise ‘Em Up by Keith Urban ft. Eric Church
Keith Urban and Eric Church collaborate on one of country music’s hottest tracks of the year. “Raise them up so god damn high that they can hear God singin.” Urban and Church harmonizing over the acoustic guitar is a treat for all listeners.
19. Energy by Drake
One of two songs featured on this list from Drake’s surprise album/mixtape released in February. Drake harnesses his huge ego in this track. He weaves in and out of the chorus seamlessly and apparently also has “bitches asking him for the WiFi?”
18. Where Are U Now (Elephante Remix) by Jack U
Any combination of Skrillex, Diplo and Elephante is sure to turn out pretty well; sure enough, this one does the trick.
17. English Girls by The Maine
The guys from Tempe, Arizona have been staples in the Indie scene over the last few years. This song was the lead single off of their new album American Candy, and it is catchy in all regards.
16. Back at the Start by Viceroy ft. K. Flay
One of the pioneers of the tropical music genre, Viceroy dropped a fire track earlier this year. The soulful saxophone makes the song really stand out.
15. Dark Sky (Skyscrapers) by Big Sean
After the disappointment that the 2013 album Hall of Fame was, Big Sean needed to start his new album off with a statement. He affirms his status as one of the top rappers in the world with this solo effort. His trickery with wordplay is definitely apparent: “Credit card used to be EBT, in the D though that’s D E B T.
14. Powerful by Major Lazer ft. Ellie Goulding & Tarrus Riley
Major Lazer is making headlines in the electronic/dance community. Their latest album Peace is the Mission, has cemented their place as one of the top groups around, and this song stands out among the others.
13. Games by Luke Bryan
Luke Bryan is the guy in country music. The chorus of this song is very distinct, and the bridge of the song shows that Luke is feeding off his primary competition (Sam Hunt) by taking his sound.
12. Earned It by The Weeknd
2015 is the year of The Weeknd, and we’re just living in it. He’s finally established himself at the top of the R&B genre, and emphasized his place with this #1 smash from 50 Shades of Grey.
11. Post To Be by Omarion ft. Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko
The song originally made headlines thanks to Jhene Aiko’s memorable verse, but DJ Mustard’s beat steals the show. It’s been a staple on radio so far this year.
10. Stole the Show by Kygo ft. Parson James
Speaking of stealing the show… Kygo continues his ascendance as a top DJ with this radio friendly song. The instrumental chorus is beyond catchy, and the song is one of the top tropical songs ever released.
9. Throw Sum Mo by Rae Sremmund
The lyrics aren’t extraordinary; the beat isn’t necessarily the greatest; the delivery is nothing standout. However, for some strange reason, this song is beyond catchy. Whether it’s Nicki Minaj talking about her fat ass, Slim Jimmy talking about his wrist being tired from throwing too much money, or Swae Lee spending the majority of his verse asking his girl whether she likes hundreds on her body, the song is fun.
8. Blame it on Me by George Ezra
George Ezra is just one of the many (stay tuned for another) group of young English singer songwriters that have taken the music industry by storm. Ezra’s deep, husky voice is certainly not would you would expect from a 19 year old ginger from England. The power he has in his voice is remarkable, and no song exposes his tone more than this one.
7. King Kunta by Kendrick Lamar
The funk bassline, the allusions to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, the frequent double entendres, the background vocals chanting “why,” etc. I could rave on about all of the amazing things Kendrick does in this tune, but nothing I say will truly capture all of the incredible things Kendrick does in this song.
6. Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd
The Weeknd’s best song he’s every recorded, and it’s only been out for less than a month. The bass line paired with his incredibly high pitch is what draws me into this song though. The two parts fuse perfectly together, creating probably the song of the summer.
5. 6PM In New York by Drake
Drake tackles everything in the bonus track off of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. He addresses the disses that Tyga and Lupe Fiasco said about him, and pretty much shrugs what they say off not caring about them because they’re beneath him. He asserts that people ought to go out and make a difference in the world instead of tweeting about it. He goes on to say that he’s the number one rapper alive, and then calls out all the labels that wouldn’t take him because they viewed him as boring. With no chorus, Drake is able to address all these issues in a clean, cut way, summarizing each topic up with “Oh, you gotta love it.” And yes, I do have to love it.
4. Another You by Armin van Buuren ft. Mr. Probz
Armin van Buuren drops the hottest dance track of the year so far with this song. The intro, the slow build, the fast build, and the drop are all produced flawlessly, and the string section used as a percussion instrument is genius from the Dutch DJ. Mr. Probz also has the perfect voice for this song.
3. Homegrown by Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band decided to be very bold on their album JEKYLL + HYDE channeling a different genre of music on every track. But of course, it only makes sense that the same vein music that established their success is their best song. Homegrown showcases all of the musical talent in the band, featuring a fiddle and banjo prominently. And as always, the harmonizing vocals are on point.
2. Alright by Kendrick Lamar
Alright is the standout track from the album of the year. The dissonant horns and the jarring background vocals add to the lyrics talking about Kendrick’s flaws. And like always, Kendrick pays close attention to the beat itself of his words as each word acts as percussion in addition to the poetry they create.
1. Hold Back the River by James Bay
Turns out, Ed Sheeran’s friend from high school is about to become a headline act. The song talks about breaking up with his girlfriend, and the river serving as a metaphor for tears. The instrumentation of the song increases throughout as the river builds up and eventually bursts. The bridge of the tune is repeated at the end with all the instruments shows the sadness of the song. Ending on, “Let us hold each other,” is a perfect way to end this track.