Best of 2015: Songs of the Year, Part 2

rebel heart panorama.jpg

Our view of the Rebel Heart stage. September 12, 2015, Washington, DC.

Last night I did my first 10 songs of my Top 20 songs of the year.  Tonight we’re doing the second half.  Just as a reminder, these are in no particular order and click on the link to go to the YouTube video where you can watch/listen.

11 – Something In The Way You Move / Ellie Goulding
I didn’t expect to like Ellie Goulding’s album, but I sure did. She doesn’t have that great of a voice. Although forever labeled a sellout by many indie bloggers and forever linked to the 50 Shades of Gray song in my mind, “Something In The Way You Move” appealed to me in the way that all solid pop songs do.

12 – Going Out Like That / Reba McEntire
2015 gave us the first start-to-finish great Reba album in years. It seems like I’ve said this about so many songs on this list, but “Going Out Like That” landed on the “2015 as it goes” playlist and I always knew it would end up here. Still, it’s weird to hear 60 year-old Reba (!) singing about how someone’s “smiling while she’s throwing back shots.”  It even got a dance remix, although I found it to be rather generic and preferred the original country version.

13 – Style / Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift was one of nine concerts I went to this year and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a really good time. I couldn’t help but think while I was watching it that I was probably watching Taylor Swift as she was approaching her zenith. The 1989 Tour felt like her Blond Ambition, although time will tell how it compares in terms of quality of music and influence. Still, “Style” is an undeniable jam that I couldn’t stop listening to this year.

14 – I’ll Be There (feat. Nile Rodgers) / Chic
I’m equal parts happy and amazed that we got a new song from Chic in 2015. “I’ll Be There” took the spot of “Hello” on this list – once I figured out that “Hello” was only on here because I though it “should” be on there, not because it was really in my top 20. “I’ll Be There” also features the best use of a Dan Rather sample – although come to think of it, it was probably the only Dan Rather sample.

15 – Pageant Material / Kacey Musgraves
I can’t sing the praises of Kacey Musgraves enough. I missed her Des Moines show (and my chance to make it an even 10 live shows this year.) Her irreverent attitude toward the things that most country artists and fans hold dear just warms my heart. Listening to why she’s not pageant material (the strangest being “I’m always higher than my hair) put this in heavy rotation on my iPod. Remember, it’s not that she don’t care about world peace, it’s just that she can’t see how she’ll ever fix it in a swimsuit on a  stage.

16 – Forget / Marina & The Diamonds
Easily my song of the year, “Forget” is everything I love about Marina. I love her beautiful alto, her can’t-quite-place-it accent, unconventional song structure and spot on lyrics.  And “Forget” has all these and more. As I’ve mentioned before, she gets an award for not only using the word “tortoise” in a pop song, but pronouncing it “tor-toyse.”  Also she manages to sneak in “abacus” for bonus points.

17 – Ghosttown / Madonna
Rebel Heart may have been a mixed bag (I like MDNA a lot more), but there’s no denying that “Ghosttown” is one of Madonna’s best singles in years. If this had been 1990, “Ghosttown” would have been a massive hit. But since it’s 2015, it didn’t even hit the Hot 100 despite the fact that Madonna made a gorgeous music video for it.  “Ghosttown” contains all the elements that make Madonna’s best songs memorable – a strong vocal by that oh-so-familiar voice, just a touch of autotune, and a killer bridge. It’s gonna shine like gold in the this mad, mad world.

18 – The Other Boys (feat. Jake Shears & Kylie Minogue) / NERVO
There goes Kylie, guesting on another track but not bothering to put out her own music. Who cares? It’s still Kylie! And she’s dueting with Jake Shears formerly of Scissor Sisters. They seem like they were born to sing together. Listening to this song reminds me of how far we’ve come because I can’t imagine even 10 years ago listening to a song in which a man posits the question “why can’t you love me like the other boys do?”

19 – Sledgehammer / Fifth Harmony
“Worth It” was grating, but “Sledgehammer” is pretty classic pop. I remember that the only reason I listened to this song at all when it first came out was because I wanted to make certain it wasn’t a Peter Gabriel cover. Turns out “Sledgehammer” may as well have been recorded by Girls Aloud because it has every little bit of that feel to it.

20 – I Can Change / Brandon Flowers
The Desired Effect is my album of the year. There was no other album that came as close to perfection as Brandon Flowers’ second solo album. “I Can Change” with its Bronski Beat sample and powerful vocal perhaps captures the sound of the album most effectively. Why he did not play it live when I saw him in September is beyond me.

That’s it for the songs folks.  Some of you will be getting old fashioned CDs in the mail from me, but here’s a Spotify playlist for those that are interested. “Style” and “Rebel Heart” aren’t on Spotify, so you’ll have to look for those yourself and add local files to get the full effect.

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