2015 has really not been the best year for myself and I’m sure many other people. There’s no real getting around that. But one of the things that has been key in keeping me going this year, well at least more so than ever, has been music.
While 2015 might have been a year to forget in so many ways, the music from it will live long on my iPod as a reminder that it wasn’t all so bad. There have been some exceptional albums released this year by the likes of Disclosure, Kacey Musgraves, Nero and, of course, CHVRCHES. Songs from these albums have been playing constantly around me in 2015 along with a selection of other modern hits and old classics that have helped provide the soundtrack to my year.
As usual, there are a few great songs that I’d like to share that weren’t quite new to me this year but had a second bite of the musical cherry for me. These are “Better Things” by Passion Pit, “Sam’s Town” by The Killers, “Superstylin’” by Groove Armada and “So Electric” by Lifelike. All great songs in their own right, but not quite meriting a place on this list.
So to round out the year, let’s look on the bright side of things shall we? Here’s my top 40 songs of 2015:
40. CHVRCHES – “Strong Hand” 
The first, and by no means the last, CHVRCHES song on this year’s list is a bonus track from the band’s first album Bones but one that I really think should be included among their best. This has all of the dark CHVRCHES stylings of all but a chorus that packs a hell of a punch as its synths come to jarring halts before they all build up again. It’s a shame that this won’t be in people’s minds as one of their best, but the moral message of the song and melody make it one that people really should listen to.
39. Major Lazer – “Lean On” (feat. MØ & DJ Snake)
Arguably pop hit of the year, featuring the wonderfully named MØ, this is a cultural fusion track like no other that’s perfect for listening to on the go, in a club or just about anywhere. It’s an irresistible mix of great vocals, a certain exotic flair and a Major Lazer choral hook that’s served him very well in his music this year. One of the songs you and I will remember most from 2015 for sure will be this one.
38. Jess Glynne – “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself”
There’s not been a feel-good, self-confidence hit as good as this in the chart’s this year and Jess Glynne’s amazing voice is the perfect vehicle to make you stand up and take notice. This song helped her break the record for most number 1s by a British solo female artist, and what a way to do it. It’s cheery, it’s powerful, it’s slow but it’s dancey – this is a pop tune made for having fun and it delivers in spades.
37. CHVRCHES – “Cry Me a River”
Continuing the CHVRCHES presence on this list is one of their many, many great covers that they’ve pumped out while playing radio shows over the year. This takes the Justin Timberlake classic and applies a modern electronic filter to it, which is bursting with anger and venom in a much stronger way than the original ever did. They have an amazing knack for taking songs and making them their own, and this is one that CHVRCHES really knocked out of the park – setting the tone for their album to come later in the year.
36. Years & Years – “Desire”
From a band that seemed set to make a big name for themselves on the music scene this year, but eventually faded away a little, “Desire” is a vocal-driven tune that packs a lot of subtle touches into a rather minimalist track. Their tropical infused sound makes it seem sunny and warm, but the lyrics are far more downbeat – essentially being trapped by desire and wanting to get out, but keeping a brave and happy face on things.
35. Azealia Banks – “Chasing Time” 
She may have fallen victim to her own success, with her much-delayed debut album pretty much helping her to live up to the “forgetting your name soon” part of “212”, but this tune shows that Azealia Banks still knows how to put forward a great song. It’s much more centred around her singing ability more so than her rapping, with the bubbling chorus and building bridges showcasing her in a much more traditional sense than the likes of her first songs ever did. It’s a great song about moving on when you know you should, and it’s got that confidence that makes Azealia Banks still, for my money, the best female rapper out there.
34. Kacey Musgraves – “Dime Store Cowgirl”
Despite being a shimmering country star, Kacey Musgraves’ album this year was all about not shirking away from who you are, and this folksy tune is all about how you’re home is always home no matter where in the world you go. This is a nice, calming tune that does the best it can at bringing the two types of country together and one of the best you’ll hear this year.
33. CHVRCHES – “Never Ending Circles”
Kicking off a second album is never easy, but “Never Ending Circles” manages to infuse the magic of their first album Bones and make a new twist of pop into it, showing how they’ve grown a bit more. It’s got the vocal samples, the dark, ominous synths that cut through the song and the breakdown that has become the signature of CHVRCHES’ music. It’s their own “paint by numbers” sort of track, but that’s definitely not a bad thing at all.
32. Echosmith – “Cool Kids” 
There’s not really many family acts on the go nowadays, but this tune is a great example of a young band that can capture a rather more mature tone of song but still hit the teenage feeling they should know so well. “Cool Kids” is a fun song that is catchy as anything, from the great solo vocals to the softly, softly approach with the minimalist verses with a soft guitar line and a slowly building drum section. This is a band that have a decent potential, but even if they don’t go on to bigger and better things – this’ll always be great.
31. Passion Pit – “Lifted Up” (1985)
While most of the new Passion Pit album was a bit of a let-down to be honest, this song really hit the high notes that made Manners one of my favourite albums of all time. It’s got the feeling, the drama and the driving choruses that made their debut album so emphatically interesting, but with the more advanced and measured vocals that made their previous album Gossamer all the more grown-up.
So while most of the new tracks miss their mark, “Lifted Up” means that Passion Pit still hold on to the record of being featured in every one of my end-of-year song lists to date! I wonder what they’ll come up with next year…