My Top 40 Songs of 2015

10.  Galantis – “Runaway” (U & I) [2014]

Galantis are masters of creating an atmosphere with their songs, and as this one slowly comes to live and hits the crescendo of the chorus it’s as encapsulating as any other dance track you’ll hear this year.  The whole “Runaway” theme of it can get hold of anyone, and the high-pitched repetition never ever gets old.  Yet again, it’s a song that makes me happy and it’s been a staple this year.

9.  CHVRCHES – “Keep You On My Side”

This is a power pop tune that comes straight from the 90s, moving the CHVRCHES sound on a decade but still keeping the buzzing synths that make them a modern reincarnation of the 80s.  “Keep You On My Side” is packed full of energy, neatly bookended by more airy and quiet moments either side of the choruses just so you can catch your breath again.  As far as its’ appearance on Every Open Eye goes, it’s the first glimpse of the pop side of things and it shows the wealth of fun that can be had later on in the record.

8.  Nero – “Two Minds”

One of the songs I listened to most on my journeys to and from work this summer, there’s something about the way this tune bounces along that makes it almost hypnotic.  It’s got Nero’s signature dark touches to it, but at the same time it’s almost the most quintessentially pop song they’ve done in a long time.  When the vocals come in over the final drop, it makes for a memorable song – and that’s what sealed the deal on this song for me.

7.  QT – “Hey QT” [2014]

Modern music can sometimes sound like it’s got out of hand, I’ll admit that even as a fan, but this song takes things to a whole other level.  It’s almost a chiptune song, with the screechy and high-pitched singer going through the motions that almost make it indecipherable at times.  But it’s a great tune that manages to do something really different, with the lyrics of love hitting home all the more powerfully because of the unfamiliar setting of them within this dancey mess.  More than any other song on this list, I will warn that it’s not for everyone, but it’s something I think everyone should listen to.  You will either love it like I do, or very much hate it.

6.  Lisa Mitchell – “Neopolitan Dreams” [2008]

This is a warm hug of a song, and can bring the most hectic and most strained situations back to a soft and calm place.  Lisa Mitchell’s voice is incredibly soothing, as it rasps away almost whispering the lyrics while the child-like glockenspiel melody goes on behind her.  Even the chorus singing of a choir doesn’t ruin the vibe here, and the whole thing works in a way that songs rarely do so well.

5.  The Naked and Famous – “All of This” [2010]

Repetition is an amazing musical technique when it’s done properly, and the way in which the drums just keep on going throughout this entire song driving it make it so, so good.  The way the song is built up is clever too, with the duet between a guy and a girl about their failing relationship giving both sides of the story at once and the second verse that spirals out of control saying a whole lot more than they could ever themselves, before the emotional cliff-hanger of watching things “fall into place”.  The Naked and Famous can do emotion damn well, and this proves that better than almost everything they’ve done.

4.  CHVRCHES – “Empty Threat”

If you played this song to someone thirty years ago and told them it was a new record, they wouldn’t marvel at the production or the instrumentation, they’d accept it.  That’s the biggest compliment I can pay to this tremendous slice of 80s nostalgia packaged into three minutes of pop.  It’s got the new power of CHVRCHES’ new album mixed with their immense ability to make catchy music, and this is where they really break free from the shackles of their solemn sense that they do so well.  This proves that their ambitions aren’t limited, and their pop appeal is no empty threat.

3.  Alesso – “Heroes” (We Could Be) (feat. Tove Lo) [2014]

Making dance music dramatic is a feature that makes all the difference to me in terms of how good a song works, and “Heroes” pulls out all the stops. Tove Lo’s swooning, clear voice is packed with emotion and adds so much to it overall. The song itself is soft but comes with a drop that’s loud and choppy showing off the hurt and the hope behind the song as well. Alesso’s debut album Forever is full of great dance tunes, and this is the jewel in the crown.

2.  Klingande – “Jubel” [2013]

“Jubel” is a musical triumph on all levels, with the extended version being one that builds up an incredibly complex but sonically simple beat all from a few drums.  Put that together with a great singer that adds a bit of emotion to the whole thing, saxophones which do just as much and a guitar section in the middle that is one my favourite pieces of music ever, and the song is easily one of my favourites.  There’s never an occasion that doesn’t call for this song: happy, sad, angry, stressed – you name it.

1.  CHVRCHES – “Clearest Blue”

From the very second this song kicks off, you can tell it’s going to be an absolute tour de force.  The vaguely buzzing synths coming in followed by the crystal clear voice of Lauren Mayberry are a complimenting and contradictory force that draws you in.  And it only gets better from there.

This song is essentially about a panic attack, and the way it builds and builds until the eventual release of the drop make this just about the best sonic recreation of an emotion you’ll ever hear.  The way it repeats itself, but changes itself over the course of the song is clever and makes it hook in your ear and your mind all the more easily.

And when the song lifts off it’s an immense release that’s up there with anything else you’ll ever hear.  Okay, it takes more than a little inspiration from “Just Can’t Get Enough”; but from a band that is taking the sound of the 80s and making it their own in an era of EDM, this song is just about as close to perfection as you can find.

So there is my 2015 in music; you can listen to the full playlist via Spotify below. I hope you have a great New Year and a fantastic 2016!

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