#5. “Sunday Candy” – Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment
The process of putting together my top 40 songs of the year involves balancing my academic and emotional responses to music but when it comes to the top 5, it’s all heart. These slots are reserved for the songs that moved me, made me smile or gave me art-induced-chills. With that in mind, Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment’s sunny and soulful “Sunday Candy” was an obvious contender. Trying to resist Chance the Rapper’s enthusiasm and charisma is like trying to start a fist fight with a hurricane of happiness. His belief in goodness is so profound and infectious, one listen to “Sunday Candy” is enough to brighten even the darkest days.
#4. “Hello” – Adele
In the final months of 2015, Adele laid siege to the western world of popular culture. Her first single in years, “Hello” crushed all of the records and when her third LP 25 dropped in late November, it also broke all of the records. There’s a decent chance you’ve heard “Hello” so many times you already hate it but when I put this song and really listen to it, I still get the chills. When the beat kicks in and she sings the chorus for the final time, it becomes all but impossible not to feel overwhelmed by the sheer power of Adele’s voice. Monoculture can be a wasteland but sometimes things are universally popular for a damn good reason.
#3. “Mountain at My Gates” – Foals
One of my flaws as a music critic is my inability to separate a band’s potential from their reality. I sometimes give credit to bands for what they are attempting to be rather than what they are. On their latest album What Went Down, Foals reach for the Alt Rock Title Belt and ultimately come up short but for the four minutes of “Mountain at My Gates” they have me convinced they are the best rock band on planet Earth. As the final build escalates and releases only to continue building again, I can’t help but feel like cosmic power of Foals is all but unstoppable.
#2. “Loud Places” – Jamie xx ft. Romy
Everything that made Jamie xx’s debut album In Colour so compelling can be found on “Loud Places”. With The xx bandmate Romy providing guest vocals, “Load Places” is a delicate song about the agony and ecstasy of music, heartbreak and loneliness. “Loud Places” is so beautiful I can barely stand it. Dance through the pain, y’all – Jamie xx is here to take you to new heights.
#1. “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd
Equally a product of taste and tradition, the Compact Discography Song of the Year is usually a pop song and 2015 is no different. While The Weeknd’s catalogue has been inconsistent, his potential upside has been a tantalizing reason to closely follow each release and “Can’t Feel My Face” is undoubtedly the high water mark thus far. At his best, Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd delivers dark drug field pop masterpieces unquestionably worthy of the comparisons to The King of Pop himself – Michael Jackson. I recently DJed a wedding and I had an elderly couple (80+) request something with a beat, something they could dance to. I had been playing a mix of wedding staples, Top 40 Radio hits, and Motown classics but no matter what I played, they wouldn’t move from the sidelines of the dance floor. But when I played “Can’t Feel My Face”, they stormed the dance floor and joined The Youths to get down. There are always little signs that indicate the presence of transcendent cultural moments and seeing a pair of blissful octogenarians shake it to “Can’t Feel My Face” was the exact moment I realized The Weeknd had created The Song of 2015.