2015: Favorite 50 Songs

We celebrate the end of the year the only way we know how: through lists, essays, and mixes. Join us as we explore the music that helped define the year. More from this series



PART 5: “COUPE” mixed by C Monster


Young Thug

“Constantly Hating”

[300 Entertainment]

Pour that shit up, fool; it’s ours. Young Thug won 2015, and when Thugger wins, everybody wins. The world was a confusing place this year, and, contrary to some reports, this music came closer than anything else to forging a space of reprieve. In this understated opening track, there’s no “post-verbal” fury to struggle with, nothing “formless” to try and pin down, nothing we need chaos theory to explain. Simple truth, the love of life, pleasure, and others are alive in Young Thug’s world, which is constantly hated and maligned, even by those who attempt to get into it by way of explanation. I didn’t, and still don’t, understand this shit, and I definitely don’t understand the power Young Thug must have, with his phallic blunts and studio doodles, over Birdman to get him to rap like this in 2015. Young Thug’s music is one of the things I deeply love within a constant storm of hatred. I feel overwhelming humbled by and thankful for this song. And still, I feel like I’ve won every time I run it back.

Skrillex & Diplo

“Where Are Ü Now” with Justin Bieber

[Atlantic]

It’s just a Skrillex song pasted on top of a Diplo song, but there’s something utterly involving about that angelic Bieber vocal against that oh-so-airy bed, his sibilant nothings a perfect pop confection made all the sweeter by being just slightly too slow. And if The Tough Alliance finally left its mark on the mainstream nearly a decade after their time, at least it happened. Yeah, that main lyric is weirdly vindictive, but if you’re paying attention to what Bieber’s saying instead of what’s happening to that baby-angel voice, you’re missing the point. Utterly laid back, it’s pure aesthetics, the joy of Skrillex’s rapturous (yeah, fuck you, rapturous) vocal processing without that aggro backbone he usually leans on. It’s the most asexual song Diplo’s popped out in recent memory, and it’s all the better for it. It’s the rare pop song that’s not an exhortation to anything at all. A tacky L.A. pool at just the right temperature to luxuriate in, pure simulacra, but for once we don’t have to freak out about it. No one cares if we fuck or not. Run that chlorine-soaked finger up my thigh. Stop, that’s plenty. Yeah.

Sicko Mobb

“Kool Aid”

[Self-Released]

It’s easy to get down about the situation in Chicago right now. But instead of paying attention to the internet commenters, take it from some dudes who are in it: haters make you greater. Despite the murderous cops and the neighborhood violence, it’s still possible to turn up. Sometimes that’s exactly what you need: a cruise in the coupe, more strains of weed than Kool Aid has flavors, and a sense, however fleeting, that you run shit. Watch out for the haters, but walk out in front of them with your head high and your style on fleek. Fuck ‘em.

Chief Keef

“Ain’t Missing You”

[FilmOn Music]

Was it a joke? Was it a fuck you to all those kids who “listen to everything except country and rap?” Was it a bird? Was it a plane? Nah, it was just Sosa bein’ sober(ing), Sosa at his most delightful and charmingly weird. This touching tribute to Keef’s fallen friend and cousin Big Glo/Blood Money was the spiritual successor to Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You,” and if we here at TMT have our way, we’ll get to see the Almighty perform this alongside Jenn Em and John Waite at The Grammys in February.

SOPHIE

“JUST LIKE WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE”

[Numbers]

Coming back into town, it looks exactly the same, and Sixth Street still smells like fertilizer. “The smell of money” absorbs the senses and the same old Benz with a couch-length backseat. Ball-tapping angels on the Mickey Mouse game. Seat covers. That same smiling set of eyes. A sibling connection that is neither romantic nor “just pals,” but something that’s exactly: feel. SOPHIE’s “JUST LIKE WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE” really turn’t up the curiosity nob to 10 upon drop, because WHO is it about? I like to think it’s SOPHIE’s assurance that PRODUCT will last for infinity.

Kanye West

“Only One”

[G.O.O.D. Music]

No goodbyes to the 2015 Yeezus of “Piss On Your Grave” and “All Day,” just hellos to the Kanye-dad of “Only One.” Here’s the Kanye we can’t believe doesn’t like a smile on his face, the Kanye who can’t be told nothing, the Kanye who wrote “Family Business” and “Hey Mama.” The love of a mother passed on into the love of a father; North as the daughter of a dove. Do you know now what it meant to be someone’s only one? We heard him say.

Kendrick Lamar

“Alright”

[Interscope/Aftermath/Top Dawg]

For all the many characters, viewpoints, and stories Kendrick Lamar explored in his incredible To Pimp A Butterfly, nothing felt more impactful than the immortal refrain of its centerpiece, “Alright.” It was a simple, but powerful message to people of color in America — a message for mortal men and women everywhere, treated like statistics, brutalized by police, their perceptions vandalized, seeking a place in the world — an epiphany of the enduring spirit, a paean to those who suffer still in a supposedly post-racial world, and a stone of hope for the many who still need it in 2015.

Grimes

“REALiTi” (demo)

[4AD]

“Every morning, there are mountains to climb” — on the treadmill, cold water on the face, fresh look in the mirror, brushing, running with toast, zipping into the bus at the last minute, slunking down, and letting out a big breath of relief that blows up your hair. With this harried yet focused, “cold light of day” spirit, the marimba and waterfall spritz of Grimes’s unmastered old thing was our heroic breath of fresh air. As it’s been a year rife with artists achieving massive results with less refinement, it’s only natural that this’d be the “REALiTi” that suits us best.

Drake

“Energy”

[Cash Money]

Drake’s energy can’t be taken away. It pulses through him in his tossed-off grievances about exes. It manifests when he has to sit through yet another inane conversation about someone’s Facebook. It comes through when he has to play nice with colleagues who he really couldn’t give a fuck about anymore. And it cultivates in his self-awareness about how first world-y all these gripes ultimately are. Aubrey Graham may be our preeminent millennial softie, but if there’s any joke going on here, you can guarantee that he’s the one laughing. Drake does bangers like only Drake can: satirical, sensational, sentimental, and surging with unbridled energy.

Carly Rae Jepsen

“Run Away With Me”

[Interscope]

“Run Away With Me” occupies the liminal space between Notes on ‘Camp’ and Teenage Dream, which is to say that it is sexless, synthetic, naive, extravagant, and, more than anything, sublime. Carly Rae Jepsen has been accused of being too chaste or juvenile to be a meaningful artist, but maturity is far beside the point of such giddy and ecstatic music. “Run Away With Me” is a pop song, but also a celebration of the aesthetic experience of emotion itself. Whenever that fake sax wails, we are helpless; take us to the feeling.

Click next to view the entire list.

We celebrate the end of the year the only way we know how: through lists, essays, and mixes. Join us as we explore the music that helped define the year. More from this series


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