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


Oh, hey there, Internet. I didn’t hear you come in. Welcome to our annual year-end festivities here at the TMT Ranch! Don’t be shy; kick off your boots and have a look around. Here’s some hot cocoa while you browse.

If you head straight down the hall, you’ll find our first offering: a cute little “Favorite 50 Songs of 2015” feature. Notice how there are no “rankings” or “weighting” or “letting C Monster pick whichever songs he wants while the rest of us get drunk and go see Blue Man Group” involved. Instead, we all just submitted our favorite tracks and once again grouped them into five, bite-sized, candy-coated mixes totaling 50 songs for your earmouths’ holiday enjoyment. The mixes are titled: GYM, VOID, ALLEY, CLIFF, and COUPE. No fuss, no muss!

So, go ahead and poke around. Take some pictures, give the mixes a little listen, and be sure stop on by again throughout the week for each new installment of the 50 songs that captured our hearts this year. Hope you like what you hear. Uh, but even if you don’t, could you do us a little, teeny favor and enthusiastically retweet each list anyway? (I’d do it myself, but I’ve actually been on vacation for the last two paragraphs or so. I don’t know how they got done!) Thanks so much in advance, and see you next year! <3


PART 1: “GYM” mixed by Mr P


Red Velvet

“Dumb Dumb”

[SM Entertainment]

Oh, South Korea. You may be small, but in even just one of your silly pop songs, we find a world: where “Bang Bang” doesn’t suck; where PC Music’s corporate pop fantasies have existed for 20 years; where the high-concept philosophy that One Direction fans read into total nothingness is amply real; where an interminable weekend of the Ultra Music Festival finds its true calling in a 10-second, curveball-brilliant bridge. You may be far, but we’re on our way.

easyFun

“Laplander”

[PC Music]

“Laplander” felt like more than just a song; it felt like a declaration. An absolute banger from easyFun, one of PC Music’s lesser-known affiliates, the track announced that the label’s gleam would not be dulled by exposure and success. In fact, “Laplander” is perhaps the most compositionally assured dance pop yet from PC Music, an achievement made without straying from their manifesto: the lyrics are sad, the music is not. And while it was a staple of bedroom DJ sets, it also inspired us to put on socks and shoes and venture outside, where the sun was shining and the birds were chirping. And their chirps were pitch-shifted up.

PMM

“Serpent’s Promise”

[Berceuse Heroique]

If the preponderance of industrial techno in the chemical malls of 2015 has already started to wear thin in some quarters, it’s worth noting that the year has also been a good one for nothing less than timeless electronic dance tracks that don’t necessarily need a DJ to translate or a room to fill. Alongside sterling work from John Heckle, Mono Junk, Gesloten Cirkel, Simoncino, and others, “Serpent’s Promise” stands out as the hardest and fastest of tentacular xenomorphic dicks. Banging but not brainless: against “dystopian” techno’s New Wave, “Serpent’s Promise” offered listeners the Dionysian Truth.

DJ Paypal

“Slim Trak”

[Brainfeeder]

In his memoriam to DJ Rashad, Mr P ended with the words “if we want to hear ‘new’ Rashad in the future, all we have to do is keep listening to new electronic dance music.” And looking at this year, even specifically at these mixes, Mr P was right. Artists like DJ Paypal have been filling in the massive void Rashad left with tracks like the call-back thumper “Slim Trak,” a brilliant cut out of many off Paypal’s latest release, Sold Out. So, spread your feet and fly, baby boy. You’re a star here in town now.

D∆WN

“Calypso”

[Our Dawn]

For lack of a better hook, pop imagery owes a lot to sports. The journey of an “artist” is an endurance race full of practice regimes, mental hurdles, lawyers, mentors, and managers. Music also loves an underdog story, with narratives perennially recycling on the X-Factor, American Idol, and programs like MTV’s Making The Band (hosted by Diddy). This is where Dawn Richard’s career modestly began. It might have ended modestly as well, had D∆WN failed to evolve. “Calypso” has nods to footwork, PC culture, and Janelle Monáe — it’s all tech fabrics, bio-futurism, 90s braids, Soylent… On Blackheart, D∆WN is flawlessly chic. Health Goth meets Saks Fifth. After all, looking good at the gym is what’s most important.

Charli XCX ft. Rita Ora

“Doing It (A. G. Cook Remix)”

[Atlantic]

In this first flirtation with the mainstream, PC Music impresario A. G. Cook held nothing back from his arsenal of dancefloor firepower as he warped Charli XCX’s original anthem into a gleeful, sinister vision. The track transitions between ideas with blinding swiftness: cutting the bass in favor of an introspective piano breakdown here or a soaring synth sequence there, all while those signature revved-up vocals holler out the hook on a monumental scale. The song’s staccato glitch bass is its centerpiece, however, fully revealing its true madness only in the track’s final looping moments, reverberating in a glory few mortal remixers could hope to match.

Galcher Lustwerk

“I Neva Seen”

[Lustwerk Music]

The term “chill-out” is vastly overrated, used by those who actually have the least amount of chill (or none at all). And, despite having enough cool in his human body to save polar bears from Antarctica’s melting ice caps, you won’t find Galcher Lustwerk using the phrase. But an otherworldly idleness did happen the moment his gorgeous, effervescent synths on “I Neva Seen” washed over our ears. And just when we thought the song couldn’t possibly get any better, Galcher came in with a smooth-ass verse about “some shit [you] neva seen,” just before we were officially dappin’ five to the man upstairs. “I Neva Seen” was a helluva drug, fam.

Gesloten Cirkel

“Real Melbourne House”

[Murder Capital]

Gesloten Cirkel takes me places. I’m thinking the pill-eyed abandon of a city in the early hours, on a warm summer’s night. The kick drums are the pavement beneath my tired feet, with synths hanging in the air like smoke. “Real Melbourne House” was all about that metropolitan swagger, with the Cirkel’s build-and-release production giving way to acidic crunch and cheeky references to house music lineage. Compulsively listenable, from car to club to home, once you were subsumed into the “Real Melbourne House,” you only wanted one thing.

Surfing

“Fire”

[1080p]

Waiting in a line at Bossa Nova Civic Club, which stretches around the corner of Suydam Street. It’s about midnight on a Wednesday, and work tomorrow starts at 7AM. So, flexing muscle gets you and a plus-one into the club, just as stoner-house DJ/productionist Surfing takes the booth. That’s when all hell breaks loose: heads are either on the dance floor or out the door, flushing in even more heads bound in an area no bigger than your shotgun apartment kitchen And as the club gets lit, Surfing just douses “Fire” on the crowd, burning off shoes and making attendees walk home barefoot.

f(x)

“4 Walls”

[SM Entertainment]

Although still young, f(x) are the elder labelmates of Red Velvet — and the experience shows. Following the departure of an original fifth member, “4 Walls” pulses with real pain and pathos, a multi-media meditation on what it means to lose a piece and persevere. It’s a fitting spin for the GYM: UK garage hasn’t sounded this fresh since the “Running” remix.

Click next to hear the “VOID” mix by Adam Devlin.

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


Most Read