The Five Best Songs of 2015

Scott Wallace
28th Dec 2015

2015 was a year full of amazing music from all genres and styles. Chances are in 2015 you heard a song that will go down as one of your all-time favourites. Narrowing the best songs of the year down to just five was a gargantuan task, but here are five that best capture what the music of 2015 was all about.

5. “All That” by Carly Rae Jepsen

Before this year, former Canadian Idol contestant Carly Rae Jepsen seemed doomed to be the one-hit-wonder who sang the insidious earworm “Call Me Maybe,” but she returned with more pop firepower than ever before. Teaming up with retro-minded producer Devonté Hynes (a.k.a. Blood Orange) for “All That,” Jepsen made a slow dance ballad full of obviously 80’s references, but still sounding timeless. When the last chorus hits it’s an unbeatable moment of emotional release, and that’s what pop music is all about.

4. “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” by Jamie xx featuring Young Thug and Popcaan

Really, “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” shouldn’t work. Starting off with a doo-wop sample, interrupted by Jamie xx’s trademark sunny percussion, Jamaican dancehall flavour from Popcaan and a typically mush-mouthed turn from divisive rapper Young Thug, it’s a collection of parts that shouldn’t mesh this well. On paper it’s a mess, but when you’re listening to it, all you really care about is the groove and the way Jamie xx effortlessly conjures an effervescent atmosphere of lightness and jubilation without breaking a sweat.

3. “Rewind” by Kelela

Combining the sound of the dance music avant-garde (circa 1992) with rock solid R&B hooks à la prime era Janet Jackson, Kelela’s “Rewind” is quite possibly the fiercest dance track of the 2015. The track, surrounded by thick swells of bass and keyboard, moves from a peppy dance beat to a somnambulist lurch at the drop of a hat, with the Los Angeles-based singer delivering the lyrics with confidence and control. Out-of-time, yet sounding so current, “Rewind” is the announcement that a major talent has hit her stride.

2. “How Could You Babe” by Tobias Jesso Jr.

Tobias Jesso Jr.’s brand of piano led singer/songwriter fare didn’t break down any barriers in 2015, but it didn’t need to. His debut album Goon recalls decidedly uncool early 70s references like Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson, but imbues them with the heartfelt emotion of his simple playing style and untrained voice. Playing the spurned lover on the cathartic “How Could You Babe,” Jesso asks the titular question over and over, not getting any closer to finding an answer, but eventually erupting into a shriek of anguish. Stunning.

1. “Depreston” by Courtney Barnett

Despite the pun of the title, which refers to the Melbourne suburb of Preston where the song’s narrator goes house hunting, and the smart aleck one-liners of the song’s opening, “Depreston” is an abnormally sincere moment for the normally deadpan Barnett. It’s a jaw-dropping moment when the song’s narrator suddenly experiences a profound realisation of the life that occupied the house before she dragged her own through the door. She asks, “I wonder what she bought it for..." and the statement hangs unanswered, but full of possibility.