Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Top 20 Songs of 2015 (Part 2)

Here we go, then - the cream of the cream of the crop. Here are my Top 10 Songs of 2015 (if you missed the first half of this list, click here to read it before continuing):

10) Eugene & Maurice by Ariel Sharratt & Mathias Kom
(from Don't Believe the Hyperreal)
Eugene & Maurice is a bit of an oddity on Don't Believe the Hyperreal, which is - for the most part - an album of duets. However, this song (the album's closer) is sung by Ariel and Ariel alone, lending a sad, lonely feeling to a song that frankly would have been heartbreaking enough anyway. Eugene & Maurice tells the true story of author Maurice Sendak and his partner Dr Eugene Glynn; since both men are now (spoiler alert!) deceased, I suppose this biography was never going to have a happy ending, but Sharratt's splendidly sad and decidely Anway-esque delivery somehow makes the whole thing even more devastating.

9) No Future Part IV: No Future Triumphant by Titus Andronicus
(from The Most Lamentable Tragedy)
It's the last 20 seconds or so that really makes this song. HEY! I HATE TO BE AWAKE, I ACHE TO BE AWAKE!

8) Go! by Public Service Broadcasting
(from The Race for Space)
God knows how long it took the Public Service Broadcasting boys to stitch this together. It was worth it, though - I love how they've created a catchy, insistent chorus out of what should have been boring technical talk. Great drumming, too, especially that breakdown in the middle where the thwacks and bams gradually stack up as the chatter grows more urgent.

7) Play for Today by Belle & Sebastian
(from Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance)
Why limit yourself to a 3-minute pop song when the tune you've written (and the beat underneath it) will happily sustain another four or so? Indeed, if you've written a song that's this powerfully infectious, it would be a crime to stop it before the 7-minute mark.

6) Reality TV by SPORTS
(from All of Something)
SPORTS could give Titus Andronicus a run for their money in the 'shout along with us at the top of your voice' stakes. Reality TV's chorus is a blinding pop-punk godsend, and the song at large is a perfect encapsulation of the upbeat music/downbeat lyrics approach that made All of Something such a super listen.

5) I Was Doing Fine (Then a Few People Died) by Craig Finn
(from Faith in the Future)
Is it a good sign when a song ends and you're genuinely gutted that it didn't last longer? I think Craig Finn could stand to learn a thing or two from Belle & Sebastian - would that I Was Doing Fine were as long as Play for Today! (Once again, I'm unable to find an embeddable version of this song online, but I'd definitely recommend buying the album if you're interested.)

4) King Kunta by Kendrick Lamar
(from To Pimp a Butterfly)
I'm still not wholly convinced that To Pimp a Butterfly is the game-changing album of the year shoe-in that everyone else seems to be hearing, but this song and it's 'take on the world' credentials are utterly undeniable. Whether you're a hip-hop aficionado or, like me, a bit of an ignorant in this department, you'll not fail to be swept in by King Kunta, which would turn even the most self-loathing individual into a confident, street-strutting asskicker. Be sure to crank your volume up when the beat drops back in at 2:53.

3) Gagarin by Public Service Broadcasting
(from The Race for Space)
Do you and your partner have an 'our song'? Vicky and I do - it's Gagarin by Public Service Broadcasting. This was one of the songs featured on the mix CD I made for her when we'd only recently become an item, and it's the one she selected as a highlight; it's not a love song (in fact, it's arguably not even a 'song' at all) but it's 'our song' because we both love it and because we identified that fact so early in our relationship that those red-hot brass fills and that funky-as-hell riff now feel like key building blocks thereof.

That being said, I'm pretty sure I'd still have the hots for Gagarin even if I had inexplicibaly opted to leave it off that homemade compilation. Who could resist such a tight, flawless slice of modern funk?

2) Conqueror by Estelle
(from True Romance)
I decided to investigate Estelle's music this year after becoming obsessed with Steven Universe (she voices Garnet). I'm glad I did; this song could knock down buildings, and - more importantly - it makes the listener feel as if they could do likewise.

1) Dimed Out by Titus Andronicus
(from The Most Lamentable Tragedy)
How exactly do you choose the best song of any given year? Dimed Out probably isn't the track I've listened to most frequently; nor is its somewhat clunky structure a match for the impeccable, whip-tight likes of Gagarin or Conqueror. However, Dimed Out edges out both of those songs - and, indeed, everything else I've heard this year - because of the sheer, simple, breakneck joy I feel every time I hear it. Yes, that key change is cheesy, and yes, that 6-7-8-9 bit is hardly Leonard Cohen, but god-damn it's fun to shout along to those lyrics. Nobody else making music in 2015 has quite replicated that dizzy headrush feeling I get every time Patrick Stickles yells:

"8 was reaching, 9 was decent, but!
I really liked it when it dimed out!
I only really like it when it's dimed out!
I like, "like it" like it dimed out!
I like it like it like it like it dimed out!" 

Stupid? Maybe. Superbly, spectacularly stunning? Absolutely.

Come back on Friday for my top 10 albums of 2015!

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