The 63 Best Songs of 2015 So Far
30. Jenny Hval, “That Battle Is Over”
Starts off like Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One,” gets going like Tori Amos’ “Caught a Light Sneeze,” peaks like Massive Attack’s “Teardrop,” ends like Jenny Hval’s “That Battle Is Over.” — A.U.
29. Thomas Rhett, “Crash and Burn”
Daring Sam Cooke fans to foam over the chin with an implied “Chain Gang” sample isn’t heresy, it’s rock’n’roll. And at a trim two-and-a-half minutes, this somehow not-done-before fusion of country and Motown actually respectfully retains the length of an Otis Redding song, which “All About That Bass” and “F**k You!” did not. Bro country can pass the baton to soul country all day. — D.W.
28. Alesso feat. Roy English, “Cool”
No one puts together a satisfying EDM banger quite like Alesso, whose tracks nearly all share the same formula (emotive topline over a simple, elegant build) and universal body-moving momentum. “Cool” is another sterling example: Roy English’s soaring falsetto elongates the titular word like a sigh, over soft-lit synth chords reminiscent of John Hughes’ most romantic ‘80s teen flicks. — H.B.
27. Blur, “Go Out”
The lead single from Blur’s first album in 12 years finds the Britpop alumni not just surviving, but thriving; thing is, for these blokes, “thriving” means ruminating on 21st-century ennui — all loneliness, gloomy masturbation, and excessive drinking — while braiding together chunky guitar stabs, a wordless “Oh oh oh” hook, and popcorning handclaps. Good to have you back, gents. — K.M.
26. Kanye West feat. Paul McCartney and Allan Kingdom, “All Day”
Kanye’s fiery — quite literally — Brit Awards performance turned out to be a pretty potent metaphor for the studio version of “All Day.” The track’s stuttering samples and synth bass bursts are all scorched earth, and ‘Ye’s verses blow plumes of smoke in the faces of all those who can’t quite keep up with him. And then what better way to burn down the pop-music establishment than to relegate a Beatle to little more than a whistled outro? — C.J.
25. Carly Rae Jepsen, “I Really Like You”
Love or hate her milkshake-thick bubblegum zest, you gotta give Carly Rae Jepsen credit for stepping out of the shadow 2012’s inescapable Hit of the Century (you know the one) with this new wave-tinged blast of pure pop sugar. — R.B.
24. Heems, “Flag Shopping”
Over the mournful creep of that plinking piano, it’s very easy to hear that familiar, thick-stoned drawl begin the lines “Yo, we’re going flag shopping” and slot it as sarcastic bait. But “Flag Shopping” reveals itself pretty quickly to be a tear-stained lament for the post-9/11 grievances faced by turban wearers of all life walks. His neighbors throw rocks at the house, his dad cries, his interrogators want “a shorter version” and a nickname: “They want to Toby us like we Kunta Kinte” echoes another crucial voice of reason in 2015 rap. It turns out the shopping in question is a last-ditch attempt to stop the things Himanshu Suri and his family never want to see and hear again. Sadly, it won’t. — D.W.
23. Tink, “Ratchet Commandments”
Once you step over the somewhat icky conceit — Tink telling women how to act appropriately — it becomes easier to marvel at the Detroit rapper’s liquid rhymes. She soars over Timbaland’s crank organ, firing shots (“If you know your pussy loose / You a ho so do better,” she sneers) before hopscotching over a Mean Girls-quoting sing-song chorus. She might not be the next Aaliyah, but she’s the only Tink, and we need that just as much. — B.C.
22. Chromatics, “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around”
The best piece of Drive-pop since the man’s unofficial theme. “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around” doesn’t add a ton new to Chromatics’ successful recipe of flatly delivered emoting over layers of incandescent guitars and chugging bass, but it titrates the formula to jaw-dropping empirical perfection, inspiring a wallop of feels before you can produce a rational thought as to why. In the end, you’re left as pretzel-tongued and heart-swollen as its flustered narrator. — A.U.
21. Lim Kim, “Awoo”
This 21-year-old veteran of K-Pop singing competitions has some husk in her voice that will bring to mind Western indie-soul contemporaries such as Feist, but the hooks on her breakthrough single come from de-pitched, Purity Ring-style synth and that inextricable chorus in the universal language: onomatopoeia. A baby can sing along to it, an adult can savor it while beating themselves up trying to figure out any of the five or six ultra-familiar-yet-so-distant songs it mashes together. — D.W.