The 63 Best Songs of 2015 So Far
20. Kendrick Lamar, “King Kunta”
“Smooth Criminal,” N.W.A, “The Payback,” Roots, DJ Quik, There’s a Riot Goin’ On, and a whole lotta P-Funk, delivered from the top of the Compton Fashion Center. “By the time you hear the next pop, the funk shall be within you.” No f**kin’ kidding. — A.U.
19. Kacey Musgraves, “Biscuits”
Kacey Musgraves’ homespun truisms have never sounded more thoughtful than when they’re urging bothersome gossips to quit meddling in others’ affairs. The songsmith’s jaunty delivery and country-fried wordplay is at its best when arranged into clever idioms (“Mind your own biscuits, and life will be gravy”), making it so that everyone’s invited to this country picnic — as long as they keep their hands in their own baskets. — R.B.
18. Jason Derulo, “Want to Want Me”
Derulo is not Michael Jackson. Most of you know this, some of us at SPIN aren’t so sure. To wit: They both made a whole lot of lightweight pop during their first solo decade, only to turn heads with an epic disco banger that signaled who knows what thenceforth, with Michael procuring cameos from Paul McCartney and Eddie Van Halen on his next album. Derulo got Stevie Wonder and Keith Urban — not quite MJ-level there. But this is that epic disco banger. — D.W.
17. Bully, “Trying”
Between its loping bass line, streamlined dual-guitar ramble, and classic quiet-loud dynamics, “Trying” is as ringingly authentic a mid-’90s alt-rock tribute as we’ve had yet, but with lyrics so self-analytically incisive — “I’ve been praying for my period all week,” “I question everything / My focus, my figure, my sexuality” — to feel distinctly post-millennial. Still, crippling insecurity and self-distrust never sounded so nostalgically summery. — A.U.
16. The Knocks feat. Alex Newell, “Collect My Love”
Disco may not have died the first time had the Knocks been around. B-Roc and JPatt’s “Collect My Love” is a lively throwback aided by the crispest of modern production, with an opening beat that’ll instantly make you stop in your tracks — for a second at least, before the dancing starts. Former Glee star Alex Newell helps out with slick, giddy vocals and an impeccable, chills-inducing high note towards the end, helping to make the effortlessly upbeat and joyful jam everything that’s worth celebrating about disco’s resurrection. — J.G.
15. Vic Mensa feat. Kanye West, “U Mad”
“Horns. Horns. Horns. More horns. More horns. ALL OF THE HORNS.” Pair that with Vic’s impassioned rapping (“I’m the villain / Nah, really, I’m just chillin'”) and his Chicago predecessor’s “F**k it, let’s go” mentality (“Everybody brawling, it was all cool / ‘Til I hit the bartender with the barstool”) and you’ve got a good-ass song. — B.C.
14. Girl Band, “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage”
Previously released on an Irish cover compilation, Girl Band’s rendition of U.K. producer Blawan’s dubby, anti-garage monster “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage” was given much-needed Stateside exposure on the quartet’s Early Years EP this April. As shredding and purposeful in its violence as the original was murky and confounding, Girl Band’s version turns the titular lament into a rallying cry, or at least something for Col. Kilgore to fist-pump along to as he launches the napalm attack from his chopper. — A.U.
13. Ciara, “I Bet”
A slice of classic millennial R&B; it’s no surprise that this layer cake of prize syllable enjambments and kintsugi-intricate harmonies isn’t blowing up radio like, say, “Post to Be.” But boring it ain’t. Ciara’s a songwriter first, and now she’s the mother of her ex-manchild’s child. She know the grass isn’t greener on the other side. But she also knows it’s good psychotic fun to hire a fake Future for Henry Rollins in “Pop Goes the Weasel” duty, just to drive Twitter insane. —D.W.
12. Waxahatchee, “Poison”
On Ivy Tripp, singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield finally decided to embrace a full-band crunch that the grand gestures of her Waxahatchee project always demanded. The upward-striving wanderlust of “Poison” represents an emotional high on an album full of them, a peek above hovering clouds of self-doubt and uncertainty. And if that wasn’t enough, a buried guitar lead that tips its hat to “Wave of Mutilation” can always help for extra ballast. — C.J.
11. Miguel, “Coffee (F**king)”
Miguel spoiled all lovers everywhere with 2012’s sophomore LP, Kaleidoscope Dream, and “Coffee (F**king)” keeps the wet dream alive until his follow-up full-length this year. The song’s gently rawkin’ guitar riffs shimmer in the background as Miguel’s 800-thread-count pitch turns gravelly and yearning. Wale’s invocation of “Fifty Shades and Jodeci grooves” on his (otherwise largely unnecessary) guest verse couldn’t be more appropriate. — H.B.