Ladies and gentlemen, presenting Nos. 15-1 of the #Motiv8 Year End List!
15. We Try But We Don't Fit In - Day Wave
Headcase, Day Wave (2015)
f you’ve ever felt like a fuckup in some kind of way, this layered, vocoded vocal is a song that will resonate with you. The riff is gorgeous and shimmery and you’ll be reminded of summer as well as solace.
14. dreamsicle - Dumblonde
Dumblonde, Double Platinum (2015)
Synths, attitude, electronic dubs and heavenly vocals are abound in this duo that rose from the ashes of Danity Kane. The video definitely matches the attitude conveyed in the song and is a welcome introduction to the pop landscape after previous single “White Lightning.”
13. Antidote - Travi$ Scott
Rodeo, Epic (2015)
If you’re looking to start your own party or add to the current one you’re attending, this will definitely get the job done. The beat and the flow are what you come for from this artist who had a breakthrough 2015. But, the rhyming scheme to the title alone is what keeps you staying (“window…. night show…. etc.”).
12. We Don't Stop, Kaskade
Automatic, Warner Bros. (2015)
A quiet intro with synths, a softened but growing beat, and a great bassline kick off one of Kaskade’s best tracks since “Room For Happiness.” Once the beat drops and the layered vocals take full force, the raging begins and you really won’t stop moving. Especially once all the elements of the song grow as the song continues, chances are that with such an anthemic chorus, you haven’t stopped chanting this one all 2015 long.
11. Lean On, Major Lazer
Peace Is The Mission, Mad Decent (2015)
I was thrilled to hear this song long before the radio grabbed hold of it and made this a bonafide hit. An infectious vocal from MØ leads the charge boldly as the song unleashes a smorgasbord of sounds. Everything about the track explains why 2015 was an insanely breakout year for Diplo (see Jack U). The sound fits the global music landscape that made 2015 interesting. This song in particular? Elements of the Caribbean, Bollywood and Euro - all make for one of the biggest tracks of the year.
10. Sax - Fleur East
Love, Sax and Flashbacks, Simco Limited (UK) (2015)
Did you see last year’s X Factor (UK) final? That’s where I have to begin with Fleur East as she helped make the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars track “Uptown Funk” a global smash by going in at No. 1 on iTunes in the UK with her own cover of the song. Despite being deemed the runner-up in the competition, I couldn’t wait to see what she would do next. When this track finally dropped, the buzz-loaded song was nothing less than explosive. Yes, it has similarities to “Uptown Funk”, but because of the fire that Fleur brings to every. single. performance. it’s definitely a single that stands on its own. Just ask the public that made the track a Top 5 hit across the Atlantic.
9. Xanax - Elohim
Xanax (Single), B3SCI (2015)
Hypnotic. Haunting. Trippy. And that’s just the music itself. The next level comes with the lyrics, as they are a literal window into the daily life of someone suffering anxiety. The atmosphere is ethereal yet intense all at once, as though a genie cloud is taking over the room. “Every day of my life” has never sounded so real, yet so calming. Be on the lookout for this Los Angeles-based artist in 2016!
8. Another Life - D'Angelo
Black Messiah, RCA (2014)
D’Angelo came back in a big way after more than 10 years out of the game, and if there’s an album I can’t recommend more, it’s definitely Black Messiah. The Grammys got it right giving him recognition, for sure. However, while “Really Love” is a rich, great track, the song that brings that smooth “jook joint” vibe is “Another Life.”
When the crooner spits out:
“I'm not surprised to find
that angels compete
For the chance to lay down at your feet”
you come to terms with why this man is a genius at not just how he phrases the words, but also with the method they are conveyed. With a crescendo ending that spans from his signature falsetto down to the dirty rich groans, he’s not playing any games on this track. It’s that nostalgic reminder of the nu-soul we remember him for.
7. Gooey - Glass Animals
Zaba, Wolf Tone Limited (2014)
Xylophones, soft drums, a mysterious synth, and a sick reverb are only part of what make this song great. This Oxford-based band has a knack for rhythmic vernacular as well with “peanut butter vibes” and “tipsy topsy slurs”. The video is a bit all over the place, so I will personally vouch for sticking with the audio and letting your imagination run wild, as you’ll keep the sexiness of the song intact! Thanks to my friend Chuck for the suggestion!
6. Icarus - Madeon
Adventure, Hugo Leclercq/Sony UK (2015)
Absolutely no words are on this track, but it doesn’t matter. This 21 year old French prodigy takes you on a three-minute journey that will leave you feeling dreamy, yet get your blood pumping, and ready to turn up. I definitely love this one for cardio purposes, but the drums, the synths and the intense buildup all make for a good highway drive with this track blasting out loud.
5. Birch Tree - Foals
What Went Down, Warner UK (2015)
Another bias alert: I have been a massive Foals fan for years now. When I found out it was time for the release of album number four, you know I was salivating. The title track’s release definitely was a return to their hard rocker edge, but “Birch Tree” is a return to form for the harmonic band. Total Life Forever vibes are all over this song with the tropic sounds, the harmonized vocals and the percussion/synth mix that is prominent in a way that differs from previous Foals tracks. This track is worth a listen and should definitely be on more end-of-year lists along with standout “Mountain At My Gates.”
4. Infinite Cities - The Bright LIght Social Hour
Space Is Still The Place, Frenchkiss Records (2015)
This track blew my mind upon first listen and did not get old throughout 2015. The layered guitars and gorgeous riffs, the way “staaaay until we come home” is sung throughout, and the incredible pickup by the track’s end all make for a spiritual experience.
3. When You Were Mine (feat. Tegan & Sara) - Night Terrors of 1927
Everything’s Coming Up Roses, Atlantic (2015)
Seeing Tegan & Sara’s name on the track caught my attention alone, but then hearing this track about a lost love (“Was it all a waste of time?”) that goes to the extremes of guessing all the possibilities of why it ended (“Maybe you just got lost on the way back home, on the way back home to me”) - that itself pulled me in. The harmonies are perfection, the keyboards and the guitar riff are incredibly difficult to get out of your head, but the track is spectacular in itself.
2. Girl (feat. KAYTRANADA) - The Internet
Ego Death, Odd Future (2015)
When you’re called “The Internet”, you clearly have a lot to deliver to the plate if you’re a band. I’ve raved about these guys this year because they always do. Dreamy beats, sick rhythms and thought-provoking lyrics are what take charge for this NY based band. The universal-perspective speaking to an underappreciated girl (“they don’t know your worth”) is what’s laid over a track that seems more set for a dream sequence until the percussion hits. It’s a lighter track considering all the topics they touch on the Ego Death album, but definitely no less worthy of a listen and all the more accessible for that fact alone.
1. Ghost (feat. Patrick Baker) - Lane 8
Rise, Anunjadeep (2015)
For my track of the year, let me preface my final bias alert (it’s only right, yes?): I have raved about Lane 8 for so long that it’s nearly ridiculous. I loved “Diamonds”, I love the Rise album, but “Ghost” is a standout for the sheer nonchalance that Patrick Baker’s vocal brings behind an absolutely incredible beat that swells to a point that your body is aching to react (it’s even better with the Lane 8 Rework version, so be sure to check that out). This track encompasses lost love with considerably simple lyrics (“all I want is just to feel you, everything just looks so see through”), and the “glitch-pop” (new to my music vocabulary) tendencies with the random mumbles throughout the song, it’s a masterpiece of a track. Highly worthy of my 2015 #1.
What are your favorites of 2015? Did any tracks you love not make the cut?
Let me know in the comments or interact with me on Twitter or Instagram: