It was a pretty great year in music. So when we were tasked with picking our favorite tunes from the past 12 months, it turned out to be difficult. The same names kept coming up again and again: The Weeknd, Drake, Future, Justin Bieber, Diplo. And we realized, the men were killing it in 2015. That, and there weren’t many one hit wonders, either.
So what worked on the charts this year? Crossover appeal, energy, individuality, and a dash of equal parts earnest and satirical lyrics – all wrapped up in a package that makes you want to dance.
Take a look at our choices below. Note: these are Global Grind’s favorite songs of the year, the tracks that we returned to again and again – not necessarily the greatest technically. Our only complaint? Not enough women. Please come harder in 2016, ladies!
Before we get started, some honorable mentions:
Jeremih “Planes” – an ode to the Mile High Club.
Alessia Cara “Here” – an ode to antisocialness.
Future “Where Ya At?” Featuring Drake – an ode to hanger-ons (and twerking).
Chris Brown “Liquor” – an ode to…you guessed it.
15. Adele “Hello”
Produced by Greg Kurstin
After taking time off to raise her child and lie low in London, Adele was like hey, what’s up “Hello” with her first song in three years. The sweeping ballad is quintessential Adele, full of soul, piano progressions, and a deep sense of longing that seems to way surpass any usual 27-year-old’s emotional maturity. While “Hello” isn’t exactly groundbreaking, we can’t underestimate how deeply Adele makes us feel well, feelings – moving some of our weekend plans past plain ol’ “Netflix and Chill” straight to “Adele and Cry.” Not to mention Adele was a welcome breath of fresh air in a year full of dudes, double cups, and booty calls.
13. The Weeknd “The Hills”
Produced by Illangelo, Mano Cameron Waker
It’s probably an understatement to say The Weeknd had a huge year. Not to be one of those people, but Global Grind loved the dark, depressing, drug and sex-obsessed melancholy version of the crooner found on his first trilogy of mixtapes. And that’s why we love “The Hills.” The eery affair anthem’s chainsaw-reminiscent refrain could be culled straight from a horror flick, but the chorus still maintains just enough slick production and melodic posturing to maintain listenability. We’re surprised – but glad – they play “The Hills” so often on the radio. For Abel Tesfaye, the lyrics “When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me,” have never rang truer.
8. Big Sean “Blessings” featuring Drake and Kanye West
Produced by Vinylz, Allen Ritter
With the help of Drizzy’s confident and flippant hook, Big Sean solidified his huge comeback following last year’s GG favorite “IDFWU” and offered another hit off the truly excellent Dark Sky Paradise. “Blessings” features three rap giants doing what they do best: Drake takes a seemingly simple turn of phrase and sing-morphs it into a motto, Sean proves he can hold his own with a triple time verse, and ‘Ye’s closer referencing Star Wars, Snapchat, and North West shuts shit down. Plus, “Blessings” is Riley Curry’s favorite.
7. The Weeknd “Earned It”
Produced by Stephan Moccio, Jason “DaHeala” Quennevhlle
As the lead single off the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack, “Earned It” first proved Abel could make music for the masses – including the 40 and over ladies worshipping at E.L. James’ altar. The sweeping melodramatic strings and slightly BDSM-referencing lyrics nicely complement The Weeknd’s sensual falsetto. It’s refreshing to hear the singer without all the production and electronica, merely showcasing his voice and artistry. On “Earned It,” Abel is as intimately exposed as one Miss Anastasia Steele.
6. Kendrick Lamar “Alright”
Produced by Pharrell Williams, Sounwave
Kendrick came back in full force this year, but no song captured the hope, degradation, desperation, and sluggish progress that was 2015 than “Alright.” There’s a reason why this song is the anthem of Black Lives Matter. It’s angry, uplifting, and inspiring, and if anyone could perfectly tap into the frustrating feeling of being a young Black person in a disenfranchised area of the country with so much intelligence and passion, it’s Compton’s new king. Police may be shooting first and asking questions later, Bill Cosby may not be who we thought he was, and Trump may be running for president, but we still gon’ be “Alright.”
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