Kendrick Lamar

2015 Favorite Song Nominees

It’s mid-October, cold weather is a-comin’ and I am unprepared mentally, physically, spiritually, etc. Surprise, surprise. As a means of blocking out the coming winter and ignoring other pressing matters, today I’ve decided to write about 15 songs – my 2015 Favorite Song Nominees, for lack of a better phrase – that will certainly factor prominently on my year-end list.

Songs are listed in alphabetical order according to title. With one notable exception I elected to limit myself to one song per artist Below,. I’ve included my Faves 2015 Spotify playlist, featuring these 15 songs and many, many others. Enjoy!

“Alright” by Kendrick Lamar.  I am a non-believer despite ingesting years of sermons but the power of Kendrick’s “If god got us then we gonna be alright” chorus is enough for me to suspend my atheistic leanings for four-minute intervals.

“Bermuda” by Givers. Reminds me of a bayou care package of Vitamin D that never runs out or expires. Also: Listening to this song in the subway makes me feel irrationally cool. I might need to see a doctor about that.   

“Bury Our Friends” by Sleater-Kinney. The ex-journalist in me swoons every time I hear the line “Make me a headline, I want to be that bold.” Print journalism is dead but S-K’s still rocking my ginger face off – an accomplishment that deserves a plaque or something.

“Desperately” by Sam Dew. I needed assistance picking my jaw off the grass after the Windy City product opened his Afropunk show with this aching falsetto-driven electronic number. Even now, having heard this track dozens of times, Dew’s voice is like “whoa!”

“Drone” by Chastity Belt. This cut from Washington state’s Chastity Belt – specifically Julia Shapiro’s deadpan vocals and Lydia Lund’s clean, circuitous guitar notes – conjures up all the feels about my mid-20s wanderings in the Pacific Northwest.  

“Gimme All Your Love” by Alabama Shakes. I have no scientific evidence to back this but I wouldn’t be surprised if Brittany Howard’s howls of “gimme all your love” in the chorus are the same sound that heralded the universe’s creation.  

“Let it Happen” by Tame Impala. A wondrous eight-minute electronic odyssey from Aussie genius Kevin Parker that is nothing short of epic in its presentation of melody, atmosphere, and zen.  No song more blissfully soundtracked my summer.

“Lift Me Up” by Vince Staples. The other day I felt like this ominous banger from the young Cali rap god was giving me mad cow disease – such was my desire to nod my head as Staples repeated the title refrain.  Absurd yes, but so are Staples’ talents with the mic.

“Realiti” by Grimes.  An unrelenting desire to listen to this pop gem from Canada’s Claire Boucher (aka Grimes) prompted me to download Spotify after attempts to purchase and illegal download it proved unsuccessful. Yeah, it’s that good.

“River” by Leon Bridges. Hearing this song live at the Music Hall of Williamsburg this summer baptized my ears, heart, and soul, and voided any questions about the young Texan’s authenticity as a purveyor of classic R&B.

“Run Away With Me” by Carly Rae Jepsen. My undisputed “This is NOT a guilty pleasure” Top-40 pop jam of 2015. The soaring chorus is massive and that saxophone intro is audio crack. Carly, you done ran away with my ears this time, girl.  

“Sedona” by Houndmouth. You ever hear a song and think I’ve heard that one before but I can’t place it? “Sedona” is that type of song – a light rock classic that sounds like it belongs on a late night infomercial about when music really mattered.

“Should Have Known Better” by Sufjan Stevens. Teared up damn near every time I played this song while on a bus trip to Pittsburgh this spring. The tears had nothing to do with the Paris of Appalachia. Sufjan’s rendering of his mom’s death breaks my heart.

“Taste” by Braids. Frank, self-aware, sexy. I listened to Raphelle Standell-Preston’s discovery of her own power, and, in turn, found encouragement to demand better treatment from others during a period of self-doubt. Self-help never sounded so good.

“The Blacker the Berry” by Kendrick Lamar.  I don’t own a crystal ball, sadly, but I would bet Kendrick’s fiery and on-point message chronicling racial inequality in America will be discussed for decades to come when people talk about #blacklivesmatter and hip hop.

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