Top 35 Tracks of 2015

Alex Ralston’s picks for the best songs of 2015.

Alex Ralston



Sure, it’s no top 40, but everybody I know is doing it. So without further ado, here are my favorite tracks of this year in somewhat-chronological order with a Spotify playlist to boot.


“Mr. Noah” – Panda Bear
     Noah Lennox creates another hectic, colorful, yet well composed piece of psych pop.

“Lionsong” – Björk
     Experimental singer-songwriter Björk returns with an album full of heart wrenching breakup ballads.

“Curry Chicken” – Joey Bada$$
     An ode to Joey’s favorite dinner food, full of old-school/new-school hip-hop border-blurring and introspective lyrics.

“Dark Comedy Late Show” – Open Mike Eagle
     Open Mike masterfully and cleverly takes on several big political issues while musing on the oddities of modern life.

“Ideal Husband” – Father John Misty
     Charmingly cynical and sweetly satirical, Father John Misty laments his personal shortcomings in the most rocked-out selection from “I Love You, Honeybear.”

“Raygun” – BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah
     Ghostface teams up with a few good friends to create a funky, jazzy bit of hip-hop heaven. MF DOOM co-stars.

“Alright” – Kendrick Lamar
     A socially-conscious magnum opus from an album entirely composed of magnum opuses.

“Grief” – Earl Sweatshirt
     Sleepy, dark, and brooding all at once. Music for people stuck in limbo.

“Terry” – Action Bronson
     Action Bronson takes on more sentimental subject matter with the help of  Alchemist, who provides one of the most serene and lush boom-bap instrumentals of all time.

“Pedestrian at Best” – Courtney Barnett
     Aussie rising star Courtney Barnett delivers a witty garage-rock track chock full of spoken word with an edge.

“The Big Nothing” – Billy Woods
     Dusty, lyrical, heady, and mysterious rap lines made complete with a Captain Beefheart sample.

“On GP” – Death Grips
     Death Grips tries punk rock on for size, making one of their most melodic and depressing songs to date in the process.

“Rain or Shine” – Young Fathers
     Driving, danceable lo-fi alt pop from Scottish outfit Young Fathers.

“Empty Nesters” – Toro Y Moi
     Toro Y Moi wears seventies revivalism on his sleeve and creates an irresistibly catchy pop track.

“PILOT” – Tyler, The Creator
     Tyler manages to mash up industrial hip-hop with synth pop. Masterfully produced, “PILOT” remains one of my favorite tracks off of “Cherry Bomb.”

“Miss Understanding” – Kamasi Washington
     From a jazz masterpiece, a satiating bebop record.

“Huarache Lights” – Hot Chip
     Hot Chip updates their sound and produces a dance-pop-tronica-everything-in-one hit.

“Multi Love” – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
     Lo-fi alt rock with a groovy twist sure to please any alternative fan.

“Call It Off” – Shamir
     Rookie Shamir makes a gummy, catchy, synth-filled electro-pop dance track.

“I Feel That” – Ash Koosha
     Twisted, otherworldly sample-based instrumental music that creates a jam like no other.

“Norf Norf” – Vince Staples
     Vince Staples teams up with producer Clam Casino to create a quasi-banger hip-hop single.

“Return of the Savage” – Adrian Younge and Ghostface Killah
     Two boom-bap kings create a hard-hitting story track with two other boom-bap kings.

“Let It Happen” – Tame Impala
     Kevin Parker takes a detour from Tame Impala’s normal psych rock sound and focuses on synths. Dare I mention a possible vaporwave influence?

“Yo” – Injury Reserve
     Arizona hip-hop crew fuses old-school and new-school. Steppa and Ritchie With a T break out clever, fun, and introspective lyrics over this funky album-opener.

“Hotline Bling” – Drake
     The Champagne Papi hits the radio with an instant hit about a lost lover. Awesome instrumental, great vibe, above-average lyrics, and a dubious music video.

“Genocide” – Dr. Dre
     Compton great Dr. Dre finally returns with a great album with amazing production and killer features. “Genocide” flips conventional hip-hop on its head with a beyond kooky instrumental and a comically energetic Kendrick.


“Figure 8” – FKA Twigs
     Bare yet heavy, “Figure 8” experiments with squelching bass, dreamy synths, and even a rap verse from Twigs.

“Get Up Get Down” – Mick Jenkins
     Mick? On a dance track? And it sounds good? Despite its lack of water references, “Get Up Get Down” is far from dry.

“Sparks” – Beach House
     Beach House stares into the shoegaze void and finds an even sweeter and more tempting sound than before.

“Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd
     Dancy, happy music about a cocaine high.

“Give It to Me” – HOMESHAKE
     Former Mac Demarco guitarist Peter Sagar transitions to hypnotic and seductive synth music.

“Sister of Pearl” – Baio
     A sweet little tune with dancing guitars and expressive vocals.

“The Yabba” – Battles
     Experimental rock outfit Battles nixes the vocals and puts the mental back into instrumental.

“Zen Scientist” – Milo
     Wisconsin native Milo and trusty producer Kenny Segal work to create the jazz rap version of “To Pimp A Butterfly.” Milo comes through with more aggression and control whilst delivering lines full of introspection and referential wit.

“Floridada” – Animal Collective
     Baltimore’s finest reappears with their poppiest track in years, featuring rapid-fire vocals, hectic instrumentation, and a bridge about a bridge.