Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pop Candy Arcade Playlist: The 100 Songs of 2015, 76-100

We return after a little bit of an unexpected hiatus. We can blame the weekend in part, that and an inability to make final decisions without a little bit more distance.  Here it is, though: the final section of the 2015 song list.  For now, I feel pretty content with the shape of the thing and the various sounds and acts represented.  While there are occasionally repetitions and genre constants, it seems to accurately map the sounds of the moment while being, yes, stuff I really enjoy.

A note on some noteworthy omissions:  you won't find Adele's "Hello" on here. Perhaps it's because I have no soul, but really I'd prefer to side with those who believe it's time for Adele - an otherwise very talented artist - to move on to new material.  It feels like a retread, nothing new, and no different than reaching back and grabbing one of Celine Dion's biggest ballads. It's my fault I just can't deal, but, really, I don't get it.

Closer to the edit: Rihanna's "Bitch Better Have My Money" almost made it, but was cut in the final moments if only because the visuals seemed to do more than the track itself. Consider it #101, if you must.

76. Neon Indian / "Annie"  "Annie" welcomes you with a big, 80's tropicalia-inflected sound. It's like a gently warped recording of an old classic, a favorite you already know bent ever so slightly away from the usual.

77. Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique / "Love is Free" A pounding house track from Robyn and company that eventually breaks into a deeply satisfying, extended, shimmering groove.

78. The Internet ft. Vic Mensa / "Go With It"  A pure, anthemic summer jam that will make you want to roll the windows down even in the dead of winter.  Made of the breeziest materials.
79. Mabel / "Know Me Better"  Mabel is the daughter of Neneh Cherry and producer Cameron McVey, which almost seems like cheating until you actually listen to her music.  "Know Me Better" is a lovely song about a vulnerability of a new relationship with progressions that are so clean, so right, that she sounds like a veteran.

80. Dev09 / "You Made Me"  Dev09 is an 18-year old girl from South Bend whose minimalist, bratty pop caught the attention of director Brett Haley, who volunteered to direct her video for free and may have assisted in birthing the career of someone who could just be the next big thing.

81. BEA1991 / "Filthy Believer" A slow-building track with a slick as hell build as horns and synths layer over that calm of a bouncing pop beat.

82. Moses Sumney / "Seeds"  Sumney is an artist who truly uses his voice like an instrument, building layers that add a haunting quality to his atmosphere-heavy pop.  "Seeds" is a beautiful, swooning song made all the better by the reedy quality of his vocals.

83. Stwo (ft. Sevdaliza) / "Haunted"  I know nothing about STWO and only a little bit about Sevdaliza (mostly thanks to the striking visuals of her videos), but "Haunted" sounds a bit like a stripped remix of a vintage Sade track set at the end of a relationship.

84. Empress Of / "Standard"  Yes, "Standard" is a pop song about socioeconomic concerns. But don't let that deter you, it's also a jam.
85. Julia Holter / "Feel You" A striking piece of baroque art-pop from a composer/singer/songwriter who knows how to add a harpsichord to a piece of modern music without alienating the listener.

86. ANOHNI / "4 Degrees"  Anohni is the singer once known as Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), and "4 Degrees" is a collaboration with Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never that drives ferociously forward, building an apocalyptic vision.  Here she is a goddess.

87. Drake / "Know Yourself" If you don't feel it at first, wait for the right mood and push ahead to the moment the beat finally drops.  You know how that shit goes.

88. Jack Ü ft. Justin Bieber / "Where Are U Now"  I know. Not one, but two Justin Bieber vocals on this list? And not just that, but one from an act made up of Skrillex and Diplo? What's the world coming to, and stuff, etc. The 2015 rundown didn't feel complete without this warped collaboration, though, a pop banger that transforms the Biebs' voice into a bizarro instrumental.

89. Liz / "When I Rule the World"  A massive, over-the-top, ultra snotty, pompous, materialistic pop song that sounds like it's trying simultaneously to sell you all the things, make you its slave, and insist that pink is the new black.  It's also produced by Sophie, sounds like it, and is basically the catchiest thing ever. Lean into it.

90. Selena Gomez / "Same Old Love" I didn't expect this song to remain on the top 100 list, if we're being honest. Here it is, though, and why not? It's Gomez masquerading as Charli XCX (who co-wrote the track), a shaky, snap-filled pop song engineered for exactly the results it produces.

91. Carly Rae Jepsen / "Emotion"  Again, if you're denying the purity of these pop songs there might be something wrong with you.  Maybe we can't be friends.
92. Fetty Wap / "Trap Queen"  Ok. Fine. I give in. We'll just go with it. It's cute, sure.

93. Alex Winston / "The Day I Died" Alex Winston was around before, suffered a vocal cord hemorrhage, and has been slowly working on her return. "The Day I Died" is a tale of rebirth with an obvious synth-pop influence and an irrepressible hook.

94. Joanna Gruesome / "Honestly Do Yr Worst" Focused, screaming, stomping garage rock that enters with a plan, gets the job done, and exits almost too quickly.
95. Protomartyr / "Why Does it Shake?" I watched frontman Joe Casey deliver Protomartyr's weighty punk lyrics while wearing a suit and shades in 90 degree Chicago humidity.  He sold it, coming across as an elder statesman and somehow allowing the lyrics to become apathetic, no-fucks-given walls even as they belie a deep emotional core.

96. Sexwitch / "Kassidat El Hakka" A total trance, with creeping synth soundscapes crossing into confused, bleary waves of noise as a primal rhythm battles on.
97. Savages / "T.I.W.Y.G." I can't resist the Savages, and so it is that as they begin to build up songs for their follow-up to Silence Yourself, we allow the lyrically simple "T.I.W.Y.G." ("this is what you get when you mess with love") to drive forward into 2016.

98. Anna Meredith / "R-Type" The Scottish composer appeared on this list a couple years back, but still has yet to release her first full album.  That will happen this March, and the stark, percussive singles she's released thus far are an acquired taste, sure, but speak to a new hybrid of electronic and "classical" elements.
99. Sleater-Kinney / "Bury Our Friends" Sleater-Kinney came back in a big way this year, returning to the rock scene with an album that sounded alive, made with purpose, and custom designed to remind fans new and old that there is still a place for the riot grrl.  "Bury Our Friends" is a song loaded with exclamation points, ready for you to shout along with next to the stage.

100. Panda Bear / "Come To Your Senses"  And closing out the list we return to Panda Bear, because turns the song makes are just right, perfect for cloud-jumping. Whatever that means.


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