Flavorwire Staffers’ Favorite Songs of 2015

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As time goes on, with more and more music flooding the Internet every year, it becomes increasingly difficult to decide on the year’s best tunes. Our music editor Matthew Ruiz already chose the year’s best albums, but we don’t dare to unilaterally rank 2015’s best songs. So each of us here at Flavorwire has chosen our own, and it’s clear that this is the best way to claim our favorite songs, because this is a helluva sonically diverse list.

Sleater-Kinney — “No Anthems”

Every year, there’s a song that captures exactly what it felt like to live through those specific 12 months. In 2014, it was St. Vincent’s “Digital Witness.” Sleater-Kinney’s “No Anthems” is that song for 2015, which is no surprise considering that this band has always been creepily adept at capturing how it feels to be a smart, reasonable person living through weird, complicated times. “I’m the locust telling you something’s amiss,” they insisted in January. “There are no anthems/ All I can hear is the echo and the ring.” And, well, look at the year we got. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

Drake — “Know Yourself”

This song was my favorite because Drake managed to invent some super-nonsense slang that sounds really corny, and then actually sell it. Besides, even though his “woes” are his homies, the fact that the word also means “sorrows” is just endlessly adaptable in this cold world. I have run through many locations with my woes this year, and I’m sure I’ll be doing the same for the rest of my blighted, puny existence in this strange universe. Which is totally what Drake was going for. — Sarah Seltzer, Editor-at-Large

Majical Cloudz, Dilly Dally, and Courtney Barnett

For anyone who listens to a lot of music, this is an absolutely thankless task. All I can do here is list which individual songs got the most repeat plays. For 2015, that’s three songs: Courtney Barnett’s “Depreston,” an ode to growing up via reluctant suburban relocation; Dilly Dally’s “Green,” a scuzzy grunge paean to watching a lover make breakfast in the kitchen, naked; and Majical Cloudz’s “Downtown,” an assured declaration of obsessive love.

We were seduced by the syrupy twang of Barnett’s Telecaster tones, but we fell in love with the clever wit, sharp detail, and endearing accent of her words. Dilly Dally’s Katie Monks has one of the all-time great growls, and uses every inch of real estate in her mouth to get the spectrum of expression on the band’s debut, Sore. But I mostly just love the “naked in my kitchen, makin’ me breakfast” line. Devon Welsh’s croon on his Majical Cloudz records is at once sad, soothing, and reassuring. It never feels forced; he only gives as much as each note requires. With such a beautiful instrument, it’s a masterclass in the value of restraint. His latest LP, Are You Alone? was one of our top 20 records of 2015, and “Downtown” is its best track. — Matthew Ismael Ruiz, Music Editor

Lana Del Rey — “High by the Beach”

I’ve given up trying to analyze Lana Del Rey’s endlessly thinkpiece-able persona or trying to fight her inexorable appeal. This is the year/album cycle, Del Rey’s third, I finally came around to simply embracing her as the icon our generation deserves. Millennial anthem “High by the Beach” played no small part in that: part DGAF lullaby, part what I want to do every time the LDR blog wars fire up once again, it’s not so much my favorite song of 2015 as the one I couldn’t deny. — Alison Herman, TV Editor

All of Analog Africa’s Amara Touré Anthology

The label Analog Africa released an incredible Amara Touré anthology this year, compiling recordings from 1973 to 1980. The Guinean Afro-Cuban pioneer’s 30-year career has been long overlooked — and it doesn’t help that the singer seems to have fallen under the radar in recent years. Touré’s lovesick, raw, and powerful vocals, paired with intricate yet pure percussive textures and other arrangements, resonate deeply. It’s a cultural melding that’s endlessly listenable and impossible to narrow down to a single favorite track. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

Vince Staples — “Lift Me Up” & Joey Bada$$ — “Paper Trail$”

I’ve had a hard time listening to music this year, but I’d probably say “Lift Me Up” by Vince Staples or “Paper Trail$” by Joey Bada$$. Apparently I only like rap now, and it has to be made by someone younger than 25. — Jonathon Sturgeon, Literary Editor

Kendrick Lamar — “King Kunta”

You could certainly argue for other To Pimp a Butterfly tracks here — “Alright” has assumed its own cultural importance, “u” is more harrowingly ambitious, “The Blacker the Berry” more unflinchingly brutal in its depiction of race relations. But if there’s one song from To Pimp a Butterfly that I sing (badly) in the shower, it’s this one. Twenty million walking out the court building, woo woo! — Tom Hawking, Deputy Editor

Grimes — “Kill V. Maim”

This was a tough call, but also an easy one: Grimes’ Art Angels is so outstanding, and this particular track so vital, that it was the obvious choice. But was it too obvious? Who cares. “Kill V. Maim” has given me life in so many moments in the brief time it’s been loaded to my phone, thanks to its “b-e-h-a-v-e aggressive!” cheerleader chant and its balls-to-the-wall production. There’s too much to be said about a song so brief, but the most important is this: on an album filled with the year’s best songs, this is far and away the standout. — Shane Barnes, Associate Editor

Hudson Mohawke feat. ANOHNI — “Indian Steps”

Coupled with its exquisite music video, “Indian Steps” — off Hudson Mohawke’s Lantern — is a wrenching song from the point of view of someone contemplating their love succumbing to time (the video sees an elderly couple clinging to each other as they’re slowly cocooned or entombed in gold thread). This is a subject that is inescapably affecting when put to song (which is why it’s done quite commonly), but when ANOHNI sings about it, it’s guaranteed to do some pretty immediate devastating. With her robust voice careening atop tinny, manipulated vocal samples and a harsh mechanical beat, the song is a beautiful but realistic depiction of the difficulties of sustaining love across the precariousness of life. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor