Friday, December 25, 2015

New Good Song: "Too Bad For You," Miesa 12.25.15

Here's a new good song: "Too Bad For You" by Miesa. This woman had a new good song in early 2014 called "Nope (Can't Let Go)," which was the 79th best song of the year. Enjoy!

New Good Song: "Monster," Colours 12.25.15

Here's a new good song: "Monster" by Colours. Very Imagine Dragons-esque. Enjoy!

New Good Song: "Brisé (Pilule Bleue)," Maître Gims 12.25.15

Here's a new good song: "Brisé (Pilule Bleue)" by Maître Gims. It's in French, and comes to me courtesy of my musical muse, LuisMa. This was a big hit on LuisMa's list. Enjoy!

New Good Song: "Postcard," Jukebox the Ghost 12.25.15

Here's a new good song: "Postcard" by Jukebox the Ghost. This band released a new good song in 2014 called "The Great Unknown," which was the 61st best song of that year. Enjoy!

New Good Song: "Free Hifi Internet," Emmanuelle 12.25.15

Here's a new good song: "Free Hifi Internet" by Emmanuelle. Reminiscent of "Selfie" by The Chainsmokers. Enjoy!

New Good Song: "Landslides," Zara Kershaw 12.25.15

Here's a new good song: "Landslides" by Zara Kershaw. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2015

The 100 Best New Good Songs of 2015!

Here are my 100 favorite songs of 2015. Click here for a YouTube playlist of the Top 50, in order, and/or enjoy the embedded videos below of the Top 10. It was a good year! 

Countdown Video (the entire Top 50 in 15 minutes):


#1 -- "Body Talk" Foxes

To me, this is about as perfect as a pop song gets. So I was surprised and disappointed that it didn't (or hasn't yet) hit in the U.S., although it has reached No. 9 in Scotland and No. 25 in Foxes' native UK, as of this writing. Great production here, but the song also works as a stripped-down acoustic ballad. Foxes, whose real name is Louisa Allen, is best known in the U.S. as the featured vocalist on Zedd's song "Clarity," which was my 72nd favorite song of 2013. She is credited as a co-songwriter on "Body Talk," which gives me hope that there'll be more great pop music to come from her.

#2 -- "Elastic Heart" Sia

I first became aware of this song while in France at a pizzeria. The video, which is intriguing and somewhat controversial, came on the TV and I knew right away it was by Sia because I recognized the dancer from the "Chandelier" video, and the distinct wig. I'm not the biggest fan of Sia's voice, but her songwriting talent is obvious, and her lyrics and delivery are raw, authentic and often very moving. Her song "Titanium," credited to David Guetta with Sia as a featured vocalist, was my 16th favorite song of 2012. I was not as enamored with "Chandelier," although I have enjoyed some people's acoustic covers of that song and wish she had written it for another vocalist, since the chorus is plainly out of her range. But I thought "Elastic Heart" was a home run. And incidentally, Sia is one of three Australian acts to land in my Top 10 this year.

#3 -- "Thumbalina" Coleman Hell

I consider Coleman Hell to be my best find of the year. I contribute to the indie music site BitCandy and am proud to be credited for "discovering" him. I also was pleased to see his song "2 Heads" gain some traction and appear on a few charts during the year. He's the only artist with two tracks in my Top 50 this year: "Thumbalina" at No. 3, and "Take Me Up" at No. 40. In this environment of so many options, that's no small feat. "Thumbalina" was the first song I heard from Coleman, and it remains my favorite. The song captures joy and appreciation without being the least bit syrupy or trite. The metaphor works well, and overall it's really a genius achievement in songwriting and, especially, arrangement. I also happen to think he's among the best vocalists to arise in recent memory. 

#4 -- "Electric Indigo" The Paper Kites

I don't know quite what "electric indigo" is supposed to mean. In the context of this song, lead singer Sam Bentley earnestly croons, "When you're dancing slow, I see your fire go, electric indigo." A nice linguistic choice, but over my head. Regardless, this is an absolutely beautiful, smooth mid-tempo pop-rock song, with a clever video to go along with it. The Paper Kites are an Australian band -- I seem to have a penchant for music from that region, for whatever reason -- and in a different era (i.e., the 1990s) I suspect they'd be huge. For now, I'm fine keeping them to myself and sharing this with you.

#5 -- "Freak" Olivver the Kid

"Freak" is without a doubt the song in 2015 that grew on me the most, and I still have not grown the least bit tired of it even though I first featured it on this blog back in November 2014. This song is not only brilliantly written, produced and sung, but there's an ambiguity about its meaning that I find intriguing. On the surface, this is a simple straightforward song about a long-lost love, sung by a man who misses someone he was with when he was younger ("Looking back I remember we were kids alone.") They seem to have consummated the relationship ("Wine-stained sheets and full of color, kids in love.") But then in the chorus he sings, "I remember the time I drove around with you; I remember the time I know you felt it too." This is an odd choice of something to recall if you were in a serious relationship; to me it suggests the "relationship" may have actually been one-sided or maybe entirely in the singer's head. 

Adding a layer of complexity is the title, "Freak." Why would a love song be called this? In both the intro and outro, we hear a woman say, on what sounds like an answering machine (confirmed in the video), "You fucking freak." This is a sort of alarming way to open a love song, and it shifts the meaning thereafter, leaving us either sorry for this poor fellow who is pining after someone who wants nothing to do with him, or sympathetic to the woman who's had to deal with a delusional and potentially obsessive stalker. On top of all that, the video features men roaming around a suburban neighborhood in creepy masks. 

So draw your own conclusion. I really appreciate these types of details; they're what elevate a good song to greatness, and this is a great song. And, piece of trivia: This is actually not Olivver's first appearance on my year-end list, as he was the drummer in the band The Neighbourhood, whose song "Sweater Weather" was my 23rd favorite song of 2013. Olivver's real name is Bryan Sammis.

#6 -- "Arrow" Levv

I happen to be an amateur songwriter, and "Arrow" resonated with me immediately because the piano intro sounds like it could have been stolen from something I wrote. I shoot for pretty, simple and emotionally effective, and I'm not sure I achieve any of that, but Levv certainly does in "Arrow." The harmonies during the chorus are especially heavenly. How a song this brilliant can garner only 2,697 views on YouTube (as of this writing) is bewildering. 

#7 -- "Sorry" Justin Bieber 

Never thought I'd see the day this guy would do something so great, but here you have it. This track is a pop masterpiece as-is, but it's also beautiful in any number of YouTube covers -- whether accompanied by piano, acoustic guitar, a Capella voices or full-on production. It's earnest without being corny, flirtatious without being distasteful, and the music is just too catchy to deny. Great job, Justin. 

#8 -- "I Bet" Ciara

Ciara has all the ingredients to be an superstar -- looks, talent, etc. -- but the A List always seems just out of reach for her. She hasn't had a No. 1 hit since her debut, 2004's "Goodies," and since then she's put out material that's been mostly mediocre and met with lukewarm reception. "I Bet" is, in my opinion, her finest track to date, and in a different era (i.e., the 2000s), there's no doubt in my mind that it would've been a big hit. It's reminiscent, in fact, of Usher's "Burn," which hit No. 1 in 2004 just a few months before "Goodies." "I Bet" hits just the right spot for me between up-tempo and down-tempo, with a delivery that suggests frustration without being off-putting or, worse, eye-rolling. The whole thing works remarkably well, and I hope her perseverance pays off with a bigger hit next time around.

#9 -- "Blank Space" Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift's fame gives songs like "Blank Space" (and all the releases from "1989") a different meaning than these songs might have in the hands of someone unknown. Because she writes her material and has a public life, it's possible (and unavoidable) to hear these songs as being singularly and specifically about her. I happen to generally find that limiting. It's like when a very well-known actor stars in a movie, and no matter what, you can't get fully immersed in the character because all you see is the celebrity. That said, I thought "Blank Space" was a total win, nearly entirely attributable to the melody. I think someone could have sung this song a cappella with no words (just "la's" and "da's") and it would've been a hit. She's had no shortage of good tracks, but this is the best so far.

#10 -- "Downtown" Macklemore & Ryan Lewis f/ Eric Nally, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, and Grandmaster Caz

Maybe I'm a sucker, because "Downtown" is transparently contrived and over-designed, with one too many hooks. But I still love it. It's certainly a sequel to "Thrift Shop," which I'm proud to say I discovered earlier than most. (I featured it on this blog in September 2012, and it was No. 64 on my year-end list; it went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 2013 and was the No. 1 song of that year.) I'm really grateful that music like this is still being made in an era when 95% of hip-hop is unbearable trash that I can't believe anyone would voluntarily purchase. (Behold the top hip-hop songs of 2015 here.) "Downtown" is just catchy, clever and fun, and it brought a lot of joy to my 2015 playlist.

Here's the rest of my 100 favorite songs of 2015:

#11 -- "Love Like Mine" Miami Horror f/ Cleopold
#12 -- "Honestly I Lie" Struan Shields
#13 -- "Someone Else" Lany
#14 -- "On The Brightside" Never Shout Never
#15 -- "Delirious" Susanne Sundfør
#16 -- "Suicide" Midnight To Monaco
#17 -- "Do What You Like" Taio Cruz
#18 -- "Running In Circles" Pop Etc
#19 -- "Rumble In The Park" Catey Shaw
#20 -- "One More Life" Shy For Shore
#21 -- "Saint Claude" Christine and the Queens
#22 -- "Aflame" Jessica Rotter
#23 -- "Yellow Boxes" Tyler Ward
#24 -- "Uptown Funk" Mark Ronson f/ Bruno Mars
#25 -- "Young Heart" Freja
#26 -- "Velvet" Fickle Friends
#27 -- "Hello" Adele
#28 -- "Good Girl" Aquilo
#29 -- "Jet Black Heart" 5 Seconds of Summer
#30 -- "Trip Switch" Nothing But Thieves
#31 -- "Forget You In LA" Poema
#32 -- "Was Something Else There?" Lonely Benson
#33 -- "U Got" Sivik
#34 -- "Love Me Harder" Ariana Grande & The Weeknd
#35 -- "All Falls Down" Totem
#36 -- "Cheerleader" Omi
#37 -- "I Want You To Know" Alyson Stoner & Max
#38 -- "Infinity" Mariah Carey
#39 -- "Back Together" Robin Thicke f/ Nicki Minaj
#40 -- "Take Me Up" Coleman Hell
#41 -- "Down The Middle" Elizabeth Luthringer
#42 -- "Get Right Back To My Baby" Vivian Green
#43 -- "Cannibal" Jill Andrews
#44 -- "Shut Up And Dance" Walk The Moon
#45 -- "Surrender" Gavin Turek & Tokimonsta
#46 -- "One Love" Marianas Trench
#47 -- "Talking Body" Tove Lo
#48 -- "A Color You Can't Ignore" Karly Lynn Willis
#49 -- "For You" Rae Morris
#50 -- "No Sleeep" Janet Jackson
#51 -- "We Are Impossible" Dillon Francis f/ The Presets
#52 -- "Dirty Work" Austin Mahone
#53 -- "Start Something" Lostboycrow
#54 -- "How We Are" Lia Ices
#55 -- "Alcohol" Shannon LaBrie
#56 -- "Start Over Again" Alana Yorke
#57 -- "Levels" Nick Jonas
#58 -- "Control" Kevin Garrett
#59 -- "White Light" Shura
#60 -- "Pray For Rain" Pure Bathing Culture
#61 -- "Steps" Handsome Ghost
#62 -- "Stuck On A Feeling" Prince Royce f/ Snoop Dogg
#63 -- "Dead Inside" Muse
#64 -- "Miradors" Solomon Grey
#65 -- "Still" The Japanese House
#66 -- "Living For Love" Madonna
#67 -- "Black Sun" Death Cab for Cutie
#68 -- "You Know You Like It" DJ Snake & AlunaGeorge
#69 -- "Doing Time" Searls
#70 -- "In Love By Now" Jamie Foxx
#71 -- "Lilac Sky" Julia Vero
#72 -- "Reflections" MisterWives
#73 -- "Montana" James Taylor
#74 -- "Leave A Trace" Chvrches
#75 -- "Take Heart" The Sam Willows
#76 -- "The Shade" Metric
#77 -- "Take The Long Way" Pat McGee
#78 -- "Focus" Ariana Grande
#79 -- "Never Gets Old" Penguin Prison
#80 -- "Karaoke" Smallpools
#81 -- "Don't Look Down" Martin Garrix f/ Usher
#82 -- "High" The Runaway Club
#83 -- "All That" Carly Rae Jepsen
#84 -- "Froot" Marina and The Diamonds
#85 -- "Nothing But A Heartbeat" Say Lou Lou
#86 -- "What Do You Mean?" Justin Bieber
#87 -- "Could Be Wrong" Fickle Friends
#88 -- "Hands All Over Me" Tamaryn
#89 -- "Style" Taylor Swift
#90 -- "Still In Love" Jahkoy
#91 -- "Wildest Dreams" Taylor Swift
#92 -- "2 Heads" Coleman Hell
#93 -- "Love Me Back" Kenny Lattimore
#94 -- "Shadlowlands" Laila Biali & The Radiance Project
#95 -- "Dreaming" Taylor Dayne
#96 -- "Just Like You" Gill Landry
#97 -- "Falling Faster" Andrew Ripp
#98 -- "WTF (Where They From)" Missy Elliott f/ Pharrell Williams
#99 -- "Take It All" Ruelle
#100 -- "Remember Me" Eivør

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

New Good Song: "Should've Gone Home," Måns Zelmerlöw 12.1.15

Here's a new good song: "Should've Gone Home" by Måns Zelmerlöw. It's not available for purchase (yet?) on iTunes in the United States, but you can enjoy the video here. I discovered this via my pal Luis Ma, whose YouTube channel I highly recommend. It's here. He's always discovering great international pop music like this. Enjoy!

New Good Song: "Never Enough," Allie X 12.1.15

Here's a new good song: "Never Enough" by Allie X. Great '80s stuff. Enjoy!

New Good Song: "Stay A Little Longer," Brothers Osborne 12.1.15

Here's a new good song: "Stay A Little Longer" by Brothers Osborne. It's a solid country-pop song about giving into lust, and the video is very attractive and commendable for its portrayal of elderly, interracial and same-sex couples. The instrumental outro spins its wheels and is too long, but the first three minutes make up for the final minute. Enjoy!