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Sunday, 29 November 2015

15 SONGS THAT DEFINED THE YEAR FOR EYEWEAR IN 2015

SHE LISTENS TO SPOTIFY A LOT
It's so typical of me to talk about myself.. Adele's great song 'Hello' sums up the Selfie age, perfectly, and also Eyewear's BLOG, which has always been of the digital age - self-important, fluid, ephemeral, fashion-aware, ubiquitous, curious, seeking, innovating, changeable, and deeply trivial.
 
Tis the season, again, of lists and we love them here but know them to be of course profoundly personal - and so what? Here are the fifteen tracks we played most this year at Eyewear HQ, and loved the most - though a few nearly got through, including songs by Madonna and Lana del Rey.... indeed, you know the year is rich beyond belief when we cannot even fit in critical darlings Julia Holter, Diiv, David Bowie, Ezra Furman, Everything Everything, Petite Meller, Peaches, Sleaford Mods, Grimes, Mark Ronson, Sia, Beck, Bob Dylan, Taylor Swift, or Deerhunter, to name just a few.
 
15 for 2015, get it?  Silly but it helps us to cut down the writing. And, if you made this as a list at Spotify, it would run for exactly 60 minutes!
 
So, here, in alphabetical order by title, are the 15 best popular songs of 2015 according to Eyewear's blog....
 
1. 'All of Me Wants All of You' - Sufjan Stevens
This is not only alphabetically the first songs, but coincidentally simply the finest song of the year. Chanelling Elliot Smith and Paul Simon, Stevens, himself a lyric genius, has composed a song that is as poetically confessional as Robert Lowell, but as contemporary as the masturbation while his friend checks her phone - melancholy, tender, fragile and a work of art.
 
2. 'Are You Ready?' - Mercury Rev
An indie band of somewhat mysterious purpose, enigmatic and rarely noticed, Mercury Rev are capable of creating an uncanny sound that skirts the edge of the experimental.  Here they combine their love of strings, echoes, and dreamy vocals, with a pop song about loving "psychedelic rock and blue-eyed soul" that is both sad and exhiliarting.  It may be about getting ready to dance or hit the town, or die, or have a kiss or a hit of something potent.  It is a very lovely moment.
 
3. 'Bills' - Lunchmoney Lewis
Few songs sound like instant classics. This is one of them - it arrives with its own zany post-Crisis/Crash exuberance and intent. If songs are meant to lift the soul and also tell a truth, few songs of this decade have been as tellingly accurate about Austerity and its personal demands.
 
4. 'Body Talk' - Foxes
Electro-pop was everywhere this year, and huge hit-making song-writing teams combined on many gigantic albums. Foxes released a clutch of singles, but this is the one that most strikes a chord. As catchy as anything Madonna or Lady Gaga or Robyn, or Taylor Swift have ever managed to produce, the themes of love, heart ache and desire, were as direct as the finest 80s hits - so it ended up speaking for itself.
 
5. 'California Nights' - Best Coast
Best Coast are a duo with few critical friends. This new track arrived without champions and the album was ignored at year's end by many list-makers.  However, in their attempt to take a Smiths riff and generate their own anthemic dream pop legacy, they have written a masterpiece of guitar indie swoon and jangle. I get high still every time I listen to it.
 
6. 'Can't Feel My Face' - The Weeknd
Canadians like Justin Bieber, Grimes, Carly Rae Jepsen and Drake dominated the charts this year. No Canadian song-writer managed better to create a classic, however - this song could be a missing Michael Jackson #1, and made the idea of loss of face oddly meaningful. A master class.
 
7. 'Cranekiss' - Tamaryn
A number of indie groups sought to revive the best dream pop traditions this year, but only one wrote the finest dream pop song since 'Fade Into You' - perhaps my favourite group now working (aside from The Jezabels). Exquisite, romantic, sad, and proto-gothic, it sets a thousand bedrooms darkly ablaze with passion and sensibility.
 
8. 'Decided Knowledge' - Dutch Uncles
Sounding like an oddly quirky revision of Tears For Fears, by way of OMD, this came in under the radar, as a deeply insightful and critical discussion of a life beset by the Toad work, and CV-obsession. Few songs discuss work, harmony, opinion, and money without letting on what is at stake, but no song I have ever heard could better soundtrack the ending of a film about an accountant, MP, or civil servant turning whistle-blower.
 
9. 'Hello' - Adele
No song will say 2015 like this one. Arriving late in the year, at a point when Ronson or Swift were poised to be the artists of the moment, this blew the world away. Simply put, Adele sells like Elvis, the Beatles, Wacko Jacko - she is as popular as any Brit has ever been Stateside, Churchill excepted, and is beloved because of her sincere small-town airs, and great pipes. You can run, but how long can you resist it? The video, brave and ludicrous at once, dared to be as big as the 80s, and won over a world. The anthem of the decade.
 
10. 'High Enough To Carry You Over' - Cvrches
This track reminds me of another funky 80s synth-pop band from Scotland, Endgames, but that was 35 years ago. Preposterously OTT, danceable, and twee, sung in a breaking male voice of angsty drive, as if Madonna's 'Borderline' had been sung by Joe her cousin, it is hard to let go of. I let it take me.
 
11. 'J1M1' - Atari Teenage Riot
If you want to hear the sound of angry hacktivism set to dance rock, turn to this German group as perturbed, left-wing, pacifist, and political as it is possible to be without becoming Jeremy Corbyn's campaign manager. An alternative indie anthem for the age of IS. "Don't let them break you" indeed.
 
12. 'New Americana' - Halsey
Remember Lorde? That was so, like, last year. High on legal marijuana, here comes the hippest singer-songwriter from the States since Lana became sort of well, old hat. Witty, satirical, and infectious to the max, this was the college radio classic of the year.
 
13. 'Sprinter' - Torres
Few songs are as haunting as a novella, or as serious, but Torres managed to tell a disturbed tale of running in school, a perverted pastor, and how glory, porn, theology and grace merge in a confused maesltrom of adolescence and identity-wonderment. Lyrically striking and fiercely intelligent, she has written a major song, with echoes of PJ Harvey's best work in the background.
 
14. 'That's Life, Tho (Almost Hate To Say)' - Kurt Vile
Americana is the gift that keeps on giving. Vile, a brilliant sometime collaborator with The War On Drugs, has written a few of the best songs of the 00s but this may be his most resonant, effective. Blunt as a clawhammer, and homely as a stoop that needs a lick of paint, he sits down and picks a few chords and a few words that manage to sum up the sorrows of the whole of existence. As poetic as the strangest Dylan works. "So sad, so true".

15. 'What Went Down' - The Foals
In many years, the Foals would have been said to have made the album of the year. As loud yet sensitive as Royal Blood fused with Fleet Foxes, or perhaps Nirvana and The War On Drugs, this was the loud-soft rock explosion of 2015 - a weird, driving, angry, leonine, Marlboro-burnt story of falling in love with a "girl with a port-wine stain" - it felt almost as if Lee Child's latest pulp novel had been set to throat-burning roaring lyrics, inflected with all the rage and sadness that only these violent, unsettled times can inflict upon sensitive artists and musicians. Grand, noble, tortured, majestic.














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