Top 10 Sports Moments of 2015
2015 was a damn good- and at points bizarre- year for sports. From the awesome to the crazy, I'm counting down the top 10 moments in sports from 2015. The moments can be really great; from a team winning a championship or a single person reaching a career or lifetime achievement; really shocking- such as a scandal or other event that shook the sports world; or just downright stupid and funny- such as... well, you'll find out. Let's begin, yes?
First, a few honorable mentions:
September 12- David Ortiz hits career home run #500
David Ortiz has, far and away, become the greatest clutch hitter in the history of that franchise. From the two clutch hits in the 2004 ALCS to lift the Sox over the Yankees, to the grand slam in game 2 of the 2013 ALCS that turned momentum for the Red Sox against the Tigers, to his World Series MVP that same year, Big Papi has done it all since coming to Boston in 2003. Ortiz's final quest, it seems, was reaching the career plateau of 500 home runs, a feat he accomplished on a two-home run night. Ortiz tagged Rays pitcher Matt Moore twice, hitting #499 in the first inning to deep right, and then again in the fifth inning to nearly the same spot. At the end of the 2015 campaign, Ortiz said he would hang it up after the 2016 season. With so many accolades to his credit, David Ortiz will long live in New England baseball lore.
January 1- Jameis Winston fumbles away the Rose Bowl
All it took was one backwards pass, and the rest was history. The undefeated Florida State Seminoles, the defending National Champions, faced off against the 12-1, 3rd-seeded Oregon Ducks in the first ever College Football Playoff Semifinal. Oregon looked to be in control for most of the game, as many experts thought they would be. However, in the third quarter, with Florida State just past midfield, Noles QB Jameis Winston, winner of the Heisman Trophy the year before, dropped back to pass and was instantly surrounded by Oregon defenders. Winston panicked, scrambled backwards, and tried to wind up and throw the ball away, only to have the ball slip out of his hands, which was scooped up by the Ducks and returned for a touchdown. This was the last exorcism of Winston's rollercoaster career before entrance in to the NFL draft, although both Winston and Ducks QB Marcus Mariota (who went 2nd overall, just after Winston) would meet in the first game of the NFL season later that year. Oh, and the score? Oregon throttled Florida State, 59-20.
November 29- Kobe Bryant announces his retirement
While it did not come as a shock to some, most couldn't fathom the reality that they were about to face: an NBA without Kobe Bryant. Kobe had been struggling for a majority of the 2015-16 season, posting what seemed like career-low numbers left and right. Everything came to a head on November 29, when the Lakers superstar announced that this season would be his last. Unlike a traditional press conference, Bryant announced his retirement online, with a heartfelt poem submitted to the Players' Tribune. The poem, entitled "Dear Basketball," details Kobe's deep love for the game of basketball, but reveals the sad but inevitable truth that all good things must come to an end. "I fell in love with you," writes Bryant about the game he so loved, but acknowledged: "I'm ready to let you go./ I want you to know now/So we can savor every moment we have left together." This man was a legend. A 17-time all-star, an NBA MVP, and a five-time NBA champion. He will be missed.
October 15- Jose Bautista crushes home run, does bat flip to end all bat flips
The scene was the Rodgers Centre in Toronto, for the decisive game 5 of the American League Division Series, which pitted the Texas Rangers, eager to make good on their last two failed attempts at a World Series title, and the Toronto Blue Jays, who hadn't made the playoffs since 1993. With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the 7th, and runners at first and third, Jose Bautista stepped into the box and delivered one of the most dramatic home runs ever in franchise history, crushing one into the upper deck of the Rodgers Centre. The place exploded- as was to be expected when your team goes up by three runs in an elimination game. However, while the home run was exciting, it was Bautista's bat flip after the fact that made headlines. Bautista confidently threw the bat up into the air after hitting the cover off the ball in what he was sure was a home run. Just the pure energy and electricity put into the event made this moment really fun, and pretty damn cool to watch. A really nice moment for the Blue Jays and the city of Toronto.
The Top 10:
10: October 18- Colts execute worst play in the history of football
This was the first time the two teams had met since the AFC Championship the year before, a game which sparked the whole Deflategate controversy. Naturally, everyone thought the Colts would be ready for the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, and the Colts even led the game at halftime, 14-13. New England would jump out to a 27-21 lead in the 3rd quarter, however, and the Colts knew they were in trouble. Then this (see the shit storm above) happened. On a 4th and 2, the Colts decided to punt, then tried to go into some weird formation, leaving only Griff Whalen on the line of scrimmage to snap the ball to Colt Anderson. I think the Colts were trying to get the Patriots to either jump offsides or call a time out... I think? Instead, Whalen snapped the ball, and was wrapped up for a loss, and the Colts got flagged for an illegal formation penalty. The Patriots proved in this game that some they don't even have to beat some teams, because those teams like the Colts have already psyched themselves into losing. I watch the replay and I just... I just... (face palm).
9. May 27- FIFA, Sepp Blatter involved in bribery scandal
Was anyone else wondering why the World Cup was given to a nation like Qatar? John Oliver's right, there is no earthly reason why the World Cup should ever be held in Qatar. Well, it would appear that something fishy was up. On May 27, seven FIFA officials were arrested at a Swiss hotel, on an investigation by the FBI and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, and fourteen were later indicted on charges of wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering. The FIFA execs were preparing to attend a FIFA Congress, where their current President, Sepp Blatter, was expected to be reelected for a fifth consecutive term. Various findings included a $10 million bribe paid to FIFA to select South Africa as the host country for the 2010 World Cup. Following more investigation, Blatter was hit with an eight year ban from all football-related activities and a $50,000 fine. Blatter has since "resigned" from office (although he says he's "put his office back in the hands of the FIFA congress"). As for subsequent World Cups, it was reported that FIFA officials accepted bribes of more than $1.5 million for Qatar to host the tournament in 2022. Sources say that if there is sufficient evidence of bribery, Qatar will be stripped of the bid, although no concrete official word has been given.
8. December 11- Golden State Warriors set new NBA mark by starting 24-0
What a year it has been for these Golden State Warriors. First they win an NBA Championship in June, knocking off Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then they start the season 24-0. On November 27, with a win over the LA Lakers, Golden State set a new NBA record with the best start to a season, winning their first 16 games. On December 11, the Warriors and MVP Stephen Curry, still undefeated at 23-0, traveled to Boston to face the Celtics, a team that has been on the rise, but seems to pull out all the stops for big time games. In a game that could have gone both ways at either time, the Celtics, eager to end the Warriors' undefeated streak, pushed the champs into double overtime before Golden State finally pulled away, 124-119. Boston had two chances to win, in fact, both at the end of regulation: Isaiah Thomas' shot was blocked by Shaun Livingston, and Kelly Olynyk's jumper at the buzzer was wide. However, the Warriors, even without Klay Thompson due to an ankle injury, and Steph Curry playing one of his worst games from the field this season (shooting 9 of 27 from the field, a 33% average, although he was 6 of 13 from downtown and 14 of 14 from the line), kept their streak alive. Coincidentally, Golden State would lose its very next game to Milwaukee. However, that's been the only blemish on their record this season, as they stand a tall 29-1.
7. January 11- Ohio State wins the first College Football Playoff Championship
Everybody loves brackets, am I right? When the NCAA announced that college football would be expanding its playoff system to include a four-team playoff, fans rejoiced. I mean, if Division II has been able to do it for years, why can't Division I? With the new system, it cuts out the annoying committee to decide a #1 and #2 seed. With the CFP, a deserving #4 ranked team could win a national title. Such was the case for the inaugural championship, as 4th-ranked Ohio State would upset #2 Oregon in the first CFP National Championship. The Buckeyes, coming off an upset of #1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl (a CFP semifinal), put up 42 points on the Pac-12 Champion Ducks, who throttled #3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl. The Ohio State win simply proved the system worked, and with the next playoff right around the corner, the fans are definitely in store for something special for years to come. Now if only the NCAA could get rid of those damn bowl games. I mean really, who gets excited for the Belk Bowl? Really?
6. April 29- Orioles and White Sox play game in empty Camden Yards
I'm not gonna lie. This one was weird. As a sports fan who is used to being surrounded by throngs of screaming spectators whenever I attend a game live, I can't even imagine what this must have been like for the players. The game on April 29th at Camden Yards was surreal in that way. Due to the protests going on in Baltimore as a result of the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray, the city was put on lockdown, the time of the contest was moved from 7:05pm to 2:05pm, and no fans were allowed inside the ballpark for the game between the Orioles and White Sox. As a result, with the exception of those gathered outside the fence to watch what they could, things were quiet. Announcers had to keep their voices down (see Orioles announcer Gary Thorne doing his best Masters analyst impression) as gloves popped and baseballs exploded off bats. The Orioles would win the game, 8-2, and go on to play a three-game series with the Rays in Tampa, but would play as the home team due to the state of emergency in Baltimore. The game was a little bit of a reality check, and it demonstrates that sports, while they can be a healing mechanism, can also fall victim to the horrifying events that have been so present in our world these past few years.
5. May 11 - September 3- Tom Brady and the Deflategate scandal
Hehe... Tom Brady said "balls." Being from New England, this entire story pissed me the hell off. After the Patriots 45-7 thrashing of the Colts during the AFC Championship Game on January 18, a report surfaced that 11 of the 12 balls used by the Patriots in the game had been under inflated, which caused an eruption of controversy, because, well... they're the Patriots. Then the Patriots won the Super Bowl, which, of course, lit a fire under the asses of all the haters. Then May 27th rolled around, and things got interesting. A 243-page report filed by Manhattan lawyer Ted Wells was submitted, with the main finding being: "It is 'more probable than not' that Tom Brady was 'at least generally aware' of the PSI level of footballs during the AFC Championship Game." As a result, the NFL came down hard on Brady and the Pats, suspending Brady for 4 games, handing the team a $1 million fine (twice the fine the Saints had for deliberately targeting players), and a loss of two first-round draft picks. Then came the backlash. Brady hired a crack team of attorneys and took the NFL to court during the month of August. Deflategate finally (finally) came to an end on September 3, a week before the NFL season began, when Judge Richard Berman threw out the suspension, due to a lack of due process on Tom Brady. Go into details with it if you want (I won't, because coverage of the whole thing was rammed down my throat for five months) to find out more. Just know that the NFL's got some problems with how it handles things like this.
4. May 2- The lead up and letdown of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao
It was the fight we had wanted for years, but never thought it would come to fruition. Billed as "The Fight of the Century," Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally faced off at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 2nd, after 7 long years of speculation and planning, with negotiations finally being successful in February. Revenue for the fight surpassed all expectations, as pay-per-view buys totaled 4.6 million, generating over $410 million. The two emerged aggressive, but the energy slowed down significantly, as Mayweather chose a tactical, more defensive approach, and Pacquiao, try as he might, failed to land punches on his opponent. Pac-Man also re-injured his shoulder in the 4th round, something he had agitated a month before the fight, but disclosed that it had healed. Overall, while fans got their money's worth, with both fighters slugging out a very close match over the course of twelve full rounds, many fans thought the fight was a let down due to the conservative approach of both fighters. There was a lot more hugging than boxing fans were used to, I suppose. Additionally, many thought the fight should have gone Pacquiao's way, even though Mayweather was awarded the victory by a very close unanimous decision among the judges. "Better Never Than Late," or a true "Fight of the Century?" You decide.
3. November 15- Holly Holm knocks out Ronda Rousey at UFC 193
It is only very recently that mixed martial arts has found its way into the spotlight. With the dawn of UFC and fighters like Anderson Silva, Randy Couture, and today's stars like Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo, the momentum for Dana White's creation has grown immensely. One such fighter is Ronda Rousey, who has become one of the most dominant (and I mean dominant) fighters in the sport, male or female. Rousey, the former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, began her career undefeated, winning her first twelve fights, eleven of them coming in the first round (eight of them coming within the first minute via knockout). November 15th at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, saw Rousey's reign of dominance come to an end at the hands (or feet, as the knockout shows) of Holly Holm. Rousey was heavily favored to win the fight, but was battered and bloodied by the end of the first round. Holm took advantage in the second round, knocking the champion out with a vicious kick to the side of the head. This right here, friends, is the greatest upset of the 2015 sports year.
2. July 5- U.S. Women decimate Japan to win World Cup, avenge loss from 2011
Losing sucks. It's no secret, especially when you're a sports fan of a team from America. We don't like to lose. 2011, for that reason, was a heartbreak year for the U.S. Women National Soccer Team, who played Japan in the FIFA Women's World Cup Final to a 2-2 draw at the end of additional extra time, only to be beaten on penalty kicks. The Americans had a score to settle with the Japanese, and they got their chance at BC Place in Vancouver the day after the 4th of July. In short, Japan had a chance to win this game... right before the opening whistle. The game was over in less than 16 minutes, as the Americans scored four times, three of them coming from Carli Lloyd, the fastest hat trick in World Cup history. It was a sweet, sweet victory for the U.S, who didn't take kindly to coming so far only to miss the gold by that much four years ago. If you're like me, and weren't really all that excited about the game (and ended up missing the first four goals due to apathy and crappy internet), support your country more. It doesn't look like the men have a chance at winning the World Cup any time soon, but the women's team is damn good. America, fuck yeah.
1. June 16- American Pharaoh becomes first horse in 37 years to win the Triple Crown
Being a horse racing fan who wasn't alive before 1978 was hard. And, as I'm one of them, watching horses try and fail to win the Triple Crown was hard (yes, fragile 10-year old me cried when Smarty Jones got upset by Birdstone in 2004). First it was Smarty Jones. Then it was Big Brown. Last year, it was California Chrome. This year, it was American Pharaoh. The three-year old was the favorite for the Kentucky Derby, which it won, the closest of all three races it ran in. Then, in the slop at Pimlico, American Pharaoh took home the win in the Preakness Stakes. And three weeks later, the frustration for so many horses was over, and the trifecta was finally complete- a wire-to-wire victory by 5 and 1/2 lengths in the Belmont Stakes. After so many years of disappointments from other horses, American Pharaoh, who would also go on to be the first horse to win the Thoroughbred Horse Racing "Grand Slam" by winning the 2015 Breeders' Cup, finally evaporated the Triple Crown drought. Winning the Belmont was also a pretty cool moment for jockey Victor Espinoza, who also rode California Chrome to wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before losing in the Belmont one year earlier. A historic moment for sports in 2015 indeed.
More Best of 2015 lists to come soon!
Top 10 Most Annoying Songs of 2015
These ear worm tracks get stuck in your head until they kill you from the inside. 2015 was a great year for music, but it also had its fair share of songs that you wish the radio would just stop playing. Today I'm counting down the top 10 most annoying songs from this past year.
I'd like to point out that this list is (obviously) not the end all, be all, I'm just one guy, and I know that one man's most annoying list is another's top 10 favorites list. I'm not saying these songs are bad, they're just annoying. Once again, if I've omitted (or included) one of your favorites, I can only apologize. Without further ado, one with the list! Beginning, of course, with some honorable, or in this case, dishonorable mentions.
"Fun," Pitbull feat. Chris Brown
When I first heard about this song, it was Pitbull on a radio commercial telling people to "have F-U-N. Fun (Pitbull tongue roll)," and I said: "no, Pitbull. I will do no such thing." These two together, who are, no doubt super stars in the hip-hop world, don't make the track any better. The Men-at-Work-esque musical interlude seems real out of place for a Pitbull track. I can think of many other different ways to have fun that don't involve listening to this song.
"Focus," Ariana Grande
I really like Ariana, she's great. She can sing, for one thing. But this song is just "Problem" in a minor key. It's got the same set up: Retro-style opening, followed by empowering "individuality" lyrics from Grande, followed by a pre-chorus that builds up to Ariana belting a super high note, which leads into a chorus that includes the title of the song, spoken or whispered by someone who's not Ariana. The one saving grace of this song is the horn section in the middle. I'm not fooled by this one, Ariana.
"Bitch Better Have My Money," Rihanna
Go ahead, say it one more time. "Bitch better have my money." We get it. Rihanna's gotta get that money. I'll give you $20 to keep this song off the radio for a little while. I don't really see anything else to this song other than an excuse for Rihanna to pose as some kind of a hitman. The parrot-like melody to this track is obnoxious. The music video's fairly entertaining though.
"Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)," Silento
Full disclosure: I really like this song. Watching people whip and nae nae is the best thing ever. But this is another one of those songs similar to Soulja Boy Tell Em's "Crank That Soulja Boy." What's the purpose of cramming a bunch of dance moves into a three-and-a-half minute song? This is a one-hit wonder if I ever saw one. There's even a reference to Soulja Boy in the damn song! I'm just thankful that he Silento doesn't include his name in all his song titles.
The Top 10:
10. "Dear Future Husband," Meghan Trainor
With the release of this song and another to be mentioned on this list, I understand what Meghan Trainor was trying to do with "All About That Bass," which she did succeed at, to some extent. From a song that was about empowerment and body positivity to this song, I'm just not buying it. Literally every song this girl puts out is an Amy Winehouse ripoff. Convince your producers to let you try something new, Meghan.
9. "Love Me Like You Do," Ellie Goulding
For some reason, this song skeezes me out a lot. Maybe it's because I know it's from Fifty Shades of Gray and the message of the song could be what the main character in the film is thinking, which just makes me uneasy. On top of that, "Love Me Like You Do," I found to be super overplayed this year. The contents of the film for which it was written and the feeling of the song don't mix well for me. While it did reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, I could only take people obsessing over it for so long.
8. "I Really Like You," Carly Rae Jepsen
Sigh. How Carly Rae Jepsen ever got Tom Hanks to participate in the making of this music video, I will never understand. Also, I was okay with "Call Me Maybe." It was fun, and it was silly, and that was okay. This one, where she says "really" about six times in the course of one line of the chorus it a bit much. There's nothing about this song that's fun, it just kinda screams to me "I remember hearing that Carly went broke so this song was definitely put out there to make her a little bit of money."
7. "Lean On," Major Lazer & DJ Snake feat. MØ
I don't really know how it started, these middle-eastern/Indian-inspired horn riffs in place of hooks of songs. But this one is just plain dumb. These are the same two guys who put together "Bubble Butt" and "Turn Down For What" (even though Lil Jon made that one what it was). The lyrically-void section in the center of the song, punctuated by "somebody to Lean On," will burrow its way into your skill and make you want to shoot the radio every time this song comes on.
6. "Lips are Moving," Meghan Trainor
Nope. Nope, nope, nope. Again, this song doesn't really have a point, and as a result, does nothing for me. Hearing this song reminds me how much I despised "All About That Bass." Once again, it's another Amy Winehouse ripoff song. Now, while not every song needs to rip out your guts and expose your soul, I'm not the biggest fan of this tune making its way through my car's speakers. Also, I'm really wishing that Trainor will find away to break away from the "rap-speak-sing-monotone" thing she has going on in most of her songs. I'm sure she's got a lot of talent, but I don't feel like she's using it in quite the right places.
5. "Where Are Ü Now," Skrillex & Diplo feat. Justin Bieber
Another two-DJ collaboration, another hook featuring no vocals and an annoying signature musical melody, another annoying song. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm actually pretty impressed with the Biebs' new stuff (see: "Sorry," "What Do You Mean," and "Love Yourself), but this one is just lazy. I didn't even know that Skrillex and Diplo were still relevant, to be quite honest. But what really grinds my gears about this song is its hook. I'm not really even sure what to make of it, but it's just freakin' annoying. This one deserves a radio station change.
4. "Somebody," Natalie La Rose feat. Jeremih
Nobody samples Whitney Houston and gets away with it. Also, I just really hated Jeremih's song "Don't Tell 'Em" from last year. But of course, like the Pitbulls and Soulja Boys before him, Jeremih insists on dragging the song that made him relevant along with him into this Natalie La Rose ear worm. Why am I even kidding myself. Jeremih is literally the only problem I have with this entire song. Having him here just really irks me. And it irks me so much that he singlehandedly put this song at #4.
3. "Marvin Gaye," Charlie Puth feat. Meghan Trainor
This song infuriates me more than the previous one did. Oh, Charlie. You did so well with Wiz Khalifa, but you had to go ahead and collaborate with Meghan Trainor for this piece of garbage (can you tell how much I dislike Meghan Trainor yet?). This song is just so lazily written. It's too easy to take one of the most famous songs ever written by one of the most legendary artists ever written and try to put your own teen-pop spin on it to make it popular again. "Let's Marvin Gaye and get it on?" Please. If I told you to "Van Halen and jump" off a bridge, would you do it? Also, "To Marvin Gaye" isn't even a verb. It's really just a tad disrespectful to use the Marvin's song in this way, and for your efforts (or lack thereof), it's earned you the 3rd spot on this list.
2. "Fight Song," Rachel Platten
If I have to hear the phrase "Like a small boat on the ocean/setting big waves into motion" one more time, I'm gonna rip my eyes out. I'm curious to know what this song is written about and why it was written. What exactly is Rachel Platten fighting about? And why does she feel the need to use so many songwriting and wordplay cliches to reach the top of her personal mountain? Everything about this song annoys me. I'm sure Rachel Platten is a nice girl, but she could do much better. Silver medal of shame. Next.
1. "Worth It," Fifth Harmony feat. Kid Ink
I read a Youtube comment on this video that compared Fifth Harmony to the Spice Girls. The only comparison I can draw between the two groups is that they're made up of five women. That's about it. The Spice Girls revolutionized the pop industry. Without them, Fifth Harmony probably wouldn't exist (except for Simon Cowell probably. If he made One Direction, I'm sure he would have made Fifth Harmony). Did the girls call up Jason Derulo and ask him who his saxophone player was for "Talk Dirty?" Because that's what that riff in the hook sounds like. I don't know who came up with the idea of using Middle Eastern/Indian-inspired horn riffs like that, but this one will worm its way into your brain and literally devour it until you're dead. There is nothing interesting about this song, there is nothing special about this song. Go ahead, play it one more time. I dare you.
Which songs from 2015 drove you nuts? Leave a comment if you so desire. Here's to 2016 and a bunch more countdowns to come!!
Top 25 Pop Songs of 2015
From singles that revolutionized the phrase "party song" to huge albums pushing artists in new directions, 2015 was another huge year for music. To christen this site with its first countdown list, I'm counting down the top 25 pop songs of 2015. This list is something of my own opinion (obviously), which takes into consideration the amount of Top 40 radio airtime the song received, the song's position and length of time on various music charts, and, honestly (because all criticism is subjective like that), whether or not I enjoyed listening to the song.
I originally had something like 30 or 35 songs for the list, so in order to include as many as I could, I threw in a few honorable mentions just, because.
"Fourfiveseconds," Rihanna feat. Kanye West & Paul McCartney
An interesting combination of ingredients makes for a delicious musical soup. I'm not usually one for Rihanna, but the blend of voices between hers, Kanye's and Paul McCartney's is something extraordinary, given the strange combination of musicians.
"Bad Girls," MKTO
From the makers of the infectious "Classic," MKTO came out with this slightly less catchy song earlier this year. It's sexy, it's got that vintage R&B sound (Those horns, though...), and it's just plain fun.
"Renegades," X Ambassadors
I keep hearing this song in Jeep commercials, and it's grown on me, especially in the last few months as I was putting the finishing touches on this list. "Renegades" just makes you want to go out on a rainy day and explore. The lyrics speak about empowerment despite adversity, which, despite its grayer musical layout, gives the tune a really cool depth when the two are paired together.
"Want To Want Me," Jason Derulo
This song off Derulo's newest album, Everything Is 4 just screams "fun." The song reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and hit the top of the UK charts, where it remained there for four consecutive weeks. I'm one of those people who associates songs with certain colors, and I see "Want To Want Me," as a bright, sky blue. It's one of those "roll down the windows on the highway and sing" songs.
"Style," Taylor Swift
2015 was a huge year for Taylor Swift, as her 1989 album sold over 1 million copies during its first week of release, and has sold 5.5 million copies in 2015 alone. There's a few more T-Swift songs coming up later in the countdown, but "Style," brings an 80s pop sound to the table, with an enticing hook, and lyrics more mature than we've seen with Swift's earlier tracks.
"Sugar," Maroon 5
With Adam Levine being everywhere it seems nowadays, I wonder why the band hasn't put his name above its title yet. "Sugar," from the band's V album provides less grit than songs like "Animal," but the Levine falsetto isn't as annoying here as it is in songs like "Feelings." "Sugar" was released in January and reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Top 25:
25. "Drag Me Down," One Direction
Confession: I've secretly always really liked One Direction, five members or not. Their songs are catchy and infectious, but what more could you ask for when looking for music that you like to listen to? "Drag Me Down," is another one of those. While I was skeptical about the track at first, the guitar riffs paired with the catchy hook is fantastic. Why the four of them are dressed as American astronauts in the music video is completely beyond me, though.
24. "On My Mind," Ellie Goulding
"Love Me Like You Do," off the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack makes me uncomfortable for some reason. "On My Mind," which I just discovered around Thanksgiving, has the opposite effect. The track is very radio-friendly, with its quirky, fast moving, but simple and creative lyrics and unique backing instrumentation, and I think it's one of the best songs Goulding has released thus far in her career. "On My Mind," was a top-10 hit in the UK, and has thus far reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. An interesting thing to note: could this be an answer piece to Ed Sheeran's "Don't"?
23. "Budapest," George Ezra
"Budapest" is gloriously simple. George Ezra's voice is simply gorgeous. This indie rock track from Ezra's album Wanted on Voyage, while released in Italy in late 2013, was released in the US in October 2014, and reached peak air time on American top 40 radio in mid-2015. The song uses very few chords on guitar, (as they were some of the only ones Ezra knew while writing it), and has an extremely hummable melody. As Ezra commented about "Budapest," it was his first failed attempt at writing a love song, which is something that really resonates with me, both as a person and a musician.
22. "Hotline Bling," Drake
I shouldn't like this song. I didn't when it was first released, and I think that was because of the music video and various Vine clips of Drake dancing. The video was directed by someone named Director X, who I'm pretty is either Drake or a five-year old. It just doesn't really have anything to offer me, and I think people are going to look back on this video in the same way we look back on 80s pop music: "Wait... we liked this?? Why??" So disregard the video and Drake's horrendous dancing. The song, however, is pretty damn good. Not that "cell phones" are a thing anymore, but we're all suddenly fans of the horribly-unmelodic phrase "you used to call me on my cell phone" again. Trivial, yes. But we can't. Get it. Out. Of our. Heads. And what exactly is a "hotline bling," anyways? It's one of those songs where you don't give a shit about the meaning, look the other way and enjoy thoroughly. Listen to it alone when you're driving in the car. You'll get it.
21. "Honey, I'm Good.," Andy Grammer
If you're wondering where Andy Grammar has been for all those years (and I assume you weren't), we found him. "Honey, I'm Good." which, for some reason has punctuation in the title, has a very country feel about it. Likable and singable, this song from Grammer's second studio effort Magazines or Novels is pretty straightforward: Andy's in a club, sees a hot girl and says "LOL JK I can't, I have someone at home." Cute, right? Another of those "roll-down-the-windows-on-a-hot-day-and-blast-the-music" songs.
20. "Hello," Adele
Ah, Adele, you've done it again. She's back in the land of the living and given us another soul-stirring piano ballad with one hell of a hook. Though Adele's new album, 25 hasn't been out long, but it's already the best-selling album of 2015, selling over 3.3 million copies in its first week. The leading single, "Hello," was Adele's return to civilization, a statement entrance chock-full of emotion, signature backing vocals, and riffs upon riffs upon riffs. Had 25 been released earlier in the year, "Hello" might be higher on this list. But the fact that it's entering its 8th week at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 isn't hurting it, either.
19. "G.D.F.R.," Flo Rida feat. Sage the Gemini & Lookas
At the start of last year's NBA season, this song by Flo Rida (who was also apparently MIA before this song came out) was a part of many a-commercial. I mean, that horn part during the hook? SO good. The additional verses by Sage and Lookas only make this song better.
18. "Cheerleader," OMI
So apparently the original of this song is from 2012. Who knew? 2015's Felix Jaehn remix of "Cheerleader" features a faster tempo, a dash of autotune, and some added orchestrations from the original reggae track. The song's about finding that one person that you can count on as your "cheerleader," a feel-good track that almost anyone can relate to. "Cheerleader" reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this past summer.
17. "Ex's & Oh's," Elle King
When I first heard this song, I could have sworn that it was Gin Wigmore. After further investigation, I learned the "Ex's & Oh's" was by Elle King, who I later also learned was the daughter of actor Rob Schneider. The song, which was originally huge on most rock charts, features a driving beat the remains the pulse of the song while King's catchy vocals complete the track. The song was the only the second song since 1996 by a solo female to reach the top of the Alternative Songs chart (the first being Lorde's "Royals" in 2013), and it received two Grammy nominations, for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song.
16. "Stitches," Shawn Mendes
From the opening acoustic guitar notes to the memorable hook, "Stitches" is everything Shawn Mendes could have hoped for this song from his debut album Handwritten. The chorus gets stuck in your head so easily, as Mendes dotes on lost love, and how the lack of it in his life has left him broken. Both danceable and heart breaking, "Stitches" has it all. The song peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Also, check out the acoustic version of this song featuring Mendes and Hailee Steinfeld.
15. "Someone New," Hozier
Forget "Take Me To Church;" this is your new favorite Hozier song. The song's a lot brighter than the aforementioned "Church," featuring a catchy hook in a major key, lyrics about being able to be honest with oneself and loving many people in different ways, and greater range of vocals from Hozier. However, the real hero of this song is the chord selections on guitar, which range from simple to delightfully complex. The blues-y chords are very John Mayer-sounding in that respect. Just listen to it and you'll fall in love with it.
14. "Bright," Echosmith
First "Cool Kids," and now "Bright." I like Echosmith a lot, I enjoy their sound, I enjoy their instrumentation, and I enjoy their lyrics. After I saw The Fault in Our Stars last year (and remembered how to cry), I heard OAR's song "Peace," and "Bright" reminds me a lot of the former. It's a song about cute, adorable, love! What more could your inner teenage girl want? I'm also a big fan of the opening lines of the hook and its metaphors regarding stars and constellations and all that. Good stuff.
13. "The Wolf," Mumford & Sons
At last! The long awaited return of Mumford & Sons! I'm a huge fan of their Wilder Mind album, which sees the band move away from their neo-folk sound that made them famous, and embracing their electric instruments, resulting in a more alternative sound. "The Wolf" is a driving alt-rock number, and the music video, which shows the band at a music festival, perfectly reflects the spirit of the song. It's one of those songs like The Killers' "Mr. Brightside," in that it makes you wanna stand at the foot of the stage at Bonaroo and jump up and down to every beat of the song. Ya done good, Mumford. Keep on keepin' on.
12. "Bad Blood," Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar
The second of three Taylor Swift songs on this post, "Bad Blood," is the most defiant from the style that built Taylor's career. With a deep, pulsing bass and a guest appearance from Kendrick Lamar (and apparently tons of celebrities in the music video), "Bad Blood," is an unreal friendship-breakup smash. I'd also like to point out that, while I traditionally have not been a fan of rap, nor have I been a fan of rap remixes of songs, the Kendrick version of "Bad Blood" is far superior than the Taylor-only version. The verses are stronger and have more bite, and the instrumentation is MUCH better. With the version not featuring Kendrick, Taylor's verses lack any kind of complexity, and it's just plain annoying.
11. "Talking Body," Tove Lo
Tove Lo's "Habits (Stay High)" peaked at #3 on the Billboard charts, the highest for a Swedish artist since Ace of Base's "The Sign." Personally, I'm way more of a fan of "Talking Body" than of "Habits." Maybe that's just because I'm a fan of the thrill of the physical part of a relationship, and not vomiting in my own bathtub. Regardless, the electro-pop sound of "Talking Body" is fantastic, and the hook that pulls the whole thing together, anchored by Tove Lo's melodic "if you love me ri-i-ight..." is divine and instantly memorable. I "can't get this one off my mind, ooooh," as it were.
10. "Lay Me Down," Sam Smith feat. John Legend
You'll notice that this version of "Lay Me Down" is not the version that features solely Smith from In the Lonely Hour. Instead, I've chosen this version, which was released in March for Red Nose Day, a British charity telethon event founded in 1985 by comedians Richard Curtis and Larry Henry to support those affected by famine in Ethiopia. This version surpasses the original due to the lack of additional instrumentation, and the addition of one John Legend, who is the featured pianist for the track. Plain and simple, the harmonies Legend and Smith create together will make you cry. Legend adds a certain soulfulness to the song, and, while the song's meaning when it only features Smith (in that version of the music video, anyway) is about mourning the loss of a lover, the two Grammy-winning artists together give this version of "Lay Me Down" a hopefulness. It's oddly perfect for the event it was created for.
9. "Cool for the Summer," Demi Lovato
This song is so easy describe, I can do it in one word: Hot. "Cool for the Summer," very much like the season Demi is referring to, is hot, steamy, and all those other words that you're thinking of. The glaringly obvious undertones to Demi's experiences with another woman are, well, awesome. Let's not forget that Lovato got her start on the Disney Channel, so it's nice to see someone finally break the mold, and not in the whole Miley Cyrus way, where she rammed it down our throats. I for one am a huge fan of Demi's new outlook (Go check out "Confident."). There are really so many lyrics that make this song great (and hot), like when Lovato references cherries being bitten into, having two people of the same body type, and even whispering the simple "don't tell your mother." And I've never heard anyone slide so hard between notes during a chorus like that either. Yas, Demi.
8. "Believe," Mumford & Sons
Marcus Mumford and his band are back and better than ever. Many people were a little skeptical about the band's change from a folk-rock sound into an alt-rock sound. "Believe," the first single from their most recent album Wilder Mind, has a mystical quality about it for the first two minutes, and then explodes into an array of pounding drums and wailing electric guitar. However, it still contains that wondrous, awe-inspiring feeling that Mumford & Sons are known for. While it doesn't have an official music video, watch that audio track video above. It's just someone on a motorcycle with a mounted camera riding around London, but it's mesmerizing. It's good to have you back, boys.
7. "Uma Thurman," Fall Out Boy
Yes. That would be a sample from the television show "The Munsters" included in Fall Out Boy's newest smash, "Uma Thurman." The song is clearly Pulp Fiction inspired, what with all the coke sniffing, surfer guitar riffs (reminiscent of that epic final scene), and references to Uma Thurman and what not. I appreciate how far Fall Out Boy has come musically, beginning as a punk rock band, gradually including deeper bass sounds applicable to most of the music found on today's top 40 radio, but still managing to keep that unmistakable sound, confusing lyrics and all. "Uma Thurman" is just an all around great song. So get up and dance to it. Now.
6. "Blank Space," Taylor Swift
"Nice to meet you, where you been" indeed. "Blank Space," the second single from Taylor's 1989 (the first being "Shake It Off") further immerses the- finally- pop star into the sound we've all been craving. This song was really the first one that made me really care and believe what Taylor was talking about. She understands that she's done all this crap with men in the past (a.k.a. writing #1 hits about men that broke her heart- although one has to make money somehow, am I right?), but is still putting herself out there and attempting to go at it again. If "Shake It Off" was the prologue to this chapter of Taylor's career, "Blank Space" is the perfect genuine first few pagers of the book.
5. "See You Again," Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth
Everything about The Fast and The Furious franchise (aside from the first movie) annoyed the crap out of me. They went from racing cars to jumping out of planes, and then somehow The Rock got involved. However, the events leading up to Furious 7 and the release of "See You Again," is simply heartbreaking. The track is the perfect homage to the late Paul Walker, who really made the franchise what it is. The soft and haunting hook from Charlie Puth, combined with the meaningful lyrics (while not aggressively overbearing) from Wiz Khalifa is a magical blend of sound. It gets me thinking about the people outside of my family who really mean a lot to me, and how that group of people becomes your second family. I'm pulling for this song to win an Oscar, because it deserves it.
4. "Can't Feel My Face," The Weeknd
Is this song about cocaine? Yeah, probably. Does it really matter, because the song is incredible? No. The Weeknd's first #1 single channels a little Michael Jackson, between the vocals, the memorable hook, and the uptempo, all-in, jam out sound. It's this amazing slice of neo disco, with some 80's synth and 2010's R&B/hip-hop sound. One critic called it "retro-modern disco-funk," which I think is a perfect way to sum it up. It'll be interesting to see if The Weeknd can keep up his success as we enter 2016.
3. "Thinking Out Loud," Ed Sheeran
Say what you want about this song: It's annoying, it's overplayed, it's stupid, it's corny. I think it's the best love song of the year, simplistic as it is. It's just so genuine and so damn cute. Not to mention Ed singing his little heart out for whoever it may be. "Take me into your loving arms/kiss me under the light of a thousand stars." Awwwww. The guitar solo is absolutely fantastic (and I'm a sucker for a well-placed guitar solo), and it's a crime that it has been cut from many radio versions of this song. Also, look at the music video! Ed's lost a lot of weight from his + album, and he spends most of the video dancing. I'm so proud of him. But really, you can bash this song all you want. I think it's great, and it receives the bronze medal spot on this list for being so effectively cute and mushy.
2. "Shut Up and Dance," Walk The Moon
Taking the silver medal on this list is the catchy, bouncy, happy-go-lucky smash hit from the first album by Walk the Moon. For this song to not reach #1 on the Billboard charts is an absolute travesty. It's a dance hit, but it's got so much rock and roll infused in it, which is great. The heavy power chords on the guitar, combined with the up-tempo nature of the song, paired with the fun lyrics and vocals of lead singer Nick Petriccia make the song a full out yacht-rock song (Yes, I said yacht-rock). The song reminds me so much of summer, but it's really a track that can be enjoyed all year round, without hesitation. I think we'll look back on this song years from now, and still be able to shut up and dance to it.
1. "Uptown Funk," Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
Oh come on, how could it be any other song? "Uptown Funk," in my humble opinion of blogger and list maker, has reached the upper echelon of one of the best party/dance songs of all time. Let me give you a little bit of background as to how popular this song was this year. I studied abroad in England at the beginning of the year, in January. It was the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 when I left in the first week of the New Year. It was the #1 song in the UK for about half the time I was there. I returned in early March to the U.S. "Uptown Funk" was STILL the #1 song on the Billboard charts. Bruno Mars' lyrics and vocals are unmistakable, and the intro is so memorable. But the two real heroes of the song are the horns and bass, especially in the final portion of the song (Skip to 4:08 in the video, where there's an amazing section not included in the radio single). When I first heard it at the end of the 2014 (when it wasn't receiving much airtime, thus it being included in the 2015 list), it sounded like any other 80s song I had heard before. Now that I've had a chance to really learn to love this song, it's become one of my favorites, to be sure. Uptown has funked me up, and I love it.
If I missed one of your favorites, I can only apologize. Maybe I'll get it on the next one. But just so I know, which songs do you think were the best from 2015? Leave a comment if you so desire. Happy New Year everyone!
I enjoy making lists, countdowns, and making sense of the world that I see around me.