Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 25 Songs of 2015: #2-1

#2. Flesh Without Blood - Grimes: With the first single and (bizarre) video from Grimes' long-awaited follow-up to 2012's Visions, Claire Boucher peeled off every obscure indie layer to reveal her new, triumphant pop intentions. With all of Art Angels, but especially this song, Grimes is perfectly unforgiving in both embracing the power of pop and dealing with scorned ex-lovers. On this earworm, Grimes delivers the double-middle-finger of the year, over and over again, with her masterful production and lyrical jabs like, "If you had every chance you'd destroy everything you love" and "I don't see the light I saw in you anymore... and now I don't care anymore." If you were looking for a reason to believe in female-led pop again, or even just yourself, everything about "Flesh Without Blood" is the expertly crafted ticket.

#1. Alright - Kendrick Lamar: There are endless amounts of important songs out there; songs that sound good, speak to your individual circumstances, provide a sense of community to likeminded listeners, make you think, songs that might even encourage a shift in historical discourse. Rarely does one song, or a number of songs on a single album, tick all of those boxes in the way that Kendrick Lamar's genius To Pimp A Butterfly did. Although critically celebrated, the masses struggled with this album; nearly inaccessible, Lamar traded any previous party rap notions for the tough to stomach but essential conversations around one of the most brutal, unjust years in recent memory. While minorities fought for their voices to be heard and lives to be valued in an age when they should already be f**king heard and valued, Lamar used his podium to comfort those communities, and anyone else, really, with this album and four simple words: "We gon' be alright." Those four words, which eventually became the soundtrack for nationwide marches and protests, came from an equally tired ex-Compton hip-hop prophet who had a powerful public voice amid all of the higher-up inaction - and managed to establish a feeling of faith in the future. Through song - both the catchy jazz riffs and Pharrell's gleaming chant - our minds were collectively focused on the fact that although the turmoil hasn't in any way let up, we have to believe that we'll still be alright. And that right there epitomizes the power of music.

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