The best music I heard in 2015

Good lord, there’s just too damn much good music.

It’s a common first-world problem: too many good books, too many good TV shows, too many good articles, too many good tunes. (Movies appear to be holding steady, quality-vs.-quantity-wise.) How anyone who doesn’t double-fist music 24/7 can even pretend to craft a definitive “best-of” list is beyond me, so I didn’t even try. (Hence the headline.) Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 4.54.29 PMInstead, I just surveyed the most-played songs in my phone and on Apple Music (bless you, Apple Music), threw on the headphones, and whipped up a little playlist for y’all.

Eric Church’s “Mr. Misunderstood” got the nod for my favorite song of 2015; jumping from genre to genre and theme to theme and even tempo to tempo, it was one fine song. Beyond that, here’s what I enjoyed: tunes that smear genres (Action Bronson’s “Baby Blue,” Big Grams’ “Run For Your Life”), tunes that I liked an awful lot before they got overplayed (Zac Brown’s “Heavy Is The Head” from their underrated JEKYLL + HYDE album), tunes that sound like they’d be playing right before last call (Alabama Shakes’ “Don’t Wanna Fight,” Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey”), tunes that are playing in edited form in every NBA arena (Kanye’s “All Day”), tunes that sound very good with the sun shining and the windows down (Dre’s “One Shot One Kill,” Ryan Bingham’s “Hands of Time”), tunes that bypass your rational mind and hit you in the heart (Jason Isbell’s “24 Frames,” Chris Cornell’s “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart,” Algiers’ “Remains”), tunes that make me want to kick over a car (Rob Bailey’s “Beast”), and tunes that I’m way to old to be listening to (anything involving Skrillex). Plus, I can’t let the year go by without a nod to my brother-in-law, Toby Summerfield, whose album “The Gravity of Our Commitment” came out this year.

Some of this year’s songs reminded me of days gone by, like Kid Rock’s “First Kiss” and Def Leppard’s “Let’s Go,” which sound teleported here from 1988. Keith Richards, Joe Satriani, AC/DC, Faith No More, the Foos: they all put out new music that sounds a hell of a lot like their old material, and that’s high praise. (The two older songs in here, Zeppelin’s lost “St. Tristan’s Sword” and the version of the Stones’ “Brown Sugar” with Clapton on guitar, are a nod to my high-school self, who would have wondered what the hell the rest of this crap was doing on this list.)

So this isn’t even close to definitive; I welcome your input, suggestions, and outright laughter. Check it all out right here:

(Direct link to playlist.)

Thanks for checking it out. Here’s hoping I get caught up with 2015’s music by 2023.


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