SONG OF THE YEAR: Can't Feel My Face • The Weeknd // This is the one that stopped me in my tracks the first couple times I heard it to say, Who is that? Those moody, ominous synths and dark lyrics had me at, "And I know she'll be the death of me, at least we'll both be numb. And she'll always get the best of me, the worst is yet to come," which make me smile. I was surprised to find that Max Martin is one of the songwriters, given his pedigree, but this one could earn him a slot in my top 10 of the decade.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Rebel Heart • Madonna // With some careful editing of the track list, we get the best Madonna album since Ray of Light — a worthy successor loaded with mature and sophisticated pop songs like the title track and the brilliant stomper "Devil Pray." It figures that the only song from the album to crack the Hot 100, "Bitch I'm Madonna," is the first I excised from my iTunes. Now that radio has fully dismissed her, it's time to leave those pandering efforts behind and grow old gracefully with the rest of us.
Fifteen more favorite songs released in or around 2015, not necessarily in order of preference:
Ghosttown • Madonna // My most-played song of the year, this scorched-earth ballad would have been number one for weeks during her imperial years.
Rebel Heart • Madonna
High on Love • Class Actress
Hold Tight • Madonna
Devil Pray • Madonna
Déjà Vu • Giorgio Moroder (Featuring Sia)
Living for Love • Madonna
Talking Body • Tove Lo // Hypnotic and blissful pop.
Geronimo • Sheppard
Dead Inside • Muse
Boom Clap • Charli XCX
Baby Don't Lie • Gwen Stefani
I Can Change • Brandon Flowers
Recreational Love • The Bird and the Bee // Sounding nicely like an extension of their Hall & Oates tribute.
Can't Deny My Love • Brandon Flowers