Best Songs of 2015

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All songs on this list were released as singles in 2015, or late 2014, or earlier in 2014, but didn’t make an impact until 2015.

LetItHappen

1. Tame Impala – “Let It Happen” – Tame Impala are just about singlehandedly keeping psychedelic rock alive, with their good vibe-filled soundscapes keeping minds as open as possible. This 7 minute-plus magnum opus is a crunchy, lovely, hooky, addictive ode to allowing the best possible future to come into existence. Settle in, let it wash over you, and watch the fear slip away.
2. Miguel – “Waves” – Hands down, Miguel is currently making the sexiest music on the planet. This cowbell backbeat-driven paean to lovemaking is the cream of his crop.
3. Wolf Alice – “Moaning Lisa Smile” – Alternative rock can actually call for an end to gloominess, as in this story of a Lisa Simpson-type.
4. Major Lazer ft. MØ & DJ Snake – “Lean On” – An American DJ, a French DJ, and a Danish singer break out the moombahton for Major Lazer’s hottest beat yet.
5. The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face” – This is what pop music needs to thrive: someone who can write killer hooks and isn’t afraid to grunt alongside his silky falsetto.
6. Beck – “Dreams” – My dream for 2016 is that Beck’s new album will be released as soon as possible. In the meantime, this funky little psychedelic number from Mr. Hansen’s dancy side played on repeat will tide me over.
7. Taylor Swift – “Style” – Tight, tingly composition and hauntingly resonant lyrics about the path of love in an endless night’s journey.
8. The Weeknd – “The Hills” – An intro of pure distortion and an outro sung in Amharic (the language of Ethiopia) makes for the most unusual Number One hit in ages.
9. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Run Away with Me” – That sax intro – and everything else featured in this beautiful pop number – makes it clear that you will be swimming in bliss for four minutes.
10. Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta” – Kendrick follows the examples of Edwin Starr and Public Enemy in demonstrating that the best protest music is also a lot of fun.
11. Selena Gomez – “Same Old Love” – With an assist from Charli XCX on the snappy lyrics and a deliciously wonky piano, Selena shot for the cranial stars with this earworm.
12. Disclosure ft. Lorde – “Magnets” – The Lawrence brothers provide the wooshy tropical beat as Lorde gets in too deep with her lover.
13. Florence + the Machine – “What Kind of Man” – Florence Welch has a knack for making 3 ½-minute ditties feel like 8-minute epics.
14. Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding – “Outside” – If Calvin Harris is not singing on his own tracks, then it ought to be Ellie Goulding, as on this nugget of emotionally tense dance music.
15. Tove Lo – “Talking Body” – Tove Lo realizes that part of being healthy is fully and lusciously embracing our physical desires.
16. The Pretty Reckless – “Follow Me Down” – The Sing-Along With Attitude Anthem of 2015.
17. Cold War Kids – “First” – The Cold War Kids have found their niche of tight riffs guiding the way through everyday existential crises.
18. MisterWives – “Reflections” – Mandy Lee’s infectious vocals set the irresistible tone for this burst of indie pop effervescence.
19. Elle King – “Ex’s & Oh’s” – Groovy, bluesy guitars + feisty, funky attitude + snappy, playful wordplay = a no-brainer addition to your rock playlist.
20. Modest Mouse – “Lampshades on Fire” – It sounds like something that was written over the course of the raging party recounted in the lyrics.
21. Adele – “Hello” – Spare, unfussy production just gets out of the way of one of the most powerful instruments on the planet.
22. U2 – “Every Breaking Wave” – The beautiful, heartbreaking lyrics are as bottomless as the ocean from Bono and company.
23. Halsey – “New Americana” – Halsey gets away with brazen bluntness in this anthem for a new generation by making the straightforwardness part of the message.
24. Carly Rae Jepsen – “I Really Like You” – Incessant repetition should be avoided most of the time, except when you really, really, really, really, really, really cannot say it any other way.
25. Joywave – “Somebody New” – It’s a whole new genre: Sleepy Alternative Power Nap Rock.

Watch And/Or Listen to This: Florence + the Machine’s “What Kind of Man”

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You may have just seen this one on SNL. It might just be the best song of 2015. As for the video, it’s striking. (Partially NSFW.)

SNL Recap May 9, 2015: Reese Witherspoon/Florence + the Machine

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SNL: Reese Witherspoon, Florence Welch, Taran Killam (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

This review was originally posted on Starpulse in May 2015.

Reese Witherspoon’s first “SNL” hosting stint was also the first show to air after 9/11. While she did have a few memorable performances then, that appearance was mostly marked by nerves. Freed from any overwhelming existential uncertainty about the place of comedy, Reese was able to demonstrate that she is a natural next to the “SNL” cast, happy to play along in roles that took advantage of her sunny personality. This episode also continued the tradition of dedicating the Mother’s Day weekend show to the holiday, taking that trend about as far as it could possibly go.

Southern Republican Leadership Conference – The conventional wisdom says that Jeb Bush is going to be the next Republican presidential nomination, even though he has not even announced his candidacy. But the conventional wisdom does not always work out. 24 years ago, “SNL” built an entire sketch around the received intelligence that all the Democrats were just fighting to be the one to lose to George Bush. So good call making the joke that all these Republicans are going to lose to the latest Bush the punchline instead of the premise. As for the actual meat of this opening, it was more fun than funny, but still a nice change of pace. It effectively hid the fact that this cast does not really have any impressions of these candidates ready and did it all in a Jock Jams-style scene that was randomly stuck in the 90’s. Perhaps that was the joke, insofar as the GOP is the party of being stuck in the past. B-

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SNL Recap November 19, 2011: Jason Segel/Florence + the Machine

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Cold Opening – Mitt Romney Raw & Unleashed
Sudeikis is putting together a truly fascinating portrayal of a boring man. B

Jason Segel’ s Monologue
You know, while I can get excited about my expectations for how something should go, I generally believe that surprise is the best  option.  So, when I see something like Jason Segel’s monologue go exactly as I expected to go, it says a lot if it can be successful.  This monologue’s concept was in no way surprising – of course the Muppets were going to appear, and of course Jason Segel was going to be super excited about hosting SNL for the first time while simultaneously starring in a Muppet movie.  What wasn’t as obvious was just how many Muppets were going to appear or the development in which Jason had to gently break it to them that they were not, in fact, hosting along with him.  The execution was nearly as perfect as it could have possibly been. A

Red Flag Perfume
The freakiness is clear, almost too clear. Original Grade: B-

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SNL Recap November 20, 2010: Anne Hathaway/Florence + the Machine

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As y’all probably heard, I’m sexy now.

Cold Opening – The Rachel Maddow Show
This is a step in the right direction for political cold openings. A parody of a cable news talk show is always an apt setup for a forum of craziness, although this time around the craziness was a little jumbled, with the Charlie Rangel parts not really having much to do with Boehner/Pelosi. B-

Anne Hathaway’s Monologue
Another monologue premised on the physical attractiveness of a female host and the possibility of nudity? It would have been funnier if Anne had not admitted to K-Wiig that she was not being serious with the guys. B-

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