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The Fifty Best Songs of 2015

08 December 2015, 09:00

A year of renewal for established artists and a year of debuts for the ultra-talented new kids, 2015 has been anything but boring.

As we glide towards the end of 2015, here are the fifty songs that defined the last twelve months for us - with one exceptional standout as we name Skepta's "Shutdown" our Track of the Year.

Adele Video Still



The Adele backlash was inevitable but it's easy to overlook what a strong return "Hello" was for the South London songwriter and performer. Not quite "Someone Like You" - could anything be? - it remains a lynchpin of 25. It's Adele firing on all cyclinders, creating a modern pop classic as well as a karaoke standard for the future.

If you can bear yet another listen then do so so without the video, which really adds nothing to a song that's pretty much perfect. [Paul Bridgewater]

Alessia Cara

Alessia Cara


19-year-old Def Jam signee Alessia Cara became one of 2015's buzziest artists with "Here", a staggering anti-hedonism anthem flecked with slick R&B tones and a refreshing emotion. It's an easy-on-the-ears oeuvre with grandiose pop gestures and a moody confidence - Cara oozes confidence, and "Here" looks set to be the beginning of a massive journey. [Larry Day]




Vulnicura feels like the most relatable album Björk has produced since her first (Debut), dealing as it does with the second great universal theme of poetry: love lost. But it feels wrong to call it a break-up album - this is high art for the masses.

All the horror, investment, anger, sadness and healing around the ending of Björk's relationship with Matthew Barney is translated into something intricately formed and instantly relatable. “Stonemilker” is our entry point into the record’s emotional core. It’s one of two songs produced by Björk on the record and melodically it’s also the high point. “Moments of clarity are so rare / I better document this” she sings, with poise and a slowly breaking heart. You can’t fail to be moved or relate. [Paul Bridgewater]




Braids' third album Deep in the Iris confirmed Raphaelle Standell-Preston as one of the most original and innovative creatives working in music right now. As the album's centrepoint, "Miniskirt" saw her hit a lyrical high point too: "It’s not like I’m feeling much different than a woman my age years ago / Liberated is what you wanna call it, how about unfairly choked? / Cause I know some just see my body / And every girl I know at some point stopped eating / I am not a man hater/ I enjoy them like cake.” It's a furious, eloquent and justified anthem for our times. [Paul Bridgewater]

Ji Nilsson


"Roads To Rome (Ji Nilsson Remix)"

Breakup, AKA Julia Spada and Ludvig Parment, are still a fairly new entity in pop, releasing their debut single "Bubble" back in at the beginning of 2015. "Roads To Rome" is the third track they've released, and it's a gorgeous piece of synthpop with bouncy melodies and dreamy vocals. Ji Nilsson's edit shines a spotlight on the vocals and disjointed rhythms. It's still got that flowy, silky feel, but instead of being doused in a lavender haze, it glides through the airwaves. [Larry Day]


Carly Rae Jepsen video still

Carly Rae Jepsen

"All That"

With her third album Emotion, Carly Rae Jepsen wears her heart on her sleeve. "All That" is an ardent plea for genuine emotion, a pledge of devotion with an unshakable intensity. There's a desperation, but it's tempered perfectly by words of unfailing assurance. The influence of producers Dev Hynes and Ariel Rechtshaid can be clearly felt in the track's dream-woven synths and bass grooves, crafting a power ballad for modern romance. The feeling might be one-sided, but presented along lingering refrains and bright-eyed melodies, it's impossible not to let the yearning take hold. It really is "All That". [Jess Goodman]

Courtney Barnett Video Still

Courtney Barnett

"Pedestrian At Best"

“Pedestrian at Best” gave Courtney Barnett her signature track - and one that delivered on the promise of everything her early EPs hinted (heavily) at. Lyrically perfect and coupled with the most scuzzy in-your-face melodic she’s crafted to date, it sets the bar high for Barnett to follow. [Paul Bridgewater]

David Bowie in Blackstar video

David Bowie


The surprise factor may have been absent for the second return of David Bowie but “Backstar” did succeed in protecting the legacy of its creator. It’s a track that recalls Bowie at his most evocative - a sprawling, seemingly coreless epic that impacts as a whole.

It washes over you like the best instrumentals from the Berlin era. It’s a conundrum in musical form, a polar opposite to his more accessible latter-era work on The Next Day [Paul Bridgewater]

Diet Cig

Diet Cig

"Dinner Date"

"I had the lamest date to the daddy-daughter dance / Maybe that's why I don't like to fucking slow-dance" - with those opening lines, it’s hard not to fall instantly head over heels for Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman’s glorious racket. February’s debut Over Easy EP showed great promise, but it was the killer one-liners and thunderous riffs of "Dinner Date" that had us begging for seconds.

Sweet, charming and packed with insatiable hooks - power pop at its absolute finest. [Rich Thane]


"White Water"

EERA is Norway-born, London-based Anna Lena Bruland, a singer/songwriter summoning threadbare textures and almost untenable emotion, borne from "images rather than storylines". On the surface, EERA unloads feral post-punk and mystical melodies that bowl through the airwaves, nodding to Nadine Shah and Farao, but there’s something wholly otherworldly that lingers underfoot. [Larry Day]


Fetty Wap

Fetty Wap


Although Fetty Wap didn’t quite deliver in the album stakes this year, “679”, featuring sidekick Monty (from his Remy Boyz 1738 crew) - was a glorious cut of fun in 2015. Meshing trap with West Coast bounce it led a trio of strong cuts from the 24-year old Willie Maxwell. [Paul Bridgewater]

Francis Lung

Francis Lung

"Oh My Love"

Taken from his EP Faeher's Son, the former WU LYF man emerged this year with a song rich in Iberian-flecked guitars and soft crooning. Lung paints a chilled-out picture of balmy summer afternoons and sun-baked escapades that erupts around the one minute mark into something considerably more dreamy, though no less Iberian. [Larry Day]

Frankie Lee

Frankie Lee

"Where Do We Belong"

A brisk and breezy three and a half minutes that owes as much to classic country songwriting as it does to The War On Drugs’ road weary alt rock. A tender balance of cowboy grit and polished melodies, “Where Do We Belong” pitches Frankie Lee as one of the most intriguing new songwriting talents to emerge this year. [Rich Thane]

Georgia by Laura Coulson


"Nothing Solutions"

There’s little to criticise about Georgia’s self-titled debut album, yet there it does give off a sense that she’s capable of something even better. Though her set of influences is huge and varied, when she reigns the ideas in and puts a more personal stamp on things, she creates a sound both unique and formidable.

Nowhere is this better exemplified in than on "Nothing Solutions", where her love of grooves you’ve not heard the like of before and melodies you’ll swear have been around forever finds its perfect balance. [Thomas Hannan]

Grimes by Rankin



Art Angels was a divisive record for some people but pretty much everyone agrees “REALiTi” is one of the greatest things Claire Boucher has put out. The equal of anything on Visions, it’s a 2013 track saved from the cutting room floor that sees her pop sensibilities winning over but earthed by real emotion and urgency. [Paul Bridgewater]





HAELOS have tread a path of impressive songwriting ever since they dropped their mighty debut "Dust" last autumn. The London trio's last single "Pray" is no exception and is their best yet, imbued with gospel-like harmonies piercing weighty trip-hop beats and pining strings. It's baffling to think there's just three people crafting these epic, life-affirming sounds. [Charlotte Krol]

Holly Herndon

Holly Herndon


A statement of renewed intent for Herndon - freshly signed to 4AD - "Chorus" had been played live for a year or two before it was finally released. Herndon used the track, she says, to test the waters and experiemnt, "and abstract away from the straighter club rhythms [she] was playing with before."

"Every time I tweaked it," Herndon told Best Fit back in July, "people seemed to like it more." [Paul Bridgewater]

INHEAVEN by Steve Gullick



This track first emerged back when INHEAVEN were flying under a different flag, and we've had a long time to digest the wonders laid out before us - but that's just heightened its potency. The South London quartet make a typhoon of noise and emotion of "Regeneration", one of only a few tracks officially released so far.

It's a white-hot concoction of grunge and shoegaze that blasts past you like gale-force winds, getting the adrenaline coursing through your veins with '90s nostalgia, youthful angst, youthful bravado, and nods to The Who's "My Generation". [Larry Day]



"Iridescent Love"

Estonian-born/London-based IIRIS re-emerged this year with more nuanced and airier sound to her material. “Iridescent Love” see her reflects on how past and futures can be intertwined with location: "All of these streets / with the shadows of the ones we’ve loved / and the hopes that we go for". As the song takes a turn and bursts ecstatically into its climax, a soaring trance-like synth seems to lift the young singer up as she forgets the past ("I was homeless / caressed by the hands of God") and opens up to the future as she bathes in the brightness of her lover.

Indeed, her love’s iridescence is reflected in the song’s texture, layered by gentle synths and kissed by a host of vibrations which gild it in a brilliant sheen. It’s a simple message, but beautiful at that. [John Bell]

Jamie XX

Jamie XX

"I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)"

Thanks to Jamie Smith for achieving what nobody else seemed to bother to even attempt in 2015, and making a song that defined the summer. An evergreen mixture of classic doo wop samples and dancehall turns from Young Thug and Popcaan, if you went to a house party, barbecue or embarked on a road trip between April and September that didn’t feature this as its soundtrack, it’s likely it was a rubbish one, and you need new friends. [Thomas Hannan]


Jodie Abacus

Jodie Abacus

"Halfway To Mexico"

There wasn't a better soul-pop moment in 2015 than the Royce Wood Junior-produced "Halfway To Mexico". South Londoner Jodie Abacus offered something akin to Pharell's "Happy" or "Get Lucky" but infinitely more palatable and with charm to spare. [Paul Bridgewater]

Julia Holter by Burak Cingi

Julia Holter

"Sea Calls Me Home"

With her forth record Have You In My Wilderness, Julia Holter cast an unshakable enchantment. Combining bold compositions with a sense of theatricality, the LA native draws listeners into a world of her own making. "Sea Calls Me Home" is perhaps the strongest example of that. Part soaring ballad, part marching anthem, part breakaway pop hit, the song combines hooking chorus refrains with instrumentals as textured as the ocean the track years towards. All the whilst, Holter's vocal twists and turns prove truly captivating, fervent and fragile as her words require. [Jess Goodman]

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber

"What Do You Mean"

Justin Bieber has rapidly transformed from the butt of every joke to a very real pop force. The first hint of this was on his collab with Skrillex and Diplo, "Where Are Ü Now", but it was the clockwork charm of "What Do You Mean?" that solidified his metamorphosis. It's a breezy, club-ready belter with a distinct lack of his tween roots, sublime pan-pipe hooks, and just marvellous production.

"What Do You Mean?" arrived just too late to be a Song Of The Summer contender, but it was just in time to make Bieber's return on of the most important pop moments in 2015. It is a phenomenal tune that made Beliebers out of us all. [Larry Davy]

Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves


The Mineola via Nashville darling of country music goes from strength to strength on her second major label LP Pageant Material, continuing to spin charmingly witty and funny stories while playing with traditional country musical motifs, most notably on 'Biscuits'. This upbeat single deftly combines an ode to being yourself and not being an asshole, with a mean ukulele solo and a rousing chorus shout out to the famed Southern US breakfast specialty. The hoedown- and muppet-heavy variety show inspired video even calls upon the viewer to sing-a-long at the end like an old Disney feature. Can't get more charming than that. [Jason Williamson]

Kanye West

Kanye West

"All Day"

Kanye West debuting “All Day” at the BRIT Awards on stage with the Boy Better Know crew waving round a huge flamethrower is arguably the defining image of music in 2015, but only a song this good could have merited a performance so audacious.

What was, and perhaps still is, meant to be the lead single from a record that we can only hope hasn’t been relegated to “classic lost album” status, it’s a deadly serious turn up there with his best ever work – as confrontational as “Black Skinhead”, as invigorating as “Niggas In Paris”, and a world away from any damn croissants. [Thomas Hannan]


Kendrick Lamar - Video Still from Alright

Kendrick Lamar

"The Blacker the Berry"

To Pimp A Butterfly is one of the greatest albums you'll ever hear. You might not realise that now but trust me on this. It's the equal of Horses, Nevermind, Bitches Brew, the Four Seasons and The Low End Theory. And while "King Kunta" might be the balls out funk head of the record, it's another track that represents its punk-as-fuck heart. I've listened to "The Blacker the Berry" at least once a day since it appeared. Sometimes I'll chain smoke it, one play after another after another. For me, there isn't another song this year feels as gripping, vital and important (Skepta's “Shutdown” comes a distant second).

Kendrick Lamar's been explicit about his songs being therapy and he tears through the song like it's end of days, almost but never quite tripping over himself. The cadence is the thing. As one of Lamar's greatest assets, his perfect control of cadence is the song's alpha and omega. The anger he has is nothing without it.

The song's reveal - that devastating final couplet - is both its Rosetta Stone and trump card. Shuttering into place just who the "you" and "I" are in the song, Lamar has explained: "I’m not speaking to the community, I’m not speaking of the community. I am the community.” [Paul Bridgewater]

Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey

"High By The Beach"

Honeymoon is Lana Del Rey’s best sounding record to date and the resentful and masterfully crafted “High By The Beach” was both its lead single and a break point in the record’s first half. She emotionally sedate throughout, doing it a way only she can, but with a subtle vocal shift that feels ever more confident and self-assured. Del Rey in 2015 is one of a handful of posters we should be eternally thankful for. [Paul Bridgewater]

Legends of Country

Legends of Country

"That's What We Talk About When We Talk About Country"

Fusing the country tinged schmaltz of Christopher Owens with the observational wit of Jonathan Richman, Legends Of Country is the brainchild of Jof Owens from indie-folk charmers The Boy Least Likely To. Inspired by a unapologetic love of country music, debut album Talk About Country is a concept record of sorts - honing in on small town success and the failure that often follows, about finding love late in life and looking back on what might have been. The title track epitomises the tone of the album perfectly: fusing classic country music reference points with a quintessentially British wry sense of humour. [Rich Thane]

Loyle Carner by Sonny Malhtora

Loyle Carner


A collaboration with Kwes, "Florence" is a song about the unborn sister Loyle Carner always wanted. It's emotionally disarming, like most of Carner's work this year, and adds greater colour to his talent and stature as one of Britain's great hopes for 2016. [Paul Bridgewater]

MO by Gaelle Beri

Major Lazer & DJ Snake feat. Mø

"Lean On"

"Lean On" is definitely one of the biggest tracks of 2015, smashing Ed Sheeran's record as the most streamed song of all time on Spotify. But that's not why it's on this list. It's on this list because it's a masterpiece of modern dance-pop. It was initially poised to feature Rihanna or Nicki Minaj, but MØ fatefully took the reins, bringing her incredible personality, confidence, and voice into the fray. Without her, it could have easily been forgettable; while Major Lazer and DJ Snake's input is vital, MØ's passionate delivery makes this a quintessential party tune. What makes it a masterpiece is its uncanny flexibility - "Lean On" is a laid back comedown, an emotional ballad, a dancefloor magnet, a summer haze soundtrack... it's rare that a song does everything, but this does.


Jamie Lee by Paul Bridgewater


"You Look Like A Sad Painting On Both Sides Of The Sky"

The return of MONEY this year saw a re-energised Jamie Lee channelling Rothko brushstrokes into a genuinely affecting song. Producer Charlie (Alt J) Andrew's hand is there too, fleshing out the frontman's vocal into a Lee Mavers-like croon. It's good to have them back. [Paul Bridgewater]

Shura by wunmi obudo

Mura Masa featuring Shura

"Love For That"

We needed the proverbial pinch in October when one of the UK's most thrilling young producers Mura Masa teamed up with Best Fit fave Shura. The result was "Love For That", a song about falling in love for all the wrong reasons over a blend of the organic and the synthetic - all flutes, bells, and weirdly warped electronics. As understated as it is bold, "Love For That" is a perplexing though vitally unique dance track. [Charlotte Krol]

Natali Felicia by Blanca Linder

Natali Felicia

"Easy Ride"

Easily our best tip for 2016, Natali Felicia is a Swedish singer you really need to listen to, and what better place to start than "Easy Ride", which we immediately fell for back in August.

The cinematic track, which features one of the most viscerally stunning videos of the year, is an intimately woven, synth-filled, guitar backed piece with a robustly compelling chorus to die for. As the introspective song draws to a close, the gut-wretchingly dramatic refrain repeats "Hush, hush baby", but we can't help but want to hear more. [Jason Williamson]

Natalie Prass

Natalie Prass

"My Baby Dont Understand Me"

Natalie Prass might feel alone, she might feel lost, and she might even feel heartbroken, but her music radiates with a positivity and beauty that can breeze through the deepest blues. On "My Baby Don't Understand Me" her voice soars with a heartfelt fragility, carried on the wings of sweeping orchestral melodies. Sure, the lyrics tell a broken tale, but in her starkly open acknowledgement, Natalie Prass finds a sense of security and certainty, and ventures on a journey towards the brightness beyond the dark. [Jess Goodman]



"The Endz"

Listen/Watch on YouTube

The XL-signed Novelist was pretty quite in 2015 but emerged in October with a banger of track, the dark, genuinely unsettling "Endz". Launching with an equally impressive video - one of the year's best - the self-proudced cut was filled with infectious hooks and gutsy dubby glitches. [Paul Bridgewater]





Pumarosa's debut is a seven-minute psych ode to freedom set against a stoic bassline, adventurous dance beats, and horns with powerful gravitas. The quintet may only have a handful of demos and a single to their name, but with support from Mercury Prize-nominated Dan Carey, who produced "Priestess", and a Chess Club Records deal (MØ, Swim Deep, Tove Styrke) we're confident the East London band have a very bright future ahead of them. [Charlotte Krol]

Rihanna Video still


"Bitch Better Have My Money"

Fenty's "Bitch Better Have My Money" surely represents the start of her third act; an all conquering antithesis of the Swiftian desire to be everything to everyone. As I write this the new Rihanna album still hasn't dropped and I'm salivating... [Paul Bridgewater]

Royce Wood Junior by Sonny Malhotra

Royce Wood Junior


The lead single from Royce Wood Junior's debut longplayer is a slick 'n' trippy cavalcade of smooth; squelchy synths and "212"-esque beats waltz amongst strings, choral harmonies and Junior's signature croon. Just beautiful. [Paul Bridgewater]



"Loving Like This"

Somerset newcomer Sabella oozes greatness on debut gambit "Loving Like This". She melts slick R&B with glamourous '80s details, and the result is smooth and sensual and underpinned by perhaps the best use of saxophone in 2015. "I'm far too young to be loving like this..." she coos in the chorus, offering hope in spades instead of wallowing post-heartbreak, with the sax mirroring her every word with glossy harmonies. [Larry Day]

Saltwater Sun

Saltwater Sun


The anthemic and life affirming "Wild" saw West London five-piece Saltwater Sun ooze with a cocksure confidence and grunge-lite attitude that could quite easily see them do a Wolf Alice next year. Following on from debut single "Habit On My Mind", the song's about "the flaws in my character and how I let people down as a result of those", says vocalist Jennifer Stearne. [Paul Bridgewater]





British hip hop had its watershed moment as Skepta's "Shutdown" found its uncompromising way into an international consciousness. More than a decade old and in rude health, grime stood proud as everyone realised it wasn't a phase but a grassroots movement in British music channelling the same creativity, self-determination, frustration and humour that has come to personify brilliant homegrown sounds since the mid-20th century. [Paul Bridgewater]

Read about why "Shutdown" is our track of the year.

Smash Williams

Smash Williams

"A Splash Of Color"

Two veterans of the Glasgow music scene - Stuart Dougan (French Wives) and Gordon Skene (Frightened Rabbit) - joined forces this year as Smash Williams. Like their namesake, they bring full hearts to their debut, but their eyes are twitchy and far from clear on "A Splash of Colour".Despite the duo’s impressive pedigree (and the months that went into its creation) their first single is charmingly off-the-cuff, the sound of gentle, echo-laden guitars dripping over a makeshift programmed drumbeat. [Michael McAndrew]



"Fuck With Someone Else"

The combined force of three of Iceland’s most talents artists came together this year under the GANGLY name: Samaris’ Jofridur, Sin Fang/Seabear’s Sindri and Oyama’s Ulfur. There’s only one track out there - the swirling, dramatic, textured trap-gaze "

Take Kobang video still

Tate Kobang

"Bank Rolls"

It’s rare that the quality of one song can convince you that an artist will never make a bad tune in his life, and even if that is a ridiculous thing to say, Tate Kobang’s “Bank Rolls” is good enough for us to entertain the idea until we hear anything more from this 23-year-old Baltimore rapper.

Detailing his problems with consumerism – and his love for it - in a lightning quick but effortless flow over grooves so smooth Steely Dan might end up borrowing them from hip hop rather than having theirs stolen for once, it’s the rap tune of the year, from a bloke who nobody’s even bothered to make a Wikipedia page for yet. [Thomas Hannan]




TĀLĀ's globetrotting MALIKA EP, made in collaboration with artists around the world this year, was all the more exciting when its US contribution came from Banks. Retaining TĀLĀ's trademark Arabic hums and riddling them with creeping trap beats and Banks' syrupy vocal, "Wolfpack" was an interesting though not drastic change from desert highs of "Alchemy" and "On My Own In Hua Hin". The song's dark, insidious nature is heightened by its dichotomous lyrical content, from supposed mind games between the pair to a suck-it-up sense of female camaraderie. TĀLĀ hasn't shared much solo material since 2014's The Duchess EP, but with "Wolfpack" here tiding us over, it hasn't really mattered. [Charlotte Krol]




"Make it Up"

Fact: to hear the real album of the year, all you really need to do is get everything Micachu and Tirzah have worked on so far in a playlist on Spotify, sit back, and nod in agreement. Having quietly made some of the most forward thinking pop singles in recent times in the shape of “No Romance” and “I’m Not Dancing”, Tirzah and her producer friend extraordinaire surpassed themselves on “Make It Up”, a dive in to bastardised funk and grooves so deep they sound like underwater currents that drips with sarcasm and charm in equal measure. Make a proper album already. [Thomas Hannan]

Tom Waits

Tom Waits

"Take One Last Look"

Never has a song made me feel so sad about a TV show I never once saw an entire episode of coming to an end. Debuted on one of the final episodes of The Late Show with David Letterman - a show on which Waits had made numerous, legendary appearances - this brand new track was supposedly written especially as a farewell to his friend, but applies brilliantly to loss and displacement of practically any sort.

I want it played at my funeral, I want it played at my friends’ funerals, I want it played when I finally move out of town, I want it played every time I leave a sodding room. This man knows how to tread the line between soppy and insightful better than any living songwriter, and by the sounds of this, he’s got many more masterpieces left in him. [Thomas Hannan]



"Strange Hellos"

"Strange Hellos" is a seething, furious beast. It's quite unlike anything we've heard from Torres, the alias of Nashville-based artist Mackenzie Scott, and veers towards grunge-y angst at moments - a far cry from the emotional gauntlet of "Honey" that stood as the centrepiece on her debut record.

It's loud, vicious, hellish, and dangerous - it's 3:55 of thrashing axes and pulverising drums. Scott howls and wails and screams and yells into the melee, focusing her pent-up energy into the heart of the song's subject. It's a visceral, primal piece of rock that taps into the vengeful, immature, sod-the-consequences, tantrumming soul that we all try hard to keep at bay, and from start to finish your heart will be racing and breath held. Torres shreds her throat letting the demon out, and makes the most cathartic piece of fury we've heard in a long time. [Larry Day]

Tove Styrke

Tove Styrke


"Ego" is Tove Styrke at her most vulnerable and the emotional heart of this year’s underrated Kiddo album. As a recontextualisation of her talent and identity, it played to her poppier side but didn’t jar with the more brutal, in-your-face-isms of the rest of the album. [Paul Bridgewater]

Vince Staples from Norf Norf video

Vince Staples

"Norf Norf"

"I ain't never run from nothing but the police," asserts Vince Staples in "Norf Norf" - delivered in his weary flow. The highlight on this year’s largely autobiographical Summertime ‘06 and one of three Michel (Clams Casino) Volpe-produced tracks on the album, it’s a close-to-the-bone portrait of Staples’ own piece of LA. Brutal, knowing and defiantly jaded to the end, it’s also the freshest Staples has ever sounded. [Paul Bridgewater]

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