I had a weird year, listening to music-wise. Where I usually spend the better part of a month refining my “best of” list, I just didn’t have it in me to go through my usual ranking and shuffling and re-ranking and reshuffling. And when I sat down to try to explain why each of my top ten songs were my top ten, as opposed to the lesser eleven-plus slots, I couldn’t really form good reasons as to why.
I think, at root, I’ve had a crisis of faith in my ability to engage with music in a music critic-type way. All I really wanted to do this year — at least according to my Spotify account — is play old Linda Ronstadt records because the idea that she’ll never make another record tears me up inside. Oh, and a lot of Lesley Gore, because losing her in February of this year was devastating. Somehow, every time I tried to turn my attention to new music, it just felt like a chore instead of a joy. Don’t get me wrong – I easily ended up with far more than 50 new releases from this year that I liked and had to scale back to create this list. However, if you cornered me and asked me to tell you why these are here instead of probably far more worthy other songs that came out this year, I’d just have to shrug.
The year wasn’t without standouts or surprises. If you told me last year that a Justin Bieber song would have topped my list, I’d have punched you in the face. On the other hand, there was not even a ghost of a chance that Carly Rae Jepsen wouldn’t be on here. I’m surprised at myself that a cut from Tom Petty’s new record is here, but he and the Heartbreakers sound as lean and hungry as they did in 1978. And Ciara’s “Jackie,” which basically packed three separate songs into five minutes, never left my headphones.
I’m pleased that, though it wasn’t by design, over half of the list is women artists or female-fronted bands. I’m pleased that I learned about Jazmine Sullivan and I can’t believe I slept on her so long. I’m pleased that, even though this makes me sound all like “the kids are the future, man,” that Downtown Boys and G.L.O.S.S. are awesome and are going to be the future of punk rock.
Enough of my blather. Top ten are below, with videos, and the full Spotify playlist follows. Happy New Year.
Love Yourself – Justin Bieber
Stanley – Jazmine Sullivan
Dreams Come True – Brandon Flowers
Run Away With Me – Carly Rae Jepsen
Winning Streak – Ashley Monroe
Under A Rock – Waxahatchee
Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself – Jess Glynne
Hell Is Warm – The Sidekicks
Cool For The Summer – Demi Lovato
The Blacker The Berry – Kendrick Lamar