The English Major’s Mix: The 50 Best Songs of 2015

Back to Article
Back to Article

The English Major’s Mix: The 50 Best Songs of 2015

T.R. Hildebrandt

T.R. Hildebrandt

T.R. Hildebrandt

T.R. Hildebrandt

T.R. Hildebrandt, Staff Reporter

I have long maintained there are two kinds of people: ‘Twizzlers People’ and ‘Red Vines People.’ Also, more to the point, there are ‘Lyrics People’ and ‘Music People.’ Music people feel their music, while Lyrics people think it—OK, that’s simplifying it, but you get the idea. It is perhaps true that the greatest songs are magical, or holy, and only a fool would try and ‘get’ them with profane logic. I am an English major. I am that fool. I don’t know if it’s possible to understand something as puzzlingly potent as a perfect little pop song, but I do know there’s such a thing as misunderstanding a song. One thing contemporary Republicans actually have in common with Saint Reagan is their ability to totally misconstrue Bruce Springsteen. (I’m looking at you, Chris Christie.)

You can have smart lyrics set to a boring tune or, inversely, dynamic music ruined by dumb words, which describes most of what’s on the radio. If we’re playing ‘Would You Rather,’ I’d choose the former, but luckily I don’t have to. Every song on this list is all-around great. I know, I made it.

To be clear, I have nothing against simple lyrics. The simplicity of a pop song can be downright beautiful. Nor do I have any gripe with songs about hooking up, breaking up, and partying – those are fine topics and you’ll find some of that in the selections below. But there’s more to life, eh? So here are some songs about technology, capitalism, social anxiety, identity, racism and watching the Twin Towers fall. That sounds heavy, but there’s a lot of joy in the mix, in addition to the usual sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. After all, I’m not a total nerd. (Or, at least, I’m a nerd who likes to get down.)

1 (tied). “Paul Is Alive” -El Vy
“I was in a moment for a moment, then I wasn’t. I was sixteen years old in a dead guy’s boots with my hair slicked to the side. Sitting outside the Jockey Club, crying in my 7-up.”

“Some people, if they didn’t make it hard for themselves, might fall asleep.”
-Saul Bellow, “The Adventures of Augie March”

1 (tied). “King Kunta” -Kendrick Lamar
“The yam is the power that be. You can smell it when I’m walking down the street.”
“I was contemplating getting on stage just to go back to the hood, see my enemies, and say, ‘Bitch, where were you when I was walking?’”

“I walked along, munching the yam, just as suddenly overcome by an intense feeling of freedom – simply because I was eating while walking along the street. It was exhilarating. I no longer had to worry about who saw me or about what was proper. To hell with all that, and as sweet as the yam actually was, it became like nectar with the thought. If only someone who had known me at school or at home would come along and see me now.”
-Ralph Ellison, “Invisible Man”

3. “Depreston” -Courtney Barnett
“Now we’ve got that percolator, never made a latte greater. I’m saving twenty three dollars a week.
We drive to a house in Preston, we see police arresting a man with his hand in a bag.”

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; I know the voices dying with a dying fall/
Beneath the music from a farther room. So how should I presume?”
-T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock”

4. “24 Frames” -Jason Isbell
“You thought God was an architect. Now you know. He’s something like a pipe bomb ready to blow.”

“There is a strange moment in time, after something horrible happens, when you know it’s true, but you haven’t told anyone yet.”
-Barbara Kingsolver, “The Poisonwood Bible”

5. “I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler” -YACHT
“Crowdsourced cults all lit up on LED; next thing you know you’re sipping on a battery.”
“I thought the future would be cooler. I thought the brave world would be newer.”

“Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache or a mythology.”
-Aldous Huxley, “Brave New World”

6. “Bored In The USA” -Father John Misty
“They gave me a useless education and a subprime loan on a Craftsman home. Keep my prescriptions filled and now I can’t get off, but I can kind of deal.”
“The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful…and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.”
-Zadie Smith, “On Beauty”

7. “Sapokanikan” -Joanna Newsom
8. “I Was Well” -Juan Wauters
9. “The Blowup” -Blackalicious
10. “Newmyer’s Roof” -Craig Finn
11. “Times Square” -Destroyer
12. “Short Movie” -Laura Marling
13. “Hollywood” – Tobias Jesso Jr.
14. “Price Tag” -Sleater-Kinney
15. “Grief” -Earl Sweatshirt
16. “Billions Of Eyes” -Lady Lamb
17. “Coffee” -Sylvan Esso
18. “Twenty Thousand Times” -Roger Lion
19. “Enter Sylvia Plath” -Belle and Sebastian
20. “Ship To Wreck” -Florence + the Machine
21. “The Battle Is Over” -Jenny Hval
22. “False Alphabet City” -Eleanor Friedberger
23. “Dream Date” -Salad Boys
24. “In Time” -FKA twigs
25. “Faulty Superheroes” -Robert Pollard
26. “Sea Calls Me Home” -Julia Holter
27. “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” -Arctic Monkeys
28. “No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross” -Sufjan Stevens
29. “The Joke Explained” -Wilco
30. “Every Song Sung To A Dog” -Fred Thomas
31. “Breaker” -Dearhunter
32. “Black Sun” -Death Cab For Cutie
33. “Witness” -Makthaverskan
34. “The Singer Addresses His Audience” -The Decemberists
35. “Robbed Blind” -Keith Richards
36. “Blood Capsules” -The Mountain Goats
37. “Here” -Alessia Cara
38. “Between Cans” -Hinds
39. “On The Way” -Built To Spill
40. “Twenty Thousand Times” -Roger Lion
41. “Chinatown” -Girlpool
42. “Blogging” -Wire
43. “Sprinter” -Torres
44. “If More Things Go Wrong” -Hayden
45. “The Graduates” -Speedy Ortiz
46. “Easy Rider” -Action Bronson
47. “Monstro” -Downtown Boys
48. “Everyday” -A$AP Rocky, Rod Stewart, Miguel
49. “Like A Box” -Willis Earl Beal
50. “Deeper Than Love” -Colleen Green

See also:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story