Earlier this week, we shared our favorite songs of 2015 — 80 in total. It’s been a hell of a year! So many good songs! But it ain’t over yet, and there are still good songs arriving every week. Here are the five best we heard this week.
This music sounds alive. I mean that in a descriptive sense, but also literally — after immediately throwing you off balance with an unexpected jolt of noise, “Nobody Dies” opens with a quiet, rapidly cut-up inhalation, the sound of air being sucked into lungs. And then that riff kicks in, a big, tactile thing, and the song begins in earnest. Like her friend Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, who produced “Nobody Dies” along with the rest of the upcoming A Man Alive, Thao Nguyen makes music that explodes with a weird, wiry energy, and “Nobody Dies” is weirder and wirier than most. It coasts along on a groove that’s stuck somewhere between upbeat and menacing, building to an unlikely earworm of a chorus: “We act like nobody dies/ You act like nobody dies/ I act like nobody dies.” Obviously, people do die — about two every second — but listening to music that sounds this vital and this urgent, you almost believe that song title. –Peter
With Offset languishing in prison and Yung Rich Nation failing to pop off, I wondered if the seemingly limitless energy supply that was Migos had finally petered out. Turns out they were just suffering from separation anxiety. “Case Closed” finds the three Migos back in the same room, conjuring the same giddy chemistry that made them living legends and maintaining it for five minutes of breathless narrative. Against yet another genius twinkling/booming Zaytoven production, we get a helpful play-by-play on the fateful encounter that landed the trio behind bars — “While we pipin’ the stage up, doin’ the dab dance, 12 searchin’ the van” — in rapid-fire triplets, of course, as God intended. By the time it’s all over, the minor setback is over and the major comeback is on. –Chris
With their new album, No One Deserves Happiness, the Body said that their goal was to create “the grossest pop album of all time.” We’ll see if it lives up to that grabby descriptor, but I wouldn’t bet against them: The duo have been moving in a more palatable direction with every release, and “Shelter Is Illusory” sounds like they’ve struck the right balance. Capital-P pop music is supposed to make you feel an instant rush of warmth and safety, and this manages to evoke the complete opposite reaction with the exact same immediacy. Maralie Armstrong’s vocals portend doom; they fight against dog whistle squeals and scream and pounding drums. It’s like walking down a dimly lit street, constantly checking behind your back: “shelter is illusory” — we’re all on our own, no one is safe. –James
Most people wish that they were dead or comatose when they wake up with a hangover, but Jeremih’s “Paradise” describes a starkly different kind of morning after. It’s the giddy, I Just Had The Best Night Of My Life kind of morning after. Of course, I am talking about the song from the perspective of a not-famous person, which puts me at a significant disadvantage, because this is a song about groggily dragging your ass out of bed and recognizing that you’ve fucking made it. You did it. You’ve got 13 new texts and your house smells like Patron. You’re in paradise. Maybe that sounds braggy or impossible to relate to for us plebes, but Jeremih’s delicately worded tale of debauchery is cradled by a steady, plucky string part that kind of reminds me of the Velvet Underground, but was apparently inspired by the Beatles. It’s just fragile enough to counteract mentions of a house that reeks of booze, a molly hangover, and a Tony Hawk name-drop. It’s fragile enough to make the harmonized chorus of “So, so, so fuckin’ wasted/ So, so, so fuckin’ high” sound so, so, so fuckin’ beautiful. This is a tribute to the good stuff in life, be glad you’re still living it. Even if you feel like shit. –Gabriela
Pusha T takes this rapping thing seriously, and on “M.F.T.R.,” he becomes maybe the first rapper ever to compare himself to a North Korean dictator and a spoken-word legend in the space of a single bar: “I’m Kim Jong of the crack song / Gil Scott-Heron to the black poem.” The title stands for “More Famous Than Rich,” and it’s presumably a song about Pusha’s consistent low-level enemies over at the Cash Money empire. Pusha’s been lobbing half-disguised knives at Lil Wayne and then Drake for the better part of a decade, and now he’s having fun with label boss Birdman’s long-rumored proclivity for stealing his artists’ royalties. And Pusha holds himself up as the exception, spending the whole final verse puffing out his chest about how he’s been dealing drugs the whole time he’s been rapping. But what the song is really about is the way Pusha’s voice, tight and enraged and rhythmically masterful, skates across the beat from Drake collaborator Bo-1da, and the way The-Dream’s threats on the chorus just sparkle. –Tom