So it is that time, when every internet critic must do a best/worst list of the past year. I will be doing these lists, but first I thought that it would be good to highlight some songs that didn’t quite make it, but really should have.
- A song must have debuted on the UK Top 100 in 2015
- The song cannot end up on the year-end UK Top 100
- One song per artist
- A song cannot enter the Top 20 at any time. This is because if it is in Top 20, even if it isn’t on the year-end list, you’ve probably heard it.
Also, even if I have placed a song somewhere on a Chart Update, my opinions can change. So without further ado, here are the Top 10 “Should Have Been Hits” of 2015.
- Hozier – From Eden
Debuted 17/9/15, Peak Position: 69
Hozier had a massive hit with Take Me to Church, yet none of his other single really stuck around. This is a shame, because I think that From Eden is better than Take Me to Church. This rollicking 5/4 track has such a great chilled out vibe and Hozier isn’t straining like on other songs. It is sweet and sentimental but this would be higher if the instrumentation wasn’t as loud as it is. That being said though, I love the Pulp Fiction-esque guitar on the bridge and this is still a great song.
- The Neighbourhood – R. I. P 2 My Youth
Debuted 3/9/15, Peak Position: 85
Sweater Weather is undoubtedly The Neighbourhood’s best known track and it’s understandable why R. I. P. 2 My Youth didn’t do as well. It is much darker with fuzzy auto-tuned vocals which work with the theme of loss in the song. This track doesn’t try to bombastic as that really wouldn’t work and the organ in the mix enhances the death metaphor even further. The innocence of Sweater Weather is gone here and it is a brilliant change of tone that really works. It is a shame it didn’t do better.
- Pharrell Williams – Freedom
Debuted 9/7/15, Peak Position: 36
This song was on my second Chart Update and was the best of that week. I know this charted because of an Apple Music advert, but who cares when the song is this good? The groove is infectious and Pharrell actually sounds very earnest, as if he believes the message of the song. It is emphatic in its message and the sheer catchiness of this song is its biggest strength. I’m sad this didn’t take off as much as Happy did last year, but this is still a great track that everyone should check out.
- Annie Lennox – I Put a Spell on You
Debuted 28/2/15, Peak Position: 63
This cover is brilliant and I don’t care that it is in some way connected to Fifty Shades of Grey… Annie Lennox doesn’t go down the route of a massive orchestra behind for this song like Nina Simone’s version. Instead, a jazz-rock band provides a perfect accompaniment to Lennox’s smoky vocals. The orchestra doesn’t provide the power, she does. I Put a Spell on You suits Annie Lennox so well, it’s just a shame that didn’t do better.
- Sia – Alive
Debuted 8/10/15, Peak Position: 30
Sia’s comeback single is great. It shows Sia off both as a vocalist and a songwriter. Even though Alive was originally intended for Adele, it is much better in Sia’s hands. The slow build of the instrumental under Sia’s lower range before she belts into her upper voice that made her previous singles like Chandelier so memorable. The powerhouse chorus is great and shows how Sia can still carve out a distinct identity in current pop music.
- Taylor Swift – Style
Debuted 21/2/15, Peak Position: 21
I have to make a confession, I am not a Taylor Swift fan. I haven’t actively hated many of her songs but I’ve always felt that she could do more lyrically and musically. With Style, she delivered her best song to date. Now, this one is only just eligible for this list and was a Top 10 song in the US but for some reason didn’t connect in the UK. Style focussed on both sides of a relationship, what works and what doesn’t. The synths are subdued and really put Taylor Swift as a vocalist to the forefront of the mix. The lyrics aren’t so concerned with fairy tales or a bitter breakup. They’re complex and I love it. It’s a shame that the rest of 1989 wasn’t as good.
- Florence and the Machine – Ship to Wreck
Debuted 25/4/15, Peak Position: 27
Despite How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful topping charts across the world, none of the singles made much of an impact. Ship to Wreck is not even my favourite single from that album (that would probably be Queen of Peace or Delilah) but it is still excellent. The percussion and piano led instrumentation creates a choppy atmosphere underneath Florence Welch’s unique vocals. This has a similar chorus to Alive but I think Florence just does it that little bit better. I am a massive Florence and the Machine fan, but even so, this song is still awesome.
- Fall Out Boy – Uma Thurman
Debuted 24/1/15, Peak Position: 71
The last three songs in this list I really struggled with placing because they are all so good. In the end, Uma Thurman just lost out. This is my favourite Fall Out Boy track in a while with a great sample in it and I don’t know why it works, but it just does. The song as a whole shouldn’t work, but it just does. Every element locks together to form a perfect pop-rock song. Patrick Stump vocals are fantastic, the beat is great and the Munsters sample anchors the entire track. I highly recommend that you give this a listen.
- Miguel – Coffee
Debuted 9/7/15, Peak Position: 97
This is easily the sexiest song to be released this year. Miguel’s smooth vocals over some of the best production I have heard all year some to create such a sensual track. The lyrics paint such a wonderful picture that it blows my mind that a song like Marvin Gaye, which is painfully stiff and unsexy, could chart so well while this couldn’t. Miguel just owns Coffee; it’s one of the best tracks off Wildheart (his 2015 album) and one of the best of this year.
- Carly Rae Jepsen – Run Away with Me
Debuted 17/9/15, Peak Position: 58
This was the surprise of the year for me. Carly Rae Jepsen nailed the 80s synth-pop vibe better than anyone this year. The sax solo at the start of Run Away with Me is part Baker Street, part The Edge of Glory. The vocals are the best that Jepsen has ever done and this song is so catchy that it sticks in your head for months at a time. I highly recommend this track and her new album, Emotion, if you want a bit of 80s nostalgia. Run Away with Me should have been huge, but even though it wasn’t, it is still absolutely fantastic.