Written by: the interns

the interns’ Best Songs Of 2015

These are the songs that made us bop, drop and lol in 2015…

Illustrations by Bianca Bosso. 


Mountain At My Gates

One of the lighter tracks from their incredible 2015 album What Went Down, but in saying that there is a darkness and depth to Mountain At My Gates that is unique to Foals. It’s defined by a number of musical facets, not least of which the two guitar riffs that start the song off, one which sits right in the lighter, upper registers, but which compliments the darker lower riffs perfectly. This is reflective of the Foals sound as well, a perfect unity of dark and light, conveyed through an audible desire for emotion whilst maintaining an ever-lasting sense of restraint. – Zanda Wilson



It should be no surprise that the sexiest song of the year came from a man who’s made sexiness his forte and it’s not really, it’s more the way that he’s gone about it. Miguel isn’t a self-proclaimed sex god. He doesn’t have women dancing behind him in videos and he’s in a longterm relationship. The thing that makes Coffee so successful is that he’s not in-your-face with sensuality. It just smoulders away for four minutes never quite reaching a climax, (much like Usher’s Climax) instead choosing to be gentle. So many songs about sex focus on the physicality but Miguel doesn’t. He sings about conversations and then delivers one of the foreplay-describing lines we’ve ever heard: “wordplay turns into gunplay, gunplay turns into pillow talk, pillow talk turns into sweet dreams, sweet dreams turns into coffee/fucking in the morning.” – Sam Murphy


Alessia Cara

“I’m sorry if I sound uninterested,” sings Alessia Cara on her debut single Here. It’s an interesting way to kick-off your career, sounding disinterested, but her loner party anthem is actually one of the most interesting songs of the year. Musically, her feel for melody is flawless as she weaves through a verse packed full of words with ease and her voice is raspy and rich – one of those voices that could sing literally anything. It’s the lyrics that really drive this track home. She knocks out classic one-liners one after the other from “I don’t dance, don’t ask I don’t have a boyfriend,” to “Some girl talkin’ bout her haters she ain’t got none.” Cara isn’t a loner. She’s just at a party with people she couldn’t give a fuck about and we’ve all been there. – Sam Murphy


Carly Rae Jepsen
Warm Blood

Before Warm Blood nobody was sure whether Carly Rae Jepsen was capable of making a great album. The Rostam Batmangliij-produced track immediately followed Run Away With Me and while that was good, Warm Blood confirmed she was capable of making interesting pop songs that strayed from the formula. The warped disco track feels drunk. Its bass wobbles in a woozy but delectable fashion and Jeppo doesn’t strain herself vocally rather choosing to float with the music. The result is an effortlessly weird pop song that confirmed Jeppo was capable of taking the path less travelled and still making pop bangers. – Sam Murphy


Wolf Alice

Maintaining their propensity for sublime mood and genre shifting, Bros sees Wolf Alice taking a page out of their more delicate and nuanced text book. Several incarnations of the track have been making the rounds since Wolf Alice’s inception, but it has finally gotten the album treatment it deserves. As the four piece superbly balance tone and tempo, front-woman Ellie Rowsell sweetly sings of the charm associated with childhood imagination and friendship. It makes for a sentimental three and half minutes, which importantly never borders on, or comes close to being saccharine in the slightest. There is a true sense of joy and wonder on Bros, and it makes for extremely captivating listening. – Ben Kyi


Wave Racer
Flash Drive (Feat. B△by)

Sydney producer Thomas Purcell aka Wave Racer knows his way around a tight, electronic jam. Flash Drive is certainly not an exception. Extremely energetic and upbeat, the track draws heavy inspiration from ‘90s video games which is made all the more effective by Purcell’s bright and bouncy production. Every aspect of this track works. Plain and simple. From the sugar infused guest vocals delivered by B△by, to the frenetic cut and paste bass solo, reminiscent of the Seinfeld theme song. Closing your eyes while listening may very well result in a brief sojourn, collecting coins in the Mushroom Kingdom. Flash Drive is easily one of the best electronic tracks to be released this year. – Ben Kyi


A Message

R&B is everywhere at the moment but very little of it is genre-pushing. Nostalgia is key for the genre in 2015 and while it’s brought back some memories, the music is stuck in time. Kelela is an exception to that rule. While A Message definitely draws comparisons to Aaliyah, the production and songwriting is unmistakably Kelela looking to the future. It’s spacious, unpredictable and dark placing accents in all the right places. A Message is slow to the point of boredom but she never lets you get that far grabbing you with sharp, layered lines like “If I was your ex-girlfriend.” She’s a puppet master when it comes to directing rhythm and pace and here she displays some of her best work. – Sam Murphy


Jack Ü
Where Are Ü Now (Feat. Justin Bieber)

When Skrillex and Diplo dropped their collaborative Jack Ü album earlier this year Where Are Ü Now was tucked right at the end. At this point Justin Bieber was only just stepping on the road to PR recovery and while it took a little while to catch fire commercially, it’s hard to imagine Bieber’s comeback being quite as successful without this song. It took an artist struggling to find his place in the industry sonically and gave him a bed of fresh beats bursting with life. Bieber’s voice found a perfect home in the melancholic keys of the verses which were lifted by Skrillex and Diplo’s lively beatwork. It’s the sort of song that would’ve been used as a brief for many a pop star wanting a hit this year because, whether they knew it or not, they created the sound of 2015 – “expensive” beats. – Sam Murphy


Tame Impala

Psychedelic rock often leaves little room for clarity. Reverb is king and silence is rare but Tame Impala altered that formula this year. On Eventually, a song about moving on from a breakup, Kevin Parker breaks it up into two distinct parts – the noisy and the crystal clear. The lyrics marry perfectly with the instrumental as the verses, that are shrouded in doubt, move along in a guitar-driven haze. “I know that I’ll be happier and I know you will too,” Parker sings in the bridge as the musical haze lifts allowing for complete clarity. It’s a beautiful moment that packs more emotion that any Tame Impala song before it. – Sam Murphy


Clearest Blue

Whilst most of CHVRCHES tracks sit within the tried and tested structure of verse and chorus, Clearest Blue turns this on its head. Although a discernible verse co-exists with a bridge for the first half of the song, the back end is a building climax that means the end of the song is its most vital part. The multi-tracking of Lauren Mayberry’s vocals in this climactic ending is just incredible, with her effortlessly beautiful vocals layered against each other in an amazingly harmonic way, the two key lines interacting as only counter-melodies should. – Zanda Wilson


Cosmo’s Midnight
Walk With Me (Feat. KUČKA)

Although Cosmo’s Midnight went on to release an EP later in the year, no one could deny that Walk With Me was their defining, breakthrough single. Before this, the boys had released tracks and played shows, but the release of Walk With Me really announced their arrival stylistically. It’s build around an insanely cute riff, that sits and interacts with a bass layer in a super funky way, and KUČKA’s vocals suit the instrumentation used better than anyone else could. Glittery sample effects during the chorus add the finishing touches on a track that at its bare bones is simple, but whose production value is huge. – Zanda Wilson


Club Cheval

With the deep house revolution fading (as Disclosure’s disappointing Caracal showed), there was a distinct lack of bangers in the circa 125BPM category but Club Cheval saved the day at the end of the year. Discipline was the second track to come from the four French producers’ debut album due out next year and it’s an anthemic stomper. They perfectly marry together a R&B vocal with a howling synth-line that gives off the kind of euphoria that any club track needs to be totally triumphant. It’s the type of track that you’ll hear at 3am in a haze, only to have that synth-line in your head when you wake up in the harsh light of day. – Sam Murphy


Ratchet Commandments

“I need a moment to preach,” Tink raps on the Timbaland-produced Ratchet Commandments, a song which saw the Chicago rapper take every social issue she’s passionate about to church in three powerful minutes. Over a perky, distinct Timbaland beat she calls out cheats, liars and social media fakes as if she’s giving us her 2015 manifesto. “She won’t pick up a book but she’ll probably bust it open for social media,” Tink tells Tim, raising everything that’s wrong with social media in one succinct line. If you clean up the language a bit this is a presidential speech in waiting and It just so happens that it’s also one of the effortlessly rhythmic tracks of the year. These two are a dream team. – Sam Murphy


Jamie xx

Jamie xx’s whole record In Colour was a love letter to British clubbing – one that took us on a journey through the different genres that he’s seen pass through in his short but influential time in the clubs. Gosh is the opener to that record and a track that set the whole tone for the album. It’s routed in UK garage but there’s so much more to the instrumental track. He brings in Burial-type levels of emotion carefully layering the track to lead it to a glorious finale. The beginning is frantic and yet Jamie manages to lead-in this strikingly beautiful synth that buoys the whole song and makes it euphoric. It’s subtle but it’s so effective it could make you cry. – Sam Murphy


Years & Years

Each year there are a handful of artists who nail the unashamed pop song. When it comes to using every trick in the box, Years & Years nailed it with King. It’s a huge, bellowing anthem with euphoric synths, uplifting choruses and a melancholic, pensive third verse. The synth-pop thing isn’t necessarily new and Years & Years aren’t really doing anything new but they’re doing everything right. The voice is there, the melody is rich and delectable and all the instruments are fine-tuned to maximum effect. If you’re going to make a pop song why not go the full hog. Sometimes it’s painfully desperate but King is a celebration of triumphant pop of which nobody matched this year. – Sam Murphy


Just Like We Never Said Goodbye

Outside of producing for popstars, SOPHIE had never made a song with a traditional song structure before Just Like We Never Said Goodbye. The closer to the enigmatic British producer’s singles collection PRODUCT packs more emotion than most songs this year as synthetic as it may be. It’s as if Siri grew a heart and then poured out a hyperactive ballad that broke your heart. It’s got nostalgic lyrics, sugar-coated synths and surprisingly textured vocals that just chip away at the heart in a way you never thought possible from this kind of music. It’s important because as silly as SOPHIE’s music can seem on the surface, it’s actually got some emotional substance. – Sam Murphy



2015 may be the year that Claire Boucher entered Realiti. Her music was always fascinating because it operated in an other-worldly space but this year she embraced the outside world and brought it with her into her music. A demo of Realiti surfaced online earlier this year and even though it wasn’t finished it was enough to uncover a different Grimes – one that was in touch with reality. The version that appears on Art Angels is glossier but the general feeling remains the same. “When I get up this is what I see, welcome to realiti,” Boucher sings with a glimmer a hope in her voice that we’ve missed from her in the past. It wasn’t going even going to make the album but it’s a good thing it did because it’s the defining anthem of the record. – Sam Murphy


Tame Impala
The Less I Know The Better

The most striking aspect of The Less I Know The Better is that constant, unrelenting driving beat, cultivated by the perfectly-in-balance guitar riff, bassline and simple but necessary drums. It helps to create an instrumental side to the track that is not so much catchy as it is pulsating, replicating your heart-beat, and therefore irresistibly impossible to ignore. Couple this with Kevin Parker’s on-point falcetto that sounds so natural that falcetto doesn’t even quite describe it, and you find yourself listening to something that just seems natural and in perfect balance with the human body. Twinkling guitar and sparkling synth lines litter the upper layers of the track, and round it off. – Zanda Wilson


The Weeknd
Can’t Feel My Face

It takes a certain type of artist to just decide that they’re going to make a hit. The Weeknd obviously knew he could become a superstar but for one reason or another he was holding back. As soon as he was ready he contacted serial hitmaker Max Martin and they made a certified banger. Can’t Feel My Face took some of The Weeknd of old (drugs, sex, darkness) and married it with a Michael Jackson inspired icon-sound made for big rooms. When he starts with slow, brooding synths it’s as if he’s playing with us, taunting us with the potential of a funk drop that may or may not come. It does come and by the first bar it’s obvious that this is huge flippin song made for world domination. It crosses over into the pop world without ostracising his original fans and in the meantime creates a mammoth song custom-made for dancefloors all around the world. – Sam Murphy


Justin Bieber
What Do You Mean

What Do You Mean, Bieber’s official solo return post-dickhead Bieber era was the smartest pop move of the year. He enlisted Skrillex once again because Where Are Ü Now worked and the pair mixed that Jack Ü sound with elements of tropical house – a genre which had been starting to make a move on the charts. The result is one of the most breezy, effortless pop songs of the year that was great, not because it was deep or complicated but because it was impossibly easy to devour like every genius pop song should be. The beats are expensive and it makes great use of Bieber’s voice which is brilliant in tone but not overly strong. It’s not egotistical or out there and that’s exactly what he needed to do given the profile that he’d developed for himself over the past few years. Instead of Bieber looking like a dickhead, it was the ones writing think pieces about Bieber that looked like dickheads and that’s a mark of success in itself. – Sam Murphy


Unknown Mortal Orchestra

The title track of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s 2015 LP illustrates why these guys are one of the most diverse and unique acts going around at the moment. Multi-Love is a melodic and rhythmic exploration in subtle psychedelic sounds, with gorgeous echoey vocals at its epicentre. Instrumental sounds range from mandolin-style guitars to more conventional strumming, all backed by instrumental and vocal sound effects and heavy use of delay. Part of the intrigue of the track actually lies in that some of the effects are so heavy in places that it’s hard to establish what precisely is going on in terms of vocal and melodic harmonies. – Zanda Wilson


Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney

Rihanna and Kanye are responsible for some of the biggest musical productions of the last decade. They’ve shocked time and time again with epic instrumentals, huge hooks and thudding beats but FourFiveSeconds proves that the most shocking thing both of them can do is strip everything right back. They got Paul McCartney on board for this one but it’s really all about containing Kanye and Rihanna’s personalities within the confines of an acoustic song. Rihanna sounds the best she has in her entire career and even Kanye’s singing sounds better here than on his other attempts. Quite simply, it’s a down-and-out anthem with a melody that’s classic but still cool. It’s totally raw and it sat in the upper-echelons of the charts this year with EDM stompers and pop songs produced within an inch of their life, still managing to speak the loudest. – Sam Murphy


Hotline Bling

In 2015, only Drake could remix a song by another rapper, not even release it as a single and have it become his biggest hit to date. It’s almost unbelievable that Hotline Bling took off like it did but it’s a testament to Drake’s feel for pop sensibility and melody. He dropped this song around the time he unleashed a mixtape with future satisfying casual Drake fans and those that vibe on his hip-hop stuff simultaneously. Hotline Bling is bare-boned, basically centred around a sample of Timmy Thomas’ Why Can’t We Live Together with some added beats vaguely reminiscent of hold music. He cleverly accented the songs most important lines and only changed up the melody once for an emotional bridge at the songs tailend. It’s a masterclass in writing a simple but effective track with as little tools and time as possible. The song was already perfect and then he went and hit us with a video that demonstrated no one knows the internet better than Drake. Without an album to his name, 2015 was all about Drake because he just gets the musical climate we’re living in. – Sam Murphy



Not since the days of Dizzee Rascal has the Australian public taken so fondly to UK grime. The genre is going through a massive resurgence outside the shores of England and most notably here in Australia with much of it thanks to this guy; Skepta. Shutdown is a lyrical montage of the grime legend’s to do list in life that’s steadily being ticked off. The fact that Drake features on the intro and outro of the song is true testament that grime is breaking down longstanding barriers in the US hip-hop world. 2015 was definitely shutdown and expect 2016 to be too, even more so as Skepta continues to take the throne. – Alistair Rhodes


Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick‘s 2015 release To Pimp A Butterfly will be an album for the ages and off that came its heroic centrepiece Alright. This catchy but potent number followed in the footsteps of King Kunta finding the balance between being socially conscious while still having all the ingredients of a hit. It’s no wonder that this track blew-up everywhere this year given that you’ve got Pharell Williams on production and also singing the surprisingly catchy-as-fuck hook. Alright has become a black anthem that shows solidarity. It’s prime message is that against all of life’s struggles, precisely police brutality, “we gon’ be alright”. – Alistair Rhodes


Jamie xx
I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (Feat. Young Thug And Skepta)

Amongst Jamie xx’s album of euphoric, instrumental tracks sits a tropical, feel-good rap song that became the unexpected song of summer all around the world – I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times). From the opening Persuasians sample, you’re taken to a place where cocktails are cheap and everyone can limbo. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of winter or actually on a tropical island, the mood of Good Times is utterly infectious. Young Thug and Popcaan are an unlikely but perfect pairing and together they bring a perfect balance of smut and cheer. Every festival we went to this year, Good Times bellowed out of the speakers and one-by-one the smiles emerged. – Sam Murphy


Tame Impala
Let It Happen

How do you return from a career-defining record? Unleash a seven minute epic with a skip in it that at first feels like a technical fault. There was nothing obvious about Tame Impala’s long-awaited return with Let It Happen, if you followed the advice of the song title chances are you would’ve fallen in love. Gone were the crunching guitars and reverb-soaked vocals. Instead Kevin Parker was sporting a crisp falsetto sitting on a bed of synths and beats borrowed from the world of electronica. The psychedelia was still there but it wasn’t harking back to Pink Floyd or The Doors rather looking towards the long-form electronic worlds of producers like Four Tet.

It was a left turn that paid off for the band because every element worked together harmoniously. The synth-line was catchy enough to keep us captivated and just when you felt the boredom creep in for all of a second Parker skipped the track as if to restart our hearts. It was ambitious but it didn’t sound forced. It sounded like a band moving forward naturally and having complete confidence in doing so. – Sam Murphy


Kendrick Lamar
King Kunta

“I’ve got a bone to pick,” Kendrick Lamar says in the first line of King Kunta, the funkiest track off his monumental record To Pimp A Butterfly. It’s as if he’s delivering a “ok, now listen up,” to everyone and taking his position at the podium to preach. He delivers some of the most egotistical lines of his career on King Kunta but it’s not about getting money or girls, it’s about running the town and deserving his right to do so.

The funk-driven beat is a chest-puff in itself but Lamar sits atop it with charisma and focus. The back-up vocals echo what he says as if he’s got bevvy of supporter behind him. It’s never cocky though. Like i, where he preaches “I love myslef,” King Kunta is an anthem of self-belief all about standing up for yourself. That’s empowering not just for him but for everybody who presses play. – Sam Murphy


Jamie xx
Loud Places (Feat. Romy)

“I go to loud places to search for someone to be quiet with,” Romy sings on Loud Places, the standout moment from Jamie xx’s club-nostalgic debut solo album. It’s a song caught between two emotions – sadness and joy. Romy’s verses are melancholic and beautiful while the Idris Muhammad sample is euphoric and ready for the masses.

Loud Places is that moment in the club where everyone’s moving in slow-motion and you’ve for a moment remembered some of the problems you entered with and are brought down for a split second. If you watch Jamie xx drop this song during a live set and watch the crowd’s reaction you’ll see their heart in their throat but they’ll still have their arms in the air. The dancefloor’s most potent moments have always traded in heartbreak and Jamie xx understands that flurry of emotion better than anyone. A beautiful and fragile moment that’s going to be incredibly hard to beat this year. – Sam Murphy


Flesh Without Blood

There’s a moment when a relationship is coming to an end where you can’t see any good in the person you’re sitting opposite. You don’t like them, they don’t like you and every habit that once annoyed you slightly is now a monumental problem. Flesh Without Blood is about that moment. It’s Grimes at her most honest, detailing personal relationships with more clarity than she’s ever managed before.

“I don’t see the light I saw in you before,” she sings, capturing that moment in just one line sung with beautiful fragility. Fragility is one side of the song but freedom is the other. “Just let me go,” is the lyric she sings most convincingly, sounding the most stern of all lines on the record. It’s the type of song you’d chop up clothes to and launch them out the window with pent up anger being released in one hell of a song.

Oblivion was brilliant but you had to really delve deep into Grimes’ world to understand it. The emotions that she presents on Flesh Without Blood are universal. It’s the most relatable song she’s ever written and what’s best is she’s managed to retain her sonic intricacies while doing so. 2015 was the year Grimes dropped the cult from cult hero – she’s everyone’s now. – Sam Murphy

Hear the interns’ 100 Best Songs Of 2015 below in order: