The 40 best songs of 2015

30. ASAP Rocky – ‘Everyday’

Rod Stewart and Miguel are not singers you expect to hear together, but Stewart’s sample and Miguel’s modern interpretation both make perfect hooks for A$AP Rocky to ruefully boast about the price of fame over. Yeah, it’s not a new subject but like that sample from ‘In A Broken Dream’ it works no matter if this is your first time hearing it or your fiftieth. – Jody Macgregor

29. Miguel – ‘Coffee’

Miguel gets his smooth Frank Ocean on and then Wale comes along and compares his sexual technique to a scone, then namechecks 50 Shades Of Grey. What? If that puts you off, don’t worry, there’s a version of this song without the Wale verse; just pure Miguel sex jam, no bread products added. – Jody Macgregor

28. The Drones – ‘Taman Shud’

In anguished staccato, Gareth Liddiard calls out coal magnates terrorising the environment, media manipulators, witless nationalists, and internment camps. If Australians weren’t effectively repulsed by John Oliver’s repeated admonishing, ‘Taman Shud’ should tip them over the edge. It’s a sickening reflection of everything corrupt we hold dear and which deserves reexamination, from lionising murderers to gorging on Masterchef. – Jake Cleland

27. SOAK – ‘Sea Creatures’

SOAK’s songs are windows into her world, into what it’s like as a kid in Northern Ireland and how it’s probably not that different to what it’s like being a kid where you are now. ‘Sea Creatures’ is a teenage outsider anthem, but it’s also timeless classicist-pop. – Jody Macgregor

26. Sleater-Kinney – ‘No Cities to Love’

The title track of Sleater-Kinney’s kickass comeback album is just three minutes long, but it packs so much in there. From the trademark entwining of Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker’s vocals and guitars to the barbed messages of their unflinching lyrics, this is a punky yet funky survey of modern emptiness, both within and without. It’s also one of the catchiest songs of the whole year. – Doug Wallen

25. Blank Realm – ‘Palace of Love’

It took Blank Realm five albums to finally record in a proper studio on their evolution from noisy experimentalists to unlikely pop geniuses. The Brisbane ensemble are at the top of their game on ‘Palace of Love’, which launches immediately into tinny glory while capturing the sheer deliriousness of love. Bolstered by tangled guitar and synth, dual vocals at the chorus and itchy momentum, the song ends on an ecstatic peak that’s absolutely contagious. – Doug Wallen

24. Sui Zhen – ‘Take It All Back’

Singer/songwriter/producer Sui Zhen explores her alter ego Susan in the unsettling video for ‘Take It All Back’. That’s also the premise of her new album Secretly Susan, which further develops her disembodied electro-pop for some of her best work to date. Like the video, this song is at once emotional and nonchalant, heartfelt and goofy. While there are whiffs of vaporwave and PC Music-style pop, Sui Zhen manages to stand outside trends, time and genre. – Doug Wallen

23. Florence & the Machine – ‘What Kind of Man’

Florence Welch has always been looking for catharsis by transforming personal calamity into the meatiest chorus she can find. ‘What Kind of Man’ introduced a more complex approach with layered guitars and horns and a saga of music videos reaffirming Flo’s place as the reigning monarch of turbulent, bombastic rock. – Jake Cleland

22. Ngaiire – ‘Once’

Ngaiire is no stranger to critical accolades, but ‘Once’ is a game-changing single for the suddenly hyped Sydney vocalist, who’s readying her second album. She floats along over the song’s hazy pulse, swinging between airy mood-setting and arresting emotional breakout. It’s modern electro-soul a la Chet Faker, flecked with old-school R&B, gospel and jazz while arriving at a thrilling new sound. – Doug Wallen

21. Twerps – ‘I Don’t Mind’

We all know how well Twerps can do frisky guitar-pop, but ‘I Don’t Mind’ shows off another side. Sprawling past the five-minute mark, it’s a Velvets-ish ballad marked by Marty Frawley’s communal-minded lyrics and Julia MacFarlane’s wispy harmonies. Just like that, it drops the bratty baggage of their band name. – Doug Wallen

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