The 40 best songs of 2015

10. Kendrick Lamar – ‘King Kunta’

Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly is a wildly ambitious and complex beast of a record that weaves jazz influences, complex lyricism, and soul-searching self-examination into an album that’s been justly acclaimed as an instant classic. At times the scale and scope of Kendrick’s project can be overwhelming to navigate but ‘King Kunta’ keeps things on the one with a James Brown beat and hooky call-and-response vocals. – Tom Mann

9. Hot Chip – ‘Need You Now’

The survival of a band as determinedly odd as Hot Chip – six albums now! – is wonderful, and so is ‘Need You Now’. One of their more serious songs, it’s a late-night dance track full of love and loss and poignancy. – Jody Macgregor

8. Tobias Jesso Jr – ‘Without You’

Classic ‘70s Californian singer-songwriter magic that just happens to have been released in 2015 by a heart-broken Canadian with a little help from Haim’s Danielle Haim on drums and super-producer Ariel Rechtshaid. – Tom Mann

7. Jack Ü (Skrillex and Diplo) ft. Justin Bieber – ‘Where Are Ü Now?’

Nobody but nobody had such an indomitable run of singles as Biebs on his apology tour. This collaboration with Diplo and Skrillex kicked it all off, uniting critical consensus and commercial success like 1989 before him. ‘Where Are Ü Now?’ sounded futuristic from the jump, working distorted samples of Bieber’s own vocals into a melodic hook next to a hyperactive beat which evaded the verses entirely. ‘Where Are Ü Now?’ made every other radio hit sound stale by comparison and finally awarded Bieber the broad credibility his fans had always recognised. – Jake Cleland

6. Taylor Swift – ‘Bad Blood’ ft. Kendrick Lamar

Hailed as propaganda for Swift’s #squad, ‘Bad Blood’s lyrical disappointment over a friendship gone sour makes it equally a you-can’t-sit-here revenge fantasy. ‘Bad Blood’ was an inimitable statement about Swift’s present and future as the godhead of pop. – Jake Cleland

5. Dick Diver – ‘Tearing The Posters Down’

Dick Diver’s crazy-good third album flirts with throwback power-pop in all the right ways, but they haven’t abandoned their tangled jangle. In fact, ‘Tearing the Posters Down’ opens with a veritable Byrds nest of it before Rupert Edwards’s vocals surface after a full 70 seconds of instrumental daydreaming. Sigh. – Doug Wallen

4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – ‘Multi-Love’

The standout moment on Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s excellent third album, if ‘Multi-Love’ hadn’t dropped in the middle of winter it would be the summer jam of 2015. It is taut psychedelic-funk that pinches the skin while warming the blood with blissful musings of love times three. – Sarah Smith

3. Courtney Barnett – ‘Pedestrian At Best’

“Give me all your money and I’ll make some origami, honey.” Is there a better lyric this year? Barnett’s world-conquering ubiquity aside, this one song bottles everything that makes her great: grungy hooks, talky (almost rapped) vocals, and the kind of self-aware running commentary that’s all too rare in indie rock. – Doug Wallen

2. Tame Impala – ‘Let It Happen’

The first taste – and opening track – of Tame Impala’s third album Currents is a sprawling near eight minute marvel that breaks from loose psychedelia into a hypnotic groove that not even Houdini could escape. Guitars take a back seat to deep disco strut and a mountain of distorted funk, while Parker manages to sound both paranoid and fully unfurled for the first time in his career. The result is a near eight-minute marvel and one of Tame’s greatest moments on record yet. – Tom Mann

1. The Weeknd – ‘Can’t Feel My Face’

Abel Tesfaye’s transition from hipster concern to radio staple has exceeded even Frank Ocean’s rise, scoring two of the year’s most seductive hits: ‘The Hills’, and this year defining single. Singing druggy come-ons through a Jacksonian tenor, ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ is Tesfaye’s transcendent orgasm in full climax, yearning and exploding through sharp claps and elastic bass bomps. It’s a sweat-slick singalong for anyone hoping to make love in the club. – Jake Cleland

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