From The Weeknd (twice) to Missy and Janet comebacks, here are the songs that rocked my year:
1. The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face”
Abel Tesfaye had everybody feeling his groove with this No. 1 smash, which catapulted the Canadian to the pop stratosphere. This addictive jam also took his Michael Jackson fixation to new heights, recalling the glittery-socked soul-disco of Off the Wall.
2. Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”
Proving the power of music to inspire and unite, this became the unofficial anthem of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2015. When Cleveland State students chanted this To Pimp a Butterfly masterstroke in protest against the police, it became a rallying cry for fighting the good fight.
3. Missy Elliott featuring Pharrell Williams, “WTF (Where They From)”
Missy started off the year by stealing the Super Bowl halftime show from Katy Perry, and she ended it by owning the dance floor with her comeback single. If there was any doubt that she could still work it, this beat-and-rhyme attack destroyed it.
4. Drake, “Hotline Bling”
From “Best I Ever Had” and “Find Your Love” to “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” Drizzy has become a master of the hypnotic seduction. He can even make reminiscing about late-night booty calls sound like the most romantic thing ever, while dancing like a big goofball.
5. Stacy Barthe, “Flawed Beautiful Creatures”
This R&B singer-songwriter’s soul-baring debut album, BEcoming, was the most criminally overlooked LP of 2015. On this highlight, she finds beauty in the imperfections that make up our personal struggle.
6. The Weeknd, “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)”
That guy again? It’s a testament to how much The Weeknd won 2015 that this, “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills” gave him three of the year’s best singles. But for straight-up sexiness, this took the prize.
7. Leon Bridges, “Coming Home”
With the tender title track of his debut album, this retro-soul man went two-stepping back to the late ’50s/early ’60s in vintage style. Channeling the late, great Sam Cooke, he came up with something timeless.
8. Andra Day, “Rise Up”
Another R&B throwback, Day moved mountains with this rousing ode to resiliency from her debut album, Cheers to the Fall. It was the kind of take-you-to-church testimony that really made us believe.
9. Janet Jackson featuring J. Cole, “No Sleeep”
Oh Miss Jackson, we missed you much. For her comeback single, she crafted a grown-and-sexy vibe that took us back to the janet./Velvet Rope era, making this the quiet-storm jam of 2015.
10. Nicki Minaj featuring Beyoncé, “Feeling Myself”
When Nicki and Beyoncé come together, is there any doubt who runs the world? And on top of that slinky, get-your-life groove, there’s an empowering message for the ladies in the club.
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