Month: February 2016

Top 5 Pop Songs of 2015

Top 5 Songs of 2015

I don’t listen to a ton of new music. I go on Spotify almost every day and listen to songs that I handpicked. Most of the songs on my playlists are songs that I already know. On my regular commute, I choose to listen to podcasts instead of the radio or even Spotify. When I was asked by my friends from Hi-5 Podcast to rank the top 5 songs of 2015, I realized that I knew more than I thought.


Of course, most subjective “top 5” lists can be debated until the end of time if you choose. I tried to go easy on myself and pick 5 songs with one practical question:

Which pop songs from 2015 did I enjoy, and which ones did I only tolerate?


Typically, I don’t dig deep for new music, so all of my list had to be selected from the Top 40. Without further ado, here’s my totally subjective list of the Top 5 Songs of 2015:


5. Wiz Khalifa- See You Again

My toughest choice was at number 5. I found several songs that I liked a decent amount and a few of them could’ve made it to this spot. I debated with songs like “Trap Queen” and “Focus” but chose “See You Again” for a few reasons. I haven’t seen any of the Fast and the Furious movies but realize the significance that it has for fans of Paul Walker. On a musical level, I think it’s a pretty decent pop/hip-hop song with catchy piano and a hook that makes everyone want to sing along. As a keyboard player, I’ve definitely had to play this song on several occasions based on requests of friends, students and coworkers. Because of them, it made the cut. I told you this list would be very subjective. On a piano, I play the chords like this: Gm-Bb-Eb-Gm. 


4. Taylor Swift- Shake It Off

I know Taylor Swift had another huge year. I don’t follow celebrities or careers but I know she’s kind of a big deal in the music world. I also know that songs like “Style” maybe should’ve made my list instead, but I chose “Shake It Off” for a couple of reasons. I think “Shake It Off” kind of felt like the “Happy” of 2015. To me, it’s a fun, simple but highly catchy anthem that makes you want to sing along and dance. I don’t think that all music needs to be deep and poetic, especially in the Pop category. Some songs are just about having a good time, and that’s ok. On a piano, I play Am-C-G.


3. Adele- “Hello”

I first heard this song and thought, “Oh, it’s the four chords from the Axis of Awesome song.” It wasn’t until the SNL Thanksgiving skit that I started to like the song. Now, it sits at number 3 for my list. I enjoy listening to it on Spotify and lip-synching the words just like the cast of SNL. On a piano, you can play the chorus with a Fm-Db-Ab-Eb progression. I teach some of those progressions in my Garageband course.


2. Pitbull feat. Chris Brown- “Fun”

This is a case of separating one’s perception of an artist with one’s enjoyment of a song. This song was probably my favorite radio hit from the summer of 2015 and I don’t even know if it was played that often. It’s got that 1980s-style synth bass to start. During the verse with Chris Brown, the progression switches from minor to a C major and it kind of feels like “Thriller” in a way for just a second. Then the hook comes in and makes you want to dance, and then the flute part comes in and really makes you want to dance. It’s not the deepest of songs, but I don’t care. I’ve lowered my expectations for most pop music and if I can find something I like in what’s being force-fed to me by pop culture, then I’m content. This song has like 4 or 5 musical components that I like, which is enough to make the top 5 this year.


1. Walk the Moon- “Shut Up and Dance”

Wait… what? No “Uptown Funk”? Nope. I bet most people would pick “Uptown Funk”. It’s a nice catchy pop song that feels like a throwback to James Brown and artists similar to James Brown. The thing is: when I first heard “Uptown Funk”, that’s all I could think about. It reminded me of when Bruno Mars basically made a Police song with “Locked Out of Heaven”. From what I’ve read, I’ve heard he actually writes his own songs as well as other people’s songs (like Cee-Lo Green’s hit song). Regardless, I chose “Shut Up and Dance” for a few reasons. I like the guitar effect in the beginning that must’ve been accomplished by some type of Edge-like delay pedal.  The song then progresses to my favorite part of the whole song, which is the build up to the chorus. After that, things open up nicely with the upbeat hook that makes people want to sing along. I like the fun message to the song and I like the intentionally cheesy and dorky 1980s music video. Maybe I’m just a little biased towards bands since, you know, I play instruments and stuff. I enjoy that over-the-top synth solo towards the end of the song, as well. Overall, when I hear this song, I think of summer nights in 2015 and great times out with friends, and that’s what I want to think about during the snowstorm that I’m currently sitting in 🙂


So that’s my list for 2015. I may regret that “Uptown Funk” snub in the future 🙂

What are your picks?