Top 25 Songs of 2015

Hello, my name is Chris, and I am still a pop bubblegum whore.

Since 2007, I have a made a New Years’s Eve tradition of embarrassing myself in front of my far cooler friends by announcing here on the blog the 25 songs I listened to the most during the year.

Here they are:

  1. “Feeling Ok” by Best Coast
  2. “I Really Like You” by Carly Rae Jepsen
  3. “Shut Up and Dance” by WALK THE MOON
  4. “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd
  5. “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson
  6. “Electric Eye” by Lissie
  7. “Torn-Don’t Stop Believin’” by Eden xo
  8. “Sugar” by Karmin
  9. “Stevie Wonder Herbie Hancock Mashup” by Pomplamoose
  10. “I Want You to Know (feat. Selena Gomez)” by Zedd
  11. “Freedom” by Pharrell Williams
  12. “Roman Holiday” by Halsey
  13. “Ex’s & Oh’s” by Elle King
  14. “Go” by The Chemical Brothers
  15. “#SELFIE” by The Chainsmokers
  16. “Bang Dem Sticks” by Meghan Trainor
  17. “Out of the Blue” by Prides
  18. “Feeling Good” by Lauryn Hill
  19. “Instant Crush (Radio Edit)” by Natalie Imbruglia
  20. “Whatsername” by Green Day
  21. “Groove Is In the Heart” by Deee-Lite
  22. “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour
  23. “Painted” by MS MR
  24. “Flesh And Blood” by Sarah McLachlan
  25. “Sleepwalker” by Bonnie McKee

In the spirit of keeping things fresh, I ditched last year’s rule that songs must’ve been released during the year in question. I’ve also reinstated my occasional rule that no more than one song per artist may appear on the countdown.

The resulting list demonstrates, as my year-end lists so often do, that pop music is my sonic comfort food. The one-song-per-artist rule adds variety that would’ve otherwise been lost, given that I listened to Halsey’s sixteen-track Badlands (Deluxe) front to back on more occasions than I care to admit. And lifting the ban on songs not released in 2015 allows me to share songs from way-back-when that I only added to my library this year, especially relevant in this year where I attended my twenty-year high school reunion. This last rule also allows me to include my new favorite tune, “Sleepwalker” by Bonnie McKee, released in 2013 but only discovered by me earlier this month.

To look back on the Top 25 lists from previous years, give these links a clickety-click: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.

Joy to the World

Photo by Samuel Zeller

Photo by Samuel Zeller

You push the shovel underneath the heavy wet slop of snow and ice, and you scrape. You scratch away at the place where it sticks to the pavement, not satisfied until you’ve brought the blacktop back to the light. And then, then you push the mound of dirty slush toward the bank where the tallest of the pines stood when you were a kid, the tree that was the center of your fort for all seasons, but where now there is nothing but a rock marking the grave of your family’s crazy old dog. You build a wall there that would make eight-year-old you proud. You build a wall even though there is no one to man the battlements. You build it just because.

Christmas songs hum through your head as you work, only passing over your lips by accident, and it isn’t until “Joy to the World” that a lyric hangs you up. Suddenly, you can’t stop thinking about heaven and nature singing. You can’t stop thinking that Christians screwed up when aligning their holy days with pagan rituals. Sure, they got converts anyway, but wouldn’t it have made more sense to line up birth with birth and death with death? Where, in the last week of December, could one hear heaven sing, or nature, let alone both at once?

But then the sun peeks through the gray shadows that have hung overhead for more days than you can count. And the light, the light bounces off of everything white in the world. Which is to say, at this moment at least, it bounces off of nearly everything. It bounces and it burns, and you have to squint because it’s too much at once. And if that isn’t heaven and nature belting one out together, then what is? What is?

Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)

Man’s love is
like a mystery
you taste in his mustache.

Is it rye
or did he spring
for the scotch?

And is that
a whiff of lo mein, or
are you imagining things,
like him in a restaurant
instead of an alley,
the small space
where he hid from his old man
as a child,
where he hides
from the young men now?

The real question is:
why do you holler
back when he hollers,
when he wakes us,
when you know
this is what he does
every Christmas,
filling that empty
feeling he feels
when he sees
the empty spaces
beneath the tree?

Last Christmas

She carries it in a lunch pail, the same one her grandfather used when he sat on the girders of a building they were raising to scrape the sky. At the entrance to the store, she checks it with the man in the yellow shirt, lifting the lid and offering the card you wrote her as a receipt. Yellow Shirt nods at the pail and marks the card with a Sharpie, then points in the direction of the service desk.

While she waits in line — not on line, for that is a battle she has never and will never concede to you — she wonders what reason she will give for the return. In front of her, men and women wait with television sets still in boxes, linens still zipped into plastic, and toy dolls still bound to cardboard by a thousand little twists and ties. But inside the bucket, your gift to her is opened, unboxed, used.

You will write songs about her — many bad ones, and one good — and you will stuff the thing back inside yourself for safe-keeping once it makes the trip through the postal service back to your door. And one day, one day you will give it to someone special, but you will never forget waking this morning in your cold bed, the gauze taped to your chest and red with blood oozing from the stitches she sewed into you; you will never forget how you clutch your hand to your breast now, feeling there the faintest echo of the piece of you that’s throbbing in her pail as she sets it on the counter and says, “I’d like to make a return.”

Here Comes Santa Claus

Photo by Hide Obara

Photo by Hide Obara

It was the tracks of the apparatus she’d tugged through the snow that led me to her. At the end of the street, she stood on the top step of a ladder that was perched precariously on a snowbank that had been building since the season’s first storm. And I tried not to yell as I saw her wobble up there, a roll of scotch tape in one hand and a piece of green construction paper in the other.

“Whatcha doing?” I asked her.

“Conducting an experiment,” she said, wrapping the construction paper around the sign and taping it in place.

Scrawled out in Wite-Out she’d stolen from my desk were the words “Santa Claus Lane.”

“It’s the street he visits in the song,” she said. “I thought maybe he’d get here faster if I changed the sign.”

I nodded as I held the ladder steady, watching her climb down with my heart thudding in my chest. Her boots seemed to slip sideways on every other step.

“You think it’ll work?” she asked me.

I smiled down at her as I folded up the ladder.

“Really?!?” she said, squeeing.

I said: “We were opening presents by two in the morning the year I did it.”

She squeezed my hand as we started back toward the house. “I can’t believe we had the same idea,” she said.

“Great minds think alike,” I said, mussing the hair she’d been too careless to cover with a hat, patting the only head I’d ever found as crazy as mine.