Time for my year end music review. I think 2015 was a fun year in pop music. Lots of great new songs that will certainly be dance-floor-fillers for many years to come. And while there were some disappointments like Madonna’s new one and Pitbull and Chris Brown combining to release “Fun” (which never worked for me all year) and of course Adele (who can sing her heart out but would it kill her to write a happy song?) there were plenty of hits this year that made my job as DJ and party motivator easier.
So here’s my list of Favorite New Songs for 2015. Keep in mind this is just for DJing. My favorite personal songs of the year (like Judith Hill’s “As Trains Go By” and “Right Here, Right Now” off the new Giorgio Moroder release) rarely bleed over to what I’m playing at my events. So in true countdown format I’ll finish this list with the Best New Song of 2015:
16 –“What Do You Mean” – Justin Beiber. As a Howard Stern fan it’s hard to listen to this song and not hear Stern’s spoof on it (which is too dirty to quote here) but since this song has come out it has worked well for me – – either the original or the Full Tilt remix.
15 – “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd. Once the beat kicks in this song is just awesome. Due to its popularity (3 weeks at Number One on Billboard’s Hot 100) I get plenty of requests for it and while it’s not the highest energy song it always works for me.
14 – “Love Me Like You Do” – Ellie Goulding. Maybe the only thing sexier than this song is the way Goulding is biting her lip on the cover of the single. I have a remix of this that I’ll play in a dance set but I find when most people ask for it they want the slow and sultry original. And in the right spot at an event it works.
13 – “Only One” – Kanye West and Paul McCartney. Okay, this could be an example of me allowing my personal preference to bleed over into my events (I’m only human) because I just love this song! It’s so simple and breezy and contains the greatest lyrics of the year (“you’re not perfect but you’re not your mistakes”). I also love that, with this song and “FourFiveSeconds,” Kayne West actually introduced Paul McCartney to a whole new audience. I’ve played this during salad or dinner at almost every event I’ve DJed this year and it’s always been well received.
12 – “Hotline Bling” – Drake. This song came out too late in the year or it would probably be higher on my list. I’ve only had the chance to play it at my last few parties but based on the response I think it’ll be in regular rotation for a while. And now that I’ve seen the Obama version, I love it even more.
11 – “How Deep Is Your Love” – Calvin Harris. First time I got a request for this song over the summer I thought they wanted the Bee Gees. But once I heard the track I was hooked. Similar to “Can’t Feel My Face” it takes a little bit for the beat to kick in but once it does this song is a great dance track.
10 – “Die A Happy Man” – Thomas Rhett. I had a guest request this song over the summer. I looked on my hard drive and saw that I had it so I played it for him. Wow! What a beautiful ballad. I predict this will be a big wedding song moving forward. And since Rhett name checks Marvin Gaye it makes for the perfect segue into my next song.
9- “Marvin Gaye” – Charlie Puth featuring Meghan Trainor. “Let’s Marvin Gaye and get it on” is such an awesome lyric. It’s amazing to me that Gaye is still such an influence in pop music (remember the whole lawsuit over “Blurred Lines” that his family won) so many years after he is gone. It’s almost like Marvin Gaye has become synonymous with “sexy song.” This song has some fun with that concept (“you got the healing that I want”) and it’s worked well for me as a mid-tempo, sing-along song since its summertime release.
8 – “Trap Queen” – Fetty Wap. This song sounds like a video game set to a sick beat but New Jersey’s own Fetty Wap makes it work. It’s been a dance floor jammer for me most of the year and while I have no idea what he’s rapping about it hasn’t mattered much when my crowds are screaming out, “I be in the kitchen cooking pies with my baby.”
7 – “Cheerleader” – OMI featuring Kid Ink. When I first heard the opening saxophone of this song I thought someone had remade the “Hill Street Blues Theme.” But then the lyrics start and that finger snap beat and I loved it. It’s funny and infectious and it was arguably the “Song of the Summer” (actually it’s hard to argue it wasn’t after spending 4 weeks at Number One on Billboard’s Hot 100). And it’s one of those songs that keeps building in energy so it’s the perfect set-starter.
6 – “Sugar” – Maroon 5. I love that Maroon 5 has moved from a pop rock band to a pop dance band. Their 2011 song “Moves Like Jagger” still works for me and this one will probably have the same staying power. Adam Levine certainly knows how to work that high falsetto of his for maximum energy and he does so perfectly in the chorus of this song. I played the original as well as the Full Tilt Remix plenty of times this year and this song never disappointed.
5 – “Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran. 2015 was brand new when most of us first heard this song. And every Mobile DJ I know had the same thought: “there’s our next big wedding song!” And just like John Legend’s “All of Me” from 2013, we were all correct. Sheeran has written beautiful lyrics and he delivers them passionately. This song will be around forever. It’s that timeless and classic.
4 – “Times Of Our Lives” – Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo. This song might be higher on my list than it deserves to be because at some point in 2015 we started using it as our closing song at our Bridal Shows (which was a great recommendation by Corey Fox) and so now I like it even more. Besides, you can’t make a list like this these days without a Pitbull song in the Top Five.
3 – “Watch Me” – Silento. Sometimes (actually often) as a DJ you play what you know will work even if it’s a song you don’t like very much. Every time I’ve dropped The Nae Nae this year I’ve had to remind myself of that. It’s a silly song and it’s not very well done but it packs dance floors and it makes people happy so who am I to judge?
2 – “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. Okay, okay. I know this song technically came out in 2014 but it was so late in the year and it didn’t really break through till this winter. It is clearly the biggest song of 2015 (13 straight weeks at Number One on Billboard’s Hot 100) and will probably clean up at The Grammy’s in February. Plus it’s got a video that is good clean fun and something we can show at our events when we’ve got plasma screens added on. As a Prince fan there’s nothing not to like about this song since it is practically an homage to the Purple One. It’s got that crazy funky beat and those brash and hilarious lyrics (“gotta kiss myself I’m so pretty”). Plus, as a beat mixer, this song’s unpitched 115 BPMs allows me to go in a million places. In my opinion, “Uptown Funk” joins the ranks of those songs that will stay in our regular dance song rotations forever. Most years you are lucky if you get one of those. This year, I think we got two . . .
1 – “Shut Up and Dance” – Walk The Moon. Here’s another song that came out late in 2014 but didn’t make it to my regular rotation till earlier this year when I got my hands on a great remix (thank you Full Tilt!) Choosing between this or “Uptown Funk” as my number one was hard but the deciding factor was how many times in 2015 I closed weddings with this song. It’s a great dance track with a very sing-able chorus and the fact that it works anywhere in the night makes it edge out over “Uptown Funk.” And like that song, I predict this one will remain a staple for us, much like The Black Eyed Peas, “I Gotta Feeling.” I think six years from now (yeah that B.E.P song is six years old already!) we’ll be playing this song and crowds will be erupting and people will be pointing at their friends and screaming the chorus just like they do today. That’s the sign of an all-time great dance song and like I said, this year, I think we got two of them!