Congrats on keeping it together six months into the year!
So many songs, so little time.
We’re bombarded with thousands of songs since the beginning of the year, but only a handful have made an impact in our lives. To celebrate making it nearly halfway through the year (technically July 2 at noon will be the halfway point of the year but we’re poor with algebra), BreatheHeavy.com’s writing team wrote about our favorite tracks thus far.
Madonna – Living For Love
To say that there were high expectations for Madonna’s comeback (and even more spectacular failures) is perhaps a gross understatement, and the Material Girl returned with a whimper rather than a bang as almost the entirety of her thirteenth studio album leaked months in advance of the record’s announcement. Nonetheless, it’s to Madge’s testament that ‘Rebel Heart’ is one of the best albums of the year and “Living For Love” is arguably it’s most outstanding achievement. Although it failed to make any meaningful impact on the charts, even with a couple of high profile performances, one of which will go down in history as featuring the most disastrous wardrobe malfunction since Janet at the Super Bowl, it’s still the strongest lead single Madonna has released in years. The inspirational ode to the power of self-belief is vintage Madonna: the lyrics handled in a nuanced fashion that her contemporaries could only dream of; the house driven instrumental both nostalgic and forward thinking; the melody infectious and up-lifting. Had Madonna not faced so may obstacles – both unwarranted and self-imposed – in the release of “Living For Love” it would have undoubtedly refreshed her career in the same fashion as signature songs “Hung Up” and “Ray of Light”. It’s sure to be the highlight of her forthcoming Rebel Heart Tour, especially if there are no more damn capes.
Purity Ring – bodyache
Two months into the year, electro-pop duo Purity Ring dropped a delicate blend synths and stuttering otherwise known as “bodyache.” It’s a far cry from that other “Body Ache”= that we’ve grown to tolerate, and everything you could imagine to hear if there was a soundtrack to your road to dreamland. In just three-short minutes, the twosome transport you to whimsical realm with light-drum backing from Corin Roddick and soaring vocals, courtesy of Megan James. Get to know Purity Ring before they blow up.
Jidenna – Classic Man ft. Roman GianArthur
Back in February, Jidenna, an MC signed to Janelle Monáe’s record label, released “Classic Man” and my top played list on iTunes hasn’t been the same since. The redheaded, well-dressed man of Nigerian descent is breathing fresh air into the hip-hop world. This song steers clear of the traditional topics and instead focuses on dressing well and taking care of business while remaining danceable and anthemic. Like Drake, Jidenna seamlessly jumps from singing to rapping over a hard-hitting beat. The beat itself has been compared to Iggy’s “Fancy,” but Jidenna’s laid-back delivery makes it unique. There is a brief verse by newcomer Roman GianArthur, but the show is all Jidenna’s. He sums up “Classic Man” better than I ever could saying, “we have a lot of anthems for boys, and I wanted to do something for the real men out there.”
WALK THE MOON – Shut Up and Dance
There’s nothing quite like falling in love with a song the first time you hear it. Alternative rock band Walk The Moon have created a monster anthem with their worldwide smash Shut Up And Dance. One of the loudest, proudest and most energetic love songs in years, lead singer Nicholas Petricca really sounds like he’s still as infatuated with the woman the song is dedicated to as he must have been when they shared this moment on the dancefloor. The song is a true story, Petricca really was told to shut up and dance by his girlfriend at a club one night, which explains why the emotion behind lines like “This woman is my destiny” sounds so earnest and genuine. The song evokes a nostalgic, glam rock sound, heralding back to the golden age of acts like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Queen, with its gargantuan chorus, 50 different hooks and a vivacious guitar solo halfway through. It’s been a while since rock really made its mark on the charts, and Shut Up And Dance would be a worthy catalyst for a rock renaissance. Make sure you check out the video too – it’s a hilarious step by step dissection of every cheesy cliché that popped up in music videos during the 1980s.
Jack Ü ft Justin Bieber – Where Are Ü Now
When two mad audio scientists like Diplo and Skrillex combine their nervous brainpower together, they create a monster. Their freaky Frankenstein resulted in the unusual yet brilliant Justin Bieber-assisted track for “Where Are Ü Now.” Its unstable nature sees a calm introduction alongside a quirky electro stutter before the heavy bass and synths pounce that followed by another biopolar lull where Bieber, who somewhat annoyed me up till recently, coos a soft bridge. Much like the genetic makeup of the song, it continues gaining momentum; just last week it hit the top 10 on Billboard’s Streaming Songs chart (up 22% gain in overall activity) with 7.2 million U.S. streams (according to Nielsen Music). Fans got a rare peak at the Biebs’ organic vocals before Jack Ü deconstructed, destroyed then effortlessly rebuilt them, and it remained a top contender in 2015. The music video accompanying the song drops soon, and knowing what devious work Diplo and Skrillex are capable of – it should be quite the spectacle.
Rae Sremmurd ft Nicki Minaj & Young Thug – “Throw Sum Mo”
“Throw Sum Mo” might be one of the most fun hip-hop songs that has been released in a long while. The song is by new act Rae Sremmurd, and they teamed up with Nicki Minaj and Young Thug on this single to make it shine. The entire beat is very bouncy and just brings out the liveliness in you! I know at every event I’ve been to, it’s gotten so much fun feedback. Nicki’s simply-spoken hook is infectious (since her voice is seriously one-of-a-kind!), Rae Sremmurd’s verses are terribly fun, and, even though you don’t know what the hell he’s saying, Young Thug’s… uniqueness is just the icing on the cake that is this soon-to-be-classic hip-hop tune. I’m very excited to see it be performed this summer during Nicki’s ‘The Pinkprint Tour’ with Rae Sremmurd (also Meek Mill, Tinashe, and DeJ Loaf).
Hilary Duff – Sparks
Hilary Duff’s 2014 return felt more Lizzie than Dignity with the countrified sing-song efforts that were seriously underwhelming after such great anticipation. Thankfully, she fled to Sweden and hooked up with pop’s most promising starlet Tove Lo to create this year’s most joyful ditty, “Sparks.” With its bouncing synths and her breathy vocals, Hilary shimmered back onto the dancefloor like a pop veteran. The effortless earworm was built for summer days but will surpass the seasons with ease, thanks to its countless hooks (“you!”) and that damn whistle. The repeat button was created for songs like this; just as refreshing on 200th play as it was on the first listen. Sorry Mariah but this is the kinda song that’s infinitely catchy!
What’s YOUR favorite song of 2015 thus far? Let us know in Exhale!