The standout tracks of 2015’s first half have a positive air about them, whether it’s Kacey Musgraves advising us on how life can be gravy, Young Thug knowing that good times are coming or Tame Impala letting the world unfold as it may. And when the songs themselves aren’t too sunny, their backstories still feel heartwarming — Justin Bieber’s big radio comeback, for instance, or Florence Welch’s ascent to pop genius status. There’s a feel-good story somewhere in all of these 10 songs, which will all sound great throughout 2015 and beyond.
Check out our unranked list of the 10 best songs of 2015 (so far):
Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen”
A hearty “Hey, what’s up, hello” to one of rap’s most uniquely inspired new personalities: Fetty Wap’s surprise success story has been all the more enjoyable to witness due to the jubilant debut single on which it is founded. “Trap Queen” is teeming with enough hooks and good vibes to have rightfully taken over 2015’s first half.
Kacey Musgraves, “Biscuits”
Does it sound a whole lot like “Follow Your Arrow”? Sure. Does it not matter? Nope, not at all. Kacey Musgraves is sticking to her strengths on “Biscuits,” offering more gooey life lessons but never sounding patronizing in the process. One of country music’s most critically beloved stars continues to impress.
Skrillex & Diplo feat. Justin Bieber, “Where Are Ü Now”
This is the Justin Bieber we’ve been waiting for: emotive, vulnerable and smart enough to join forces with two of electronic music’s most reliable maestros. The combination of Bieber’s moving falsetto and Skrillex and Diplo’s tangled knot of beats makes “Where Are Ü Now” a deserved (and much-needed) triumph.
Years & Years, “King”
U.K. alt-pop trio Years & Years has yet to find a radio foothold in the States, but “King” sounds like it’s destined to be played at arenas for years to come. When frontman Olly Alexander extends his arms and cries “Let go, let go, let go of everything” at the end of the single, it’s almost impossible not to indulge in some type of uninhibited dance breakdown.
Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney, “FourFiveSeconds”
It’s the end of June, and we’re still waiting for the new Rihanna and Kanye West albums… as well as some indication that either will be coming soon. To tide us over, however, the pair of music superstars linked up with a legend and recorded a durable, folked-up soul sing-along. Ye and Rih always zag when we expect them to zig, and we’re forever grateful for it.
Jamie xx feat. Young Thug & Popcaan, “(I Know There’s Gonna Be) Good Times”
Young Thug has released a ton of music on his own accord in 2015 (and has a proper debut album coming in August), but his guest spot on Jamie xx’s magnificent new album became his unlikely crowning achievement this spring. On “(I Know There’s Gonna Be) Good Times,” the gonzo rapper’s unchecked energy proves to be the perfect foil for the xx auteur’s warm production.
Tame Impala, “Let It Happen”
“Let It Happen” is nearly eight minutes in length, but Tame Impala’s epic single is more of a roller coaster than a sprawling freakout, and as such, never loses its momentum. The different movements of the song swirl around Kevin Parker’s lyrics about embracing the chaos of life, and the taut guitar line is all about compelling the listener to embrace the art of head-banging.
The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face”
Abel Tesfaye has been transitioning from shadowy mixtape artist to mainstream R&B dynamo for a while now, and “Can’t Feel My Face” sounds like the logical conclusion in his quest for genre dominance. The Michael Jackson comparisons have been (deservedly) rampant, but the Weeknd’s brand of zonked-out thrill-seeking is all his own.
Florence + The Machine, “Ship To Wreck”
Florence Welch may have reached a new peak with third album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful — she’s certainly never been more effective as a live performer, and “Ship To Wreck” demonstrates that she’s still growing as a pop songwriter. Everything comes together for Florence + The Machine on their latest single, as Welch’s voice coils around the slender arrangement and squeezes hard on the chorus.
Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment, “Sunday Candy”
Chance The Rapper could have been a flashy major-label hip-hop star by now; instead, he’s writing songs about his grandmother with his friends, and is far more respected because of it. “Sunday Candy,” the highlight of Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment’s gorgeous Surf album, doubles as 2015’s most unadulterated burst of happiness, as Chance leads the artist collective in a soaring tribute to the woman he looks up to the most.