Even though I initially felt like this was a lackluster month, I actually had trouble getting this list past twenty songs, and at one point I was just going to have ten honorable mentions. In the end, I was able to get it down to fifteen, but still, good month. Let’s get right into it. Here’s my top ten favorite singles of the month of October.
10. FOCUS – Ariana Grande feat. Jamie Foxx
Some fans of Ariana Grande have complained (to me, for some reason) that this song is too poppy, and not representative of the soulful sound that drew them to her. Personally, I don’t really care. I guess if you don’t like pop, don’t listen to her new music. Written by Ariana along with some up-and-coming hitmakers like Savan Kotecha and Ilya, this song features more of what makes Ariana great: her incredible vocals, the blending of modern and throwback, and a catchy-ass song with an uncredited black man speaking on the chorus. This time, Jamie Foxx does the honors, indignantly shouting “Focus on me!” over the horn/synth beat courtesy of Max Martin. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as they say.
9. I WANT YOUR LOVE – Lady Gaga
Gaga is back once again, even though she’s actually been fairly prominent these past few months and has been consistently putting out music that often makes these very lists. This time, she’s collaborated with Tom Ford for a cover of Chic’s 1978 hit “I Want Your Love”, aided by the legendary Nile Rodgers. I normally try to keep covers off these lists, which is why Erykah Badu’s “Hotline Bling” and Ne-Yo’s “Friend Like Me” are absent, but in fairness, I actually didn’t know this was a cover. What can I say? I’m young. Plus, if I had to choose a favorite cover song from this month, it would definitely be this one.
8. LOVE ME – The 1975
I know these past three songs have been overly similar, but I swear this is the last one. The last consecutive one, anyway. For those of you that don’t know, The 1975 is one of the only acts in 2015 that still makes ’80s Brit pop. I haven’t heard many songs from them, but this seems like a fairly accurate representation of what they’re about. And it’s a really fun song. If you’re looking for a taste of 1983, this is a pretty great song to get it from.
7. CHAINS – Usher feat. Bibi Bourelly and Nas
About a year ago, The Game put out an anti-police brutality anthem, a pantheon of hip hop’s biggest stars, including 2 Chainz, Curren$y, DJ Khaled, Fabolous, Puff Daddy, and more. Truly, it was our generation’s answer to the West Coast Rap All Stars and the Stop the Violence Movement. It wasn’t very good. Now, after all these dreadful months, we finally have a good response to the terrible systemic crimes against humanity that plague our nation today: “Chains”. It’s dark, angry, earnest, and features a really cool video that displays a few of the recent victims of police brutality. Throw Nas’ best verse in years into the mix and you’ve got a song that may not open eyes, but will certainly stand out as a rallying cry.
6. FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE – Raury feat. Big K.R.I.T.
This Outkast-style lyrical track features the conspiracy theorist ramblings of Raury and the more subdued truth bombs of Big K.R.I.T. It’s amazing how Raury has managed to leave so much of an impression after only one time. He’s proven himself a force to be reckoned with in hip hop, and this song is a perfect example of his talents as a lyricist and producer. He and K.R.I.T. capture the spirit of Andre 3000 and Big Boi so well on this song. It makes me really excited to see what Raury has in store in the future.
5. FLESH WITHOUT BLOOD/LIFE IN THE VIVID DREAM – Grimes
You know those complaints about Ariana Grande being too poppy nowadays? Well, here’s Grimes’ new single, “Flesh Without Blood”. It’s polished, it’s upbeat, and it’s not exactly what Grimes fans expected from a new single. To be fair, she followed it up with the more experimental, true-to-form “SCREAM”, but people have still been fixating on this song and how repulsively fun and well-made it is. Ugh.
4. ANGELS – Chance the Rapper feat. Saba
I think it’s safe to say that very few artists have put out as much music this past year as Chance the Rapper. He put out his acclaimed Surf album with the Social Experiment, followed almost immediately by his Free mixtape with Lil B. Now, he’s working on a third mixtape, a first album, some sort of project with Kanye West, and a long-delayed EP with Childish Gambino. Not to mention he was featured on at least four new singles this month alone, the best of which being “Angels”. In these hectic times, this track does a good job showing that he’s still the same Chancellor we know and love from ACIDRAP.
3. JUMANJI – Joyner Lucas feat. Busta Rhymes
I first caught wind of Joyner Lucas at this year’s BET Awards, where he spit one of the most impressive cyphers of the year. Not long after, he put out one of the most impressive songs of 2015, “Jumanji”, featuring the unstoppable Busta Rhymes. It’s a speed rap, but a particularly impressive one at that, due in part to the menacing beat by Nox Beatz, but mostly due to Joyner’s devastating lyrics and ability to stand up to one of the all-time greats. Busta’s verse is short, but in that small window of time he manages to make fun of his “Look At Me Now” verse and drop a killer non-joke verse.
2. THESE WALLS – Kendrick Lamar feat. Anna Wise and Bilal
Kendrick’s unprecedented run of amazing music videos from To Pimp a Butterfly continues with the new release for the album’s latest single, “These Walls”. The video plays out like a vaudeville routine following the madcap adventures of Kendrick, Terry Crews, and other crazy characters. But aside from the wonderful video (KENDRICK LAMAR AND TERRY CREWS HIT THE QUAN), it’s also a really good song. Like, one of the best songs on one of the best rap albums ever. It uses the “if these walls could talk” metaphor to refer to vaginal walls, and uses that metaphor to discuss the good and evil of the human mind. I could go on for hours, but suffice to say this is a serious contender for the best song of 2015. There’s just one song from this month that I enjoy more.
But first, how about some honorable mentions?
Rubble Kings Theme (Dynamite) – Run the Jewels
Lose Control – Glass Animals feat. Joey Badass
Thank God for Girls – Weezer
Cee Lo Green Sings the Blues – Cee Lo Green
Color Purple – Young Thug & Rich Homie Quan
and my #1 favorite single for the month of October 2015 is…
1. TOM’S DINER – Giorgio Moroder feat. Britney Spears
OK, so you know how I said earlier that I don’t usually include covers on these lists? Well, I made one more exception, because holy shit. I brought up this song earlier this year as one of my favorite songs of the year, but it wasn’t until earlier this month that it was actually released as a single. Moroder is one of the most influential producers of all time, and this cover of the 1987 Suzanne Vega hit of the same name proves that he’s still got it after all these years. So does Spears, who holds her own on this track better than she has in almost a decade. It’s a tragically overlooked song that has potential to be a classic.
So, those are my favorite songs of the month. Since this is National Novel Writing Month, I’ll be posting scarcely these coming weeks, but rest assured I am still working on a variety of great articles. In the meantime, like this post if you like it, comment if you’ve got something to say, follow my blog if you like it like it, you can also follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY, and be patient because I have a lot of articles in the pipeline, but they’ll be a while.