Monday, December 14, 2015

Top 25 Hooks Of 2015

Hooks, they can make or break a song. For Pop-centric tunes they're essential, needed in even existing, but with lesser known works that vie for attention the greatness of a hook is critical. We got some incredibly lofty choruses this year, eviscerating ear lobes with addiction and repetition, singing the cheers of 2015 through many facets. Before we get started go ahead and relive 2014's best hooks of the year here. For now though we focus on the present, here are Dozens Of Donuts' top 25 choruses of the past 12 months.

Deerhunter | Carrion
Fading Frontier

Classic Deerhunter, turning something obvious into difficult measures. 'Carrion' sees Cox singing "carry on, carry on, I'll set you free, I'll set you free." It elegantly saturates the finale with Fading Frontier's whole message. That's not all though, each impending chorus switches the words up, keeping it fresh and perpetually interesting. With this continual switch up, Cox leaves things in desperate tension, trying to find a home as he's digging himself in purgatory.


Kendrick Lamar | These Walls
To Pimp A Butterfly

The biggest indicator to the comparisons between To Pimp A Butterfly and D'Angelo's Black Messiah comes here, on the chorus to 'These Walls,' where Bilal and Anna Wise party over sexual tension and funky synths. The Thundercat-assisted chords and production just reek of Funkadelic and other early black Funk groups. Kendrick's obsession with the distant perspective comes to a climax here, as the walls become a figure of voyeurism, seeing all that happens and hides within them.


Tame Impala | Reality In Motion

There was a lot of things Currents showed Tame Impala fans that they hadn't seen before. They've always been catchy and alluring, but never in such a persistent way. Even leader Kevin Parker stated his intentions of going Pop, and 'Reality In Motion's' chorus is just one easy glimpse at that. Everything was bright and glamorous, like a contemporary 80's Glam Pop piece. Parker's singing, at times off-putting on the album, was a glimmer of hope here, perfectly gliding against the sun-drenched production.


Beach House | The Traveller
Thank Your Lucky Stars

It's hard to describe just how good 'The Traveller' is without labelling it as one of Beach House's best tracks. Without complications, let's just say it's really, really good. The soundscape is vibrant and direct, the bouncing keyboard a staple of the track, and LeGrand's pouring romanticism caps it all off. The first half encompasses that love lust, the second allows the instruments to breath, soothing within in each other as perfect companions to each.


Sufjan Stevens |Death With Dignity
Carrie & Lowell

The most beautifully poetic song of 2015. Sufjan's personal story begins to unravel here, with a soft dip in vocals that symbolize the chorus in a way other obvious would never be able to conquer. It's just so subtle, but with a guitar pluck that matches it the moment is made all the more memorable. Lyrically it seems almost confused, "and I don't know where to begin," Stevens croons. And this is yet another example of a track that never ceases to just one chorus, moving between phrases that all sound aesthetically the same.


Injury Reserve | Falling
Live From The Dentist Office

Now, Live From The Dentist Office was largely a let down, but its finale was absolutely sensational. The album saw a group who showed potential but lacked an identity or sound. If their next work is anything atmospherically like 'Falling' they're set in Hip-Hop's underground. It featured a beautiful mix of Cloud Rap and Boom Bap. Ritchie With A T's hook, consisting of a soft spoken melody that sputters along with the production, just makes the song that much more alluring. It's hypnotic in all the right ways and, as was expected and appreciated, the extended chorus closing the track finishes the track off on the right note

Bjork | Stonemilker

Bjork has an inane capability at constructing melodies out of virtually nothing. Experimentalism tends to be deconstructed and lacking in anything remotely melodic. Bjork though has thrived under this contrarian mindset, 'Stonemilker,' the opener to Vulnicura, might have been her best showcase yet. Thematically it set the tone for what was to come, the first fight in the eventual downfall, and sonically it did even better, with Bjork's soaring vocals grabbing the handful of strings underneath her and bringing them up to the heavens. It was a orchestral fantasy, like a blown apart Vespertine, and the chorus highlighted all of those facets perfectly.


Death Grips | Centuries Of Damn
The Powers That B

For all the raucous Death Grips has caused they've never fully gone Heavy Metal until 'Centuries Of Damn.' With wailing guitars swarming the exterior and hectic drums filling the interior there was surprisingly little room for Ride to holler his way onto this list. And yet, with an underlying hook that's somehow melodic, Ride dominates the time he's spent in front of our eyes. While other tracks shocked more, 'Centuries Of Damn' takes the cake for Death Grips' most cohesively depressing.


Wilco | Magnetized
Star Wars

'Magnetized' has closer written all over it. The out of tune guitars swelling around parading drums and woeful keyboards, along with Tweedy's ravishing heartache, make it a bonafide condensed epic. It's the closest thing the group has come to matching Summerteeth's childlike wonder since that album released in 1999. Tweedy is simple, direct, and lukewarm about his feeling's towards the growing attachment of two companions. "I realize we're magnetized" he sings, as the smile brightens and guitars go sailing into the sky.


Grimes | California
Art Angels

A classic example of too insane not to work. I suppose that makes up the bulk of Grimes' Art Angels, but upon first listen 'California' froze feet with its unexpected square dancing jam. Finger-snapping, toe-tapping, knee-stomping dancefloor Country. For Grimes it was one of the most ludicrous things imagined, and yet, with all its discordance, it worked. The chorus saw her voice malfunction amidst growing chaos, trying to scream out "California" before being taken back by stuttering freeze frames. Then that old, in-your-face, tumblr-approved Grimes returned the second "you only like me when you think I'm looking sad."


Panda Bear | Mr.Noah
Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper

There's times when Panda Bear's obsessive reverb and layering comes together in eternal bliss. As of 2015 it's about 50/50 hit or miss. But for his latest LP the lead single was a psychotic marring that swung for the fences. As nauseous synths swirl around the lead's head, Lennox sings with clarity, bouncing between virtually two separate choruses for the entirety of the song. It worked in ways only AnCo-affiliated acts could hope to attain. The weariness of the dog wailing in the background, the crunchy drums and bleeping starlight made 'Mr.Noah' a certified Indie darling.


Vince Staples | Señorita
Summertime '06

Flipping a segmented Future bar into a full-fledged chorus, 'Señorita's' dominate factor may be the most ingenious thing all across Summertime '06. Fast-paced, hyper-rhythmic, and slathered in Southern slang, the chorus seems perfectly ripened for the imagery Staples envisioned, not a break apart verse from a few years ago. In fact, it's that same decision that allowed '
Señorita's' to be formed in the first place, with ratcheted Trap beats bombarding the moving picture behind Vince and his barrage of flows. The chorus is just another facet of that design.

Tame Impala | Cause I'm A Man

It is so, so, so corny. While I didn't love Currents, when it did thrive it somehow made that corniness enjoyable. 'Cause I'm A Man's' chorus just screams of this self-awareness in what Parker attempted to construct. In ways it's slanderous to the male gender, making excuses for actions totally controllable, but, like many corny choruses that came before it, it's beyond catchy. Guitar drops launch the gender switch Parker screams "cause I'm a man, woman" that just hits all the pleasure points whilst also putting a giant smirk on the listeners cheeks.


Jay Rock | The Message

Gangsta Rap has never really been known for its hooks. When they aren't repeating lines ad nauseam, they're unmemorable and overly preachy. Vic Smitty didn't sway this stereotype with his chorus, but he did create a rightful balance. Sung eloquently with the proper touch of 'closer' written all over it, Smitty's vocals carried the album off on hopeful terms, thinking poetically of the streets with its dangling kicks. 'The Message' gathered enemies together under one roof to contemplate life after the streets, a moving message to conclude a record obsessed with it.


Titus Andronicus | I Lost My Mind
The Most Lamentable Tragedy

Having not come from the background obsessed with Punk Titus Andronicus was a bit off-putting, at least in their basic sounds. It's also why I've latched onto more easily-digestible tracks and moments, like the chorus on 'I Lost My Mind.' With its addiction to charged melodies it's really hard to discern exactly what genre it attends to. There's times when it comes off as early Punk or Alternative, a la Pixies, and times when it sounds like an old-timey Irish drinking song. Whatever it is it's enjoyable and easy to sing along too, aka the two main goals of any hook.


Unknown Mortal Orchestra | Necessary Evil | Multi-Love

Ruban Neilson has proved that he has the chops that launch ultra-Psychedelic choruses out to the stratosphere. In fact, much of the first half of Multi-Love consisted of just that. While that maintained the fun edge the group so often sought, it wasn't until the late album bloomers where their talents reached a whole new perspective. 'Necessary Evil' never imposes its will or tries to hard. Rather, it flows like a calm lake with Neilson swimming over it, trumpets signaling his return to land. It's just so cool, calm, and collected, and makes for an unimposing standout.

Beach House | PPP | Depression Cherry

When Victoria LeGrand reaches back into her grab bag of seductive lust she excels in ways few other singers have ever been capable. 'PPP's' teary-eyed chorus sees the singer merge perfectly with the duo's ceaselessly dreamy production, swaying side to side in pristine union. The depth behind her voice is just endless, with layered vocals parading behind her as she imagines a scene of ice skating bliss. There's times in Beach House's discography where you can doze off to existential thought or blank stares of awe, both of those easily possible on this breathtaking medley.

Kendrick Lamar | Alright | To Pimp A Butterfly

On the surface the chorus to 'Alright' is nothing special. Almost everyone agrees with that. With a repeating line done over some amped up beats primed for an uplifting tune following 'u's' succumbing downfall, 'Alright' never seemed like the anthem to be plucked out of To Pimp A Butterfly's grand opus. It wasn't until the chants of its chorus were sang through a Cleveland Black Lives Matter protest that that thought quickly changed. The phrase was simple, direct, and supportive. That no matter the trails and tribulations felt in the black community, if they keep progressing forward and demanding action, they're going to be alright. Only the upper echelon of artists can turn a phrase spoken billions of times into something impactful and prudent. 

Fashawn | Man Of The House | The Ecology

Speaking of positive reinforcement in the black community, Fashawn's Ecology was full of it. Quieting down due to the birth of his daughter the reemergence of the underground emcee was spurred by this new found perspective. The standout, 'Man Of The House,' told of subtle heroism in the lives of children without fathers, growing up stalwart and mature beyond their years to help their families, eventually growing up themselves to start a new household off fresh. The chorus' message was direct, catchy, and inspirational, all merits by which Fashawn holds himself and his music. In many ways apart of the chorus without much thought, the simple flip halfway through from "I grow" to "we grow" showed that Fashawn wasn't just preaching his own gospel but wanted thorough change in his community as well. 

Jamie xx | Loud Places | In Colour

I gotta start compiling lists of the best uses of samples if this is the kinda quality I'm hearing. Sure there's been other cases amongst Dance music, some more catchy, or addictive, or memorable, but none have been handled with such delicate care as 'Loud Places'' chorus. thanks to Jamie xx, Idris Muhammad's 'Could Heaven Ever Be Like This' is fused perfectly over the ensuing drums and handclaps. When you hear people fire up against the use of samples show them this song and the fact that the chanting chorus was created in 1977 and this revival of it 2015. It's honestly remarkable how well Jamie xx is able to conjoin different songs from different genres in different decades so fluidly.

Dr. Dre | Animals | Compton: The Soundtrack

While Kendrick ruled over the social scene in 2015, and rightfully so, there were a few looming pieces of music that made just as poignant of a point as the best moments on To Pimp A Butterfly. I'm honestly quite shocked at just how in touch Dr. Dre still is with inner-city culture, 'Animals' being the best representation of that. With Anderson .Paak helming the chorus with his scratchy voice grasping for air, and attention, 'Animals' unashamedly shows pain. It was critical of mass media only showing to the world the troubles of the inner cities, failing to account for the flock of racially-charged people waiting to denounce those of color at a moments notice. The track took us back to a time of civil disobedience, where vile slang was used against minorities, using the strong connotations of the word animals as a plea to avoid the constant discrimination.

Dan Deacon | Feel The Lightning | Gliss Riffer

When it comes to Dan Deacon high on the merits of music the keyword is catchy. He makes Pop music for the hyper generation, with instantaneous gratification, goofy effectual changes, and a well-weathered romp around a simply-spoken phrase. When I first heard 'Feel The Lightning' it was exactly what I wanted, this crunchy, elegant mess of Electronic Pop escapism. And I've probably talked about it a dozen times this year at least but the fact that the female vocals matching with Deacon in the chorus is Deacon himself is just genius, a testament to his absolute domination of musicianship. They were so well crafted that the man himself had to announce they weren't actually someone else's contributions but merely a disturbed twist through his modulators.

Lupe Fiasco | Adoration Of The Magi | Tetsuo & Youth

Lupe's Tetsuo & Youth was Hip-Hop lyricist lovers holy grail. It was thematically dense, lyrically complex, and riddled with metaphors and messages to chomp on. It certainly lacked in other areas, but not that one. In some cases it overwrote musical elements meant for fun, like the chorus, to further douse one in impressive ideas. 'Adoration Of The Magi' might be the most clever chorus to come out in recent memory, across all genres. It questions the popular belief of live fast, die young, and wonders why the youth want to burn life away so quick. On the surface it's simple, a positive message attempting to counter a movement. Hidden within though is sly retorts on how that applies to music, using his lines to reference popular albums. Whether it be Nirvana's Nevermind ("why you chasing money, you just a baby") or Lil Wayne's Carter III ("why them tears up under your eyes, you just a baby") 'Adoration Of The Magi' is an absolute brilliant stroke of creative writing.

The Social Experiment | Sunday Candy | Surf

Throughout the year these next two stood head and shoulders above the rest, battling for the top spot with each passing day. First up is what I feel will soon be one of recent Hip-Hop's most important songs. The Social Experiment's Juke movement has the troubling Chicago scene looking for love and Soul to guide them out of the troubles, and while Chance showed more than just flashes of that on Acid Rap, 'Sunday Candy' will stand as the testament to this rising subgenre. Jamila Woods' breathtaking recitation of a Sunday morning Gospel choir might be one of the most emotionally moving moments of the year. A live orchestra plays behind her, with trumpets, saxophones, pianos, and drums, building up to a lively release as seemingly the whole Social Experiment crew joins her.

The Internet | Palace / Curse | Ego Death

Music's most pristine vision of 2015. While there's nothing wrong with Syd The Kid fronting every track on Ego Death, the album itself is great, there's just something special about Steve Lacy coming in for the final go around on 'Curse' in pure sonic bliss. With light percussions guiding the track, keyboards following swimmingly, the rest is for Lacy to melodically swoon. His voice echoes through wavelengths, telling of the trails of a love not easily forgiven. Everything at once is a perfect marriage, a transient trip through evocative triumphs. It's easily the best chorus to sing-a-long to this year, by a long shot. It could go on for quadruple the time and I still wouldn't be able let it go. A true description of a very powerful tune.

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