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25 Best Songs of 2015 So Far

Essential tracks by cheese divas, thug romantics and punk scruffs

Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar

Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar

Michel Porro/Getty; Christopher Polk/BET/Getty

Ask the nearest hippie: the first half of 2015 has already been a high time for music, if not a golden road. The first six months have given us more ace songs than we'll have time to catch up with over the next six months. Not a year for over-arching trends or zeitgeist-summing masterpieces: just great songs, from all over the musical map. So here are my 25 favorites so far: cheese divas, thug romantics, punk scruffs, disco-ball meltdowns, songs about love and hope and sex and dreams, or songs about hating parties and locking yourself in your room and overthrowing the government. All these songs are guaranteed to drastically improve the rest of your 2015.

Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar

Michel Porro/Getty; Christopher Polk/BET/Getty

1

Courtney Barnett, “Pedestrian at Best”

Courtney Barnett makes it sound so insultingly easy — why aren't there three or four rock & roll singer-songwriter records this loose and frisky and funny and stout-hearted every year? Maybe it's not that easy. The only song on her album that flops for me is the one about real estate — using cafe latte as a metaphor has been a dead zone since "Drops of Jupiter." But it's not tough to pick the high point — "Pedestrian at Best" shows off her Breeders/Pavement/Phair guitar hooks (although her vocals are more Mark E. Smith than even Stephen Malkmus would have tried to get away with), her cyanide diatribes, her internal monologue of saturated analog.

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