20 For 2016

Happy New Year everybody. Welcome to 2016 which from a music stand point promises to be very exciting. I’ve picked out twenty brand new artists I’m excited about and that I believe you should get accustomed to in 2016.

Billie Marten
This year the lovely Billie Marten of Yorkshire turns 17 but by her birthday she has already toured the UK, had music playlisted on Radio 1 and amassed a lot of support on line (13k Facebook followers, 5.6k Twitter followers). That’s a hell of a resume already but ignore her age because she writes with the intelligence of somebody much wiser. Her music has the charm and wit of Laura Marling with the sweetness in tone of Lucy Rose with more of a traditional folk twinge to her voice than both of those talented ladies. With a debut EP already out, I think we have a lot to look forward to next year from Billie. I believe she will be music we go to in the darkest and loneliest hours.

Post Malone
Dallas newcomer Post Malone is somebody I’m really excited about heading into 2016. White Iverson was the perfect debut single, impressing people in the same way that ILoveMakonnen’s Tuesday did and with Drake, Rihanna, Kanye and more releasing albums in 2016, there is plenty of room for Post Malone to sneek a few guest spots and grow his profile even more. What I love most about Malone though is that his chilled trap and pop mix sounds like an integral sound and a natural progression from styles that have been prevalent over the past few years, meaning he could hit the top soon.

Samm Henshaw
Very few voices intrigue me more as we enter this year than a London boy brought up in Gospel with a fresh twist, Samm Henshaw. Already supporting the likes of James Bay on tour and already signed to Sony there is no doubts that something special is about to happen with Henshaw. And whilst we wait to see if he will release a big breakthrough record there’s absolutely no harm in falling for his already released music like Autonomy and Only Wanna Be With You.

Danny L Harle
One of the more mystical picks on my Tips list is producer Danny L Harle who has been on the scene the past few years primarily working as one of the big names behind PC Music. If you’re unaware PC Music are a fantastic independent label which releases British dance and pop music which sounds like the sort of cheesy ringtone music you’d hear on the back of a stagecoach bus in the mid noughties. With all music though, it manages to sound relevant to now. With Danny, he has just released his debut EP featuring the fantastic Broken Flowers (and even better rework Awake For Hours). I have a feeling he could be about to spread his wings and leave the nest.

Loyle Carner
To call Loyle Carner a rapper doesn’t quite seem enough as he has a really infectious way of telling his stories with his soft South London tone. We’ve already had a fair amount of tracks from him so far but he seems to be going into 2016 with the intention to make it his year. His beats are hazy like dreams and you can really get yourself lost in his tales of life. Whilst most spoken word artists and British rappers are an acquired taste, Loyle Carner is very pleasant on the ears, so just get stuck in.

Misty Miller
Gliding the fence between indie pop and indie punk perfectly, the wonderful Misty Miller is one of my favourite new artists to look out for beginning 2016. Her music is very easily accessible and as a character she certainly has a lot to offer, and is very likeable. We’ve already had a brilliant EP called Sweet Nothing in 2015 as well as brilliant singles Next To You and Happy which you need in your life. If you get a chance too make sure to listen to Best Friend which is a hugely emotional punk ballad. If you like your more rocky Florence & The Machine tracks then Misty is for you.

Cape Cub
From all of the artists I have heard working in the North East music scene this year, Cape Cub are one that I have loved from the get go. Singer main member of the group, Chad, has a superb falsetto and ability to craft warmth in dark, empty music much like their early track Lantern, new single Keep Me In Mind and the incredible, Hype Machine topping slow ballad, Swim. Perhaps they need a bit more time than most in this list but I really believe in what Cape Cub are doing and I want to see as many people be affected by their music the same way I have. Fans of Coldplay and soft emotional rock will dig these lads.

Kiko Bun
In 2016 Reggae music will return and as far as exceptional new artists go, Kiko Bun will be at the British forefront of that. He has already proved his worth with the jam of the century Sometimes and the equally beautiful Where I’m From so I can’t wait to hear more. With other acts like Jamie XX, WSTRN and Popcaan bringing the vibes in, I see Kiko having a fantastic year. If you loved that late year banger from WSTRN called In2 or even if you just like the Sunshine, you will love Kiko Bun.

Conrad Sewell
You will already no doubt recognize the powerful lungs of Conrad Sewell from his vocal feature on Kygo’s Firestone, which proved to be one of the bigger advert tracks of last year. In the UK, Conrad is no more than that so far but in Australia he has broken through charting with great hits like Start Again and my personal favourite of his, Hold Me Up. Now that his sister Grace has hit the UK properly with You Don’t Own Me, it is Conrad’s turn so make sure you get on him early. I reckon if you like John Newman you will love Conrad.

Pierce Fulton
This dude is a producer coming out of Vancouver who is making some of the crispest and catchiest EDM on the planet. He caught my attention early last year Kuaga which initially was a pretty decent track before vocals were added onto it to make it a huge Summer record. From there he has remained quiet in the UK but has released a few more tracks on line to acclaim from EDM fans. Landmines is beautiful and No More is a great anthem which will no doubt appeal to fans of Pendulum, Madeon and Porter Robinson.

Jack Garratt
The most high profile name on this belongs to this bloke, Jack Garratt who is the BRITS Critics choice winner for this year. He’s already given us a plethora of great singles from The Love You’re Given, through Chemical and Weathered to newest single Breathe Life. Most of these have been playlisted on Radio 1 amongst others, so why is Jacky G on this list? I put him as a Tip for 2016 because I have a really good feeling that we’ve actually on seen glimpses of what’s to come from this extraordinary diverse artist. We will get Garratt debut album in 2016 which I am super excited for. In the meantime here is one of his lesser known records, Worry.

Spring King
Up next on my 20 for 2016 Tips list are the brilliant Mancunians Sping King who made history last year by being the first artist played on the worldwide radio station Beats 1. Zane Lowe called on something forward-thinking, exciting and full of new music excitement and their track City is exactly that. They have not let this get to them though and have taken their time making new music. We got a little bit of that towards the end of the year in Who Are You? which echoes some of the best 80s Punk sounds whilst still maintaining a new, much needed indie rock ethos. The sax solo is also damn sweet.

The Knocks
I’ve always had an incline that New York City was pretty darn funky but I had no idea that they could make me groove like this. The NYC disco funk duo The Knocks have been kicking about for a few years and first caught my attention with 2014’s Classic. They seemed to take forever away and I was wondering if they’d ever return but the gorgeous gospel disco feel good tune Collect My Love was a welcome return and with the announcement that their debut album The 55 will be out next year, it was impossible not to think they’re destined for big things in 2016.

Clean Cut Kid
I love a bit of oddball indie rock and despite the genre seemingly being about being ‘cool’ there have been lots of my favourite bands make a huge name for themselves being their own kind of cool. I’m talking about Vampire Weekend and Phoenix and MGMT. Clean Cut Kid are one of those rare bands with real charm and charisma in their tunes and the incredible Vitamin C proved that last year. A debut album is surely on its way so now is the time to get them into your life.

Kehlani
A certainty to do incredible things in 2016, Kehlani is presently one of my favourite artists. Her name was unavoidable in reviews from SXSW 2015 which led me to finding FWU, an absolutely sublime vintage sounding piece of Cali hip-hop, as it was drenched in sunny vibes. She gave us a full length mixtape album last year called You Should Be Here and followed that up with a few teasers at the end of the year which is surely for a proper debut album to follow this year. The R&B/Hip Hop world is in safe hands this year with Kehlani leading the American break out artists. And she’s *ahem* extremely hawt stuff.

Sundara Karma
I have nothing but absolute love for Reading’s Sundara Karma, the best new indie band in the UK. They have more than proven themselves and deserve a place on this list with two great EPs in 2015 with such great summery tunes like Vivienne, Flame and my personal favourite Loveblood. Fans of The Maccabees and early Peace will adore them and they already have a good following on social media so these guys are going absolutely everywhere.

Kojey Radical
From the moment I saw London’s spoken word newcomer Kojey Radical support Young Fathers on their UK tour I knew that he was onto something special. I was utterly captivated his whole set listening to all of the stories he was telling us with his gruff deep voice aside the slow reminiscent riffs, heavy percussion and subtle synths. From here he has put out his first few proper releases such as the excellent Bambu and the newer Open Hand. There’s no doubts he is continuing to get more confident and he seems to be building towards this being his year, so listen out for more of his vital stories hitting the net.

Fort Hope
It feels for me that we’ve not had a great new proper rock band in years with the exception of Royal Blood, but then they have a lot of indie sensibilities. What I mean is where is the next Muse or Enter Shikari? From what they’ve released so far, I think we have the answer with Fort Hope who blend tremendously chunky riffs with operatic falsetto. There’s just enough of Shikari’s electronics and the drama of System of a Down. Basically Fort Hope have the perfect blend of all of my favourite heavy bands. And what we’ve had so far has been top notch. Skies is brilliant tune which changes it’s pace through-out but Plans, our debut single from them, was a game-changer.

Grace Mitchell
From the first fuzz of Jitter I knew Grace Mitchell was something that I’d be talking about heading into 2016 as a vital pop star.The rest of the song confirmed that, and her Raceday EP kind of made it a bit too obvious, but yes, Grace Mitchell is going to be huge. She hails from Oregon and makes electronic pop music with an urban edge. As I stated her debut track Jitter, which was immediately Zane’s World Record on Beats 1, is a storm of a record with an epic glitch-pop chorus. Her follow up single No-Lo shows great songwriting talent as the song gives a new take on being heartbroken. 2016 is Grace Mitchell’s to take and if you’re a fan of label mates Lorde or Taylor Swift you might just have your new favourite singer in Grace.

Troye Sivan
Okay so globally Troye Sivan is already a megastar but I do honestly believe that his time in the UK is still to come and his name will be household in the UK by Summer. He has just released his debut album Blue Neighbourhood which is sublime, full of potential singles and smooth cuts. His voice is delectable and sweet and overall the guy is very likeable. Radio 1 have already tested the waters playing Happy Little Pill and Wild but wait until the UK gets Youth as a single. As I say, I do believe Troye could be the biggest new artist in the UK for the first half of the year. Here is Wild if you don’t believe me.

And that concludes my thoughts on who I think will take 2016 by storm from the music world. I do believe that this year’s crop is really strong and a lot better than last years. From an abundance of credible indie bands (when there were only a few last year) to real pop stars to intelligent rappers with important stories to tell, 2016 is shaping up to be special. Make sure you know these names, you’ll be hearing about them a lot more. If you want to hear more I’ve put some alternative tracks by all into a Spotify playlist for you below.

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Goodbye to 2015

Goodbye to 2015

Happy New Year when it comes around to all of my friends. I don’t use Instagram so this #BestNine thing wasn’t happening. Instead I’ve put together 8 pictures which kinda give a running order of my year. I’m putting this up to remind myself that despite being a really hard and somewhat disappointing year, I’ve a lot to be proud of from 2015.

8 Panel Picture Year Highlight

1) 2015 marks my first foray into paid Radio work (hopefully not the last). I was honoured to Tech-Op Produce (push buttons n stuff) for the great Sun FM​ during their Summer and Winter Cash Tours which was a lot of fun. I also volunteered for BBC Radio 6 Music​ in February meeting lots of famous people and particularly enjoying a Jamie XX rave set at 2am in the morning. I missed out on two of my dream media jobs this year and also 2015 marked the year that my hero Zane Lowe left UK radio and then my new hero George Ergatoudis announced his departure from Radio 1. I got into Radio wanting to be Zane’s producer down the line but you know what, Beats looks like a lot of fun so never say never.

2) I continued my Uni work, completing my Masters Degree in Radio and obtaining a Merit pass. My final project was a full station analysis of my beloved Spark Sunderland​ which was successful and has helped the station move towards great things. The highlight though was choosing to lead our General Election coverage with my radio wife Jake​ and the lovely Violeta. As a team we made 12 hours of non-stop live radio on the General Election with great on line and video content too. I’m so proud of what went down that night, it’s my favourite accomplishment to date.

3) Spark FM has been my life for the past year. In project leading events for the station I have created a lot of memories. Always the pinnacle of Spark FM’s annual programming is our Airshow and this year I made sure that we’d have no turbulence (sorry). I was proud of our gang for showing up and having a lot of fun. We had some pretty sweet video streaming numbers and adding live news from the airshow was awesome. Having sat in being Studio TO all of last year I promised myself to go out and have fun and I did manage to check out a lot of planes whilst recording some audio for on air too.

Another proud achievement was our Freshers programme which I have Jake and Jordan to thank. Together myself and Jake came up with ideas for what we wanted to do on air and I set about setting up broadcasts from Halls of Residence and putting the wheels in motion for prize giveaways. With Jordan, I devised a sign-up campaign for Spark and other platforms at the University of Sunderland’s mediaHub and this was a resounding success. We managed to get around 500 new volunteers signed up to platforms.

12476285_1065912023448708_483592603_nFinally and very indulgently, I loved Spark’s Gaming Week. I had an idea over Summer just to launch a week of fun and weirdness on air, loosely in line with the huge Gaming week E3. I came up with some of my proudest ideas over that week from doing on air packages of Paintball/LaserQuest to doing an incredible broadcast from a HUGE Retro Gaming Exhibition in Newcastle. My wackiest Radio idea of all though was to host my own ‘Live On Air Interactive Cluedo Show’. Staging the murder of a mannequin in the mediaHub I designed a plot for our presenter/detective and our listeners to work out who did the murder using placed actors, hidden objects and alibis – this all being streamed out in audio and video on Spark FM. Absolutely nuts but hugely enjoyable.

4) With hard work sometimes comes rewards for me and this year I’ve had three cool awards for my work at Spark. First of all I placed in the Student Radio Association’s Top 3 ‘Committee Volunteers in Student Radio’ or something along those lines. Basically I did really good management work and was recognized for it which is pretty cool. After working countless hours with Jake on our Station Entry, although he put the team on his back for this one including me, we got awarded at the Student Radio Awards. Winning a Bronze for our Election Coverage (down to Michael’s excellent multi-platform content on the night) and a Bronze for Best Student Station (Thanks Sparkies) that makes me a Two-Time Bronze SRA Winner. Not bad at all!

5) The best weekend of the whole year came at Leeds Festival. It was the first time all year that I had left the North East and I savoured every second of it. I caught over 40 great acts to review and interviewed some of my heroes like Spector, Prides (pictured) and Ash. Work aside I had some real moments there. It felt perfect going to Leeds being with Chris as we always spoke of festival-ing together. Doing Limp Bizkit together was a dream come true. Seeing one of my heroes this year, Kendrick Lamar, do his thing was also sublime and I had great fun seeing Boy Better Know and Metallica amongst lots of others. Leeds just brought me back to being thirsty for live music again and I needed that.

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Dunno what face I’m pulling here with Orlando (Maccabees)

6) That’s not to say the year didn’t have any monumental gigs, it absolutely did albeit less than usual due to having zero money to spend on tickets. I kicked the year off with a Slipknot shaped bang and then also caught some great acts like Future Islands, James Bay, Wolf Alice (4th time) and Editors (for the 5th time). I think though my gig of the year was seeing The Maccabees (4th time) play their new album and meet Orlando prior to the show. That was a really great night. I also saw Lisbon about 70 times and Cape Cub a fair few as well. Evo Emerging proved that North East musical talent is so good! (Looking at you Bi:Lingual).

Music aside I’ve found that I love wrestling even more than I thought I did. This year I’ve attended a few local shows but also attended WWE Live in Leeds seeing some of my wrestling heroes (Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, Ric Flair, The Dudley Boyz, The New Day) and then to NXT Live in Newcastle which was the best wrestling show I’ve ever been to. Here is a picture I took of the finale between my guy Finn Balor vs the returning Sami Zayn. Incredible.

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7) People have been great this year. I’ve mentioned lots already but also major love goes to Ben and Tor, Emily & Megan, James, Hannah & Callum, Jack, Porle, Michael, Jay, Lauren, Harrison, Joanna, Richard and everybody else that’s helped me this year or been a mate. Thanks. However this place is reserved for three guys and that’s my supergroup of DMSC (DomMattScottChris). We are the best thing since One Direction and we always have fun together. Despite how downhill things have went the last few months I am praying that plans at the moment will come to fruition and we can all tackle the challenges that 2016 will throw at us together.

8) And lastly Sunderland has been spot on for me all year. I have to face the facts that I head back down to Sunderland in the New Year for my last few months living there. It’s been a great chapter but it’s coming to an end for hopefully bigger and better things. I’m going to miss the view in Picture 8 so badly, I call it home.

Songs of 2015: 50-1

Songs of 2015: 50-1

Through-out 2015 I have been scribbling down notes of what songs I have really enjoyed. Considering I find on average at least 50-100 new tracks a month, I have had to be pretty selective when narrowing these down to decide what my favourite music of the year is. Last year I did a Top 200 which I thought was mental but this year I couldn’t contain it to that so I had to go even crazier and opt for a Top 300. Who knows what next year will hold capacity wise. For the past five or so weeks I have been collating all of my listening habits from various blogs I love, from my Spotify records, from what I’ve bought and from what I had programmed at Spark FM as Head of Music there. I’ve thought about it a lot and deliberated with myself and here I am; Scott Hastie’s Top 50 records of 2015.

50. Taylor Swift x Kendrick Lamar – Bad Blood


I open up my Top 50 with a memory of last year when Queen TayTay did the double taking Track of the Year with Shake It Off and taking Album of the Year with the incredible 1989. The album stayed on my i-Pod for most of this year and it was certainly a shock when Bad Blood was chosen as her single after Style as let’s be honest it’s not the strongest single. So what came was a huge shock to the system. Taylor Swift, the most important person in music collaborated with Kendrick Lamar just off the back of his new album, meaning he was the man also in the limelight. The duo came together with a reinvented, more demented version of Bad Blood for one of pop culture’s best moments this year. I am in awe of T.Swizzle’s #SquadGoals.

49. Sigala – Easy Love


Few commercial house hits sounded quite as good as Sigala’s first crack of the whip in Easy Love. The new London DJ made Tropical House’s biggest hit thus far with the piano house led vocal rework of the Jackson 5’s ABC. Easy Love was one of the best songs this year because the opening ‘woos’ put a smile on everybody’s face as soon as it came on. He’s in for a mammoth 2016.

48. Apres – Chicago


After Frankie Knuckles’ passing last year, I was introduced to the wonder of Chicago House. More entrancing than your average Swedish House Mafia or David Guetta tune, Chicago House has deeper layers of sound around it and Knuckles’ classic Your Love is one of the finest examples of that. In February this year, almost a year on from his passing, a young French DJ called Apres released his record called Chicago, the perfect ode to Frankie and Chicago House. Carried on a vocal sample which is a call to arms for everything good about Chicago House, the record explodes with the best drop in any song this year.

47. Speedy Ortiz – Raising The Skate


Critically over the past two years Speedy Ortiz have been labeled the most exciting band in the world. They’ve not stopped since 2013’s debut album Major Arcada, releasing an EP last year called Real Hair, and now this year their follow-up album Foil Deer. Everything thus far has received mass acclaim but it’s this year’s Raising The Skate which has taken them next level. The riffage is ferocious and Sadie’s vocals are laced every so cleverly over the melody of the riff. “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss” is also one of the year’s best lyrics altogether.

46. Jamie Lawson – Wasn’t Expecting That


Undeniably the most heartwrenching piece of music we heard all year, Ed Sheeran’s first signee to his label and friend, Jamie Lawson gave us Wasn’t Expecting That. On first listen you’ll admire how catchy it is and how tender Jamie’s voice is but it’s the story that prevails here and places this so high on my list. Normally songwriters struggle to write about an instance in life, or a situation but Jamie’s managed to cram a whole lifetime of love and tears into one song. It’s stunning and should be remembered for years to come.

45. The 1975 – Love Me


After winding down the successful debut album success, the UKs biggest guitar band The 1975 went for a completely new redesign. There was something electrifying about seeing the online reaction to the band changing their trademark colours from black and white to pink and white and what follows I think none of us expected. Drawing from Rock Of Ages seemingly, The 1975 have become an all-out glam rock outfit with Love Me a barnstormer. It features the best guitar solo of the year and felt like a gravely important moment for guitar music in 2015.

44. Macklemore – Downtown


Taking time off making the funnest music in the charts, Macklemore has been spending time in Seattle with his family and new child whilst also getting ready for the next movement. In late Autumn we got that movement with Downtown, an enormous fun track that rivaled last year’s Uptown Funk. Featuring seminal 80s rappers Kool Moe Lee, Grandmaster Caz and Melle Mel, Mack went to Downtown creating a modern day rap version of MJ’s Beat It with his video. With cheesy but clever lines about Tiramisu, this was a huge party popper.

43. Years & Years – King


Years & Years’ breakout moment in January with King felt super important as it was the first song of the year from a new artist which hit the big-time. What I’m saying is, with King, Years & Years became the first great new artist of 2015 and that as a moment was awesome to witness.

42. Rihanna – Four Five Seconds


Rihanna has been the talk of the music town for the past 365 days this year after her R8/Anti album just hasn’t come into existence yet. After a strong start to the year with releases like American Oxygen, Bitch Better Have My Money and most of all FourFiveSeconds, There has been no good news on the RiRi front. Her February collaboration with Kanye West and Sir Paul McCartney was an odd hit, but for me was easy to fall in love with. It’s been a dull year for Rihanna and Kanye but the seeds are in place from these records for an incredible 2016.

41. Hayley Kiyoko – Girls Like Girls


Girls Like Girls is a special record not just because of its fresh take on female homosexuality but because it’s done using vibey synth pop which is very in at the moment for age demographic this record should be hitting. Hayley Kiyoko is an internet darling, already famous through her acting so for her to release a track of this quality as part of her debut EP is a stunning testament of what’s to come. Personally for me, I dug it due to the perfect balance of uplifting synth and tension filled bass, it’s just very nice to listen to.

40. Janelle Monae – Yoga


Yoga is maybe the strongest pop song of the year. If it was a release from Beyonce or Rihanna it would have outshadowed every other release this year but maybe it’s right that it be a little secret for fans of the amazing Janelle Monae. Her attempt at releasing a pop song was perfect and hints to great stuff to come from her new project Wondaland.

39. Alessia Cara – Here


Officially the most viral track of the year according to Spotify, Alessia Cara’s ode to being anti-social is a great slice of new R&B and a first look at a genuinely exciting new star. Her EP which followed proved that she wasn’t going to be a one hit wonder, but it was Here which has stolen all the spot lights.

38. Justin Bieber – Sorry


In the grand tale of Justin Bieber’s Redemption Story, Sorry seems like the parade finish, the proof in the pudding that JB is back and scoring number ones for fun. It’s taken the world by storm as has Justin and from his solo material it’s the highest scoring song of his on this list. Well done JB.

37. Fono – Real Joy


Early in the year before his departure from Radio 1, Zane Lowe called Fono his Next Hype. Normally a Next Hype track would then move onto a few plays on other shows but even Zane was blown away by the record. He wound up playing the song for a few weeks, even kicking off the whole show with it. The truth is, each layer of Real Joy surprises. Every time something new drops into the mix it’s a brand new wow moment and for a debut single, this is beyond special. Let’s hope Fono brings us something even half as good next year.

36. Wolf Alice – Bros


One of my favourite tracks to play on Radio all year was Wolf Alice’s Bros. It never really grew old and as such I’m sure the station I programmed played it for nearly two months. Every time I heard the echoey main riff it put a smile on my face. This felt like Wolf Alice’s maturity moment, growing into a comfortable routine of how they make music. The track Bros was released last year, but 2015’s re edit and re mixing really gave the track more heart.

35. Drake – Know Yourself

Know Yourself is an important record this year for becoming the fan’s favourite Drake record. Whilst never released a single, crowds waited all set to hear Know Yourself from Drake, knowing that they would create chaos on the drop into ‘Running Through The 6 With My Woes’. This was also a phrase which would be viral all year, and again plummeted Drake to the top of pop culture. Effortlessly, he became the King.

34. Jhene Aiko – Eternal Sunshine


Eternal Sunshine was never the most popular song of the year, but there were none that matched it for beauty. Aiko’s voice is already a tremendous thing to behold but in Eternal Sunshine she sings about death and living with no regrets. This is partnered with a video echoing a car crash she was in a few years ago. You may well have missed it, but please sit yourself down and spend a few minutes with it.

33. JME – Man Don’t Care


There’s no denying that Skepta’s Shutdown was commercially the most important Grime track of the year, and that’s still to come on this list, but JME’s Man Don’t Care is a worthy underground challenger to it’s throne. JME has had a great year with his album Integrity and Giggs adding to the track is also fantastic. A chorus that has been hugely successful on the live scene and a beat which is instantly recognizable, Man Don’t Care is essential UK music this year.

32. Martin Solveig – Intoxicated


Solveig returned finally with a song to match his fame with Tennis anthem Hello. Yes, Intoxicated with a straight up bangerang, becoming for us at Spark FM the ‘unofficial official freshers track’ of the year. Everybody I know who has heard this song loves it and will dance and sing back the chorus. This was 2015’s happy go lucky club banger.

31. Chance The Rapper – Sunday Candy


Artistry in music was most present this year in Chance The Rapper who really pushed the boundaries of what he could do with his collaborate project with Donnie Trumpet, Surf, and more features than I think we’ve ever seen before. Add to that more and more fans, including Saturday Night Live, who made Chance the first independent, unsigned act to appear on their show. However the best song Chance was on all year was Sunday Candy, a gorgeous gospel rap song which like the best of his work, is so optimistic and happy sounding. The video is also worth your while being a one shot stage play. This signs Chance The Rapper off with an impressive five tracks in my Top 300. If an album of his own follows next year, I’ll be very excited for it.

30. Stormzy – Know Me From


Before I start I better say #Merky. Right now that’s done I will say that Stormzy’s best moment this year was the awesome Know Me From, a record which all fans of his and UK rap savour anytime they hear it. It’s a great example of a scene returning in 2015 and all year it has never dropped off, people still love it. The lines are savage but clever, Stormzy’s confidence etching high and rightly so. Know Me From showed his already huge influence on the scene. Worldwide domination is next.

29. Lethal Bizzle – Fester Skank


Lethal Bizzle had perhaps his best year of his career yet and he’s bound to be loving life as shown in Fester Skank, 2015’s most fun song. Bizzle has always been about creating his own pop culture around things like Dench and even more recently last year’s Rari Workout but the Fester dance has taken over the UK and people love everything this guy does now.

28. Kanye West – Only One


Only One was a really special record for me. Appearing on line on the turn of the year it was the first piece of music I heard in 2015 and I was so proud of it. Ultimately this year has been about me learning my craft as a music programmer and to kick off the year hearing a new Kanye track got me so excited about everything to come. The song itself is a dream Kanye had about his mother speaking to him from heaven telling him not to let his mistakes control him. It showed Kanye was happy with his family and where his life was heading into this year and as an artist I love a lot it gave me a lot confidence heading into this year too. I’ll always feel happy listening to Only One.

27. Major Lazer – Lean On


Major Lazer’s Lean On was the official song of the Summer and the most streamed song of the year. The reason is that Diplo knows how to craft a hit, this being commercially his biggest of the year. Major Lazer have a really good knowledge of how to make music enjoyed around the globe due to its happy factor. Lean On is a tune people loved because it oozes partying and having a good time. People loved it during Summer for being out in the Sun or for it helping to pass time at work so people could get out in the Sun. I had a pretty sick dance routine to it too.

26. Post Malone – White Iverson


There were few tracks I listened to more than Post Malone’s debut single White Iverson which instantly won me over with its chilled out vibes. More tracks have already sounded fantastic and with a distinctive style and sound, Post Malone goes into 2016 as one of the most important new acts to follow.

25. The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face


What a year The Weeknd has had, with his album Beauty Behind The Madness taking Abel Tesfaye up to the next level of superstardom. No longer was he an R&B cult as I Can’t Feel My Face projected him as the next Michael Jackson and took him to the top of the charts worldwide. Obviously The Weeknd is a very different artist to MJ, but after hearing music like this it’s not impossible to see him reach those heights in the future. And it doesn’t look like The Weeknd is winding down anytime soon.

24. Bring Me The Horizon – Throne


Enter the biggest rock band on the planet, Bring Me The Horizon. From the very beginning of Throne’s heavy scuzzy synth line, it was apparent that Oli Sykes and co were heading for the bigtime. There was a time when Linkin Park would bang out hit after hit which felt vital. They didn’t stop making that music but as a band people stopped caring. There’s a massive hole in the market for this type of music now, and BMTH have filled that. Next stop is festival headline slots, and after seeing them perform at Leeds festival this year I have no doubts that will absolutely happen.

23. Carly Rae Jepsen – I Really Like You


In the pop world, everybody’s favourite artist this year was of course Carly Rae Jepsen. Her album E.Mo.Tion was pop perfection and with songs like Your Type and Run Away With Me, she proved she wasn’t a one hit wonder. What was a great moment this year though, her greatest, was the fanfare and joy surrounding the release of I Really Like You. The video featured Tom Hanks (and a cameo by Bieber) and was a great return for Jeppo.

22. Years & Years – Shine


Although most people will remember Years & Years by King, it was Shine which I feel is the better song and will go down as their best song from their first album campaign. Building on mellow vibes, the track is shy and quiet leading into a slow build. When the chorus hits though, Shine becomes an immaculately written number. Olly’s vocals sound unstoppable on it, and for me the song reached heights that King and not many other songs could this year.

21. Tame Impala – Cause I’m A Man


For me, Tame Impala’s best single in their career came this year with Cause I’m A Man. The track does not have a beginning rather we fall into a groove instantly. Knowing how Impala roll I was expecting a 5 minute groove of this but then the chorus hits and sonically we’re exposed to one of the year’s biggest wow moments in music. The track feels so vast, like we’re listening inside of a canyon. It’s stunning and for me was one of the most inspiring pieces of music in 2015.

20. Foals – What Went Down


I was expecting some pretty sweet sounding Math Rock from Foals on their comeback single, but What Went Down had none of that for us. Instead it was an immediate ferocious dog bite of distortion and anger pumped into music. Rarely has a comeback single felt like it had so much to say but this one did, and on first listen as the chorus hit I was transported to picturing it tearing up crowds when played live. Luckily I got the chance to see Foals tear it up live at Leeds festival and grow to the arena band they always toyed about with being in their music. They’ve taken a step up and with What Went Down, made the heaviest and most impressive track of their career.

19. Little Mix – Black Magic


For part of the year Little Mix’s Black Magic was my favourite tune of 2015 and there’s many reasons why. First of all, by this point Little Mix are bang on with crafting perfect pop hits that are accessible. Black Magic offers all four ladies moments to shine and shows what they can do together. It’s catchy, fun and has gorgeous disco guitar to guide it along. The girls have made plenty of songs which are on the same level as Black Magic but what makes it so special is that it was the record to break Little Mix in America and for that it will be remembered in their catalogue forever.

18. Jason DeRulo – Want To Want Me


Just ahead of Black Magic, and maybe my favourite colossal chart beast of the year is Jason DeRulo’s subliminal Want To Want Me, a masterclass in great pop music. The song has remained current and refreshing through-out the year and happily sits as one of the main tracks to define mainstream music in 2015. Plus, he now whispers his name, talk about making risky changes to your career and it paying off!

17. Nick Jonas – Jealous


2015 marked the career change for one Nick Jonas, from Disney Jonas Bro to Justin Timberlake V2. Buff and leatherclad he brought his falsetto synthpop record Jealous to mainstream radio in the US on the turn of the year before bringing it over to the UK in May. It seemed for me that people did sit on Jealous for a while but they were all just daft, it was always going to be a massive hit. In Levels and Chains, Nick has also proved he’s got a glorious career ahead of him, but I’ll always remember being excited about Jealous before anybody else had a clue.

16. EXO – Call Me Baby


I can’t begin to understand how the politics in Asian music work but anyway, South Korean-Chinese mega boy band group thingy EXO gave me one of the best tunes of the year with Call Me Baby. Mostly not in English the tune has so much swagger and confidence about it and most of all, feels like a reinvention of the classic boy band sound. I’m talking about Backstreet Boys and N*Sync, not your new One Direction or Vamps type sound. Considering there’s a fair amount of them, twelve of them, time is split perfectly and it all sounds cohesive. I’d never usually say something so outrageous but this could so be marketable to the West if done right, please make Exo a worldwide thing.

15. Spector – All The Sad Young Men


For all of their short and snappy guitar riffs and indie vocal hooks, I loved Spector of old. One member down and a fairly long time off the scene for a new band was unusual and didn’t suggest good things were coming but Spector took their time making new music and you can really hear it with All The Sad Young Men, their first proper record back. Fred’s writing was of the highest quality which challenged the norm of how we think and live and I relate to that, and I really relate to this song. For me it’s the most emotional synth led music since The Killers did ballads.

14. Wolf Alice – Giant Peach


If you’re at a Wolf Alice gig, you will no doubt hear the crowd chant ‘Peach, Peach, Peach’ towards the end of a show. The reason being is that Wolf Alice this year unloaded onto us their secret weapon, Giant Peach. The greatest track the band have written thus far in their young career, the track plays about before blasting off into one of the best guitar records in recent years. Ellie sounds ethereal on it and towards the end the breakdown we get is unforgettable. It’s hard to believe a band got it so right so early into their career but that’s Wolf Alice for you. The best new act of 2015.

13. Grimes – Flesh Without Blood


Whilst Grimes always hinted that she could make music that was both cool and accessible it always leaned to the former. Tunes like Oblivion and Genesis were great but it felt like Grimes could do a lot more and immediately with Flesh Without Blood she did with its unique drive and equal measure of danger and sweetness. Grimes is an artist unparalleled in being able to give a song so much character. Her album Art Angels was also one of the year’s highlights.

12. Tobias Jesso Jr – How Could You Babe


Tobias Jesso Jr may not have topped the charts this year but there’s nobody who has proven themselves as much as he has on his ability to write music. Working with Adele aside, Tobias also released his own incredible album which featured one of the best songs of the year, the timeless sounding How Could You Babe. When I listen to it I hear Rocket Man by Elton John as both are captivating but somber. Tobias’ voice itself is like Elton or contemporaries of his like Billy Joel. I hope we’ve just scratched the surface with him too as if we get more music like this in the future we might be onto something vital.

11. Bear’s Den – Above The Clouds Of Pompeii


Ivor Novello winning Above The Clouds of Pompeii definitely did the trick on me, combining it’s warm stove fire style folk music and uplifting brass with a story in the lyrics which could bring anybody with a heartbeat to tears. Music is supposed to be writing about how you feel and writing about things that happen in life and Bear’s Den do that, writing the perfect song about losing a family member. It’s tranquil but also grand and it deserves every piece of recognition it gets from everywhere and everyone.

10. Kendrick Lamar – Wesley’s Theory

The opening track to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly kicks off my Top 10 and it’s a bit of an odd choice I will admit. It’s not a single and it’s certainly not a song that many other people have chosen amongst the best records of the year but for me it was eye opening. Jazz music has never sounded so current and in working with George Clinton and Thundercat, Kendrick opened his album with an amalgamation of the greatest black music sounds all meshed into the most current piece of music released this year. Kendrick’s lyrics are deep like most of his album but he also has pop sensibilities on what feels like a chorus alongside using the worm synth sound, one of my favourites in hip hop. It actually kind of comes as a disappointment to find out that the whole thing is based on Wesley Snipe’s tax evasion but hey ho, K.Dot can make anything sound important.

9. G-Eazy – Tumblr Girls

Oakland’s G-Eazy has quietly had a phenomenal year working on his new album When It’s Dark Out and appearing on global hit You Don’t Own Me from Grace. In many ways 2015 will be his breakout year but it was the echoes of his 2014 debut These Things Happen that interested me most. In January Gerald released Tumblr Girls as a proper single after it was so popular amongst his fans that it made the extended version of his album. I’m not sure if I can hit the nail on the head of why I love this record so much but for me in an age where people love rap and love great vibey music with synths and deep lying bass, this blends both perfectly. This is a song which makes you picture Sunny beaches and lyrically G-Eazy is honest about his lack of empathy.

8. Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best


Critically, people absolutely adored Pedestrian At Best, the lead single from Courtney Barnett’s debut album titled Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit. That about sums up Barnett, she’s all about her lyrics, so when we got a storming guitar riff in Pedestrian At Best which allowed Courtney to shout-rap (think Beastie Boys) over it, it was a treat on the ears. Due to its wit, even listening now in December there’s so much to re-find and re-love in the tune which was released in February.

7. Jamie XX – I Know (There’s Gonna Be Good Times)


A secretive super-producer gets in the studio to record his debut album away from the indie band he is famed for. He already has his lead single, Loud Places, in place but for the follow up he decides to do something unthinkably mental. Being in love with lots of different music he sees potential in Reggae so drafts in Popcaan who has been igniting the flame in that scene for the past few years. He sees potential in Trap and Autotune rap so drafts in Young Thug, who was one of the biggest underground stars off the back of Rich Gang last year. Everything I’m writing here shouldn’t make sense but what we got was one of the records of the year. Jamie XX, you are the most intelligent music maker on the planet, this is Good Times.

6. Erik Hassle – No Words


Still modest with his success, Swedish popstar Erik Hassle gave us the year’s best straight up pop song in No Words. It’s not had any fanfare but luckily I fell upon it in Spring and haven’t dropped it since. Bearing the gorgeous message of not being able to find the right words to describe how much he loves his boo, Hassle mixes the funkiest of guitars with lush strings to create a powerfully addictive piece of pop. As a popstar he also has his look on point with the frizzy ginger hair and creatively out there shirts. I guess what I’m getting at is that Erik Hassle is just a really likeable artist and in No Words he gave us one criminally undervalued record.

5. Skepta – Shutdown


Everytime I’ve been to a party or club this year it’s been on an 8/10 tops and then one of two things happens. They either finish at most an 8, or they play Skepta and finish a 10 and be Shutdown. Grime continues to grow and Shutdown has been its pinnacle in 2015, meeting and then surpassing what That’s Not Me did last year for the scene and for Skepta’s fame. He’s broken the American rap scene now, thanks to this. In the UK if there was one song you got on this year, it was this.

4. Kendrick Lamar – The Blacker The Berry

The Blacker The Berry was for me the first best song of the year. Through-out most of the year in fact I carried Kendrick’s violent take on police brutality and racism in America as the most important record of the year, far ahead of his own song Alright. I still personally feel that this is his greatest song yet and is saying something as important as Alright is. Kendrick explores the idea that the hatred for what has happened on the streets in America isn’t the full story. He still loses friends in his home Compton to gang wars and random acts of violence. In essence, the problems lie deeper than police brutality.

3. Fetty Wap – Trap Queen


Hip hop’s funnest track of the year belonged to new breakout star Fetty Wap with his trappy ballad about his love that he loves to throw bands on. Trap Queen should have been a hit in the rap world but actually wound up becoming a monster hit worldwide. From here Fetty hasn’t looked back giving us My Way and 679 as well as a great debut album. With almost 350 million YouTube hits, Fetty did something that not many of the rap heavyweights could and that deserves to be recognized.

2. Drake – Hotline Bling


With a grand total of EIGHT records placing in my Top 300, with Hotling Bling ranked number 2, Drake wins artist of the year. What makes Hotline Bling a great story is that it wasn’t even supposed to be a single. Initially it was just posted on Soundcloud like most of Drake’s great demos are. It was a throw-away essentially. However in a year where another throw-away and diss track got Grammy nominated for Drizzy, I suppose it’s no surprise to hear that Hotling Bling has done so well. Aside from being a tremendous song with no burn factor and which is so easily accessible, the track has had the most impact on pop culture out of any track this year. Everybody loves its Vine memes. Everybody loves Drake dancing and everybody loves Drake. I could speak forever on how great a year he has had but remember, he’s not even released his album yet. Everything we’ve had this year is build up for that so good lord are we in for an amazing 2016 from him.

Drake has been an important sound of 2015, but for me there are two artists who have summed up what it has been like to live with music this year. They are Diplo and Justin Bieber. And everything started with my Number 1 track of the year, Where Are U Now!

1. Jack U x Justin Bieber – Where Are U Now


Around Autumn time whilst juggling any of the Top 4 around in my head for which song I loved most, I decided that my winner would be Jack U and Justin Bieber’s Where Are U Now. For me I kept on returning to it for numerous reasons. On a personal level I had many great days and nights singing this in the shower or in the club or at work and then losing my crap to the drop. I guess it was the song I connected with most this year. On a cultural level, it was the beginning of Bieberfever returning and also it marked Diplo and Skirllex, two men who really know what music people love, getting a huge hit which they deserved so much. The more I think about it, the more I realize that nothing comes close to feeling like it should be matching this, it’s a really worthy winner and I honestly think concluding this list, with Where Are U Now at the top, we’ve had an absolutely incredible year.

This has taken me along time to compile and debate but I am proud of it and I’m proud of what a great year we’ve had. Let me know what you think and if I’ve missed any you loved. Thank you very much for reading,
Scott