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The Music Writers' Poll 2015: Single Of The Year

23 December 2015 | 11:43 am | Hannah Story

"A racially charged song of political dissent to "the power that be" that we needed to hear."

King Kunta Kendrick Lamar

You know how triple j has that super annoying 'Language Warning' soundbyte? Chances are if you heard it in 2015 it was for Kendrick Lamar's third single off avant-hip hop album To Pimp A Butterfly, King Kunta. Let's have a list of the swears shall we? Motherfuckers, nigga, bitch, the name Kunta being so very close to the word cunt. And they're all completely necessary in this one, a racially charged song of political dissent to "the power that be" that we needed to hear. Lamar breaks out of the rigid confines of mainstream hip hop with this intertextual epic, which references Alex Haley novel Roots' protagonist slave Kunta Kinte. The song has beat, flow, cadence, the sly digs tumbling from Lamar's mouth, rapidfire, and sticking in your head for days at a time: "Bitch, where were you when I was walkin'?/Now I run the game, got the whole world talkin'." And there was talk: who was Lamar calling out for needing a ghostwriter? Kanye? Drake? Shock, gasp, horror.

Sensitive guy Drake picks up #2 with the meme of the year, Hotline Bling. It's the music video (by Director X, who also directed the King Kunta clip) that launched a thousand knock-offs, our personal favourite being the sync up with Russell Coight's All Aussie Adventures. It also started a thousand at-home dancefloors, as party goers' rubbish dancing was leant legitimacy, revellers attempting to perfectly replicate Drake's raptor arm dancing and daggy turtleneck side-step thing. One day we'll nail it.

Picking up two slots in the top ten are our Album Of The Year winners Tame Impala for the groove-laden Let It Happen and The Less I Know The Better, with fellow Aussie Courtney Barnett coming in close behind with the fast-talking Pedestrian At Best, easily with some of the best lyrical content of the year: "I must confess I've made a mess of what should be a small success/But I digress, at least I've tried my very best I guess/This, that, the other, why even bother?/It won't be with me on my death bed, but I'll still be in your head." The Weeknd can't feel his face when he's with you, and he loves it, in so doing creating the dance/R&B single of the year, while Florence + The Machine's second single Ship To Wreck easily pulls at the heartstrings, a vulnerable, chaotic outpouring.

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The Top Ten

  1. King Kunta Kendrick Lamar
  2. Hotline Bling Drake
  3. Let It Happen Tame Impala
  4. Can't Feel My Face The Weeknd
  5. Pedestrian At Best Courtney Barnett
  6. Ship To Wreck Florence + The Machine
  7. The Less I Know The Better Tame Impala
  8. The Only Thing Sufjan Stevens
  9. Dreams Beck
  10. Bored In The USA Father John Misty

Previous winners:

Two Weeks FKA twigs (2014)

Get Lucky Daft Punk ft Pharrell Williams (2013)

Elephant Tame Impala (2012)

Somebody That I Used To Know Gotye ft Kimbra (2011)