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Adele. (Photo: Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images)

Adele wasn’t the only recording artist making waves this year. 2015 had a bumper crop of great music in all genres, and we sifted through the best tracks of the year to bring you the finest 40, in our humble opinion. Follow our Spotify playlist. WARNING: Language on some tracks is NSFW.

40. Hot Chip – “Huarache Lights”

One of the most underrated bands of the past decade returns with an overlooked set of tracks again this year. As usual, in a song deceptively about a pair of high-end sneakers, Hot Chip here finds the joy and sweetness behind the groove. – Kevin Wicks

39. Muse – “Mercy”

One of those Muse songs that starts widescreen, with portentous piano spikes picking out the details in a gaping landscape, then takes a nasty turn when Matt Bellamy jumps up on your shoulders and commences hammering at the top of your head with a big fuzzy guitar and a choir of angels. – Fraser McAlpine

38. Florence + the Machine – “Ship To Wreck”

Florence Welch may be best known for powerful vocals on ethereal songs like “Dog Days Are Over” and “Cosmic Love,” but her wail lends itself well to straightforward rock tunes. (“Kiss With a Fist” is still the highlight of Lungs for me.) “Ship To Wreck” sounds like Flo fronting The Smiths, and it’s truly something to behold. – Kevin Wicks

37. Ezra Furman – “Lousy Connection”

In which a singer-songwriter with a snidey voice and endless snark recreates the spirit of ’50s doo wop with a dirty saxophone and some quietly hopeful lyrics. (Warning: language is very NSFW.) – Fraser McAlpine

36. Elle King – “Ex’s and Oh’s”

If you needed an antidote to Adele’s infatuation with past lovers, there was this hard-hitting stomp featuring a fierce and abrasive vocal from the 26-year-old daughter of SNL comedian Rob Schneider. Here, Elle’s former paramours are obsessed with her. “They always wanna come but they never wanna leave,” she sings. – Kevin Wicks

35. Janet Jackson – “Gon’ B Alright”

Janet’s comeback album Unbreakable had this startling soul finale, in which she addresses the sonic Motown legacy of both the Jackson 5 and the psychedelic Temptations, to the extent that she trades lines with herself singing in different vocal registers. It’s a hoot. – Fraser McAlpine

34. Jason DeRulo – “Want To Want Me”

When I first heard this, I mistook it for Usher, which is the best compliment. It means that DeRulo has upped his swag game to match one of R&B’s most passionate innovators. Cooing in a falsetto above ’80s synths, DeRulo made the radio a sexier place this year. – Kevin Wicks

33. David Bowie – “Blackstar”

Are we entering the next fertile period for the legendary maverick? At nearly 10 minutes, this is almost as long as “Station to Station,” but Bowie jam-packs so many ideas into this experimental track that you’re riveted for the duration. – Kevin Wicks

32. Alabama Shakes – “Gimme All Your Love”

This Southern soul band laughed in the face of the so-called sophomore slump with their second album Sound & Color, featuring this moody, anguished slow jam. Brittany Howard teases us with her Billie Holiday croon in the verses before unleashing an increasingly unhinged howl in the chorus. Awe-inspiring. – Kevin Wicks

31. Sleaford Mods – “No One’s Bothered”

The band with the most original, most furious and least accommodating noise of the year. It’s all punk loops, bass guitar and shouting from this anti-Pet Shop Boys, who appear to be on a two-man mission to tell Britain that everything is going to the dogs. – Fraser McAlpine

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Filed Under: Greatest Songs
By staff