Top 10 Rock Songs Of 2015

Alternative Nation released its top 10 rock albums of the year just a couple of weeks ago, but that list was voted by readers. Below is a list of the top 10 rock songs of 2015, as selected by Alternative Nation owner Brett Buchanan and reporters Jeff Gorra, Mike Mazzarone, and Elias Fulmer.

10. Failure – “Hot Traveler” (The Heart is a Monster)

Brett Buchanan: Loyal readers Felonious Punk and J mentioned this album in the comments section when we recently did our Album of the Year poll, and it made me go back and revisit it. “Hot Traveler” is definitely the standout with its plodding grungy riff.

9. Dead Sara – “Something Good” (Pleasure To Meet You)

Brett Buchanan: Dead Sara returned with their second album earlier this year, and the standout track by far is definitely “Something Good.” The track has that classic California summertime feel, with a standout performance from lead singer Emily Armstrong.

8. Cage The Elephant – “Cold Cold Cold” (Tell Me I’m Pretty)

Mike Mazzarone: I could list ANY track from Tell Me I’m Pretty, they are all simply amazing songs. From the “Eleanor Rigby” inspired “Sweetie Little Jean”, the “Something” inspired “Trouble,” to the infamous “Mess Around”. When I first heard the album I had a sinking feeling it would be all Black Keys soundalike tracks. However, that wasn’t the case at all. “Cold, Cold, Cold” has pure 60’s flair.

I could imagine Bob Dylan belting out the “Oh no ain’t it a drag” part, and there are huge David Bowie influences as well. It’s just a fantastic album. I’m not sure if it’s their best effort, especially in comparison to Melophobia, but like Doug McCausland said in our review of Tell Me I’m Pretty – I don’t care! This is a band that everyone should get into, and hear their albums all the way though. They are one of the best acts in modern rock, and they are here to stay.

7. Foo Fighters – “The Never Ending Sigh” (Saint Cecilia EP)

Jeff Gorra: This song just rocks. It’s simple and catchy. It feels like this song in particular captures the vibe of exactly what the Foos did with this surprising EP. I just imagine sitting on the porch of that hotel with beer bottles, hearing this song being jammed.

6. The Arcs – “Stay In My Corner” (Yours, Dreamily)

Brett Buchanan: Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach released a new album this year with his new side project band The Arcs, and “Stay In My Corner” is just as great as any recent Black Keys hit. The soulful blues ballad is definitely the highlight of the album, with the lyrics telling a love story with the backdrop of boxing.

5. Chris Cornell – “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” (Higher Truth)

Jeff Gorra: It’s signature Cornell, exploratory and courageous all at the same time. It also has the flexibility to plug into multiple genres.

4. Marilyn Manson – “Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge” (The Pale Emperor)

Mike Mazzarone: After a string of meh to forgettable albums it was Manson who in early 2015 decided to reinvent himself as this gritty, Mark Lanegan sounding rocker. The result? Pale Emperor and it’s hit single “Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge”. I knew this album was going to make or break the recording future for Manson as he, up to that point hasn’t put anything really up to scratch since 2000’s Holy Wood. After a string of “meh” albums, it was time for a release like this and Manson defied any expectations.

3. Eagles of Death Metal – “I Love You All the Time” (Zipper Down)

Elias Fulmer: Now the most well known track from the Eagles of Death Metal’s 2015 Zipper Down, the song’s jangly glam rock stands in defiance of the face of terrorism, with ISIL assaulting the Bataclan where Eagles of Death Metal played on November 13th. It has spun a campaign for other artists to cover it, with the proceeds going to the Sweet Stuff Charity.

2. Faith No More – “Superhero” (Sol Invictus)

Brett Buchanan: While “Motherfucker” was Faith No More’s official comeback single, “Superhero” is really the fitting reintroduction to the band after a 18 year hiatus from recording. The infectious piano chords throughout the song really drive the song, and Mike Patton somehow manages to conjure of the dark spirit of the 90’s without sounding like he’s trying to, unlike some of his contemporaries.

1. Scott Weiland – “Circles” (Blaster)

Brett Buchanan: “Circles” unfortunately ended up being the bookend to legendary Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland’s 23-year studio discography. Guitarist Jeremy Brown kept it simple with with the musical arrangement, playing a memorable riff throughout the song. When it came to vocals, Scott Weiland went back to the country music he grew up listening, with one of his most memorable melodies in recent memory. Weiland’s lyrics are beautifully haunting, but with a sense of hope, like many of his greatest songs.

  • Felonious Punk

    “Loyal readers Felonious Punk and J mentioned this album in the comments section when we recently did our Album of the Year poll, and it made me go back and revisit it. “Hot Traveler” is definitely the standout with its plodding grungy riff.”

    I respectfully disagree with you here, Brett: while ‘Hot Traveler’ is indeed a monster in the context of the album, I’d say the true highlight is ‘Mulholland Drive’. For fans who had been down with Failure for 20+ years prior, this one came as a jaw-dropper. It still amazes me when I hear it. I saw them three times this past summer and this song sounded massive. Vocally, it’s Ken and Greg at their best. Instrumentally and structurally, it sounds unlike anything else they’ve done as Failure, but it works so gloriously well at taking them in a great new direction.

    I’d even put A.M. Amnesia and Otherwhere above Hot Traveler, but that’s splitting hairs. Good on you for showing Failure some love on the site. Everyone here who actively enjoys the music AltNation covers should give these guys a listen.

    I’d even take them over the Foos, anyday. No bullshit.

    • — J —

      Counterfeit Sky is my favorite on the album. Snow Angel second.

      Hot Traveler is just ok.

      The album though, like The Heart, is a Monster.

      • Felonious Punk

        Both good songs. I wish the video clip for CS would have been for A.M. Amnesia or Otherwhere, not because they’re two of my favorites but because what’s happening in the video goes better lyrically and sonically with those two more than it does CS.

        To be honest, I’d put THIAM over every other album on AN’s Top 10 of 2015 list, that weak-ass FNM record included. Just my opinion though.

        • — J —

          Yeah the FNM album was just barely ok. Not a single hook on the whole album, save for Motherfucker. I expected better.

          • Felonious Punk

            What’s your favorite tracks on Fantastic Planet and Magnified, J?

            I won’t ask you to tell us your favorite Comfort tracks because if you’re like every other Failure fan out there, you just pretend like that one doesn’t even exist at this point. Haha

          • — J —

            I don’t know if I can choose a favorite off Fantastic Planet. Heliotropic or Daylight most likely. But more often than not, I will just play the last 5 songs if I need a dose of Failure. Or the entire album start to finish.

            With Magnified, I don’t have a favorite track at all. Being that the songs were all stylistically so similar that is another one I will just start from the beginning and play all the way through.

            I might have listened to Comfort one time. After listening to FP 1000 and Magnified 100. And I don’t think I have ever listened to it again. After they figured out their sound on Fantastic Planet, Comfort (and even Magnified in certain ways) just doesn’t even sound like Failure to me.

            If I need something Ken Andrews related that isn’t FP, usually I will go to his solo albums or Year of the Rabbit. Comfort doesn’t even fit into the equation at this point.

          • Felonious Punk

            Haha yea, Fantastic Planet is light years ahead of what they were doing only 2-4 years prior. It’s like its own greatest hits record. I’ve come to enjoy Magnified more in the last five years or so. Frogs, Unsung and Wet Gravity hold up pretty good today.

            I never got into that YOTR album. It just sounded hookless and boring to me. Not what I was expecting from the whole thing at all. Same with Ken’s solo album: a few good songs here and there, but bland to me overall.

            His stuff with On is a different matter. I really liked that shit. Have you ever heard the album ‘Free Mars’ by Lusk? It was Greg Edwards, Brad Laner, the old bassist from Tool and a bunch of notable L.A. musicians from the time making this weird psychadelic electronic album. Real good stuff.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Mars

    • dakotablue

      Yup, figured the FF would make another appearance here, on the never ending site of Foos news. Sigh.
      Cornell is definitely worthy, but I think Eagles of Death Metal is the sympathy vote for Paris tragedy.

      • Felonious Punk

        Seriously though, as we’ve already discussed on AN, what other band out there is generating news the way Grohl and the Foos are these days?

        Once again I’ll say this: 2015 was a massive year for the FF. Any band doing any of the things they did would get the coverage. Don’t hate just because a band has way more going for it than any other right now, ffs.

        • dakotablue

          I think I have a case of Foos fatigue. Of course, if I liked their music I wouldn’t mind reading endless “news” about Dave wiping his nose on a fan’s sleeve or something. Also I kinda expect the top 10 rock songs on this site would be in the Alternative realm, and there’s no way the massive money machine called FF are alternative at this point.

      • Jimmy Intense

        No, Zipper Down is a legitimately good album. Better than FF and FNM in my opinion and that’s not sympathy talking.

        • dakotablue

          But the category is top 10 songs, not albums.

          • Jimmy Intense

            Dur thanks Captain Obvious

          • dakotablue

            And again I point out, Zipper Down is an ALBUM and this is about which SONG singular, General Oblivious.

          • Jimmy Intense

            Yep you made that clear. The song is better than a mere sympathy vote. If you’re just going to complain, why even come to the site?

  • Junior Moore

    Why does Sol Invictus get so much love? It’s mediocre at best, what am I missing?

    • Felonious Punk

      Agreed.

      “Hi everyone. Here’s less than 40 minutes of new music after an 18 year break, that sounds pretty much like my stuff with Tomahawk. At least now we’ll have a reason to tour for another two years.”

      • Junior Moore

        I usually don’t regret my album purchases, but this one was pretty disappointing.

        • Felonious Punk

          I mean, I’m okay with it. I’m glad they’re one of the bands that came back and all.

          But even at it’s best, it comes nowhere near Angel Dust or King For A Day.

    • — J —

      Agreed!

  • Jimmy Intense

    Nice to see Cage the Elephant getting some love. Personally, I would have chosen Punchin Bag or Too Late to Say Goodbye. This album is very catchy which seemed inevitable when they announced Dan Auerbach would produce but I’ll take it any day over the uneven direction of Melophobia.

    • rejectrepublicanlies

      “Cold, Cold, Cold” has a Rolling Stones (“Play With Fire,”), Zombies or Animal’s feel. And, that’s not a bad thing.

      • Jimmy Intense

        I agree and enjoy the whole album. Just would suggest other songs as an introduction

  • peter.b

    apparently all you have to do to get your song in the top 10 is be victim to a terrorist attack or drink yourself to death. i gave circles a chance, however it feels pretty forgettable

    • — J —

      Or be one of the favorite bands of Alt Nation’s writing crew.

      Scott Weiland, Dead Sarah, and Cage the Elephant never would have made a top 10 on any other website.

  • Daanon DeCock

    I don’t care which Failure song you pick, 75% of THIAM is better than anything else on this list. Otherwhere, Counterfeit Sky, and Hot Traveler are probably my favorites, but it really depends on my mood when I listen to the CD.

    I don’t get the Scott Weiland at all. Granted I was never a fan, but that song is horrible. Wouldn’t even be in my top 500, let alone #1.

    • rejectrepublicanlies

      Here, here!

    • Felonious Punk

      Always nice to see some new Failure fans here. Pull up a seat, friend.

      I actually think ‘Circles’ is the only real keeper on Blasted. It’s kind of a touching final statement from the guy, when you take it into account. I’m sure it got the top spot for sympathetic reasons, but I’d still take it over the other nine songs that made the list.

      It was like Scott proving he could still bring the melodic goods one last time before he passed.

      • Daanon DeCock

        I’ve seen them 17 times, 5 this year alone. Always happy to meet fellow fans, Failure fans are the best fans in the world. Met so many friends through the band. Through the Failure Mailing List in the 90s. Hanging out talking after shows. Some newer ones met through FB.

        • Felonious Punk

          Nice. I only saw them three times this year. Six times total. My first Failure show was in late’97 when they played a small club with Local H. Naturally, they weren’t as heralded then.

  • rejectrepublicanlies

    If Failure were on a major label, THIAM would have been added to every alternative station in the country. Instead, FM “alternative” radio programs mediocre, whiny drivel.

    • Felonious Punk

      Are there even alternative radio stations out there anymore? I thought it was just a bunch of modern rock bullshit playing overplayed shit like Enter Sandman, Closer to God and the same three songs from AIC’s Dirt in between whatever tatted-up bunch of losers are writing their songs geared for radio play these days.

      • Jimmy Intense

        Our local station that used to feature alternative is now pushing what I call “nu alternative”…over-produced poppy synths and barely any guitars in sight. “Modern” music is shite.

        • — J —

          You have to be able to separate Alternative from Alternative Rock though. Alternative music was never about guitar riffs, it was just simply about being different from the fluffy riff rock of the 80s at the time. Blues Traveler was “Alternative” in the 90s. Hootie and the Blowfish were Alternative in the 90s. Tom Petty was putting out “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, based around harmonica and it was being played on Alternative stations. Fishbone was Alternative. Mighty Mighty Bosstones were Alternative.

          Today’s alternatives bands have taken from that spirit where songs are not necessarily built around a repetitive distorted guitar riff. They use synths, pianos, dance beats, etc…

          I’m good with it all because:
          1. A lot of it is quite damn catchy
          2. It’s not Godsmack
          3. Too much testosterone in rock music

          If you’re looking for Alternative Rock that is more based around the loud/quiet dynamic of Smashing Pumpkins/Pixies/Nirvana… it’s out there.

          If you want Alternative Rock that’s based on more classic rock influences like The Who/Led Zepp/Black Sabbath… it’s out there.

          You’re just more likely to hear Alternative, rather than Alternative Rock, on the radio because it’s catchier and radio has gone to an all pop format since Nu Metal died.

          Many of the bands are quite good. And in a live setting use a lot more guitar than their records would suggest.

          I myself have become incredibly bored by the “4 dudes playing guitar, bass, drums, and singing” since it’s what I grew up on. Sometimes a nice song written on synthesizer (M83, Foster The People, Capital Cities, etc..) is a great palate cleanser before Shinedown or Three Days Grace comes onto the radio and reminds me just what rock music has devolved into.

          • Jimmy Intense

            Yes the music I like is still out there in droves. I was complaining about the current state of radio. I’ll take Monster Truck and Royal Blood over M83 or Foster the People any day of the week.

          • — J —

            Terrestrial radio isn’t even the best place to find music anymore. Pay for Sirius. Totally worth it. Or discover via soundcloud/Spotify/Apple Music/Pandora recommendations.

            Great music is still everywhere, it’s just not located where it used to be.

        • Felonious Punk

          So it’s just Muse, Future Islands and Mumford and Sons being played then, basically?

          • Jimmy Intense

            Don’t forget Crystal Castles!

          • Felonious Punk

            I actually met and hung out with them after a show a few years back, before Alice Glass left the band. Very cool, down to earth group of dudes (and dudettes). They were big into drinking and smoking pot!

          • Jimmy Intense

            To be fair I did like their song Not In Love until all the local stations played it to death. I’m a fan of The Cure so that might be why I gave it a chance.

          • Felonious Punk

            I’m a pretty big Cure fan myself. But Robert Smith pisses me off these days. He pretty much stopped their deluxe reissue campaign with that Disintegration repackage that was horrendously remastered about five years ago, and all that talk about a “darker” album of material from the 4:13 Dream sessions has been nothing but smoke.

            It would pain me to see them go out with 4:13 Dream being their final artistic statement. That album was a brickwalled mess that merely sounded like a rehash of former glories at its best moments.

          • Jimmy Intense

            For me, 4:13 Dream was a letdown after the eponymous album which is still one of my favourites. I’d be happy with them taking however long between albums so long as the music is of top quality. The Tool rule, I call it.

          • Felonious Punk

            Their eponymous album was a good one, yea. Except they released it in like eight different versions and you had to hunt down just about all of them to get all the songs. LoL assholes.

            Eponymous sounded like a good mix of all their past eras with a lot of strong songs written during those sessions. 4:13 Dream just sounded like a Wish knockoff with lazy, 3rd rate songs.

          • Jimmy Intense

            Well, they just became cooler in my books.

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  • milehisnk

    Failure’s name is appropriate. Awful song.

    Dead Sara is a great band live, and while it’s softer, it’s a decent song.

    Cage the Elephant’s first dozen songs SUCKED. Completely awful. This song isn’t bad, definitely has a Doors-Meets-Led Zeppelin sound, but with weak guitar playing.

    Foo Fighters are Foo Fighters. I don’t think they can make a bad song right now.

    The Arcs are like the Black Keys. They suck (Industry term).

    Not a fan of Chris Cornell, but thus far it’s the 3rd best song out of 5.

    Marilyn Manson’s song sounds a bit too Depeche Mode for me. Not a fan (and what’s with his impersonation of the Crash Test Dummies?).

    EODM is only famous at this point because of Paris. Not a great song, but they are friends of friends…and yet I still don’t like the song.

    Faith No More sounds like Faith No More, and that’s a great thing. Probably the second best song on this list.

    Scott Weiland made a good one…Kind of a blues-y more upbeat tone song in the same emotional sense as Creep or Plush. There’s 2 groups that I can’t even call bands, let alone say they deserve a spot on here, and 3 more songs that don’t deserve to be there.

  • Teresa Haefner Holman

    Dead Sara <3

  • Drew

    “Something Good” was a little too cheesy for me. There are better songs on that album by Dead Sara, although overall it was a bit of a disappointment for me.