For all the cohesiveness and thoughtful sequencing of Jamie xx’s In Colour, one song stands out. That an unlikely collaboration between a reserved British beatmaker, polarizing rap rule-breaker Young Thug, and Jamaican dancehall star Popcaan could be one of the year’s most popular songs speaks not just to a (hopefully) more open-minded listening public, but to Jamie’s ability to create pop gems out of disparate elements.
Combining a sample from ‘70s a capella band The Persuasions with steel drums for a sun-kissed riddim, Jamie xx inspired one of Young Thug’s most fun, quotable-filled performances in a year that was full of them. “I'ma ride in that pussy like a stroller,” Young Thug squawks at perhaps the song’s finest moment. “And she gon' squish it like squish, then go fast, she Speed Racin’,” he croons with a mischievous joie de vivre in the next verse.
“I decided on Young Thug because he’s the best,” Jamie told us, and he isn’t wrong. “I was in New York when I made the track and I was living in Brooklyn, driving to Manhattan every day listening to Hot 97. It was the perfect soundtrack and I wanted my own track to be a sort of summer tune.”
2015 was a year when music’s power—to bring people together, to give hope, to challenge authority—was as clear as ever. Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” for example, became a rallying cry for those protesting discrimination and injustice, but “Good Times” is as pure and unfettered a musical expression of the joy of being alive as we heard this year. It didn’t get old, it didn’t get tired, and it never failed to put a smile on our faces. We needed a song like this, and Jamie xx delivered.—Constant Gardner