20. tUnE-yArDs, “Water Fountain”
Darn it, Merrill Garbus, I was perfectly happy ignoring your precious indie rock. Why did you have to write one of the year’s kookiest ear worms? Seriously, I’ve always found tUnE-yArDs’ music to be as insufferable as that band name, which I hate to type. When you combine Brooklyn hipster appeal, co-opted African music, and ukulele, it’s a guarantee I will run, no, sprint in the opposite direction. But this sneaky little single from the 2014 album Nikki Nack is so much richer, adventurous, and incessantly catchy, full of sunny vocal phrasing, rhythms, and bassline, but grounded by murky, almost satirical lyrical content. I’ve never heard Garbus’s musical influences coalesce as perfectly as they do on “Water Fountain”, a track so playful and inventive that it managed to sway a grumpy cynic like yours truly. Woo ha, woo ha.