1. Kanye West -- Black Skinhead
Ferocious. Relentless. Blistering. Awesome. Maybe the best possible thing you can say about Black Skinhead is that it was so good it made Kanye's obnoxious megalomania and pop cultural ubiquity worth putting up with. The first official single off Yeezus and co-produced by none other than Daft Punk (#2), Black Skinhead was Kanye's shock and awe, a surprise attack that you never could've seen coming from someone known for layered production, liberal sampling and a healthy stable of featured co-performers. The track was as stripped-down as any punk record, with a pummeling gallop of a beat and a fuzzed-out, rapid-fire lyrical delivery that sounded like a declaration of war shouted through a bullhorn at a rally, all building in the choruses to an almost excruciatingly intense crescendo. While it made its larger themes known, as usual, by making it all about Kanye's own experiences, this did nothing to deaden its fiery and primal statement of purpose. It was Kanye as you've never heard him before. Whatever you think of him, he created the most surprising, exhilarating, and flat-out best single of the year.