Favorite Songs of 2015!
As the resident HabeshaLA music writer, I was pleased to have so many gems to choose from when ranking my favorite Ethiopian songs of the year (Eritreans, please let me in on your favorites in the comment section below!) We live in blessed times where music is more accessible than ever before–platforms like YouTube, DireTube, ArifZefen, EBS, and ETV present modern and classic Ethiopian tracks in (mostly) HD fashion. Very exciting stuff! I’ve always been an aficionado of cultural and contemporary music from Ethiopia and I’ve pressed myself to formally rank my favorites this year (I’ve been ranking ~Western~ music for years here) Again, these are my favorites… sorry, Fikiraddis Nekatibeb and Tamrat Desta!
It was no easy task but cry/eskista/laugh here:
35. “Hizm Bele” – Mahlet Gebregiorgis : My girl returns with a beauty!
34. “Yenea Mar” – Wendi Mak : A slick gurage bop done in the way only Wendi can do it.
33. “Yanin Gara” – Girum Janoye : Reminiscing about a loved one never sounded this danceable.
32. “Yamarew Yimta” – Wendi Mak : Go ahead, be proud and show off your eskista talents–this song basically begs of it! <3
31. “Esuan Eyale” – Esayas Senbeto : An underrated eskista banger!
30. “Ani Sumaafan” – Shukri Jamal : Doesn’t this just make you happy?!
29. “Nama” – Dina Anteneh : The mashup trend continues– here’s my favorite Agew song of the year!
28. “Asresh Mechew” – Mesfin Bekele : The “eewee ewwaa” alone at 1:32 makes me love this song. I just wanna tie a netela around my waist and dance (*wink*)!
27. “Tikur Anbessa” – Abdu Kiar : I’m really a sucker for ~nationalism~ in songs so here we are.
26. “Segen” – Thomas Mekonnen : I think the opening water effects/instrumentation does it for me.
25. “Ney Jema” – Temesgen Gebregziabher : Temesgen needed this to save his lowkey stalled career–good move (literally… I think he now lives in DC)!
24. “Kem Gelgele Meskel” – Dawit Nega : I literally have no idea what’s being said, except for a few words, but I freakin’ love the traditional Tigrinya instrumental, Dawit’s passionate voice, and the unique switch-up after 4:20.
23. “Mejemeria Fekri” – Jossy : Another cover that I absolutely love! This time it’s of an Eritrean song. I’m impressed by Jossy’s performance & I just love the beat so much.
22. “Lbie Eyewekesegne” – Madingo Afework : Uuuuf, Madingo’s voice is everything and his plea in this Mahmoud Ahmed cover is so sincere and beautiful.
21. “Altelashim” – Abdu Kiar : This song is so freakin’ sweet and sad at the same time… so, bittersweet? Abdu makes another sing-a-long track with this one.
20. “Yene Habesha” – Abby Lakew : An unreal breakout hit for Abby, who’s been in the game for longer than most today. It’s the sweetness of her voice and the relatability of her lyrics. Can anyone say #goals? The video is also adorable 🙂
19. “Fikresh New Yegodagn” – Jano Band : That a live cover of a Tilahun Gessesse song can impact me this much says a lot about this song. The original’s instrumental is so beautiful and Jano did a fabulous job maintaining the essence and passion of the song while bringing it to the 21st century. I scream-sing this all the time lol
18. “Tenagera” – Fikir AB : This song is spunky and filled to the brim with attitude; God forbid I’d ever have to deal with a significant other that’s being sus but it’s good to know I’d have a theme song for my issues. Watch until the very end of the video 🙂
17. “Darigne” – Jano Band : Jano Band is one of my favorite musical acts in Ethiopia. Not only are their voices stellar, they are at the forefront of Ethiopian music… pushing the boundaries of how a ballad can sound or just how electronic techniques can fit in the Ethiopian musical landscape today. This song, headed by their female vocalist, is a prime example of how exciting and innovative Jano Band can be.
16. “Ema” – Kalkidan Meshesha : An great ode to a country that I so adore <3
15. “Maalan Jira…?” – Haacaaluu Hundeessaa : Haacaaluu is really my dude. I know just a few words in Afaan Oromo so this one is mostly about the feel <3
14. “Milash” – Selamawit Yohannes : Something about this beat literally warms my heart the moment it starts. The lyrics are the cutest too, hella relationship goals!
13. “Zago” – Mamila Lukas : One of the most feel-good Ethiopian songs of the year and also the absolute go-to for all “Agew”/”Debub”/”Welayta” songs at your grad parties/weddings/etc.
12. “Geba Belew” – Tsion Assefa : The eskistability of this song is A1 and I rate Tsion’s convincing voice and lyrics. Plus, this video is probably the most OD of the year lol
11. “Melkam Ametbal” – Abdu Kiar : The new default song for all Genas, Fassikas, and (if I were Muslim) Eids from here on– thank you Abdu! The lyrics are extra heartwarming and inclusive of everyone, as well.
10. “Manew Yalew” – Abinet Agonafir : The most real song I’ve heard in forever. A message that needs to be heard by everyone!
9. “Atechenanek” – Mikias Chernet : Like #10 above, this song’s message serves as an immense lesson to all. What makes it different, however, is its pulsing production. Literally one of my favorite beats of the year. The only thing that makes me hot is the dancing in the video– eskista would have been fire!!
8. “Tangut” – Madingo Afework : My favorite Gondere song of the year by the artist of the year!
7. “Men Ale Tadya” – Tadesse Mekete : This is here mostly because nothing else this year sounded like it. Come through Minjar!
6. “Ethiopia” – Abinet Agonafir : A boisterous patriotic anthem that’s full of bravado–bravo, Abinet!
5. “Feta Feta” – Behailu Bayou : As this year’s “Sela Bey,” “Feta Feta” was inescapable…and with good reason: Catchy chorus? Check. A beat in which anyone at any eskista-level can dance to? Double check.
4. “Tew Ketemi” – Fitsum Gebretsadik : Balager anthem of the year!! lol these lyrics crack me up and empower me for no reason. A welcome reminder for us city-dwellers…
3. “Bey Kora” – Alemayew Getachew : This lovely Harari/Oromo ~Shagoyee~ situation brings me an abundance of happiness 🙂
2. “Yearategnaw Tatsh” – Madingo Afework : Abet lyrics! Abet voice! Abet production! Absolutely love the concept of Madingo’s finest work, in which his love abandons their love (and hence, breaks the promises represented by the ring on her “fourth finger.”) It’s heart-wrenching stuff, really.
1. “Alesh Neger” – Semahegn Belew : Semahegn returns with a major follow-up to one of my favorite Ethiopian songs ever (listen to his “Zenabun” here) with “Alesh Neger.” What makes this Gojam banger everything is that it simply makes you want to DANCE. And with lyrics like “this season of youth will pass like periods of time,” it’s like you have no choice but to do so.