The following are the artists, albums and songs I was obsessed with in 2015. Please enjoy! xx
1. Carly Rae Jepsen
I know what you’re probably thinking — “Carly Rae Jepsen? Really? Of Call Me Maybe fame?” The fact is, Carly Rae Jepsen’s new album, E•MO•TION, is pure pop perfection. Each song has a certain retro ‘80s vibe, and I can’t help but wonder why the album wasn’t more of a commercial success. I think Jepsen still has the stigma of an almost one-hit wonder, and it is something she is slowly shaking off.
E•MO•TION is one of the most perfectly crafted pop albums in a while — it is even on the level of Taylor Swift’s 1989. The second single, Run Away With Me, is every bit triumphant as it is heart-warming. The jazz elements bring out a feeling of nostalgia only music can give you. Every time I listen to it, I want to run down the streets of the city holding the hand of someone I love and just get lost in the moment.
Your Type is a song that didn’t catch much air time on the radio, which is a damn shame. The mid tempo retro sound shows off Jepsen’s impressive voice, and the lyrics are quite interesting.
“I bet she acts so perfectly. You probably eat up every word she says, and if you ever think of me. I bet I’m just a flicker in your head.”
I found an interesting post on Tumblr about this song. It said Jepsen wrote Your Type about her feelings toward the music industry — Jepsen doesn’t want to be the next Taylor Swift or Katy Perry. She is happy being able to put out music and have people enjoy it. She is content being herself and not the big name on campus.
2. One Direction
Okay, if you have had any contact with me in the past few months you are probably thinking “Marc, we fucking get it. You like One Direction now. Calm down,” but I am not going to. I am not going to stop obsessing over music that made me happy in 2015.
Their fifth album, Made in the A.M., was their last album before their extended hiatus in 2016. Made in the A.M. has a more mature sound than the band’s previous work. The lyrics and songs are a bit bittersweet because the boys know this will be their last album for a while:
- History is a love song to their fans — thanking them for all they have done.
- A.M. is a romantic ballad about that special feeling you have when you’re laughing your ass off with the people you love most.
- Perfect is a dream come true. In an interview with Vevo, Harry Styles has had this to say on the song
- “I think Perfect is probably the best– the biggest pop song on the album. It’s cool because it’s obviously a love song, but it’s not — it’s not that romantic. It’s not a Romeo, Juliet type: ‘I wanna be with you forever. I wanna marry you, I wanna have kids with you.’ It’s not — it’s not that kind of thing. It’s more like, I’m not perfect, I really like you and if you want to have fun. This could be a great type thing. Uhm, and it’s not — it’s not really thinking anything through, it’s kind of: Do you want to do a bunch of fun stuff with me, so yeah, its a different approach to a love song, but I think it’s really cool.”
- What A Feeling is a little bit disco and I am obsessed with every single thing about it.
- If I Could Fly is simple, but actually really sweet and beautiful.
- Wolves is bouncy as fuck and somehow syncs up with every dancing video ever. Just watch:
Let’s hope One Direction’s hiatus isn’t too long because we will miss these boys when they’re gone.
3. Elliphant & MØ
Both of these artists have been around for a while, but I never paid attention to them until 2015.
I put these two artists together because it was one duet that made me fall in love with their sound: One More. This is a smooth R&B/electronic song that goes from vulnerability to anger really quick.
One More is about wanting to spend time with the person you love because they make you feel like everything is alright. The vibe of the song becomes quite angry towards the end, and it really shows you how much someone can affect your emotions. This song technically came out September 2014, but I didn’t discover it until around February this year.
Elliphant released Love Me Badder in the Spring, and this song is simply irresistible. There is a certain Sia-ness to the production and Elliphant’s voice. The lyrics are a little tame to what she has released in the past, she still has her attitude though, and I was not disappointed. I love the video for the song, Elliphant is in a car late at night, and you are really curious what will happen. She then starts levitating to match the airy nature of the song.
MØ released Kamikaze in October, and it is her most danceable track yet. It is a mixture of alternative and dance-pop that reminds me of M.I.A.. I would describe the video as a cross between M.I.A.’s Bad Girls and Trainspotting. It involves a bunch of people dancing and driving cars around crazily– in Bad Girls style, but it has a lot of drugged out looking European guys yelling and fighting– in Trainspotting style. Diplo led the production on this song, and this is not the first time these two have worked together. Diplo was the featured artist on MØ’s stellar single XXX 88 — another song I fell in love with this year. XXX 88, originally released in 2013, but it was another song that I became obsessed with in 2015.
There is another reason I grouped Elliphant and MØ together. It is because they were both individually featured on two tracks from Major Lazer’s new album, Peace Is The Mission. MØ on Lean On and Elliphant on Too Original. I guarantee that you have heard Lean On, because it was one of the biggest songs of the year. I really do not want to sound hipster, but I couldn’t stop playing this song as soon as I heard it when it came out. I am having flashbacks to me drunk and dancing by myself to this song at my favorite college bar back in March. Lean On is the most streamed song on Spotify, with over 585 million streams, globally. The video is also close to approaching 1 billion views on YouTube. Lean On is a great dance track because MØ’s sharp voice blends with Major Lazer and DJ Snake’s house and reggae production perfectly– be ready to never stop dancing.
Too Original is different from Lean On because it is far more aggressive. This song has such an underground banger feel. The beat is actually throbbing, and it is so much to take in all at once, but I love every second of it.
4. Lady Gaga
It may seem a little odd to include Lady Gaga on this list simply because she didn’t come out with an album in 2015. She did have an amazing year though, and I will admit: My obsession with Lady Gaga has not stopped since I first heard Just Dance in 2008. There were several standout moments Lady Gaga had this year:
- Her Sound of Music performance at The Oscars. She completely slayed it and left everyone speechless. Before the performance, Lady Gaga was an underrated vocalist, but now I believe she has so much more respect as a singer.
- She recorded Til It Happens to You, a song for the documentary film, The Hunting Ground, which deals with campus rape in the United States. The song is every bit stunning as it is a bit unsettling. Her voice has so much pain in it, but it also has a sense of bravery because she is here standing strong now. Gaga has recently talked about how she was sexually assaulted early in her career, how it changed her and how important this song is to her.
- “Til your world burns and crashes, til you’re at the end, the end of your rope. Til you’re standing in my shoes, I don’t wanna hear a thing or two from you, from you, from you.”
- She became the star of American Horror Story: Hotel, impressing critics and fans alike with her performance of ‘The Countess’.
- Billboard named her 2015’s ‘Woman of the Year’
- She gave this very important speech
The best way for me to sum up my feelings for Gaga would simply be “YASS GAGA YASS.”
5. Charli XCX
Charli XCX is best known for her song Boom Clap from The Fault in Our Stars and her appearance in Iggy Azalea’s Fancy. Charli XCX is so much more than those two songs, and she is now one of the most in-demand songwriters in the industry. She co-wrote Selena Gomez’s recent hit Same Old Love.
Last December, XCX released her sophomore album, Sucker, and I think it was definitely underappreciated. I am about to start drooling right now thinking about her album because every SINGLE SONG is a masterpiece. Sucker has a power pop and punk sound that makes me want to throw my fist in the air and be a rebel.
Charli XCX is daring, fun and everything pop music needs. Sucker is just a stepping stone to her new material, and I think she will become one of the world’s biggest pop stars in the next few years.
My favorite tracks from Sucker change almost every week, but my all time favorite is Hanging Around. It is a little slowed down compared to other tracks on the album, but it hits just as hard. It has a bit of a Queen influence, and I can see myself singing Hanging Around at 3 A.M. in a bar at the top of my lungs — loving every minute of it.
Charli XCX also recorded Red Balloon, a song for the Dreamworks’ film Home. The song is airy, light and definitely upbeat. XCX sings so fast, but it adds to the all around happiness of the track. Everything then builds to an ultimate breakdown that makes you want to dance, shout and everything in between.
Fun fact: My most streamed song on Spotify in 2015: Rollercoaster, features Charli XCX. Bleachers re-released their album, Strange Desire, with all female vocalists. Chali XCX lent her voice to Rollercoaster, and her version of it is one of the best songs of 2015, in my opinion. The production isn’t very different in her version, but XCX’s voice sounds like something out of a dream. She makes Rollercoaster have even more of an 80’s vibe, and everything about it is just so perfect. Do yourself a favor, and listen to this song.
6. Janelle Monáe
I have liked Janelle Monáe for a couple of years, her sound is unique and she can create one hell of a music video. Monáe released the song Yoga back in March, and it instantly received critical acclaim. Yoga is a bit more fun than Monáe’s previous work, and there is definitely a change in her voice. The song is bouncy and just oh so enjoyable. New rapper, Jidenna comes in on the bridge with a fun and tongue in cheek verse. These two are some of the most beautiful people on the planet, and Yoga is the most attractive song mentioned in this post.
Yoga also has one of the year’s best lyrics: “You cannot police me, so get off my areola. Get off my areola!”
Bummer, but Yoga is not the lead single for a new Janelle Monáe album, IT IS HOWEVER featured on Wondaland Presents: The Eephus. The debut EP by the artists signed to Wondaland Records. Wondaland Records is Monáe’s own record label, and its debut EP is pretty damn good.
Grimes is the quirky, out-of-the-box artist I wish I could be. Her videos are so complex, and her sound is hard to pinpoint. Grimes’ new album, Art Angels, is a mixture between synthpop, folk and electronic. It sounds like the whole album would be a mess, but everything works perfectly. Each song is weird, but also beautiful. Art Angels received widespread critical acclaim after its November release, and was ranked by several publications as one of the best albums of 2015.
Three songs stand out in my mind from Grimes this year:
California, it’s folky, but somehow electronic at the same time. It is actually blowing my mind as I listen to it now while typing this sentence. It’s also one of those songs that has an upbeat production, but sad lyrics (which are actually some of my favorite songs à la Lily Allen).
I lost my mind when REALiTi dropped. I’m not joking, I listened to this song on repeat for two weeks. REALiTi is on Art Angels, but Grimes released a demo of the track in March as a thank you to fans. She initially intended to have it be a stand alone song, but it was so well-received, that she reworked it and included it on the album. I prefer the demo because it is a bit simpler and more euphoric. The EDM and trance elements mix so well together, and it really is one of THE BEST songs of 2015.
Flesh Without Blood is the lead single from Art Angels. It takes pop rock and new wave to a different place, and I love everything about it. There is a bit of an Avril Lavigne vibe in the song, and it makes me feel uncomfortable, but in a good way. Grimes is still experimental, but her sound is so refined now– I can’t believe it. There is a bit of a unintelligible chorus, but it is just so damn cool.
I love every single thing about the Flesh Without Blood video. Here is how I would describes some of her looks:
- Zombie Marie Antoinette playing tennis
- An gangster cowboy gambling
- A blood thirsty angel
8. Troye Sivan
I only knew a bit about Troye Sivan before 2015. He released an EP that I thought was pretty cool, but that was about it. Sivan just released his debut album, Blue Neighbourhood, and it is so fucking good, you guys, I am SO serious. He is only 20 years old, but his lyrics are so mature, it is really something to behold. His sound is dream pop/electronic and it is very mature for his age.
Sivan is openly gay too, and he does not shy away from pronouns in his songs, and that is huge. Blue Neighbourhood is his first LP, and I am completely blown away. He is kind of like the male Lorde: Young and extremely talented.
The lead single, Wild, is one of the best songs of the year. It is so loving, and I am having trouble finding words to describe how much I love it actually. If you are looking for a young artist with a refreshing sound — look no further than Troye Sivan.
9. Marina & the Diamonds
I will admit, I was never a big fan of Marina & The Diamonds before her new album. I thought she was another singer that had a cookie cutter pop sound. FUCK, EVERYTHING ABOUT THAT CHANGED IN 2015 BECAUSE FROOT WAS RELEASED. Froot is Marina’s third album, and she did what not many burgeoning pop stars would do on their new music: Strip it back and go less pop. I really think if Marina worked with certain people, her new album would have made her a bigger pop star. She preferred the company of a single record producer instead of a rotating cast. This made Froot have a more cohesive sound than any of her earlier material.
The lyrics of Froot are fucking beautiful, and I know that probably isn’t the best way to describe the album, but I was left speechless after some tracks. Happy talks about finally letting yourself smile and letting the light in. Savages talks about rape culture in a mature way that makes me look at society different. I am convinced that Forget is what would happen if you converted a beautiful painting into a song.
Blue is one of my favorite songs of the year. It is bouncy and has some self-deprecating humor, I am all about that stuff. It has my favorite lyric from 2015 too:
- “Give me love, give me dreams, give me a good self-esteem.”
On Weeds, she sings of a failing relationship. She literally channels the spirit of a dying plant and her voice makes me picture a wilting flower. How the FUCK does she do that? Marina, you have completely slayed me. I am sorry for ever doubting you.
Tinashe is one of the most promising R&B stars in years. She is like a young Janet Jackson, and it is very exciting to see where her new music will take her. Aquarius dropped October 2014, but I did not listen to it when it first came out, now I am obsessed with it.
Aquarius has the perfect combination of icy R&B and dance bangers. All Hands On Deck is my lady jam (it really builds). It incorporated a pan flute, a damn pan flute, and it was beautiful. Tinashe’s voice on it is sexy and confident. Another standout track on Aquarius really isn’t a track– Indigo Child (Interlude) is stunning, and I wish it was a full song. Coming in at 1:29 this dark mood setter has a gloomy production Tinashe sings enchanting lyrics almost like she is saying a spell. It is really something.
My favorite track from Aquarius is Bated Breath. It is slow, but so romantic. Tinashe displays her strong vocals, and I was more than blown away. Here is the chorus to Bated Breath — marvel at its amazingness:
- “But you’re still waiting on the moment breath is bated. I wish I could hold you, I can’t take it– tell you all my secrets. I’m too faded. Praying that tomorrow I’ll be braver, maybe I can tell you, maybe we can do this. Kisses on my forehead, we can fall into it. Love you like the rain, it falls much faster. Living in a piece of ever after…”
Tinashe’s sophomore album, Joyride, will drop sometime next year, and she has already released two songs. Player (feat. Chris Brown) and Party Favors (feat. Young Thug). These tracks are polar opposites, Player is aggressive and danceable while Party Favors is dark, slow and an ode to well… party favors. If 2016 means a new album from Tinashe, then it is exciting to hear what new material she is bringing to the table.
11. Little Mix
I was late to the Little Mix party. These girls are insanely popular in the UK. The group won The X Factor in 2011. They are slowly starting to blow up here in the US, and it is so exciting. I have taken in a lot of Little Mix in recent months, so let me tell you about these four women:
- Jesy Nelson = A fucking queen
- Leigh-Anne Pinnock = A fucking queen
- Perrie Edwards = A fucking queen
- Jade Thirlwall = A fucking queen
Little Mix is so cool. Check out their answer to the question “What is your favorite article of clothing?”
Black Magic, the lead single from their third studio album, Get Weird, is one of the best pop songs of the year. It is upbeat, catchy and addicting. The bridge and opening have a Hollaback Girl inspired sound and the chorus is everything I love about pop music. Black Magic has a little bit of a I Wanna Dance with Somebody with its 80’s inspired sound (which reminds me, check out Little Mix’s mashup of Jason Derulo and Whitney Houston).
When I discovered Little Mix’s Salute, it was an awakening. The music video is so badass. It displays each member as a strong woman and is aggressively styled and choreographed. The energy of the song is perfectly matched in the video, and I really couldn’t think of any other way to improve it.
My favorite Little Mix song is How Ya Doin’? (feat. Missy Elliott). A general rule of music: Missy Elliott makes everything better, and Missy kills it on this song. Her verse reminds me of those old school Missy tracks that are just all around fun. How Ya Doin’? combines both urban and pop. Little Mix brings out some extreme sassiness to the song, and it makes for one hell of a vocal delivery.
The video is a throwback to some major 90’s hits: Destiny’s Child in particular. The outfits, hair and makeup are all beautiful. The camera angles in the video are also so interesting– it’s like a neon fun house. The girls also gave a stunning a cappella performance of the song a few weeks ago on On Air with Ryan Seacrest. Like I said before, I was late to the Little Mix party and I regret it! Listen to Little Mix now, so you don’t have the same regrets I do!
12. Years & Years
Earlier in the year, I was a fiend for Years & Years (and I still am). The sound they create is so unique: I have described it as TLC, Ellie Goulding and Coldplay’s lovechild. I actually listened to their single King everyday on my walk to class in January. It is so hypnotic, I felt like I was put under a spell every time I listened to it.
Border is an insanely good song. It has some bounce, and Olly’s voice flows with the production in an unexpected and beautiful way.
- “I’m going to the border. My body will be stronger. My heart, it will start to shine, and I will be alright.”
It is every bit empowering as it is fun.
Take Shelter is a SEXY song. The production is moody, and the synthesizers blend perfectly with singer Olly Alexander’s voice. It takes its time to build to a sultry chorus, and then the house rhythms take you over. When Olly sings “It’s alright if you want to get used,” I lose it. #TooMuch
My favorite Years & Years song is Eyes Shut. It is a simple ballad, but the lyrics really standout to me:
- “Well, nothing’s gonna hurt me with my eyes shut. I can see through them, I can see through them. I am drawing pictures I’m evading, I will not use them, I will not use them. Cause I wanna be bigger than life, for you.”
I think the best thing about music is that you can interpret lyrics into different meanings. For me, this song is about not wanting to let go of the way you are, whether it be your imagination, identity or self-worth — almost kind of staying in your own world. It speaks to me for someone to say ‘I won’t compromise who I am, I will create my own way to be the person I know I am.’
I saw Years & Years live in September, and their show blew me away. Olly is an amazing vocalist, and the mood created is so weird but awesome; you aren’t sure if you’re at a rave or an acoustic show — I loved every second of it.
13. Kylie Minogue
I would like to start this off by saying Kylie Minogue is a goddess, and it is a CRIME she is not more famous in the US. Minogue is a Grammy winning singer, a gay icon and a dance music queen. It may seem odd that Minogue is on this list to some people because she didn’t release an album in 2015 (Besides her Christmas album, which I’m not counting). Minogue DID however release a KILLER EP, Kylie + Garibay, with Fernando Garibay in September.
The lead single, Black and White, is one of my favorite songs of the year. It is a smooth dance track that is a throwback to Minogue’s previous work. It is sexy, dark and a little flirtatious. Shaggy, of It Wasn’t Me fame, provides a verse and it is surprisingly brilliant. Shaggy’s delivery is smooth, but he builds with the electronic beat to get your heart rate going a bit. Kylie Minogue has a one of a kind voice that is light and dreamy. The production of this song showcases her voice and gets you dancing at the same time. When Kylie Minogue says dance. YOU DANCE.
Australian EDM duo NERVO, teamed up with Jake Shears, Nile Rodgers and Kylie Minogue for The Other Boys. I love this song simply because it’s fun. I can see myself dancing the night away to it, and never stopping.
Minogue made a featured appearance in one of the best disco tracks of the year, Giorgio Moroder’s Right Here, Right Now. The song is a dream dance collaboration, and the two did not disappoint. Minogue’s voice soars over the pulsating beat, and her “Woooooooooo!” addition is perfect. Right Here, Right Now is a good song because it sounds like it could be released 25 years ago, and still be just as awesome as it is today. Minogue and Moroder make for one hell of a team. Speaking of Moroder….
14. Giorgio Moroder
The famous disco producer released his first album in decades. Déjà Vu is one of the most star-studded LPs of the year. The featured artists are:
- Kylie Minogue
- Charli XCX
- Matthew Koma
- Mikky Ekko
- Britney Spears
Each song is stellar, and every artist brings something different to the table. On Wildstar, Foxes brings her signature emotionally charged vocals to set a somber mood, then Moroder picks up the pace; turning it into a retro disco extravaganza.
Kelis’ track, Back and Forth, took me by complete surprise and slayed my entire existence. The beat is pounding and my adrenaline is instantly up. Kelis’ raspy voice commands everyone in the room to dance. When listening to the song, I can’t help but picture Kelis dressed as a disco queen, sitting on a throne and making everyone at a club dance.
Sia provides vocals on the title track, and she has one of those voices that is so cool and interesting; I’m enthralled every time I hear her sing. Déjà Vu has a feeling of nostalgia to it, and it just makes me smile. When I first heard the song, I pictured the video would be romantic and have a lot of sunsets, and guess what? I WAS RIGHT. The video is unique and fits the energy of the song perfectly.
74 is the New 24 is nothing but pure adrenaline. I don’t go jogging much because it’s the worst, but I can’t help but run when listening to this song. It makes me feel powerful as fuck.
Britney Spears covered Suzanna Vega’s 1981 classic Tom’s Diner for the album. The cover is disco, EDM and all kinds of creepy. I became obsessed with the track when it leaked online in April, I was in the library studying, but I decided to stop and listen to Tom’s Diner on repeat for an hour. It was totally worth it, and I have no regrets.
I am sure none of you are surprised with Adele’s inclusion on this list. The singer-songwriter released her third album, 25, on November 20, and it shattered records and emotions everywhere. In the US, the album sold almost 2 million copies within the first two days of its release. The first weeks sales totaled over 3.38 million copies. It is astounding to not only sell that many records, but in one week? Adele is a force to be reckoned with.
The lead single, Hello, is simply stunning. Everyone collectively lost their shit when it was released, and I will be the first to admit that I was one of them. I was going to be productive the day Hello came out, but the song made me want to sit in a dark room, drink too much wine and think about my emotions: It’s the Adele effect.
My other favorite track from 25 is When We We’re Young, you can smile in the fact that it is now OFFICIALLY the second single. I don’t want to waste your time describing the song because I can’t do it justice, so here are some of the lyrics:
- “Let me photograph you in this light in case it is the last time, that we might be exactly like we were. Before we realized we were sad of getting old. It made us restless, It was just like a movie. It was just like a song. I was so scared to face my fears, cause nobody told me that you’d be here, and I swore you moved overseas. That’s what you said, when you left me. You still look like a movie, you still sound like a song. My God, this reminds me of when we were young.”
I know, Adele just fucked up your day.
I made a playlist for you guys with some of the songs from this post. Check it below! xx