In 2015 music was dominated by female pop performers. Katy Perry headlined the Super Bowl half-time show, Adele’s record was unavoidable, and Taylor Swift forced Apple Music to change their policies. I certainly didn’t anticipate that Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, and Meghan Trainor would deliver albums that would be in discussion for end of year lists.
It wasn’t just female vocalists though, 2015 was plentiful with very good records that spanned genres. There was also a handful of great records that stood out above all other music.
Chvrches – Every Open Eye
Chvrches’ sophomore album is even stronger then their debut. Once again they combine the best elements of indie rock and electronica and eschew those styles’ self-indulgences. Nearly every song is a highlight.
Elle King – Love Stuff
This is the most fun record of the year. King tells tales of hard-living through pop songs that sound equally influenced by blues and punk. Her voice is amazingly soulful. It both blends in with and serves as counterpoint to the rest of the sound.
Fetty Wap – Fetty Wap
Fetty Wap is the first rapper since 50 Cent to be so radio friendly and yet still retain his street cred. Every track on this record is a potential hit single. But it’s not just that; he’s an compelling character with great hooks. He turns a phrase better than any other current rapper. He might have the best one liners in the game today.
Kendrick Lamar – How to Pimp a Butterfly
I may have been one of the few who thought that Kendrick’s debut was overrated. You need more than a great flow and a great backstory to be a good rapper. On this album, Kendrick fulfills the lofty expectations placed on him. This is one of greatest rap albums of the past few years and may go down as an all-time classic.
The best rap and the best music reflect the world back to it. How to Pimp a Butterfly is a examination on life in Black America in 2015. Kendrick doesn’t pull any punches but he also doesn’t preach. This is an in-depth look at the state of race relations and an examination of his emotions on it.
It is also an amazing album musically. While other rap artists experiment by mixing hip-hop with other genres, Kendrick Lamar shows us how diverse rap music itself is. Spoken word, jazz, and R & B touches are present in these songs, but these tunes show they’ve always been part of rap as well.
Hands down, this is the best album of the year.
B.O.B – Psycadelic Thoughtz
Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion
Cee Loo Green – Heart Blanche
Mac Miller – GO:OD AM
Maritime – Magnetic Bodies/Maps of Bones
Selena Gomez – Revival
Article first published as Mark Kalriess’ Best Music of 2015 (Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Chvrches, Selena Gomez, Fetty Wap, and More) on BlogCritics