Concept albums dominated the year with some incredible collections making up my top 10. But just who took the number one spot?
- Melanie Martinez – Crybaby
Melanie Martinez was on the 2012 US series of The Voice and reached the Top 6 before being eliminated but don’t expect this to be your cliché reality TV breakthrough debut album. “Crybaby” is a brilliant concept record that explores the world of a fictional character on a journey of self-discovery with some gruesome tales and dark undertones making this pop affair intriguing to say the least. Highlights include; “Tag You’re It”, “Mad Hatter”, “Dollhouse”, “Soap” and title track “Cry Baby”. Her vocals are intriguing and if you can imagine a cross between Lana Del Rey and Marina And The Diamonds with a little bit of Lady Gaga then you have Melanie Martinez. As a debut album “Cry Baby” will have you impressed, captivated and wanting more.
- Twenty One Pilots – Blurryface
Twenty One Pilots are one of my favourite live bands and for good reason. Their shows explode with character, energy and carefree moments that will have your hands in the air and your body moving. Their sophomore studio album “Blurryface” sees them extending their diversity with fuses of pop, rock, reggae, dance and rap. One thing that makes Twenty One Pilots songs so unique and different is their incredible way of storytelling. Lyrically this album has a lot of vivid imagery that brings their slightly bizarre tales and brutal honesty to life. This is an album that will constantly grow on you and while there are many songs that you will instantly fall in love with there are a couple that will take a few listens to appreciate. “Vessel” was a strong breakthrough album but “Blurryface” secures their place as a game changer and will introduce them to a wider audience. Highlights include; “HeavyDirtySoul”, “Tear In My Heart”, “Message Man”, “Stressed Out” and “Ride”.
- Urban Cone – Polaroid Memories
2015 really was the year of the Swedish. Almost every massive pop song had a Swedish person credited and one band that caught my attention this year was the dreamy indie pop fueled Urban Cone. Their sophomore studio album “Polaroid Memories” is the perfect soundtrack for a summer festival with a tight indie pop sound that will have you singing and dancing along instantaneously. Highlights include; “We Are Skeletons”, “Come Back To Me”, “New York”, “Never Gonna See You Again” and “Treasure”. Oozing with big synths, cool vocals and simple and direct lyrics this album is so likeable you may just find yourself falling in love with this band, I know I did. Also their set at Splendour In The Grass this year was one of the best live sets I have ever seen at a festival. Just saying.
- Alison Wonderland – RUN
Electronic music can be quite versatile and complex and Wonderland’s songwriting techniques showcase this quite well. As a debut album “Run” explores Alison Wonderland as a singer, songwriter and producer. Her lyrical endeavors are on point, her singing is soothing and the production is fierce but at times it is slightly generic. Highlights include; “U Don’t Know”, “Naked”, “Take It To Reality”, “Games” and “Cold”. Best to be played; LOUD.
- Adele – 25
When any album is preceded with massive hype I get worried if it’s going to live up to the expectations. But Adele has stepped it up and delivered an album that will impress and keep you stanning. “25” is not the break up record that “21” was but it is a reflective journey that looks at her life, her struggles, love, losses, and gains. When I first heard the lead single “Hello” I was a bit worried because it didn’t have the strong emotional connection her previous singles had but from the minute I heard “When We Were Young” all my faith got reinstalled. This is the emotional and beautiful Adele ballad you need in your life and perfectly captures the reflective emotions she is trying to capture on this album. She continues to give you strong piano ballads with powering drums and soaring vocals like “Sweetest Devotion”, “All I Ask”, “Remedy” and “Water Under The Bridge”. She even delivers a playful and upbeat pop track “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” which is the ultimate “fuck you, I’m over you” type track. “25” is a strong album that has already broken so many records and cemented her status as one of the world’s biggest musician. These songs do have a stronger message of reflection and hope and will help you finally get up off the bedroom floor where she left you last time.
- Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Charged with gritty guitars, tribal beats and banging drums Florence + The Machine redefines herself with the cinematic third studio album “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”. The songs embody an essence of an early Stevie Nicks with the raw vulnerability of her vocals and the lingering heartache and emotion. The album is all about her vocals and she doesn’t let anyone forget that. Soaring with high notes and unleashing the inner soul and roots of her vocal ability you will have goosebumps from the raw power. Highlights include; “Delilah”, “What Kind Of Man”, “Queen Of Peace”, “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”, “Mother” and “Third Eye”. “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” was a massive competitor for album of the year and with big hooks, unforgettable harmonies and a collection of intimate and matured tracks this is undoubtedly her best album yet.
- Justin Bieber – Purpose
2015 became the year it was “okay” to like Justin Bieber. On his fourth studio album “Purpose” he opens up, strips it down and bares you his all with an emotional vulnerability as well as still providing the bangers. The skrillex produced “Sorry” and “I’ll Show You” offer the most experimental dance sounds while “What Do You Mean” and “Where Are You Now” are just certified great EDM tracks. The rest of the album is filled with sexually charged RNB tracks that will explode your ovaries and even if you don’t have them it is possible, trust me. “Company”, “No Sense” and “No Pressure” are great examples of this and will have you impressed and wanting/needing more. You may not have expected it (I DID) but Justin Bieber smashed it.
- Ellie Goulding – Delirium
“Delirium” is a strong and confident collection of pop tracks that sees Ellie Goulding transforming from the awkward indie-pop songstress she used to be to delivering sexy and fun dance influenced tracks. This is a completely different listening experience compared to her previous two records and while the emotional connection isn’t as strong she will have you buzzing with euphoric vibes and interesting social commentaries. “Something In The Way You Move”, “Lost And Found”, “Army”, “Paradise” and “Don’t Need Nobody” provide the “big” pop moments with their infectious hooks while “I Do What I Love” will have you bopping along to a surprising Bollywood beat. However it’s “Codes” and “Don’t Panic” which steal the album for me with their honest dating commentary lyrics which I find oh so relatable. I loved this album from a first listen and kept falling in love with it or different reasons each listen.
- Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion
This is one album that was totally underappreciated this year. People got too stuck on the fact it was “Carly Rae Jepsen” and refused to give it a listen and appreciate the masterpiece this record is. “Emotion” is one of the few pop albums that could genuinely give Taylor Swifts “1989” a run for its money. Stepping it up lyrically and emotionally she’s opened herself up and has gone toward a new 80’s revival of the big synth pop hooks and guitar driven beats. Opening with the infectious synth pop “Run Away With Me” she gives you sexy RNB on “All That”, HAIM vibes on “Emotion” before delivering real synth pop goodness with “Gimmie Love”, “Your Type”, “La Hallucinations” and “Boy Problems”. This is one record that continually grows and evolves with each listen. The lyrics are completely relatable and take you on an “emotional” (excuse the pun) journey that has really become my soundtrack of 2015. She left the cookie cutter, bubblegum pop sound behind and brought an honest sound to her music and lyrics that you can’t help but love. So please don’t snooze on this any longer and do yourself a favour and listen to it, you won’t be disappointed.
- The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness
From the impeccable production to the mesmerizing vocals, interesting structures and sexually driven lyrics it was a no brainer choosing this album as my favourite record of the year. The Weeknd “Beauty Behind The Madness” left me speechless and beyond impressed by the production and quality of the tracks. With a cinematic mood “Real Life”, “Often”, “Dark Times”, “Prisoner”, “The Hills” and “In The Night” will have you hooked and in absolute awe. Prior to this album I was never overly impressed by The Weeknd but that has quickly changed. He has captured my full attention.