Popology Now’s Top Albums of 2015
Here we are, everybody! 2015 is less than a week away from ending and we’ve come to the end of another year in pop music.
This year was a big transitional year for many artists. Whether they were moving from one project to the next, standing strong with their first record, coming off of one of the biggest blockbuster albums of the century, or becoming a full blown “adult” pop stars, a huge shift was going on and a lot of our top albums of the year are a big representation of that.
So here they are – in no specific order because that would be unfair. It’s like placing numbers on your favorite children. Some were strategically placed, but each one we loved and still love for different reasons. We’ve hyperlinked each album title so you guys can stream the albums and experience them for yourselves. Enjoy, y’all!
Tragedy can make or break a dream. With last year’s unfortunate disbandment of Danity Kane, Aubrey O’Day and Shannon Bex could have called it quits and retreated into the unknown.
Instead, they rose out of the decay, reborn as dumblonde: a thrilling alternative dance-pop duo that left the past behind and allowed these ladies to start a new chapter on their own terms.
Truth be told, Aubrey and Shannon’s star power has never shined as bright as it does on this project. Taking references from iconic blonde imagery before them and pushing their creative limits to deliver an original body of work, ‘dumblonde’ came at a time when pop was craving a new fresh sound.
It’s quite remarkable how far they’ve come in just the handful of months since the album’s release. 2016 is slated to be an even bigger year for these blonde bombshells as they prepare their sophomore release. We’re game for a dumblonde takeover – are you?
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Love Blind’, ‘Tender Green Life’, ‘Remember Me’, ‘You Got Me’, ‘Dreamsicle’, ‘Carry On’ (but really, the entire record).
Dancing away heartbreak may not sound like paradise, but when it’s paired with trendy house pop and R&B influences – man, are you going to enjoy all that pain.
After winning BBC’s Sound of 2015, the stakes were high for the Olly Alexander fronted band to deliver. First came the massive ear-worm ‘King’, then the sentimental ‘Shine’, and finally their debut album, ‘Communion’ – a well crafted LP that dives into Olly’s most intimate thoughts and the depths of his heartache.
Whether it’s singing about new love, capturing insecurities and contradicting emotions, or finding strength in the aftermath of a breakup, there isn’t a song that you can’t relate to on ‘Communion’…and there lies the true magic behind this record.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Shine’, ‘Take Shelter’, ‘Worship’, ‘Eyes Shut’, ‘King’, ‘Desire’, ‘Without’
Selena Gomez really hit the nail on the head when it came to the title of her sophomore solo LP, didn’t she?
After a tumultuous year of personal and professional hell, Selena did a complete life overhaul. She left her longtime label of six years, surrounded herself with a new team, and went into the studio to record her most personal and cohesive record to date.
By embracing her Mexican roots and leaning towards an urban-pop sound, Selena turned everything that was thrown at her into something beautiful and transformed into the pop star she was always meant to become.
A new beginning has never looked or sounded this good.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Kill Em With Kindness’, ‘Hands To Myself’, ‘Sober’, ‘Camouflage’, ‘Me & My Girls’
What happens when you get your first top ten thanks to one of the biggest pop girls around? You dive head first into the genre and let the madness consume you.
Some have used the words “sell out” just because The Weeknd is dabbling in pop. We beg to differ. His late night romps and drug-fueled benders are still prevalent and his lyrics are just as titillating as ever.
Yes, the melodies may be tighter and the hooks may be more glaring, but don’t think the Weeknd has lost himself on his quest for superstardom. In fact, he’s discovered who he truly is as an artist by adapting to a genre that’s been waiting for someone like him.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Tell Your Friends’, ‘Often’, ‘In The Night’, ‘Prisoner’
Never did we think we would fall for a Justin Bieber album this much; but when it feels right, it feels right.
After falling from grace, Justin put his money where his mouth is and remained on the straight and narrow (for the most part) to deliver his most introspective, adult, and forward thinking record to date.
Turning to Skrillex, Diplo, BLOOD, Ed Sheeran, and Halsey was some of the best decisions Justin has made to date. ‘Purpose’ is part R&B, part pop, a dash of tropical house, and extremely well done.
At times, it’s the album’s production that outshines Justin. However, in the end, it’s that voice that has caused us to fall in love with him all over again.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Sorry’, ‘Company’, ‘No Sense’, ‘The Feeling’
What happens after you had a string of top ten hits over the past several years? You bottle up all that magic and turn to the biggest pop producer in history to help you take your sound to the next level.
After the worldwide success of her previous hits, Ellie Goulding knew she had to raise the bar on her third album. With ‘Delirium’, Ellie went into the studio with Max Martin and had him pump her sound full of steroids.
In return, ‘Delirium’ stands proudly as her most pop leaning work to date as well as her most cohesive album. The sound is more explosive, the lyrics are more polished, her hooks are heavier, and the songs are bigger. It literally doesn’t get any better than this.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Something In The Way You Move’, ‘Keep On Dancin’, ‘Codes’, ‘Don’t Panic’, ‘We Can’t Move To This’, ‘Army’, ‘Lost and Found’
Each year, a record comes around that is slightly overrated, yet completely underrated at the same time. This year, it happens to be Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘E MO TION’.
Taking what she does best and cranking it up a few notches, ‘E MO TION’ blasts right out of an 80’s boom box, channels the best of Paula Abdul to a tee, and delivers some of the best pop songs created this year.
Funnily enough, some of the people involved in this record aren’t the “pop” producers you would expect to produce sugary sweet hits like this. Hell, you could even stretch the fact that Carly is becoming less and less “pop” by the day. None of that hides the fact that Carly Rae is one of pop’s most slept on acts that deserves more attention than she gets.
She may be attached to one of the most obnoxious novelty songs of all time, but don’t you dare think for a second that anybody will let you forget how solid of an album this is or why you should think about giving CRJ a second chance.
It’s rather nauseating, but it would be criminal to say that they’re wrong…
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Run Away With Me’, ‘E MO TION’, ‘Boy Problems’, ‘Warm Blood’
In a “blink and you missed it” moment, Hilary Duff briefly remerged with her fifth album this year. Who wouldn’t have known, right?
In all honesty, we have never been Duffsters. With that being said, there’s something particular endearing about ‘Breathe In Breathe Out’. In fact, it could be one of the most underrated pop albums of the year, bar ‘ E MO TION’.
Hilary Duff teased this record by promising that it would be a more “earthy”, folky record. Instead, she nixed those plans and found herself on top of euphoric EDM-pop beats as she picked up the pieces of her life after her failed marriage.
We dare you to try to find a breath to take in between the heartfelt bangers that Hilary so carelessly dropped earlier this summer.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Sparks’, ‘One In A Million’, ‘Confetti’, ‘Breathe In Breathe Out, ‘Arms Around A Memory, ‘Tattoo’
Say what you want about Madonna, but there’s no denying that after thirty years as the queen of pop she still knows what it takes to push the envelope and reinvent herself with each record.
This time, the reinvention may have seemed a little ridiculous on the surface, but she made it count when it came to the music.
By honing in on her rebellious and romantic nature, the massive ‘Rebel Heart’ captures Madonna teaming up with some of the world’s top electronic producers, Kanye West, and some of hip-hop’s best emcees to let you know that she doesn’t give a fuck what you think, but still has a sensitive side underneath that tough exterior.
It seemed doomed from the start, but it just so happens to be her strongest effort in years. Get passed the name, passed the thirst for attention, and embrace the heart this rebel has to offer.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Living For Love’, ‘Ghosttown’, ‘Unapologetic Bitch’, ‘Illuminati’, ‘Bitch I’m Madonna’, Iconic’, ‘Body Shop’, ‘Holy Water’
Nearly every teenager thinks they have it all figure out. As false as that may be, that sentiment seems more believable coming from Canada’s latest alt-pop export.
After releasing her anti-party anthem ‘Here’, Alessia Cara embraced her outsider status even more on her full-length debut, aptly titled ‘Know It All‘ – a part soul, part hip-hop, part slam poetry record that takes us inside the depths of this nineteen year old’s POV when it comes to growing up, love, and fitting in when you were born to stand out.
There’s no doubt that her vocal presence exceeds her tiny stature, but it’s the wisdom instilled in her and the way she can paint a narrative with her lyrics that won our heart over.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Seventeen’, ‘Outlaws’, ‘Wild Things’
Much like the previous artist in this list, Troye has become a voice for those struggling to come to gripes with who they truly are.
Being one of the few credible YouTube musicians out there, Troye raised the bar even higher for his digital peers by releasing a collection of ambient, industrial pop songs about the awkwardness of growing up during your adolescent years and falling in love – but not any type of love, the love between two men.
Instead of preaching to his fans about his struggles, he comes down to their level and shares the exact same thoughts, emotions, and experience that they’re going through. We’ve had “out” male pop stars in the industry for a while now, but none have felt as captivating and relatable as Troye.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Wild’, ‘Talk Me Down’, ‘Cool’
The future of pop is here, ladies and gentlemen, and her name is Allie X.
Hailing from Toronto, Allie X’s over the top, theatrical brand of electro-pop may seem familiar at first. Her aesthetics are pretty similar to Lady Gaga. However, if that’s the first assumption you make when you see Allie, then it’ll be the biggest mistake you’ll make.
Her debut EP ‘CollXtion I’ flows from one song to the next as she spins her own yarn about young love, life, and insecurities – featuring some of the most simple, yet powerful, lyricism that we’ve heard in a while.
It’s all about the performance art and not for one single second does she let up. Her commitment to her work may be astounding, but not as breathtaking as her actual craft.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Hello’, ‘Prime’, ‘Good’
Aubrey O’Day and Shannon Bex weren’t the only ones to dig deep and reinvent post-DK3.
Dawn Richard took her solo career to the next level by switching up her sound with the electronic-heavy, ‘Blackheart’.
It’s hard for us to put into words exactly why we’re so enamored with ‘Blackheart’. Dawn totally shape-shifted everything you already knew about her and transformed into this soulful, alien-robot that spoke about the lowest of lows and her journey after the fall.
She bared her soul, converted us into fans, and is still receiving praise with ‘Blackheart’ nearly a year after its release. If that doesn’t say top album of 2015, we don’t know what does.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Swim Free’, ‘Castles’, ‘Phoenix’
It’s pretty ballsy to reinvent your sound after a mainstream release. That’s just the type of artist Marina is – she knows exactly who she is and what to say to convince you of it.
During the first quarter of 2015, Marina and the Diamonds delivered ‘FROOT’ – an album that took the best parts of her debut and sophomore album and moulded them into her most ambitious album yet. She vamps it up, slows it down, draws inspiration from within, and reveals different shades and colors of her artistry that we never saw before.
Ditching the top 40 pop sound was the best thing Marina could have done. Baring her soul feels much more authentic. Living la dolce vita has never been this sweet.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Happy’, ‘I’m A Ruin’, ‘Blue’, ‘Can’t Pin Me Down’
A love letter to the 6ix that sprung the meme heard around the world. This surprise mixtape proves that even when Drake isn’t at his sharpest he still runs circle around his peers.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Energy’, ’10 Bands’, ‘Know Yourself’, ‘No Tellin’
‘Everything Is 4’ is literally a smorgasbord of every type of genre: 80’s pop, R&B, country, hip-hop, and tropical house. As messy as it sounds, there’s something here for everyone. It’s part of Jason’s predictable charm.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Cheyenne’, ‘Love Like That’, ‘Try Me’, ‘Trade Hearts’
By golly, these girls finally got it! Little Mix went full on pop with their quirky third effort full of 80’s and 90’s influences, power ballads, and a bunch of heart. Fellow girl groups – take note on how it should be done.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Black Magic’, ‘Love Me Like You’, ‘Weird People’, ‘OMG’
After locking himself away to work tirelessly on his third LP, Big Sean easily steals the crown for Best Rap Album of 2015. His flow is tighter than ever and his punch lines hit even hard. If we were in the rap game, we’d be scared.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Blessings’, ‘All Your Fault’, ‘Play No Games’, ‘Stay Down’
Adele – ‘25’
After dealing with the heartbreak over losing the love of your life, Adele decided to take on another form of heartache on her follow up to ‘25’ – losing your youth. Growing up fucking sucks and, goddamnit Adele, you’ve made it worse. At least we have these songs to nurse the pain.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Send My Love (To Your New Lover)’, ‘I Miss You’, When We Were Young’, ‘Water Under The Bridge’, ‘Million Years Ago’
With a team of pop legends, seasoned pros, and the brightest newcomers, Giorgio Moroder mixed his disco flavor with today’s influence to produce his first album in 24 years.
HIGHLIGHTS: ‘Déjà Vu’, ‘Tempted’, ‘Tom’s Diner’, ‘Back and Forth’