2015 has been one of the most exciting years in music in recent years. Every month saw the release of at least one fantastic album, many of which went unnoticed.
Thinking about it, it’s crazy that in one year alone, Justin Bieber, One Direction, Lana Del Rey, The Weeknd, Adele, all released albums.
As the end of the year is near, Trendio’s editors narrowed the albums that made quite the impression, one certain to last way beyond 2015.
Check out our picks for ’15 Best Albums of 2015′ below and be sure to drop a line, agreeing / disagreeing with us.
[ “Caracal” – Disclosure ]
Seeing as their debut effort was pretty amazing, it is no surprise Disclosure‘s sophomore album, Caracal, was one of this year’s most anticipated albums.
The anticipation grew even further when the sibling duo unveiled the track listing of the album, revealing that some of the biggest names in music, artists like The Weeknd, Lorde, and their “brother” Sam Smith, were featured.
If you recall, Latch, the very first Disclouse x Sam Smith song, thrust both artists onto the mainstream music forefront. It only makes that Smith’s collaboration on this album, a song titled Omen, was chosen as the album’s lead cut, preparing us for what was to come when the album dropped. In not-so-shocking news, the single was a world wide smash and of course the album had the same success.
With Caracal, the Disclosure boys beat the superstitious sophomore album slump, which automatically means everything they release from here on out is bound to be amazing. – Renee
[ “No Good” – Ivy Levan ]
The debut album from self-described “swamp-hop” music maker Ivy Levan is an impressive one. With its collection of pop, jazz and blue-eyed soul influences, it’s turned out to be one of the best (and most unique) releases of 2015.
After working tirelessly to master her craft, Ivy released the lead single the amazingly bonkers “Biscuit”. The single was praised for Ivy’s mature and unique vocals as well as suggestive and sassy lyrics. The video is equally amazing and features Ivy mixing up a potion to create and actual dancing biscuit. It’s a sight to behold and highly entertaining.
Released through her label, Cherrytree Records, “No Good” contains many other great tunes. Album opener “The Dame Says” quickly lets you know that you’re in for a treat and that she’s not your average popstar. “Best Damn Thing” is single-worthy and the epitome of Ivy Levan’s “swamp-hop” title while “Champagne Taste” showcases her sense of lyrical humour. “27 Club” is a collaboration with producer Diplo and “Killing You” features a guest appearance from Sting.
“No Good” is a delight from start to finish and I definitely recommend you check it out – you’ll be pleasantly surprised. – Devan
[ “Reflection” – Fifth Harmony ]
After a frustrating number of push-backs, Reflection, the debut album from X Factor US alums, Fifth Harmony, was released earlier this year.
Doing impressively well in its first week, Reflection, as the title suggests, mirrored the growth of the girls – Ally Brooke, Normani Kordei, Dinah Jane, Camila Cabello, and Lauren Jauregui – as they, one after the other, ventured into a mature and impeccable level of musicality.
Lead by Billboard Hot 100 charting singles Bo$$ and Sledgehammer, each song on the collective was a testament to the vocal capabilities each member possessed, an evident and noteworthy contrast from their days on FOX’s then-hit show, X Factor. The album’s sleekest offering, Worth It, ended up being one of Fifth Harmony’s biggest songs, cracking the often un-crackable Billboard Hot 100 Top 20, a chilling accomplishment in an industry desperately in need of a successful girl group.
Aside from the unacceptable mis-management and obvious unprofessional tension between the members of Fifth Harmony, it is safe to say they were some of 2015’s brightest shining stars with even more to offer in coming years. Stay tuned. – HALEY N
[ “Delirium” – Ellie Goulding ]
Ellie Goulding is no stranger to releases amazing pop albums – and “Delirium” may be her best and biggest pop offer yet.
The campaign for “Delirium” began early in the year with the release of mega-single “Love Me Like You Do” which was part of the infamous “50 Shades of Grey” soundtrack. It became one of the most successful songs of 2015 – and there’s no question why. Later in the year came the next single “On My Mind” which was a bit of a different style for Ellie – a lot more experimental, a lot more “in your face” pop. And it works.
“Delirium” was released in early November and features tons of great pop songs. Unlike with previous albums “Lights” and “Halcyon”, her goal was to create an album of great big pop songs and so it’s safe to say her goal was achieved. Working with producers like Max Martin and Greg Kurstin, pop is what “Delirium” is.
Standout tracks include “Scream It Out”, beautiful ballad (a rare thing on this album) “The Winner”, “Codes”, and “Lost and Found”. The monster 22-tracklist may be a turnoff for some, but when the songs are up to the calibar of Ellie Goulding and “Delirium”, there are no faults to be found. – Devan
[ “Blood” – Lianne La Havas ]
After a 3 year gap from her debut album, “Is Your Love Big Enough?” Queen Lianne La Havas returned to the music scene with her sophomore album “Blood” in July. The album came preceded by two bewildering singles, “Unstoppable” and “What You Don’t Do.”
If you were a fan of La Havas during the “Is Your Love Big Enough” era you’d know that this second album was a big jump for her in regards of which genres she incorporated.
While her first album was more on the acoustic side of things, “Blood” is more skewed towards the neo soul/ jazz genre, sitting extremely well with her target audience. That said, she may have switched but Lianna’s ability to craft wonderful songs remains unharmed. Even more impressive is the fact that anyone who hears the album can tell she took her time with every aspect of the album, with the production of each song being just right.
“Blood” is an album that should be enjoyed as a whole and not in pieces, a true testament to the staying power of the record. – Renee
[ “T R A P S O U L” – Bryson Tiller ]
Though he had been around the block for a minute, Don’t, the lead cut from Tiller’s debut effort, catapulted him into the mainstream lens – with good reason.
If you use social media (esp. Twitter) often, you’d know that being ignored is the most common complaint. Don’t – told from a guy’s prospective – was an instant hit for Tiller as it perfectly bottled up all of those being-ignored emotions, reminding the listener (specifically the ladies) that guys who treat their girls right do exist. “Shorty, you deserve what you’ve been missin’ / Lookin’ at you I’m thinkin’ he must be trippin’,” this line alone was enough to get a handful of people flipped head over heels.
T R A P S O U L is one of our favorite albums this year because with Don’t and the subsequent tracks that followed, Tiller evoked a relatable feeling to anyone in or out of a relationship, good or bad. It was not necessarily about how it was sung but what was being sung. Tiller managed to hit all of the right spots, something that is as rare as singers from Louisville making it big. – HALEY N
[ “Communion” – Years & Years ]
Years & Years hit the UK music scene last year and exploded with their single “King” which was a number one and in the UK charts for forty weeks. It was on every TV advert and on every radio station and even in television shows. With their debut album, Communion, the three-piece electronic from London hit another milestone on their way to the top by getting a UK number one album and staying at that peak position for two weeks.
The magic of Years & Years lies not only in how addictive their songs are, but in how honest and powerful their lyrics are. Lead singer Olly Alexander is unafraid to be emotional and lyrically exposed, sharing his innermost feelings in emotional power ballads like “Eyes Shut” and “Without”. Every wobble in his vocals is refreshing and almost makes the listener feel heartsick themselves. But it’s not just doom and gloom; dance anthems like “Worship” and “Gold” are perfect for nights out with friends with their heavy backbeats and synthesisers. Each song on the record is an adventure. Communion is the record you’ll want to listen to again and again. It is electronic perfection. –Emlyn
[“Made in the AM” – One Direction]
One Direction’s year was one of ups and downs, of surprise departures and most importantly: comebacks. Their fifth studio album in five years, Made in the A.M., is a culmination of a year of touring around the world and recording when they can (hence the title). It also solidifies them as one of the best boybands of all time.
It’s risky business to drop an album on the same day Justin Bieber decides to make a massive comback, but if any band stood a chance against the “Sorry” singer, it’s One Direction. And it was successful — 1D managed to secure a number one in the UK album charts.
One Direction’s album doesn’t stick to the regular boy band equation of catchy pop songs and ballads. Sure, it does have a few emotional stadium ballads like “If I Could Fly” and “Long Way Down” that go straight to your heart, but it also contains contemporary rock influences seen in “Temporary Fix”, 90’s Oasis-esque rock in “Hey Angel”, and even 80’s influences in “What A Feeling.” The boys used this album to explore facets of music they haven’t dabbled in before, and with most of it written by Louis Tomlinson & Liam Payne, the results are songs you want to hear over and over again. Made in the A.M. is One Direction at their finest. –Emlyn
[“Unbreakable Smile” – Tori Kelly]
It’s been a while since a debut album has had us this enthralled. And it was no surprise that it was the work of the one and only Tori’s Kelly to make us feel that way. She managed to encompass all of the musical qualities we’ve grown to love over the years in her work as well as bring a fresh new perspective to her work.
Especially when it came to her debut single “Nobody Love” the Max Martin produced record was something no OG Tori Kelly fan saw coming. It was actually a bit of a shock to most, but over time the song grew on us. Once the full album was released we realized that Unbreakable Smile had surpassed every single one of expectations. It was truly a timeless debut. This album was worth the wait and somehow managed to be long over due at the same time. – Renee
[ “Title” – Meghan Trainor ]
Following a massively-successful reign in 2014, Meghan Trainor’s highly-anticipated debut album, Title landed in January, preceded by a handful of hit records.
Building on the momentum of songs like All About That Bass and Lips Are Movin, Title arrived packing quite the punch, as to many (including us), the album’s consistency supplied a certain level of smoldering refreshment.
From the get go – the album’s interlude entitled “The Best Part” – it was the evident fans were in for a glorious treat. Think about it, an artist who will put in that much effort to perfect an interlude will mostly deliver all the way through the album.
Though yet to be chosen as an official single, the album’s standout cut is empowering ballad, ‘Close Your Eyes,’ which highlights the struggles of trying to keep up with society’s standards of beauty, with Trainor encouraging the listener to not only find beauty within but also help define what is beautiful. “Show the world the you inside / Raise your voice and close your eyes / Cause You’re Beautiful,” she sings.
The year may be ending but “Title” sure made a good enough case to stand the test of time, in other words, live on way past 2015. – HALEY N
[ “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” – Florence & the Machine ]
Florence Welch’s return to music took four years in the making to create How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. After the last two albums, which included massive singles like “Dog Days are Over” and “Spectrum”, there was a lot of pressure on Florence & the Machine to create an album that stood up to those high standards. How Big answers that demand and more.
The band first teased the album early this year by dropping the music video for “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” online and shocking fans. The music video, directed by Tabitha Denholm and Vincent Haycock, was a perfect taste for fans to get excited for new material. The album itself was released in June of this year and secured a number one on the UK albums chart and number one on the US Billboard 200. Just this week, Florence & the Machine were nominated for five Grammy’s for the record including: Best Rock Performance, Best Pop Group Performance and Best Rock Song for “What Kind of Man”.
There is no one in the world who sings like Florence Welch. She is a goddess in the highest form with her effortless trills and epic vocal range. Her voice is at times a balm and at others a dagger, piercing through her victim in “What Kind of Man”, where her snappy lyrics and angered vocal transports you headfirst into their heated argument as the drums of war bang in the background. At other times, Florence’s voice is saccharine, like in “Hiding”, where her vocal is light and placating, desperately pleading with this other person. Her emotions in each song are palpable and become the listener’s own. Her singing is truly a gift and accompanied with brilliant lyrics and a gorgeous band, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is a listen that is exactly how it’s read on the tin: big, blue and absolutely beautiful. –Emlyn
[ “Cry Baby” – Melanie Martinez ]
Cry Baby is The Voice’s Melanie Martinez’s debut album. After the wild ride that she had with her Carousel EP, Martinez came back in 2015 with a chest full of new shiny toys to share.
The entire concept of Cry Baby is a well thought and ambitious project. From the storybook-inspired album packaging (designed by illustrator Chloe Tersigni) that ties each song into a creative children’s story with adult overtones to the singer’s aesthetic, every aspect was perfectly calculated to make this more than just an album, but an experience.
By the end of it, Cry Baby has evolved into an opinionated, cynical but still charming girl who is not afraid of having a mind of her own. Very much like Martinez herself, who embraced her brilliant yet unconventional vision and turned it into a spellbinding debut record that leaves you thinking and questioning the nature and dark side of our society. – Jesus
[ “The Desired Effect” – Brandon Flowers]
After a few not-so-great albums with his band The Killers, lead singer Brandon Flowers came back to the music scene with the help of Grammy-winning producer Ariel Rechtshaid (Carly Rae Jepsen, HAIM, Sky Ferreira)
Flowers’ second solo effort The Desired Effect is filled with stadium-ready anthems and the same 80’s sounds that we have grown to love. Album highlights include the lead single “Can’t Deny My Love”, a groovy, power-pop track and the brass-heavy album opener “Dreams Come True”.
I have always been a fan of Flowers and his work, and I had been thinking that he had lost his spark after his latest efforts failed to match the quality of The Killers’ terrific debut Sam’s Town, but The Desired Effect is certainly a step in the right direction. The 34-year old musician has never sounded as assertive and confident as he does on this record – Jesus
[ “Purpose” – Justin Bieber ]
It has been several years since pop star Justin Bieber has released an album. After having very little success with the “Journals” project, Justin took a break from music to live his life.
Then 2015 came around Justin naturally gave it his all. After spending several weeks on top of the charts for his smash collaboration with Jack U’s “Where Are U Now?,” Justin released his fourth studio album titled “Purpose.” With songs like “What Do You Mean?” and “Sorry” on the roster there was no way this album would be anything less than perfection.
Contrary to popular belief, Purpose is not far off from Bieber‘s previous works. Yeah, maybe one or two singles were skewed to be radio hits but the other songs on the album, the Love Yourself and No Pressures, are very much like the songs on the aforementioned Journals album.
That said, with Purpose, Bieber turned doubters into believers and believers into beliebers. – Renee
[ “E•mo•tion” – Carly Rae Jepsen ]
Carly Rae Jepsen had such an impressive year. With the release of her third studio album “E•MO•TION”, Carly secured her place in music royalty as pop goddess.
With the undeniably catchy lead single “I Really Like You”, Carly Rae and her management pulled out all the stops. A music video with Tom Hanks as the star with a cameo from Justin Bieber?? It doesn’t get much bigger than that. Second single, the critically-acclaimed “Run Away With Me” is the song that really blew people away this year. Although not as successful as deserved, it really is a shining moment in pop music history. Carly’s now on to single number three and the amazing “Your Type” is a great choice.
Filled with 17 tracks all written by Jepsen and co., the 80s influence in “E•MO•TION” is evident throughout. Other standout tracks include (well, all of them) but there’s something realy special about “Warm Blood”, “Making The Most of the Night”, ‘Gimmie Love”, “All That” and “LA Hallucinations”.
As such, I believe that Carly’s “E•MO•TION” still remains one of the most underrated releases of the year (as it was with her album “Kiss”) but if she continues making music like this, Carly Rae Jepsen will always have a special place in our hearts here at trendio. – Devan
:: HALEY ::
- W. Darling – “Lost Girls: Chapter Two” (EP)
- Alessia Cara – “Know-It-All”
- Tiffany Evans – “All Me” (EP)
- G-Eazy – “When It’s Dark Out”
:: RENEE ::
- Brayton Bowman – “The Update”
- Coldplay – “A Head Full of Dreams”
- Jess Glynne – “I Cry When I Laugh”
- Jack + Eliza – “Gentle Warnings”
:: JESUS ::
- Father John Misty – “I Love You, Honeybear”
- Troye Sivan – “Blue Neighbourhood”
- BØRNS – “Dopamine”
- Ryn Weaver – “The Fool”
- Oh Wonder – “Oh Wonder”
:: EMLYN ::
- The Maine – “American Candy”
- George Ezra – “Wanted on Voyage”
- James Bay – “Chaos and the Calm”
- 5 Seconds of Summer – “Sounds Good, Feels Good”
:: DEVAN ::
- Lena – “Crystal Sky”
- Galantis – “Pharmacy”
- Timeflies – “Just For Fun”
- HURTS – “Surrender”