2015’s Best Albums: Idolator Editors Pick Their Favorite 15
10.Melanie Martinez, Cry BabyReleased: August 14
Imagine the look of confusion on the faces of Atlantic record execs when Melanie Martinez announced that she was making a concept album based around the adventures of a fictional child, complete with toy sounds and an accompanying storybook. It speaks to their imagination and the 20-year-old’s powers of persuasion that it ever got the green light. It’s a flat-out miracle that it works on every level, from the artwork to the music.
Lead single “Pity Party” is a pretty good litmus test for your appreciation of Cry Baby. A dark and demented synth-pop anthem that samples Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party,” the twisted tune is equal parts euphoria and misery. Other highlights include sullen banger “Soap” (note the amazing bubble drop) and the surprisingly optimistic “Training Wheels.” Intriguingly, the escapades of Cry Baby (the titular character) are far from finished. Melanie has already revealed that she will return for album number two. — MIKE WASS
9. The Weeknd, Beauty Behind The MadnessReleased: August 28
Who ever could have predicted that 2015 would be the year The Weeknd would become one of the most sought-after pop stars? The Toronto crooner took the melancholic, drug-laced sonics from his mixtapes that die-hard fans couldn’t get enough of and somehow managed to translate it into something the mainstream couldn’t resist: Beauty Behind The Madness.
It takes talent to have a straight-up pop masterpiece like “Can’t Feel My Face” and the terrifyingly sexy “The Hills” dominate the charts and radio simultaneously, and a Taylor Swift co-sign definitely did not hurt either. The once-mysterious artist who used to hide his face is now owning his stardom. — BIANCA GRACIE
8. Brandon Flowers, The Desired EffectReleased: May 19
Perhaps lost in the shuffle of the slicker, glossier albums by higher-profile male artists in 2015, though no less an achievement, was The Desired Effect. Brandon Flowers’ second solo album came half a decade after the arrival of his first, and it’s a much more solid effort. (In fact, it effectively manages to erase any bad taste left over by The Killers‘ last studio album.)
Jettisoning usual producer of choice Stuart Price in favor of working with Ariel Rechtshaid was a gamble Las Vegas crooner Flowers made that paid off in spades. The fruit of their labor is a collection of 10 synth-driven pop songs that possesses a quality most acts typically fumble with at best: timelessness. — ROBBIE DAW
7. Justin Bieber, PurposeReleased: November 13
Whether people want to admit it or not, 2015 was the year of Justin Bieber. After having a hard grip on the charts with his “Where Are Ü Now” collaboration alongside Skrillex and Diplo, the former bad boy decided it was time to give America an apology. And guess what? They actually listened and loved it.
Purpose finds Bieber at his most vulnerable and mature state yet, with his tears-laden lyrics anchored by some of the best production to come out this year. Songs like the dancehall-tinged “Sorry” is vibrant to keep you grooving throughout the cold winter, while “No Pressure” proves that the urban Biebervelli from Journals past still lives on. No matter what age or gender, you were not ashamed to say you enjoy Justin Bieber’s music this year — and that says a lot about the singer’s artistic growth. — BIANCA GRACIE
6. Marina And The Diamonds, FrootReleased: March 13
After working with a Who’s Who of pop producers and songwriters on her first two LPs, Marina Diamandis scaled back the showiness and bared her intimate side on 2015’s Froot. That’s not to say the album is a plodding, spare or stripped-down affair. There are still plenty of blip-and-bloop-filled melodies and hallmarks of Diamandis’ clever lyrical ability at play here.
Spacey and hauntingly beautiful, Froot was dealt with an early leak — originally scheduled to arrive in April, it got bumped up to a mid-March release once it found its way online prematurely. But no matter; the album was met, deservedly, with critical acclaim and gave Marina her first Top 10 chart placing on the Billboard 200. — ROBBIE DAW