2015’s Best Albums: Idolator Editors Pick Their Favorite 15
Welcome to the end of 2015, a year where, once again, anything seemed to go in pop, and no one really seemed to sell many albums unless their names were Taylor Swift and Adele. That said, the past 12 months still managed to produce some more than decent music, the best of which we’ll be rounding up as the weeks go by.
To kick things off, we’ve gathered together Idolator’s editor picks for the 15 best albums of 2015. Pop, hip hop and DIY sets from newcomers and returning favorites make up our list, so let’s get to it and jump into the finest the year had to offer below.
15. Selena Gomez, Revival Released: October 9
In the battle of the former teen queens, Selena Gomez looked the least likely to prevail. Demi Lovato has the better voice, while Miley Cyrus is a living, breathing headline. But the doe-eye diva is killing them quietly with a carefully curated album that proves there’s so much more to her than a famous ex and a Disney sitcom.
Revival is the latest in a long line of female reinvention albums that can be traced back throughout the history of pop. (See: Olivia Newton-John’s Physical, Janet Jackson’s Control and Christina Aguilera’s Stripped, to name just three). The themes here are empowerment, independence and matters of the heart with a sprinkling of upbeat fluff and sultriness. — MIKE WASS
14. Rae Sremmurd, SremmLife Released: January 6
Sure, there have been many incredible albums released this year from artists like Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky and Vince Staples that made 2015 one of the most exciting times for rap music. But what happens when you just want to turn up and have some fun that may or may not involve a styrofoam cup? (No, we’re not talking about Future this time.)
In comes Rae Sremmurd’s debut LP, SremmLife LP, which is the sole epitome of fire flame emojis. The two brothers from Tupelo, MS (along with the help of Mike WiLL Made-It) created a tight, 11-track wonderment that is filled with warbled lyrics, insanely charged-up chaos, trap-heavy production and overall grimy tracks to get everyone moving (see: “Lit Like Bic” and “Up Like Trump”) — from basement parties to big stage festivals. Not to mention the slight punk aesthetic that underlines Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy’s personalities. What other rising rap act is doing that? — BIANCA GRACIE
13. Ryn Weaver, The Fool Released: June 16
Was there another album released in 2015 that was as cruelly misrepresented by its lead single as Ryn Weaver’s The Fool? Not that there’s anything wrong with “OctaHate.” A big, bold statement of a song with contributions by Charli XCX and Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos, the pop radio hit promised noisy production, huge hooks and sing-along choruses. You can imagine the confusion when listeners were confronted with a sprawling collection of folk ditties and synth-rock oddities.
The irony is that Ryn’s considerable charm and songwriting nous shines through on the quieter, quirkier moments. “Traveling Song,” an ode to her late grandfather, is the most touching pop song of 2015, “Pierre” is a relentlessly-enjoyable romp through the newcomer’s little black book and “New Constellations” has a rare poetry about it. Throw in “Promises” and the gaudy title track and you’ve got one of the year’s slept-on gems. — MIKE WASS
12. Little Boots, Working Girl Released: July 10
Anyone who takes inspiration, no matter how loosely, from Working Girl, Mike Nichols‘ 1988 romantic-comedy commentary on women in the corporate workplace, is okay by us. On her third LP, Little Boots picks up with the retro house sound she had the prescience to explore with 2012 single “Every Night I Say A Prayer” and 2013 album Nocturnes and runs with it.
The result: a banging, funky jaunt full of confidence, introspection and emotions splayed across sharp grooves. If there’s a direct pop descendant of the cool British dance-pop Saint Etienne and Black Box Recorder were so deft at churning out in their heyday, it is Little Boots’ Victoria Hesketh — one of the few former major label pop acts who’s now doing it their way (via her label On Repeat Records) and doing it perfectly. — ROBBIE DAW
11. Big Sean, Dark Sky Paradise Released: February 24
This Detroit rapper created an absolutely exciting storm as soon as his third studio LP Dark Sky Paradise boomed onto the scene back in February. Hands-down his best album thus far, Big Sean has finally proved that he is one to watch — from rap and beyond.
Sean Don may have come across as too corny and try-hard before, but he gained respect by solidifying his artistry. From the fiery flow in “Blessings” to the middle-finger anthem that is “I Don’t Fuck With You,” the rapper rightfully ruled the airwaves for months on end. When an artist you used to skip on your Spotify playlist now creates a body of work that is loved by some of the biggest rappers in the game, you have no choice but to be inspired, shut up and listen. — BIANCA GRACIE