The 10 Best EPs Of 2015

Idolator Staff | December 11, 2015 10:20 am

Another year, another 12 months of proof that the digital revolution is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to the EP format. Due to a combination of listeners’ shrinking attention spans and the shrinking ROI of the laborious, lengthy process of putting together and promoting a full album, the EP is a flourishing art form. More than just the path of least resistance for an artist’s batch of new material, the EP is increasingly becoming the preferred route for emerging and veteran musicians alike looking to flesh out themes or explore new directions.

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It’s now commonplace for EPs to be just as rewarding and complex as full-lengths, without the nearly inevitable LP filler. And that was certainly the case this year. Below, we’ve ranked the 10 best pop EPs of 2015, each one proof the format is currently home to some of music’s most dynamic works.

10. Kylie Minogue & Fernando GaribayKylie + Garibay EP

kylie garibay

Kylie Minogue kept us guessing in 2015. The pop icon lent her heavenly pipes to random features, recorded a high-camp Christmas album and casually dropped a second collaborative EP with dance maestro Fernando Garibay, which couldn’t sound more different than their moody and experimental first offering. This time around the two simply want to dance — and they invite a bunch of friends to the party. Giorgio Moroder delivers a suave intro to “Your Body,” Sam Sparro shares vocal duties on “If I Can’t Have You” and Shaggy makes a surprise appearance on ’90s-flavored earworm “Black And White.” The release is a shimmery disco delight that was made to be played under a mirror ball. In other words, it’s quintessentially Kylie. — MIKE WASS

9. LunchMoney LewisBills EP

lunchmoney lewis bills ep

International smash “Bills” cemented LunchMoney Lewis’ status as one of the breakout stars of 2015. That ruthlessly catchy ode to debt collection set the bar perilously high for the Miami newcomer’s debut EP, but he rose to the occasion with an impeccable four-song set that bounces effortlessly between pop, soul and hip-hop. Lunch shows off his easy flow on the hook-filled “The Real Thing” and delivers a Mother’s Day anthem for the ages with “Mama.” However, the highlight is relatable soul-pop moment “Love Me Back,” which finds the rising star wearing his (bruised) heart on his sleeve. — MIKE WASS

8. Allie XCollXtion I

Allie X Collxtion I

It was a long road from Allie X’s stunning debut single “Catch” to this EP/mini-album — 14 months, to be exact. But it was worth the wait. In terms of towering choruses and opulent production, the opening quartet of tracks rivals anything created by Scandinavia’s production assassins or America’s hired guns. And then the second half delves into her quirkier side, with icy Moog ballads and electro-gospel, resulting in a singular collection of full-bodied pop songs. — CARL WILLIOTT

7. Duke DumontBlasé Boys Club Part 1 EP

Duke Dumont presents Blase Boys Club Part 1 EP

If you’re disappointed that two-time Grammy-nominated house producer Duke Dumont still hasn’t released the debut album he was talking about in 2014, here’s what you need to face: It isn’t coming out. Instead, the British musician opted to start releasing a string of EPs named after his own label imprint that, when all is said, done and combined in fans’ self-made playlists, will make up what would have been his debut. Both Italo and deep house are represented on this four-track release, but the real highlight is “Robert Owens Talking,” a beat-driven tour de force featuring the legendary club vocalist discussing his career atop a lengthy, seven-minute groove. — ROBBIE DAW

6. Annie — Endless Vacation EP

annie endless vacation ep

Eternally hip Norwegian songbird Annie and equally cool British producer Richard X have been making electro-pop together for over a decade, since breakthrough single “Chewing Gum” came barreling down the pipeline. And, clearly, if it ain’t broke, these two aren’t looking for a fix. The pair picked up where 2013’s slick The A&R EP left off by firing up the housey synths and drum machine once more, and the result is as pleasing as a short-but-sweet poolside kiss in June at the public park. — ROBBIE DAW

5. Kita AlexanderLike You Want To EP

kita alexander like you want to ep

Top 40 pop was off-limits in Kita Alexander’s household. Instead, she grew up listening to her parent’s record collection and developed a passion for all things ’80s. A preference that dictates the hazy synth sound of the Australian singer/songwriter’s intoxicating debut EP. She channels Stevie Nicks on the sublime title track and turns to the Fleetwood Mac icon for more inspiration on euphoric EP highlight “Wild Heart.” But it’s not all retro-leaning. The Brisbane teenager incorporates hip-hop elements in the production of “Plain Sight” and shows off her grittier side on rock anthem “High Tops.” — MIKE WASS

4. MNEKSmall Talk EP

mnek small talk ep

After listening to MNEK’s Small Talk EP, you’ll see why artists like JoJo, Kylie and Madonna called on him to work on their respective projects. The multi-talented Brit shows off his skills on the compact six-track collection, which is a blend of pop, funk, soul and R&B with a sprinkle of UK magic. It features tunes like the dancefloor-ready, slightly grimy “More Than A Miracle” and the woozy, euphoric “The Rhythm,” displaying the singer’s unapologetic sonic experimentation. 2015 was dominated by pop females, but MNEK’s debut US EP proved that the boys could hold their own pretty damn well too! — BIANCA GRACIE

3. KelelaHallucinogen EP

kelela a message facebook

Kelela’s first EP suffered a few delays, but when it finally arrived it was a worthy successor to her critically acclaimed debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me. In the space of six tracks, she traverses an entire universe of R&B and poptronica. The Arca-produced “A Message” stretches R&B to its spaciest limit, but the stillness allows her voice to retain all the smokey melody and sensuality central to the genre. On the title track she goes full-on future-digital and it’s as avant-ambient as anything FKA twigs has done. Conversely, “Rewind” looks back with a blast of ’90s bass music. With that kind of range, chances are she’ll keep her stellar debut streak alive when her first LP drops in 2016. — CARL WILLIOTT

2. ShuraWhite Light EP

shura white light ep

This year marked the rise of “anti”-it girls in pop music, and Shura had the industry buzzing. The British singer/songwriter (The UK obviously does it better) released this debut EP back in July, and it consisted of six hazy tracks that embodied the summer season. Songs like the effortlessly sexy, R&B-flecked “2Shy” and the fun groove of the ‘80s-inspired “White Light” — which are complete with a whipped topping of Shura’s delicate, airy vocals — show that synth-pop perfection can be achieved by acts other than Carly Rae Jepsen. If her debut EP is any indication, Shura is no doubt one to watch for 2016. — BIANCA GRACIE

1. FKA twigsM3LL155X EP

fka twigs m3ll155x ep album cover artwork

FKA twigs’ debut EPs and LP demonstrated her penchant for challenging sonics and structures, but on M3LL155X those impulses are matched by a clearer sense of melody and more confident vocals — along with a straight-up sinister murk underlying everything. She can be as alien as Björk (“In Time,” “Figure 8”) and as alluring as Beyoncé (“Glass & Patron”), resulting in songs that twitch and glitch like a robot melting down one moment, then push human emotions to chilling extremes the next. If androids dream of electric sheep, then M3LL155X is the stuff of a cyborg’s sex nightmares. — CARL WILLIOTT

What were your favorite EPs of 2015? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter.