A Year in Music: 2015

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2015 was definitely an exciting year for music with several memorable, catchy, and eventually, overplayed tracks. We witnessed the rise of new talent, the reemergence of artists that appeared to have fallen off the face of the Earth, and the continued dominance of well-known artists. Reflecting over the past year in music, I crown the best: breakthrough, rising, reemerging, and overall artist of the year. Breakthrough Artist of the Year: The Weeknd Although there were multiple artists that stormed the scene in 2015 and produced popular tracks that topped out the charts, very few artists made as large of a leap in popularity as The Weeknd. Several artists came out of nowhere in 2015 and produced a track or two that captured the attention of the public, yet failed to follow up on their moment of fame; on the other hand, The Weeknd showed that he can truly hold his own by releasing several very popular songs, namely his two back to back number one singles: “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills”. Check out “Can’t Feel My Face” below. Technically speaking, The Weeknd was around before 2015 and one could argue his breakthrough was prior to 2015, but he wasn’t even close to as well-known then as he is now. Moreover, a compelling argument could be made that he is the best overall artist of the year. I’m very excited to see what else The Weeknd has in store, 2016 will for sure be a big year for him. We shall see if he can continue his reign.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEI4qSrkPAs

Honorable Mention: Fetty Wap After hearing “Trap Queen” in early 2015, I totally expected Fetty Wap to be a stereotypical one-hit wonder rapper and then totally fall off the face of the Earth. However, Fetty Wap eventually proved me wrong with the release of his self-titled album later in 2015 with popular tracks such as “679”, “Again”, and “My Way”. Additionally, Fetty Wap has gained widespread popularity in the rap world and been featured in others rappers’ work such as French Montana, Ty Dolla $ign, and Chris Brown. Take a listen to his claim to fame, “Trap Queen” below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_kF4zLNKio

Rising Artist of the Year: Leon Bridges Under the waves of hip-hop, rap, and EDM music, it’s easy to forget about the subtler, more laidback genres of music such as soul. Dabbling in music while a dishwasher in Texas, Leon Bridges attracted the attention of White Denim members, Joshua Block and Austin Jenkins, and subsequently released a few songs on Soundcloud that attracted national and even some global attention, resulting in a contract with Columbia Records. In 2015, Bridges released his first full-length album, Coming Home and a single for the hit film, Concussion. Although his sound has an aged, jazzy sound as though it’s from a different generation, there’s no disputing its well done and overall enjoyable. 2016 will be an interesting year for Bridges as I foresee him gaining much more attention from the media and fans. Take a listen to “Smooth Sailin’” below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYplnRjMVhM

Reemerging Artist of the Year: Adele After surging into the music scene with the release of his first two albums, 19 and 21, and earning a record tying six Grammy Awards in 2012, Adele took a rather unexpected hiatus to essentially sort out her life. As she stated in a letter to her fans, “I’m sorry it took so long [to return], but you know, life happened”. Anyways, after almost 5 years of silence, Adele made her grand return with the release of her latest album, 25, most notably, the single “Hello” which has remained No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list for nine weeks. Take a listen below and prepare for the return of Adele.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQHsXMglC9A

Honorable Mention: Justin Beiber After going through a turbulent time in his life in an attempt to rid himself of his ‘boyish’ past during which a petition circulated to deport him back to Canada, Justin Bieber reemerged in 2015 with a very entertaining and enjoyable album, Purpose. Although Bieber never really ‘disappeared’ as he released an album in 2014, Journals, the album gained very little media attention and had an awkward vibe to it as Bieber was still in his transition stage. Also, among all the trouble with the law Bieber attracted throughout 2014, new music was the least of everyone’s concerns. In his most recent work, it’s evident that Bieber has detached himself from his past and has moved into the next segment of his life. Take a listen to “Sorry” below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRh_vgS2dFE

Overall Artist of the Year: I had a tough time crowning a winner for this one because as mentioned, so many artists had such a good year, many of which have been mentioned previously in this article. Overall, in my opinion, the top artists of 2015 are: Drake, Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, Sam Smith, Kendrick Lamar, Fetty Wap, and even Future. I’m interested to see what all you think because I truly can’t pick a single artist and say they are the best overall artist of the year. Let me know in the comments! In the meantime, here’s a link to the top 100 tracks of 2015 according to Spotify.

https://play.spotify.com/user/spotifyyearinmusic/playlist/55tXTZZg4Xtk0BA3kPoJ1s