2015 in Review

2015 is a really well-rounded year, with some records that have since stood the test of time in each genre. You can’t talk about any of them though before talking about To Pimp A Butterfly. 

Pretty much between good Kid, m.A.A.d city’s release in 2012 and To Pimp A Butterfly’s in 2015, hip-hop was a wasteland of generic, radio club tracks or get-hype music.  

That period captures the waning portion of the Young Money/Good Music/Maybach Music era, where every song was autotuned and featured the same six, tired rappers over and over again. Everything was Future and 2 Chainz, YG and Fetty Wap, mixed with some version of a Lil Wayne, Rick Ross or Drake song. 

Some of the more technically acclaimed dudes like Vince Staples, Ab-Soul and ScHoolboy Q had just started really making waves around 2014. 

To Pimp A Butterfly cemented Kendrick Lamar as one of the best, smartest, and most innovative  artists of all time. But his influence started to show in other areas of the genre more prominently in 2015 as well. Summertime 06 by Vince Staples pulled from Kendrick by mixing highly detailed production with raw, personal west-coast storytelling. Joey BadA$$, Jay Rock and A$AP Rocky and even Drake put out darker, less commercial records. 

In rock, Tame Impala’s Currents was so good and such an instant classic, that it quickly became a meme used to describe folks who like to brag about discovering something cool without knowing that everyone’s already listening to it. Sufjan Stevens and Courtney Barnett also had memorable releases. 

And after 2014 saw a number of annoying popular songs that definitely overstayed their welcome, the crop of hits from 2015 were a vast improvement. Carly Rae Jepsen’s  Emotion was filled with great hits front to back. “Lean On” by Major Lazer, with production by DJ Snake, led to a lot of artists mixing some leftover sounds from the EDM/Dubstep movement with bouncy, reggaeton electronic sounds that coils be found across the genre for a few years. Other big hits included “What Do You Mean?” off of Justin Bieber’s best record, “Can’t Feel My Face” as The Weekend veered towards Pop for the first time. Thankfully, Twenty One Pilots only had a few songs that got big. And from a more electronic, indie pop perspective, Grimes, Hot Chip, The Chemical Brothers and Jamie XX made darn good contributions. 

Songs of the year

2015 Albums

To Pimp A ButterflyKendrick Lamar★★★★★96Hip-HopWest Coast Hip-HopJazz Rap
Carrie & LowellSufjan Stevens★★★★½93RockSinger-SongwriterIndie Folk
Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just SitCourtney Barnett★★★★½87RockAlternative RockIndie Rock
Art AngelsGrimes★★★★½86PopArt PopSynthpop
CurrentsTame Impala★★★★½87RockPsychedelic RockSynthpop
Summertime 06Vince Staples★★★★½86Hip-Hop
My Love is CoolWolf Alice★★★★81RockAlternative RockDream Pop
In ColourJamie XX★★★★81ElectronicHouseElectronic Rock
EmotionCarly Rae Jepsen★★★★77PopDance-PopSynthpop
Tetsuo & YouthLupe Fiasco★★★★76Hip-Hop
Fading FrontierDeerhunter★★★½73RockIndie PopDream Pop
Poison SeasonDestroyer★★★½73RockAlternative RockChamber Pop
From KinshasaMbongwana Star★★★½73RockSoulElectronic Rock
VulnicuraBjork★★★½73ElectronicArt PopChamber Pop
Depression CherryBeach House★★★½72PopIndie PopDream Pop
AlgiersAlgiers★★★½67RockSoulPost Punk
KintsugiDeath Cab For Cutie★★★½67RockIndie PopIndie Rock
PurposeJustin Bieber★★★½67PopDance-Pop
If You’re Reading This It’s Too LateDrake★★★½67Hip-HopR&B
VEGA INTL. Night SchoolNeon Indian★★★½67ElectronicDance-Pop
Why Make Sense?Hot Chip★★★½65RockIndie PopAlternative Dance
Ones & SixesLow★★★½65RockAlternative RockSlowcore
Late Knight SpecialKirk Knight★★★64Hip-Hop
RodeoTravis Scott★★★64Hip-Hop
Every Open EyeChvrches★★★64ElectronicIndie PopSynthpop
90059Jay Rock★★★63Hip-Hop
B4.DA.$$Joey Bada$$★★★63Hip-Hop
Ivy TrippWaxahatchee★★★62RockSinger-SongwriterIndie Rock
No Cities To LoveSleater-Kinny★★★62RockPunk Rock
Cherry BombTyler, The Creator★★★62Hip-HopAlternative Hip-Hop
Evermore: The Art of DualityThe Underachievers★★★62Hip-Hop
The Magic WhipBlur★★★61RockAlternative RockBritpop
Tell Me I’m PrettyCage The Elephant★★★59RockAlternative Rock
The Incredible True StoryLogic★★★59Hip-Hop
another eternityPurity Ring★★★59ElectronicIndie PopElectronic Rock
MutantArca★★★58ElectronicArt PopExperimental
ElaeniaFloating Points★★★58ElectronicModern Classical
Something More Than FreeJason Isbell★★★58CountryCountry RockAmericana
What Wend DownFoals★★★57RockAlternative Rock
California NightsBest Coast★★★56RockIndie Pop
b’lieve i’m goin down…Kurt Vile★★★55RockAlternative RockIndie Rock
Yours, Deamily,The Arcs★★★55RockAlternative Rock
White Men Are Black Men TooYoung Fathers★★★55Hip-HopAlternative Hip-HopNeo-Soul
At.Long.Last.A$APA$AP Rocky★★★55Hip-Hop
PlatformHolly Herndon★★★55ElectronicArt PopExperimental
Multi-LoveUnknown Mortal Orchestra★★½53RockPsychadelic RockIndie Rock
Star WarsWilco★★½53RockAlternative RockIndie Rock
25Adele★★½53PopSinger-SongwriterChamber Pop
Sound & ColorAlabama Shakes★★½52RockAlternative RockBlues Rock
Viet CongPreoccupations★★½52RockAlternative RockPost Punk
Dark Sky ParadiseBig Sean★★½51Hip-Hop
I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go OutsideEarl Sweatshirt★★½51Hip-Hop
SurfDonnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment★★½49Hip-HopSoulNeo-Soul
Wave[s]Mick Jenkins★★½49Hip-Hop
Another OneMac Demarco★★½48RockPsychadelic RockIndie Rock
Thank Your Lucky StarsBeach House★★½48RockIndie PopDream Pop
Grey Tickles, Black PressureJohn Grant★★½48RockIndie PopSynthpop
Dreams Worth More Than MoneyMeek Mill★★½47Hip-Hop
Garden of DeleteOneohtrix Point Never★★½46Electronic
Teens of StyleCar Seat Headrest★★½45RockAlternative RockIndie Rock
Mr. WonderfulAction Bronson★★½45Hip-Hop
Big GramsBig Grams★★44Hip-HopElectronic
How Do You Feel Now?Joywave★★43RockPop RockSynthpop
A Head Full of DreamsColdplay★★43PopPop Rock
Natalie PrassNatalie Prass★★43PopArt PopChamber Pop
I Love You, HoneybearFather John Misty★★42RockSinger-SongwriterChamber Pop
Wilder MindMumford & Sons★★42RockIndie PopIndie Folk
DronesMuse★★41RockAlternative Rock
Have You In My WildernessJulia Holter★★41PopPop RockDream Pop
Panda Bear Meets the Grim ReaperPanda Bear★★41ElectronicPsychadelic RockExperimenal
VMaroon 5★★40PopPop Rock
Peace is the missionMajor Lazer★★40PopElectropopEDM
Fetty WapFetty Wap★★40Hip-HopPop Hip-Hop
BlurryfaceTwenty One Pilots★½34PopElectropopRock Rap
KindredPassion Pit★½30PopIndie Pop
SremmLifeRae Sremmurd24Hip-Hop

50 Best Songs

  1. Alright – Kendrick Lamar
  2. PPP – Beach House
  3. I Know – Kirk Knight, Mick Jenkins
  4. Realiti – Grimes
  5. Lisbon – Wolf Alice
  6. Depreston – Courtney Barnett
  7. Jump Off The Roof – Vince Staples, Snoh Aalegra
  8. Wesley’s Theory – Kendrick Lamar, George Clinton, Thundercat
  9. Let It Happen – Tame Impala
  10. Fourth of July – Sufjan Stevens
  11. I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) – Jamie xx, Young Thug, Popcaan
  12. They.Resurrect.Over.New. – Lupe Fiasco, Ab-Soul, Troi
  13. Gimme All Your Love – Alabama Shakes
  14. Need You Now – Hot Chip
  15. Spectre – Radiohead
  16. Lean On – Major Lazor, MO, DJ Snake
  17. Small Poppies – Courtney Barnett
  18. The Blacker The Berry – Kendrick Lamar
  19. Dream Lover – Destroyer
  20. New Person, Same Old Mistakes – Tame Impala
  21. Butterfly – Grimes
  22. Malukayi – Mbongwana Star, Konono N*1
  23. What Went Down – Foals
  24. Company – Drake, Travis Scott
  25. Electric Body – A$AP Rocky, ScHoolboy Q
  26. SMUCKERS – Tyler, The Creator, Lil Wayne, Kanye West
  27. Angels – Chance the Rapper, Saba
  28. Gosh – Jamie xx
  29. Run Away With Me – Carly Rae Jepsen
  30. Huarache Light – Hot Chip
  31. Ain’t I – Lizzo
  32. Go – The Chemical Brothers
  33. Dreams – Beck
  34. Reality In Motion – Tame Impala
  35. Mortal Man – Kendrick Lamar
  36. What Do You Mean – Justin Bieber
  37. Flesh without Blood – Grimes
  38. Wide Open – The Chemical Brothers
  39. Body of Work – Lupe Fiasco, Troi Martine, Terrance Martin
  40. Senorita – Vince Staples
  41. Slumlord – Neon Indian
  42. Know Yourself — Drake
  43. Air – Waxahatchee
  44. Something Soon – Car Seat Headrest
  45. Actin Crazy – Action Bronson
  46. Put a Flower in Your Pocket – The Arcs
  47. Violet – Hippo Campus
  48. Pedestrian at Best – Courtney Barnett
  49. Take Care – Deerhunter
  50. World Princess part II – Grimes

Genre Highlights




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