PopBuzz's 20 Best Albums Of The Year
9 December 2015, 17:47
Bow down B--ches
After weeks of squabbling, cat fights and many hours spent listening to many albums, we present PopBuzz's albums of 2015:
20) Fall Out Boy - American Beauty/American Psycho
The boys continued their ascent into stadium status dropping what is undoubtedly their most varied release. From the crunchy Sebastian aided beats of the title track to the sports arena quaking "Centuries", FOB have pushed their pop punk roots into new realms of discovery, gaining a whole new fanbase in the process. - James Wilson-Taylor
19) Ezra Furman - Perpetual Motion People
Oddball rock’n’roll that takes in the Violent Femmes, Lou Reed and David Bowie shouldn’t really work in 2015. But with non-gender conforming, bi-sexual singer-songwriter Ezra Furman at the helm, PMP is packed-full of addictive pop melodies and razor-sharp lyrics concerning body politics, gender and identity. Furman might not be the most recognisable artists on this list, but he’s certainly one of the most important. - Woodrow Whyte
18) Everything Everything - Get to Heaven
Get To Heaven, the third album from indie/art-rock quartet EE is their most unashamedly pop moment yet. It’s also their best album to date. Not only did this 17-track album have enough bangers to destroy an entire city, but also one song, "No Reptiles", can easily lay claim to the lyric of the year title. “It’s alright to feel like a fat child in a pushchair. Old enough to run, old enough to fire a gun”. Damn, son. - Woodrow Whyte
17) Justin Bieber - Purpose
Purpose has been a life changing album for many of us. I, for one, never thought I’d end 2015 as a Belieber. It’s catapulted Biebs from cringetastic teen heart throb to a smooth dance floor ladies man, who just can't stop delivering bop after bop after bop. After an almost-there effort with Journals, this was the record the world really needed. When’s the next one dropping, JB? - Katie Louise Smith
16) Kacey Musgraves - Pageant Material
Kacey Musgraves may seem like a strange addition to PopBuzz’s albums of the year, but, despite its country roots Pageant Material is definitely an album of rebellion and heartbreak. Here Musgraves’ sly winks to her Nashville background sit more comfortably with her distinctly liberal politics. And while she may not be kicking up much dirt as on her debut, there’s still a cheeky, if somewhat hidden, two fingers to the establishment. Something, I think, we can all agree is rather marvellous. - Alim Kheraj
15) The Weeknd - Beauty Behind The Madness
There’s so much honesty and heartbreak on this album that we instantly wanted to love it.
Abel’s ability to go from sleazy to resentful; to brooding and cold; then back to sleazy in the space of 13 songs is definitely an accomplishment. In terms of production, the album excels, with credits including super producer Max Martin (whose nods to Michael Jackson can be felt throughout the three tracks he attached his name to). Yes the wounded bad boy character can wear thin, but by the next track there’s something that draws you right back into this beautiful nightmare. - Victoria Pavlova
14) Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
Kendrick’s third offering combined up to the minute, politically charged lyrics with beats infected by the old school influence of James Brown and Afrobeat pioneers like Fela Kuti. Radio hits like "Alright" sit beside explorations of the culture and climate of modern America. This will go down as the most innovative hip hop record since Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. - James Wilson-Taylor
13) Tove Lo - Queen Of The Clouds
Tove Lo may have written hits for nearly every popstar going, but where she really excels is on her own debut Queen of the Clouds. A frank, open and honest meditation on relationships, anxiety and darkness, her candid lyrics hit you straight in the heart, making you aware of your own effusiveness and self-consciousness; from the jumping "Talking Body" to the crippling "Moments" this album is a smorgasbord of emotions. This, matched with humongous hooks, makes for essential listening. - Alim Kheraj
12) Wolf Alice - My Love Is Cool
Sometimes all you need is a killer hook with something rough round the edges. Shouldn’t be hard, right? Well that’s exactly what you get with British alt-rock new kids Wolf Alice on their excellent debut. "Bros" and "Your Loves Whore" were our festival anthems this summer, and we’ll continue to have this on repeat well into 2016. - Woodrow Whyte
11) Charli XCX - SUCKER
This is the soundtrack to all your childhood fantasies of American high school life. And, while Charli is very much faithful to her London roots, the album has the distinct sound of an Americanised Brit, but in the best way. Assertively melding bubble gum pop and pop punk, the album brings to mind images of palm trees, convertibles and white-rimmed shades. A true popstar moment. - Victoria Pavlova
10) Marina and the Diamonds - FROOT
If, like us, you felt that Electra Heart completed your life, you may need a moment to adjust to FROOT. Moments like "Blue", "Happy" and "Savages" call to mind Marina’s debut, The Family Jewels, with their organically driven theatricality. But FROOT definitely presents an older, less outré and more self-aware sister to Electra Heart, one that still knows exactly where to place its camp wink to camera. –Victoria Pavlova
9) Years and Years - Communion
This was their year. Full of soaring synth riffs seemingly designed to make festival crowds sing along, Years and Years delivered a record full of smash singles and hidden gems, "Gold" becoming a powerful highlight of their recent live shows, whilst "Eyes Shut" proves they can present more intimate moments to compliment the bangers. - James Wilson-Taylor
8) Selena Gomez - Revival
Who would have thought that from the Disney alumni it would be Selena Gomez who would release the most comprehensive and adult album in 2015? It seems, after a tumultuous few years, that Revival is an apt title as Gomez’s growth is evident throughout. The forthright approach to sexuality on “Good For You” and “Hands To Myself” are matched by the vulnerability on “Kill ‘Em With Kindness” and “Perfect”. She may not have the best or strongest voice in the game, but she knows how to work it, letting her (natural) lower register coo all over the place. It’s accomplished, polished and oh-so-sensual. - Alim Kheraj
7) Grimes - Art Angels
Claire Boucher is a true anti-pop star for our times. She writes, performs, produces and engineers all of her own music, as well as making her own artwork. Art Angels sounds like all the songs on the Billboard Hot 100 pulled backwards through Tumblr at the same time. There is simply no one as creative and original as Grimes in 2015. - Woodrow Whyte
6) Halsey - BADLANDS
In the current news climate, with imminent war, millennials constantly at the butt of criticism and the bigotry and hatred of ageing white men becoming increasingly bolder, it’s hard to feel optimistic for the world’s future. But when I can turn on a radio and hear just one song like "New Americana" that champions self-made businesswomen, gay marriage and other accolades of the next generation from a biracial, openly bisexual young woman whose fame has been organically cultivated on the Internet, everything suddenly looks way more hopeful.
Halsey’s music has been self-described as "writing songs about sex and feeling sad", and Badlands' healthy dose of self-celebration and preservation from tracks like "Hurricane", "Young God" and "Colors" portray this album as a quiet 11-track (or 16-track deluxe edition) rebellion against the normativity of everything banal, indulgent and downright depressing that we’ve grown accustomed to in the mainstream this year. Bravo Halsey. - Liam Dryden
5) Lana Del Rey - Honeymoon
Lana Del Rey’s third full LP, Honeymoon, is not the jolliest of records, but then was it ever going to be? The self-professed Queen of Coney Island and wearer of red party dresses took a sharp turn on Ultraviolence but seems to have found equilibrium here with sweeping cinematic strings and cascading vocals. The bizarreness of "Music To Watch Boys To", an ode to, well, watching boys, is trumped by the outlandish "Salvatore", which in turn is matched by “Freak”.
However, the the album hits its stride with the trap-influenced "High By The Beach", a clap back at critics, and the otherworldly "Art Deco", which is everything you want from a Lana Del Rey song - ominous percussion, stunning orchestration and a powerfully sexual feminine yearning. Del Rey has taken her persona and pushed her to breaking point. Whether we’ll see a continued downfall with the next record is to be seen, but we’re very much along for the ride. - Alim Kheraj
4) Troye Sivan - Blue Neighbourhood
YouTuber starts a music career? No offence to our fave Vloggers but this sounded like a recipe for disaster. So it’s a testament to Sivan’s creative vision that he co-wrote such an original and evocative album, largely themed around the experience of young gay teens. Considering many songs on Blue Neighbourhood are his first attempts at writing music, we’re beyond excited about what he might be capable of in the future. - Woodrow Whyte
3) Melanie Martinez - Cry Baby
Martinez doesn’t do things by half. Her debut is an ambitious concept album about ‘Cry Baby’, a strange, fantasy alter ego based on Martinez when she was a child. In addition to her striking visual aesthetics, the album tightly packs childhood references and warped lullabies against songs of toxic love, abusive relationships and insanity. Completed by hip-hop beats, left-field pop soundscapes and some of the catchiest melodies we’ve heard all year, Cry Baby is an outstanding album by a pop-auteur. All hail, Queen Melanie! - Woodrow Whyte
2) twenty one pilots - Blurryface
"This is not rap, this is not hip-hop," Tyler Joseph sings on intro track "HeavyDirtySoul". And while it may be hard to pin down Twenty One Pilots’ genre, there is no mistaking Blurryface is their biggest effort yet.
The sonic diversity is balanced by Joseph's consistently confessional lyrics in a record that goes from frantic bangers to dark and brooding songs that feel like you're listening in to a conversation between Joseph and his 'Blurryface' alter ego.
Songs such as "Tear In My Heart", "HeavyDirtySoul" and "Stressed Out" hook you in with their instantly memorable beats, but you'll stay for the softer moments like "The Judge" and "Goner", which delve even deeper into Joseph's psyche.
With such a huge record, it's easy to see why 2016 will see TØP play a landmark gig at Madison Square Garden, and will undoubtedly be an even bigger year for Tyler and Josh.
Resistance of the Skeleton Clique is futile. - Emily Jayne Beard
1) Carly Rae Jepsen - E•MO•TION
Every few years records come along that are transcendent, that surprise and that linger way longer than the two year album campaign.
Last year Taylor Swift turned up with 1989 and proved to everyone that blockbuster pop could be more than just Adele and Sam Smith. There was still space for beautifully executed production, synthesisers and KILLER hooks. And while Taylor’s record has gone on to sell more copies than I’ve had cups of coffee (this is probably true, tbh), she managed to achieve stratospheric success.
But what happens when world domination isn’t on the agenda because, at one time in 2012, you’d already released one of the most successful songs of all time? What happens when, actually, you want to make an album that is without frills, whistles, press conferences, Yahoo live streams and controversial videos? Enter pop’s best unsung hero Carly Rae Jepsen.
Jepsen’s second album E•MO•TION is almost perfect, and has, unfortunately, slipped under the radar in 2015. While music (and gay) Twitter has been banging on about it, the general public has seemed less interested. The album’s lead single “I Really Like You” may have had a gimmicky video (featuring Tom Hanks and Justin Bieber), but at its heart is a song that’s laden with hooks and 80s production that's also catchy as hell.
But really, that song doesn’t represent the album’s mature approach to song writing. There’s joyousness here with the bombastic “Run Away With Me”, unrequited love with the stunning “Your Type” and the world’s best song about dumping your boyfriend “Boy Problems” (which features the lyric “I think I broke up with my boyfriend today, and I don’t really care.” Amazing). Like all good pop, Jepsen packages heartbreak, love, angst and melancholy with a shiny pulsing bow.
The album also veers left of centre, with the Dev Hynes produced “All That” looking back to Prince and the Cindy Lauper-esque “Warm Blood”, which was produced and co-written by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij.
Essentially, E•MO•TION will go down in history as a great record that may (or may not) find it’s dues in the future. But to anyone doubting that this is a great album, give it a spin as words can’t do it justice. We promise that it’ll exceed all expectations. - Alim Kheraj