2015 has been a great year for popular music! We saw a lot of amazing artists come back and new talents making their way to the top. It’s that time of the year again where we decide what were the best pop moments in 2015. This is A Bit of Pop Music’s top 20 of best pop albums, of course including the big comeback by Adele and Justin Bieber’s resurrection. Check which albums made the cut!
20. Ellie Goulding – Delirium
The bad news is that Delirium is Ellie Goulding’s weakest album so far. The good news is that it is still strong enough to be considered one of the 20 best pop albums of the year! She went down a more poppy, commercial route, but luckily single ‘On My Mind’ wasn’t the best example of the sound of the record. The compositions are mostly strong and extremely catchy. The best tracks are ‘Holding On For Life’, ‘Something In The Way You Move’, ‘Aftertaste’ and ‘Army’. Come back soon with something that is a little bit more like Halcyon though, Ellie!
19. Ella Eyre – Feline
British singer-songwriter Ella Eyre had a long string of singles out, before she finally launched her debut album Feline in 2015. There weren’t a lot of surprises, but who needs that when a debut is so solid and cohesive? Her mature vocals sound just as strong on the ballads as the uptempo drum and bass productions and there are definitely a lot of strong choruses on this record!
18. Disclosure – Caracal
It was an impossible task for Disclosure to follow up the success of their debut album Settle, but that didn’t stop them from creating another outstanding record full of dancefloor fillers with personality. They received help from a handful of popular artists like The Weeknd, Miguel and of course Sam Smith. Therefore Caracal is more focused on vocals and poppy melody lines and we don’t complain! Especially the collaboration with Lorde, ‘Magnets’, is right up our street!
17. Brandon Flowers – The Desired Effect
The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers was ready for another solo adventure and recorded the 80s infused straightforward pop album The Desired Effect. It sometimes echoes the sound that made the Haim sisters so popular, but also goes back to the halcyon days of the Pet Shop Boys and Bronski Beat. The production is smooth and sometimes bombastic and the songs are all carefully built and settle in your mind hook after hook. First single ‘Can’t Deny My Love’ is definitely one of the biggest tunes of the year!
16. Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon
In 2012 Lana Del Rey would have topped this list with her Born To Die, but she has yet to reach these same levels of brilliance again. The title track ‘Honeymoon’ doesn’t do the album justice, but when Lana gets it right (‘High By The Beach’, ‘The Blackest Day’, ‘Swan Song’, ’24’) she still delivers us beautifully orchestrated pieces with gorgeous and memorable melodies. After the band vibe of Ultraviolence and the slow burning Honeymoon, it would be great to have some hip hop beats back on the next record though!
15. Seinabo Sey – Pretend
This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you do a debut. To be fair Swedish Seinabo Sey took her time and there wasn’t much of a surprise left, because most of the tracks made their way to earlier EPs, but as a complete body of work this is an outstanding album. Her voice is extremely soulful and emotive and she easily pulls off a sassy uptempo banger (‘Pistols At Dawn’) and a romantic ballad (‘Poetic’) equally convincing.
14. Selah Sue – Reason
Selah Sue managed to take parts of Europe by storm with her debut and she continued to shine with second record Reason. The deliciously funky single ‘Alone’ started off the campaign that brought us big and compelling ballads like ‘Fear Nothing’ and ‘Alive’, but also the catchy ‘Won’t Go For More’ and the title track with a bluesy rhythm. A great collection of tracks with Selah’s unique, raw and powerful vocals to top it all off.
13. Tove Styrke – Kiddo
Swedish pop star Tove Styrke came with an album that was quite the statement! Kiddo is a record full of clear messages packaged in infectious pop tunes. It is hard to say which song will be head in your head after listening to it all as literally every tune has its infectiousness. She explores protest songs in a reggae rhythm on ‘Borderline’, goes for a soaring electro pop chorus on ‘Ego’ and Britney Spears references in bubblegum pop on ‘Number One’. Absolutely one of the best in this genre this year!
12. Rae Morris – Unguarded
Rae Morris stepped up her game in 2015 by releasing her debut album Unguarded, full of gorgeous melodic piano pop, mixed with some proper electronic influences as well. She stands her ground on the vocally challenging ballad ‘For You’ but just as easily voices her distant disapproval of a relationship turned sour on ‘Cold’. Such an atmospheric and honest little record. Oh, and can I just add that ‘Under The Shadows’ and ‘Love Again’ should both have smashed internationally if there was any pop justice in the world?
11. Miguel – Wildheart
Miguel made a big step forward with the release of his album Wildheart. He became a star when single ‘Adorn’ of his previous record became a hit, but this time around he shows what he is really made of with exciting, progressive R&B productions. The whole album is impressively cohesive, subtle yet convincing in its emotions (‘Leaves’) and at times very personal (‘what’s normal anyway’). Oh, and single ‘Coffee’ (‘F**king’) should turn up on every bedroom playlist!
10. Halsey – Badlands
Halsey turned out to be one of the most exciting new pop stars of 2015. Not only her incredibly catchy tune ‘New Americana’ was hot, the whole album is actually pretty damn great! She found herself a style that switches from quite intense electronic pop (‘Castle’) to bright and sassy pop tunes like ‘Strange Love’, but almost every song is melodically strong and memorable. Her voice is easily recognizable and she has a great ear for a killer chorus.
09. Chvrches – Every Open Eye
This album is like a synth pop whirlwind! The Scottish band around vocalist Lauren Mayberry went for big and bold electronic pop productions with larger than life choruses on their second record and they couldn’t have done a better job. Mayberry’s vocals are top notch throughout and the male vocal songs are stunning as well. ‘Leave A Trace’, ‘Clearest Blue’ (that build up!) and ‘Empty Threat’ definitely belong to the best pop choruses of 2015.
08. Lianne La Havas – Blood
Lianne La Havas made a huge impact in 2012 when she launched her folky debut album Is Your Love Big Enough and she continues to shine with the follow up Blood. This time around the productions are bigger, the tunes more soulful and Lianne’s voice even more hypnotizing. She tries some rock (‘Never Get Enough’), goes for an almost a capella sound on ‘Wonderful’ and shows her incredible vocal strength (‘Grow’), but mostly impresses with the elegant soul tune ‘Unstoppable’ and the infectious single ‘What You Don’t Do’. La Havas showed she is hear to stay.
07. Justin Bieber – Purpose
Justin Bieber experienced an almost miraculous comeback in 2015. After the success of hit singles ‘What Do You Mean’ and ‘Sorry’, he launched the album Purpose that did extremely well in terms of sales. The transition from teen idol to full on pop star isn’t that surprising when you listen to this mature and even experimental pop album. He succeeds at electronic ballads (‘I’ll Show You’) and going all acoustic (‘Love Yourself’), but most of all delivers us the well produced futuristic pop with a hint of R&B we love (‘No Sense’ and ‘Where Are U Now’)!
06. Troye Sivan – Blue Neighbourhood
Troye Sivan definitely became on of the break out stars of the year after he released his Blue Neighbourhood video trilogy (awarded as video of the year by A Bit of Pop Music). The album followed soon after and did not disappoint. It is rare for a young, debuting musician to have created such an exciting sonic landscape. The album is pop heaven with an electronic edge and literally every chorus hits home. Not to mention his diary like honest lyrics about the life of a young guy, falling in love with other boys. Relatable to many, enjoyable for all.
05. The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness
The Weeknd gave us a master class in how to become a huge star without losing your edge and credibility. The progressive R&B musician became a huge sensation when singles like ‘Earned It’ (from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack) ‘The Hills’ and ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ (written and produced with Max Martin) became hits and the album featuring duets with Lana Del Rey and Ed Sheeran followed suit. Captivating and infectious R&B from start to finish.
04. Years & Years – Communion
The BBC already predicted it, Years & Years would go places in 2015. They did so with a brilliant debut album under their belt. Communion is everything a synth pop fan would want and a bit more. ‘King’, ‘Desire’, ‘Shine’, ‘Ties’, ‘Border’ and ‘Worship’ (well, basically every track) are all produced in a fresh and light manner, with contagious, undeniably catchy choruses. These guys know how to write a brilliant pop tune so they did quite a lot of them!
03. Marina & The Diamonds – FROOT
After an album full of alternative piano pop and a more mainstream electro pop second record, Marina Diamandis found herself somewhere in between those worlds with the perfectly balanced FROOT. We get stunning ballads like ‘Happy’ and ‘Solitaire’, but we can also bust some moves to the powerful choruses of ‘Froot’, ‘Blue’ and ‘Forget’. ‘I’m A Ruin’ is the gorgeous cherry on top that embodies everything that is so appealing about Marina: a soaring chorus, painfully honest lyrics and a hook that doesn’t leave your head.
02. Adele – 25
The release of Adele’s 25 was probably the most hyped pop event of 2015 and rightfully so, because she didn’t disappoint. After the huge single ‘Hello’, the album still has a lot of brilliance to offer. Take for example the moody and sensual ‘I Miss You’ and the catchy midtempo ‘Under The Bridge’. We get moving ballads like ‘Love In The Dark’, ‘When We Were Young‘ and the very personal ‘Million Years Ago’. To hear those gorgeous pipes belt again on these beautiful tunes, was well worth the wait.
01. Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Now this was hands down the best album of the year. Florence reinvented herself, without abandoning her previous sound. Actually, she enriched it. We still get bombastic pop (with gorgeous trumpets!) in the title track and ‘Queen of Peace’, but she also rocks out on singles like the intense ‘What Kind of Man’ and the swinging ‘Delilah’. For the first time miss Welch and her band show they can take things down convincingly as well, on subdued beauties like ‘St. Jude’, ‘Long & Lost’ and ‘Various Storms & Saints’. This is a masterpiece from start to finish!