If you’re a music junkie, then 2015 was not the most terrible year. While there were really only a few major releases, there were plenty of solid ones for you to enjoy (assuming you haven’t already). Here is the best music of 2015, just in time for you to listen to while waiting for the best music of 2016 (which may just be limited to David Bowie’s “Blackstar”).
1. Adele’s “25”
In November, Adele released her first album in four years, “25.” It shattered records held by Brittney Spears and *NSYNC for first-week album sales. It featured some of the most evocative music and singing from someone who manages to be more heartbreaking than Taylor Swift, even in upbeat-sounding songs like “Send My Love (To Your New Lover).” I wrote a longer review in late November, which you can read here, but the most important thing about this album (and the reason why I have it as No. 1) is because it is the most transformative she has ever been in her music. It is the single-greatest growth in an artist of any on this list.
2. Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly”
Most lists for 2015 have Kendrick Lamar’s third album as the No. 1 album of the year, however, as someone who enjoys hip-hop far less than most other genres, it was difficult for me to come to that conclusion. However, it is a phenomenal album in terms of what Rolling Stone refers to as a return to live instrumentation in a hip-hop album and a terrifyingly real personal journey in order to learn how to deal with his fame. This isn’t the type of music you associate with “rap.” Rather, it’s a personal story told through an almost retro hip-hop style.
3. Broadway’s “Hamilton”
“A Broadway show, Joseph?” I know some of you are asking. However, this is a Broadway play dedicated to one of the most underrated of the Founding Fathers, and one of the best new Broadway plays in the last decade or more. Hamilton is the type of Broadway play we should totally get a live performance of at a RedState Gathering (Hey, Leon! I’ve got a new idea for you.). It’s a telling of the story of a Founding Father through hip-hop and R&B, and oh my God it works so well, you guys. Seriously, if you have not listened to the soundtrack (which is not as good as the live show, I’m told, but it’s still amazing), do yourself a favor and listen to one of the best re-tellings of American history.
4. Muse’s “Drones”
This is another one I reviewed here at RedState, but enough can’t be said about the latest Muse album, Drones, which features a familiar anti-war tone from the group. The lyrics are, as usual, not the star of the album, but the music is a stellar representation of what makes Muse so fun – overly dramatic and overly produced music that comes together with a message. Luckily for all of us, they decided to not do the whole digital orchestra thing this time, but the power behind the lyrics makes it hugely effective in delivering the message the band wants to get across. Antiwar writing may not be your thing, but the music is definitely worth listening to.
5. Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Emotion”
The pop singer behind the addictive “Call Me Maybe” released an actual album this year, and it is awesome. The pop star uses an all-too-familiar callback to the 80s that seems to be all the rage today. However, the writing here is what puts Jepsen above the others. Her songwriting is on par with the legends of 80s pop, which is why her album comes across as both a fitting homage to the 80s and yet a wholly original piece of work. If you’ve got kids who love pop music, this is definitely the right type of pop to get them into. Jepsen is far more than the catchy “Call Me Maybe” girl – she is a rising star in songwriting that we should look for more good things to come from.