Let’s call it a wrap, 2015! We’ve had an extreme year of musical endeavors of epic proportions and now we’re ready to name our Top 5 Artists of the Year!
Whether it was a genre clash such as EDM and hip-hop, pop, or even indie rock, or if it were sick collaborations of musicians and artists from different sonic domains, such as Justin Bieber and Skrillex, music made an incredible mark on history this year. As the year is coming to an end, we can look back at the artists who have left the biggest impression on our minds, our hearts, and our ears. I’d like to note that there were many incredible album productions and single releases that deserve to be recognized, but as this is only the “Top 5 Artists of the Year” of 2015, there is only so much I can mention. So here it is, based on intensive research of who was the most searched for artist online, most listened to artist on Spotify, and the top reigning artists on the Billboard charts over the course of the year, week by week. If one had to really define what music was like for 2015, it would most likely be “collaborative.” It was a massive year for cooperation and mixing and matching music genres and sounds and vocals together to produce a new sound. Under each artist, I have also attached either a playlist of their newest album or music videos to their biggest hits, or both.
So, here they are– Top 5 Artists of the Year:
1. The Weeknd
This famous Canadian singer produced by Republic Records, Abel Tesfaye, also known as, The Weeknd, started out as the enigmatic R&B vocalist with a smooth falsetto and a sultry, erotic tone on a few drugs. Not many knew of him, but those who did were devoted to him and his first album Trilogy, which released on November 13th, 2012 . The musician stole hearts and sent out many X and O’s to the crowd in 2015, performing at the Billboard Hot 100 Festival, releasing his album Beauty Behind the Madness, performing at various music award ceremonies and the Victoria Secret Fashion Show, making a hit single for the motion picture of Fifty Shades of Grey, and going on a killer tour. The Weeknd has rightfully made it to the Top 5 not only for his uniqueness, but also for his amazing collaborations on his novel album with many such artists as Lana Del Ray and Ed Sheeran, two very different genre clashes. He has stuck to his original seductive tunes, but may have toned it down a bit and focused more on the artistry of performance and the sound of his vocals to bring the charisma to his music that the fans adore. The exotic haired-man is able to produce the emotion of being on drugs when actually being sober, is able to bring out the bad in the good, and able to perform a killer showcase with his dance moves and his heightened enthusiasm and energy on stage! His album contained three hit singles that were all at one point in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 chart: “Earned It,” “Can’t Feel My Face,” and “The Hills.” His album is also ranked in the Top 5 Albums of the Year in the U.S. right after Drake’s If You’re Reading This You’re Too Late. The Weeknd is continuing to ameliorate his position in the music world as he builds more recognition and produces more amazing music– can’t wait to see what is to come for the year of 2016.
2. Justin Bieber
I know, I know. You’re thinking– what? How? Well, allow me to say that Skrillex and Diplo deserve the highest of appraisals for their fabrication of what is Justin Bieber’s newest album, Purpose. The album was so well constructed, each single with a catchy tune and an intense emotion and sound behind it, that it was a great challenge against any Bieber haters out there. The album is extremely dynamic and many said that Bieber’s album made their summers with “Where Are Ü Now,” and “What Do You Mean?” Then came along “Sorry,” and the rest was history. Bieber collaborated with so many voices from hip-hop stars like Big Sean, Travi$ Scott, and Nas, to artists and the stars of EDM like Skrillex and Diplo, to alternative singer and songwriters like Halsey. What was so fantastic was that with each artist that Bieber worked with, they stayed true to their sound and genre, and Bieber, instead of sounding like his pop-boy-band self, actually tried to emulate and work with their intonations to make a solid track. His album was so successful that according to news site, Spin, his album made about 522 thousand sales. It is not only the best sales report of Bieber’s musical ventures, but also the “best single-week number posted by any artist this year.” He also performed an incredible set with Skrillex at the Billboard Hot 100 festival this past summer and at the VMAs! Bieber, we’re sorry for your heartbreak, but it made for a great record!
Did you really think we were going to keep our Hotline King out of the Top 5? No chance. Drake hit a new all time high with his new music, with his collaborations with Future, and with a few bumps in the road with Meek Mill. Drake came with his big, big hit, “Hotline Bling,” which has had major listening views for a very long time now–since it was released, but when the music video came out, it blew up even more for its somewhat hilarious nature. Saturday Night Live, as well as, many other media sources cracked some jokes on the music video, but that did not take away from the extreme significance that Drake placed on music for the year. Drake released his own surprise album If You’re Reading This You’re Too Late, and that is what put him at the forefront of the music year. According to Jake Krez, writer for the online hip-hop publication DJ Booth, Drake made it to Spotify’s Top Most Streamed Artists of 2015. His album also made it to the U.S.’s Top 5 Albums of the Year in first place. It became No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, and with ease, scored Drake his fourth chart-topper. The album was able to move 535,000 units in one week! Drake continues to use the power of the 6ix God in his music, the monotonous, almost hopeless emotion behind the vocals that become the hit sensations that they are– that brought you: “Take Care,” “Hold On We’re Going Home,” “Marvin’s Room,” “Crew Love,” “0-100,” and so much more! Drake had the ability to show up in all sorts of singles this year and really made his name one to not forget. With those dance moves, that ensemble, and his musical creations, Drake is the statement of 2015.
4. Taylor Swift
This Canadian 20-year old singer-songwriter, Ashley Frangipaneis, also known as Halsey, is a refreshing, unique voice that has entered the music scene. She brings a different kind of momentum and energy to the table, which is why she makes it to this Top 5 Artists of the Year list. She started out as an internet, Tumblr sensation who then instantly caught someone’s ear, and like wildfire, caught everyone’s attention. Her voice is that kind of raw, emphatic, rebellious incantation that every millennial wishes to march and sing to the tune of. MTV calls her “the reluctantly perfect voice of a generation.” She has now been collaborating with big names like Bieber. Halsey also had the chance to perform in front an incredibly large crowd at the Billboard Hot 100 Festival! She is currently touring with The Weeknd! In addition, Halsey’s album, Badlands, debuts at No. 2 on the new Billboard 200 chart. Astralwerks Records reported that her album launched at No. 1 on the Alternative Albums chart. According to Billboard and Spotify, Badlands holds “the second-biggest debut of 2015 for a female artist’s first full-length album both in units and pure album sales. ” That is extremely impressive! She uses her music as a vehicle to deliver her messages to society about the diversity, the acceptances, the rejections, the wrongs, and the rights. It’s her connectivity and strength that draw the crowd to her music. Her independence and ability to sing as she wishes, really attracts the audience to her authenticity.
*And a quick Honorable Mention goes to…
This girl really deserves serious recognition because she has risen so far at such a young age! At the age of 19, this young lady hit the charts with her song “Here,” and had the chance to sing it out to the crowd at one of Taylor Swift’s concert performances. The powerful and rhythmic melody that this girl brings makes her a force to the music scene of R&B music for females. For many listeners, she hits major chills and exudes killer vibes when she sings. Her voice fills a space and void, and her lyrics resonate with the most significant struggles of adolescence facing adulthood and reality. In an interview conducted by Swift, a hug fan of Cara’s, and by Billboard, they discuss with Cara the debut of her album Know-It-All (released November 13th), and how “Here” came from a real experience Cara had at a lame party. Cara notes, “[i]t’s funny because now I hear that it gets played at parties,” she says. “If you think about it, it’s such a miserable song for a single. But it worked, right?” It definitely did work, and it’s getting you up there in the music industry fast, girl.*