Do you remember those times when you or your parents had a stack full of vinyl records in the corner of your bedroom? Or all of those boxes full of cassettes with a tiny piece of tape with the title stuck on it, which you had to rewind with a pencil, unless you had a fancy cassette player? Or all those shelves in your mom’s cupboard from the living room full of CDs?
You used to receive a CD for each special occasion, including your birthdays and Christmas. Sometimes it did not even matter that you had no idea who the singer was or that you hated that band more than you hate your current boss, because your close ones wanted to do something nice and picked the latest album released… or perhaps the one under the huge “Big Sale – 97% off” sign.
But you were grateful for their gesture and listened to it. Possibly it grew on you and you listened to it while on the road in the mountains, when there was no signal on the radio. Yes, once the signal came back, you threw the CD out of the window, but at least you enjoyed your friends’ gift for a couple of hours.
Then you got to 2015 and you would believe that under no circumstances you will ever receive an album anymore. Sorry to burst your bubble, but…
Old Habits Never Die
Contrary to popular belief, yes people still buy albums. Whether they buy hard copies while enjoying a cup of tea at the local library or buy them online on their gadgets, people still buy albums. Why? It is simple, despite coming in many possibilities.
They either listened to the best track on the album on YouTube or on the radio and feel in love with the sound or with the artist’s voice and style, or they have been fans for a long period of time and when their favourite artists finally released the long awaited album, they had to pre-order it.
Of course, albums still make nice adorable gifts. Also, Christmas is right behind the corner, so if you find yourself as the secret Santa of one of your colleagues with whom you have never even exchanged a word, you might consider checking the songs he is sharing on Facebook or the what artists he likes. Or you can buy him Adele’s latest album. It is a classic!
Bibbity Bobbity Boo!
That might have worked with Cinderella, but not with real people and music. In order for an album to be a success, bring a lot of money, praise and awards, much more work and passion is needed. Creating a new album can take from a couple of months up to many years, years which are defined mostly by pressure, writer’s block, white nights and conflicts.
Whether the public ends up loving the new music or not, it is a matter of luck. But all artists must always remember something: a good album needs to be outstanding and a new page in the history of music.
Therefore, here are the best 10 albums of 2015.
10. “How big, how blue, how beautiful” – Florence and The Machine
Coming from one of the best 10 rock bands of 2015, we have Florence and The Machine, a band formed in 2007 by Florence Welch and Isabella Summers, in teamwork with other artists, bringing indie, rock, pop, baroque and soul all together under a magical voice and an epic sound.
With their unique sound, in 8 years, Florence and the Machine became the main wanted band on soundtracks of both movies and TV series, won many awards and performed on big stages, including the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Concert.
It took the band about a year to finish the production of “How big, how blue, how beautiful”, finally releasing it on 29th May 2015. With 11 songs lasting up to almost 50 minutes, the album focuses on the individual embracing the world and learning how to love it, evolving as an ubermensch rather than escaping it like a rebel.
The album was viewed as very good, not perfect, but still very good, due to its deepness and emotional maturity. The positivity lead to thousands of albums sold and high positions in charts all over the world. The editor’s pick: “St Jude”.
9. “Chasing Yesterday” – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
You remember all those friends who used to sing “Wonderwall” every time they had a guitar in their arms. Unfortunately, Oasis broke up, but at least we got Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, the former Oasis member’s rock band project, in which other past components of other groups were included. Since 2011, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds has been working hard to reach top charts and to dispose of Oasis’ shadow, proving that it is an all new original band.
Planned since 2011, in production since 2013, recorded a year later and released on 25th February 2015, “Chasing Yesterday” is the second Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds album and boy! Everyone has been waiting for it for a good while. Out of the almost 60 written songs, 10 official ones were picked out for the album. In terms of reviews, “Chasing Yesterday” was praised enough to win Best album at Q Awards this year. The editor’s pick: “Ballad Of The Mighty I”.
8. “Wilder Mind” – Mumford & Sons
With a folk look and a rock sound, this British band was formed back in 2007 by vocalist Marcus Mumford, guitarist Winston Marshall, bassist Ted Dwane and pianist Ben Lovett.
With a name suggesting tradition and with a style finding its roots in American, Mumford & Sons released 3 official albums, which brought them a total number of 14 awards. With the release of their third and latest album, Mumford & Sons has shown a slight development in style, developing more their alternative side.
Released at the beginning of May, “Wilder Mind” is a 47 minute long alternative and indie compilation of 12 tracks plus 4 more bonus songs. The plans for “Wilder Mind” started in 2013, after the end of the “Babel” world tour.
The reviews received were mixed, people criticising the change, while others praising it and being happy about the departure of the banjos and calling the entire album a triumph. And it is no surprise – “Wilder Mind” was No. 1 in 7 countries and reached top 10 in charts in 17 countries. The editor’s pick: “The Wolf”.
7. “Title” – Meghan Trainor
It all started with a young woman with a lot of potential. Ever since she was just a girl, Meghan was driven to become a musician, playing the guitar, bongo drums, piano and of course singing.
Later she became a song writer for other big names, until in 2014 she decided to grasp the nettle and released her own song “All About That Bass”, sharing some body positivity and her talent to the masses. Her debut single’s success was immediate and soon she started releasing more songs, in 2015 following her official debut album.
When you are a name new in the industry, but already famous, you can pull a title like “Title”. The concept behind “Title” is rather amusing, Trainor having released before 3 other albums, which were pulled from the market in order to assemble them into this one.
The album features songs written and composed in the style of the 50s and 60s, with influences from jazz and even hip hop. “Title” is a half hour long mix of bliss and amusement. The editor’s pick: “Like I’m going to lose you” featuring John Legend.
6. “Hozier” – Hozier
Another new name on the music stage, 25 year old Irish Andrew Hozier Byrne was born a musician. Influenced by his father, a blues musician, Hozier was part of the Trinity Orchestra and later, part of the chorale ensemble Anuna.
But what brought him attention was his song “Take me to the church”. With an associated music video featuring a same sex couple dealing with backlash and harassment, the song became the 2013 anthem of the LGTB+ community.
Despite being released in the autumn of 2014, it was in 2015 that Hozier’s eponymous album got the deserved attention. With thousands of sold copies, this almost one hour long compilation consists of deep soulful songs, strong expressive anthems of the heart and mind, leading him to be compared to Van Morrison.
The Telegraph commented on Hozier’s use of mixed genres such as R&B, soul, folk, blues and indie, that “Gospel choirs hum and swell tenderly beneath the rougher edges of his riffs. They add mature, universal gravitas and often a holy ecstacy to an intense, youthful lyrical tangling of religion and romantic obsession that regularly finds him poised ‘between love and abuse”. The editor’s pick: “The Eden”.
5. “Chaos and the Calm” – James Bay
James Michael Bay belongs to the new wave of artists rising like a sprout and growing right in front of the audience. His early steps consist of developing a crush on one of Eric Clapton’s songs, crush which inspired him to learn the secrets of the classical guitar.
Later, he started performing on the stage in small venues with open mic nights and after being recorded and uploaded on YouTube, he was taken under the wing of Republic Records A&R, in 2013 releasing his first single, “Let it go”.
On the market since March 2015, James Bay’s debut album is already an acclaimed piece of work. The 12 songs, including the 2015 hit “Hold Back the River”, are a potpourri of blues, indie, pop, rock, soul and folk.
In its 9 months (and counting) of success, “Chaos and the calm” reached high positions in various tops, placing itself on the first lace in 3 countries, on the second and third in another 3. So far, it has received Gold certifications in Australia, Austria, Germany and Switzerland, while in the United Kingdom it won a Platinum. The editor’s pick: “Incomplete”.
4. “American Beauty/ American Psycho” – Fall Out Boy
The best rock band of 2015, Fall Out Boy members vocalist Patrick Stump, bassist Pete Wentz, guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley started in 2001 as a small Chicago band. It took them 4 years to become the idols of thousands of teens and one of the symbol bands of the scene and emo movements.
After a prolonged hiatus, the band returned in 2013 and the fantastic “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” won them back their fans and got them some new ones, too.
Released at the beginning of this year, “AB/AP” is Fall out Boy’s 2nd album since their return and their 6th album in total. With a title making references to two of the most remarkable American films, this 40 minute long album features 11 self-reflective songs.
Band leader Pete Wentz admitted that “The idea behind some of the songs is addressing modern love or what’s going on with my head and my life than Save Rock and Roll did. I think Save Rock and Roll was a little more broader when it came to that.“. The editor’s pick: “Immortals”.
3. “1989” – Taylor Swift
The 25 year old Taylor Alison Swift slowly conquered the world with her music and charm. Starting from the bottom as a young girl taking singing lessons and aspiring to be more, she later became a pop country star.
When her songs “Our Song” and “Tear drops on my guitar” became hits, Swift decided to take a more romantic pop turn and released the album “Fearless”, featuring “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me”. In 2012, with the album “Red” Taylor parted away from her country style for good, already becoming an icon for people of all ages.
Taylor’s most recent album is “1989”, her official first truly pop album. Marking a change in both her style and personal life, showing a more grown up and brave Taylor Swift, “1989” is a worldwide commercial success.
The 13 songs feature synthetic and dance pop elements and are inspired by current social concerns such as body positivity, LGBT+ rights and mental and emotional health, while still being very personal, conferring insights on Taylor’s love life and her dealing with hate and shade, mostly from how the media portrays her. The editor’s pick: “Style”.
2. “X” – Ed Sheeran
When it comes to Edward Christopher Sheeran, you must know that it was only a matter of time until he got the public recognition as a musician he deserves. Singing in a choir and learning to play the guitar from an early age, Ed pursued his dream and started studying music.
Inspired by Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Eric Clapton and even Eminem, Sheeran officially started his career in 2005, but only became popular in 2011 with his single “The A Team”. His following acclaimed songs, “Give me love”, “Lego House” and “I See Fire” only contributed more to his popularity. In present, the young musician is touring all over the world and winning awards.
Even after a year and a half after its release, this album is still glued to the top of the charts. “X” or “Multiply” brings forward 12 songs with different themes and sources of inspiration; these are songs about love, being heartbroken, the process of creating music, being cheated on, being high while others are just his attempts at making various types of ballads.
The album was generally very well received, getting a large number of favourable reviews, but some were not impressed by Ed’s soft voice and his variety of themes. Despite the criticism, the album proved to be a masterpiece and received many platinum and gold certifications and in various countries and. The editor’s pick: “Don’t”.
1. “25” – Adele
The queen is back! And of course we could not have missed her on our list. The returning mommy Adele knew she wanted to be a singer since she was only 4 years old. Later she studied arts alongside fellow musicians Leona Lewis and Jessie J. Her debut album “19” might not have brought her the deserved attention from the public, but the song “Chasing Pavements” aided her in receiving a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2009.
Following the ignited spark, Adele released “21” and “Someone like you”, “Rolling in the deep” and “Set fire to the rain” took the charts by storm as people all over the world were chanting Adele hits. Exiting the stage with the James Bond theme song “Skyfall”, Adele took her time to give birth and raise her son.
The long awaited return of Adele was put to an end with the release of the heart breaking song “Hello” from her new album, “25”. While remaining faithful to her pop, soul, folk and R&B roots, Adele did struggle recording and composing for “25”. In 2013 she got over her writer’s block and songs started pouring like rain.
The 11 songs go from ballads to disco, from folk to upbeat pop anthems, and from seductive melodies to trip hop inspired tunes. The lyrics cover themes such childhood, adulthood, love, abandonment, home, family and origins, showing the Adele who has been missing for a while.
The British singer described her album: “25 is about getting to know who I’ve become without realising. And I’m sorry it took so long but, you know, life happened.” The editor’s pick: “Love in the dark”.