BreatheHeavy counts down the best albums of 2015.
Albums. Like books and black lives, albums still matter. No one buys them anymore and almost no one listens to them, but here at BreatheHeavy, we’re champions of the humble LP so we’re going to list our favorite 20 albums from 2015. Inevitably, you will then tell us the multitude of ways in which we are wrong but what can you do? The world will keep turning. Adele will keep selling. Madonna will refuse to age. ANTi will be out soon. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
20. Marina & the Diamonds – ‘Froot’
A musical turning point for Marina and a collection of her best work to date.
19. dumblonde – ‘dumblonde’
One of the most consummate reinventions in modern pop, and a fantastic record to boot.
18. Drake – ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’
Is it a mixtape? Is it an album? Is there any difference? It went to number 1 on the Billboard 200, so we’re counting it.
17. Miley Cyrus – ‘Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz’
An insane album, released for free on Soundcloud, but a triumphant deceleration of musical independence.
16. One Direction – ‘Made In The A.M.’
Their first album without Zayn Malik and One Direction’s most cohesive and mature effort yet.
15. Miguel – ‘Wildheart’
An extraordinary R&B record from an extraordinary R&B artist. What more could you ask for?
14. Lana Del Rey – ‘Honeymoon’
A wholly ambient and relentlessly unpredictable record, Lana Del Rey strikes gold yet again.
13. Troye Sivan – ‘Blue Neighbourhood’
The very definition of a coming of age album, Sivan proves himself far more than a YouTube star.
12. Demi Lovato – ‘Confident’
A striking and self-assured album, ‘Confident’ earns both its title and its place as one of 2015’s best pop moments.
11. Florence + the Machine – ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’
Classic atmospheric indie-pop, Florence turns madness into magic as only she can.
10. Disclosure – ‘Caracal’
No one does electro better than duo Disclosure and with features from the coolest names in pop, ‘Caracal’ is the best of the British dance scene.
9. Janet Jackson – ‘Unbreakable’
Jackson’s first album in seven years and first since the death of her brother Michael, ‘Unbreakable’ is a remarkable example of Janet’s still fresh understanding of modern R&B.
8. Years & Years – ‘Communion’
A perfect blend of ’80s synth-pop and ’90s house, Years & Years bat their first record out of the park, proving that they are far more than the sum of their influences.
7. The Weeknd – ‘Beauty Behind The Madness’
An album with few contemporaries, The Weeknd’s raw honesty and hipster R&B background give ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ a rare edge in the often turgid landscape of urban pop music.
6. Hilary Duff – ‘Breathe In. Breathe Out.’
On ‘Breathe In. Breathe Out’, Duff proved her doubters wrong and showed once and for all that she could run with the big dogs with some of the best classic pop songs of the year.
5. Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘E•MO•TION’
Realistically, Carly Rae Jepsen was never supposed to be anything other than a one hit wonder. With “Call Me Maybe” she showed the world her ability to tap into a bizarrely under-utilized brand of bubblegum pop but few expected her to rise any higher than the inoffensive feel good fodder of 2012’s ‘Kiss.’ Certainly no one predicted that she would come out with as accomplished an offering as ‘Emotion.’ A chronicle of what it is to fall in love, ‘Emotion’ is a roller-coaster of, well, emotions and CRJ proves herself more than capable of writing an album rather than a collection of catchy singles. – Aaron Butterfield
4. Justin Bieber – ‘Purpose’
Justin Bieber’s name became so synonymous with controversy that his fans began to forget why they loved him in the first place, but all that changed after Purpose. The record found its roots earlier in the year after Bieber’s unexpected Grammy-nominated collaboration with Skrillex and Diplo took music listeners by surprise. The mainstream success brought in new fans for Bieber, allowing him to reach a greater audience and secure a massive No. 1 opening week. The 21-year-old seamlessly intertwines electro-pop (“Children”), live instrumentation (“Life Is Worth Living”) and acoustic (“Love Yourself”) on the LP, proving there’s something for everyone. Bieber will continue dominating the music scene when his world tour kicks off next spring… IF he can stay out of trouble. – Jordan Miller
3. Selena Gomez – ‘Revival’
She’s never exactly gotten the world’s attention musically before, but something about Selena Gomez’s second album Revival has us all intrigued. From the hypnotic Anastacia Steele roleplay of “Good For You,” the powerhouse fragility of “Sober,” “Perfume’s” dark twisted sister “Perfect” and the whispery Prince tribute “Hands To Myself”, Selena struck out on her own and set about carving a unique identity and sound for herself, eons away from the tabloid gossip surrounding her love life. It’s always nice when a female pop star proves she’s far beyond the stories told about her and Revival saw Gomez take full advantage of the opportunity to tell her own. – Jessica Petterson
2. Madonna – ‘Rebel Heart’
In our initial review of Madonna’s ‘Rebel Heart’, we predicted that it may go on to be her most underrated effort yet and we haven’t been proven wrong. Failing to hit number 1 on the Billboard 200 or produce any meaningfully successful singles, ‘Rebel Heart’ hasn’t lived up to the dizzying commercial heights of Madonna’s previous musical endeavors. But musically? It numbers among the Material Girl’s best. Featuring classic Madge floor fillers about self-expression alongside her most experimental work since ‘Confessions on a Dance Floor,’ her 2015 LP is everything you could want from a Madonna album. Flitting between heart-wrenching balladry and balls to the wall arrogance, ‘Rebel Heart’ is a nostalgic retrospective of one of the most stunning careers in pop music history and treads the line between current and pandering far better than Madonna’s detractors would have you believe. – Aaron Butterfield
1. Adele – ’25’
It may seem too obvious to place the year’s most buzzed about album at the top of our list. However, we have chosen ‘25’ not because of its massive, record-breaking commercial success, but because it is a genuinely stunning album, on which almost every song is a stand-out. Adele’s long awaited 3rd album is, of course, filled with tragic tearjerkers, but also shows us a new Adele, one that is happier and more grounded than the singer we came to know on her first two albums. Dispelling any worry that the powerhouse singer had reached her peak with ‘21’, Adele produced a lyrically-complex, emotional journey that only gets better with each listen, cementing her status as a bona-fide musical legend. The most buzzed about music is not always necessarily the best, but as far as Adele is concerned, it’s safe to believe the hype. – Emilie Doucet