Jan 022016

Once again, there isn’t much debate about who reigned the year in pop music. The clear choice is Adele. Other than “Hello”, few songs had such broad appeal and praise this year. Much like Taylor Swift in 2014, Adele swooped in during the last quarter of the year to deliver a song and an album that were considered a must listen. If you couple that with sales unprecedented by today’s standards, all that was missing from the chanteuse was a mic drop. But she’s too classy for that. Leave it to Taylor Swift to mop up all the adulation. She embarked on a victory tour selling out stadiums and surrounding herself with special guests (including rock royalty) in a vain attempt to bolster her brand and her cred. She wasn’t the only one jumping up and down saying “look at me”. One of the biggest songs of the year had a nation whipping and nae-naeing all over social media.
Silento and his hit song “Watch Me (Whip/Nae-nae)” is the modern update of “Land of a 1000 Dances”,albeit a terrible one. At first, I assumed the whole purpose of this song was an excuse to get your grandmother up at a wedding reception to see if she could do the “Duff” or the “Stanky Leg”. Plainly, the songs true message is in the repeated phrase, “WatchMe!” The song seems like a metaphor for these self absorbed times. Yes, watch me Instagram, now watch me You Tube, watch me Vine, now watch me Periscope, etc. You get the idea.

Someone else who’s always looking for attention is Demi Lovato. She’s was the worst of the bunch this year. Lovato is a tart, and I’m sorry if that sounds offensive. Their is no other way to describe her hit and unintentionally hilarious video “Cool For The Summer” . If she was hoping to win “Song of The Summer”, she failed miserably. I will give that honor to Walk The Moon with “Shut Up and Dance”. It gets to the point and gets out before anyone is annoyed. Another somewhat agreeable song from the summer was Elle King’s “Ex and Oh’s” which enjoyed success on both pop and alternative stations. Her success is even more unlikely when you consider she is the offspring of this guy. Also unlikely, was the continued success of Meghan Trainor, someone I had written off last year as a novelty. She double downed with “Lips Are Moving” and stole the show at the American Music Awards when her and Charlie Puth performed mutual tonsillectomy at the end their duet “Marvin Gaye”. We might have something to look forward to if these kids found a little more talent.

Hip-Hop and R&B continued their slide with tepid offerings from Drake, Kanye and Kendrick Lamar. Meanwhile, can someone please explain the success of The Weeknd and the two massive hits, “The Hills” and “Can’t Feel My Face”?  If you’re saying to yourself “I’ve never heard of that band”, you might be showing your age.  The Weeknd is the stage name of some dude whose music is described as “dark R&B”. For sure, the music is different when compared with soulless wonders like Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber. They sold more albums than The Weeknd, but that’s by design. Those pretty boys are pre-packaged bubblegum while The Weeknd is flavorless and boring. The same however cannot be said for Macklemore who landed the decent hip hop track “Downtown” in all its hand me down charm. It’s all a big goof…I hope. But let’s circle back to the beginning.

The year came in with Taylor Swift and ended with Adele. Women are still on top of the pop world. That’s not bad for the kids when you compare those two with the weakly talents of Ariana Grande or Selena Gomez. In a few months however they’re success will pass and another void will be created. I look forward to ranting about whomever that is next year.

Any other thoughts on 2015?


  5 Responses to “Songs of the Year: The State of Pop Music in 2015”

  1. I can’t really comment too much on 2015. For all that I bought a lot of music (despite my perpetual New Year’s Resolution to cut back) very little of it was by any artist under the age of 50.

    But I’d like to thank Cliff for his essay and all the links because I did sample most of them and I do know I’m not missing much.

    I’ve long stood firmly in the E Pluribus (Mr. Mod, there’s a summons we need!) camp of there being no good music since 1983 (or was it 1982?). And while I recognize that good & bad aren’t really the operative words, I do know that there isn’t much since 1983 that has been geared towards my likes.

  2. One additional comment. I thought the song “Shut Up & Dance” by Walk The Moon had it’s charms (although I didn’t last through the whole performance) one of which was the phrase “discotheque Juliet”.

  3. cliff sovinsanity

    In all seriousness…

    One of my New Year’s resolution last year was to seek out more new music. As it turned out, most of the albums I listened to were from 2014. I haven’t fully caught up to 2015. So far in 2015 I really dug the albums by Nikki Lane, Kurt Vile and especially Courtney Barnett.

  4. 2000 Man

    Man, I’m glad I don’t have teenage girls in my house. I really hate that shit, pretty much from top to bottom in every way there is to hate it.

    That being said, 2015 was kinda slow for me for new music this year. I bought more older things like reissues and “first time on vinyl” kinds of things than I did new stuff. The only two things from this year that I really, really liked a lot are Sleater Kinney and Lucero’s new one. The new Blitzen Trapper is good, too. I’m hoping 2016 is stronger for the bands I like or new bands I don’t know I like yet.

  5. Good stuff! I saw Nikki Lane at Gypsy Sally’s in DC last year and she is the bomb. I liked a couple of the songs on Courtney Barnett’s album too — a little Aussie music is always welcome.

    I also liked Gill Landry’s solo album (he’s in Old Crow Medicine Show) and a 2015 record from Lilly Hiatt (John Hiatt’s daughter). I posted some odds and sods from these and others in 2015 here: https://soundcloud.com/funoka123

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