Since the inception of Lemonade, we have always had an “Awards Issue” at the end of the year. This year we changed things up and got a brand new website which has been absolutely awesome for us writers. Since we no longer have “issues”, we decided it would be best if we changed up the end of the year awards a bit as well and instead shared our personal favorites from 2015 separately. We are all music nerds here at Lemonade, but our tastes – for the most part – are quite different. I actually kind of like it that this year we get to recognize our favorites individually without the pressure of a voting system.
2015 was incredible when it came to music, which makes it incredibly hard for me to choose just one for most of these categories. With that said though….I will try my best. Thank you all for another amazing year! -Brandon
Favorite Album of 2015: Carly Rae Jepsen – E-MO-TION
For a self proclaimed “pop-enthusiast” like myself, E-MO-TION was as close to perfect as anything. Many people seemed to think Carly Rae Jepsen reinvented herself for this album, but in my opinion she finally showed who she’s really been all along. “Warm Blood” is one of my favorite pop tracks of the last few years and the rest of the album is full of pop perfection including standout tracks like “Your Type”, “Gimmie Love” and “All That”. Girls in pop had an outstanding 2015 (Selena Gomez, Tori Kelly, Demi Lovato, Alessia Cara), but Carly Rae Jepsen topped all of them with this brilliant release.
Favorite Song of 2015: “Powerful” – Major Lazer (f/ Ellie Goulding and Tarrus Riley)
There were so many great songs to choose from this year. Off the top of my head, I can name “Here” by Alessia Cara, “Magnets” by Disclosure (f/Lorde) and “Unsteady” by X Ambassadors, but the song that stuck out the most to me was the catchy and undeniably sexy Major Lazer track, “Powerful”. Of course if not for Ellie Goulding’s pipes and Tarrus Riley’s soul, this song wouldn’t be what it is, but the combination of all three resulted in one hell of a song.
Favorite EP of 2015: Katie Stump – Feels Like Home
The trend of tough choices continue with my favorite EP of the year. Devon Baldwin had an absolutely phenomenal release titled Lungs, while Joe Jonas’ new band, DNCE had one of the more catchy releases of the year with SWAAY. But it was Katie Stump’s country-pop EP, Feels Like Home that stole my heart this year. Stump’s voice shares some similarities to a certain someone named Taylor Swift, but perhaps has even more dimensions to it than the current Queen of Pop.
Feels Like Home is perfect in the way that it doesn’t neglect Stump’s obvious love for the country genre, but it also doesn’t feel forced with an overabundance of stereotypical country themes and instruments. If Katie Stump continues down this road, I feel like it’s only time that she will become a household name.
Favorite New Artist of 2015: Tori Kelly
I remember first hearing Tori Kelly on a regular basis, this summer while tuning into Apple Music’s “Pure Pop” station. Her hit single “Should’ve Been Us” came on frequently which was then followed up by another hit, “Hollow”. It was Kelly’s performance at the VMA’s though, of the aforementioned single, “Should’ve Been Us” that completely blew my mind and made me fall in love with her. I have posted the video below and if you haven’t seen it? Please do yourself a favor and witness one of the best live performances I have ever heard.
Her 2015 release, Unbreakable Smile could have just as easily been my favorite album of the year as it rivaled Carly Rae Jepsen’s E-MO-TION with it’s own brand of infectious pop. The album also featured some hip-hop inspired tracks, as well as empowering lyrics. Tori Kelly makes respecting yourself cool and is that good girl with an edge that the music world needed so bad.
Favorite Male Artist of 2015: Chris Stapleton
Favorite male artist is always a tough one for me, because in most cases solo male artists fall into two categories, Hip-Hop/R&B and Country. Those genres are so different from each other that it makes it hard to choose just one artist, but I can say after seeing Chris Stapleton play live this year at Bumbershoot, this guy is incredible. Not only does he have the best male voice that country music has seen in probably the last decade or two, but he is also one hell of a musician. His set that I was at was something to behold and is one of those live shows that I will never forget.
His latest album, Traveller is personally my favorite country release from a male artist since the days of Garth Brooks and Chris Ledoux, but I highly suggest more than anything that you go see Stapleton play live when he is in your neck of the woods. He’s something else.
Favorite Female Artist of 2015: Taylor Swift
We can talk all we want about the success that Adele has had in 2015 with her brilliant marketing and PR team and Sade sort of approach to releasing music, but I personally can’t say enough for what Taylor Swift has done following the release of 1989 at the end of last year. She exemplifies the word “Entertainer” and gave audiences their money’s worth everywhere she went in 2015, intelligently bringing friends out on stage with her at every stop.
I was fortunate enough to see her in Seattle and along with bringing up Fetty Wap to sing his hit “Trap Queen”, she also brought up Seahawks, Super Bowl winning Quarterback, Russell Wilson along with his girlfriend Ciara. If there is one way to impress this lifelong Hawks fan…that’s it. Oh and did I mention, she somehow manages to fit in every single song she’s written into her already kickass show?
In a day in age of hit singles, Taylor Swift has managed to drop hit albums, all the while treating her fans as good if not better than anyone in the business. If there was anyone deserving of the title “Superstar”, it’s Taylor Swift.
Favorite Band or Duo of 2015: Coldplay
I am too old to care if it’s cool or not to love Coldplay anymore. The truth is that I do love them and once again they released another solid album this year, adding to their already legendary discography.
Whether it’s an acquired taste or not, Chris Martin still has one of the best voices in modern music and if you’re lucky enough to have seen them in person like I have, you know just how amazing of a performer he is as well. 2015 featured plenty of great bands including Lemonade favorites like Imagine Dragons, X Ambassadors and Muse, but you know what they say? You have show something special to beat the champs. Personally, I feel like Coldplay still holds the belt.
Favorite Music Video of 2015: “Downtown” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
I am a lifelong Washingtonian, so I don’t blame anyone who may think I have a bit of a bias to my fellow Evergreen State peeps. However, with that being said, I have spent a lot of time around the various music scenes that the state has to offer and also tend to be a bit hypercritical of artists here in the Pacific Northwest.
You really can’t ask for two better people though to embody the spirit of Seattle quite like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis do. In their music video for “Downtown” they tug on all of our Emerald City heartstrings with cameos from beloved former Seattle Mariner, Ken Griffey Jr. catching fish Pike’s Place Market style, as well as the Gumby dance antics of Foxy Shazam’s, Eric Nally and his Freddy Mercury-esque vocals.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have been a treasure here in Washington for what seems like forever. I am just happy the rest of the world gets to enjoy these guys now too….and their awesome music videos (also props to Jason Koenig who helped direct “Downtown”).
Favorite Moment of 2015: Dashboard Confessional at Marymoor Park
I have been a Dashboard Confessional fan since I was in high school (hard to believe that’s over a decade ago), but for whatever reason, I was never able to see them live during those glory days, much like another band I finally got to see live this year, Brand New.
Being that my cousin and sometimes assistant, Tom, is several years younger than me, I am proud to say that I directed him to listening to Chris Carrabba and the gang when he hit high school age as well. Little did I know, I would create a monster.
The two of us have been lucky enough to interview Carrabba twice when he’s visited Seattle with his other project, Twin Forks, but seeing a full fledged Dashboard Confessional show was something we both had been looking forward to, to say the least. The show was everything I could have asked for as the band that inspired me so much as a teen, tore through every one of my favorite songs. It was just my luck though that the day wouldn’t end after Carrabba belted out the final words to “Hands Down”.
Tom, being the uber fan that he is, just so happened to shell out some dough earlier in the day for backstage passes for the two of us. Little did I know, it was more than just a meet and greet. What transpired in a small building on the Marymoor Park grounds was yet another concert, this time with only Carrabba and his acoustic guitar playing both Twin Forks tunes, as well as acoustic favorites from A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar.
Every time I have been fortunate enough to meet Chris Carrabba he has been nothing, but as cordial as a person possibly could be. He was battling a substantial laceration to his hand that night, yet he fought through each song, because that’s how much he cares about his fans. I have never come across another artist as genuine as he is. It was a day to remember.
2015 really was an epic year for music. I know there were so many artists that I left out and I won’t lie, I contemplated giving multiple responses for each category, but decided to stick with tradition and limit my answers to one. I would love to hear your favorite music moments of 2015 as well, so please do reach out to me on Twitter @Brandon_E (personal account) or @lemonademag. You can always comment on this post as well, don’t be shy!
Thank you to all the artists who help make Lemonade what it is and thank you to all the readers who stop by. I wish you all the best for 2016, I know I can’t wait to see what new music it has in store for us.
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine