When it came to chart-topping records, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, and Beyoncé slayed it in 2015. The only problem is, all of their albums actually came out in 2014 (but this definitely proves their staying power). When investigating the best albums of 2015, it’s extremely clear that it was a male-dominated year, which is why we’re turning to an amazing crop of talented women to guide us through the year in music. We love the boys, but sometimes you just need a fresh female perspective, and these women definitely have music worth diving into.
In Savoir Flair’s round-up of the top 10 albums of 2015 by female artists, we’ll introduce you to some new indie acts, some old favorites, a pop star undergoing a personal revival, the resurrection of Janet, and more.
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
by Courtney Barnett
While Courtney Barnett is not yet a household name in our region, the rest of the world is going absolutely crazy for her debut full-length album, Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit. The Australian singer-songwriter certainly has a way with words, and her critically-lauded album is rife with clever turns of phrase and vivid imagery. There’s a reason why Rolling Stone placed her album in its top 10 of the year, and it has plenty to do with her wit, storytelling, and jangly guitar-driven tracks.
Janet Jackson is back, but she’s going by just “Janet” now. This powerhouse pop star dropped her last name and made it onto the charts in 2015 with her single “No Sleeep” (yes, she prefers the extra ‘e’) featuring J. Cole off of her new album Unbreakable — which happens to share the same name as her brother’s final album. We’re so glad to see Janet back and better than ever, with an album filled with personal tracks that break the mold of all her previous efforts.
Björk, the prodigious Icelandic experimental musician, is at it again with her ninth studio album, Vulnicara. Her stunning ambient album comes as the result of a collaboration with Venezuelan producer Arca and British musician The Haxan Cloak, and features gorgeous string arrangements, strange melodies, eery harmonies, and more. While this album chronicles the peaks and valleys of a romantic relationship, its scale is so large and sweeping that the musical soundscape completely overtakes the “plot”, creating an artistic work so lush, dense, and compelling that it easily garners repeat listens.
A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons
by Little Simz
Although Little Simz is a relative newcomer to the field of hip-hop, she’s already dropped eight mixtapes in three years, but A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons is her first studio full-length album. At the age of 21, Little Simz is already one of the most cunning female rappers in the game, spitting rhyme with cool disdain over deep, tonal beats. She is an absolute force to be reckoned with, and has been compared to the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator, and Drake — which is insanely good company to be in. Not only is Little Simz a dynamic creative talent, but she’s also carving a name for herself as a style icon in her home country of Great Britain.
by Ellie Goulding
Ellie Goulding‘s third studio album, Delirium, saw the English singer/songwriter expand genres from EDM to include more pop-oriented sounds. Goulding is having a phenomenal year, with her song “Love Me Like You Do” reaching number five of the most played songs of 2015 on Spotify. If you want to break out of your workout rut, Goulding’s energetic album has plenty of tunes that will get your body moving.
by Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen is a pop artist who unapologetically wears her emotions on her sleeve, yet she has a distinct knack for capturing those moments where love begins to bloom, or where heartbreak starts. On her latest album, Emotion, Jepsen turns to the repetitive pop devices she’s so well-known for, and though we’re reluctant to fall for such tricks, we can’t help but admit that “I Really Like You” has been stuck in our head for months.
by Selena Gomez
Although media speculated endlessly about Selena Gomez‘s hiatus in 2014, it turns out she wasn’t in rehab or nursing a broken heart after her epically public break-up with Justin Bieber. The young actor and singer was diagnosed with lupus, and had to undergo chemotherapy — a fact which puts a big underscore through the title of her new album Revival. With this album, Gomez makes her own lane, one that is familiarly pop-y, but unexpectedly sincere, signifying a confident new persona for the talented artist.
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
by Florence + the Machine
Artists have spent centuries exploiting their own pain for creative gain, and none are so adept in today’s music world as Florence + the Machine, who crafted the most perfect and perfectly sad post-break-up album ever, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. They say wallowing isn’t good for you, but Florence’s sonically gorgeous despair draws us deeper and deeper into her world of sorrow, which is both beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. It takes a very talented songwriter to get us to emote on such a real level, even when we weren’t sad to begin with.
With Art Angels making it on to nearly every ‘Top Albums of 2015’ list around the world, it’s safe to say that Grimes is at the peak of her career right now. Her lushly arranged, challenging beats are backed by her incredible talent for production and her breathy baby whispers that make you hear things that aren’t even there. Art Angels sounds sweet on the surface but bubbles with angst and mystery beneath. Definitely put this on your list of albums to check out, if you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to it already.
Many people have attempted to #breaktheinternet, but few have gotten as close as Adele, whose video for her single Hello, off her new album 25, garnered a staggering 27.7 million views in a single day (to put that in context: that’s seven million more than T-Swift had the first day Bad Blood was released). The much-anticipated studio album from everyone’s favorite ballad singer broke all expected records, and she’s on pace to have an even better 2016 with a sold-out world tour.