December is probably my favorite month of be year. This is not just because Christmas has always been my favorite holiday; it is also because it is time the perfect time for reflection. It’s the right time to look back on the year that was and celebrate what made that year so great. And while 2015 has actually been a catastrophic year in the world of politics and social justice and things are only getting uglier in those fields, it’s been a whirlwind year in entertainment And that’s what I’m here to look back on. I will take up three weeks this month to look back on my favorites in entertainment this year; and since I am FearlessRiOT, it will all obviously be in countdown form. Last week, I tackled my favorites in pro wrestling, this week I’ll tackle music, and next week will see me take on acting, along with the bonus field of celebrities on social media. Hope you enjoy this week’s installment!
This one was not an easy one to do. When it come to women in music in 2015, it was actually not a bad year in most cases. Two artists were able to sell loads of albums (and they both named those albums number, no less), and they both made it on this list. The women of country music were deduced to a sexist food analogy earlier this year by a radio programmer, but a few ladies managed to notch hits anyway. Once again, one and only one female rapper captured the attention of the masses. And even though I wanted to refrain from any cop-out tactics such as this, the #10 on my list happens to be a tie between two artists that only released a trio of singles this year, albeit to massive hype. And even with that tie, I had to make some painful cuts. You’ll see who they are in the honorable mentions, but you’re likely just gonna read the main list anyway. Go right ahead; the top ten female singers I was jamming to this year.
#10. Rihanna & JoJo
I tried not to do any ties, but I made an exception this time because both Rihanna and JoJo have one thing in common this year: they both released a grand total of three songs (assuming you overlook the Home soundtrack). JoJo made fans like myself happy by releasing what she referred to as a tringle entitled III., and hopefully this is the start of something new for her. Meanwhile, jokes about when Rihanna will drop a new album have gone around all year, and while “BBHMM” and “FourFiveSeconds” were both hits, I hope the full album is out in 2016.
#9. Kelly Clarkson
Around the time Kelly Clarkson released her latest studio album, Piece by Piece, a few people who should know better decided to overlook her music and poke fun at her weight instead. But Clarkson would not allow such negativity to spoil her life or her success. The fact remains that Clarkson still has the voice that put American Idol (which is ending next year) on the map to begin with, and she always puts those pipes to good use. This year, she did that by performing covers at her concerts and knocking them out the park every single time. Hell, she can even make Tinder profiles sound like enjoyable music.
#8. Alessia Cara
Sometimes I can jump the gun in determining which singers who only have one hit so far is going to be a huge star in popular music. Despite this, I would still love for Alessia Cara to stick around. Yes, “Here” is her only charting single to date and yes, Four Pink Walls is her only studio album to date. But she has a lot going for her that gives me the feeling that she deserves to be a star, and obviously I’m not the only one. In 2015, she netted both a Soul Train Award nomination and a Taylor Swift co-sign. May more hit singles come for the 19-year old newcomer.
#7. Sabrina Carpenter
Hey, don’t roll your eyes at me, reader! I never expected to list a sixteen year old from the Disney Channel on a list of my favorite female music artists in 2015. But given how tired and electronic most music on Top 40 radio was getting, listening to the girl famous for playing Maya Hart on Girl Meets World sing over music that is actually instrument-driven for the most part seems like a not-so-bad change of pace. She released her debut album Eyes Wide Open on Hollywood Records this year and her earworms got a decent amount of exposure on music outlets. You may have also seen her cover of Adele’s “Hello”. Speaking of Adele…
She’s back and she had us at hello…..literally! The English songbird has been missing in action since 2011’s 21 and the world has been begging for her comeback. But you know what; sometimes a break is necessary to churn out some good music, and in the case of Adele, it definitely paid off. 25 was released in November and completely obliterated almost every music record imaginable by selling over 3 million copies in its first week alone. Along with that, lead-off single “Hello” was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a number of weeks. Music is definitely better with Adele around!
#5. Lauren Alaina
So far, I’ve talked about the returns of JoJo and Adele, but how about the comeback of country cutie Lauren Alaina? She hadn’t released an album since her post-American Idol debut Wildflower, but in the meantime, she did release a Christmas song and an upbeat, catchy single on iTunes. But in 2015, she returned to the music landscape proper with a self-titled EP that included the country radio single “Next Boyfriend” and the ESPN College Football-promoted pop track “History”. And keep in mind that all of this is prep for the eventual release of the SWAK host’s sophomore album.
#4. Ellie Goulding
At the beginning of the year, I had no idea that Ellie Goulding had plans to release an album this year. Early in 2015, she released the single “Love Me Like You Do” from the movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, a song that was actually kind of beautiful despite the icky subject matter of the movie. But later in the year, Goulding released the single “On My Mind”, along with the accompanying music video, ahead of the release of her third album Delirium. She also had a few featuring credits in 2015, including appearing on Calvin Harris’ “Outside” and Major Lazer’s “Powerful”.
#3. Demi Lovato
We can debate the merit of Demi Lovato‘s albums all day; she’s still one of the most popular singers on the pop music world today. And apparently, that’s not just with her legions of Lovatics either. Billboard Magazine’s Rulebreaker of the Year received praise from many musicians after her performances on Saturday Night Live this year in support of Confident, her latest album in which she has taken an ambitious and much sexier turn with her image. And she’s turned up everywhere to promote it, from the VMAs to the iHeartRadio Music Festival to a promotional mini-pool party tour.
#2. Taylor Swift
Of course she made the list. I am very outspoken about my Taylor Swift fandom, and this year was one of the biggest of her career. Despite the fact that she was a presenter on award shows in 2015 more than a performer, she always lit up the room when she was there. She even premiered the action-packed music video for “Bad Blood” at the Billboard Awards, subsequently shooting the song up to #1 on the Hot 100 chart. (She was also #1 on the Maxim Hot 100, but that’s a minor note.) She also garnered hits in “Wildest Dreams” and “Style”, and earned seven Grammy nods for 2016.
#1. Kacey Musgraves
I’ve praised Kacey Musgraves a ton already on this site in the past; bear with me as I do it yet again. There was the album review as well as the country singers on-the-rise list. This year, one of the most ambitious women in country music netted nominations (and a performance) at the CMA Awards, and even though the “Biscuits” singer didn’t win a damn thing, it’s nice to still see her up for those accolades. Pageant Material is now a Grammy-nominated album and despite the ridiculous lack of radio airplay she gets, she’s already explained on the album that she’s gonna do her own thing while everyone else does them.
Nicki Minaj has made plenty of headlines this year, whether if be for calling out the VMAs for snubbing her video, calling out Miley Cyrus at the VMAs for the former Disney star’s tomfoolery, or dropping a Tidal-exclusive music video with Queen Bey. Never a dull Nicki moment.
Lately, I’ve been hearing people hyping up numerous female musicians out of the blue, like Halsey or Melanie Martinez or Lana Del Rey. But why is no one hyping up ZZ Ward? She’s just as amazing as those other three; her latest E.P. has me hungry for a sophomore album.
Tinashe must really want a Video Vanguard Award someday, because it seems like she comes out with a new music video every other week. And they’re all well done, but what a grind she must be one to pump them out. Gotta prepare us for the next era, I guess.
Tamar Braxton had one of my favorite R&B songs of 2014 (despite Future‘s presence), and this year she followed it up with a full-length album and a tragically-ended Dancing With The Stars stint. And she also has two reality shows on the WE Network, because the Braxtons are the Kardashians done right.
Ballerini was recently honored with Billboard’s Rising Star Award at the Billboard Women in Music Awards, and she deserves such an honor for being successful in country music in an era of the genre that hasn’t been all that kind to the ladies.
Last year, Carrie Underwood released her very first Greatest Hits album; a year later, she released a brand new album entitled Storyteller and returned to her schedule of going to the top of the country charts when her single “Smoke Break” hit country radio.
Which female singers/rappers did you have on repeat in 2015? Hit me up on Twitter @FearlessRiOT or leave a comment below. Stick around for more Year-End Top 10s!