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!
Of all my Year-End Top 10s on music, this is probably the most diverse one. The female singers list is admittedly mostly a pop and country list while the male artists list is all country and R&B/hip-hop singers. However, this list contains artists from the rock, metal, country, alternative, and pop genres. And you know me: I love my diversity when it comes to music, so I’m glad that I was able to make a list that’s not so limited in it’s choices. Hopefully you agree with at least a few of my choices; and if not, I hope you at least enjoy reading about why they made it on. So without further ado, let’s look at those music collectives that shined in music over the last twelve months.
#10. Pop Evil
This band (with the lead singer who somewhat looks like he could be related to new WWE Champion Roman Reigns) almost missed out on making the list due to the fact that I’m actually pretty new to them. But they’re not a new band by any means; they’ve been around since the 2000’s and I’m just really late. They made my weekly Top 20 for the first time this year with the single “Footsteps”, one of the biggest mainstream rock hits of the year on the Billboard charts. I recently checked out more of their music (including recent single “Ways to Get High”); and luckily for them, it was enough for me to grant them a spot on the list.
#9. Slash, Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators
This is one band I wasn’t sure should count as an actual band seeing as Slash is still primarily a solo artist and Myles Kennedy is very much still the lead vocalist of Alter Bridge. However, the collective of these two plus the Conspirators have released two consecutive studio albums with each other, so I assume it’s safe to consider them a band at this point. And their recent album World on Fire sure had some jams on it, whether it be the energetic “World on Fire” or the meaningful Top 10 Billboard Mainstream Rock hit “Bent to Fly”.
#8. Florence + The Machine
This also counts as a band, right? Sure, Florence Welch is pretty much the only spotlighted member and kind of always has been, but I’m pretty sure that the “machine” has some human beings in there, correct? Anyway, Florence + The Machine came back big with the single “What Kind of Man”, followed by a brand new album titled How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, which contained more of Florence’s beautiful alternative sound as continually heard on the VMA-nominated “Ship to Wreck”. And yes, her music videos are still as fun to watch as you remember them being.
Grammy-Winning band Halestorm released their third studio album, Into the Wild Life, this year. From that album, they ended up with three top ten hits on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart: “Apocalyptic”, “Amen”, and the recent release “I Am The Fire”. And boy, did those songs rock! Add in the fact that they also have legions of hardcore fans and admirers, and it is evident Halestorm are no strangers to success. Frontwoman Lzzy Hale was selected as Revolver’s #1 woman in hard rock and metal music and is also open for collaboration as her work with David Draiman, Corey Taylor, and Lindsey Sterling show. It’s also rumored that she sings Dana Brooke‘s entrance music; sounds more like Ash Costello to me.
I saw Echosmith live this year with my little sister. When I first heard them, they came across as a very poppy band who just happened to play instruments. But after that concert, I came to the realization that Echosmith does in fact rock pretty well in person. The former VH1 You Oughta Know artists broke out in 2014 with the Top 20 hit “Cool Kids”, and in 2015, they followed that up with the enjoyable little acoustic Top 40 track “Bright”; And Echosmith became so well-known, lead singer Sydney got to perform on stage with Taylor Swift on the 1989 Tour twice!
#5. Fall Out Boy
Even though I wasn’t sure if I would miss Fall Out Boy when they took time off after their Folie à Deux album, I must admit that I am fortunate to have Fall Out Boy around again for a couple of reasons: 1) They’re one of the only rock bands left that get airplay in the Top 40 format anymore, and 2) Their new music, while poppier than before, is infectious in the best way. They ended last year with the Big Hero 6 anthem “Immortals” and gained two big hits in 2015: “Centuries”, which WWE used to promote Smackdown’s 15th anniversary, and one of my personal favorite songs of the year, “Uma Thurman”. Oh, and “Irresistible” was the Extreme Rules theme song, too. (I can find a wrestling reference anywhere.)
#4. Little Big Town
Little Big Town are nominated for numerous Grammy Awards next year and they won most of the trophies at the CMA Awards earlier this year. While Karen, Kimberly, Jimi, and Phillip were already one of country’s most successful modern groups, 2015 put them on another plateau due in large part to one song in-particular: “Girl Crush”. A beautiful, controversial single that manages to make jealousy not seem lie the ugliest thing in the world, became far and away their biggest hit to date. And it comes from an album that also includes other tracks, such as the album’s summery title track “Pain Killer”.
#3. Fifth Harmony
I wasn’t really 100% sold on 5H immediately. I watched them on X-Factor in 2012, so I already knew Camila, Lauren, Dinah Jane, Ally-Brooke, and Normani were all amazing singers. However, up until this year, I hadn’t heard a song from them that I really, really enjoyed. But they won me over with their hits “Worth It” and “Sledgehammer”, as well as Reflection album tracks like “Everlasting Love” and “We Know”, and the Hotel Transylvania 2 track “I’m In Love With A Monster”. Hopefully Billboard’s Group of the Year and the Latina Magazine cover girls will keep up the momentum in 2016.
#2. In This Moment
What a year In This Moment vocalist Maria Brink has had; not only has the metal goddess garnered a Top 10 Billboard Mainstream Rock hit with featured vocals on Papa Roach’s “Gravity”, but her band has also charted a few songs on that very same chart this year, including “Sex Metal Barbie” and “Big Bad Wolf”. But again, Loudwire’s Rock Goddess of the Year is part of a band who has kept busy with live shows this year, including their own Spring tour and appearances on tour with Five Finger Death Punch and the aforementioned Papa Roach, as well as the appearances on the Loudwire Music Festival and the televised Rock on the Range show.
#1. Maddie & Tae
Remember how much of a frenzy “Girl in a Country Song” caused when the bro-country-challenging song and video were released in 2014? Well, the two girls behind it, Maddie Marlow and Taylor Dye, didn’t go away after one song, and that’s a good thing. Not only was their follow-up single “Fly” also a chart success that deserved all the attention it got, but their much-praised debut album Start Here reached the Top 5 of the Billboard 200 album chart, “Girl in a Country Song” won the CMA Award for Video of the Year, got humorous again in “Shut Up and Fish”, and the duo can officially say that they exist in the Boy Meets World/Girl Meets World universe.
I heard of this band thanks to the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. This band has a space theme to them and it’s present in their 2014 single “My Demons”, which is a simply amazing track. And the rest of their music, including “Halo”, is really, really good. Give them a listen.
I’m putting them here as a recommendation as well; I first heard of lead singer Mixi through Fuse’s Redemption Song, and I loved her song “I Miss Those Days (Ghost)”. So imagine my curiosity when I found out she’s now in a hard rock band that keeps stepping up their game.
While Fifth Harmony made the main list, I’m only giving their British counterparts an honorable mention. Truth be told, “Black Magic” was some damn fine pop though, and the girls in the group are admittedly amazing vocalists.
The only reason they’re not on the list is because their album, originally set for a November release date, got pushed back until next year. Their one release since winning their first Grammy back in January was “Live Forever”.
Sevendust has been going since the 90s and they haven’t lost a step. Lead singer Lajon Witherspoon still uses his voice as a powerful instrument and the music still rocks hard as ever; the song “Thank You” went Top 20 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart and Top 10 on my weekly Top 20.
Don’t act like you don’t remember this band. They’re not as prominent as they used to be in the mainstream, but they’re still swingin’. And honestly, I really enjoyed their collaboration with Maria Brink, “Gravity”; nope, his “rapping” in there doesn’t bother me that much.
Which bands, duos, and groups 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!