Adaora’s Top 5 of 2015

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As 2015 ends, we, as consumers of mass media and pop culture, will always take the time to look back on the year’s most important moments. I, as someone who listens to the same albums from 1994 and watches the same shows over and over again, can’t quite remember what happened this year. I do know, however, that it was a pretty rad year for music. Things were happening in all genres, from trap (the release of Future’s DS2 in July) to Southern rock (Alabama Shakes’ Sound and Color). The albums I will list are by no means the best albums in musicality, but were albums that came out this year that I personally enjoyed. So, here is a shortlist (not in any particular order) of albums from 2015 from someone who kinda sorta didn’t pay attention.

Odd by SHINee – Odd Eye, Romance

I tend to refrain from including Kpop in my regimen as a “music journalist”, but ain’t nobody messing with Odd, the fourth Korean-language full album from five member boyband SHINee. Most songs by Kpop groups are exported from production teams somewhere in Scandinavia, but this time, SHINee looked to well-known American producers like The Underdogs and British rookie production crew LDN Noise to create a record with a balanced mix of throwback R&b-based electronic pop. “View” almost sounds like something that would chart over here in the states, showing SHINee’s consistent eye on trend. Odd is sonically strong as an album in the Korean idol music industry. While there were a couple tracks that could have been done without, songs like “Romance” (a tranquil new jack swing track), Odd Eye (suave synthy soul) and the aforementioned “View”.

Ego Death by The Internet

“Ego death” is a Jungian psychological term meaning “a complete loss of subjective self identity”. The Beatles themselves messed with this concept in the creation of trippier albums like Yellow Submarine. Although the Internet is a band, they are no Beatles, meaning that they find their musicality in the heart of jazzy soul. The title of the album is almost ironic because this 3rd studio album sees the stylistic strengthening of their music. I like to call the Internet a grown Odd Future, focusing more on tight neo-soul than offkilter rapping.“Under Control” hears the cooing vocals of frontwoman Syd tha Kid pacing along a trudging bassline, MIDI keyboard lines and funk guitar riffs, assuring a companion that things are just alright. That’s exactly how the listener feels when listening to this package of RnB. It’s soft and easy going almost like…a pillow of groove. Ego Death made a great summer album for me.

Currents by Tame Impala

I reviewed Currents earlier this year, actually quite unexpectedly. I still feel like I gave it a MUCH higher review than it deserved, because Currents did not shine like prior Tame Impala albums. However, Currents is all around a fun album, jumping between groovy funk to glossy pop. lead singer Kevin Parker’s attempt to create a mainstream Tame Impala. In fact, “Past Life” almost sounds like it could have been sampled into Travis Scott’s Rodeo (more about that album later), as a hip-hop inspired track. I liked this album because its attempt to break out of the box Tame Impala has been in, while appealing to the masses.

Ratchet by Shamir
Shamir’s Ratchet is the perfect amalgamation of house, dance-pop, hip hop and soul for the age of the Twittersphere. My favorite track on this album has to be “On the Regular”, a fastpaced foot stomping track. Being Shamir’s breakout track, he introduces himself in this song, rapping “Hi, hi, howdy, howdy, hi, hi!”. As soon as Shamir spits that alliterative verse, you’re hooked. This song basically replaced Azealia Banks’ “212” for me on my playlist for its cool mix of hip house and rhyme. This is coming from someone who had bumped “212” for at least 3 years. I loved this album because of its sassy worldliness in a time where we needed it the most. Witty and sharp-tongued, Shamir Bailey delivers as an avant-garde pop artist on “Vegas”, a slinky track about the city “[that’s] alright”.

Rodeo by Travis Scott

I ended up listening to a lot more rap than I did last year and I am glad about that. I’m not exactly the biggest hypebeast (I own like four pairs of sneakers, tops), but I was just as hyped for the release of Rodeo as every teenage boy who remembers screaming the iconic “Antidote” lyrics “IT’S LOWKEY AT THE NIGHT SHOW” at every party this summer. Funnily enough, this album came out at the beginning of September, so I did most of my 1st quarter homework to Rodeo. Many might be familiar with Jacques Webster (Okay, familiar with Travis Scott, his stage name) from his production work on Kanye West’s and T.I.’s album, but this isn’t any 808s and Heartbreaks copy. Travis Scott’s first studio album is built off of important collabs from Toro Y Moi to Justin Bieber, which is an apt display of Scott’s diversity. This variety is shown on my personal favorite “90210”, an interesting trap ballad.

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Adaora’s Top 5 of 2015