These ten releases soared around the middle of TUA’s year-end lists – good (and sometimes great), but definitely not the best of the year (see 2014 list here).
30. Madonna – Rebel Heart
Despite being a commercial disappointment, ‘Rebel Heart’ from Madonna became her best release in a decade. The Grammy-award winning singer worked with Diplo, Alicia Keys, and MNEK to craft some of her biggest hits on her thirteenth album. Madonna helmed most of the album’s production as always, giving her strength in songwriting ample time to shine.
29. Tame Impala – Currents
‘Currents’ by Tame Impala became a huge indie hit from their “Cause I’m A Man” hit. The Australian band’s third album topped electronic charts and featured a more R&B-meets-electronic sound. The beats on Tame’s latest featured much more intricacy than previous releases, and opened their unique sound up to many new audiences.
28. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
The long-awaited debut from Courtney Barnett hit alternative airwaves like a truth serum for its indie youth listeners. ‘Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’ features real-life scenarios over traditional rock arrangements and showcased her true ability to craft pop gems. ‘Sometimes’ was also the driving force behind the rocker’s very first Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.
27. Dr. Dre – Compton
‘Compton’ by Dr. Dre became an epic comeback of two sorts. First, it marked the rapper-producer’s release response to the long-awaited and repeatedly scrapped ‘Detox’ project. And secondly, it became the soundtrack to the box-office hit ‘Straight Outta Compton’, which was largely based on his life and rise to fame.
26. Fall Out Boy – American Beauty, American Psycho
Every album by Fall Out Boy makes them more of a household name. ‘American Beauty, American Psycho’, the sixth project by the American band, became iconic just after its first two singles “Centuries” and “Uma Thurman”. The album left behind such a legacy within pop music that the band remixed the entire project featuring all hip-hop artists as a gift to their fans.
25. Raury – All We Need
It only took one mixtape (‘Indigo Child’) for Raury to get an international publishing deal with Columbia Records. The Atlanta native continued his fusion of R&B and hip-hop on his debut album, which featured the likes of Big K.R.I.T. and RZA. Raury’s also kept the momentum for ‘All We Need’ very high, as he’s been releasing videos for each song nearly every month since its release in October.
24. Joss Stone – Water For Your Soul
Joss Stone underwent a reinvention into the world of reggae this year that worked wonders in her favor. On her seventh studio album ‘Water For Your Soul’, the singer enlisted Damian Marley to help give her voice a new sound. The two previously worked together on the 2011 collaborative project ‘Superheavy’, but their unique productions together evolved even greater for Stone’s latest solo project.
23. Jodeci – The Past, The Present, The Future
On the heels of their comeback release, Jodeci’s ‘The Past, The Present, The Future’ was heralded as a strong moment for R&B this year. The lead single “Every Moment” impacted urban charts nearly all spring, and kept them in the spotlight for most of the summer. Album standout “Body Parts” featured West coast rapper Mila J and gave them their first club anthem in over fifteen years.
22. Adam Lambert – The Original High
Adam Lambert’s third album ‘The Original High’ marks his first release since completing his anthemic tour with legendary rock band Queen. The lead singer from Queen (Brian May) appears on ‘High’ and continues their musical marriage. Despite the Queen influences, most of Adam’s third album takes an R&B approach to pop songwriting.
21. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
While ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ has earned the number one spot on many critics’ best of the year lists, Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore set places him at the forefront of hip-hop. The album features quite a bit of jazz and funk, which steers ‘Pimp’ away from traditional rap releases into more nostalgic territory. The album is solid and influential overall, but doesn’t match the energy of his (even more praised) debut.