Best Music of 2015

"Hello... it's me... I was wondering... if after all these years, you'd like to meet to go over anything."

Those are the lyrics to the hit 2015 song "Hello" by Adele. It's the lead single from her third studio album 25. It became her fourth, number-one single on the Billboard charts. It broke several records. It had over a million digital sales in a week. Her video, directed by Canadian-French filmmaker Xavier Dolan, achieved over 27.7 million views within one day, beating Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." The video also broke the Vevo record of reaching 100 million views in 5 days, which is the fastest any video has reached that many views. The video is also the first to be filmed in the IMAX format. The single has since been certified quadruple platinum.

It's probably safe to say that people will associate the word "hello" with Adele and no longer with Lionel Ritchie. Once Adele's album was released, it sold 3.38 million copies in its first week. It broke the record set in 2000 by N'Sync with the album No Strings Attached, which sold 2.4 million copies. Adele's 25 was also the most pre-ordered album in the history of Amazon.

Because "Hello" was released in November 2015, it's ineligible for consideration for awards until next year, which is why Adele's name was left off the nominations for the 58th Grammy Awards. We'll hear her name in 2016 for the 59th Grammy Awards, especially with regard to the first, three categories, the three top categories, but until then, we'll wrestle with other artists.

For Record of the Year, the nominees are "Really Love" by D'Angelo, "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran, "Blank Space" by Taylor Swift and "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd.

For Album of the Year, the nominees are Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes, To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar, Traveller by Chris Stapleton, 1989 by Taylor Swift and Beauty Behind the Madness by The Weeknd.

For Song of the Year, the nominees are "Alright" by Kendrick Lamar, "Blank Space" by Taylor Swift, "Girl Crush" by Little Big Town, "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth and "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran.

This gives you an idea of the major artists at play. Lamar is the most recognized at 11 Grammy nominations. Swift and The Weeknd are next in line at 7 nominations. Swift will probably sweep the awards show, but really the only artist for which I'm rooting is Jazmine Sullivan. Her album Reality Show is nominated in the R&B categories, and it is by far one of the best of the year.

Not being a music critic but a movie critic, the only category for which I care is Best Song Written for Visual Media. It's the Grammy category that directly relates to the category of Best Original Song at the Oscars. In fact, the song, which won the Oscar this year "Glory" by Common and John Legend from the film Selma, is also up for the Grammy. It faces two songs from Fifty Shades of Grey, the Lady Gaga song from The Hunting Ground, as well as "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa, a tribute to the late Paul Walker from Furious 7.

Besides songs from films, actual films got Grammy nominations too. Typically, the films are documentaries about musicians. This year's nominations are Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown, Sonic Highway, What Happened, Miss Simone?, The Wall and Amy.

The better category is Best Music Video. The nominees are "LSD" by A$AP Rocky, "I Feel Love" by The Dead Weather, "Alright" by Kendrick Lamar, "Bad Blood" by Taylor Swift and "Freedom" by Pharrell Williams. Swift's video is a lot of CGI explosion with a lot of female guest stars. The Dead Weather's video is just a lot of wind. Lamar's video is probably the most topical, addressing police shootings. A$AP Rocky's video and Williams' video are the two most visually interesting.

While Zayn Malik left the boy band One Direction, Janet Jackson and Missy Elliott returned to the music scene. Jackson dropped a new album and Elliott dropped a new single. I was so impressed by both that I included both on my list of the Best Music of 2015. Elliott's new song is part of a list of 30 songs, which come mostly from albums that weren't my favorite but had tracks that stood out. The rest are albums that really are in total irresistible to me.

Best Music of 2015...

Best Folk / Country

CARRIE & LOWELL by Sufjan Stevens
I LOVE YOU, HONEYBEAR by Father John Misty
I CAN'T IMAGINE by Shelby Lynne
THE FIREWATCHER'S DAUGHTER by Brandi Carlile
FADED GLORYVILLE by Lindi Ortega
WILDER MIND by Mumford & Sons

Best Rock / Alternative

SOUND & COLOR by Alabama Shakes
ART ANGELS by Grimes
YOURS, DREAMILY by The Arcs
IF I SHOULD GO BEFORE YOU by City and Colour
DEEP IN THE IRIS by Braids
VAMALA by Champs
THE DESIRED EFFECT by Brandon Flowers
RUN by Awolnation

Best Pop / Electronic

RATCHET by Shamir
REBEL HEART by Madonna
SUNDAY DINNER by Keath Mead
FOAM ISLAND by Darkstar
MILEY CYRUS AND HER DEAD PETZ by Miley Cyrus
COMMUNION by Years & Years
SOFT CONTROL by Laura Welsh

Best R&B / Soul

REALITY SHOW by Jazmine Sullivan
25 by Adele
WILDHEART by Miguel
LOOK CLOSER by Saun & Starr
UNBREAKABLE by Janet Jackson
BLOOD by Lianne La Havas
YOU SHOULD BE HERE by Kehlani

Best Rap / Hip Hop

TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY by Kendrick Lamar
SURF by Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment
WHITE MEN ARE BLACK MEN TOO by Young Fathers
EAT PRAY THUG by Heems
HAVE A NICE LIFE by Murs
THE ALBUM ABOUT NOTHING by Wale
GOLDEN TICKET by Golden Rules

Best Singles from non-listed albums

"Shine" and "River" by Leon Bridges
"Fine on the Outside" By Priscilla Ahn
"WTF (Where They From)" by Missy Elliott featuring Pharrell Williams
"Shake It Off" by Ryan Adams
"I Put a Spell on You" by Alice Smith (cover of Nina Simone)
"Cheating on Me" by Kwabs
"Bridgebuilder" and "Precious" by JD McPherson
"Bug" by Boxed In
"Baltimore" by Jazmine Sullivan (cover of Nina Simone)
"Dedication" by Jamie Woon
"What is Love" by V. Bozeman
"Sequential Circuits" by Panda Bear
"Play for Today" by Belle and Sebastian
"You Can't Hide A Light With the Dark" by Bill Ryder-Jones
"Wild Bush" by Howlin Rain
"All in Cahoots" by This is the Kit
"When You Comin' Home" by Gretchen Peters
"CeeLo Green Sings the Blues" by CeeLo Green
"Young Blood" by The Districts
"Roll Call" by Elbow
"The Woods" by Angel Haze
"Darling" by Active Child
"Blessed the Brave" by Lizz Wright
"Million $ Show" and "June" by Prince
"Rhythm of Auld" by Julio Bashmore
"Keeping Me Alive" by Bob Moses
"Too Bad, So Sad" by Metric
"The Fade" by Lizzo
"You Got to Learn" by Raphael Saadiq (From "Da Sweet Blood of Jesus")

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