20 Observations of the Year in Music 2015/Part 3

In Part 3 (we’re getting close, kids!) of Philly’s 20 observations of the year in music 2015…..Britney and Lady Gaga (almost) got back to being chart owning divas….OMI became this year’s Magic!…..Philly became the hottest music city in North America and finally owned a title….those “Hello” and “Hotline Bling” parodies just…didn’t….stop and Adele became musically immortal. 

1.Britney and Lady Gaga (almost) got back to being chart owning divas…..Where do we truly begin when it comes to spilling tea about Britney and Gaga? Pop divas in their own right, both gals have owned the spotlight since the minute they hit the scene, with a music ride that has included plenty of career highs…and 2007 lows, of course.

This year, both ladies have certainly returned to divadom, with Gaga owning the Oscars, Grammys and AHS Hotel, and Britney, well, seemed to be her old goofy self (and throwing all the shade at Ms. Azalea) and is currently working it out at her Las Vegas Piece of Me residency for the next hundred years. By the way, have you seen the “Toxic” diva’s dance moves lately? It’s 2003ney, bitch. 

However….while both ladies have proven to be unstoppable forces of pop culture this year, there’s just one thing missing from having them snatch all the competition’s wigs–their latest records. Gaga will be following up 2012’s messy ArtPop and Britney will be following up 2013’s even messier, Britney Jean, with both sets becoming the gals lowest selling ones and leaving bad tastes in many (okay, all of us) critics and fans mouths. As Billboard is reporting, both of our beloved pop goddesses will serve up their newest collections at some point next year, so it looks like we might getting closer to having it feel like 2008 and 1999 all over again. Because even if both pop princesses can muster up one more standout record, it will complete two journeys back to the top that will certainly feel well deserved for everyone.

See you in 2016, ladies. 

2.OMI became this year’s Magic!…..

Remember this time last year when Magic! found their number one smash, “Rude” in the top 20 of Billboard’s Year End Hot 100….and then in 2015 they were never heard from again? That’s not to say the Canadian based group didn’t have a few under-the-radar hits since then (they did), but can you name any of them? Exactly. 

Sadly, 2015 now has a new victim in the dreaded summer music memory category, Mr. OMI and his mega sun-kissed smash, “Cheerleader.” While the Jamaican pop star has released a follow-up single, “Hula Hoop,” the track has yet to take over the airwaves and land in the top spot like its predecessor. But hey, it’s all good, because both artists certainly made some dough with their respective blockbuster singles, plus they will both have a long life on VHI on any one of their One Hit Wonder specials. 

Thanks for the summer memories, gentlemen! 

3.Philly became the hottest music city in North America….and finally owned a title. 

Oh, Philly. The City of Brotherly Love tries really, really hard (harder than Jessie J!) to establish itself as one hell of a city. (no pun intended, of course).

While Philly certainly owned the map this year when Mr. Pope Francis’ breezed (lol) into town, but with all that backlash that stemmed from his visit, it actually seemed to overshadow the fact that it was, indeed, a life changing event. It also didn’t help that Ms. Tina Fey gave national viewers on SNL a glimpse into a city that the writers felt was some kind of “murder haven” during her portrayal as cousin Karen on the (somewhat) hilarious Bronx Beat sketch, where she implicated a murder at the Liberty Bell. (Ask yourself, did that line really help people see Philly in a new light? No). Oh…yes….and there is that current drama going on with our football team…does anyone know the details? 

However, all Philly truth, we must be proud of our great city because this year, Philly rightfully earned the title, Best Music City in North America, thanks to the tickets and entertainment website, Vivid Seats. Cooking up a list of the 20 best North American cities for live music, much to everyone’s delight, Philly was at the very top of that list. With factors that included the number of concerts that touched down here and the average ticket price for upcoming shows (except you, Adele)  to rank the cities, all of them being from the U.S. except for Toronto. They noted that Philly was particularly great for genres like alternative, blues, jazz, country and folk, as well as for its rich music history, which includes timeless music artists, Sister Sledge, McFadden & Whitehead, The Roots, Jill Scott, just to name an esteemed few.

Also, while this year we saw the unfortunate closures of the North Star Bar and the Legendary Dobbs (which, in its glory days, hosted then unknown bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Green Day), other venues soared like the brand spankin’ new Fillmore and The Foundry (Hall & Oates, Kaskade, Disclosure, Tove Lo, QuestLove, and that seemed to be just in one week), as well as Coda, who has recently hosted DJs Cedric Gervais, JoJo, Roger Sanchez, and Joe Jonas’ side music project, DNCE. And of course, The Roots, who perform in living rooms across the country every night as the house band on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show. Local music truth doesn’t get any more realer than that. 

So, will Philly keep its dazzling title next year? It certainly looks that way with an upcoming concert roster that includes Adele, Bruce Springsteen, Adele, Carrie Underwood, Justin Bieber, Adele and Rihanna. And looking at just January alone, places like The Fillmore, The Foundry, Coda, and even as of late, World Cafe Live and The TLA are just getting started tossing their music hat into the live music ring in 2016. 

So, take a little time to revel in this rightfully owned title, because boy, do we deserve it. 

4.Those “Hello” and “Hotline Bling” parodies just…didn’t….stop…

Sigh. As much as we would prefer not to relive all the parodies that took place once 2015’s ode to telephones–Adele’s “Hello” and Drake’s “Hotline Bling”–took over our pop culture lives, we just have to spill because it’s a trend that just did..not…stop this year. Okay, Drake can’t dance (don’t you think he knows that?), we get it. It seemed as if everywhere you looked–oh, wait, it was–there was another parody or a SnapChat of your cousin, brother, sister, grandma, putting their best stank leg forward and giving Drake’s chart topping hit their own personal take. Just stop. 

Of course, there were ALL those “Hello” parodies, but we’ll just say this–since there’s truly no time to sort through them all, Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Fallon can stay and every other “Hello” parody can have all the seats in 2015. Yes, even you, Ms. Degeneres. Just stop. And enough with the flip phones. Adele knows it’s not 2007, do you? 

5.Adele became musically immortal….

Speaking of Ms. Adele….this bitch. Not only did the flip phone owning diva destroy every chart known to man (she was probably on your doctor’s chart), but her comeback was orchestrated to perfection (thank you, Lorne Michaels), as evident in the fact that 25 has sold a whopping 7 million copies since its release…five weeks ago. 

But the one thing that truly triumphs Adele’s exit from the nursery and into our lives once again is that her previous sets-19 & 25-have both found themselves with a recent sales resurgence, which all further proves that the singer has become some kind of immortal music being while she’s still walking on this earth. It’s kind of insane if you think about, because this truly only happens when a cherished music artist is no longer with us, music case in point, the sales chart clobbering that took place after Whitney and Michael passed away. 

There’s no denying that 25 will be with us well into next year (and will most likely be the best-selling album of ’16…watch), and you know that at least one time in 2015–even for five minutes–you had an Adele moment and loved every minute of it. 

Although…those concert ticket prices. See you in September singing “Hello” from the parking lot of the Wells Fargo Center, boo. 



2015 Music Video Reel

Thanks to several music videos shattering records on Vevo this year (anything Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Major Lazer, and, oh yeah, Adele) and the unstoppable force of You Tube and all things social media, it’s safe to say that the music video is back after MTV killed it all those years ago once they took TRL off the air. 

Since our tastes are always so different, Andrew and I both put our year in music videos spectacles on and came up with six of our favorites, with just one of them making our common lists. Mr. Johns is up first for you guys, spilling it all in about “FourFiveSeconds” about his favorite music videos of 2015. 

Ready…set…Adele is not on any one of these lists. 

There were so many videos this year. Lots I never even got to (I’m looking at you Madonna, Miley, Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, Chris Cornell, Ade…okay Adele, I did get to you and your now infamous SNL Thanksgiving dinner). For all the ones I did check out, I saw a lot of dancing going on, a lot of animation and guess what? It was every bit refreshing. Sometimes we just want to be entertained on a screen for a few short moments, so from me to you…here are my top six picks for favorite music videos of 2015. 

6.Courtney Barnett/”Dead Fox”Animals driving over humans as if they’re road kill…really drives the point home with Courtney Barnett’s lyrics. Clever but also…pretty ridiculously graphic. Saturday morning cartoons gone wrong…

 5.Ezra Furman”Restless Year” Watch Ezra hang around the bay area as death follows him and he ends up transforming into a woman…

4.Major Lazer/DJ Snake/MØ/”Lean On” This video is grand and epic and beautiful in its simplicity and family-pact nature. While the lyric video is just as epic, we finally get to hang with Diplo and Mo on this one.

3.De Staat/”Witch Doctor” This video has been making a lot of lists overseas. For a band that sounds just like a Queens Of The Stone Age ripoff (I ain’t mad about it)…this video is as epic as a 300 film.

2.Bjork/”Black Lake” As mentioned in Spin, this YouTube clip doesn’t do this video justice. “Black Lake” was an installment piece at the MoMa in New York City. The audio was in 3D, you (as the audience member) stood with about 30 other people in a black room with two wide screens on either side. Bjork moved from one screen to the other,  each one showing where she moved to…at different perspectives. It was the next part that made my experience…being brought to a movie theater full of comfy red couches where you sat and watched every music video Bjork made. We laughed. We cried. We were disgusted. We had differing emotions. An audience…watching music videos…it was quite possibly the most unique communal experience I’ve ever had with art and music together. And that’s why this takes a spot on the list.

 1.Rihanna/”Four Five Seconds”
My pick for video of the year. All you need are 3 people who have no idea what they’re doing, a camera that features black and white, and millions of viewers trying to recreate it into Internet memes…myself and roommates included. Kanye’s mannerisms never get old.

Of course, my tastes in videos are a bit different (as is our taste in music, which makes it all werk), with some of my favorite divas (naturally) ruling my 2015 music video roost, and one DJ and diva who rewerked a ’90s classic this year and simply made it their own. Let my favorite music videos of 2015 get you below. 

6.Ciara/”Dance Like We’re Making Love” Can someone please explain why CiCi has stayed so underrated these past few years? After watching this sizzling video, you’ll be asking yourself the same question. Love those red Ray Bans, boo. 

5.Major Lazer/DJ Snake/MØ”Lean On” Mr. Johns said it best, Major Lazer’s visual offering for their monster offering, “Lean On,” is simply stunning and beautiful. 

4.Pia Mia/”Touch” Those dance moves, though…

3.Katharine McPhee/”Lick My Lips” 

Ms. McPhee’s cheeky video All wrapped up in handsomely slicked back gentlemen and cherry pie…lots and lots of cherry pie. 

2.Krystal Klear/Yasmin/”One Night Only” Demi Lovato/”Cool for the Summer” Both clips are loaded with ’80s neon lyfe and hair whipping for days. Do you really need anything else? 

1.Dave Aude/Jessica Sutta/”I’m Gonna Get U” Packed with so much ’90s nostalgia, it’s sort of ridiculous. Vogueing! Sheer backdrops! Fly Girl choreography! Kid N Play haircuts! It’s all here and so much more. Groove on with this one, Mr. Aude and Ms. Sutta. 




Albums of the Year/Patrick’s Picks

When it comes to the year in music, personally speaking, all I can say is….sigh….

Music truth be told, I avoided anything from”The Taylor” at all costs, The Weeknd’s record is just okay and I’m definitely not living that 25 life. (Mostly because I’m 35 and I’ve been there, done that, honey). So, really, what else is left? This year, I certainly had to do some digging to find those albums that I felt most at headphones with, so naturally my one named R&B divas (Ciara, Tamia, Janet) came to the rescue, and I did manage to hop on my private music jet and escaped to the overseas to find comfort and solace in the powerfully smooth vocals of Jess Glynne and the top-notch productions provided by Rudimental. And of course, there was lots (and lots) of delicious Hed Kandi grooves to go around all year long. Because really, how can anyone go wrong with the beats provided by the UK’s chart dominating dance label? You simply can’t. 

Ready…set….Patrick’s picks. 


10.Tamia/’Love Life’ If you weren’t making 2015 babies to Ms. Tamia’s fiery sixth record, then you clearly weren’t getting the job done right. Loaded with sass, spark and boudoir prowess, the sultry songstress simply delivers the goods, especially in tracks, “Love Falls Over Me,” “Lipstick,” “Stuck With Me” and the cleverly titled, “Sandwich and a Soda,” which is all wrapped up in that classic boots knockin’ flavor. Go on, Ms. Tamia. 

9.Robin Schulz/’Sugar’ How many times have you danced around your bedroom this year to the Francesco Yates assisted title track of Mr. Schulz’s explosive debut set? Most likely too many to count. Armed with red-hot with guest vocalists–Disciples, Akon(!), Moby(!), Sugar packs plenty of punch, but won’t give you a splitting head ache like so many dance records before it.  With a slight rock edge, Mr. Schulz still provides plenty of grooves to get you movin’ on the coveted dance floor of life, especially when it comes to his 2015 retelling of Eagle Eye Cherry’s ‘one-and-only ’90s smash, “Save Tonight,” which you should absolutely listen to right this second. And while you’re at it, dive into the rest of Mr. Schulz’s sweet Sugar set, you’ll certainly be glad you did. 

8.Marian Hill/’Sway’ One of the most brilliantly bizarre records of the year, Philly based Marian Hill’s Sway is all wrapped up in local music truth. A short, sweet seven track set laced with sexy sax breaks, wild jazz improvisations and graciously haunting vocals by Samantha Gongol, the arrangements are all over the place, but after one listen, it all makes sense. If you’re not turned on by tracks, “One Time,” “Wasted,” and especially the sexually silky, “I Got It,” call your doctor at once for some Cialis because there’s no going limp when it comes to the funky flow of Sway

7.Disclosure/’Caracal’ All truth–at first listen, Disclosure’s sophomore set was a bit of disappointment. However, after seeing the overseas beat brothers live at The Fillmore this past fall and doing their thing on Saturday Night Live (along with “Magnets” and “Omen” co-stars Lorde and Sam Smith), Caracal became just a little bit easier to get through. While a lot more hard-hitting and not-as-fresh sounding as their debut, Settle, Disclosure still manages to bring forth that funkdafied fire with plenty of top-notch guest stars and gooey grooves, including jazz legend Gregory Porter on “Holding On,” and R&B crooners Miguel on “Good Intentions” and The Weeknd on “Nocturnal”) But the true standout track is the Lion Babe owned Hourglass,” which truly takes Caracal to a more blissful dimension. 

6.Ciara/’Jackie’ You have to give some credit to CiCi this year. Although no one barely paid any attention to it, Jackie (along with her 2013’s vastly overlooked self-titled set) is a solid effort that’s loaded with top-notch producers (Dr. Luke, Missy Elliot) beats, bangers and bedroom ready grooves that only our Ms. CiCi knows how to deliver. While we know Ciara’s certainly not the strongest vocalist around, but once Jackie goodies “Kiss & Tell,” “Dance Like We’re Making Love,” “That’s How I’m Feelin,” “Give Me Love” and “Stuck on You,” start chugging along, it’s easy to hear that Ms. “1, 2 Step” is still blessed with plenty of trunk rattling power, even if no one paid attention to it. Sigh….

5.Justin Bieber/’Purpose’ How the fuck did a Justin Bieber album get on this list? The answer is simple–because it’s that good. Loaded with beats, bangers and plenty of the Biebs’ soul, Purpose is the comeback record of the year. Loaded with way more pulse than that other comeback record, Justin and his team certainly knew what they were doing when they were putting the Purpose pieces together. While not a perfect music ride, (the record’s mid section is all over the place), it’s nice to hear Justin’s confidence soar, especially on whirling bangers, “Been You,” “Get Used To It,” and three tracks that owned you and your life this year-“Sorry,” “What Do You Mean?” and his chart busting Skrillex/Diplo collaboration, “Where Are U Now.” Even your mom and grandma would agree-the Biebs is back, and judging from the sales of the record so far, we’ve loved every second of it.

4.Jess Glynne/’I Cry When I Laugh’ Is anyone paying attention to Ms. Glynne stateside? Anyone? Shame on you if you aren’t because her stellar debut is one of the most crisp records of the year. Loaded with heart, soul and that voice, Ms. Glynne knows how to deliver the music heat, no matter what beat is tossed her way. Whether on a jazzy mid tempo (“Ain’t Got Far To Go” “Gave Me Something” “You Can Find Me”) a dance floor romp (“Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself,” “Hold My Hand,” “No Rights No Wrongs”), this is one album that you need to listen to at least once before the year ends. Your headphones and your music life will thank you. 

3.Rudimental/’We the Generation’ Yet another dazzling overseas offering….that no one is paying attention to stateside. Daring UK quartet Rudimental deliver a record that takes on every genre-disco, deep house, rock, pop–and tornadoes them into making one of the most satisfying sets of the year. But the one factor that just makes this album get to werk is how carefully molded the instrumentations of each track are, as evident in the throbbing, “Rumour Mill,” the funky, “Love Ain’t Just A Word” and the slinky, “Too Cool.” And if their collaboration with Ed Sheeran, “Lay It All On Me,” doesn’t have you checking your purse your music life, Philly Mixtape certainly doesn’t know what will.

2.Janet Jackson/”Unbreakable’ While we’re going to have to wait until the spring (?) to see these tracks live, (most of them) are certainly good enough to help pass the time while we wait for Ms. Janet to recover from her, um, surgery. Now, is Unbreakable the best Janet album of all time? Absolutely not. But is it an album that satisfied her fans thirst after waiting seven years for a new record? Most certainly. Whether on the dance floor (“BURNITUP!,” “Night”), in the bedroom (“No Sleeep,” “Damn Baby) or tugging at your heartstrings (“After You Fall,” “Lessons Learned), Unbreakable is a ride that hits every Janet sweet spot. But that’s all we’ve ever longed for since 2008’s disappointing Discipline, isn’t it? 

1.Hed Kandi/Dusk Til Disco Overseas dance record label Hed Kandi delivers yet another shimmering compilation (really, aren’t they all?) on their 2015 offering, Dusk Til Disco, which is nothing short of absolute perfection. Loaded with bedroom beats, after hours grooves and moody melodies that will make you feel it here, there and everywhere, there’s a reason why Hed Kandi has, um, topped Philly Mixtape’s Albums of the Year list two years in a row. You’ll certainly find all the answers in the glowing Oliver Nelson remix of Route 94 and Jess Glynne’s “My Love,” the strobe-lit extended mix of Random Soul’s “Catch Me,” and the bouncy flavor of Soledrifters’s refire of Jeff Daniels and Twyla’s “Next to Me,” as well as in each and every one of these disco strewn ditties.

Until next year, kids!