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20 Observations of the Year in Music 2015/Part 2

In round two of Philly Mixtape’s 2015 year in music observations…..Taylor Swift destroyed Instagram and friendships with her #squadgoals…your mom fell in love with Justin Bieber again….all those comeback divas owned our 2015 music lives……tropical house music delightfully turned our frowns upside down all year long……and then there’s Azealia Banks. 

1.So many comeback divas……

Madonna! Adele! Janet! Missy! It seemed like everywhere we turned this year, there was another one our cherished divas striking back to claim her comeback throne. While no diva comeback was as (literally) earth shattering as Ms. Adele’s wild ride back to the top, each one our beloved music goddesses certainly earned her big ass gold hoops in the ring this year, especially you, Ms. Missy. 

Early on, Madonna (finally) pounced with her twelfth studio album, Rebel Heart, and although her return to form was certainly a slippery stair in the beginning, the Material Girl’s accompanying Rebel Heart Tour has proved to be a huge hit, as well as many individuals performances of songs from the shows, including her heart wrenching take of “La Vie en Rose” that took place during a stop in Stockholm right after this year’s horrific Paris attacks. The Kleenex grabbing performance certainly proved that Madonna still knows how to soothe the world with her music, right when we need her the most. 

Ms. Janet’s comeback also proved successful, but of a much smaller scale being Ms. “If” mostly shied away from the spotlight (with appearance at this year’s BET Awards being the only time she popped up) but still snatched a sexy number one album, Unbreakable, and launched its successful accompanying world tour. This only further proved that wherever Janet goes, her fans will certainly follow. See you in February, boo. By the way, where’s that video for #BURNITUP with Missy? We’re waiting…

Speaking of Ms. Elliot, we’ll just say this, for those of you kids out there who had no idea who she was when she stole the show, oops, performed alongside Katy Perry and Left Shark at this year’s Super Bowl halftime extravaganza, you certainly know who she is now. #WTF 

If only Rihanna would’ve stopped fucking with Anti, Britney would’ve ditched Iggy Azalea altogether (because, “Pretty Girls”) and Gaga would’ve finally delivered a gleaming follow-up to her dismissed 2012 ArtPop set (let’s face it, AHS:Hotel isn’t doing her any justice…even with the Golden Globe nod), this would’ve been the year of all the comeback divas. (No shade to Cher, we all know she never leaves).

However, we’ll certainly take the ladies that had us checking our purses for our music lives in 2015, because let’s face it, this year just wouldn’t be the same without them. 

2.You (yes, you) fell in love with Justin Bieber again….

Speaking of comeback divas, looking back to this time last year, did you think ever think you would be all about the Biebs again just one year later? Because you most certainly are. In fact, the whole world is at this point. 

Kicking things off with an appearance in Tom Hanks,’ err, Carly Rae Jepsen’s video for “I Really Like You,” Bieber soon became besties with Jack U-aka Skrillex and Diplo–and cooked up “Where Are U Now,” which became an unstoppable summer smash hit for all artists involved. The island laced ditty not only helped in putting Bieber back on the music charts, but it also made us fall in love with “What Do You Mean?” and “Sorry,” two back-to-back #1 pop dance floor smashes from his current chart owning Purpose set. In fact, to date, Justin’s well received new record has already sold a million copies and isn’t looking to be slowing down anytime soon with his Purpose World Tour set to kick off at the top of next year. 

While Justin’s ride back to form wasn’t a smooth one–those Calvin Klein underwear ads! And does anyone really know why he cried after his performance at this year’s VMAs? Oh, yes, and there was also that time his dick pics leaked out and his father did make those bizarre comments. However, that’s just a, um, small part of what’s been a great music industry comeback story to tell for years to come, because make no mistake-the Biebs is back. But that’s all we’ve ever wanted in the first place, isn’t it? His fans–and most certainly some new ones–would certainly agree. 

3.Tropical house had us all living that hammock ready life this year….

While this year offered up a mixed bag of genres all over mainstream radio-pop, rock, R&B, Fetty Wap-there was no genre quite as 50 Shades dominant as the dance music genre of tropical house. From DJs Kygo (his fruity take on a-ha’s “Take On Me” is music life) Felix Jaehn (OMI’s “Cheerleader”) to anything Justin Bieber, tropical house just aimed for radio and succeeded in every way possible in having us sit back, relax and just…..let it all go.

Even more fabulous is that now that we’re heading into those dreaded winter months, the umbrella laced grooves of 2015 will sound even more delightful, especially the ones provided by UK dance label Hed Kandi on their whirling Tropical House set. One romp with this breezy record in your headphones, and you’ll think you’re in the Bahamas in no time. Let’s hope this robust music trend continues next year, because in today’s crazy a#s world, we could all use a little tropical house music to magically transport us into another dimension. 

4.Taylor Swift…..

……just didn’t stop. Pretty much all the way until Adele served us with “Hello” on October 23rd (act like you don’t know the date), Ms. Swift was just…everywhere. Whether it was snatching awards, owning the top spots on ALL Billboard charts (“Blank Space” is the #1 Billboard Hot 100 song of the year), rotating special #squadgoals music guests on stage during her box office destroying world tour, or becoming frenemies with Nicki Minaj, everyone’s favorite 1989 songstress just took the spotlight and made it her bitch. 

Now, back to those now infamous #squadgoals. Swift certainly set those standards high when she served us all with her heavily rotated video for “Bad Blood,” which featured a buffet of Taylor’s besties, including Selena Gomez, Lena Dunham and Hailee Seinfeld. This sudden trend of perfecting your “squad” not only drove every girl and gay to check their lives on Instagram, but it seemed to just never stop. However, now that there’s just a few days left in the year, the time is now to check your final #squadgoals life, because much like Swift’s 1989 record, it’s time to give it a much-needed rest next year. 

Hey, at least she’s got the best-selling album of 2015, right? On second thought….

5.Azaelia Banks just needs to shut the f#$k up and stop. 

No need to rehash all that drama, so, please, Ms. Banks, for the love of 2016…..just stop. 

Although this Barry Harris remix of “Ice Princess” will certainly do and then some. 

 

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5 Reasons Why “Lean On” Is Truly the Best Song of 2015

It’s almost time to close out another year (can you believe it??), which means it’s time to put together those coveted playlists of your favorite tracks of 2015. Philly Mixtape is betting its golden headphones that two lovely ladies by the names of Adele and Taylor (and one comeback kid named Justin) will most likely be at the top of year-end playlists all across the music globe as we get ready to say, um, hello to 2016. 

One song that will certainly be on everyone’s year-end playlists is Major Lazer’s beaming dance offering, “Lean On,” which features stand out vocals from Swedish pop diva, MØ. Pieced together by Major Lazer (which consists of Jillionaire, Walshy Fire, and one time Philly native DJ, Diplo) with assistance from DJ Snake (“You Know You Like It,” another monster single this year) who helped craft the beat and guide MØ’s penned lyrics to fit, plain and simple-“Lean On” is just that groove. 

Ask your cousin in the fourth grade or your aunt whose house you’re going over for the holidays, and they’ll tell you that there wasn’t at least one time this year that “Lean On” came on the radio and they didn’t move for their music lives. Although it was released in early March, Major Lazer’s spaced out dance ballad not only wound up becoming one of the biggest singles of the summer, but of the year (Billboard also recently named it as their favorite dance single of 2015 ), which have all helped establish Major Lazer’s whirling tune as a true mainstream music highlight. 

However, Philly Mixtape is going to ante up the volume a little further and actually go on record to say that “Lean On” is truly the best song of the year, and has five other reasons why to prove this music hypothesis, including one that snatches the wig off of any other song released in 2015…..any. 

Hit the funkdafied floor and dive into Philly Mixtape’s conclusions below, and think about it, how many times has “Lean On” given your spin class new life in 2015? Go. 

1.That beat though….

While every part of “Lean On” is a tasty music treat, its sticky groove is what makes it stand out among any other radio song released in 2015. No shade to the dance music genre of tropical house, which was all over mainstream radio this year (Kygo, OMI, anything Biebs), but Major Lazer proved that a deep electronic groove could still fair well on the charts and that the Grammys got it all wrong with their recent Best Dance Recording snub. 

With its equal parts almost haunting synths and plugged in Western dancehall vibe–which are topped to perfection by MØ’s unforgettable vocal cantor–whether you’re working it out, cruising in your car or hitting the coveted dance floor of life, the infectious beat of “Lean On” is going to grab you, take a hold of you and have its delicious way with you. 

But what makes “Lean On” even more thriving (as if that were possible) is its breathtaking accompanying video, complete with bountiful backdrops of India, Ms. MØ in all her glory, and Diplo dancing for his life. Priceless. 

2.It’s Spotify’s most streamed song…ever. 

Hey, 526 million streams can’t be wrong, right? 

3.It’s a rare breed of songs that never seems to feel played out….

Usually when a song is streamed that many times, radio is taking it and making it its bitch…hello, “Hello.” Why “Lean On” is now a certified monster radio smash (which helped carry it to number four on the Billboard Hot 100), it’s got the kind of musically magnetic pull that will take you in with every listen, armed with a groove that succeeds every time in giving the listener life when they want to escape theirs for a few delightful moments. 

Major Lazer didn’t just cook up the best song of the year, but “Lean On” also gives bridesmaids all over the world another choice besides “Like a Prater” to dance to at all future weddings. 

4.Its lyrics cut deep on the dance floor..

While “Lean On” is carved out as a bouncy banger, its lyrics are deep, meaningful and full of sweet sorrow (“Do you recall, not long ago/We would walk on the sidewalk? Innocent, remember?All we did was care for each other”) about loved ones and friends we’ve parted with ways with down the twisted road of this thing called life.

Hey, there’s no denying it, sh#t gets real sometimes with all of us, but as we long as we have grooves like “Lean On” to help guide us along, it makes it all just a little easier to wade through. 

5.Because there’s truly only one MØ….

Picture it–Diplo offered a reggae inspired version of the track to both Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, who politely said “bye” to his music prospect. Lucky for us, he eventually went with MØ, because any other diva on the track just wouldn’t make sense. Certainly after her Iggy Azalea/Saturday Night Live debacle, err, performance, the quirky singer has rightfully deserved her time to shine. Besides being finally known on the radio, Iggy’s “Beg for It’ co-star has also become a regular on the festival circuit, where she has worked it out to own the spotlight while help “Lean On” become the little/big song that most certainly could this year and then some, and for that we’ll all be forever grateful. 

 

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Philly Mixtape Music Tea/ Le1f

Sitting in a tent with the air conditioning on us (we’re in the glamping area and yes…I hate the word too) I ask Le1f if he’s ready for an interview. He’s calm and collected after having performed in front of thousands less than an hour ago. My buddy DJ Javascript has just performed with him, reeling from the high, getting us started for another different kind of high. Le1f and I take the time to discuss his experience as a producer and our love for Bjork. It’s his calmness, shyness (not to be confused with his confidence) that carries throughout the time I spent with him on that particularly iconic day:

PM – Where are you from these days?
Le1f – (laughs). I’m from Harlem.

PM –  How was your first Firefly Festival experience?
Le1f – I thought it was very well received.

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PM – How did you get your start as an entertainer?
Le1f – I was a child dancer. Went to a prep academy which also helped shape me as an artist.

PM – And you produce too?
Le1f –  Yes. I started in Fruity Loops like some of my peers in the computer labs at school, then transitioned into Logic and making my own sounds. I collaborated a lot with Boody where we tried to have a different process for every song. Javas (Javascript) and I have known each other since we were in the same town.

PM –  Who have been some of your biggest influences shaping you as an artist today?
Le1f – Emotions in art and in music. And art. Especially art. Don’t forget art.

PM – You do seem very in tune with you surroundings and projection as an artist. That’s a rare gift to have and even more rare to see these days. What about artists?
Le1f –  Aaliyah and most definitely Bjork.

PM –  I actually went to the Bjork exhibit at MoMa in New York. Fell in love with the experience sitting there in the theater with everyone watching her music videos. It was so cool.
Le1f – I loved that as well…those couches in the theater, it was like a playpen. I love her outfits in those videos. Every one of them are so different.

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PM –  What have you been most excited about being here other than performing at Firefly?
Le1f –  My friends. Bear Hands and Lizzo. I’m really excited to see them perfom.

PM – So what can we expect from you next?
Le1f –  Clarity in my vocals.