2015 turned out to be a big year for women in pop music and the mainstream music industry. From Taylor Swift to Adele, these female superstars filled the majority of our radios, entertainment news shows and social media feeds. Despite their massive fame, they weren't the only female artists to have a good year. Familiar stars Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande and Sia produced and came out with an album each, to establish and further their artistic directions. Newer artists such as Tove Lo, Tori Kelly and Halsey entered the pop and indie scene with even more catchy tunes.
With the spotlight on female artists this past year, I want to acknowledge those who produced incredible yet underrated albums that probably slipped past your radar because we were too busy freaking out about another music video Taylor Swift uploaded. Most of the albums fall into the pop category, but I'm sure there will be something that appeals to your interests!
1. Carly Rae Jepsen - Emotion
Oh, hey, it's "Call Me Maybe" girl! Yeah, that's her and she's back with an album that almost immediately became my favorite album of 2015. No artist stealthily snuck her tracks into the pop world better than Carly Rae Jepsen. In Emotion, she takes that 80s sound you all love and transforms it into tracks that sound like they hail straight from my parents' college years. Many recent EDM pop tracks contain a lot of 80s-inspired instrumentals as seen in Taylor Swift's 1989. However, what sets Carly Rae apart from other 80s influenced albums such as 1989 is the instruments utilized that give her album a much larger 80s vibe.
I recommend her if you're into Katy Perry, 80s pop, or synthpop (She implements several varieties of pop, which makes the album an enjoyable listen for, really, anyone who likes pop music even in the slightest).
Favorite Song: "Emotion"
2. Lianne La Havas - Blood
U.K. artist Lianne La Havas blesses us with her second studio album Blood. Like many artists, especially female artists, Lianne La Havas' first album received generally positive reviews, but only from a music composition standpoint. In terms of artist direction it seemed uninspired. With the release of Blood we're able to hear more of her sultry voice which contrasts beautifully with the occasional guitar riffs in her songs.
I recommend her if you're into Janelle Monae, Solange, R&B, or soft rock.
Favorite Song: "Green and Gold"
3. Ivy Levan - No Good
It's been such a long time since we had a voice like Ivy Levan in the music world. I actually found out about her from of a friend who wanted to show me a music video she found from Ivy Levan's most well known song "Biscuit." I was hooked by her powerhouse of a voice. She also came out with a Christmas album this past year, and let me tell you her "Carol of the Bells" cover is nothing short of incredible.
I recommend her if you're into Christina Aguilera, Jessie J, or soul & pop fusion music.
Favorite Song: "Champagne Taste"
4. Willow Smith - Ardipithecus
You read that right. Willow pulled a Beyoncé and dropped an album no one was expecting. She drops the pop music hit "Whip my Hair" for a more experimental style, which works surprisingly well with her booming vocals. She also wrote every song on the album herself, and they're extremely powerful. While the album was negatively criticized for its absurdity and sound, there's no doubt Willow was inspired during the production of Ardipithecus (pronounced 'är-də-ˈpi-thə-kəs').
I recommend her if you're into Rihanna, alternative, or experimental pop.
Favorite Song: "Organization and Classification"
5. Bea Miller - Not An Apology
The album as a whole screams teen youth. It's the kind of album you play while driving on the highway at night with the windows down. Not An Apology, appropriately named, is packed full of songs that present Bea Miller's confidence and talent in the best ways possible. Her evident rock influences help distinguish her from other pop artists, and it's only a matter of time and experience until she fully breaks free of the manufactured pop star image and into an established artist.
I recommend her if you're into Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, or Bridgit Mendler.
Favorite Song: "Fire and Gold"
6. Jess Glynne - I Cry When I Laugh
She may have not been relevant to your musical palette in 2015, but I Cry When I Laugh was the number one album in the U.K. and with good reason. If you've heard the name you probably know Jess Glynne from her hit with band Clean Bandit "Rather Be." We all liked the song "Rather Be." Who could turn away from the optimistic instrumentals, notably that violin that plays during the intro of the song? This time, the most prominent instrument is the piano which she incorporates into pop music that makes you want to dance in your room and sing into a hairbrush.
I recommend her if you're into Sia, Ryn Weaver, or Kiesza.
Favorite Song: "Don't Be So Hard On Yourself"
7. Justine Skye - Emotionally Unavailable
You may be asking yourself, "Who?" Well, you're about to find out so don't close the page yet. The album, inspired by her breakup with her last boyfriend, exudes an empowering tone. Her poetic lyrics portray the boldness in both her voice as well as the lyrics. So, while you're waiting for Rihanna's album go listen to Emotionally Unavailable.
I recommend her if you're into Rihanna, Tink, Nicole Scherzinger or soul & R&B fusion music.
Favorite Song: "Bandit" or "I'm Yours"
8. Hilary Duff - Breathe In. Breathe Out.
Yes, I'm serious. Our girl Lizzy McGuire, I mean, Hilary Duff graced us with her first album in eight years. Her light, fun and carefree tracks make for what TIME magazine calls "mindless pop," and that's not a bad thing. Sometimes, we just need music that will make us feel happy and energetic. Just breathe in, breathe out, and sing some generic pop tunes. There's no sin in that.
I recommend her if you're into Bonnie McKee, Jessica Simpson, Taylor Swift or mid 2000s pop music.
Favorite Song: "Lies"
9. Melanie Martinez
Alternative pop with dark undertones, Melanie Martinez sings the story of a deranged and dysfunctional family in her debut album Crybaby. Her fame and popularity as a contestant from The Voice allowed her to explore the many, many facets of pop music. Then, she made it her own and established her direction as an artist, and for that I applaud her for that.
I recommend her if you're into Lana Del Rey, Halsey, or the dark wave genre.
Favorite Song: "Sippy Cup"
10. Julia Holter - Have You In My Wilderness
The music is orchestral. Her voice? Reverberant. Have You In My Wilderness is so beautifully constructed that it was easy to love this album considering I am not a huge fan of the indie genre. I find most indie songs too slow for my tastes, but the experience I had listening to her album was the same as listening to an audio tape of Holter's stream of consciousness.
I recommend her if you're into Yael Naim, indie music genre or ambient music.
Favorite Song: "How Long?"
11. Jazmine Sullivan - Reality Show
I've never heard of Jazmine Sullivan until a couple weeks before I decided to put this list together, and I'm so happy to have found her. She's bringing R&B back and making it her own. It's not 90s R&B; it's 2015 R&B! (Well, 2016 technically). The album harnesses so much more than just a singular genre: rap, disco, pop, and soul. Each song brings out some unique stylization of one of the previously stated genres. I'm surprised more people haven't heard of her but then again I'm one to talk.
I recommend her if you're into Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, or 80s music.
Favorite Song: "Let It Burn"
12. Florence and The Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
How beautiful is this album? To be honest, the last time I listened to Florence and The Machine was when "Dog Days Are Over" played on every radio station. She shows off her beyond amazing vocal range in every song. Coming back and listening to this album, my eyes were opened to raw vocals with gospel preaching lyrics. Instead of waiting for a bass drop, you wait for Florence's voice accompanied by anything for a guitar to a harp
I recommend her if you're into Kate Nash, Lily Allen, Ellie Goulding, or Baroque pop.
Favorite Song: "Queen of Peace"
13. Grimes - Art Angels
Can I use the word paranormal to describe the style of Art Angels? Is there such a genre as "paranormal electro pop'? The music is bouncy and full of pop while also simultaneously containing synth sounds that give off a creepy vibe. Don't let the album cover scare you away. Grimes' possesses an impressive vocal range, and I asked myself while listening to certain points in the album if it was the same person singing.
I recommend her if you're into Björk, Charli XCX or electronic pop.
Favorite Song: "World Princess part II"
14. Janet Jackson - Unbreakable
Who knew? I didn't know she still made music, but I'm not complaining. I'm a giant fan of Janet Jackson. She's back and brought her signature voice, ranging from powerful hip hop to smooth R&B. For just $7.99 you can buy her 19 track album. Let me just repeat that. For EIGHT DOLLARS you get NINETEEN JANET JACKSON SONGS. You can't even buy a decent meal at Panera Bread with $7.99. This is truly a great time to be alive.
I recommend her if you're into Mary J. Bilge, Jennifer Hudson, TLC, or R&B.
Favorite Song: "Night"
15. Samsaya - Bombay Calling
Last but certainly not least, Samsaya. Born in India but raised in Norway, Samsaya's voice is no doubt one of a kind. Who knew that Indian-inspired percussion mixed with pop synth could combine to create great sound? This is her second album since 2004, and it's evident that Samsaya has managed to keep up with the times, knowing what beats are catchy and what kind of lyrics to get stuck in our heads. She's a hidden gem in the crazy world that is the pop music industry.
I recommend her if you're into Becky G, Karmin, or Kesha.
Favorite Song: "U & Me" (with "Bombay Calling" being a very close runner-up)
All of these albums can be accessed and listened to via YouTube or Spotify, so check them out! Cheers to a 2016 that will bring us more fabulous female music artists!