5. Carly Rae Jepsen, Emotion
Amazing songs, exceptional production and some surprisingly left-field choices (songs like ‘Warm Blood’ frequently make pleasingly little effort to focus on a song’s more commercial, on-trend possibilities), somehow Carly Rae Jepsen quietly ended up making this year’s 1989.
Unlike Swifty, though, this pop star doesn’t possess the same gimlet-eyed need to succeed and dominate, and subsequent accusations of a bland and unfocused ‘persona’ only confirmed the lack of a feminist ideal in a time when this word is bandied around as loosely as a Drake meme.
Emotion has at least 10 incredible tunes with intimate and heartfelt performances by Carly Rae Jepsen to match – a joyous record.
4. Miley Cyrus, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz
Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz can be surprisingly sensitive in places and predominately mid-tempo songs like ‘Bang My Box’ and ‘Space Boots’ are ladled with melancholia and don’t sound quite as you might expect.
In a year of five-minute tidal exclusives versus ‘you will buy my album, I don’t care if you pay for streaming’, Miley Cyrus beyonced an eccentric but strongly realised album with minimal fuss for zero pence which anyone with an internet connection can listen to.
She continues to piss the right people off and many still won’t bother to listen. For someone who grew up with Madonna this is a familiar story and like the gnarly icon herself, Miley Cryrus is far from done.
3. Chvrches, Every Open Eye
The Scottish trio have effectively made the third, brilliant Yazoo album, the one that the 80s synth-duo never got around to finishing.
With tight and upright melodies, shiny and exhilarating electronics and with Lauren Mayberry’s regional accent punching out its many kiss-offs, Every Open Eye builds on what was promised on their 2013 debut and delivers a near flawless, start-to-finish album of perfect pop songs.
Chvrches has honed the art of making huge records that sound like the past and the future colliding.
2. Lana Del Rey, Honeymoon
The oddest pop-star of them all, Lana Del Rey reduces her trademark lyrical tics and sound stylings down to a sticky and claustrophobic pitch-black potion consisting of, you got it, sex, drugs and good-for-nothing fellas.
Honeymoon is Del Rey’s most honest and hardcore artistic statement, with only brief snatches of camp (the most commercial song here, ‘Salvatore’, rhymes soft ice cream with limousines) to lift the funereal mood.
No longer as needy and musically accommodating as before, Lana Del Rey continues to baffle, but ultimately proves she is in a league of her own, demanding to be taken seriously.
1. Grimes, Art Angels
The irritating thing about having Grimes as my favourite album of the year is that you’re going to see it a lot, topping similar 2015 selections.
Admittedly it was only released just over a month ago, so will I still be playing it with such regularity come the summer of 2016? I don’t know, maybe not, but Art Angels is only now becoming a close companion as opposed to the overwhelming addiction I’ve gladly succumb to for the last six weeks.
Its influences can be heard all over its 14 tracks. Dolly Parton, Kelis, Madonna, pop producers The Matrix, J-pop, PC music, trance – all of if bleeds out of Claire Boucher’s mind and heart but never does she sound more like herself than here.
Out of the all albums I’ve anticipated this year, this was the one that set my pulse racing more than any other – no one knew what the new Grimes would sound like but we knew that it would be very special.
Art Angels is a not only a massive artistic accomplishment, Grimes also wrote, produced and played everything on it herself. It sounds exactly like thrilling, otherworldly pop music in 2015 should.
Last but not least, make sure you save some space for these five honourable mentions of the last 12 months.
Class Actress, Movies – the only record you need to hear this year that has associations with Giorgio Moroder.
Monika, Secret in the Dark – best disco reinvention of 2015
Bjork, Vulnicura – an astonishingly raw and frequently devastating return to human behaviour.
Julia Holter, Have You in My Wilderness – too much to take in initially but the beauty is real.
SOPHIE, PRODUCT – sounding like a tin foil Anglophile Britney ‘JUST LIKE WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE’ is the ballad of the year. The rest is tinnitus-inducing filth.