If you’re a fan of country music, then you’ll want to check out this guide to the 10 best contemporary country musical genres.
Adele – 25
Adele’s new album, 25, is a stunning return to form. The singer’s voice is as powerful and emotive as ever, and the production is top-notch, with Adele’s trademark soulful sound augmented by some subtle electronic flourishes. The result is an album that feels both classic and modern, and it’s easily one of the best releases of the year.
The album’s first single, “Hello,” is a heart-wrenching ballad that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Adele’s vocal performance is simply stunning, and the song’s lyrics are incredibly moving. The rest of the album features a mix of uptempo and midtempo tracks, all of which showcase Adele’s incredible vocal range. Highlights include the anthemic “Send My Love (To Your New Lover),” the gorgeous “Water Under the Bridge,” and the soaring “Skyfall.”
25 is a masterfully crafted album that showcases Adele at her very best. If you’re a fan of her previous work, or even if you’re just a fan of great music, this album is essential listening.
Taylor Swift – 1989
Taylor Swift’s fifth studio album, 1989, is her first “official” pop album, and it’s a doozy. There isn’t a single weak track on the album, which is impressive given that it’s a whopping 13 tracks long. The production is top-notch, the songwriting is clever and catchy, and Swift’s vocals are as strong as ever.
If you’re a fan of any of Taylor Swift’s previous albums, you’ll love 1989. If you’re not a fan of her previous work, this album probably won’t convert you, but it’s still worth a listen. And if you’re not a fan of pop music in general, well, I’m not sure what to tell you. This album is pop perfection.
The album kicks off with “Welcome to New York,” a thumping, anthemic track that sets the tone for the rest of the album. From there, we’re treated to the upbeat, synth-driven “Blank Space” and the gorgeous ballad “Style.” “Out of the Woods,” “All You Had to Do Was Stay,” and “Shake It Off” are all radio-ready hits, while “I Wish You Would” and “Bad Blood” are slightly more subdued but no less enjoyable.
And then there are the two stand-out tracks: “Wildest Dreams” and “This Love.” “Wildest Dreams” is a gorgeous, sweeping ballad that sounds like something out of a classic Hollywood film. It’s one of those rare songs that actually lives up to the hype surrounding it. “This Love” is an equally beautiful track, but it’s more understated than “Wildest Dreams.” It’s a quiet moment of reflection amidst all the chaos of the album, and it’s absolutely stunning.
In short, 1989 is a near-perfect pop album. It’s incredibly well-produced, expertly written, and flawlessly performed. If you’re even remotely a fan of pop music, you need to check this album out.
Sam Smith – In the Lonely Hour
Sam Smith’s “In the Lonely Hour” is a hauntingly beautiful album about the pain of unrequited love. The UK singer/songwriter’s voice is gorgeous and emotive, and his lyrics are deeply personal and relatable. The production is sparse and understated, allowing Smith’s voice and lyrics to take center stage.
The album opens with the stunning “Money on My Mind,” a catchy, soulful track that sets the tone for the rest of the album. “Good Thing” is a gorgeous ballad about wanting someone who is unattainable, and “Stay With Me” is a heart-wrenching plea for love and companionship. “I’m Not the Only One” is a standout track about being cheated on, and “Leave Your Lover” is a beautiful piano-based ballad about leaving a toxic relationship.
In the Lonely Hour is a stunning debut album from an incredibly talented artist. If you’re a fan of soulful, emotive music, this album is definitely for you.
Ed Sheeran – x
If you’re a fan of Ed Sheeran, then you’ll love this album. It’s a great mix of his older and newer style. I really enjoy the production value on this album as well. The songs are catchy and will definitely get stuck in your head. My personal favorites are “Photograph” and “Thinking Out Loud.” Overall, if you’re a fan of Ed Sheeran or just looking for some good music to listen to, I would highly recommend this album!
Meghan Trainor – Title
Meghan Trainor’s “Title” is an excellent album that I highly recommend. There are a few songs on this album that are not appropriate for younger children, but overall it is a great album with a lot of catchy tunes. My personal favorite tracks are “All About That Bass,” “Lips Are Movin,” and “Dear Future Husband.” If you’re looking for some new music to add to your collection, I definitely recommend checking out this album!
Hozier – Hozier
If you’re looking for an artist who is unafraid to take on social issues and sing about them with passion, Hozier is your man. The Irish singer-songwriter’s self-titled debut album is packed with songs that tackle everything from religion to relationships, and he does it all with a voice that is both powerful and gentle.
Hozier’s lyrics are often dark and thought-provoking, but there is also a sense of hope and possibility running through the album. The opening track, “Take Me to Church,” sets the tone for the rest of the album with its references to organized religion and its criticism of those who use it to justify hatred. But despite the heavy subject matter, the song is also incredibly catchy and will stay stuck in your head for days.
Other standouts on the album include “Someone New,” a beautiful love song with a haunting edge to it, and “Work Song,” a bluesy ode to the working class that will make you want to get up and dance. There is also a cover of Nina Simone’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” which perfectly showcases Hozier’s soulful voice.
If you’re looking for an album that will make you think, feel, and maybe even dance, Hozier’s self-titled debut is definitely worth checking out.
Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear
Sia’s new album 1000 Forms of Fear is an amazing work of art. It is a perfect blend of her unique voice and powerful lyrics with beautiful melodies. The tracks are moving and will stay with you long after the last note has faded. This is an album that I will cherish and listen to over and over again.
D’Angelo and The Vanguard – Black Messiah
It’s been a long time coming, but D’Angelo and The Vanguard’s Black Messiah is finally here. And it was worth the wait.
Black Messiah is a return to form for D’Angelo. After a 14-year hiatus, the R&B singer/songwriter/producer is back with an album that is equal parts soulful and funky.
The album’s first single, “Really Love”, is a perfect example of what to expect from Black Messiah. The song is a slow burner that builds to a falsetto-filled climax. It’s sexy, it’s sensual, and it’s sure to get your heart racing.
But Black Messiah is not all about slow jams. There are also up-tempo tracks like “The Charade” and “Sugah Daddy” that will get you moving. And then there are the ballads, like “Betray My Heart” and “All Along The Watchtower”, which showcase D’Angelo’s amazing vocal range.
No matter what type of music you’re into, there’s something for everyone on Black Messiah. This is an album that is sure to please fans old and new.
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
It’s been nearly three years since Kendrick Lamar released his last album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, and in that time, the Compton MC has become one of the most celebrated rappers in the world. His new album, To Pimp a Butterfly, is a masterful work of art that cements his place as one of the greatest rappers of our generation.
To Pimp a Butterfly is a dense and complex album that requires multiple listens to fully appreciate. Kendrick touches on a wide range of topics, from police brutality and systemic racism to self-love and empowerment. The album is sonically adventurous, drawing from jazz, funk, and soul to create a unique and unforgettable soundscape.
Kendrick is at the top of his game on To Pimp a Butterfly, delivering knockout punchlines and thought-provoking lyrics with equal precision. There’s not a weak track on the album, but standouts include “King Kunta,” “Alright,” and “The Blacker the Berry.”
If you’re a fan of hip-hop, or simply looking for an amazing album to add to your collection, To Pimp a Butterfly is an essential purchase. Kendrick Lamar has once again delivered a masterpiece.
Tame Impala – Currents
Currents is the third studio album by Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala, released on 17 July 2015 by Interscope Records. Produced by frontman Kevin Parker, the album was preceded by the release of two singles: “Let It Happen” and “Cause I’m a Man”. Like its predecessor, Lonerism (2012), Currents features a more prominent use of synthesizers than Tame Impala’s earlier work, with Parker saying he had attempted to make a “pop record”. The album explores the themes of change and transformation, with Parker saying he wrote it as he felt himself going through a personal change.
Critical reception to Currents was largely positive, with many critics praising its experimental nature and Parker’s songwriting. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 84, based on 35 reviews. Several publications included it in their lists of the best albums of 2015. Currents debuted at number one on the ARIA Albums Chart and peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 in the United States. It was also nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 58th Grammy Awards.
In May 2013, Tame Impala announced they would be playing at various festivals around the world over the next few months. They also announced that they would be performing at Glastonbury Festival 2013 and that Kevin Parker would be producing Migos’ debut album Yung Rich Nation. On 9 November 2013, Parker announced on Triple J that work on a new album had begun, saying “I’ve started recording new stuff and it’s sounding really good so far.” In February 2014, Parker hinted that the new album would sound very different from anything else the band had done before, saying “It sounds like me taking everything that I’ve loved about music and turning it into something that I think is cool.” He also said that he was aiming for a more musical and less personal album than Lonerism.
In June 2014, Tame Impala announced they would be headlining Lollapalooza Brazil in Sao Paulo. In an interview with NME in August 2014, Kevin Parker said that he had been working on new material for three years and that there was “lots of songs” already written. He also said that he was hoping to have the album finished by early 2015. On 18 March 2015, Tame Impala announced via their Facebook page that the new album would be called Currents and would be released on 17 July 2015. The same day, they released the lead single from the album, “Let It Happen”. On 26 May 2015, they released the second single from the album, “Cause I’m a Man”.
On 17 July 2015, Currents was released worldwide as scheduled. Upon release, Currents received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 84, based on 35 reviews. The aggregator website Acclaimed Music lists Currents as the fifth most acclaimed album of 2015. Writing for AllMusic, Neil Z. Yeung praised Parker’s songwriting and production, saying “The result is a gorgeous pastel-coloured psych-pop masterpiece that further cements his place as one of modern music’s most visionary artists.”