Time for my annual fool’s errand at Surviving the Golden Age. I was 5/10 last year in terms of listing albums that were eventually released (and one of those was Pharrell’s album, so let’s call it 4/10 and forget that ever happened). Ultimately this list is a fun blender of wishful thinking, overreaction to the Twitter rumor mill, and albums that I feel like I “should” be looking forward to, if only to give the list some legitimacy.
2015 finds us at solid 3-year interval from 2012, the best year for music in a while. That means we’ll almost definitely be getting albums from Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar (spoiler alert: they’re on the list) and possibly getting albums from Beach House and Tame Impala. In this post-Black Messiah world, anything’s possible. Janelle Monae has dropped hints about a huge project that could “drop at any time,” and that would certainly be #1 on this list if I just felt a little more confident. But it’s dangerous to make too many absurd guesses. Ultimately, placement on the list is at least subconsciously affected by my own confidence in the album actually being released this year.
Speaking of 2012 being great, how was 2014 musically? I’m lukewarm on it. While there were certainly some albums worth enjoying, it really felt like there was a dearth of huge musical events. It wasn’t so much disappointing as it was boring. Real Estate is a wonderful little band, but the amount of times I played that album this year is fairly symbolic of 2014 in general: completely fine but rarely very inspiring. But this stuff ebbs and flows, and part of me feels that 2015 is going to justify 2014’s mediocrity and come at us hard.
Grimes was on my list last year. Then she threw out her whole album, started anew, and now we’re here, I guess. In the meantime, she released “Go,” a song I initially detested but have since developed the ability to tolerate. Despite it all, she remains a fascinating, talented artist whom I will pretty much follow anywhere.
9. Dan Deacon
Dan Deacon doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Consider him the underdog of this list. I revisited his 2012 album America this summer, and it is a complete delight. Although I can’t say I’m in love with his first single, “Feel The Lightning,” I’m still hoping his newest, Gliss Riffer (due in February), will earn him the appreciation he deserves.
Okay, we aren’t talking about underdogs anymore. Adele’s reputation is (rightfully) flawless, so it’ll be intriguing to watch her follow up what was one of the biggest commercial smashes of…ever. In the time since 21, she’s been in a long-term relationship and become a mother. We’ll have to wait and see how her artistic vision has changed in the past few years.
7. Panda Bear
Panda Bear’s “Mr Noah” was one of my favorite singles of the year. His past two albums are among my favorites of their respective years. In three weeks I’ll realize I’ve put this album way too far down on this list.
6. Frank Ocean
I loved Channel Orange back in 2012, and although I can’t say it’s an album I revisit frequently, Frank Ocean remains a wonderful person to have in music. He has a great voice, he chooses great projects, and nothing is ever made worse with the presence of Frank Ocean. In 2015, we’ll get to see him attempt to surpass his 2012 hit.
5. Tame Impala
Just a heads up that these next two entries are basically pipe dreams. Kevin Parker is extremely vague about his future projects, and never plays new songs at shows, so it’s hard to tell whether or not we’ll actually get anything from Tame Impala in 2015. That said, if we do, whatever they make is an instant candidate for album of the year.
4. Beach House
Same goes for Beach House. New Beach House seems more likely than new Tame Impala, given the intervals of their past output, so I’m fairly confident I’ll be playing new Beach House in the next 12 months. They’ve put out four fantastic albums and I’m more than ready for a fifth.
3. Kendrick Lamar
I still haven’t really wrapped my mind around “i”, which is pretty bad, because that single dropped a while ago. Nonetheless, I can’t wait to see how Kendrick follows up GKMC. My gut is telling me that “i” wasn’t really that great at all, but that shouldn’t necessarily worry us when it comes to Kendrick. He makes albums. He writes stories. He’s not really about the singles. If he sticks to his masterful knack for storytelling, I’m sure I’ll be writing about his album for my 2015 best-of list.
2. Kanye West
Whatever Kanye cooks up in 2015 will be interesting. I’m at a point where I’d even welcome an interesting failure from him at this point. He continues to evolve in surprising ways through each album. Even though it’s only been 18 months since Yeezus, but music has still changed a lot in that time. I’m excited to see the way Kanye pushes pop music forward in 2015.
1. Run The Jewels
Run The Jewels are no longer just a fun little side project for El-P and Killer Mike. It’s a full-fledged dynasty. As long as they keep make exciting albums, I’ll keep highly anticipating everything they make. RTJ2 continues to play for me, even a few months after its release. It deserves every accolade that has come its way on year-end lists. But all this hype around RTJ2 can’t cause us to forget the beauty of their first go-round in 2013. If they can nail a third album (in three years, no less), it’ll be one of the most impressive musical streaks this century.