By John Lentz, Senior Music Director – FirstCom Music
Swift is the current undisputed queen of pop with four consecutive #1 albums and sales of over 5 million from 1989. A collection of pop gems that have variety but all are decidedly Swift. The third single, “Style,” captures an anthemic mood with an irresistible hook. No artist combines talent, marketing, goodwill, and industry savvy quite like Taylor Swift.
The smooth R&B/hip hop/rap giant has hit big with his fourth studio album (or mixtape, depending on the person). Drake’s droning, yet contemplative delivery is on target. This release had massive anticipation and delivers with 17 tracks and two bonus titles. Drake is in an impenetrable groove right now.
Another platinum smash from the sensitive singer/songwriter who keeps an ear in the hip hop/pop studio. With Rick Rubin’s genius as producer, Sheeran has recorded some beautiful songs that are positive and warm. Sheeran also has a pop/hip hop sensibility that shows off on X.
The most hyped film of the year has spawned a best-selling album stocked with superb performances. Leading off is the always mesmerizing Annie Lennox with, “I Put A Spell On You”, followed by The Weeknd’s “Earned It.” Even Frank Sinatra is represented along with two tracks from master film composer, Danny Elfman. Of course, all of the songs have a seductive appeal which makes this an ideal collection for those times when…a seductive appeal is exactly what one needs.
Winning four GRAMMY Awards (and nominated for two others) has certainly extended the popularity of Smith’s blockbuster debut release. The man has golden pipes, but also maintains a sensitivity not often heard since Luther Vandross. In The Lonely Hour is packed with emotive performances that are appealing to anyone who enjoys tremendous vocals couched in production suited perfectly for a special singer. And Smith writes those songs, too.
Trainor burst onto the scene with the irresistibly infectious “All About That Bass.” Selling eleven million copies of a song is guaranteed to parlay into album sales and Trainor is no exception. A fun and hip group of tunes that pays a nod to doo wop and the early 1960s girl group sound while retaining modern production and pop styling. Maybe the most fun album that consistently puts a smile on the faces of listeners.
Anyone who follows the successful Furious franchise knows that the music plays a key role in setting the scenes in the films. This soundtrack is loaded with rap and electronic/dance artists like Wiz Khalifa, Flo Rida, David Guetta, Sevyn Streeter, Kid Ink, DJ Snake, Lil Jon and others. It is the soundtrack of street and cool.
8. Maroon 5 – V
After missing out on the top spot with their last two releases, Maroon 5 landed back at #1 with their 2014 release. The soulful pop group remains at the top of their game with three top six singles from their fifth studio album. No less than 23 people have writing credit and over a dozen helped produce the album. Lots of pop that is a bit more mature for the group, but no less accessible to their legion of fans.
Rap’s most misunderstood or controversial female still knows how to create what her fans want. No less than twenty songs that feature Minaj’s “tell it like it is” delivery along with numerous guest artists. “Only” has a simple, haunting vibe that includes heavyweights Drake, Lil Wayne, and Chris Brown. Minaj may be polarizing at times, but it is difficult to deny her star power.
Landing their third #1 album, Fall Out Boy continues to last longer than most other bands that started this century. “Uma Thurman” with its The Munsters reference shows the boys still play relevant music while tossing in an eyebrow raiser. These guys have carved out a nice career and American Beauty/American Psycho shows they are as popular as ever.
Production Music Albums In This Style: