Ask Billboard: Readers' Favorites of 2015

Carly Rae Jepsen
ABC/Randy Holmes 

Carly Rae Jepsen performs on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on March 5, 2015. 

Submit questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, tweet @gthot20

As always, the last "Ask Billboard" of the year is all about your charts! Here's a look at your favorites of 2015 (along with those from some of Billboard's chart makers). And, click here for Chart Beat reader Jesse Rifkin's rundown of 2015 Billboard top 10s, performed on piano!

CHART KINGS & 'QUEEN'S

My favorite songs:
1, "Trap Queen," Fetty Wap
2, "Only One," Kanye West feat. Paul McCartney
3, "Lemme Freak for Real Tho," Lil Dicky
4, "Where Are U Now," Skrillex & Diplo with Justin Bieber

Albums:
1, Purpose, Justin Bieber
2, Fetty Wap, Fetty Wap
3, Professional Rapper, Lil Dicky
4, Communion, Years & Years
5, Cherry Bomb, Tyler, the Creator

And, music videos:
1, "Buffalo," Tyler, the Creator
2, "Glass & Patron," FKA twigs
3, "Carmen," Stromae
4, "F**king Young," Tyler, the Creator
5, "$ave Dat Money," Lil Dicky

Thanks!
Ari Bradshaw

'CAN'T' FORGET CLARK

Dear Gary,

I realize that my year-end list heavily hip-hop and R&B, but, hey, as long as my guy Steven A. Clark gets a deserved mention, I'm all good. (And, yes, I know my top song was released in 2012!) Without further ado, my top songs of 2015:

1, "Liquorice," Azealia Banks

2, "Can't Have," Steven A. Clark
3, "WTF (Where They From)," Missy Elliott feat. Pharrell Williams
4, "Alright," Kendrick Lamar
5, "Player," Tinashe feat. Chris Brown
6, "Paranoid," Kanye West feat. Mr Hudson
7, "No Role Modelz," J. Cole
8, "Johnny," Yemi Alade
9, "Time," Jungle
10, "Yoga," Janelle Monae & Jidenna

Thanks,
Charlie O'Keefe
Seattle, Washington

GIVE HER A 'HAND'

5, "Can't Feel My Face," The Weeknd
4, "Love Me Like You Do," Ellie Goulding
3, "Cheerleader," OMI (I've known this one since it was a pure reggae tune!)
2, "Homegrown Honey," Darius Rucker (A 2014 release, but I loved it so much it's in my top five again this year …)
1, "Hold My Hand," Jess Glynne (The most beautiful song this year. Why it didn't catch on bigger in the U.S., I will never know.)

Happy New Year from Tokyo, Japan!
????

MORE THAN 'ALRIGHT'

Hi Gary,

How about 10 songs that should have been bigger hits in 2015?

10, "Geronimo," Sheppard
9, "Kamikaze," MO
8, "Towards the Sun," Rihanna. Ahead of Rihanna's new album, her Home soundtrack song helped ease the wait.
7, "Magnets," Disclosure ft. Lorde
6, "Shots," Imagine Dragons
5, "Until It Happens to You," Lady Gaga. I get why it wasn't a radio hit, as it has some serious substance matter that could be hard for mainstream audiences to digest. But, that's the important reason why it should've been more popular.
4, "Wild," Troye Sivan
3, "Alright," Kendrick Lamar
2, "King," Years and Years

1, "Run Away With Me," Carly Rae Jepsen. This, to me, was the best song of 2015 in the pop field. It's catchy, in-your-face and just makes you smile. "Call Me Maybe" is still CRJ's peak with most listeners, but this is an underrated gem from E*MO*TION.

Lane Fair

SHEERAN MY FAVORITES

Hello Gary,

Thanks for the opportunity to once again share our favorite music of the year. It's always entertaining and enlightening to see what is keeping the interest of other readers and chart fanatics. I began following Billboard's charts as a teenager in 1972 (yes, I'm older than your average reader) and have never found a shortage of great music in any year since then.

Since the (still) current year is 2015, I thought I'd give top-15 album and song tallies. Just like last year, Ed Sheeran is my favorite artist. For concerts, I attended two this year: Sheeran (one of the best I've ever been to) and Jimmy Buffett, always a highlight of my summer (I've seen him at least 25 times).

Albums:
1, JEKYLL + HYDE, Zac Brown Band
2, Made in the A.M., One Direction
3, 25, Adele
4, Beauty Behind the Madness, The Weeknd
5, A Head Full of Dreams, Coldplay
6, x (Wembley Edition), Ed Sheeran
7, Love Stuff, Elle King
8, Rebel Heart, Madonna
9, Smoke + Mirrors, Imagine Dragons
10, Purpose, Justin Bieber
11, Higher Truth, Chris Cornell
12, Traveller, Chris Stapleton
13, The Original High, Adam Lambert
14, All American Boy, Steve Grand
15, Stages, Josh Groban

Songs:
1, "Tomorrow Never Comes," Zac Brown Band
2, "Photograph," Ed Sheeran
3, "What a Feeling," One Direction
4, "When We Were Young," Adele
5, "Beautiful Drug," Zac Brown Band
6, "Growing Up (Sloane's Song)," Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ed Sheeran

7, "Thinking Out Loud," Ed Sheeran
8, "Hello," Adele
9, "Home," One Direction
10, "Uptown Funk!," Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
11, "The Hills," The Weeknd
12, "Adventure of a Lifetime," Coldplay
13, "What Do You Mean?," Justin Bieber
14, "Run Away With Me," Carly Rae Jepsen
15, "Parting Glass (Live at Wembley)," Ed Sheeran

Looking forward to another year of great music, and wishing you all the best in 2016!

George Lotter
Kingsley, Pennsylvania

'UNBREAKABLE' RECORD

Dear Gary, 

Here are my favorite songs, albums and concerts of 2015.

Songs:
1, "Heartbeat Song," Kelly Clarkson
2, "No Sleeep," Janet Jackson feat. J. Cole
3, "When Love Hurts," JoJo
4, "Break Up in a Small Town," Sam Hunt
5, "Black and White," Kylie Minogue feat. Shaggy
6, "Drag Me Down," One Direction
7, "Smoke Break," Carrie Underwood
8, "Sparks," Hilary Duff
9, "Ghost Town," Adam Lambert
10, "Infinity," Mariah Carey

Albums:
1, Unbreakable, Janet Jackson
2, Rebel Heart, Madonna
3, Piece by Piece, Kelly Clarkson
4, The Original High, Adam Lambert
5, Breathe In. Breathe Out., Hilary Duff
6, Storyteller, Carrie Underwood
7, Unbreakable Smile, Tori Kelly
8, Made in the A.M., One Direction
9, True Colors, Zedd
10, Confident, Demi Lovato

Concerts:
1. 106.1 KISS-FM Jingle Ball
2. Rock This Country Tour, Shania Twain
3. Britney: Piece of Me, Britney Spears
4. Piece by Piece Tour, Kelly Clarkson

Have a Happy New Year,
Derek Borland
Fort Worth, Texas

THEY 'EARNED IT'

Gary,

Favorites from Brazil!

Top songs:
1, "The Hills," The Weeknd
2, "Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)," The Weeknd

3, "FourFiveSeconds," Rihanna & Kanye West & Paul McCartney
4, "Shut Up and Dance," Walk the Moon
5, "Budapest," George Ezra

Top albums:
1, 25, Adele
2, Beauty Behind the Madness, The Weeknd
3, Wildheart, Miguel
4, Know-It-All, Alessia Cara
5, To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar

Alah Costa

WELL 'WORTH' A LISTEN

Hey Gary,

I love reading the "Ask Billboard" columns. This year has been a great one for music, and here's to a great 2016!

Top 10 songs:
1, "Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn remix)," OMI
2, "Worth It," Fifth Harmony feat. Kid Ink
3, "Here," Alessia Cara
4, "The Matrimony," Wale feat. Usher
5, "You Know You Like It," DJ Snake & AlunaGeorge
6, "The Hills," The Weeknd
7, "Planes," Jeremih feat. J. Cole
8, "Hotline Bling," Drake
9, "Say It," Tory Lanez
10, "Can't Feel My Face," The Weeknd

Top 10 albums:
1, Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment, Surf
2, Drake, If You're Reading This It's Too Late
3, Ed Sheeran, x
4, Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint
5, J.Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive
6, Taylor Swift, 1989
7, The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness
8, Adele, 25
9, Big Sean, Dark Sky Paradise
10, Empire (Original Soundtrack From Season 1)

Thanks,
André Johnson
Brooklyn, New York

CANADIAN INVASION

Hello from Canada!

I love this time of year! Charts, charts, charts! And, I love sending my yearly top 20 to Billboard. As you can see, Canadian artists claim five of the top 20, including No. 1:

1, "Can't Feel My Face," The Weeknd
2, "Clearest Blue," Chvrches
3, "Prayer in C," Lillywood & Robin Schulz
4, "No Reptiles," Everything Everything
5, "Fuel to the Fire," Rationale
6, "Seasons (Waiting On You)," Lonely Islands
7, "How Deep Is Your Love," Calvin Harris & Disciples
8, "Omen," Disclosure feat. Sam Smith
9, "White Iverson," Post Malone
10, "Elastic Heart," Sia
11, "Run Away With Me," Carly Rae Jepsen
12, "Huarache Lights," Hot Chip
13, "Hello," Adele
14, "Froot," Marina and the Diamonds
15, "Energy," Drake
16, "Hotline Bling," Drake
17, "Cake by the Ocean," DNCE
18, "Thinking Out Loud," Ed Sheeran
19, "Baltimore," Prince
20, "Colourblind," Glenn Morrison feat. Andrew Cole

Cheers,
Robbie Romu
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

'VERY GOOD' MUSIC

Here are my top 10 albums of 2015:

(Honorable mentions to Justin Bieber's Purpose and Selena Gomez's Revival, great albums that show artistic growth and incredible promise for both.)

10, Higher Truth, Chris Cornell
9, Rebel Heart, Madonna
8, Platform, Holly Herndon
7, Money Shot, Puscifer
6, Very Good Bad Thing, Mother Mother
5, Currents, Tame Impala
4, Unbreakable, Janet Jackson
3, London Road, Modestep
2, Art Angels, Grimes

And, my No. 1 is perhaps the most overlooked pop masterpiece of recent years. I don't know why or how something so amazing can sneak under the radar of so many, but it's not too late to check it out:
1, Kiddo, Tove Styrke. Swedish "garage-pop" perfection.

2015 has been a great year for music! Thank you, Billboard, for all that you do.

Happy 2016 to all,
G. Wade Hunter
Searcy, Arkansas

'SOMETHING' BIG

Hi Gary,

I've been a Billboard reader since 2011 and have been making lists of my favourite songs of every year since 2012, but I always forget to send them to you. Not this time! It took me a good while to pick these ones, my babies :3

15, "Dear Future Husband," Meghan Trainor
14, "Often," The Weeknd
13, "Want to Want Me," Jason Derulo
12, "King," Years & Years
11, "Legend," Drake / "Hollow Moon," AWOLNATION, Bad Wolf (tie)
10, "Downtown," Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Eric Nally, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee & Grandmaster Caz
9, "Rollercoaster," Bleachers
8, "Like a River Runs," Bleachers
7, "The Hills," The Weeknd
6, "Love Me Like You Do," Ellie Goulding
5, "I Don't F**k With You," Big Sean feat. E-40
4, "Blank Space," Taylor Swift / "Pay No Mind," Madeon feat. Passion Pit (tie)
3, "Real Life," The Weeknd
2, "The One True Color," Enter Shikari

And ...
1, "Something New," Axwell /\ Ingrosso

Plus, my favourite album of the year … Enter Shikari's The Mindweep. Since I've noticed that you like to make articles about good music that you think went under the radar, that album is seriously amazing and deserves even more recognition.

Happy holidays 😀
Felipe Romero Medina
Chile

LOVE FOR 'HATE'

@gthot20: @RynWeaver's #octahate tops this chart geek's year-end tally. @XAmbassadors Renegades #2, @alessiacara Here #3, @RachelPlatten Fight Song #4 and @ToveLo Talking Body #5. And, my two fave albums: @carlyraejepsen E•MO•TION and @CHVRCHES Every Open Eye

Brian Brostek ‏@BOSBrian02368

WATCH ME

Hi Gary,

Here are my picks for this year's hottest songs:

Thanks for enlightening us with your "Ask Billboard" responses in another busy year. See you in 2016!

M. U?ur Dursun
Izmir, Turkey

AND … CHARTS DEPT. CHARTS

Emily White, Billboard associate director of charts:

Favorite albums:
Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free
Deerhunter, Fading Frontier
Kehlani, You Should Be Here
Carly Rae Jepsen, E*MO*TION
Empress Of, Me
Beach House, Depression Cherry
Grimes, Art Angels
Pusha T, King Push
Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
DJ Koze, DJ-Kicks

Favorite songs:
Kendrick Lamar, "The Blacker the Berry"
Jenny Hval, "That Battle Is Over"
Sufjan Stevens, "No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross"
Krill, "Brain Problem"
One Direction, "What a Feeling"
Skrillex & Diplo with Justin Bieber, "Where Are U Now"
Hailee Steinfeld, "Love Myself"
Nick Jonas, "Levels"
Sleater Kinney, "Surface Envy"
Julia Holter, "Sea Calls Me Home"

Jim Asker, Billboard country/Christian/gospel/bluegrass chart manager:

Favorite albums:
1, Bruce Springsteen, The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
2, Eric Church, Mr. Misunderstood
3, Lauren Daigle, How Can It Be
4, Kacey Musgraves, Pageant Material
5, Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free
6, Ashley Monroe, The Blade
7, Carrie Underwood, Storyteller
8, Maddie & Tae, Start Here
9, Chris Stapleton, Traveller
10, Kelsea Ballerini, The First Time

Favorite songs:
1, Lauren Daigle, "First"
2, Kelsea Ballerini, "Love Me Like You Mean It"
3, Eric Church, "Mr. Misunderstood"
4, Cam, "Burning House"
5, Chris Tomlin, "Good Good Father"
6, Adele, "Hello"
7, Jana Kramer, "I Got the Boy"
8, Luke Bryan feat. Karen Fairchild, "Home Alone Tonight"
9, Sam Hunt, "Break Up in a Small Town"
10, Cassadee Pope, "I Am Invincible"

Kevin Rutherford, Billboard associate chart manager/rock:

Songs:
1, Titus Andronicus, "Dimed Out." The first listen is like taking a speeding bullet train dangerously close to running off the rails. You may crash and burn, but you'll fist-pump the whole way there.

2, Cam, "Burning House." A star is born via a lilting country ballad that perfectly encapsulates the internal struggle of wandering too close to the fire of a chronically broken relationship.
3, Grimes, "Flesh Without Blood." Sugary sweet pop with demented undertones. It's not just the chorus that'll stick in your head, it's every, little pieced-together melody.
4, Nick Jonas, "Levels." R&B-lite might've been the path to jumpstart Nick Jonas' solo career, but electro-pop might be its true kairos.
5, Beck, "Dreams." Sure, succeed the Grammy Award-winning, melancholic Morning Phase with a bright, funky, electric follow-up. We'll take it.
6, Jason Isbell, "Something More Than Free." 2015's best working-man tune, with a down-on-his-luck narrator who remains hopeful and content in simply having work to do.
7, Carly Rae Jepsen, "Run Away With Me." A synthetic-sounding sax announces the opening track of one of the year's top pop records, a mission statement revealing Jepsen as much more than the voice behind "Call Me Maybe."
8, Kendrick Lamar, "King Kunta." What's wrong with being confident?
9, Chris Stapleton , "Whiskey and You." This song sits at Traveller's emotional core, showcasing the newly-minted country star's penchant for deeply introspective lyrics.
10, Chris Janson, "Buy Me a Boat." The most fun to be had in country music in 2015.

Albums:
1. Grimes, Art Angels. After scrapping an entire album, Claire Boucher pushed the reset button for a fuzzed-out pop opus.
2. Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free. An album of modern folk with plenty of songs that deserve to reach standard status.
3. Kendrick Lamar. To Pimp a Butterfly. Rap's defining moment of 2015 is also one of the year's best to take in start to finish, regaling with a gripping, challenging story.
4. Carly Rae Jepsen, E*MO*TION. Enough hooks to power most artists' singles discographies for two, maybe three album cycles.
5. Frankie, Dreamstate. One of pop's new faces is strong out of the gate with her first EP of sun-drenched melodies.
6. Ludovico Einaudi, Elements. The Italian neoclassical composer's newest offering is a piano-led voyage through stark, often dark territory, peaking with the soaring "Night."
7. Cage the Elephant, Tell Me I'm Pretty. The alt-rock veterans served up a tight Dan Auerbach-produced affair that's their most cohesive release yet.
8. twenty one pilots, Blurryface. The Ohio duo comes into its own with an all-over-the-map mish-mash of rock, hip-hop, pop and the anxieties of a young generation.
9. Joy Williams, Venus. Williams moves on, presenting a record that ranges from delicate piano ballads that may or may not reference former bandmate John Paul White to the Massive Attack-esque "Sweet Love of Mine."
10. Cam, Untamed. "Burning House" is no fluke hit. Cam enthralls with a confident debut album whose varied inspirations and styles retain overall unity rather than seeming like an effort to throw a lot at a wall and see what sticks.

Gordon Murray, Billboard dance chart manager:

Tour:
Madonna, Rebel Heart Tour. Highlights: "Heartbreak City / Love Don't Live Here Anymore," "Who's That Girl," "Deeper and Deeper," "True Blue," "Burning Up"

Album:
Madonna, Rebel Heart. Highlights: "Devil Pray," "Veni Vidi Vici," "Iconic," "Messiah," "Rebel Heart"

Video:
Avicii, "For a Better Day"

Songs:
Faithless, "Not Going Home 2.0" (Eric Prydz remix)
Disciples, "They Don't Know"
Tiga, "Bugatti"
Pep & Rash, "Red Roses (Let Her Go)" (radio vocal edit)
Armin Van Buuren feat. BullySongs, "Caught in the Slipstream"
Lea Rue, "I Can't Say No!" (Broiler remix)
Selena Gomez, "Same Old Love"
Greg Downey & Bo Bruce, "These Hands I Hold" (Paul Oakenfold Future House radio edit)
Armik "Escape"

Alex Vitoulis, Billboard associate chart production manager:

Top albums:
1, Adele, 25. Solidifying her superstar status, Adele makes it three flawless albums in a row. There is not one dud on this record-breaking album and with perfect vocal fortitude she conveys every song with such emotional conviction, you can't help but feel every word.

2, Sheppard, Bombs Away. Athematic hook-laden songs run through this solid debut full-length album. Over seven months later I still can't stop playing it. There's something extra special when you listen to siblings sing.
3, Justin Bieber, Purpose. Justin lets the music do the talking and proved to everyone that his song with Diplo and Skrillex was just the beginning.
4, Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly. The best rap album of the year. He makes you truly think about the messages he is delivering with such intricate care while never overcomplicating them.
5, The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness. The beauty behind this album is Abel's voice, pop consciousness and R&B sensibilities. His best release to date.
6, Pentatonix, Pentatonix. Not only can they captivate with their covers of hit songs, but the vocalists make stand out originals, as well.
(Tie) 7, Kelly Clarkson, Piece by Piece / Carrie Underwood, Storyteller. With American Idol coming to an end, one can't help but thank the show for finding these exceptional talents. It achieved what it set out to do: find the best singers.
8, Carly Rae Jepsen, E*MO*TION. The praise heaped on this release is worthy, with each song catchier than the next.
9, POWERS, Legendary (EP). It's not often that have I been totally captivated by everything an artist has released from the get-go. POWERS has that power over me, and this EP is bursting with songs that could/should be hits. I cannot wait to hear what this alternative electro-pop duo's full-length has to offer.
10, Fetty Wap, Fetty Wap. Fetty arrived releasing hit after hit after hit, hook-laden ones.

Singles:
1, Secret Weapons, "Something New." These weapons won't be a secret for much longer.
2, Adele, "Hello." Introspective and gut-wrenching.
3, Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, "Uptown Funk!" This has become a timeless classic.
4, Skrillex & Diplo with Justin Bieber, "Where Are U Now." No one should ever underestimate the talent that lies within Bieber.
5, Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, "See You Again." The Paul Walker tribute song pulls at the heart strings, evoking feelings everyone has felt in their lifetime.
6, Justin Bieber, "Sorry." There's no stopping this hit-making machine.
7, Drake, "Hotline Bling." It saturated airwaves and spawned multiple covers.
8, The Weekend, "Can't Feel My Face." His first No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit, the retro-'80s song demonstrates his influences while shaping his own artistic identity masterfully.
9, Parachute, "Crave." Saccharine-sweet, catchy pop.
10, Meghan Trainor feat. John Legend, "Like I'm Gonna Lose You." This song solidifies that Meghan is a multi-styled force.

And, my favorites of the year:

Top albums: a three-way tie for No. 1: the Well Pennies' Endlings, Chvrches' Every Open Eye and Falls' Omaha

And, my top 20 songs. Drum roll, please:

20, "When We Were Young," Falls
19, "RCVR," Big Black Delta feat. Debbie Gibson
18, "Train in the Distance," Don Henley
17, "Restless," New Order
16, "Falling," Falls
15, "Let in the Light," Falls
14, "Sugar, You," Oh Honey
Tie 12, "All the King's Horses," Karmina
Tie 12, "Outta My Head," Liz Longley
Tie 10, "Exhale," Plumb
Tie 10, "Rescue My Heart," Liz Longley
9, "Caution Tape," Starling Glow
8, "Flower Child," High Dive Heart
7, "Leave a Trace," Chvrches
6, "Remembering," Ashley Campbell
5, "Playing Dead," Chvrches
4, "Angels of Fenway," James Taylor
3, "Ignite," Starling Glow
2, "Empty Threat," Chvrches

And …
1, "Vintage," High Dive Heart

Happy New Year!

And, a toast to all who've read and/or contributed to Chart Beat (which will celebrate its 35th year as a Billboard column in 2016), from chart historian Joel Whitburn: "I'm just a huge music fan and I love the charts. I enjoy following artists' success. There's just a joy in that. It's a weekly thrill. And, there are millions more like me all over the world."

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