Billboard Year-End Awards 2015: Best Hater Handler, Dirtiest Remix, Best Career Save & More
Grammys, AMAs, CMAs, Oscars -- none of them are as important as the year-end awards you're about to witness. From Best Hater Handler to Dirtiest Remix Title to Best Album No One Heard, these are awards that actually mean something. Chosen by
peers, fans, industry insiders and me, here are the Billboard Year-End Awards for 2015.
Best Hater Handler: Kelly Clarkson
News flash: You get famous, and people are going to say mean things about you. After a prominent British troll started weight shaming Kelly Clarkson earlier this year, the Alpha American Idol had the perfect response: "It doesn't bother me. It's a free world. Say what you will. I've just never cared what people think. It's more if I'm happy and I'm confident and feeling good, that's always been my thing. And more so now, since having a family -- I don't seek out any other acceptance." In short, bullies aren't worth your time or mind.
Best Diss Track: Bjork's "Black Lake"
Who would think the year's sickest diss track would come from avant Icelandic queen Bjork? Following her split from longtime partner Matthew Barney, with whom she shares a daughter, Bjork included a 10-minute diss track against her former partner on her new album Vulnicura. "You betrayed your own heart / corrupted that organ," she sings over strings and a martial, Terminator-esque beat. "Family was always our sacred mutual mission / Which you abandoned / You have nothing to give / your heart is hollow." For an artist who usually remains obtuse, this was shockingly personal. And like the best insults, there's no name-calling or four-letter words to be found.
Each year produces several hits so ubiquitous that like it or not, you're going to hear it at the dancefloor of any wedding you attend. That's because even if your aunt hasn't actively sought out this song, she's heard it in passing (or via late night parodies) about a million times. One of those songs for 2015 was Fetty Wap's breakthrough hit "Trap Queen," which holds the rare distinction of being a song about cooking crack that still gets everyone in the family going at the wedding.
Best Career Save: Justin Bieber
When 2015 began, there was plenty of lingering ill will toward/exhaustion over Justin Bieber. His diehard fans might have invoked the age-old "boys will be boys" excuse, but pop culture at large was largely done with him. That is, until they heard the music he'd been working on. Wisely releasing his Diplo/Skrillex collab months ahead of Purpose, Bieber's comeback was complete when the flawless "Sorry" and the irresistible "What Do You Mean" dropped. Suddenly, people who considered the "Baby" singer a man-baby were beliebin', thanks to JB bringing a genuinely fresh sound to the Hot 100. Plus, the Canadian pop king saw three of his singles hit the Hot 100's top 5 -- a feat only the Beatles and 50 Cent have achieved.
Best Music GIF: Adele Crossing Her Eyes After Nailing Her 'SNL' Performance
Hello, it's the queen.
Best Dramatic Reading of Lyrics: Patrick Stewart Doing Taylor Swift
Captain Picard dramatically reciting the lyrics to "Blank Space" with Shakespearean gusto? Thank you, NPR, and thank you, Ophira Eisenberg.
Miguel's under-appreciated Wildheart album included the gentle morning-after ballad "Coffee," a lyrically lovely come-on song with a PG rating. Enter Wale. His remix of the song ups the rating to R with one simple parenthetical addition to the title. No longer "Coffee," this song is now "Coffee (Fucking)." Because, you know, it's about coffee and fucking. Subtle!
Best Positivity Anthem: Kendrick Lamar's "Alright"
If Kendrick's "i" was his wide-eyed optimistic version of Sly & the Family Stone's first few albums, then follow-up single "Alright" is his version of the band's gritty, unflinching early '70s output. It's a fiercely hopeful anthem that nevertheless refuses to gloss over systematic oppression, depression and self-destruction.
Best Album From Someone Not Mainly Known as a Musician: John Carpenter's 'Lost Themes'
Sure, John Carpenter has plenty of music credits to his name (he crafted the iconic score for his own Halloween, among other films), but he exists in the public's mind primarily as a director. So it's a pleasant shock that his so-called studio debut album stands on its own as a thrilling piece of propulsive, electronic sounds and '80s-leaning rock guitar. Not solely created by Carpenter, his son Cody and Daniel Davies (son of Kinks' Dave Davies) also contributed. As for the title, Lost Themes, Carpenter told Billboard, "The movie you got in your mind -- my album is the score for it."
Best Album No One Listened To: Roisin Murphy's 'Hairless Toys'
The Irish electro-pop singer turned in Hairless Toys -- a moody, sensual laid-back album of masterful electronic pop -- after a lengthy hiatus. Maybe it's the fact that no one in America knows how to pronounce her first name (it's "Roe-sheen"), maybe it's the album's unappealing title (whatever Hairless Toys are, no one asked for them), but Murphy's LP barely did anything in the U.S. Regardless, it was nominated for the 2015 Mercury Music Prize, and it's near-perfect. If you skipped it or didn't hear about it, it's time to rectify that now.