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1. Hello, Adele
It had been years since the world heard anything new from Adele, but when the British singer dropped her first single Hello in October, she showed not only the power of her musicality and voice, but the power of one song. A simple and emotional single accompanied by a music video filled with gorgeous landscape and a moving performance was all it took to make Hello break Vevo’s record and push 25 to be the highest selling album in years.
2. Bad Blood, Taylor Swift
Before Adele’s Hello broke the Vevo record, Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood held the title for most views in 24 hours in part due to her celeb-packed sci-fi music video. Thanks to Taylor Swift’s highly public friendships plastered all over social media, Bad Blood quickly became the centre piece for the #SquadGoal movement in 2015. Her sold out stadium tour and the success of Bad Blood helped make Swift Billboard’s Top Artist of 2015, a feat she last accomplished in 2009 when her album Fearless spent 11 weeks at the top of the chart.
3. Where Are U Now, Skrillex, Diplo and Justin Bieber
After years of public growing pains and too much money without enough consequences, it looked like the world may have lost Justin Bieber, the singer. To say a lot was riding on Bieber’s first single back after his years of bad behaviour would be an understatement. Thanks to his new found creative partnership with Skrillex and Diplo, Bieber was able to reinvent himself not as a bratty teen pop star, but as a more mature voice of his generation. With Where Are U Now’s experimentation with sounds and vocals (specifically, the ‘dolphin-effect’ on Bieber’s voice), the trio set the tone both for Bieber’s comeback album Purpose and for the soundtrack of 2015.
4. Can’t Feel My Face, The Weeknd
Fans of Toronto’s own The Weeknd have known for years that the sultry-voiced singer with the incredible high notes has a talent for making moody trance music. What was news to most was his ability to write one of the catchiest pop songs of the year. Showing off his inner MJ, The Weeknd went from underground mixtape artist to international superstar in the span of twelve months. Though 2015 felt like the year of Taylor Swift, The Weeknd outdid the country-turned-pop singer for most singles in the number one spot on the Billboard chart, a big part thanks to the success of Can’t Feel My Face. How are we not sick of this song yet? We should really be sick of it by now.
5. Here, Alessia Cara
Brampton teenager Alessia Cara has been uploading her mature covers to YouTube for a few years, but it was her original track Here that propelled the singer to superstar status. Becoming the voice of a generation, new friends with Taylor Swift, and having the respect of just about every genre, Cara’s Here and her debut EP and album have made her this generation’s next Joni Mitchell and Carole King.
6. Hotline Bling, Drake
It’s difficult to separate the sensationalism of Drake’s Hotline Bling from its dance-friendly music video that sparked a million memes, but both creative expressions have undoubtedly left a mark on pop culture. Sure, we know that Drake is an incredible rapper, but there’s something special about Drizzy’s singing voice that resonates with listeners everywhere. What’s really interesting is that even with the release of two high profile and critically acclaimed mixtapes released this year, including If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and What A Time To Be Alive with Future, Drake’s biggest songs of 2015 have been his non-album singles, including the diss track Back to Back and of course, Hotline Bling. Drake is one of the rare artist’s who’s able to be prolific while maintaining quality.
7. I Really Like You, Carly Rae Jepsen
I Really Like You is probably one of the weakest songs of Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2015 album EMOTION. So why is it on this list? Because IRLY, while not nearing the enormity of Jepsen’s 2012 monster hit Call Me Maybe, succeeded in diminishing the ‘one hit wonder’ status that has been plaguing the Canadian singer for years. Also, being the weakest song on arguably the greatest pop album of the year ain’t that bad. It’s all relative.
8. Stitches, Shawn Mendes
Thanks to the power of Vine, Justin Bieber is no longer the only young male pop singer people think of when it comes to Canada. Scoring an opening spot on Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour (ahem…like Bieber did), Mendes’ single Stitches became one of the most played songs on radio this year and helped set up the young teen with enough momentum to get back to the studio to write his follow up.
9. Drag Me Down, One Direction
After the surprise departure of Zayn Malik from One Direction, the question on every Directioner’s mind was of course, will the band break up? After One Direction confirmed their upcoming March hiatus, the next question was, how will they sound without Malik? Without slighting the former One Direction member, Drag Me Down was a roaring single that became an anthem of self-empowerment. While their break is fast approaching, the lead single from Made In The AM set up the four Brits to leave with fans wanting more.
10. Uptown Funk, Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson
It’s difficult to believe there was a time before Uptown Funk, but the Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars collaboration was only released in November 2014. Spending 14 weeks at the number one spot on The Billboard 100, the single is now cemented in history as only one of seven songs to achieve such longevity in the top spot, with the last song earning that distinction being Black Eyed Peas 2009 hit I Gotta Feeling. The high energy jazz and funk-inspired Uptown Funk is a true collaboration of artists and genres, pulling sounds from around the world. It’s permeated every medium, from TV to movies to advertising campaigns. Your mom loves it. Your grandma loves it. And even though you’re sick of it, you still know it’s an incredible track.