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Song of the Year: “High By The Beach”

Lana Del Rey hypnotizes her listeners again with “High By The Beach”

Choosing a single song for “Song of the Year” was the toughest category to do. So many songs this year were great. It seemed impossible to cut it down to one song. But after a lot of back and forth, I decided that Lana Del Rey’s song, “High By The Beach” is worthy of that trophy.
I’ve devoted most of the other categories to the most proper female pop artists. Lana Del Rey can’t necessarily be labeled a pop starlet by any means. But “High By The Beach” is possibly as mainstream pop as we will get from her. So after juggling a few songs, I chose the song from the one we most likely won’t see very often on any “pop songs” lists.

Promotional shot for Lana Del Rey’s “High By The Beach”
“High By The Beach” opens with a haunting melody that immediately changes the environment of your mindset. And when the light-trap beats are introduced in the chorus it catches you off guard and permanently commits you to the remainder of the song. Many songs are effortless and follow you as you continue living your life. But this song grabs your attention and transports you to the scene that it’s living in; controlling you. It’s rare that a song can do that. It’s familiar territory for Lana Del Rey, considering it’s kind of “her thing.” So that’s one reason that this song excels in a place other pop songs fail.
The music video for “High By The Beach” was equally tantalizing and captivating. The video is not obvious of its purpose when it begins. It follows Lana Del Rey through a beach house as she seems to be avoiding something. It ends up being a paparazzi taking pictures from a helicopter. This gave the video a scene with a wind effect that surely had Beyonce dialing every contact, in jealousy, to try and recreate later. And then with a fantasy finale, she grabs a huge sci-fi gun to shoot down the helicopter.

Another promotional shot for Lana Del Rey’s “High By The Beach”
The song has the right amount of pretentiousness while still being a win for the girls of pop music. Lana Del Rey continues to mesmerize the music industry with her unique music and vocals. For that, I picked “High By The Beach” for The Pop Pyro’s “Song of the Year.”

The Pop Pyro’s pick for “Song of the Year”

Other Top-Picked Songs This Year:

More Top-Picked songs from The Pop Pyro

In No Order:

  • Demi Lovato – “Cool For The Summer” Easily this summer’s anthem. Demi killed it.
  • Zedd ft. Selena Gomez – “I Want You To Know” Selena had a great second half of the year, but she had one of Spring’s best tracks.
  • JoJo – “Save My Soul” The only ballad on top of the list, and rightfully so. JoJo is one of the best balladeers of the girls in pop music.
  • Marina and the Diamonds – “Blue” The pre-chorus to this song, “give me love; give me dreams…” is the best of the year.
  • Rihanna – “Bitch Better Have My Money” If you don’t sing along to this song when it’s played, you’re a robot. Anthem.
  • Selena Gomez – “Good For You” Selena was just doing a lot of great things this year.

Other mention-ables (I can’t Stop):

Madonna“Joan of Arc” and “Ghosttown”
Tamar Braxton“Angels & Demons” and “KING”
Hilary Duff“Confetti” and “Sparks”
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Album of the Year: ‘Revival’

There’s a new Queen to add to team #BedroomMusic.

Selena Gomez has had a steady progression with her musical career. She solidified herself as a pop heavyweight after she released 2013’s “Come and Get It” (from her album ‘Stars Dance’) then gave it one of my favorite music videos of all time. ‘Revival’ proves that she is still a pop superstar but also an artistic risk-taker with her music.

Shot from Selena Gomez’s music video for “Hands to Myself”
Selena Gomez could have easily had a successful album by making the expected dance teen pop album that she had been boxed into with her previous albums. But she took a HUGE risk and made a mid-tempo album with breathy vocals and intimate tones. I go into further detail about the album and my reactions, after its first play, with my #QuickListen review that was posted here on The Pop Pyro earlier this year. Read my review: Click Here

Deluxe Album Cover for Selena Gomez’s ‘Revival’
Selena Gomez unraveled this album better than most pop stars can these days. Every single, performance and promotion for ‘Revival’ painted the perfect picture for what this album is. And upon listening there were no surprises except good music. “Good For You” was the perfect lead single. The song was extremely successful on the Billboard Hot 100 and has over 200 million streams on Spotify alone. The success continued with her second single “Same Old Love” also topping the charts. She is currently promoting her latest single “Hands to Myself” with performances at the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball and Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. She just released her sexiest video yet with its video as well.

Selena Gomez performing at the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
‘Revival’ reveals an entirely new facet of Selena Gomez. It’s cohesive; it’s sensual; it’s insightful; and it’s just an all-around GOOD ALBUM. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and topped many critic’s end-of-year album lists. For all of these reasons, I picked ‘Revival’ as The Pop Pyro’s “Album of the Year.”

The Pop Pyro’s pick for “Album of the Year”

Other Top-Picked Albums This Year:

Four more picks for The Pop Pyro’s “Album of the Year”

In No Order:

  • Hilary Duff’s – “Breathe In Breathe Out” One of the most all-encompassing and pure pop albums of the year. Standout tracks: “Confetti,” “My Kind,” and “One In A Million.”
  • Dumblonde’s – “dumblonde” My favorite debut of the year. This album is great from start to finish. Standout tracks: “dreamsicle,” “love blind,” and “you got me.”
  • Lana Del Rey’s – “Honeymoon” She released another flawless addition to her catalog. If you love Lana; you love this album. Standout tracks: “Music To Watch Boys To,” “Art Deco” and “Religion.”
  • Tamar Braxton-Herbert’s – “Calling All Lovers” It’s mostly an R&B album, but Tamar uses the album to prove the versatility she and her voice have. Standout tracks: “KING,” “Angels and Demons” and “Coming Home.”

Group of the Year: Fifth Harmony

Although they were nearly the sole girl group this year, Fifth Harmony still had a big year in large part to their massive hit “Worth It.”

There’s no way you went the entire year without hearing “Worth It” on the radio or elsewhere. I almost gave up on Fifth Harmony after the lukewarm response of their first two singles (“BO$$” and “Sledgehammer”) from their debut album, ‘Reflection.’ But “Worth It” became a huge success and is possible the year’s catchiest song. They premiered their video after the release of their album and the song began climbing the charts. Fifth Harmony saw the opportunity and took it; They began performing the song any chance they could get. This made the song relevant for the better chunk of this year.

Performance shot of Fifth Harmony in their music video for “Worth It”
Their music video featured all five girls taking Wall St. on a creative spin through the club and various flirty solo setups for each of the girls. It was fabulous; it was messy; it was basically a lot of tacky fun. But it was the constant performances and appearances that grabbed my attention and respect. Fifth Harmony was performing everywhere including Latin markets. They began performing the single’s spanglish remix, “Dame Esta Noche.” The group even took the stage as a surprise guest during Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ tour this year.

Fifth Harmony onstage with Taylor Swift during her ‘1989’ tour.
These girls literally WORKED, BITCH! Proving that the group is definitely “Worth It.” For their exhausting work ethic and successful chart performance this year, I picked Fifth Harmony as the “Group of the Year.”

The Pop Pyro’s pick for the “Group of the Year”

Honorable Mention: dumblonde

Fifth harmony was busy slaying the charts and mainstream, but another group was rebuilding their brand from the ashes of Danity Kane, introducing: dumblonde
Dumblonde is the product of a heated and physically explosive girl group dismantling from 2014. Aubrey O’Day and Shannon Bex hung up their urban pop wigs of Danity Kane, to snatch the wigs of the edm underground pop sound. And I’ve gotta say, they definitely SNATCHED WIGS (literally, check out their album cover below; they snatched their own wigs). Their album is one of the best hidden gems 2015 had to offer. So give them a listen and introduce yourself to the bubbly debut of dumblonde’s self-titled album. Check out their video for “dreamsicle”: Click Here

Cover for dumblonde’s debut self-titled album.

Pop Event of the Year: Super Bowl 49

Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Katy Perry were all in-talks to take the stage this year at the 49th Super Bowl. Katy Perry landed the gig and did not disappoint.

The headliner for the 49th Super Bowl halftime show was announced at the end of the American Music Awards in 2014 and although it wasn’t a complete surprise at the time, Katy Perry dazzled the commercial spot with glitter, charm and ridiculousness. Basically everything I want in my life. Needless to say, I was extremely excited for the show. Katy Perry could have easily let me down during the show but ended up giving me one of my favorite pop shows of… ALL TIME.

Capture from Katy Perry’s Super Bowl Halftime commercial announcement.
There was almost an unfair advantage for Katy Perry because out of all the performers considered for the show, she has arguably the most anthemic catalog of hits under her belt, perfect for a sports event. So I was just waiting to see if she could deliver with a memorable performance considering she doesn’t have many iconic performances. This bitch came out on a giant shiny mechanical lion! Her energy was great and really got me excited for the rest of the performance. I’ve got to admit that her standing stiff on top of a lion afraid to move out of order or risk falling to her death ran a little long. But when she made it to the stage it took off and did not skip a beat.

Katy Perry making her way to the Halftime show stage riding a giant lion.
When she reached the stage she was met by an army (literally an army of chess pieces) of dancers to sing “Dark Horse.” The entire stage and projection flooring surrounding it lit up and created this amazing 3-D illusion, immediately creating a larger than life environment for the show. She amazingly hammered through her hits like, “Teenage Dream,” “California Girls” and “Firework.” But you all basically have seen this performance so I don’t really need to walk you through how amazing the rest of the show was. If you need to refresh your memory watch the performance HERE.

#LeftShark and Katy Perry at the Super Bowl Halftime show 2015
What was particularly impressive and affective about this performance was how perfectly it celebrated Katy Perry; her career; and her music. Most performances focus on one song’s promotion or just a quick career medley. But this performance encompassed everything we love about Katy and magnified it by twenty! It truly felt less like a performance and more like a celebratory EVENT. It changed the way I looked at Katy Perry and was EXTREMELY entertaining. And to be completely honest, the entire time I was thinking how perfectly and necessary that it would be for Britney Spears to have this similar moment. So yes, Katy Perry’s Halftime show ignited my urgency and passion to spend most of my time in 2015 campaigning #BritneySuperBowl50.
My Change.org Petition for Britney Spears to perform at the 50th Super Bowl Halftime show has over 4,100 signatures and was featured and supported by many Britney Spears fan sites as well as NewNowNext.com and Buzzfeed.com.
Katy Perry’s performance and celebration during her Halftime performance solidified an appreciation I have for her as well as inspiring my fiery passion to demand that Britney Spears is given the same respect (and more) immediately in the music industry. For these reasons I picked the 49th Super Bowl Halftime Show as the “Pop Event of the Year.”

The Pop Pyro’s pick for the “Pop Event of the Year”

Eurodiva Song of the Year: “Paper Light”

The Eurovision champion of 2012 continuously proves that Sweden has the best music in the world.

Loreen continues to hypnotize her listeners with her unique sound and euphoric melodies. “Paper Light” picks up exactly where her previous album ‘Heal’ leaves off. This time, Loreen is trading the dark moods for light and love. This song’s lyrics, echoing vocals and dynamic mix of strings and electronic beats sums up everything europop artists are keeping from the US mainstream pop market.
Another strength Loreen has with her music is her captivating live performances. She performed this song for the first time during a round of Melodifestivalen in July and is easily one of my favorite performances this past year. Watch the performance: Click Here

Loreen performing “Paper Light” at Melodifestivalen, July 2015
Before I even had enough of the song, Loreen released the video for “Paper Light” but with an entirely brand new/fresh production. The remix is a complete shakeup for the song and builds its impact to a higher level. The remix gives the ethereal sound of the original a brand new beat and deep urban bounce to its production creating the perfect balance between a house chillout to a dancefloor jump. “Paper Light (Revisited),” the remix title, gives the song’s positive message a broader range of outlets to enjoy. Giving a song a polarizing remix is nothing new, but this song’s implementation of that is far more efficient and effective than any other of its kind. Watch the video: Click Here

Still from Loreen’s music video for “Paper Light (Revisited)”
“Paper Light” is not only one of my favorite songs of the year, its release and promotion was a gift that kept giving and for those reasons, I picked Loreen’s “Paper Light” as “The Pop Pyro’s Eurodiva Song of the Year.”

The Pop Pyro’s pick for “Eurodiva Song of the Year”

Collaboration of the Year: “Pretty Girls”

No other collaboration this year was profiled or anticipated as much as Britney Spears & Iggy Azalea’s “Pretty Girls.”

There are many reasons why this collaboration was the greatest this year:
  • Britney, bitch
  • Is a decent song
  • Has a decent video
  • Had a GREAT performance
  • Sparked a Twitter meltdown for Iggy Azalea
It was a messy spectacle for the first half of 2015. “Pretty Girls” had been rumored since late 2014 keeping the entire #BArmy on their toes leading up to it’s April release this year. The single was basically just a tiny link of promotion between Britney’s “Britney Jean” era and #B9 having little ambition but to simply promote her highly-successful residency in Las Vegas.

Iggy Azalea & Britney Spears on the set of the “Pretty Girls” music video
The song had mixed reviews and the video was okay for the most part but the most outstanding gift from this collaboration was their performance at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards. To keep it short, BRITNEY SPEARS KILLED IT. Their performance (obviously pre-taped) sent fans into a frenzy on social media applauding Britney from her outfit to her energetic choreography. It was definitely her most critically acclaimed performance this decade.

Quotes from various reviews of Britney Spears’ appearance at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards
The song was a mild success and did GREAT for Britney’s morale. However, it was a career low for Iggy Azalea when she and Britney had a passive aggressive twitter exchange. It was great to see the friendship between Britney and Iggy blossom over the past year from this collaboration. But when Iggy went on an extended Twitter rant, blaming lack of promotion (Britney) for it’s tepid chart and sales performance, Britney fired back with a single shady tweet putting an end to their friendship and the #PrettyGirls era.

Britney Spears’ response to Iggy Azalea’s tweets and her (at the time) canceled US tour
This was a big and welcomed surprise for Britney fans because Britney Spears rarely speaks up about her personal life let alone toss out a jab at one of her most recent collaborators. For that day of twitter excitement and the great deal of pride her Billboard Awards’ performance gave myself and her fans, I picked “Pretty Girls” as “The Pop Pyro’s Collaboration of the Year.”

The Pop Pyro’s pick for “Collaboration of the Year”

Newcomer of the Year: Pia Mia

After achieving her first charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Do It Again,” Pia Mia has proven to be a promising artist to place your bet on for a mainstream breakthrough next year. With a few buzz singles and videos under her belt, Pia has shown that not only can she sing, but she can also DANCE.

Single Cover for Pia Mia’s “Do It Again”
She has over 150 million views on her video for “Do It Again,” and she hasn’t even released her debut album yet. Her latest video “Touch” continues to illustrate how well she fits into the urban pop scene with extended dance routines and enough sex-appeal left to spare. She’s got rooted relationships with current boyfriend and producer Nic Nac, Chris Brown and if it’s any help to her popularity, she also has a BFF in Kylie Jenner.
With one of my favorite summer tracks of 2015 being “Do It Again,” I picked Pia Mia as “The Pop Pyro’s Newcomer of the Year.”

The Pop Pyro’s Pick for “Newcomer of the Year”

Another Notable Newcomer of 2015:

Carmen – “YAS” (You Ain’t Shit)
Carmen is currently readying her first EP for 2016 but she has three songs on her SoundCloud account already that are extremely catchy and will build an appetite for more of her music next year. Click on the link to listen: Carmen – “YAS”

Single Cover for Carmen’s “YAS”