Published Jan 14, 2016When there is conflict, doubt and misery in our world — and, holy crap, 2015 had its share — we often to turn to music as an escape, a place where troubles can be forgotten for three-and-a-half minutes, where cares can be danced away. So perhaps it's no surprise that this year brought a playlist of easy listening. A return to fun got the club going up on a Tuesday and Macklemore writing an epic showtune about his moped. Here are five LPs that slapped a smile on our mugs.
Beauty Behind the Madness
The charts' leading touchstone for embracing good times is the sunnier spin taken by Toronto's Abel Tesfaye — a bona fide, stadium-status, Saturday Night Live-starring pop star now. Leaping from wallflower to Off the Wall, the Weeknd is now embracing horns and hooks, granting interviews, and writing songs your mom plays in the car. Dude never could feel his face, but now he loves it.
A Mississippi Kris Kross for our trapped-out times, Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy spell their band backwards instead of wearing their jeans so. Damned if anyone has learned anything from immersing themselves in "Lit Like Bic" or "No Flex Zone," but the young duo's energy is frenetic and their delivery drips with a joyous style unchained.
Truth be told, Mayer Hawthorne has been on his fun grind for years, but this new union with hip-hop producer Jake One drills into a dance floor-funk aesthetic that is downright irresistible. Introducing the vibes of Chic and Zapp to a younger generation, Tuxedo scores authenticity points by being mixed by disco don dada DJ John Morales.
Powered by "Uptown Funk" — a little ditty that dragged children and grandparents to the dance floor at every wedding this summer — Ronson's seemingly never-ending mission to drag the past into the present delivers carefree gifts. When Stevie Wonder and Mystikal show up at the same party, glasses are bound to get smashed.
Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment
A California album created by kids in Chicago, Surf is so warm, creative and hopeful, it springs around with a lighter step — like one of those friends who doesn't own a TV and never watches the news. Take "Slip Slide," which features fun surprises from B.o.B., Busta Rhymes and Janelle Monae, and bubbles with horns from when funk was king. Such urgent optimism is a miracle.