NPR recently released a top 50 records of 2015 and the list might surprise you in the sense that none of it is from the Billboard charts. However while not having any records that broke the charts there is something to be said for the 50 records they chose. Spanning everything from throwback rap artist like The Game to new school hip hop like Kendrick Lamar to indie singer songwriter Sufjan Stevens to Anthony De Mar’s solo piano work. This list was none of The Weekend or Ed Sheeran. On a recent analysis of “Thinking Out Loud” (a song by Ed Sheeran) it was seen that it is very typical pop songwriting, the song contains four chords that repeat the majority of the song with a guitar solo bridge and a minor pre-chorus. NPR seemed to choose their list on slightly different terms. They went for the atypical thinkers music. Through Sufjan Stevens layers and lyrical ability to Earl Sweatshirts apathetic appeal to a younger crowd and beats texture NPR choose a list of musicians that is between a pop appeal and an appeal for musicians. While the Alabama Shakes might be even simpler then Ed Sheeran in many ways they are raw and have a figured out sound with merit, potential and they round out NPRs list.
The reason I personally found this list more appealing then say Spotify or Billboards was because it seemed like it was influenced by people who knew more about music rather than by a range of people who go from being people just getting into music to Berklee professors. This being said money influences music too much and great artists go unnoticed in this profession. The music industry has become more profitable to treat than to actually cure.