Play MPE – Year in Review
With 2015 coming to a close, we thought it only fitting to reflect on those most-regaled songs, the most listened to, most downloaded “sends” from the Play MPE archives. Representative of the breadth of genres that reached the masses this year, Play MPE’s most downloaded are a natural reflection of the oodles of fantabulous music out there.
Amongst the standouts this year was Tame Impala‘s Currents. It’s no surprise that soon after its release, Currents saw upwards of 15 million streams via Spotify. The third album from the oft-dubbed “psych pop” marks a slight, if dancier departure for the band fronted by Kevin Parker. Bass heavy and a smidge melancholy, Currents has clearly struck a cord. The Grammy-nominated Tame Impala aren’t shy about favoring the fazer-laden production-style of their 60s and 70s inspirations. As for Currents’ success? Parker has commented “I still think the album is completely unlistenable.”
Well, alright then, that brings us to Disclosure. Caracal (Capitol) is the second studio album from the Brit electro-duo, featuring a bevy of guests including Sam Smith and Lorde. (Both even joined the pair onstage for their recent appearance on SNL.) Brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence released their debut in 2013, and it’s been a steady go of it since, with world tours including Coachella stints and more. Caracal has enjoyed critical success as well, with Rolling Stone bestowing upon it 3.5 stars. Disclosure are also now officially Grammy nominees, with Caracal receiving a nod for best Dance/Electronica album.
On the other end of the spectrum, 2015 saw Legacy Recordings release Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City, also clocking in amongst Play MPE’s top downloads this year. The 2 disc set serves as something of a companion piece to the corresponding Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit, running through December 31, 2016. The 36-track collection features a previously unreleased version of Bob Dylan’s “If Not for You.” Ambitiously, the collection is intended to define an era, through its exploration and celebration of pop, rock, folk and country. Tapped to provide audio commentary for the project, Charlie Daniels had this to say: “When Dylan came to Nashville, he grabbed the attention of the world and changed perceptions of music in Nashville forever. This album shines a spotlight on that incredible time.”
From yesterday to today, we transition to pure heartland pop country, with the release of Carrie Underwood‘s fifth studio album, Storyteller (Arista Nashville). New mom Underwood went back into the studio for Storyteller, following the release in 2014 of her first compilation album Greatest Hits: Decade #1. Meanwhile, Storyteller has since been certified Gold… making history in the process. The release makes Underwood the only artist in the 51-year history of Billboard‘s Top Country Albums chart to have all of her first six albums make their debut at number 1 on the chart. She’s in good company alongside frequent number one-er legends Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, and Loretta Lynn. Naturally, 2015 saw Storyteller’s first single “Smoke Break” rocket up the Mediabase Country Radio singles charts. We caught up with Lesly Simon, VP of Promotion at Arista Nashville, about their shining star Underwood. “We are thrilled to see the incredible reaction to Carrie’s new music from our radio friends and their listeners. First, “Smoke Break” launched with rocket ascent to the top of the sales and airplay charts. Now the massive early start of “Heartbeat” at Country radio has catapulted Storyteller, back to the top of the Country Album chart. It’s a true testament to the great music she continues to make.”
Joining Underwood amongst this year’s Country Mount Rushmore standouts is Clint Black. 2015 saw the release of Black’s first new material in a decade, with On Purpose, coming to us by way of Thirty Tigers. Black produced On Purpose‘s 14 tracks in his Nashville home studio. Addressing the album’s title, Clint noted “This is what I’m supposed to be doing. Therefore, this is me on purpose.” Indeed, this man of purpose has succeeded ten- fold with that drive: Black and his pen are credited with over two dozen number one hits and 31 top 10 singles. Recently, Clint gushed unabashedly to Taste of Country about his new home at Thirty Tigers. “The whole company, the way they do things, and more importantly, they really loved me, and didn’t want to go find me songs or get a producer who would make me sound like Jason Aldean or whoever in the world they were wanting me to go sound like. They sign artists they believe in, and just let them be themselves.” Promo guru Bob Mitchell caught us up on the project, and, well, we’re blushing! “Play MPE is the best! It was very exciting to look at the Play MPE daily download charts and see Clint Black’s name up at the top for a couple of weeks! The Collective, Blacktop, Thirty Tigers and all of us working on Clint’s On Purpose project are very proud that “Time For That” is one of the most downloaded tracks of the year! Not only have we gotten some great spins from the biggest monitored stations on “Time For That,” but Play MPE does a great job getting to non-monitored stations as well, including the stations in Clint’s home state of Texas. I heard from a lot of folks who have been with Clint from day one!” Thanks, Bob!! We’ll take it!
This year also saw the return of everyone’s favorite barn-rock darlings, Mumford & Sons. A show-stopper out of the gate of course, Wilder Mind (Glassnote) shot to number one in its first week in seven countries including the States and UK. Michael Starr, Senior Director of National Promotion at Glassnote Records was pleased to share this about Mumford & Sons‘ stand-out year: “Mumford & Sons had a great 2015 with Wilder Mind, which is RIAA-certified Gold. The first single, ‘Believe,’ brought the band another #1 at Alternative & Triple A. Their second single, The Wolf, achieved TOP 5 at both formats, and gave the band their first hit at Active Rock! We just launched their third single, ‘Ditmas,’ which is growing fast, as we prep for their U.S. Tour this Spring. Thanks to Play MPE for helping us spread the music with ease!” (Awwww.)
Still in the folk spectrum, but in its own class as well, is I Love You Honeybear, (Sub Pop) the second studio album from Josh Tillman, AKA Father John Misty. It’s hard not to embrace a record announced in an open letter as a concept album about and by Tillman himself: “I Love You, Honeybear is a concept album about a guy named Josh Tillman who spends quite a bit of time banging his head against walls, cultivating weak ties with strangers and generally avoiding intimacy at all costs. This all serves to fuel a version of himself that his self-loathing narcissism can deal with. We see him engaging in all manner of regrettable behavior… There’s a case to be made that it sounds and acts a bit like solo-era John Lennon, Scott Walker, Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, and Dory Previn, while taking more than a few cues from Woody Allen, Kurt Vonnegut, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Muhammad Ali… Nearly every tune is augmented by something special, be it orchestral strings, a mariachi band, questionable electronic drum solos, ragtime jazz combos, soul singers, or what have you. I’m pretty sure there’s a sitar in there somewhere. Blammo.”
I Love You, Honeybear was released to great critical praise. Debuting at number 17 on the Billboard 200 with 28,000 copies sold in its first week, it marked Tillman’s best album sales week to date. Clearly, this is just the tip of the iceberg for Father John/ Tillman. I think “blammo” just about sums up the year nicely. Let hashtag it up.
To check out these and other 2015 gems, head to your Play MPE account, and if you missed any of these, please don’t hesitate to contact our support!