Trying to name one single artist that rises above the rest is always a tough choice, which is perhaps what makes the countless charts, playlists, and master lists that come out each year even more interesting. As listeners and fans, it's always fun to see what other people deem excellent, and why. There are two ways of making such a decision, the first is entirely based on statistics and the other is based entirely on subjective opinion; opinion which is bound to be different from anyone reading such a list. Therefore, it makes sense that the artist atop Spotify's "25 Top Artists Under 25" might not be the top choice for every casual listener out there. Although Avicii's "Wake Me Up" was the most streamed song ever on Spotify, garnering over a billion streams throughout the year, it still seems a little bit sad to give Avicii such a title when this year yielded such a magnificent crop of impressive pop stars. Sure, "Wake Me Up" was catchy as hell, but is Avicii really more deserving of the King of the Steams title than say, Lorde, or Earl Sweatshirt?
Once again, this particular chart highlights the vast difference between perceived artistic merit and success based on numbers. Although Avicii is an immensely successful artist, who performs at high profile festivals all around the world, it still seems insane to rank him over Lorde, whose year has brought not only immense success, but a series of inspiring and incredibly quotable moments that have endeared her to young women all over the nation and beyond.
Has Avicii been more prolific or produced better quality music than Earl Sweatshirt, who is often regarded as one of the most talented and innovative rappers currently making music? How can we judge on any of these fronts? There will always be dissenting voices, but here are my personal frontrunners from this list. Sorry Avicii, but you can't beat out Lorde's badassery, Iggy Azalea's.... ass, Miley Cyrus's brashness and Sam Smith's smooth crooning that easily.
I mean... obviously. First of all, Lorde came out with a chart topping album and she isn't even legal yet. So there's that, then there's her intelligent lyrics, public fearlessness, and oh yeah, her pretty-darn-cute friendship with Taylor Swift. Need I say more? She is a wonderful role model for young girls, and beyond that, she's a damn good musician with many more promising years in her future.
2) Miley Cyrus
I know this is controversial, but Miley Cyrus absolutely has to be one of the most hard working young popstars in the game right now. Although I personally don't love her music (except for this AMAZING remix by Caked Up), she has utterly reinvented herself in the past year or two, and has risen like a phoenix from her past, Disney-channel self.
Plus, she has been ceaselessly touring the world for months now, and she must have an insane workout/waxing regimen to boot, given the amount of skimpy outfits she manages to rock at her shows and during appearances. No matter your opinion on Miley's clothes, her style or her music, her presence in the music world of the last year cannot be denied, nor can it be confined to a single hit song or headline.
3) Earl Sweatshirt
Earl Sweatshirt is the coolest, smartest, most eloquent rapper you may or may not have heard of. Sweatshirt has been making waves in hip hop for a year or two now, and despite being something of a rapper's rapper, he has yet to really entirely break through to the mainstream. Perhaps that is his point, given the thoughtful intensity of his songs, but then again, you can't listen to his album Doris without listening another few hundred times to make sure you really got it. Give his work a listen, and then tell me to my face that "Wake Me Up" was better, but understand that I will never believe you.