The year is hardly new anymore, but music, as one of the most powerful and constant artistic forces, constantly shifts with time. UrbanWire looks at the latest happenings in the world of music, spanning genres and artistes to spot some of the most exciting trends in 2015.

Trap Takes Over

No longer just fodder for the clubbing masses, Electronic Dance Music (EDM) has boomed its way out of club speakers over the recent years and infiltrated mainstream music.

The credit doesn’t just lie with household-name DJs like Hardwell, Zedd, Avicii, Martin Garrix and more, but the mixing of EDM chorus breakdowns in pop songs (Katy Perry’s Dark Horse) and collaborations with Billboard-charting artists (David Guetta’s “Hey Mama” feat. Nicki Minaj & Afrojack) have all served to propel the genre forward.

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Most sub-genres under the EDM umbrella are familiar to most, like deep house, trance and dubstep, though last year saw the steady escalation of a genre from the 90s – trap music. Part of the post-dubstep movement, trap music is characterized by its 808-inspired bass tones, chopped and chewed vocals and the influences drawn from hip-hop, R&B and reggae dancehall. Trap is also often mistaken for its more tropical-sounding, reggaeton-inspired cousin, moombahton.

Just as how Skrillex’s 2010 EP Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites helped launch dubstep into the US market and made it a ubiquitous EDM genre, the application of trap to popular songs and its traction on music-sharing platforms such as YouTube and Soundcloud may soon enable trap to attain the same level of fervor as dubstep.


Acclaimed DJs are incorporating the genre into their festival sets and even collaborating to form trap-based acts like Jack Ü, the DJ duo of Skrillex and Diplo. As the founder of music label Mad Decent, Diplo is also responsible for introducing trap and dancehall to clubs worldwide.


In 2015, nightclubs will potentially feature trap music’s heightened presence alongside rave favorites like big room house, electro and progressive house on the dancefloor.

Don’t Trip

A decade ago, Massive Attack’s music broke into the British dance music scene. Their songs, steeped in ruminative lyricism and sultry, ambient tones built upon minimalist mixing formed the aural blueprint for the underground genre known as trip-hop.

Trip-hop is almost mathematical in its fluidity. Each song focuses on a set of replaying rhythms accented by vocals.


Older experimenters of trip-hop include art rock band Portishead, DJ Shadow and Geoff Barrow. The genre’s recent deviation from its 90s roots has seen a leisurely reinvention by female artistes like FKA twigs, whose first album, LP1 received rave reviews from critics and listeners, and Lana Del Rey’s subtle incorporation of trip-hop’s beat structures into her acclaimed album Born To Die.


“The magnetic, almost haunting musicality of trip-hop, backed by its roots in dance music is a sure-win answer to the equation of what would appeal to music-listeners who go crazy for everything obscure,” shared Ms Cally Cheung, entertainment writer for Popspoken.

Old School: No Longer Uncool

Soul music has been a hallmark genre since the 1950s. Elements of African-American gospel singing, rhythm & blues and jazz combined to create a sound that would remain in the musicality of Grammy award-winning artistes such as Sam Smith, and albums such as Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s collaborative effort, Cheek to Cheek.


“It’s very much a renaissance of the early 2000s where we were getting a lot of black-influenced music. I think [the resurgence of soul] is the follow-up effect of dance-influenced and electronic-pop music that has been receiving so much playability as of late. We’re at that soul-searching point where music is beginning to mean more than just bass drops to the masses. Adele is going to make a comeback within the year, so soul-influenced pop music will go through another wave this year,” said Ms Dyan Hidayat, an ex-writer for music website Spin or Bin.


Soul music isn’t a new genre, but its prominence in mainstream music stations and charts was definitely welcomed over the past half year, and it appears to increase with acts like John Newman and Rixton receiving accolades and Billboard traction. Soul has also pervaded dance music, from collaborations between John Newman and Calvin Harris, to the up-and-coming DJs SOHN and Lo-Fang.

Surprise! It’s An Album!

We’ve all suffered through the appalling realization that somehow, U2’s entire Songs of Innocence album had invaded our iTunes libraries. It was clearly a sneaky move, seeing how many struggled trying to remove the album from their libraries. While Bono’s marketing tactic was unwelcome by many, there’s a certain ingenuity that has only been backed up by Beyoncé’s eponymous surprise album that debuted to the rabid shock (and ecstasy) of many.


This sly promotional method is bound to re-surge within the coming year. On Feb 13, Canadian rapper Drake went from 0 to 100 by releasing his sixth album If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, leaving fans to scramble onto Soundcloud for the song previews.

It was cleverly was removed off Soundcloud after minutes, and fans then had to move to iTunes to purchase the album. Effective and capable of generating mass hype, this means of marketing an artiste or an album plays on the paranoia of people missing out on something new.

The Spirit of Singapore

You’ve probably seen the moniker and hashtag of #supportlocal appearing on social media featuring homegrown artistic creations, or during concerts and festivals with a predominant focus on local artistes. Although the efforts of local musicians have been largely negated in favor of Westernized fare for local listeners, there’s been an increase in the prominence prescribed to Singaporean musicians.


Most recently, electronic duo .gif performed at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival on Jan 24, sharing the stage with many internationally recognized indie acts. Last National Day, radio station Lush 99.5 celebrated with 24 hours of tracks exclusively played by local artistes.


Local hardcore acts also opened for many foreign bands who had Singapore as one of their tour stops, such as The Caulfield Cult opening for You Me At Six, False Plaintiff for La Dispute as well as alongside Straight Forward and Isles for Endless Heights.

In addition, there are local gigs organized almost weekly, which included Bane’s Don’t Wait Up Tour in February, where a slew of local bands, such as Wormrot, Subtlehc, Hollow Threat and more opened for the US hardcore punk quintet. Charlie Lim and Pleasantry performing amongst well-known indie acts such as Real Estate, Belle & Sebastian, Caribou and more at the music festival The Gathering.


It only takes a small amount of effort to provide recognition for a music culture that’s been progressing rapidly. “They truly deserve the attention, with the amount of dedication they put into their music. There’s Baybeats to provide some hype but it’s just an annual event, so hopefully in 2015, there will be greater steps taken to ensure that local artistes attain greater status in the minds of Singaporean music listeners,” said Cheryl Teo, an avid supporter of local arts.

Time to Tune In

A quarter past 2015, and the trends above could only serve as seafoam to the endless, chaotic waters of the music industry, though every year holds greater promises for fresh, exciting artists, albums and the occasional controversy (or ten).

Whether your love for music is the most ardent for 1 genre, or if your iTunes library could rival the shelves of a record store, there’s always a novel joy in discovering the kind of music that resonates most with you.

Trends are ephemeral, but do signify the direction in which music is headed for the year. Explore upcoming artists, purchase albums you enjoy, go to local gigs, concerts and festivals — music is supposed to provide a respite, after all.

Photos courtesy of the social media accounts of the following: Calvin Harris, Jack Ü, Diplo, DJ Shadow, FKA Twigs, John Newman, [.gif], Pleasantry, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Hoong Wei Long.