Lady Gaga, the Weeknd, Miley Cyrus, and Rihanna were among the artists who contributed excellent music to soundtrack albums in 2015. Some of these were big hits, and others were never even released as singles, but they were all highlights from the world of movie music this year. Here's one view of the best soundtrack songs from 2015.
“Earned It,” the Weeknd
The Weeknd kicked off his year-long domination of the singles charts with this slow-burning triumph from Fifty Shades of Grey. With its stuttering, glacial pace, “Earned It” didn't sound like anything else on pop radio – and maybe that's why it became such a massive hit.
“Love Me Like You Do,” Ellie Goulding
The other big hit from Fifty Shades of Grey, “Love Me Like You Do” gave Ellie Goulding the biggest hit of her career. Co-written by Tove Lo, Max Martin, and a team of songwriters, the track was perhaps the catchiest single from a soundtrack album in 2015.
“What About the Rest of Us,” Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$ and Rico Love
Eminem was the central figure on the soundtrack to the boxing film Southpaw, but the best hip-hop track on the set was Action Bronson's “What About the Rest of Us,” a song about not being part of the 1% and trying to survive in a world that caters to the wealthy.
“Til it Happens to You,” Lady Gaga
Hands down the most important soundtrack single of the year was Lady Gaga's “Til it Happens to You,” from the documentary The Hunting Ground, which addressed the issue of rape on college campuses. The stirring ballad richly deserved its Grammy nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media.
“Writing's On the Wall,” Sam Smith
Sam Smith's Bond theme highlighted the swirling strings that are the trademark of any good Bond song. “Writing's On the Wall” wasn't as successful as the previous Bond theme, Adele's “Skyfall,” but Smith was able to elevate what is otherwise a fairly ordinary song with his strong vocals and passionate performance.
“Towards the Sun,” Rihanna
This surprising gem from the animated Dreamworks film Home featured Rihanna singing atop a chorus of background singers and chanting voices. “Turn your face towards the sun / Let the shadows fall behind you,” RiRi urged. The dramatic instrumentation helped the song feel upbeat and dark at the same time.
“Hypnosis,” Damien Rice
Confessional singer-songwriter Damien Rice has never been known for bubbly pop songs. In fact, most of his music is built around pained lyrics and acoustic guitar. But “Hypnosis” was a bright, sunny tune that perfectly complemented the animated picture The Prophet.
“Hands of Love,” Miley Cyrus
When she wasn't recording psychedelic music with the Flaming Lips this year, Miley Cyrus took some time to contribute the earnest, straightforward pop song “Hands of Love” to Freeheld. That movie told the real-life tale of a terminally ill woman fighting to achieve benefits for her same-sex partner, and Miley's song played a big role in telling the story.
“Make it Rain,” Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran was hugely influenced by Damien Rice, and it showed on “Make it Rain,” a remake of a Foy Vance song. Following the Rice playbook, Sheeran slowly built up to a dramatic climax and belted out the depressing words on this song from Sons of Anarchy.