Hands down, Adele won the 2015 year in music. More impressively, she did so in just two months. With “Hello,” her first single off 25, she set a record for the most U.S. downloads sold in a week with 1.11 million. She obliterated the first week sales record previously set by *NSYNC in 2000 (in two days) by selling over 3 million records. And, before the year is out, she will likely set ticket sales records for her upcoming U.S. tour, her first in five years. But, with all this talk of Adele, it’s easy to forget that this whole year has been a good one for female artists not named Adele. In fact, you might even say that2015 has been the year of female artists, because ladies are dominating the game.
In the months before Adele dropped her first single in three years, the Billboard charts were being topped by other women. Taylor Swift was racking up multiple weeks with singles off her 2014 album 1989, and Ariana Grande was making history with the first single off an album that won’t be out until next year. Swift and Katy Perry were making some big bucks out on the road, selling out every date on their respective tours. New artists like Elle King were also starting to make names for themselves. And Rihanna, well, we may still be waiting awhile for her eighth album, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t breaking records this year.
In the midst of Adele mania, it’s easy to forget all those other women who have made it a good year to be female in music. But this handy-dandy list is sure to jog your memory.
She released her album 1989 in 2014, but this year she surpassed 5 million sold, making it the fastest selling album to reach that milestone in more than 10 years. She accomplished this in 36 weeks. Stellar sales, combined with her massive world tour that raked in over $173 million, earned her the title of Billboard’s Top Artist of 2015 for the second time. She’s only the second woman to earn the title twice. The other woman? Well, Adele, of course, in 2011 and 2012. Not to mention, she earned the Milestone Award at the 2015 ACM Awards at just 25 years old, a year after she officially went pop.
She may not have released a new album, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t making any money. Forbes named her 2015’s Highest Paid Woman in Music, making $135 million, most of it thanks to her Prismatic World Tour, which grossed over $2 million per city over the course of 126 shows. This year was also the one where she solidified herself as an entrepreneur raking in the dough through her deals with Covergirl, Claire’s, and the perfume brand Coty. It’s something Perry definitely wasn’t shying away from, telling Forbes,”I am proud of my position as a boss, as a person that runs my own company. I’m an entrepreneur. I don’t want to shy away from it. I actually want to kind of grab it by its balls.”
She was named Spotify’s Most Streamed Female Artist in 2015, despite the fact that she didn’t release a proper album. She did, however, release three new singles: “FourFiveSeconds,” featuring Kanye West and Paul McCartney, “Bitch Better Have My Money,” and “American Oxygen.” She was the most streamed female artist worldwide, with over 1 billion streams and 57 million listeners. Not to mention she totally won this year’s Met Gala.
With her latest single “Focus,” she became the first singer to debut in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 song chart with the debut single from each of her first three albums. Grande’s song “The Way,” featuring rapper Mac Miller, off her debut album, Yours Truly, started off her string of hits by landing at No. 10 in 2013. The following year, Grande grabbed the No. 3 spot with “Problem,” featuring Iggy Azalea, off her second album, My Everything. Now in 2015, “Focus,” set to appear on her upcoming 2016 record Moonlight, debuted at No. 7 on the Hot 100 to secure the honor. It is “an unprecedented Hot 100 feat,” according to Billboard.
Elle King may not be as well known as the other female artists listed above, but she did manage to hit a milestone that’s good for all women. Her song “Ex’s and Oh’s” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, making her only the second female solo artist in the last two decades to earn that honor. Lorde was the first, hitting the top spot with “Royals” in 2013.
Beyoncé was right when she said girls run the world, and it’s clear that, when it comes to the world of music, it’s run by more than just a woman named Adele.