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Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time [2022 Edition: #22]

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  • 073. Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer Different Park



    After writing and performing songs like this clever one at small local venues across Texas, Kacey inked a deal with Mercury Nashville and got to work recording songs for her debut effort.

    Small town living is the overarching theme on the album, but there are so many accessible subtopics that this really is a universal, storyteller's album. The resignation in "Blowin' Smoke" and "Merry Go 'Round" are great examples of the human tendency to bow to practicality and realism, leaning into pre-penned inevitabilities and abandoning grand dreams of yesteryear. Kacey doesn't just sit in the bleakness of it all with those two tracks, though; there's so much light-heartedness and smart humour injected throughout. Romance is music's most-ploughed subject and though "I Miss You" takes a more expected tender touch towards the topic, "Stupid" instead picks up an axe to the whole notion. She even has a song for the trolls, "Step Off", which holds a rather extreme (but understandable) message at the end of its chorus. "It Is What It Is", the only track from the album to spend multiple days atop my daily chart, circles back to that sense of resignation earlier on in the album, closing the LP on a sober note. My favourite track, though, is the track that introduced me to Kacey Musgraves, the progressive (by country's notoriously conservative and traditional standards) "Follow Your Arrow". That song really connected her with a fanbase outside of country music and, perhaps more significantly, made a certain segment of that core country base feel recognised in a rare positive light. It's also still the song that gets the most roaring applause at her live shows to this day.

    The album was a home-run success with critics, scoring 89 on Metacritic. "Merry Go 'Round" won Best Country Song at the Grammys and the album 'Best Country Album'. 'Same Trailer Different Park' would also score nominations at most of the major country award shows, though it would, rather curiously enough, lose them all. It would peak at #2 in the US and eventually earn a platinum certification there, setting the sturdy foundation for future successes from the talented singer-songwriter.
    Code:
    Significance rating: 10/20
    No. 1s on my daily chart: It Is What It Is (x2); Follow Your Arrow (x1); Stupid (x1); Merry Go 'Round (x1); Blowin' Smoke (x1)
    Best lyric: Mama's hooked on Mary Kay, brother's hooked on Mary Jane, and daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down, Mary Mary quite contrary, we get bored so we get married, and just like dust we settle in this town
    Best melody: Silver Lining
    Best video: Follow Your Arrow
    Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
    Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
    Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
    Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
    Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
    Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
    AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

    History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

    Comment


    • 072. Taylor Swift - Lover



      Two years after the grungy 'Reputation' era, which was Taylor's lowest-impacting commercial and critical effort at that stage of her career, she returned with a sunnier, lighter image and sound, the 18-track 'Lover' LP.

      So, yeah, 18 tracks - that was too much. It's still the lengthiest of her standard edition albums and the excess fat takes away from some truly standout, career-hallmarking highlights. If she needed help deleting the excess, I would've respectfully pointed to the clumsy, juvenile, and ultimately unconvincing opening track "I Forgot That You Existed", or the well-meaning, but sleep-inducing "Soon You'll Get Better". I might've even have been as brazen to suggest marginally overrated "Cruel Summer" be relegated to deluxe edition duties, much to the ire of her die-hard fans. However, when this album is good, it's damn good. Title track "Lover" had a lot to live up to as far as Taylor album title track quality goes and its gentle, swaying production and lyrical rhythm provides an almost tangible caress to listeners' ears. "Paper Rings" stays on the romance highway, but veers leftward to the HOV lane with a far more frenetic and immediate sense of urgency and significantly less bridled enthusiasm and passion. Always one to dial up the melodrama to telenovela levels, "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince" makes ace use of backing choir vocals to build to a thirst-quenching waterfall bridge. The "you're the one I want" line in "Paper Rings" feels like a throwback reference to the similarly-titled Grease classic and the soft trumpet on the magnetic push-and-pull melodic magic that is "False God" is irresistible. In "Daylight", Taylor has her most poignant album-closer. The most outstanding track though? "The Man". It's my favourite song addressing the issue of sexism ever and the way T-Swizzle amped it all the way up through its music video, which also happens to be my favourite video of hers, gave me absolutely everything I needed from her.

      The handling of this era was unfortunate. Lead single "Me!", though, in hindsight, a fun and harmless bop not without charm, was perhaps a bit tone-deaf and too sharp a transition from her previous era. To follow it up with "You Need to Calm Down" seemed like Taylor and her team were playing a winning game of self-sabotage. Still, though, even some way from the peak of her powers, 'Lover' still ate. It earned a trio of Grammy nominations and was the top-selling album in the US in 2019 (the fourth and not final time Taylor would achieve this). 'Lover' had the unfortunate timing of following an era where public opinion regarding Taylor was at its most sour and preceding a global pandemic, which spurred on a flurry of Taylor Swift original and re-releases. In a sense, it's easy for it to have gotten lost in the shuffle, but the music is so good that I hope history forgives it its bleh timing.
      Code:
      Significance rating: 10/20
      No. 1s on my daily chart: The Man (x6); Paper Rings (x2); Daylight (x1); Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince (x1); Lover (x1); Me! (x1)
      Best lyric: My love was as cruel as the cities I lived in, everyone looked worse in the light
      Best melody: Cruel Summer 
      Best video: The Man
      Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
      Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
      Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
      Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
      Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
      Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
      AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

      History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

      Comment


        • I won't repeat mysef (well, repeat myself repeating yourself) from your other thread too much, but I obviously adore our shared admiration for "Follow Your Arrow." I can't recall my exact Kacey origin story, though. Her Paulboard debut was actually "Silver Lining" ("Follow Your Arrow" didn't enter until a few weeks later), but I wasn't posting on UKMIX then, so I have no idea how that came about (maybe Hor recommended it via other social media)? Any rate, Kacey = top-tier introspective genre-blending status-quo-shattering storyteller supreme
        • I wonder if your fondness for Kanye impedes your enjoyment of "I Forgot That You Existed" at all (I always assumed it was directed at him, among others too, probably). Admittedly, it's a pretty petty way to start off this supposedly-brighter/lighter album, but it's just too relatable not to love (I let shitty people live rent-free in my head way too often, so the song's almost aspirational in a sense). That specific track aside, I'm always glad to see anyone praise Lover, which feels a bit forgotten/overlooked now between the memorably-divisive reputation and her acclaimed folksy rebirth. I do enjoy Lover's singles, but I agree that they didn't do this album any favors with most people (or even many fans). Shout-outs to some of my faves that you didn't mention one way or the other: "Cornelia Street," "Death By A Thousand Cuts," "The Archer," and "I Think He Knows." "and baby, IIIIIII get mystifiiiiiiied by how this city screams your name..."
        last.fmPaulboard Top 30

        Comment


        • Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
          I won't repeat mysef (well, repeat myself repeating yourself) from your other thread too much, but I obviously adore our shared admiration for "Follow Your Arrow." I can't recall my exact Kacey origin story, though. Her Paulboard debut was actually "Silver Lining" ("Follow Your Arrow" didn't enter until a few weeks later), but I wasn't posting on UKMIX then, so I have no idea how that came about (maybe Hor recommended it via other social media)? Any rate, Kacey = top-tier introspective genre-blending status-quo-shattering storyteller supreme
          Ooh, spicy!

          Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
          I wonder if your fondness for Kanye impedes your enjoyment of "I Forgot That You Existed" at all (I always assumed it was directed at him, among others too, probably). Admittedly, it's a pretty petty way to start off this supposedly-brighter/lighter album, but it's just too relatable not to love (I let shitty people live rent-free in my head way too often, so the song's almost aspirational in a sense). That specific track aside, I'm always glad to see anyone praise Lover, which feels a bit forgotten/overlooked now between the memorably-divisive reputation and her acclaimed folksy rebirth. I do enjoy Lover's singles, but I agree that they didn't do this album any favors with most people (or even many fans). Shout-outs to some of my faves that you didn't mention one way or the other: "Cornelia Street," "Death By A Thousand Cuts," "The Archer," and "I Think He Knows." "and baby, IIIIIII get mystifiiiiiiied by how this city screams your name..."
          I wonder if Ye and T-Swizzle will ever reconcile. If not, it wouldn't be the first case of a pair of at-odds stars where I like both parties.

          Yeah, I think it gets lost because it doesn't have that juicy first-time-Taylor's-ever-done-this-specific-thing narrative. I know I didn't mention them, but "Cornelia Street" and "Death by a Thousand Cuts" were massive growers for me. I always enjoyed "The Archer" and especially "I Think He Knows".
          Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
          Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
          Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
          AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

          History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

          Comment


          • 071. Beyoncé - B'Day



            Released to coincide with Beyoncé's 25th birthday (it would actually miss her birthday by a day in the US and three days in several major music markets, but Mexico and most of Europe got it exactly on 9/4), 'B'Day' was the follow-up to her 'Dangerously in Love' debut three years prior and upgrade us she most certainly did.

            I don't know if Beyoncé heard word of any unsatisfactory remarks regarding her vocals on 'Dangerously in Love', but she did not hold a single vocal punch on 'B'Day'. She's in fierce vocal form throughout. "Upgrade U" sees her take on a hip/hop flow in her delivery, to great effect, and with some lyrics that still stand tall to this day. "Ring the Alarm" is a big, sirens-heavy, amped up bop, featuring this classic performance that ranks among her all-time best. Female empowerment always a theme Bey keeps in her bag, "Freakum Dress" leans into the sexual liberation side of that conversation, a far more fun and funky take than she'd done up to that point. Her most-viewed video on YouTube from this era is the lava-hot "Beautiful Liar", an iconic collaboration with fellow superstar Shakira. The song itself is slightly below the album's standard, but that video really is special and was a much-talked-about moment in pop culture. "Green Light" with its "Go!" hook is still one of Bey's catchiest songs of her illustrious career. For as much as this album is defined by its bops, Bey never leaves her ballad-loving fans without their special buffet. "Flaws and All" is an introspective, humble, heart-on-sleeve thank you letter for being a recipient of unconditional love. "Resentment" is an honest take on the lingering effects of infidelity. "If" features one of my favourite melodies on the album and I love its borderline threatening tone wrapped in disappointment. "Irreplaceable" remains Bey's biggest solo Billboard hit, topping the Hot 100 for 10 weeks, a decade before streaming and the GP's stagnant music consumption habits made that a common occurrence. Nine years ago, I did a Beyoncé tribute where "Irreplaceable" was my #1 Beyoncé song up to that point of her career, which was fair as I have so many memories attached to the song as it was played incessantly my first year of junior high school. It's since been supplanted as my 'B'Day' fave by "Listen", which is technically a copy/paste soundtrack ballad from 'Dreamgirls', but has really taken on its own iconic status being a favourite cover selection by talent show contestants since 2006.

            'B'Day' earned seven Grammy nominations across two ceremonies, winning Best Contemporary R&B Album. It went platinum five times over in the US and sent four singles to the top 20 in the US. "Beautiful Liar" won Most Earthshattering Collaboration at the VMAs. Its supporting tour 'The Beyoncé Experience', featuring opening acts such as Chris Brown, Ludacris, and Robin Thicke, went on to be her biggest solo touring success up to that point. Not bad at all driven by an album recorded over two weeks, right?
            Code:
            Significance rating: 10/20
            No. 1s on my daily chart: Irreplaceable (x5); Deja Vu (x2); Listen (x1); Upgrade U (x1); Green Light (x1); Freakum Dress (x1)
            Best lyric: I hear you be the block, but I'm the lights that keep the streets on
            Best melody: Ring the Alarm
            Best video: Deja Vu
            Rank in 2010 countdown: 38
            Rank in 2011 countdown: 43
            Rank in 2012 countdown: 54
            Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
            Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
            Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
            AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

            History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

            Comment


            • 070. P!nk - The Truth About Love



              Four years following 'Funhouse' and a year after giving birth to her daughter, P!nk returned in fine form to share her 'Truth About Love'.

              For a 20-track album, P!nk maintains an impressive standard of quality throughout, though I could also comfortably select five tracks to reduce this to a more robust 15-set listen. 'The Truth About Love' also rolled forward her equal parts balladeer and rock star formula set a decade prior. For as much as mainstream pop stars fumble with single choices, P!nk and her team made sterling choices here as the "Blow Me"-->"Try"-->"Just Give Me a Reason" 1-2-3 punch combo alone made this her most successful era on the singles charts. They each represented the shades of P!nk I love, too. "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" showcases her playful, fiery side, "Try" her motivational TED Talk side, and "Just Give Me a Reason" her soft, romantic side. All great songs and "Try" has especially been a significant track for me over the years, accompanying me through many a study and busy season journey. Anthemic "Are We All We Are", script-flipping "Slut Like You", and heartfelt ode to daughter "Run" are all grade A standouts, though you'd have to dig beyond the 17-track standard edition tracklisting to find my absolute favourite song on the album. Though it's great and certainly a top three pick with its big reclamation of self message, you'd have to move past "The King is Dead but the Queen is Alive" as well, stopping at "Timebomb". The way the song ticks off, inevitably detonating in a cathartic explosion of emotion at the point of the bridge is absolute brilliance and among the finest gifts P!nk has given fans over her two-decade-long career.

              What makes P!nk's brand of pop music special is her ability to add an authentic grit to otherwise glossy pop melodies. It gives her songs a kind of edge to them that separates her from her pop peers and this, the last album of hers that I feel truly packages her unique skillset and strengths, resonated with critics and the charts. It's her most-critically-acclaimed album of her career and set an ARIA chart record when it finished both 2012 and 2013 as the top album in Australia. Another first for her was finally getting to #1 on the US albums chart.
              Code:
              Significance rating: 10/20
              No. 1s on my daily chart: Try (x9); The King is Dead but the Queen is Alive (x3); Blow Me (One Last Kiss) (x3); Timebomb (x2); Are We All We Are (x2); Run (x1); Slut Like You (x1)
              Best lyric: Life is for the living, but not a living hell, so take it, take this, oh, you can have all of me, take it, take this, here, you can have everything, I don't want to be flawless, when I go I want the cuts to show, so take it, take this, oh, you can have all of me, break it, take it, oh, f**k it, have everything!
              Best melody: Timebomb
              Best video: Try
              Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
              Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
              Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
              Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
              Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
              Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
              AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

              History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

              Comment


              • 069. Lady Gaga - Joanne



                After moving progressively more avant-garde with each album release, it came to a head 'round 2013 when the GP said enough is enough and 'ARTPOP' underperformed commercially and underwhelmed critically. As such, Gaga and her team decided to rebrand and move her more to the midpoint of the 'normalcy' needle, first with her collaborative jazz 'Cheek to Cheek' effort with Tony Bennett and then this, where even the album cover has Mother Monster deep in her midwestern housewife bag.

                Musically, 'Joanne' is easily the tamest of her non-soundtrack, non-jazz endeavours. She veers from country and folk lanes, to dance and pop, to rock and funk. It's mostly terrific material from start to finish, though. "Diamond Heart" and "A-Yo" are uptempo, spirited dance-pop cuts, well within her realm of expertise. Title track "Joanne", a tribute track to her aunt who died due to complications arising from the autoimmune disease lupus when she was only 19 years old, is a beautiful ballad. Alongside "Sinner's Prayer", Gaga does a great job expressing a softer side of herself, though she does rock it up in the middle with the untameable "John Wayne" and sexes things up with the song on the album I feel is truest to her essence, "Dancin' in Circles". A lot was made of the key change within lead single "Perfect Illusion", but I still think it was a wonky pick for forerunner duties. "Come to Mama", though, in the political climate of 2016, was much-needed. "Hey Girl" is surprisingly tame considering the combined eccentricity powers of the two acts and isn't quite the girl power anthem I wanted from them, but it's there. "Angel Down", in my preferred demo tape version, is a raw call to action that definitely rouses deep emotion from me; she does a grade A job of it live, too. My top track is a song that I've mentioned before motivated me during a challenging time in my life, "Million Reasons", and as such holds a key place in my music library.

                "Joanne" ended up winning the Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance the year after "Million Reasons" inexplicably lost it to a far inferior submission. The album became her fourth consecutive US #1 and it was during this era that she headlined the SuperBowl Halftime Show to near-universal critical acclaim. I think many fans tend to undersell the significance of 'Joanne', but I think this solidified the bridge that eventually led her to her 'Star is Born' repeak and a return to classic Gaga music in 'Chromatica'. As such, for me at least, this is an album and era that I'm happy happened.
                Code:
                Significance rating: 10/20
                No. 1s on my daily chart: Million Reasons (x9); Perfect Illusion (x2); Dancin' in Circles (x1); Diamond Heart (x1); Joanne (x1); Sinner's Prayer (x1); Angel Down (x1)
                Best lyric: I bow down to pray, I try to make the worst seem better, Lord, show me the way, to cut through all his worn out leather, I've got a hundred million reasons to walk away, but baby, I just need one good one to stay
                Best melody: Dancin' in Circles
                Best video: John Wayne
                Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
                Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
                Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
                Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
                Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
                AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

                History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by JSparksFan View Post
                  I wonder if Ye and T-Swizzle will ever reconcile. If not, it wouldn't be the first case of a pair of at-odds stars where I like both parties.
                  Yeah, I definitely don't see it ever happening, but I'd be very curious to hear how a reconciliatory collaboration track from them would sound Such creative potential, but such disastrous potential too.
                  • B'Day was my first Beyoncé album purchase, and my basic-Midwestern-gay poppy ears were so disappointed (aside from "Irreplaceable," obv) that I never picked up IASF (legitimately) I'm definitely embarrassed now by how close-minded I was then, unable/unwilling to appreciate the big brassy (sexy) energy across B'Day. I don't see it ever standing toe-to-toe with the likes of her self-titled in my eyes, but several of its tracks are extremely fun to crank all the way up on occasion. I didn't realize you held "Listen" in such high regard now! Was its ascension aided by any specific examples of those talent show covers you mentioned?
                  • I love "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)," but P!nk's first-single-formula was starting to feel pretty tired/predictable by then. What wasn't predictable was how huge "Just Give Me A Reason" became as single #3! Wild that it was her first-ever US No. 1 album (though Funhouse did come close)
                  • I was initially shocked and appalled to see Joanne so high, but as I read though your write-up, I kept thinking "Oh, I do like that track, though. And that one. And that one." Maybe "Perfect Illusion" being the lead permanently soured my impression/recollection of the album? Maybe I'm also slightly salty about her feeling the need to put out a less campy/gay album to get back in people's good graces (though I know she has a genuine interest in a wide range of musical styles/genres, so it's not like exploring beyond dance/pop was actually forced on her. I guess I'm just projecting a bit there). "Come To Mama" was an early (comforting) standout for me too
                  last.fmPaulboard Top 30

                  Comment


                  • Great albums from P!nk, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift
                    https://www.ukmix.org/forum/chart-di...-first-edition

                    https://www.ukmix.org/forum/chart-di...-first-edition

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                      Yeah, I definitely don't see it ever happening, but I'd be very curious to hear how a reconciliatory collaboration track from them would sound Such creative potential, but such disastrous potential too.
                      Yeah, I could see it going in an extreme direction as well - extremely well or extremely unlistenable. They're both pretty great with video treatments, so maybe they'd at least excel there. Anyway, a pipe dream it most certainly is and not among my top ones either.

                      Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                      B'Day was my first Beyoncé album purchase, and my basic-Midwestern-gay poppy ears were so disappointed (aside from "Irreplaceable," obv) that I never picked up IASF (legitimately) I'm definitely embarrassed now by how close-minded I was then, unable/unwilling to appreciate the big brassy (sexy) energy across B'Day. I don't see it ever standing toe-to-toe with the likes of her self-titled in my eyes, but several of its tracks are extremely fun to crank all the way up on occasion. I didn't realize you held "Listen" in such high regard now! Was its ascension aided by any specific examples of those talent show covers you mentioned?
                      I loved the duet "Listen" performance Bey did with Alexandra Burke on X-Factor. They changed up the arrangement a bit and it was a perfect touch.

                      B'Day was still around the time that radio would play Beyoncé's music until I liked it, so I never had much opportunity to escape it enough to form an uninfluenced opinion. It seems to be one of her more polarising releases, though. Fans either really love it and point to it as a direction that she should return to, whereas others seem happy that she's matured beyond it.

                      Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                      I love "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)," but P!nk's first-single-formula was starting to feel pretty tired/predictable by then. What wasn't predictable was how huge "Just Give Me A Reason" became as single #3! Wild that it was her first-ever US No. 1 album (though Funhouse did come close)
                      Yeah, I never saw "Just Give Me a Reason" becoming the huge hit it became.

                      Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                      I was initially shocked and appalled to see Joanne so high, but as I read though your write-up, I kept thinking "Oh, I do like that track, though. And that one. And that one."Maybe "Perfect Illusion" being the lead permanently soured my impression/recollection of the album? Maybe I'm also slightly salty about her feeling the need to put out a less campy/gay album to get back in people's good graces (though I know she has a genuine interest in a wide range of musical styles/genres, so it's not like exploring beyond dance/pop was actually forced on her. I guess I'm just projecting a bit there). "Come To Mama" was an early (comforting) standout for me too
                      Yeah, that's one of the reasons I love rating albums on a track-by-track basis so much. It doesn't always tell the full story, especially when there are enormous disparities in tracklisting length, but it can be a great way to really examine an album based on 'merit' and not the perception of the album's credibility and value.

                      I didn't see it as less campy/gay; I just viewed it as less 'weird' and there's a distinction there. For instance, Katy's music is pretty campy/gay in my view, but there's little weirdness in either her sound or image. Plus I think it was a multi-project approach to an image revamp, from Cheek to Cheek to Joanne to A Star is Born. With the GP (somewhat) back in pocket, that gave way to be able to commercially afford to return to normal operations with Chromatica.

                      Glad you have love for the underheralded "Come to Mama". I don't think people think of it much, but it's a warm hug!

                      Originally posted by vinnie65 View Post
                      Great albums from P!nk, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift
                      Pleased you appreciate them!
                      Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
                      Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
                      Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
                      AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

                      History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

                      Comment


                      • 068. ABBA - Super Trouper



                        After roaring 70s success with their folk, pop, and disco albums (as a point of reference, 'Arrival' went platinum 18 times over in Australia), ABBA decided to don a cape for their first release of the new 80s decade, gifting pop fans 'Super Trouper'.

                        The magic of ABBA is fairly simple - quality and comprehensive songwriting from Benny and Björn that pays just as much attention to fully fleshed out verses as to catchy hooks, the heavenly harmonies of vocalists Agnetha and Frida, and quirky melodies (again from Benny and Björn) you don't get elsewhere added for good measure and spice. There's all of that captured in this, their finest studio release, which balances joy and heartbreak in seamless fashion. Lead single "The Winner Takes It All" is their classically styled ballad of honourable defeat. It's one of their most iconic songs and many reasonable fans' favourite from them. "Super Trouper" has a lively melody that belies its rather sober lyrics regarding the loneliness that oftentimes accompanies superstardom. Then there's the historical-referencing "The Piper" that brings all that quirky excitement for which ABBA can be relied upon and the hopeful and joyful "Happy New Year". My favourite track, though, is the excellence that is "Lay All Your Love on Me". Its earnestness, its exceptional lyricism, its readymade-for-stadium-chanting and hymn-like hook - it's that heart-on-sleeve, big pop anthem that always resonates deeply with me. The live performance of "The Way Old Friends Do" as the final track on the standard edition was a smart choice. In my view, it's the group, who were in the middle of the two divorces that maritally split the four, commenting on the friendship that underpinned their relationships.

                        'Super Trouper' ended 1980 as the best-selling album in the UK, the third time in five years the Swedish quartet achieved the high honour. Arriving in a pre-Metacritic world, this is arguably also ABBA's most critically acclaimed release of their career. Also, while not quite my most-played ABBA album, this is their most cohesive effort for me, with no bumps along the ride, just consistent and timeless magic from start to finish.
                        Code:
                        Significance rating: 11/20
                        No. 1s on my daily chart: The Winner Takes It All (x1); Andante, Andante (x1)
                        Best lyric: I've had a few little love affairs, they didn't last very long and they've been pretty scarce, I used to think that was sensible, it makes the truth even more incomprehensible, 'cause everything is new, and everything is you, and all I've learned has overturned, what can I do?
                        Best Melody: Lay All Your Love on Me
                        Best video: Super Trouper
                        Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                        Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
                        Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
                        Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
                        Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
                        Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
                        AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

                        History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

                        Comment


                        • 'Super Trouper' is an amazing album, it features 3 fantastic singles plus many great album tracks which are so good that they could have been released as singles as well.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Benny View Post
                            'Super Trouper' is an amazing album, it features 3 fantastic singles plus many great album tracks which are so good that they could have been released as singles as well.
                            Indeed!
                            Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
                            Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
                            Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
                            AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

                            History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

                            Comment


                            • 067. Florence + the Machine - Ceremonials



                              After several failed attempts at becoming a country singer, Florence Welch would eventually connect with 'the Machine' part of the band and on 'Lungs', the band's big debut, showcase solid indie-rock and celestial-pop anthems. On 'Ceremonials', they would refine the raw magic of 'Lungs' and soar even higher into the heavens.

                              Though a rather chorus-centred affair, 'Ceremonials' is the best-written album Florence + the Machine have put together. The LP weaves through a broad set of themes, always with the kitchen sink of melodic and vocal earnestness at the ready. "Only If for a Night" speaks to a dream Florence had of her late grandmother, "Shake It Out" about those slothful hangover demons, and "Spectrum" about the range of emotional experiences within a relationship, with its slow-build-to-massive-climax structure . There are also songs more abstract, such as "What the Water Gave Me", inspired by Virginia Woolf's suicide and "Lover to Lover", where she tapped into the passion of soul singers of yesteryear, such as Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding, and the fantasy of a bona fide rock 'n roll life. So much of the band's music is film-ready stuff that it wasn't a surprise when TV shows Game of Thrones and Revenge borrowed the dark atmosphere of "Seven Devils" to soundtrack promotional clips (GoT) and a pivotal scene in a finale (Revenge). My favourite song, though, is "No Light, No Light", from which I've been able to fashion my own mini-movie of sorts featuring that palpable tension that precedes a relationship-altering conversation. She also did a live performance of it at the 2012 BRIT Awards that was absolutely breathtaking.

                              This album holds a special place in my library as I vividly recall it being one of my early explorations, in that 2011-2012 period, of more adventurous pop music than I'd listened to up to that point. Horacio was a big proponent of that and this album a massive (and rare) intersectional point of our tastes. Commercially, this did well, which must have been a sigh of relief for the label, as music videos were filmed and released for half of the 12 standard edition tracks. Three times platinum in the UK and a first-time US top 10 for the band was a solid return on investment. Critically, it continued a streak of strong critical responses to the band's work.
                              Code:
                              Significance rating: 11/20
                              No. 1s on my daily chart: No Light, No Light (x2); Seven Devils (x2); Shake It Out (x2); Only If for a Night (x1)
                              Best lyric: Every demon wants his pound of flesh
                              Best melody: Seven Devils 
                              Best video: Shake It Out
                              Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                              Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
                              Rank in 2012 countdown: 64
                              Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
                              Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
                              Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
                              AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

                              History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

                              Comment


                              • Masterpiece album, very good choice Akini!

                                Comment


                                • Originally posted by britneylinda View Post
                                  Masterpiece album, very good choice Akini!
                                  Glad you appreciate the album too!
                                  Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
                                  Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
                                  Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
                                  AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

                                  History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

                                  Comment


                                  • Florence And The Machine and Abba are fantastic albums !
                                    https://www.ukmix.org/forum/chart-di...-first-edition

                                    https://www.ukmix.org/forum/chart-di...-first-edition

                                    Comment


                                    • Originally posted by vinnie65 View Post
                                      Florence And The Machine and Abba are fantastic albums !
                                      Agreed!
                                      Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
                                      Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
                                      Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
                                      AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

                                      History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

                                      Comment


                                      • 066. Janet Jackson - janet.



                                        Following the landmark success of predecessor 'Rhythm Nation 1814', the demand for Janet Jackson was such that there was a bidding war among several high-profile labels to sign the young superstar. Funnily enough, she signed with the one titled 'Virgin' for an unprecedented sum (older brother Michael would break that contract figure record a few days later) and recorded an album dropping her signature name and stylised in such a way that it's meant to read, 'janet, period' as a curt response to those who felt she was only achieving the no. 1s and the widespread impact because of her family name. (Since 1993, the only album where Janet displays her surname on the album cover is 2008's 'Discipline' and even there it's only on select editions - on Spotify, it's just the first name). Would she be able to continue her success with this 'change' in marketing and a shift from industrial sound from before? Spoiler alert - duh.

                                        With a tracklisting that's bloated by interludes - half the tracks are interludes and that really didn't need to be the case - 'janet.' is a rich and varied listen from start to 75-minutes-later finish. "The Body That Loves You" is a Latin-scented, jazz-spritzed cut said to have been inspired by acts like Astrud and João Gilberto, Gilberto Gil, and Maria Bethânia that Janet grew up listening to. I love how romantic and sensual it is, and that's not an easy balance to strike, but Janet does it better than anyone else. The sleek production on that last line is heavenly. And speaking of striking romantic/sensual balance, she opts not to do that on "70s Love Groove", which culminates in a spirited expression of a climax from Ms. Jackson. (She services fans' ears to tonnes of moans on "Throb" as well). On "What'll I Do", she masterfully transforms a 60s rock song to a quaint blend of R&B, rock, and soul. As for her own bona fide rock song, she submits for consideration "This Time", fitted with brilliant operatic vocals courtesy of Kathleen Battle. Armed with a warm R&B melody, "Any Time, Any Place" features exquisitely layered production and cleverly inserted rain and thunder sound effects to further set the mood. Janet doesn't typically do straightforward, classic pop balladry, but she does it to great effect on "Where Are You Now" and "Again". There's an irresistible girlish charm to "Whoops Now" and "Because of Love", the most effervescent track on the album, has Janet's trademark joy centre stage. My most-played Janet song, and one of my top 10 most-played songs of all-time is "That's the Way Love Goes". The gem makes excellent use of Janet's delicate vocals with a melody that seamlessly fuses R&B, pop, and downtempo elements. It's one of the great R&B classics in music history...and still isn't the best track on its parent album. That honour is reserved for "If", which is, by many fans' considerations, the quintessential Janet track. I love the fantasy of it all, which takes a backseat to practicality and a personal sense of pace. The production is such a broad-brushed gourmet of melodies leasing some of the best components of R&B, new jack swing, industrial rock, hip/hop, and pop in Janet's catalogue. And the video is one of the best clips of the 90s.

                                        Driven largely by the aforementioned twin power turbines of "That's the Way Love Goes" and "If", 'janet.' is comfortably my most-played Janet album. It is also her biggest worldwide seller, her first album to debut at no. 1 in the US with the highest first-week figures for a female artist at that point in time, and sent six songs to the top 10 of the Hot 100. The strength of the era lifted her to be the most successful female artist in America in 1993. Janet's sexual expression on the album has been studied by academics who claim that she contributed to a higher degree of sexual freedom among women, with direct impact being noted on the image and marketing of acts like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and P!nk. (I'd throw in the likes of Ciara, Beyoncé, and Rihanna as well).
                                        Code:
                                        Significance rating: 11/20
                                        No. 1s on my daily chart: That's the Way Love Goes (x13); If (x7); Because of Love (x1); This Time (x1)
                                        Best lyric: Like a moth to a flame burned by the fire
                                        Best melody: This Time
                                        Best video: If
                                        Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                                        Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
                                        Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
                                        Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
                                        Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
                                        Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
                                        AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

                                        History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

                                        Comment


                                        • Originally posted by JSparksFan View Post
                                          I loved the duet "Listen" performance Bey did with Alexandra Burke on X-Factor. They changed up the arrangement a bit and it was a perfect touch.
                                          LOVE IT! If only they'd slapped that version onto one of the many B'Day deluxe/international editions/remix EPs.

                                          Originally posted by JSparksFan View Post
                                          I didn't see it as less campy/gay; I just viewed it as less 'weird' and there's a distinction there. For instance, Katy's music is pretty campy/gay in my view, but there's little weirdness in either her sound or image. Plus I think it was a multi-project approach to an image revamp, from Cheek to Cheek to Joanne to A Star is Born. With the GP (somewhat) back in pocket, that gave way to be able to commercially afford to return to normal operations with Chromatica.
                                          Yeah, very fair, I was being too narrow with my conception of "camp" there (like how Orville Peck is plenty camp and plenty gay, but his music definitely isn't dancey/like Gaga's early hits at all).
                                          • Ha, yeah, the "Interlude" situation got pretty out-of-control on janet. Considering how many of them are less than 10 seconds long, at least some could've just been included as the start of the following song (the way this album's structured would be like making "Gimme a beat!" a separate interlude track before "Nasty"). That silliness aside, it's awesome to see someone devote several sentences to singing the praises of "The Body That Loves You" (that one doesn't seem to get singled out very often, for better or worse). It has slight "elevator music" vibes to my ears, but I kinda love that about it (might as well start f**kin' in that elevator while we're there). I'll forever associate you with "This Time" (it was always a big "SKIP" for me until you started advocating for it here on UKMIX). I tended to slightly prefer the R. Kelly Mix of "Any Time, Any Place" to the album version, but I haven't re-evaluated them side-by-side in a minute. Not even mentioning "You Want This" is a tad rude, but there's so much ground to cover on this monumental album that it's easy enough to forgive. I adore the single art for that one (looking SO gorgeous, so playful, so pleased). "If" is an extremely worthy champ - no argument there! Also love that factoid about her last name (or the lack thereof) on subsequent album covers.
                                          last.fmPaulboard Top 30

                                          Comment


                                          • Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                                            LOVE IT! If only they'd slapped that version onto one of the many B'Day deluxe/international editions/remix EPs.
                                            Glad you like it!

                                            Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                                            Ha, yeah, the "Interlude" situation got pretty out-of-control on janet. Considering how many of them are less than 10 seconds long, at least some could've just been included as the start of the following song (the way this album's structured would be like making "Gimme a beat!" a separate interlude track before "Nasty").
                                            Totes agree.

                                            Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                                            That silliness aside, it's awesome to see someone devote several sentences to singing the praises of "The Body That Loves You" (that one doesn't seem to get singled out very often, for better or worse). It has slight "elevator music" vibes to my ears, but I kinda love that about it (might as well start f**kin' in that elevator while we're there). I'll forever associate you with "This Time" (it was always a big "SKIP" for me until you started advocating for it here on UKMIX). I tended to slightly prefer the R. Kelly Mix of "Any Time, Any Place" to the album version, but I haven't re-evaluated them side-by-side in a minute. Not even mentioning "You Want This" is a tad rude, but there's so much ground to cover on this monumental album that it's easy enough to forgive. I adore the single art for that one (looking SO gorgeous, so playful, so pleased). "If" is an extremely worthy champ - no argument there! Also love that factoid about her last name (or the lack thereof) on subsequent album covers.
                                            I get those elevator vibes for sure, but I'm down with them.

                                            I didn't mention "You Want This" partly because the write-up is already bloated as is, but mostly because it samples one of my favourite Supremes song and does a crap job with the interpolation.
                                            Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
                                            Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
                                            Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
                                            AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

                                            History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

                                            Comment


                                            • 065. Katy Perry - PRISM



                                              Off the back of one of the most successful pop eras in music history, there was no doubt 'PRISM' would be a hit on the charts. However, the album was originally slated to be a lot darker than it turned out to be, so fans might've been a bit surprised with the final product still seeing Katy with the pop pom-poms on.

                                              "Roar" kicks things off, both as the era's lead single and as the first track on the album, in true earnest power pop fashion, with lyrics of defiant self-expression. Ballads aren't generally Katy's strong point, but "Unconditionally" is one of her finest, with its firm commitment of loyalty and love. I'll admit that the "Uncle DeShawn Ali" jokes back in the day made me revisit the track more often than I otherwise would have. There are two tracks that step outside of Katy's comfort zone, sonically - "Legendary Lovers" and "Dark Horse". The former has this regal touch that I love and the latter this cool, bouncy trap funk that makes it an earworm. "Ghost" is one of the deep cuts that could've been a single that has aged so well. The way Katy's vocals are layered in on the hook drives home the title of the track perfectly. My favourite track, though, is the 80s-playlist-ready "Walking on Air". It was such a perfect summer track that I am still, to this day, appalled at Katy and her team not releasing it as it was a surefire chart-topper. It's such a cumulus-cloud kind of pop track that it could've also been the perfect bridge between 'Teenage Dream' and 'PRISM' for lead single duties. The album's closer, "By the Grace of God", is probably the only track that really fits the original theme of the album, but with a much softer slant.

                                              Unsurprisingly, 'PRISM' opened up with Katy's career-highest first-week sales, spurred on no doubt by its predecessor album's success and the GP so tightly embracing "Roar", which is still her biggest chart hit of her storied career. It is also the only album of hers to earn a "generally favourable" rating on Metacritic. I remember feeling conflicted when this ended 2013 as my top album that year as 'PRISM' doesn't seem like it should be so good, but it actually is (perhaps subconsciously I refused to forgive the album for the inane, juvenile lyrics of "This is How We Do"). I'd wager the era would have been even more successful with smarter single choices ("Legendary Lovers" in place of "Birthday" and "Walking on Air" in place of "This is How We Do") and that would have set her up for a less dramatic fall with 'Witness'.
                                              Code:
                                              Significance rating: 11/20
                                              No. 1s on my daily chart: Walking on Air (x2); Dark Horse (x2); Ghost (x1); Roar (x1)
                                              Best lyric: I don't negotiate with insecurities
                                              Best melody: Dark Horse
                                              Best video: Dark Horse
                                              Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                                              Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
                                              Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
                                              Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
                                              Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
                                              Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
                                              AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

                                              History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

                                              Comment


                                              • 064. Leona Lewis - Spirit



                                                With a clean scorecard throughout her X-Factor run, Leona Lewis would snag the crown in S3 by a comfortable winning margin. Her winning single "A Moment Like This" became the UK Christmas no. 1 in 2006. In just two weeks, the song finished no. 2 on the UK singles year-end chart, so the extremely green flags were already there.

                                                Executive-produced by Clive Davis and Simon Cowell, the latter of whom was Leona's mentor on X-Factor, 'Spirit' was curated to be a hit, though Cowell was cautious about rush-releasing a subpar debut LP. The album would be released almost a full year following Leona's coronation, with a litany of who's who on the credits. However, despite all the A-list songwriters and producers, it's really Leona's incredible voice that commands attention. She does a great job with the pacing and inflections on "Better in Time", shows off her versatility in tackling uptempo banger "Forgive Me", and does several impressive vocal backflips and other gymnastics on her take of "A Moment Like This". I recall a big standout moment for her was her cover of the Snow Patrol song "Run". She really dug into the heart of the song and gave it an organic soul-pop delivery that resonated with millions. My top track, though, is "Bleeding Love". It's a great song and might've been fantastic in anyone else's hands, but I truly do not think anyone could have taken it to the stratospheric heights that Leona did; it's her perfect-fit track, with just enough room for her to show off multi-octave range, sufficient pep to prove the balladeer had verve, and a melody/hook combo that made it one of the most easily digestible singles for late 2000s radio.

                                                With two massive forerunner singles, 'Spirit' stormed out of the gate with unprecedented first-week sales. It would inevitably be certified 10x platinum in the UK and end 2008 as the fifth highest-selling album worldwide. "Bleeding Love" would be the biggest global hit of 2008 and Leona's ascension to the top of the world was complete. I think the single choices for this era were perfect and it really gave the X-Factor its first truly global success story. She wouldn't be their last.
                                                Code:
                                                Significance rating: 11/20
                                                No. 1s on my daily chart: Bleeding Love (x1); Run (x1)
                                                Best lyric: My heart's crippled by the vein that I keep on closin'
                                                Best melody: Bleeding Love
                                                Best video: Run
                                                Rank in 2010 countdown: 24
                                                Rank in 2011 countdown: 21
                                                Rank in 2012 countdown: 29
                                                Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
                                                Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
                                                Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
                                                AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

                                                History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

                                                Comment


                                                • 063. Kanye West - Late Registration



                                                  A mere 18 months following his 'College Dropout' debut, Ye returned with an even more impressive follow-up in this, the second installment of his trilogy college-related releases with the adorable bear mascot visual and even funnier interludes.

                                                  The production on this is fantastic (the dance-influenced "Touch the Sky" is a clear highlight in that department), but I'd say 'Late Registration' is his best-written album. Whether it's Ye rapping about his vices on "Addiction", drugs and politics on "Crack Music", his hometown of Chicago on "Homecoming", not being in a rush to grow up or being too hungry for a seemingly glamorous life on "Drive Slow", or even something more moderate like punctuality on "Late", he comes armed with funny punchlines, clever and unorthodox observations, and a quality guest list of other emcees. A big highlight on the album, one of his finest non-singles to date, is "Roses". I love it for its heart, emotion, and realism. The family collective gathering around the grandmother, willing her to live, juxtaposed against the nurse asking for signed t-shirts, I think that's one of my favourite dehumanising/insensitive/unconscionably selfish illustrations in music. Another absolute beast of a track is "Gold Digger", with an awesomely utilised sample and some of the most iconic verses in hip/hop history. My top track, though, is "Diamonds from Sierra Leone", which I think is his absolute best-written song of his career. I love how it educates, interpolates a classic soul ballad, and that delivery from Ye is powerful. Jay-Z hopping on the remix with one of his best verses ever only augments the track's greatness.

                                                  Despite its two postponed releases, when 'Late Registration' did finally come out, it proved to be another home run from the hip/hop king. It became the first of his nine solo US #1 albums, garnered eight Grammy nominations taking home Best Rap Album for the second year in a row, and solidified Ye's place as one of the leading emcees of that era. With a subsequent release, he would permanently separate himself from the pack.
                                                  Code:
                                                  Significance rating: 11/20
                                                  No. 1s on my daily chart: Diamonds from Sierra Leone (x3); Roses (x3); Gold Digger (x1)
                                                  Best lyric: Close your eyes and imagine, feel the magic, Vegas on acid, seen through Yves St. Laurent glasses, and I've realized that I've arrived, 'cause it take more than a magazine to kill my Vibe, does he write his own rhymes, so sort of, I think 'em, that mean I forgot better shit than you ever thought up, damn, is he really that caught up? I ask if you talkin' bout classics, do my name get brought up?
                                                  Best melody: Gold Digger
                                                  Best video: Gold Digger
                                                  Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                                                  Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
                                                  Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
                                                  Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#22]
                                                  Akini's Favourite Music Videos: [95-91]
                                                  Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Anti-Hero (3 weeks)
                                                  AlbumClash 2.0: [Rina Sawayama vs. Rosalía]

                                                  History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

                                                  Comment


                                                  • I Like Prism from Katy Perry More better songs than Teenage Dream, but the predecessor had the hits.

                                                    And Best album from Janet Jackson so far
                                                    https://www.ukmix.org/forum/chart-di...-first-edition

                                                    https://www.ukmix.org/forum/chart-di...-first-edition

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