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Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time [2022 Edition: #58]

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  • #51
    089. Britney Spears - Circus



    Just a year and a few spare months following comeback part one 'Blackout', the Britney machine decided to give the comeback thing a second go and fans were given this LP.

    'Circus' holds a special place in my heart, as it was the first era of Britney's I was able to follow from start to finish. I remember watching her 'For the Record' documentary and feeling so impacted by her sadness there. I also recall that X-Factor performance she did, the epic intro for it, and the absolute thunderous response she got from the audience afterwards, though, in hindsight, there are also elements of the rollout that I do not like. There was this concerted effort to push 'Blackout' under the rug and the 'rehabilitated' blonde bombshell image of the 'good' Britney returning also rubs me the wrong way. After being shut out from the VMAs her entire career, she randomly sweeps with one of her most average videos. The heavy-handedness is too much to ignore; however, when you pair Britney with even moderately capable producers, she will serve you pop magic and though 'Circus' lacks the edge of its predecessor record, it is glossy pop done pretty well. She's a confident ringmaster on "Circus" and "Kill the Lights", a heartbroken pop princess on "Shattered Glass", a hopeful and lovestruck damsel on "Unusual You", a naughty debutante on "If U Seek Amy", and adoring mother on "My Baby". Underrated gem "Blur" is well-arranged, well-delivered, and well-written, though admittedly much less fun in practice than it is on record. She rejected "Telephone", accepting the less explosive "Quicksand" instead, and wisely took a pass on PCD's "When I Grow Up", but the lead single? Pure pop magic. Sirens, sleek synths, a sick repetitive hook, multiple Britney's in the music video, "Womanizer" is an absolute standout and one of her most exciting lead singles.

    Britney would go on to have her highest-grossing tour during this era, debut at no. 1 with a big first week (something 'Blackout' failed to do), and the GP would be led to believe that the Britney they knew and loved was well and truly back. It was a great illusory period for many parties involved.
    Code:
    Significance rating: 10/20
    No. 1s on my daily chart: Womanizer [x1]; Kill the Lights [x1]
    Best lyric: Love me, hate me, say what you want about me, but all of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if u seek Amy
    Best melody: Womanizer 
    Best video: Womanizer
    Rank in 2010 countdown: 12
    Rank in 2011 countdown: 18
    Rank in 2012 countdown: 67
    Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
    Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
    Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
    AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

    Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

    Comment


    • #52
      Circus is a very nice album from Britney Spears
      https://www.ukmix.org/forum/chart-di...-first-edition

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

      Comment


      • #53
        I love 'Circus', I was obsessed with the title track and 'If U Seek Amy' at the time.

        Comment


        • #54
          Originally posted by JSparksFan View Post
          I would not have guessed this one was your most-played Whitney album! I think the backlash also impacted her romantic choices (Bobby Brown) and her decision to move to Atlanta, among other decisions she made, but I do think R&B was a natural fit for her. Thankfully, she never completely deleted pop from her repertoire.
          Ah, absolutely! His impact on her (professionally and otherwise) definitely bears mentioning.
          • That "chart run" for Circus: 12 - 18 - 67 - 89 Although it was fun getting swept up in the "Brit's truly **back**" narrative of this era at the time, I definitely agree/remember the rushed "damage control" feel of it too (there were all those rumors about her filming a "Radar" video in London for the 4th Blackout single, then suddenly we were ushering in a brand-new era with a "restored" Britney). "Unusual You" was (and probably still is?) easily my favorite underdog/hidden gem on this album. Circus left a lot of worthy single selections on the table (UY, "Kill The Lights," "Shattered Glass"). Shout-out to "Amnesia" too! Brave of you to even mention "My Baby" (I'll never not laugh at "I smell your breath, It makes me cry..." ) "Someday (I Will Understand)" was SUCH a better maternal moment. I had no idea she was offered/in consideration for PCD's "When I Grow Up."
          last.fmPaulboard Top 30

          Comment


          • #55
            Some Circus appreciation, loved to read about it Akini! Indeed a great album, Unusual you is such a highlight from this for me and why Shattered Glass didn't had any chorus

            Blur is one of B's best songs and I feel Kill the Lights was a continuation to break the ice!

            Comment


            • #56
              Originally posted by vinnie65 View Post
              Circus is a very nice album from Britney Spears
              Quality pop music as she's done reliably for the last 24 years!

              Originally posted by Benny View Post
              I love 'Circus', I was obsessed with the title track and 'If U Seek Amy' at the time.
              I thought "If U Seek Amy" was the cleverest thing ever back then!

              Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
              That "chart run" for Circus: 12 - 18 - 67 - 89 Although it was fun getting swept up in the "Brit's truly **back**" narrative of this era at the time, I definitely agree/remember the rushed "damage control" feel of it too (there were all those rumors about her filming a "Radar" video in London for the 4th Blackout single, then suddenly we were ushering in a brand-new era with a "restored" Britney). "Unusual You" was (and probably still is?) easily my favorite underdog/hidden gem on this album. Circus left a lot of worthy single selections on the table (UY, "Kill The Lights," "Shattered Glass"). Shout-out to "Amnesia" too! Brave of you to even mention "My Baby" (I'll never not laugh at "I smell your breath, It makes me cry..." ) "Someday (I Will Understand)" was SUCH a better maternal moment. I had no idea she was offered/in consideration for PCD's "When I Grow Up."
              It's been barrelling down in a rollercoaster-esque fashion!

              I really would've loved for one of the ballads to have earned a single release. I don't think she ever showcased her strength in that department sufficiently. We got a few notable ones ("I'm Not a Girl...", "Everytime"), but most of her albums have great ballads.

              Yeah, "My Baby" is easily the weakest song on the album. I don't know if I like any of her mama songs.

              Originally posted by britneylinda View Post
              Some Circus appreciation, loved to read about it Akini! Indeed a great album, Unusual you is such a highlight from this for me and why Shattered Glass didn't had any chorus

              Blur is one of B's best songs and I feel Kill the Lights was a continuation to break the ice!
              "Blur" really is fantastic and yes, "Kill the Lights" has a similar edginess as "Break the Ice".
              Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
              Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
              Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
              AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

              Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

              Comment


              • #57
                088. Kanye West - The College Dropout



                After struggling for four years to be taken seriously as an emcee and not just the emcees' first-pick producer, 'The College Dropout' dropped in early 2004 in the midst of the height of gangster rap, daring to go against the grain and give a different kind of hip/hop offering to rap fans and the GP.

                I love the arrangement of the album. The interludes drive home the title and theme of the LP and Ye's raps are equal parts humorous, socially conscious, intelligent, self-aware, and passionate. The production is soulful, interpolating deep soul and R&B cuts of yesteryear, and almost every featured act adds value to the album, as opposed to many of the random entourages that are trotted out on rap albums just for the sake of name recognition (Twista's rap on "Slow Jamz" is a massive highlight and J. Ivy's gospel testimonial on "Never Let Me Down" is one of the most legendary moments in hip/hop for me). Top-notch lyricism takes centre stage as Ye showcases brilliant wordplay on tracks like "Spaceship", that now trademark near-delusional self-confidence on "Get 'Em High" and "Last Call", playfulness on "The New Workout Plan" and "We Don't Care", and grade A social commentary on "All Falls Down". For me, though, the album's highlight is "Through the Wire". I've called it before the song of his with the most heart. He'd initially wanted "The New Workout Plan" to be the lead single and while that would've been a decent enough selection, "Through the Wire" was the best choice. This live performance of "Through the Wire" is one of my all-time favourite live performances.

                On a personal note, I love 'The College Dropout' because Ye presented a different kind of Black masculinity. As mentioned before, mainstream rap in 2004 was led by the likes of 50 Cent and company, whose gangster rap image and lyricism would not have ever been accessible to me. Ye, in contrast, was more like spoken word rap, light on the misogyny and homophobia, and heavy on all the actual good elements of rap (storytelling, clever melodic splicing). The critics were even more impressed than I was - 'The College Dropout' won Best Rap Album at the 2005 Grammys and was nominated for Album of the Year (I would've given that gong to Ye, from the nominees that year). This was the start of the incredible career of the most influential rapper of all-time and thankfully, the best was still to come!
                Code:
                Significance rating: 10/20
                No. 1s on my daily chart: Never Let Me Down [x3]; Through the Wire [x2]
                Best lyric: My rythmatic regiment navigates melodic notes for your soul and your mental
                Best melody: Jesus Walks
                Best video: The New Workout Plan
                Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
                Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
                Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
                Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
                Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
                AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

                Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

                Comment


                • #58
                  087. Madonna - Erotica



                  The first of the eight poll options to fall, 'Erotica' was the flagship launch of Madonna's jointly owned 'Maverick Records' label. It stood on the shoulders of three massive 80s sellers and was preceded by a soundtrack single that went to #1 in the US just earlier that year. So what could possibly go wrong?

                  Sonically, 'Erotica' features an edgier brand of pop and dance music than Madonna had done up to that stage, but it was a natural evolution, not a radical, stark shift. Thematically, though, she did dial sex and sexuality all the way up. The "Erotica" music video saw Madonna donning BDSM gear, making out with Naomi Campbell, and riding a bicycle (and older man) nude. MTV would show the video a grand total of three times before "Erotica" joined the elite list of permanently banned clips from the star (the first being "Justify My Love"). Future rimming anthem "Where Life Begins" is a clever, cheeky ode to non-penetrative sexual pleasure. "Rain" is a soulful pop ballad celebrating orgasms. However, Madge is nothing if not multi-layered and she also takes on themes such as unrequited love on "Waiting", accountability on "Words", depression on "Bad Girl", discrimination on "Why's It So Hard", and the loss of AIDS victims on "In This Life". For an album and era that's so sexually driven, I always found her "Fever" interpretation shockingly plain, lacking the seductive powers I know are well within her wheelhouse. My favourite 'Erotica' track also happens to be my favourite Madonna song and one of my all-time favourite tracks, the "Vogue"-interpolating, gay boy's journey to self-acceptance and joy, "Deeper and Deeper".

                  'Erotica' didn't sell as well as its predecessors did, selling 'only' six million copies worldwide, a career-low that she wouldn't see again until 'American Life' more than a decade later. Its legacy and impact, though, is deep and broad. A Madonna fan elsewhere pointed out that at the height of the AIDS crisis, while the messaging from governments and other institutions was to have less sex, it was a bold move from Madonna to attempt to remove the taboo from the act, to celebrate the naked body, and to encourage safe sex as a healthy form of expression.
                  Code:
                  Significance rating: 10/20
                  No. 1s on my daily chart: Deeper and Deeper [x10]; Rain [x2]
                  Best lyric: Well, I know from experience, that if you have to ask for something more than once or twice, it wasn't yours in the first place, and that's hard to accept when you love someone, and you're led to believe in their moment of need, that they want what you want, but they don't
                  Best melody: Deeper and Deeper
                  Best video: Erotica
                  Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                  Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
                  Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
                  Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
                  Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
                  Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
                  AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

                  Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

                  Comment


                  • #59
                    WHITNEY!

                    The European version just will never work for me, not after years of hearing the actual version But I realize this is not a battle to take on - it's like discussing gun rights or abortion.

                    With the survivor, it was nice to return to this album. As I mentioned to you, it's my least listened to album, but it's still Whitney so of course, it's flawless. I hope there is more Whitney to come!

                    The live performance you linked is wonderful. I love how the song seems to come to a conclusion but then she kind of keeps cooing through it for a few minutes. It's oddly sensual and comforting at the same time.

                    Comment


                    • #60
                      Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
                      WHITNEY!

                      The European version just will never work for me, not after years of hearing the actual version But I realize this is not a battle to take on - it's like discussing gun rights or abortion.
                      Funny you term it as such - for me, having grown up outside the US, the European mix is the actual version. Once upon a time, I held the US version in extremely low regard, but it's grown on me in a big way in the last year or so.

                      Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
                      With the survivor, it was nice to return to this album. As I mentioned to you, it's my least listened to album, but it's still Whitney so of course, it's flawless. I hope there is more Whitney to come!
                      Without spoiling too much, I'll say it's not my most-played Whitney album!

                      Originally posted by cheapthrills View Post
                      The live performance you linked is wonderful. I love how the song seems to come to a conclusion but then she kind of keeps cooing through it for a few minutes. It's oddly sensual and comforting at the same time.
                      Yeah, Whitney live, during her prime, was really magical. Wish I'd been alive to see her in person during that era.
                      Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
                      Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
                      Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
                      AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

                      Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

                      Comment


                      • #61
                        086. Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour



                        Kacey Musgraves's third studio album, 'Golden Hour' saw the country star continuing her career progression into the country-pop space.

                        Much of 'Golden Hour' has a positive slant; at times, cautiously so, but almost always stubbornly optimistic. The songwriting is really what draws me to 'Golden Hour' and indeed what drew me to Kacey in general, and there's a lot that I connect with on this LP. I have "slow burn" as my current descriptor on a particular dating app. "Lonely Weekend" is a familiar setting for me since I've been living on my own the last three years. "Happy & Sad", one of the towering highlights, is my exact emotion when life skews suspiciously positive for me - the instinct to brace for the inevitable derailment and crash is difficult to shed. "Butterflies" speaks to the rare occasion I actually fall for someone. There was even an initiative at work where, as a member of the Pride group, they asked me to write a letter to some LGBTQ+ youth and while penning the letter, I put "Rainbow" on repeat and even referenced the song (and Kacey) in the letter. Seeing Kacey during her 'Star Crossed' stop in town and looking around at all the gay men present really drove home the impact she, one of the few country acts that openly and warmly embrace the queer community, has had, especially on southern folks that digest country music more diligently than most others. Then there's "High Horse", a pure pop smash that the GP totally missed out on. My favourite song, though, is "Oh, What a World". It honestly brings me to tears, that chorus. As much as the hopeless romantic in me has evolved into a deathly sceptical one, that song really summons all my feels and is easily one of the best love songs ever recorded.

                        While I personally unpacked all the awesomeness of 'Golden Hour', the rest of the music world was doing the same. Her best-selling album, 'Golden Hour' won Album of the Year at just about every venue Kacey could've hoped for: ACMs, CMAs, and the Grammys. The acclaim was universal and thoroughly well-deserved.
                        Code:
                        Significance rating: 10/20
                        No. 1s on my daily chart: Happy & Sad [x1]; High Horse [x1]; Rainbow [x1]
                        Best lyric: All kinds of magic all around us, it's hard to believe, thank God it's not too good to be true, oh, what a world, and then there is you
                        Best melody: Space Cowboy
                        Best video: Butterflies 
                        Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                        Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
                        Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
                        Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
                        Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
                        Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
                        AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

                        Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

                        Comment


                        • #62
                          • DYING @ your queer-reclamation of "Where Life Begins" as a "rimming anthem" I completely agree with "Deeper And Deeper" being Erotica's biggest hightlight (and I think it's new information that it's officially your absolute favorite Madonna song? I knew that you loved it, but I can't recall/forgot seeing a definitive statement that it's your clear No. 1 from her). I remember being surprised by how few of this album's songs are actually sexually explicit, and I think that same misunderstanding among the GP (that the entire album was as vividly sexual as its accompanying book and certain videos) was at least partially responsible for its "underperformance" back in the day (though some people were bound to clutch their pearls no matter what/relish any opportunity to slutshame her)
                          • I really love your personal tidbits in the Golden Hour write-up (we'd talked about your tour experience over in your thread, but I never knew about that letter. HUGE respect for doing something like that for the queer youth who are in/trying to get into your field). GH was the first Kacey album I explored in full, and I was initially a bit disappointed that most of the album felt much slower/more mellow than the upbeat, tongue-in-cheek singles of hers that I'd loved up to that point ("Follow Your Arrow," "Biscuits," "High Horse," etc). Eventually, several of its slower moments grew on me in a big way (the title track, "Space Cowboy," "Rainbow," etc), though "High Horse" remains my most-played GH track by a pretty wide margin. Even though I wasn't as blown away personally, it was still exciting to see an album like this (and an artist like Kacey) earn that much praise/recognition
                          last.fmPaulboard Top 30

                          Comment


                          • #63
                            Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                            DYING @ your queer-reclamation of "Where Life Begins" as a "rimming anthem" I completely agree with "Deeper And Deeper" being Erotica's biggest hightlight (and I think it's new information that it's officially your absolute favorite Madonna song? I knew that you loved it, but I can't recall/forgot seeing a definitive statement that it's your clear No. 1 from her). I remember being surprised by how few of this album's songs are actually sexually explicit, and I think that same misunderstanding among the GP (that the entire album was as vividly sexual as its accompanying book and certain videos) was at least partially responsible for its "underperformance" back in the day (though some people were bound to clutch their pearls no matter what/relish any opportunity to slutshame her)
                            I think you followed my Madonna tribute right up until the top 20, so maybe you didn't get to see the big reveal back then!

                            It's weird to me how much image sells because I totally agree that Erotica isn't that sexually explicit. I feel like Janet's All for You is probably more sexually explicit than Erotica, but you had to buy/play it first to know that.

                            Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                            I really love your personal tidbits in the Golden Hour write-up (we'd talked about your tour experience over in your thread, but I never knew about that letter. HUGE respect for doing something like that for the queer youth who are in/trying to get into your field). GH was the first Kacey album I explored in full, and I was initially a bit disappointed that most of the album felt much slower/more mellow than the upbeat, tongue-in-cheek singles of hers that I'd loved up to that point ("Follow Your Arrow," "Biscuits," "High Horse," etc). Eventually, several of its slower moments grew on me in a big way (the title track, "Space Cowboy," "Rainbow," etc), though "High Horse" remains my most-played GH track by a pretty wide margin. Even though I wasn't as blown away personally, it was still exciting to see an album like this (and an artist like Kacey) earn that much praise/recognition
                            What would you say is your favourite Kacey album at this point?

                            Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
                            Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
                            Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
                            AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

                            Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

                            Comment


                            • #64
                              085. Frozen Cast - Frozen OST



                              Continuing the great tradition of top-tier Disney films, the 'Frozen' movie and its accompanying soundtrack were released in November 2013 to blockbuster-level box office numbers on the film side and solid diamond, platinum, and gold certifications on the soundtrack end. It would be until the summer of the following year that I finally checked both out to see what all the fuss was about.

                              The storytelling and production quality of Frozen is immaculate. Without waxing lyrical about it, suffice to say, the first Frozen film is my favourite animated Disney film of all-time and among my top 10 movies ever. The soundtrack goes a long way in my appreciation of the characters and the plot. You've got the two sisters, Elsa and Anna, on opposite sides of the unbridled optimism/fraught anxiety coin. Whilst Anna is living her best "Love is an Open Door" romantic bliss and having mental capacity for the youthful yearning for sibling connection on "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?", Elsa is harbouring what she considers to be a dark secret. That makes her arrival point at the "Let It Go" scene that more triumphant, though that actually isn't the top track for me. I'm partial to "For the First Time in Forever", in its reprise form, as we get to see that optimism/anxiety incongruence between the two sisters come to a magical, vocal scaling climax. The most fun point for me is "Fixer Upper", which is playful, hilarious, and punctuated perfectly with whispers, blinks, and plot twists.

                              Impressively, all songs were penned by the husband-wife duo of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, and when "Let It Go" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, Robert Lopez became the youngest EGOT winner, at 39, as well as the only person to have won each of the four individual awards multiple times, as well as the person to have achieved the elite honour in the quickest timeframe - in nine years, compared to 12 years by the second-swiftest person (John Legend). The Frozen soundtrack spent an impressive 13 weeks at #1 and was the #1 album on Billboard's 2014 year-end list. It would also end 2014, quite comfortably, as the year's best-selling album worldwide. Both Demi's and Idina's versions of "Let It Go" went top 40 in the US, Canada, and Australia. I think an interesting story as to the passion this film inspired was captured in a news article that surfaced in 2014 about a 29-year-old woman who divorced her husband of six years for not liking Frozen enough...and I honestly get it!
                              Code:
                              Significance rating: 10/20
                              No. 1s on my daily chart: For the First Time in Forever [x7]; Let It Go [x4]; Love is an Open Door [x1]
                              Best lyric: Yes, I'm alone, but I'm alone and free
                              Best melody: Frozen Heart 
                              Best video: Fixer Upper
                              Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                              Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
                              Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
                              Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
                              Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
                              Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
                              AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

                              Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

                              Comment


                              • #65
                                084. Whitney Houston - Whitney Houston



                                Released on Valentine's Day in 1985 after two trying years of failing to get producers to buy into the young vocal starlet and her superstardom prospects (stockbroker turned producer Michael Masser and Jermaine Jackson would eventually assume responsibility for the lion's share of the album's production), 'Whitney Houston' was a slow burn, debuting at no. 166 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

                                After a successful tenure at Columbia Records, where Clive Davis signed such top-bill acts as Janis Joplin and Aerosmith, this Arista debut release from Whitney was as safe and cookie-cutter as her material would ever get, thankfully. Still, Whitney sings even teenybopper-esque tracks like "Someone for Me" with a level of maturity and confidence that belied her mere 20 years of age at recording. Funnily enough, that aforementioned 'juvenile' song is sharply followed on the tracklist by "Saving All My Love for You", a perhaps unintentional side-piece anthem for the ages. Touchy subject matter aside, "Saving All My Love for You" would kick off an unprecedented streak of no. 1 singles for Whitney. "How Will I Know" would be chart-topper no. 2, bursting at the seams with ingénue innocence and naivete, but also barely-bridled optimism and excitement, featuring some truly killer sax instrumentation. "Greatest Love of All", chart-topper no. 3, would serve as the easily accessible middle-of-the-road ballad, comfortably digestible for soccer moms all over the world. Saucy, soulful forerunner "You Give Good Love" would win her favour with R&B audiences, but my personal favourite track is "All at Once". It's a simple soul-pop ballad with which Whitney exercises some extremely fun vocal liberties. The vocal agility and scaling she showcases there is insane for someone who, at the time, was so young and to this day stands as one of her best vocal performances, by my estimations.

                                I mentioned the album's slow start on the charts, but 55 weeks after its tepid debut, it climbed to no. 1 in 1986 off the back of multiple hit singles and an impactful Grammy appearance (including a performance of, and a win in the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category for, "Saving All My Love for You", presented by cousin Dionne Warwick no less)! The album would spend 14 non-consecutive weeks at #1 and end 1986 at no. 1 on the Billboard 200 year-end list. In retrospect, promotion for the album was broad and slightly random - she performed everywhere, from the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, to the Dutch TV series 'Show Van de Maand', to 80s sitcom 'Silver Spoons', to French talk show 'Champs-Élysées', where a drunken Serge Gainsbourg declared his desire to "f**k her" on the live programme.
                                Code:
                                Significance rating: 10/20
                                No. 1s on my daily chart: All at Once [x3]; How Will I Know [x3]; Greatest Love of All [x2]
                                Best lyric: A few stolen moments is all that we share
                                Best melody: Saving All My Love for You
                                Best video: How Will I Know
                                Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                                Rank in 2011 countdown: 90
                                Rank in 2012 countdown: 99
                                Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
                                Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
                                Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
                                AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

                                Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

                                Comment


                                • #66
                                  083. Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation 1814



                                  Three years after taking 'Control' of her sound and image, Janet Jackson set out on an adventure to create a 'Rhythm Nation', with the '1814' tacked on as that was the same year the Star-Spangled Banner was written (interestingly enough, Janet would release 'Rhythm Nation 1814' the same week the US national anthem was penned almost 200 years later). Perhaps coincidentally, 'R' and 'N' are the 18th and 14th letters of the alphabet, respectively. (Interesting research note - most of the albums on this list were recorded in some studio in New York, but this one was actually recorded in Minneapolis, which, I suspect, is because that's where producer Jimmy Jam was based).

                                  Ms. Jackson is no stranger to interludes, but 'Rhythm Nation 1814' certainly features my favourite interludes of her catalogue. I love the social tidbits of each one and they do a good job setting up the main tracks. I'd say Janet and her team also did a good job ensuring this album never gets too preachy - just as you feel it nearing that point, she 1-2 punches you with a swift "Let's Dance" interlude and the infectious "Miss You Much". Lyrically, it's not at all difficult getting behind this album. On "The Knowledge", she praises the virtues of education. She takes on teenage pregnancy, poverty, and prostitution in the first verse of "State of the World" alone (also going on to speak to drugs, famine, homelessness, and depression later on in the same track). She also manages to treat listeners to a varied experience. "Black Cat" is a bona fide rock track, her first full foray into the genre, featuring some killer instrumentation, courtesy of David Barry on guitar. Conversely, "Lonely" is a gentle, therapeutic, warm embrace of a ballad. "Escapade" is summer-ready, stress-free, dance-floor fun. "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" is range-rich, charming, and defiant in its pledge to and celebration of romantic love. My favourite track, though, is title track "Rhythm Nation". I love her conviction on that one and the music video is an undeniable classic, featuring arguably Janet's most classic and imitated look, and her most legendary choreography.

                                  The chart success from 'Control' rolled over to this era. 'Rhythm Nation 1814' was no. 1 on Billboard's 1990 year-end albums list. "Miss You Much" became the biggest chart smash of her career in the US and each of the album's seven official singles peaked within the US top five. Its cultural legacy is such that the Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry as "a sound recording that is culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States."
                                  Code:
                                  Significance rating: 10/20
                                  No. 1s on my daily chart: Lonely [x2]; Rhythm Nation [x1]; Love Will Never Do (Without You) [x1]; Escapade [x1]
                                  Best lyric: A generation full of courage, come forth with me
                                  Best melody: Black Cat
                                  Best video: Alright
                                  Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                                  Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
                                  Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
                                  Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
                                  Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
                                  Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
                                  AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

                                  Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

                                  Comment


                                  • #67
                                    Originally posted by JSparksFan View Post
                                    It's weird to me how much image sells because I totally agree that Erotica isn't that sexually explicit. I feel like Janet's All for You is probably more sexually explicit than Erotica, but you had to buy/play it first to know that.
                                    YES! That album gets absolutely FILTHY (but what she does always "has class to it", obv).

                                    Originally posted by JSparksFan View Post
                                    What would you say is your favourite Kacey album at this point?
                                    I still haven't explored Kacey's first two (or Christmas album) in full but between Golden Hour and Star-Crossed, the latter.
                                    • Ha, well, if you think divorce over a lack of sufficient enthusiasm for Frozen is completely justified, I guess I'll keep my mouth shut in order to preserve our friendship
                                    • Admittedly, I very rarely re-visit the non-singles on Whitney's debut (not that there are many on that 10-track album). I think it was that Hot 100 No. 1's blog I always mention that made me realize how many tracks on Whitney Houston are covers ("Greatest Love Of All," "Saving All My Love For You," "Nobody Loves Me Like You Do"). I can't resist the über-80's poppy charms of "How Will I Know," but "All At Once" is a solid selection for top-fave too. No idea why they never properly pushed it as a single in the States or UK
                                    • Ooh, I love all that thorough title trivia for RN1814! I'm pretty positive I've discussed my journey with that album before, but I'll do a brief recap anyway: having gotten into Janet with "Doesn't Really Matter" and All For You, I hated a lot of what I heard on Design Of A Decade (my second Janet album purchase), but now RN1814 stands as my most-played Janet LP (granted, last.fm does count the interludes, which inflates those stats a bit, but it'd still have an impressive standing regardless). Don't think I knew that the title track is your top pick! I might go with "Miss You Much" due to how much it (unexpectedly) grew on me over the years, but I've got a huge soft spot for "Alright" too (and "Escapade," and "Love Will Never Do (Without You)")
                                    last.fmPaulboard Top 30

                                    Comment


                                    • #68
                                      Great albums from Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson. Their best
                                      https://www.ukmix.org/forum/chart-di...-first-edition

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

                                      Comment


                                      • #69
                                        Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                                        YES! That album gets absolutely FILTHY (but what she does always "has class to it", obv).
                                        That was cute shade from Janet, though I don't know if I'd say it's super accurate!

                                        Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                                        I still haven't explored Kacey's first two (or Christmas album) in full but between Golden Hour and Star-Crossed, the latter.
                                        Gotcha.

                                        Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                                        Ha, well, if you think divorce over a lack of sufficient enthusiasm for Frozen is completely justified, I guess I'll keep my mouth shut in order to preserve our friendship
                                        *Screams*

                                        Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                                        Admittedly, I very rarely re-visit the non-singles on Whitney's debut (not that there are many on that 10-track album). I think it was that Hot 100 No. 1's blog I always mention that made me realize how many tracks on Whitney Houston are covers ("Greatest Love Of All," "Saving All My Love For You," "Nobody Loves Me Like You Do"). I can't resist the über-80's poppy charms of "How Will I Know," but "All At Once" is a solid selection for top-fave too. No idea why they never properly pushed it as a single in the States or UK
                                        Yeah, I think it could've done really well, too. It fit her image at the time to a T.

                                        Originally posted by crystalphoenix View Post
                                        Ooh, I love all that thorough title trivia for RN1814! I'm pretty positive I've discussed my journey with that album before, but I'll do a brief recap anyway: having gotten into Janet with "Doesn't Really Matter" and All For You, I hated a lot of what I heard on Design Of A Decade (my second Janet album purchase), but now RN1814 stands as my most-played Janet LP (granted, last.fm does count the interludes, which inflates those stats a bit, but it'd still have an impressive standing regardless). Don't think I knew that the title track is your top pick! I might go with "Miss You Much" due to how much it (unexpectedly) grew on me over the years, but I've got a huge soft spot for "Alright" too (and "Escapade," and "Love Will Never Do (Without You)")
                                        Also, a number of her albums are interlude-heavy, so it's not like RN1814 is an outlier for her in that department.

                                        I don't think I knew it was your most-played Janet album! Interestingly enough, my most-played Janet album isn't my favourite from her.

                                        Originally posted by vinnie65 View Post
                                        Great albums from Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson. Their best
                                        They both have LPs that I prefer, but glad you appreciate those two!
                                        Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
                                        Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
                                        Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
                                        AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

                                        Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

                                        Comment


                                        • #70
                                          082. Alicia Keys - Here



                                          Alicia Keys's sixth studio album, 'Here' saw the longest layover between albums in the trained pianist's career and released in Q4 2016, there was a lot that the singer-songwriter had to say. It also saw the introduction of her more 'natural', less make-up-heavy image, which was met with mixed reaction from folks, but which I liked.

                                          Featuring poetic interludes and obligatory shout-outs to NYC (and the great state of New York in general), 'Here' is very much a 'message' album. "Holy War", which features several of the LP's premium lyrics, is a stellar anthem of unity that so succinctly captured the pulse of the US political and social spheres at the time of its release (and arguably since then as well). She tells the story of a young girl who's fallen in love with her female best friend in the high-stakes "Where Do We Begin Now". She also comments on unrealistic standards of beauty for women on "Girl Can't Be Herself". "Pawn It All" and "Illusion of Bliss" are in her classic, R&B-soul, no-belts-spared wheelhouse. There's so much to appreciate 'Here', though I did always find it to be a curious decision relegating the top two tracks, "Hallelujah" and "In Common", to international-only bonus cuts. "In Common", my absolute favourite song from the album and my favourite AK song overall, holds a special place in my heart as I'd gotten so disenchanted with music during 2016 and "In Common" got me excited about contemporary music again. It had this freshness and innate magic that I found irresistible and I kept going back to it over and over. It was also just the song she needed to put out at that point in her career, which is why its dismal chart performance was so disappointing.

                                          I recall the response to this album from UKMixers and AK fans in general to be rather lukewarm, but interestingly enough, the critics thought it was pretty good. 'Here' holds a '76' score on Metacritic, only two points below her highest-ranked album there, debut classic 'Songs in A Minor'. It debuted at no. 2, which extended her streak of top two studio albums to six. 'Here' is quite comfortably my most-played AK album.
                                          Code:
                                          Significance rating: 10/20
                                          No. 1s on my daily chart: In Common (x5); Hallelujah (x2); Holy War (x1); Pawn It All (x1)
                                          Best lyric: So we can heal each other and feel each other, we can break these walls between each other, baby blow by blow and brick by brick
                                          Best melody: In Common
                                          Best video: In Common
                                          Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                                          Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
                                          Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
                                          Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
                                          Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
                                          Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
                                          AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

                                          Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

                                          Comment


                                          • #71
                                            "Golden Hour" is really cute and even a bit hip. And damn, besides beautiful interludes Kanye had hooks for days in "The College Dropout".
                                            Waffles are checked cookies

                                            Comment


                                            • #72
                                              97. George Michael - Faith

                                              He has some great songs, never really checked out any of his albums fully, I should do that, also the cover to this album is very sexy!

                                              96. Tina Turner - Private Dancer

                                              Have been slowly getting into this album in recent years, I love a bit of Tina generally.

                                              95. Mika - The Boy Who Knew Too Much

                                              A very Akini entry! I really liked Mika's first album and have liked a few songs from him since, will give this one another spin as I generally like him.

                                              92. P!nk - Funhouse

                                              She's been growing on me over the years, she has had some really nice numbers! This album reminds me of my sister and niece as they had this in the car a few years back and I heard it all of the time whenever I was in their car.

                                              Whitney has had some great songs but never really listened to any of her albums, which is her best for you?
                                              My tits are made of silicone, just like the Earth and sea...

                                              Comment


                                              • #73
                                                Originally posted by CrazyCrazy View Post
                                                97. George Michael - Faith

                                                He has some great songs, never really checked out any of his albums fully, I should do that, also the cover to this album is very sexy!

                                                96. Tina Turner - Private Dancer

                                                Have been slowly getting into this album in recent years, I love a bit of Tina generally.

                                                95. Mika - The Boy Who Knew Too Much

                                                A very Akini entry! I really liked Mika's first album and have liked a few songs from him since, will give this one another spin as I generally like him.

                                                92. P!nk - Funhouse

                                                She's been growing on me over the years, she has had some really nice numbers! This album reminds me of my sister and niece as they had this in the car a few years back and I heard it all of the time whenever I was in their car.

                                                Whitney has had some great songs but never really listened to any of her albums, which is her best for you?
                                                George's songs are pretty sexy too!

                                                Yeah, Tina's soul-rock is really good and has aged like fine wine.

                                                Mika is a very 'me' artist!

                                                I'll never forget seeing the "So What" video for the first time and instantly loving it. That was a great era for P!nk.

                                                I don't wanna spoil my fave Whitney album just yet, so lemme get back to you on that in a month or so!
                                                Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
                                                Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
                                                Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
                                                AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

                                                Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

                                                Comment


                                                • #74
                                                  081. Carrie Underwood - Play On



                                                  Following two multiplatinum successes, 'Play On' arrived in the autumn of 2009 with sizeable shoes to fill for the burgeoning country queen.

                                                  Carrie played more of a role in the songwriting process for this album than any of its predecessors, with credits on more than half the LP. She teamed up with some interesting names, too, including Ne-Yo, with whom she penned a song "Walk Away", which would eventually end up on Broadway star Megan Hilty's album - Madame Underwood might've dodged a bullet with that one, as the song isn't very good. An interesting name, Mike Elizondo, a Dr. Dre protégé, is on the credits for one of the album's standouts, "Cowboy Casanova". Elizondo worked with 50 Cent, Eminem, and Mary J. Blige, so it's certainly an interesting background brought in for a Nashville darling. Speaking of "Cowboy Casanova", that's the singular "Before He Cheats" rehash that I believe works really well and stands independently from Carrie's biggest chart success. It's got a strong, memorable melody and a crisp delivery that's punchy and playful in the respective parts that are appropriate. Balladry is a big go-to on 'Play On'. She takes you from the sweet and gentle reassurance to a mother that her daughter's come of age in "Mama's Song" to the R&B-lite "What Can I Say" with its irresistible hook to the big, swelling, call to action emerald-encrusted piece "Change". No Carrie album is complete without some gritty, rock-influenced track and she serves that up in double doses with the readymade-for-pop-radio "Undo It" and the retreading "Unapologize". My favourite track, though, perhaps shows my age. Years ago, it would've been "Cowboy Casanova", which is no surprise as that supreme lead single has the album's best lyric, melody, and video for me, but the wizening hands of time have formed within me a deep gratitude and appreciation for "Temporary Home". That one captures the best parts of 'Play On' and is wholly relatable to me.

                                                  'Play On' marked new highs and lows for Carrie. The era saw her embark upon her first international headlining tour; conversely, it's her only studio album to receive overall mixed reviews from critics, as evidenced by its '54' score on Metacritic. Even on my end, this is my least-played Carrie album. In my research for this album write-up, I came across an interesting descriptor of Carrie's music - pabulum. I think 'Play On' is the biggest offender of that in her catalogue, but it's hard to look past its bright spots, of which there are several. She'd do better, though I do wish this were appreciated more...and I recognise that could probably start with me!
                                                  Code:
                                                  Significance rating: 10/20
                                                  No. 1s on my daily chart: Cowboy Casanova (x4); Undo It (x3); Change (x2); Temporary Home (x1); Unapologize (x1)
                                                  Best lyric: He looks like a cool drink of water, but he's candy-coated misery
                                                  Best melody: Cowboy Casanova
                                                  Best video: Cowboy Casanova 
                                                  Rank in 2010 countdown: 13
                                                  Rank in 2011 countdown: 31
                                                  Rank in 2012 countdown: 14
                                                  Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
                                                  Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
                                                  Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
                                                  AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

                                                  Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

                                                  Comment


                                                  • #75
                                                    080. One Direction - Take Me Home



                                                    Sophomore album releases are always dicey, but they're even dicier for pop acts, much less pop bands. How did the third-place-finishing X-Factor act fare with their high-stakes second swing?

                                                    Among their catalogue, you won't find a more high-octane, polished pop spectacle. The boys' combined frenetic energy is filtered for fist-pumping, car-speakers blasting and at 20 tracks long, they manage to never leave the listener bored at any point in the hour-plus spectacle. The album's a decade old this year and I'm impressed at how well its tracks have stood the test of time thus far. As I'm also a decade older, some of the lyrics sound especially juvenile and they clearly made some eyebrow-raising songwriting decisions to maintain elementary rhyme schemes (like the "27 tattoos" line in "I Would"), but I still appreciate the earnestness behind all the tracks. There's an ignorance and obliviousness that oftentimes accompanies young love (and infatuation) and songs like "Last First Kiss" and "They Don't Know About Us" have just below-the-borderline levels of narcissism and self-indulgence. On "Little Things", the boys try their hand at resurrecting a lover's self-esteem and lower-level body dysmorphia challenges, doing so as charmingly and with as few ulterior motives as can be held by four at-the-time teenage boys (and Louis). The album's pop through and through, but I like "Rock Me" for its soft rock edge. My favourite track, though, is actually lead single "Live While We're Young", which sounds even better today than it did 10 years back.

                                                    'Take Me Home' was a massive success, peaking at #1 across practically all major music markets. It's their best-reviewed Metacritic album, saw a noticeable improvement in music video production value, and cemented the boys' place as the preeminent boy band of the 21st century. I recall a lot of folks in 2012 listening to this and being gobsmacked at hearing actual high-quality music. This album proved that 1D would have more mileage than initially forecasted by most pop prognosticators. By a comfortable margin, this is my favourite and most-played 1D album.
                                                    Code:
                                                    Significance rating: 10/20
                                                    No. 1s on my daily chart: Kiss You (x3); Live While We're Young (x1); Little Things (x1); Still the One (x1)
                                                    Best lyric: If you don't wanna take it slow, and you just wanna take me home
                                                    Best melody: Rock Me
                                                    Best video: Kiss You
                                                    Rank in 2010 countdown: NR
                                                    Rank in 2011 countdown: NR
                                                    Rank in 2012 countdown: NR
                                                    Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time: [#58]
                                                    Akini's Favourite Films: [55-51]
                                                    Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill [7 weeks]
                                                    AlbumClash 2.0: [Beyoncé vs. Ari Lennox vs. Rina Sawayama]

                                                    Yeah, they smile to your face and Prop-8 you in the back.

                                                    Comment

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