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Akini's Top 100 Albums of All-Time [2022 Edition: #86]

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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 [2022 Edition: #86]
    Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) [2 weeks]
    AlbumClash 2.0: [Florence + the Machine vs. Avril Lavigne vs. Carrie Underwood]

    I'm not saying I love you unconditionally, but we have been through a shitload of conditions and I'm still here.

    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 [2022 Edition: #86]
              Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) [2 weeks]
              AlbumClash 2.0: [Florence + the Machine vs. Avril Lavigne vs. Carrie Underwood]

              I'm not saying I love you unconditionally, but we have been through a shitload of conditions and I'm still here.

              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 [2022 Edition: #86]
                Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) [2 weeks]
                AlbumClash 2.0: [Florence + the Machine vs. Avril Lavigne vs. Carrie Underwood]

                I'm not saying I love you unconditionally, but we have been through a shitload of conditions and I'm still here.

                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 [2022 Edition: #86]
                  Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) [2 weeks]
                  AlbumClash 2.0: [Florence + the Machine vs. Avril Lavigne vs. Carrie Underwood]

                  I'm not saying I love you unconditionally, but we have been through a shitload of conditions and I'm still here.

                  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 [2022 Edition: #86]
                      Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) [2 weeks]
                      AlbumClash 2.0: [Florence + the Machine vs. Avril Lavigne vs. Carrie Underwood]

                      I'm not saying I love you unconditionally, but we have been through a shitload of conditions and I'm still here.

                      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 [2022 Edition: #86]
                        Your Billboard Top Ten: #1 Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) [2 weeks]
                        AlbumClash 2.0: [Florence + the Machine vs. Avril Lavigne vs. Carrie Underwood]

                        I'm not saying I love you unconditionally, but we have been through a shitload of conditions and I'm still here.

                        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

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