Akini's Top 25 Albums of 2016: [#1 Revealed!]

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Which album is my favourite of 2016?

24K Magic
0
No votes
Blonde
0
No votes
Here
0
No votes
Joanne
4
50%
Lemonade
4
50%
 
Total votes : 8

Postby JSparksFan » Tue Jan 03, 2017 4:29 pm

In 2016, we got quality albums across the entire genre spectrum: pop, R&B, country, hip/hop. Most were from familiar names, but there were a handful of new faces that managed to make an impact on my playlists.

Below are the five nominees up for the album of the year honour. We have Bruno Mars's nine-track-long return, the long-anticipated follow-up to the critically acclaimed channel ORANGE, one of Alicia Keys's career-best LPs, another transformation from Lady Gaga, and another visual album from Beyoncé.

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Last edited by JSparksFan on Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:58 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Postby CrazyCrazy » Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:22 pm

I chose Joanne, I know you've been singing it's praises. I think Blond has a good chance too. Happy New Year Akini if I haven't already said it to you somewhere. :D
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Postby Tansike » Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:40 am

I hope it's "Joanne" or "24K Magic", but wouldn't mind if it would be "Here".

However, i went with "Lemonade" in the poll as it's kinda obvious to me that this will be your album of the year, judging from the praise Beyonce got on your Singles YEC :)
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Postby king_oxymoron » Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:23 pm

Like Tansike, from your singles chart I have gleaned that Lemonade will win this!
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Postby JSparksFan » Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:46 pm

Thanks for the interest, everyone! :)

CrazyCrazy wrote:I chose Joanne, I know you've been singing it's praises. I think Blond has a good chance too. Happy New Year Akini if I haven't already said it to you somewhere. :D
Happy New Year, Bill! :D

According to my Last.fm statistics, I played Joanne more in a single day than I played another other album in 2016 over a 24-hour period, so not a bad choice there. And, of course, Frankie is Frankie. <3

Tansike wrote:I hope it's "Joanne" or "24K Magic", but wouldn't mind if it would be "Here".

However, i went with "Lemonade" in the poll as it's kinda obvious to me that this will be your album of the year, judging from the praise Beyonce got on your Singles YEC :)
We'll see! :wink:

king_oxymoron wrote:Like Tansike, from your singles chart I have gleaned that Lemonade will win this!
Let's see if you get both song and album of the year right this year!
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Postby JSparksFan » Wed Jan 04, 2017 3:38 pm

25. Sia - This Is Acting

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The follow-up to 1000 Forms of Fear, the very first Sia album I ever listened to in full, This Is Acting was a 16-track-long affair with just as much killer as filler. For every "The Greatest" and "Cheap Thrills", there was a matching "Sweet Design" and "Broken Glass" to keep the album in a state of equilibrium. The obvious remedy would have been to axe the sub-par songs, and give us a more bang-for-your-buck selection of 10 solid to brilliant tunes, but the highs made the lows bearable, even if this ended up being my least favourite of the LPs I listened to in 2016.

Best Tracks:
- The Greatest
- Cheap Thrills
- Bird Set Free
- Move Your Body

Overall Rating: 6.69/10
24. Drake - Views

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As a lyricist, Drake isn't in the same league as Kanye West or Eminem - the true giants of this generation's hip/hop crew - but he is much like Sia in that he writes a mean hook. Views is a collection of some mediocre to average rap tracks, with some brilliance sprinkled throughout the 19 tracks. One of the highlights, the often overlooked gem "Weston Road Flows", is one of the best representations of the Drake that I like. It's got a swagger to it that's not overdone, some hilariously clever lyrics, and a well-used Mary J. Blige sample.

Best Tracks:
- Hotline Bling
- Weston Road Flows
- Still Here

Overall Rating: 6.81/10
23. Charlie Puth - Nine Track Mind

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The debut album from one of the brighter shining male stars in the music industry, Nine Track Mind has Charlie Puth delivering some earnest vocal performances. The most striking track, for me, is "My Gospel", a rapid-fire, half-sung, half-rapped depiction of his commitment to his lover. Of course, the top three tracks are his three singles, but there's more depth than I was expecting.

Best Tracks:
- We Don't Talk Anymore
- Marvin Gaye
- Dangerously
- My Gospel

Overall Rating: 7.21/10
22. Zayn - Mind of Mine

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Zayn's early departure from One Direction gave him a headstart over his peers to get to work on his solo release, and he came out swinging hard with "Pillowtalk", one of the best debut releases I've heard in the last decade. I didn't expect to hear anything better on the album, but "Rear View" was dangerously close, and "Golden" and "It's You" showcased his chops as a vocalist. Though it's not saying much since there's a dearth of quality male vocalists in the music industry right now, Zayn would easily rank among the very top (male) talents at the moment. Mind of Mine is a strong first effort that hints at future brilliance from the former boy band star.

Best Tracks:
- Pillowtalk
- Rear View
- Golden
- It's You

Overall Rating: 7.37/10
21. Fantasia - The Definition Of...

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Since I first saw Fantasia on American Idol in 2004, she's done one thing consistently for more than a decade: sing better than 99% of the other females in the music industry, and it's the vocals that shine through on this album. The "Rollercoasters" duet with Aloe Blacc was a match made in music heaven; their voices complement each other like peanut butter and whole wheat bread. The fact that it was a sex song caught me off guard, but it's done remarkably well. "I Made It" has all the gospel elements of someone who grew up in the church, and "When I Met You" is a gorgeous R&B ballad, with some cliché lyrics, but an undeniable warmth and romance. There's no better song, though, than "Lonely Legend". Lyrically, it's probably the best song Fantasia's ever sung, and the vocal delivery is spot-on. There really aren't any vocal embellishments there, just a raw tale of a girl with low self-esteem, who's made some poor choices in life, and is lying sad and alone at home at night. (Goodness gracious, it sounds even more depressing when you lay it all out like that). What makes me angry with Fantasia, though, is that none of the album's highlights were released as singles; instead, she went with some of the most vapid songs she's ever recorded to share with the general public, a move that no doubt contributed to the album's abysmal chart run.

Best Tracks:
- Lonely Legend
- Rollercoasters
- I Made It
- When I Met You

Overall Rating: 7.52/10
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Postby JSparksFan » Thu Jan 05, 2017 4:13 pm

20. Céline Dion - Encore un soir

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The very first non-English album I've ever heard in full, Encore un soir is a solid collection of French mid-tempo jams and ballads sung by one of the greatest singers to ever hold a microphone. The album has the standard melodramatic power ballads, the best of which is "Ordinaire", but it's actually "L'étoile", a faster-paced track that just bursts at the seams with optimism, that stands out as my favourite. If you're a fan of Céline's English discography, this is definitely worth a listen. Same great voice, with similarly excellent songs, just in a different (and, perhaps for Céline, more comfortable) language.

Best Tracks:
- L'étoile
- Tu sauras
- Ma faille
- Ordinaire

Overall Rating: 7.6/10
19. Shawn Mendes - Illuminate

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Much like the case with Charlie Puth, the best term to describe Shawn Mendes's vocals would be "earnest", but Mendes has slightly better material on Illuminate than Puth does on Nine Track Mind. Many of his singles are pattered after the same formula, but there is more variety to be found among the album tracks, though the lyrics aren't anything groundbreaking. Still, for a guy who's only 18 years, the talent is clearly there, and I think he has the potential to mature into someone special.

Best Tracks:
- Treat You Better
- Roses
- Like This
- Bad Reputation
- Patience

Overall Rating: 7.607/10
18. Usher - Hard II Love

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From a fresh-faced newbie to a veteran in the game, Usher has not had much success on the charts the past five years, but with Hard II Love, he delivers one of the most consistently strong albums of his career. By "consistently strong", I mean that the worst song on the album ("FWM") earned a 7/10 rating from me, so there really is nothing dire on this record. There is one song, though, that will be added to Usher's collection of truly incredible R&B gems, and that's the sensual, eight-and-a-half-minute-long masterpiece that is "Tell Me". When you pair Usher's golden pipes with a sultry, dynamic melody, the combination is almost overwhelming. It's one of the best songs he's ever done, and it's a shame he did nothing with it.

Best Tracks:
- Tell Me
- Stronger
- Crash
- Hard II Love

Overall Rating: 7.614/10
17. Miranda Lambert - The Weight of These Wings

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At 24 tracks long, this album is a marathon, one that requires an aggressive pace and Mo Farah-levels of stamina to get through, but the route is certainly a scenic one. Obviously, the highlight is "Vice", a song I've praised to the highest of heavens already on my songs countdown, but the album tracks littered throughout are dangerously close in quality, and the storytelling element of country music (which I also shower with praise) is here in fine form. In "Tin Man", she negotiates, Hey, there, Mr. Tin Man, you give me your armour, I'll give you my heart, and in "Things That Break", she croons, I'm hard on things that matter, hold a heart so tight it shatters, so I stay away from things that break. Lambert is a masterful storyteller and has such a way of selling a lyric, it's a wonder I didn't connect with her music sooner. In a year filled with exceptional country music, this certainly deserves a ranking among the very best, and would have been significantly closer to the top had she shaved off a quarter or so of the tracks. Still, for such a long ride, it holds my interest far better than I thought it would.

Best Tracks:
- Vice
- Tin Man
- Things That Break
- To Learn Her
- I've Got Wheels

Overall Rating: 7.65/10
16. Yuna - Chapters

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My favourite R&B find of 2016, Yuna was actually introduced to me through Abiyasa's "Crush" thread. Seeing the name Usher attached to a track means I'll probably check it out, and as I was so smitten by that song, I thought, "Why not check out this girl's album? It's just over half an hour long anyway." So check it out I did, and pleasantly surprised I most certainly was. There's such a gorgeous lightness to Yuna's brand of R&B; she carries the lyrics with a fragility and vulnerability that is somehow so endearing. The album's actually too short; by the time you really get into the groove of things, it's over. Still, for a first impression, Yuna looks pretty good to be sticking around my charts, and on my playlists, for years to come.

Best Tracks:
- Crush
- Lanes
- Best Love
- Too Close

Overall Rating: 7.72/10
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Postby Tansike » Thu Jan 05, 2017 8:31 pm

25. Sia - This Is Acting
24. Drake - Views
23. Charlie Puth - Nine Track Mind
22. Zayn - Mind of Mine
Didn't expect Drake to appear here, but "Views" was surprisingly solid for me so i don't mind his position. Never really got into Zayn's album, but there are one, two tracks that i really enjoyed. Loved Charlie's and Sia's releases, two of the better albums released in 2016 IMO, so love to see them on your list :)

20. Céline Dion - Encore un soir
19. Shawn Mendes - Illuminate
17. Miranda Lambert - The Weight of These Wings
Miranda's set is easily my fave in the second group. While i checked out the other two, they didn't really get me.
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Postby Phoenixx » Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:51 pm

except #21, #20, #17 and #16 are all very good until now 8-)
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Postby JSparksFan » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:08 pm

Thanks for the comment, Tansike! :)

Tansike wrote:
25. Sia - This Is Acting
24. Drake - Views
23. Charlie Puth - Nine Track Mind
22. Zayn - Mind of Mine
Didn't expect Drake to appear here, but "Views" was surprisingly solid for me so i don't mind his position. Never really got into Zayn's album, but there are one, two tracks that i really enjoyed. Loved Charlie's and Sia's releases, two of the better albums released in 2016 IMO, so love to see them on your list :)
Never pegged for a hip/hop fan, so interesting to hear you liked Drake's album. Charlie and Sia had good/great singles from their albums, but the depth was lacking for me.

Tansike wrote:
20. Céline Dion - Encore un soir
19. Shawn Mendes - Illuminate
17. Miranda Lambert - The Weight of These Wings
Miranda's set is easily my fave in the second group. While i checked out the other two, they didn't really get me.
I expected to really struggle through Miranda's album, given its length, but it was pretty strong throughout.
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Postby Phoenixx » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:09 pm

Voted for Joanne :)
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Postby JSparksFan » Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:02 pm

15. Emeli Sandé - Long Live the Angels

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It's been four and a half years since Our Version of Events, and the long-awaited follow-up from Emeli Sandé, Long Live the Angels, lands in the exact position its predecessor earned four years prior. Emeli kept her soulful sound and powerful lyrics handy for this album, but employs more pop elements than before, which makes this album even more accessible than her previous one. There are more mid-tempo tracks, and less slow ballads, but this feels like a natural progression from the artist I was introduced to in 2012.

Best Tracks:
- Hurts
- This Much Is True
- Breathing Underwater
- Babe
- Every Single Little Piece
- Sweet Architect

Overall Rating: 7.722/10
14. Rihanna - Anti

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Since I started doing formal year-end countdowns in 2010, Rihanna has never had an album outside of my Top 10. Anti is an album that left me feeling perplexed the first time I heard it. For so long, Rihanna had been a straightforward pop/R&B act, who you could count on for catchy hooks, solid music videos, and consistently strong albums that put others' faves to shame. With this new album, Rihanna tried some new sounds, and I applaud her for stepping out of her comfort zone, but, after an almost four-year-long hiatus, safe might have been the way to play it. Still, she did what she wanted to do, and from the mixed batch of songs, we were blessed with "Love on the Brain", a fantastic R&B ballad that showcases Rihanna's voice like no other song before it has. The rock-tinged "Kiss It Better" gives us a more classic Rihanna sound, whilst "Work" is Rihanna at her most shamelessly (and ridiculously) catchy. "Desperado" also has strong rock influences, and Rihanna's firing-squad vocal delivery sells the song well. The dub-inspired "Consideration" has Rihanna's inimitable attitude stamped all over it, and some of the others are solid songs one wouldn't mind playing once and never hearing it again, but from someone who I'm accustomed to delivering smash after smash after smash, this felt like a tame return. I wager, she's been gone so long from the game, she's gotten a bit rusty, and I fully expect, and cross my fingers for, a return to a more Unapologetic space for her next LP. Also, she might as well have thrown "FourFiveSeconds" and "Bitch Better Have My Money" on the album, as those two are superior to most of the songs on the record.

Best Tracks:
- Love on the Brain
- Kiss It Better
- Work
- Desperado
- Consideration

Overall Rating: 7.74/10
13. Frank Ocean - Blonde

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Another person who kept his fans waiting for four years, Frank Ocean finally tired of his fans hounding him for new music, and threw Blonde at our rabid mouths in August. As it's Frankie, I knew to expect brilliant lyricism (he even taught me a word or two), eclectic melodies, and a coolness and swagger than he does best. My favourite track, "Ivy", opens with Frank crooning, I thought that I was dreaming when you said you loved me, which is just one of the myriad of ways that Frank opens up the Pandora's box of feelings within me with a simple, straightforward but vulnerable, lyric. This is a great album to listen to if you're in love, or mourning the loss of a terminated relationship. You'll leave feeling in love, but terribly broken, regardless.

Best Tracks:
- Ivy
- Nights
- Solo
- Seigfreid
- Nikes

Overall Rating: 7.82/10
12. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo

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Kanye West is great at two things: being the most arrogant man in the music industry, and being the greatest rapper on the planet. For a while, it seemed that he was only fulfilling the first of those two skills, but with The Life of Pablo, I was reassured that Kim Kardashian hadn't completely drained him of his greatness. Whether he's just leading Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin, and some four-year-old female preacher through a sermon on "Ultralight Beam", or giving us legitimately fantastic bars on "Facts (Charlie Heat Version)" and "30 Hours", this album is reminiscent of Kanye West at his Kanye best, and after the tragedy of Yeezus, which made me reluctant to even check this one out, The Life of Pablo tells me that the hip/hop king is still alive.

Best Tracks:
- Ultralight Beam
- Saint Pablo
- 30 Hours
- Wolves
- Facts (Charlie Heat Version)
- Fade
- Real Friends

Overall Rating: 7.86/10
11. Britney Spears - Glory

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From my favourite hip/hop artist to my favourite pure pop name, Britney Spears delivered an unnecessarily lengthy 18-track LP with Glory that, at times, favours quantity over quality. Of course, as it's Britney, bitch, there will be quality pop songs, but what surprised me most about the album is the overwhelming awesomeness of the mid-tempo ballads, like "Just Luv Me" and "Just Like Me". This isn't a purely adrenaline-fuelled affair as most of her records are; the lyrics are actually contemplative and emotive. She doesn't leave the dance-pop crew high and dry, though, as there's the bass-heavy "Love Me Down" (the best produced song on the record), and the flirtatious "Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortés)". There's even a sequel to "Oops...I Did It Again" in "Man on the Moon". In short, this is the kind of album that Britney should be making in her mid-30s. It's mature in parts, but still hugely fun and light throughout. Had she removed "Invitation", "Clumsy", "Do You Wanna Come Over?", and "What You Need" from this, she'd have been a serious contender for #1 here, but four clunkers made it impossible for her to recover from. Still, I was happy with Glory, especially with the fact that she released the best song as a single.

Best Tracks:
- Slumber Party
- Just Luv Me
- Love Me Down
- Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortés)
- Man on the Moon
- Make Me...
- Liar
- Just Like Me

Overall Rating: 7.88/10
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Postby Phoenixx » Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:05 pm

Happy to see ANTI and Life with Pablo 8-)
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Postby JSparksFan » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:22 pm

Phoenixx wrote:Happy to see ANTI and Life with Pablo 8-)
Glad you like those two! It was a pretty solid year for urban music.
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Postby phoenix98 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:59 pm

• At first, I was pretty stunned/saddened/outraged to see ANTI at No. 14. I wasn't exactly holding my breath for No. 1 or anything (how could I forget "ANTI-quality"?), but as you said yourself, Rihanna missing the Top 10 is a BIG deal. As I sit and actually think it over, though, there's only two tracks whose exclusion I'd deem especially erroneous, and I'd put them in place of "Desperado" and "Consideration" (even though I know most fans spooge themselves senseless over the latter)...so we're still left with only 5 highlights, which is pretty underwhelming. I'm surprised to see absolutely zero mention of "Higher", since I think it works brilliantly as a segue from LOTB, and explodes with raw emotion in a way I thought you might appreciate. I mean...who else could make a drunk voicemail sound so epic? I'm less surprised to see you ignore "Close To You", but I think that one's really lovely and a perfect closer to the standard edition. I'm tempted to add "Same Ol' Mistakes" as well, but that one does test my patience a bit with its runtime.
• Minor tangent, but I love how you give Frank props for teaching you new words. There's many things that make me adore Mariah, and that's one of them. Although it helps that I was only in junior high when I started to really delve into her discography, I owe her for "nonchalant", "incessantly", "fervid"...
• Clenching my heart at the brutal dismissal of "Invitation", but I can appreciate your overall assessment of Glory. "What You Need" does get pretty irritating pretty quickly, but it sounds like she's legitimately having fun recording it (making the "that was fun" closing line especially adorable and fitting.) Specific track opinions aside, I like how you highlight the album's ideal mix of maturity and frivolity.
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Postby JSparksFan » Sun Jan 08, 2017 9:14 pm

10. Jennifer Nettles - Playing with Fire

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The female vocal behind one of my favourite country duos, Sugarland, Jennifer Nettles flew under the radar for most people in 2016, and this would've been the same case for me had one of my close friends not clued me in on the awesomeness of Playing with Fire. Much of the album is the standard country music one would expect, just done a lot better than most of the genre's contemporary names, but the most surprising track was Nettles's duet with another Jennifer, Jennifer Lopez, "My House". "My House" reflects the many similarities we have with people whose lives may appear, on the surface, to be significantly dissimilar to ours. Loved how J.Lo injects some Spanish in the song.

Best Tracks:
- Unlove You
- Playing with Fire
- My House
- Chaser
- Salvation Works
- Stupid Girl
- Way Back Home

Overall Rating: 7.93/10
09. Ariana Grande - Dangerous Woman

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I became an Ariana Grande fan in 2016, and it was off the back of Dangerous Woman that it happened. I feel that with this album, she's finally shaken off most of the Mariah Carey comparisons, as these songs do a better job of reflecting her personality and her own incredible voice. "Moonlight" is an excellent ballad that showcases the different nuances of her instrument, but she does let it rip on songs like "Into You" and "Leave Me Lonely". There's variety here - pop, soul, R&B, rock - and they're all done well.

Best Tracks:
- Into You
- Moonlight
- Let Me Love You
- Side to Side
- Leave Me Lonely
- Greedy
- Dangerous Woman
- Be Alright

Overall Rating: 8.04/10
08. The Weeknd - Starboy

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The Weeknd is just cool, and I don't know if the scientific formula behind his brand of coolness is a function of his irreverently sexual lyrics backed by grimy, addictive, club-ready beats, but he stuck to the script of R&B/hip-hop's resident president of cool for Starboy, and delivered a second terrific album in a row. It's rare that an artist puts out a solid album one year, and is able to follow it up with something similarly spectacular the following year - only the Bajan phenom Robyn Rihanna Fenty can usually be counted on to do this - but the Weeknd manages this feat.

Best Tracks:
- Starboy
- Ordinary Life
- Six Feet Under
- Nothing Without You
- I Feel It Coming
- Die for You
- Secrets
- Sidewalks
- All I Know

Overall Rating: 8.05/10
07. Brandy Clark - Big Day in a Small Town

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I love when country music stars go against the grain, as their genre stubbornly sticks to tradition more than any other, but Brandy Clark, much like another recent country discovery of mine - Kacey Musgraves - does just that. In "Girl Next Door", the album's highlight, she proudly declares herself an anti-Debbie Debutante and no virgin Mary. There's a lot of storytelling here, and it's all done with the expert craftsmanship of someone who's clearly lived these tales, or at least been close enough to the story to tell an honest depiction of the reality.

Best Tracks:
- Girl Next Door
- Daughter
- Homecoming Queen
- Love Can Go to Hell
- Broke
- Big Day in a Small Town
- Three Kids No Husband

Overall Rating: 8.14/10
06. Delta Goodrem - Wings of the Wild

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I was so caught up with life in 2016 that I got into Wings of the Wild shamefully late; it was in the final days of 2016 that I finally gave it a long overdue spin, and lo and behold, it's Delta's best damn album to date! "I'm Not Giving Up", my personal highlight, is a bold declaration of Delta's intent to survive whatever trials that are on her path to success, happiness, and fulfilment, and even my second and third favourite songs - "Wings" and "Feline" - are very much in this vein. In "Dear Life", she expresses less certainty, penning a letter to "Life", asking if she's heading in the right direction. There's a survivor's spirit throughout the album, one that resonates deeply with me, and one that I know, for Delta, comes from an honest place. The whole album has this joyful, triumphant melody of someone who's climbed a mammoth of a mountain, and is gearing herself up for another adventure.

Best Tracks:
- I'm Not Giving Up
- Wings
- Feline
- Dear Life
- Just Call
- Hold On
- In the Name of Love
- Heavy
- I Believe in a Thing Called Love
- Enough

Overall Rating: 8.35/10
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Postby king_oxymoron » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:57 am

So of these, I only own Illuminate and Dangerous Woman. I do think Shawn is more vocally talented that you're giving him credit for, his voice is heaven to me, but you're right he def still has room to grow. Love the Grande one, such variety as you say, though Moonlight is far from my fave.

Great to see Delta, I don't know the album but have been a longtime fan.
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Postby JSparksFan » Tue Jan 10, 2017 1:37 am

king_oxymoron wrote:So of these, I only own Illuminate and Dangerous Woman. I do think Shawn is more vocally talented that you're giving him credit for, his voice is heaven to me, but you're right he def still has room to grow. Love the Grande one, such variety as you say, though Moonlight is far from my fave.

Great to see Delta, I don't know the album but have been a longtime fan.
I think most of today's male singers are terribly average, but Shawn's voice is well-suited for pop music, so he works for me.

Glad you also like Dangerous Woman. Ariana was pretty on the money as far as single choices are concerned.

Ooh, you should definitely check out Delta's album as soon as possible! It's fantastic!
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Postby JSparksFan » Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:57 am

05. Lindsey Stirling - Brave Enough

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The first of two surprises in the Top 5, we have the very first album I've heard in full from the infinitely gifted violinist, Lindsey Stirling. More than half of the songs feature vocalists, which doesn't work as well for Tansike as it does for me, but as a lover of lyrics, I fully endorse the positive messages Lindsey's featured guests rap and sing about. Of course, Lindsey absolutely slays the instrumental-only tracks too. I was stunned the first time I listened to the album at just how many stand-outs the record had: 10/14 tracks are keepers (meaning I rated them 8/10 or higher), and even the worst song is completely listenable.

Best Tracks:
- Something Wild
- Hold My Heart
- Don't Let This Feeling Fade
- Prism
- The Phoenix
- The Arena
- Those Days
- Where Do We Go
- Love's Just a Feeling
- Brave Enough

Overall Rating: 8.43/10
04. Alicia Keys - Here

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The greatest album of Alicia Keys's career, Here sees the songstress delivering some of her most raw vocal performances, and embracing a more contemporary, less piano-driven sound. Of course, nothing beats the frothy and fresh "In Common", but soulful ballads like "Pawn It All" and "Hallelujah" definitely make the hairs on your arm (and elsewhere) stand at attention. There's also the brilliantly penned "Holy War", which is an anthem of unity - a song that fits into the American political and social spheres to a T at the moment. Perhaps most shockingly, Alicia Keys also addresses bisexuality in "Where Do We Begin Now", where she narrates the story of a young girl who's fallen in love with her best (female) friend. The last half of this record is overwhelmingly special, and if we were to remove "Blended Family" and the unnecessarily lengthy "She Don't Really Care/1 Luv", this would've been a dangerous contender for the top spot, but, as it is, it's just the third best R&B album of the year, which, given the kind of year 2016 was, is a big deal still.

Best Tracks:
- In Common
- Holy War
- Pawn It All
- Hallelujah
- Where Do We Begin Now
- Girl Can't Be Herself
- Illusion of Bliss
- More Than We Know
- Work on It

Overall Rating: 8.44/10
03. Lady Gaga - Joanne

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We've seen Lady Gaga in an egg, as Kermit the Frog, dressed as meat, in an inflatable star gown, in a Mona Lisa dress, wearing a white fluffy gown, in a reindeer hat, and doing her best Icarus impression, but, in 2016, Gaga did the truly unthinkable: rein in the outlandish and provocative and give us a tame, country-western-inspired look and sound. There are, of course, still hints of the wild child in the rock-tinged "John Wayne" and the dance-pop smash waiting to happen "Dancin' in Circles", but in songs like "Come to Mama", Gaga could pass for a Texan housewife. I do love the "Angel Down" ballad, which shows off Gaga's chops as a vocalist, and I appreciate the uniquely Gaga songs like "Perfect Illusion" and "A-Yo". There's been some division between the fan base as to whether this is a maturer effort, or a failed attempt at reinvention, but I certainly believe it to be a step in the right direction, or at least a much-welcomed brake point in Gaga's sound. It's certainly less experimental, less daring, and less controversial, but, at times, it's also more honest, more gripping, and more enduring than anything she's done before.

Best Tracks:
- Million Reasons
- Dancin' in Circles
- Angel Down
- Diamond Heart
- A-Yo
- Perfect Illusion
- John Wayne
- Come to Mama
- Grigio Girls
- Hey Girl

Overall Rating: 8.62/10
02. Bruno Mars - 24K Magic

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Bruno Mars always plays the risky game of releasing albums with barely nine or 10 tracks, but somehow he always manages to deliver pure fire with virtually every track. With 24K Magic, he goes eight for nine, with the second weakest track, unfortunately, being the title track and lead single with which he opted to reintroduce himself to the world. This album has so many future chart-toppers just waiting to be released: there's the tailored-for-summer pop/R&B earworm "Finesse" (that, oddly enough, doubles as a pretty powerful gym companion), the retro-inspired (and Halle-Berry-featuring) "Calling All My Lovelies", fan-favourite and vocal showcase "Versace on the Floor", new single and slow builder "That's What I Like", the playful "Chunky", the lost-in-the-pack-but-still-very-solid "Straight Up & Down", and second vocal highlight "Too Good to Say Goodbye". What in heavens possessed him to throw "24K Magic" as single #1, I guess we'll never know, but 2017 could be Bruno's year if he leaves "Perm" alone and releases literally anything else.

Best Tracks:
- Finesse
- Calling All My Lovelies
- Chunky
- That's What I Like
- Versace on the Floor
- Straight Up & Down
- Too Good to Say Goodbye
- 24K Magic

Overall Rating: 8.64/10
01. Beyoncé - Lemonade

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She gave me soul, R&B, pop, country, rock, hip/hop, gospel, and trap in an 11-track visual album; how could I deny Beyoncé the top spot? While 4 will likely remain Beyoncé's magnum opus, Lemonade will go down as her most diverse record, and the way Beyoncé told a story through each song, making each track a mini-movie in a much grander epic film, was just brilliant. There is far too much good to highlight all the record's strengths in detail, but the R&B/gospel ballad "All Night"; the Black Lives Matter anthem just waiting to happen "Freedom"; the reggae-driven and iconic-bat-featuring "Hold Up"; the boss bitch "6 Inch"; the warning-light "Don't Hurt Yourself"; the Becky with the good hair "Sorry"; the raw and honest "Love Drought"; the ratchet, repetitive, and female and black empowerment song of 2016 "Formation"; and, finally, the daring assault on country music that proved to be superior to almost all other songs from that genre "Daddy Lessons" are all moments that will stick with me for years to come. When I look back at 2016, I'll remember it as a year contemporary music began to make a return to 2008-2012 form, and Lemonade will stick out as the biggest proponent of that movement.

Best Tracks:
- Daddy Lessons
- All Night
- Freedom
- Hold Up
- 6 Inch
- Don't Hurt Yourself
- Sorry
- Love Drought
- Formation

Overall Rating: 8.66/10
"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read." - James Baldwin
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Postby Tansike » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:14 pm

Time to catch up!

So sorry for being so far behind... :oops:

15. Emeli Sandé - Long Live the Angels
14. Rihanna - Anti
11. Britney Spears - Glory
Kinda glad "Glory" missed your Top10. It was amazing when it came out, but after 2-3 weeks i got completely over it and now it's even my least favorite album by Britney so far (at least from the ones i know, which is everything after "Blackout", including "Blackout"). It's still a nice pop album but nothing that will pass the time for me like her previous releases did, even "Britney Jean" had a much bigger impact on me and my life than this, which is weird, as i used to absolutely adore Brit and everything she releases. Surprisingly, "Clumsy" is one of my clear faves :oops:
"Anti" took ages to grow on me, and while i disliked it at first, i think it's quite nice now, thanks to her concert over here. "Love On The Brain" is my fave there as well. Emeli's record is also a solid one, and i hope we'll get some more singles from this.

09. Ariana Grande - Dangerous Woman
08. The Weeknd - Starboy
06. Delta Goodrem - Wings of the Wild
Surprising entry for Delta, but i love it! I see "Wings Of The Wild" as one of the best pop albums of 2016 as well, and i even discovered all of her previous albums as well over the last few weeks now and she seems like such a great artist. Definitely one of the singers i wish that i would have discovered them years ago...
Very happy for the positions for Ariana Grande and The Weeknd. Awesome artists, awesome albums, but still not as strong as their previous two releases for me.

05. Lindsey Stirling - Brave Enough
04. Alicia Keys - Here
03. Lady Gaga - Joanne
02. Bruno Mars - 24K Magic
My reaction when i opened this topic and scrolled down was that one: :o :o :o
I LOVE that you like "Brave Enough" that much, and this is a huge surprise. I knew you like some songs but had no idea they had such an impact on you, this is fantastic! "Something Wild", "Hold My Heart", "Where Do We Go" and "Brave Enough" belong to my faves as well, so i'm glad we're sharing them, and it may surprise you but i've started to get over the instrumental songs on "Brave Enough" way faster than the others. I don't even like "The Arena" that much these days, so now i share your opinion on the album overall, and to my own surprise.
It makes me wonder which song is your least fave and is still 'completely listenable'? :)

GaGa's album is quite good, especially the first half. However, i still think it's far behind her previous releases as a whole, and only "Dancin In Circles" and "Million Reasons" are as good as the stuff from her other albums. Oh and maybe "Diamond Heart". After ignoring it a bit for 2-3 weeks i'm starting to get back into it now though so who knows how i will think about it later this year.

"24K Magic" was a huge grower for me. Starting as my least favorite album by Bruno, i think it's even his most solid release now, so i'm happy to see him so high on your list. I already got my tickets to see him live later this year and i'm so excited, as he's an awesome live performer and i already saw him live on his last tour and that was one of the best concerts i've visited to date 8-) Don't agree about "Perm" though, i guess i already wrote in your daily chart topic that it's my favorite song on the album... :oops:

Fantastic countdown! :)
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Postby Phoenixx » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:20 am

Like your #02 and #03! And your whole Top-5 <3 8-)
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Postby king_oxymoron » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:02 pm

Smashed it this year!

I'm currently living with and getting into Joanne.. some of it is hard work but some of it I am loving! I might have a listen to Bruno after your recommendation too!
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Postby adg » Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:52 pm

Good to see the Bruno Mars album so high on your year end chart
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Postby Phoenixx » Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:32 am

Phoenixx wrote:Like your #02 and #03! And your whole Top-5 <3 8-)
Sorry I meant #09 and #08 :o :oops:
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