Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Best Albums of 2016

Best Album of the Year: Beyonce Lemonade
Only Beyonce can drop a surprise album/visual album overnight without having to do all the promotional B.S. beforehand. Lemonade is stunning start to finish (as is the accompanying film shot in New Orleans). Bey and her team seamlessly pull off bouncing from one genre to the next - country, rock, contemporary R&B - with it all still sounding cohesive. The album tells a story of infidelity, trust, and hope. I kind of feel like Jay did not cheat on Bey and the whole album is just a work of fiction (I mean, she was married when Single Ladies came out), but who knows? Lemonade is a feast for the eyes and ears and I think will now be an iconic album for women, but more importantly for black women. 

"My love was stronger than your pride
Beyond your darkness I'm your light
You get deep you touch my mind
Baptize your tears and dry your eyes
So many people I know that they just trying to touch you
Kiss up and rub up and feel up
Kiss up and rub up and feel up on ya
Give you some time to prove that I can trust ya again
I'm gonna kiss up and rub up and feel up
Kiss up and rub up and feel up on ya"
 - All Night

Check out: "Sorry" for the ultimate boybye song, "Hold Up" samples Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and "Don't Hurt Yourself (feat. Jack White)" is a badass pure rock song
2nd: Lady Gaga Joanne (Deluxe)
After her stint with Tony Bennet and several TV appearances showing/proving that she is a truly gifted singer songwriter (as a Little Monster, I knew this all along - WAKE UP PEOPLE), I knew Gaga's next album would be a little more real, a little less produced. Joanne is exactly that - a raw crackling, soulful gem of a record. It's probably my favorite Gaga album yet. Critics have said it's all over the place, but I think it's downright American, homey, and features only the best of Lady Gaga's many flavors. It's got grit, but also a lot of girl power. Peace and love, Gaga! 

"Young, wild, American
Lookin' to be somethin'
Out of school go-go'n
For a hundred or two
Some asshole broke me in
Wrecked all my innocence
I'll just keep go-go'n
And this dance is on you
One, five, ten, lay a million on me
Before the end of this song
Young, wild, American
C'mon baby, do you have a girlfriend?
Rain on me a million
I'm not flawless, but I gotta diamond heart"
- Diamond Heart

Check out: "Sinner's Prayer" got that spaghetti western vibe, "Hey Girl (feat. Florence Welch)" lets lift each other up as women and not tear each other down, and "Joanne" is a like "Million Reasons" but BETTER
3rd: St. Lucia Matter
This band will always be an all-time favorite of mine. Their 80's tinged, tropical lush sound always feels like an exotic escape. Matter is fun, sexy, and synth heavy, its like what should be playing on the radio and the clubs. But maybe the fact that they're still a little unknown is what makes their pop so sweet. 

"Science and reason will tell us so
The blood in our veins are just chemicals
You'd better believe I keep my demons to myself
You'd better believe it's getting harder
But I'm never gonna stop until it's broken
Never gonna stop until it's broken
How long 'til we learn
Dancing is dangerous"
 - Dancing on Glass

Check out: "The Winds of Change" straight outta the 80's, "Love Somebody" is silky smooth, and "Physical" a good workout one, yeah
4th: Lucius Good Grief (Deluxe)
Electric, colorful and melodic -Lucius is just as vivacious on their record as they are live. This album has more nods to the 80's then on their debut (their cover of Bowie is gold). The ladies are at their boldest on this record and thankfully have thrown in some slower ballads to the mix allowing their harmonizing to really take the spotlight. Lucius is #twinning goals.

"Looking for a scene to cause
But the only thing I see, blue skies ahead of us
Searching for the empty half when somethings filling up the glass
I'm hopeless
It almost makes me wish for rain
When everything begins to go my way
This guilty feeling comes along with it and you know
It almost makes me wish for rain"
 - Almost Makes Me Wish for Rain

Check out: "What We Have (To Change)" goes and tells it on the mountain, "Almighty Gosh" is a fun, Bollywood number, and "Born Again Teen" is a rager!
5th: Santigold 99 Cents
How freaking amazing is this album cover?!? I loved her convenience store/consumerism/egoism concept that carried over to her promotional tour for the album - SEE HERE! Don't mistake 99 Cents for a sellout, if anything it's her most experimental and eclectic one yet. Santigold is an exciting artist, you don't know how to define her or know what direction she'll go next, but her music and lyrics are always relevant and topical. 

"I call what I see and if I judge, well, then so be
To my neighbours I'm the best thing around
Living my life in a fantasy
Living my life in my vanity
Hey mom maybe you’ll see me now
All I wanna do is what I do well
Ain't a gambler but honey I'd put money on myself
All I wanna do is bottle it to sell
'Cause my brand does vainglorious much better for your health
Woah oh oh
I can’t get enough
All they've said it's true
I can’t get enough of myself"
 - Can't Get Enough of Myself (feat. B.C)

Check out: "Chasing Shadows" is Rostam produced, "Who Be Lovin' Me" will get stuck in your head, and "Rendezvous Girl" has 80's magic. 
6th: Gwen Stefani This Is What The Truth Feels Like
I've always been a fan of Gweny-Gwen-Gwen. This album is her most personal yet (all about her dramatic divorce from Gavin Rosdale to the beginnings of finding love with Blake Shelton). I had this entire record on repeat at the gym and listened all the way through each time. There are no fillers or fluff on here. And she's 47?!? How I don't know. She's just bad-ass. 

"You're a sapphire, you're a rolling stone
You're a sparkle in a deep black hole
You're like moon shine, when the curtains close
You're my answer, one that no one knows
And I can't believe it, that you even exist
You know I would be dumb to give perfection up
How can I accept it, that this is so precious?
You know I would be dumb to give perfection up
You're rare
And I'm loving every second of it, don't you know?"
- Rare

Check out: "You're My Favorite" calls back Love. Angel. Music. Baby. days, "Where Would I Be?" recalls No Doubt's reggae sound, and "Make Me Like You" is cute and spring-y. 
7th: M83 Junk
If the goofy, Punky Brewster inspired album art doesn't already tip you off....Junk is an exploration of 80's sitcoms, whimsy and space (M83 is so good at space). Hurry Up, We're Dreaming is in my top 10 albums of all time because of it's movie-ready epic songs (many of the songs used in "inspiring commercials"). Junk is the silly younger sister to that album and I would classify as TV ready. You'll find yourself smiling because of how goofy/happy some of the songs are. No space Junk here, just pure joy (and more French lyrics). 

Taking a foreign flight
Looking for signs of life
When you flashed upon my screen
Testing the atmosphere
Your silhouette appears
And I know I'm not alone
But empty haze
Is all that remains
I'm lost on the sidewalk
Just calling your name
 - Walkaway Blues

Check out: "Go!" is the albums "Midnight City," "For the Kids (feat. Susanne Sundfør)" reminds me of an old 80's ballad on a soft rock station, and "Moon Crystal" is basically an intro to a sitcom, hilarious. 
What were your favorite albums of 2016??
see also:  Best Albums of 2011 |  Best Albums of 2012 |  Best Albums of 2013 Best Albums of 2014 | Best Albums of 2015

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