This year hasn’t been great, has it?
Like I said in my post on the 50 best songs of 2016, the one saving grace of this year has been the music. My only issue has been just how long albums have been in 2016 (yes Drake, I am looking at you and Views).
What ever happened to the standard 10-12 tracklisting for albums? Next year popstars, please just trim the fat and give me the meat of your music.
Okay enough of me ranting, let’s begin.
11. Tinashe – Nightride
It really sucks that Tinashe didn’t become the big star everyone expected her to be in 2016. Alas, she still managed to release music with her EP Nightride to tide fans over as they grew increasingly impatient waiting for her official second album Joyride, currently expected ‘sometime in 2017’.
Tinashe really excels when she does moody, dark RnB, her mixtapes attest to this, and though Nightride doesn’t feel like a step back for the star, it doesn’t feel like a step forward either. That isn’t to say this EP isn’t full of bangers because it is – hence why it’s on my list, I just hope Joyride offers a bit more variety and that all important crossover hit Tinashe really needs at this point.
Listen to: Company, Party Favors, C’est La Vie, Touch Pass
10. NAO – For All We Know
This album is a colourful collection of NAO’s own brand of RnB fused with electronica and funk. For All We Know probably suffers from being a bit too long (18 tracks for a debut is very ambitious) and my personal highlight of the album, Girlfriend, appears way too late in the album all the way at track 17.
That said, the album is a really fun listen and you get a general idea of who NAO is and what she’s all about. The voice memos are also a nice insight in the recording process of the album, so touché with that!
Listen to: Bad Blood, Girlfriend, Dywm, Fool to Love, Happy
9. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
An album so short (just nine tracks) I thought iTunes was selling only half the album in some ridiculous marketing ploy. But the length of 24K Magic was a much needed respite from the endless long-as-fuck albums of 2016.
Bruno sounds corny as hell on some of the songs (Calling All My Lovelies being a prime example here) but you can tell he doesn’t once take himself seriously on an album that is meant to be enjoyed as a straight up party album and nothing more.
Listen to: 24 Magic, That’s What I Like, Calling All My Lovelies
8. Carly Rae Jepsen – EMOTION: Side B
Carly Rae Jepsen released the best album of 2015 with EMOTION and this year decided to capitalise on its now cult following by releasing a collection of B-sides that didn’t make the original album.
The woman knows how to give the gays what they want.
These songs don’t quite pack the same punch as the ones that made the album, but as a standalone piece they hold their own. I’m ready for Side C, D and E now Carly, because EMOTION will continue to be the album that never stops giving.
Listen to: Higher, Cry, Store, Roses
7. Zayn Malik – Mind of Mine
This album was the most pleasant surprise of all the albums released this year because I had no idea what to expect, I mean did anyone know what to expect from a solo album by Zayn Malik?
I would also like to go on record and say his qawwali-esq track Intermission: Flower is the sexiest thing I have heard this year. Like, Goddamn.
Listen to: Pillowtalk, Befour, Like I Would, She, Drunk, She Don’t Love Me
6. Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book
I’ve said before how Chance The Rapper was the beacon of light needed in 2016 and his mixtape/album Coloring Book more than confirmed this. I’ll go as far as saying this is the best Hip-Hop release of 2016 with almost everything on it feeling like an ode to something higher than all of us. (God, Britney, Beyoncé – take your pick)
In a year that saw so much shit, Coloring Book is still the only album that puts on a smile on my face when I listen to it and leaves me that feeling that eventually everything will be okay.
Listen to: No Problem, Blessings, Same Drugs, Angels,
5. Rihanna – ANTI
After probably the messiest album campaign in recent history, Rihanna’s ANTI was finally released, albeit accidentally for free on TIDAL, at the start of the year. Radio friendly hits were not on the mission statement for this album and given Rih’s extensive back catalogues of bangers, she doesn’t necessarily need them anymore at this point.
This was Rihanna doing whatever she wanted to and it sounded so fucking good.
Listen to: Work, Desperado, Kiss It Better, Needed Me, Same Ol’ Mistakes, Woo
4. JoJo – Mad Love
I have never waited for an album so long in my life. After countless false starts and endless legal battles, JoJo finally released her third studio album, a decade later.
Having already handed in three incarnations of the album to her former label, I really don’t know how she found the energy or inspiration to create Mad Love, but I am so glad she did.
On Mad Love JoJo sings about everything from her dad passing away, her battles with depression and even her love of getting high and having sex. If this were any other year, Mad Love would be at the top of my list because this album isn’t just a brilliant body of work, but a real FUCK YOU to everyone and everything that held her back all these years.
Listen to: Fuck Apologies, Mad Love, FAB, Clovers, Edibles, Good Thing, I Am, Music
3. Britney Spears – Glory
Britney Spears in 2016 is an absolute revelation. Britney hasn’t sounded this engaged and present on an album since In The Zone and not for one second does it feel as if she is just going through the motions like she has done on previous albums. I mean, at the end of What You Need when she says ‘That was fun!’ you actually believe that she did indeed have fun. Amazing.
I know the “comeback” narrative for Britney since her 2007 breakdown is now very tired, but Glory genuinely is the return to form we all knew she was capable of.
Listen to: Invitation, Slumber Party, If I’m Dancing, Better, Just Luv Me, Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortes), Coupure Électrique
2. Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman
I wrote about this album when it first came out in May and after all these months, it remains, in my personal opinion, the best pop album released this year.
Dangerous Woman threw so much at the wall and everything, for the most part, stuck pretty well. The camp disco of Greedy, the 90s house vibe of Be Alright, and absolute masterpiece Into You, make this album an enjoyable and exciting listen from start to finish. Also, that transition from Knew Better into Forever Boy still has me SHOOK.
Listen to: Be Alright, Dangerous Woman, Into You, Side to Side, Bad Decisions, Greedy, Knew Better/Forever Boy
1. Beyoncé- Lemonade
This was always going to take the top spot.
To consider Lemonade just an album feels as if I am downplaying how important the music, the visual and their message is, especially in the current political climate.
Everything I want to say about Lemonade has already been said, so just know all the stuff you have read or are going to read in everyone else’s end of year lists about Lemonade is 100% correct.
Listen to: ALL OF IT.