OBJECTIVE OPINION: THE BEST ALBUMS OF 2016
From the dancehall revival, to Beyoncé’s invention of country music, the music of 2016 was nothing short of magical. And - I know it isn’t the end of the year yet, but it seems to me that anyone who is anyone in the music industry released a project (or 2). So, without further ado, these are the best albums of 2016.
10. 24K MAGIC – BRUNO MARS
For someone whose never really been critically acclaimed, Bruno Mars certainly used his third album to prove critics wrong. Embracing the nostalgic funk that got him his massive hits, this album gives us nine, full-on, funk bangers. Spanning over half-an-hour, Bruno doesn’t leave too much room to screw up. He gets us up and dancing with the first three songs, then gets us all hot-and-bothered with 'That’s What I Like' and 'Versace on The Floor'. The only con, I wish this album was longer. Much longer.
9. TKAY – TKAY MAIDZA
The long-awaited debut album from Aussie queen Tkay Maidza had finally arrived after countless promotional singles. And just like the singles, the project highlighted many of Tkay’s diverse talents. Whether you wanted g-up, spittin str8 fire Tkay (see: 'Carry On') or the summer-embracing goddess Tkay (see: 'Simulation'), this album has got it all. Hands down the best Aussie album of the year. Be sure to catch her live show before it passes!
8. MALIBU – ANDERSON .PAAK
From Macklemore tracks to Kaytranada bangers, anything Anderson touches turns gold. On his third album, Mr. Paak modernises the 70’s funky zeitgeist, adds in some stanky bass, and creates an unforgettable LP. Embodying the boy-next-door-type character, Anderson seduces listeners with his sexy soothing voice. Malibu very much feels like a celebration – it’ll turn any miserable day into a delightful one.
7. DANGEROUS WOMAN – ARIANA GRANDE
In terms of pure bubble-gum pop music, Ariana Grande is phenomenal. Her third full length LP had a lot to live up to with smash hits 'Break Free' and 'Problem' being commercially and critically acclaimed. But somehow, she topped it. Dabbling into many genres and sounds, Dangerous Woman is a carefully articulated pop album. Highlights 'Greedy' and 'Be Alright' are likely to be responses to the successes of 'Uptown Funk' and 'One Dance', respectively. If one thing is clear, Ariana can do anything. Also, 'Into You' may just be the greatest pop song this generation has seen.
6. THE LIFE OF PABLO – KANYE WEST
The Life of Pablo is an example of an album whose imperfections are what make it perfect. That is not to say that it is flawless rap, or that it is impeccably produced- but this album is holistically Kanye West – an erratic persona the world has obsessed over ever since his debut. There are high points with 'FML' & 'Ultralight Beam' embodying stunning Grammy-worthy records, not to mention 'No More Parties in L.A'. sees the old Kanye spittin fire verses again. And as for the low points? Well, they’re like a minute long so it doesn’t bother you too much anyway.
5. COLORING BOOK – CHANCE THE RAPPER
Never has an album made me want to go to church so badly. Chance the Rapper’s third mixtape is an incredibly catchy, fun-loving fusion of jazz, funk and gospel. Similar to his project with the Social Experiment, Chance creates blockbuster numbers that’ll physically get you out of your chairs and start dancin’ ho. Whilst the album has its flaws , Chance the Rapper reaches new highs, ultimately cementing his Best New Artist Grammy win.
4. THE COLOR IN ANYTHING – JAMES BLAKE
It’s very rare that you get a talented producer who is equally talented on their vocal ability. James Blake embodies this unique talent in this third full length effort, The Colour in Anything. Spanning over 77 minutes, James Blake’s LP manifests in beautiful melancholy that’ll definitely have you reaching for the tissues. It’s emotional, it’s poignant and it’s moving. Whilst I don’t think this album differs creatively too much from his previous efforts, the project’s high points match that, and even better songs on Overgrown and his self-titled LP. If you ever want to mentally escape from the world entirely, this ethereal, spacious and futuristic album is a good way to start.
3. ANTI – RIHANNA
Although this might not have been the big individualistic breakthrough fans were waiting for, ANTI turned out to be one of the most coherent, catchy and interesting albums of 2016. Rihanna’s eighth studio album details a narrative of unfulfilment, in the most fulfilling way possible. With the tracks 'Needed Me', 'Love on the Brain' and 'Higher', this LP is her strongest, most polished project to-date. Whilst we probably didn’t need a Tame Impala karaoke track, the album’s highlights make up for it through exceptional earworms. ANTI is ultimately Rihanna at her best, and it exposes her limitless abilities as a curator when she isn’t hindered creatively.
2. BLONDE – FRANK OCEAN
It was 4 years in the making, but well worth the wait. Frank Ocean’s third album Blonde delivered some stripped back, timeless classics that expose many of the intricacies within Frank’s life. And just like the waiting audiences endured for this album, the album required patience. Upon first listen, fans may have experienced disappointment with the lack of radio-friendly bangers that Channel Orange had. But upon closer inspection, Frank Ocean created the perfect album for #SADBOYS everywhere. From the heartbreak within songs directed at past boyfriends/girlfriends or the sorrow in the songs exposing the complex relationship he has with his mother; listeners are forced to interpolate with the singer as he undergoes a range of emotions with every track. The production is lush; the vocals are perfect – it doesn’t get much better than this.
1. LEMONADE – BEYONCÉ
Okay, like this was always going to win. Whether you see LEMONADE as a narrative that exposes JAY Z’s infidelities or you see it as commentary on the historical treatment of African-Americans, Beyoncé delivers her most engaging album to date. With deeply personal lyrics backing each song, the album doesn’t necessarily need its visual counterpart to successfully illustrate Beyoncé’s captivating metamorphosis. With album highlights 'Hold Up', 'Don’t Hurt Yourself' and 'Daddy Lessons', Beyoncé dabbles in an array of genres (including rock & country) and successfully destroys each every one of them[HJH9] . It’s safe to say that the risks this album took paid off, big time. Bottom line: LEMONADE is perfect, Beyoncé is perfect, and we will never get on her level. Fml.