Sunday, January 22, 2017

Top 50 Albums of 2016 Part 2

25. Cash Cash – Blood, Sweat & 3 Years
In an age where DJs dropping albums is becoming extremely common, Cash Cash enters the arena like gladiators. Relying mainly on smaller names, they unleashed some pure pop magic.
Tracks: 12/16 – 75% - 750 points
Plays: 160 points
Total: 910 points
Keepers: How To Love (feat. Sofia Reyes), Hero (feat. Christina Perri), Devil (feat. Busta Rhymes, B.o.B., & Neon Hitch), Aftershock (feat. Jacquie Lee), Bada Boom, Arrows in the Dark (feat. Anjulie), Take Me Home (feat. Bebe Rexha), Sweat (feat. Jenna Andrews), The Gun (feat. Trinidad James, Dev, & Chrish), Turn (feat. Little Daylight), We Will Live (feat. Night Terrors of 1927), Surrender (feat. Julia Michaels)
Duds: Millionaire (feat. Nelly), Broken Drum (feat. Fitz of Fitz & the Tantrums), Escarole, Lightning (feat. John Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls)

24. Miranda Lambert – The Weight of these Wings
This was one of my most anticipated albums of the year. You can imagine how my excitement doubled when I found out it was a two disc album. But, I should learn that’s not always a good thing. Sometimes more is less. I expected Miranda to return with some fire and vegenance after her divorce from Blake Shelton. However, disappointingly enough, the majority of what she delivered was downtempo or even depressed. There are enough good songs to keep me hooked, but a lot of the tracks flatlined. I’ve Got Wheels has been my life anthem as of lately though.
Tracks: 16/24 – 67% - 670 points
Plays: 248 points
Total: 918 points
Keepers: Keeper of the Flame, Vice, Runnin’ Just in Case, Highway Vagabond, We Should Be Friends, Covered Wagon, I’ve Got Wheels, Ugly Lights, Things That Break, Tomboy, Six Degrees of Separation, Good Ol Days, You Wouldn’t Know Me, Use My Heart, Tin Man, Bad Boy
Duds: Pink Sunglasses, Dear Old Sun, Smoking Jacket, For the Birds, To Learn Her, Getaway Driver, Well-Rested, Pushin’ Time

23. Bastille – Wild World
Short of their one big radio hit, I had never paid Bastille much mind, but Good Grief was so good that I was readily checking for this album. The major problem was the length where a lot of similar sounding filler material was included. Once you separate the best tracks from the bunch, you have some real gems to enjoy.
Tracks: 13/19 – 68% - 680 points
Plays: 239 points
Total: 919 points
Keepers: Good Grief, The Currents, Blame, Fake It, Way Beyond, The Anchor, An Act of Kindness, Warmth, Power, Send Them Off!, Lethargy, Snakes, Shame
Duds: Glory, Two Evils, Four Walls (The Ballad of Perry Smith), Winter of Our Youth, Oil on Water, Campus

22. Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman
Ariana slips chart position from where she ranked up with 2014’s My Everything. While Dangerous Woman delivers some amazing hits, there was a lot of filler material that could have been left out. In the filler tracks, I feel she’s trying too hard to recreate Mariah’s legacy. The album as a whole is still worth giving a listen to. It had to grow on me, but I have come to really enjoy it.
Tracks: 11/18 – 61% - 610 points
Plays: 315 points
Total: 925 points
Keepers: Be Alright, Into You, Side to Side (feat. Nicki Minaj), Dangerous Woman, Greedy, Let Me Love You (feat. Lil Wayne), Bad Decisions, Focus, Leave Me Lonely (feat. Macy Gray), Everyday (feat. Future), Touch It
Duds: Moonlight, Sometimes, I Don’t Care, Know Better / Forever Boy, Thinking Bout You, Step On Up, Jason’s Song (Gave It Away)

21. Rebecca Ferguson – Superwoman
I checked this album out on a whim and was instantly hooked. Her voice is to die for and she infuses such attitude yet beauty into each song. Don’t miss Bones, Superwoman, or Oceans. Rebecca certainly does not receive the attention she deserves from the music market.
Tracks: 10/12 – 83% - 830 points
Plays: 106 points
Total: 936 points
Keepers: Bones, Superwoman, Oceans, Hold Me, Stars, Pay For It, Don’t Want You Back, Without a Woman, Waiting for Me, I’ll Meet You There
Duds: Mistress, The Way You’re Looking at Her

20. Nick Jonas – Last Year Was Complicated
Sitting here in 2017, Nick’s album title seems to perfectly capture 2016. The album was a slow burner in my iTunes library, generating moderate play consistently throughout the year. Some tracks would fade into the woodwork with nothing to make them pop or standout. However, there two standout tracks for every mediocre one.
Tracks: 11/15 – 73% - 730 points
Plays: 236 points
Total: 966 points
Keepers: Champagne Problems, Close (feat. Tove Lo), Chainsaw, Touch, Bacon (feat. Ty Dolla $ign), Don’t Make Me Choose, Voodoo, Under You, Comfortable, The Difference, Unhinged
Duds: Testify, When We Get Home, That’s What They All Say, Good Girls

19. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
Once I got past the fact that I waited 4 years for this and Bruno only gave us 9 songs, I was hooked. 24K Magic comes off the coattails of Uptown Funk and delivers a smash of a lead single. The album is solid with only one dud. Bruno brings the funk and the R&B to a whole new level. I am sure we will be listening the radio abuse the singles off this album for a while.
Tracks: 8/9 – 89% - 890 points
Plays: 97 points
Total: 987 points
Keepers: 24K Magic, Chunky, Perm, Finesse, Too Good to Say Goodbye, Versace on the Floor, Calling All My Lovelies, That’s What I Like
Duds: Straight Up & Down

18. Idina Menzel – idina.
Idina has made some decent pop music in the past that the general public has paid virtually no mind. I literally only discovered it playing around on iTunes. However, idina. proves to be the most solid entry into her slowly growing catalog. Showing that she’s ready to fight against the big dogs of the vocalist world, i.e. Celine Dion, etc.
Tracks: 10/12 – 83% - 830 points
Plays: 161 points
Total: 991 points
Keepers: Perfect Story, Small World, Like Lightning, Queen of Swords, Cake, Nothin’ in This World, Last Time, Show Me, I Do, I See You
Duds: Everybody Knows, Extraordinary

I was instantly hooked when I heard Cake By the Ocean and eagerly anticipated this album. While I’m giving this a very positive score, I do have to say that the major downside of this album is how much each track sounds like the last. I understand it’s their “signature sound,” but give it a rest after so many songs. Truthfully is a nice break, but the album could have used much more variation. However, the music lives up to the group’s name and it will get you grooving.
Tracks: 12/14 – 86% - 860 points
Plays: 134 points
Total: 994 points
Keepers: Blown (feat. Kent Jones), DNCE, Cake By the Ocean, Body Moves, Toothbrush, Good Day, Truthfully, Pay My Rent, Almost, Naked, Zoom, Unsweet
Duds: Doctor You, Be Mean

16. The Weeknd – Starboy
The Weeknd had a tough act to beat in comparison to his last album, Beauty Behind the Madness, but he continue the ride on his shooting star to fame with a solid follow-up. With solid pop hooks mixed with his R&B vocals, he serves up modern musical confections sweet to taste, but with deep meanings. It’s true to say there are not many doing what The Weeknd does. Starboy proves to be a solid album with only a few duds.
Tracks: 15/18 – 83% - 830 points
Plays: 166 points
Total: 996 points
Keepers: False Alarm, Starboy (feat. Daft Punk), Secrets, True Colors, Sidewalks (feat. Kendrick Lamar), Love To Lay, Party Monster, Reminder, Rockin’, Ordinary Life, Nothing Without You, Six Feet Under, Attention, Die For You, I Feel It Coming (feat. Daft Punk)
Duds: Stargirl Interlude (feat. Lana Del Rey), A Lonely Night, All I Know (feat. Future)

15. Good Charlotte – Youth Authority
In the midst of my middle school angst, Good Charlotte cemented themselves in my heart with their album, The Young & the Hopeless. Obviously, I was pretty pumped when I saw they were planning to release a new album this year.
Tracks: 10/12 – 83% - 830 points
Plays: 196 points
Total: 1,026 points
Keepers: Life Changes, Life Can’t Get Much Better, Makeshift Love, 40 Oz. Dream, Stray Dogs, The Outfield, War, Moving On, Keep Swingin’ (feat. Kellin Quinn), Reason to Stay (feat. Simon Neil)
Duds: Cars Full of People, Stick to Your Guns (Interlude)

14. Rachel Platten – Wildfire
Rachel Platten’s debut album vaguely reminds me of Tori Kelly’s debut last year. She’s a relatively plain blonde with decent vocals. Some of the tracks just felt bland, but overall, the majority of them were likeable. Despite listening repeatedly, I still cannot figure out who Chelsea is in Angels in Chelsea, but I like the message of the song.
Tracks: 9/12 – 75% - 750 points
Plays: 280 points
Total: 1,030 points
Keepers: Fight Song, Stand By You, You Don’t Know My Heart, Speechless, Better Place,  Hey Hey Hallelujah (feat. Andy Grammer), Lone Ranger, Astronauts, Angels in Chelsea
Duds: Superman, Congratulations, Beating Me Up

13. Emeli Sande – Long Live the Angels
This album hit me like a freight train. I had not been a fan of her last album and checked this out just to do my due diligence. I was instantly hooked into this raw, personal album that cut straight to my heart. The most notable track being Somebody, I have spent countless hours listening to her angelic vocals. If you’re only into upbeat music, do not miss Highs & Lows!
Tracks: 16/18 – 89% - 890 points
Plays: 161 points
Total: 1,051 points
Keepers: Somebody, Selah, Hurts, Give Me Something, Shakes, Right Now, Sweet Architect, Highs & Lows, Kung Fu, Breathing Underwater, I’d Rather Not, Lonely, Tenderly feat. Joel Sande & The Serenje Choir), Every Single Little Piece, This Much is True, Babe
Duds: Happen, Garden

12. Jennifer Nettles – Playing With Fire
I came into this album a bit skeptical after disliking her last album, That Girl. I was completely baffled when I instantly fell in love. Jennifer hits us with fun tracks like Playing With Fire, Drunk in Heels, and Hey Heartbreak before knocking us dead with heart-wrenching and cathartic ballads like Way Back Home and Unlove You. This is a must-listen for any country fan…or anyone who loves a strong vocalist.
                                        Tracks: 10/12 – 83% - 830 points                                       
Plays: 226 points
Total: 1,056 points
Keepers: Playing With Fire, Way Back Home, Salvation Works, Stupid Girl, Drunk in Heels, Unlove You, Hey Heartbreak, Sugar, Chaser, My House (feat. Jennifer Lopez)
Duds: Three Days in Bed, Starting Over

11. Green Day – Revolution Radio
I spent the 2016 political primary season jamming out to American Idiot, so you can imagine my excitement when I heard Green Day was dropping an album in the midst of the strangest election of all time and that the album was going to be political in nature. While it is no American Idiot 2.0, Revolution Radio still delivers that loveable political punk they have notoriously produced. They also won my heart for speaking out for Bernie, who has become one of my biggest inspirations.
Tracks: 11/12 – 92% - 920 points
Plays: 154 points
Total: 1,074 points
Keepers: Still Breathing, Bang Bang, Revolution Radio, Troubled Times, Say Goodbye, Ordinary World, Forever Now, Youngblood, Bouncing Off the Wall, Outlaws, Too Dumb to Die
Duds: Somewhere New

10. Karmin – Leo Rising
After a departure from their label following Pulses, I expected that Karmin was done for. However, the underdogs strike back with their second LP. While not at all what I was expecting, the infectious pop tracks found a way into my regular listening. I promise, despite its weird cover, this album will not disappoint you.
Tracks: 12/14 – 86% - 860 points
Plays: 219 points
Total: 1,079 points
Keepers: Sugar, Didn’t Know You, No Suitcase, Along the Road, Can’t Live, Easy Money, Blame It On My Heart, Save Me Now, Dance With You, Come With Me (Pure Imagination), Everything, I Got You
Duds: Maybelline, Yesterday

9. Grace – FMA
Standing for “forgive my attitude,” FMA put Grace on the map this year. Delivering everything I needed Lana Del Rey to evolve into, I was instantly hooked with its catchy mid-tempos. For a debut album, it was nearly seamless with only one track I couldn’t get into. If How to Love Me doesn’t raise the hair on your arms, you probably aren’t human. And so what if you aren’t? Put on Grace’s debut LP and get your sassy on.
Tracks: 13/14 – 93% - 930 points
Plays: 228 points
Total: 1,158 points
Keepers: Church on Sunday, Hell of a Girl, Hope You Understand, Crazy Over Here (feat. Parker), You Don’t Own Me (feat. G-Eazy), How to Love Me, Feel Your Love, Boyfriend Jeans (Remix), Song Cries and Amens, Say, Coffee, Boys Boys Boys
Duds: New Orleans

8. Sia – This Is Acting
It seems ironic that Sia’s best album is the one consisting of tracks that she penned for other artists who then rejected them. Her ballads are so on point and the majority of the album is absolutely phenomenal. No one has quite the pipes that Sia boasts and she’s so empowering. I just wish she had left the gig of hiding her face in the 1000 Forms of Fear era.
Tracks: 13/18 – 72% - 720 points
Plays: 447 points
Total: 1,167 points
Keepers: Alive, Bird Set Free, Cheap Thrills, Move Your Body, Unstoppable, Reaper, House on Fire, Footprints, Broken Glass, Space Between, Fist Fighting a Sandstorm, Confetti, The Greatest (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
Duds: One Million Bullets, Sweet Design, Summer Rain, Midnight Decisions, Jesus Wept

7. Britney Spears – Glory
When I first heard Make Me…, I thought, “oh great, here comes Britney Jean 2.0.” I could not have been more wrong. Britney recovered from that terrible BJ with a vengeance. This is easily one of the best pop albums of 2016. Its heavy hitting pop beats, clever lyrics, and fun yet ultimately mature vibe skyrocketed Britney back to the pop legend status she deserves. This is her best album since Femme Fatale, if not since In the Zone.
Tracks: 15/18 – 83% - 830 points
Plays: 340 points
Total: 1,170 points
Keepers: Liar, Slumber Party, Invitation, Make Me… (feat. G-Eazy), Private Show, Man on the Moon, Just Luv Me, Clumsy, Do You Wanna Come Over?, Just Like Me, Mood Ring, Love Me Down, Hard to Forget Ya, What You Need, Change Your Mind,
Duds: If I’m Dancing, Coupure Electrique, Better

6. Lady GaGa – Joanne
This is just what I needed from GaGa! For years, I’ve complained about the gimmicks and outlandish antics. I felt like she had lost herself in the fame and I could no longer personally connect to her. Then came Joanne. The stripped back, production-scarce vocals annoyed me at first, but I grew to love the vibe she was delivering. Diamond Heart is easily the best track and my new personal anthem. The raw beauty of Million Reasons makes it one of her best ballads in years.
Tracks: 12/13 – 92% - 920 points
Plays: 294 points
Total: 1,214 points
Keepers: Diamond Heart, A-YO, Joanne, John Wayne, Dancin’ in Circles, Perfect Illusion, Million Reasons, Angel Down, Grigio Girls, Sinner’s Prayer, Hey Girl (feat. Florence Welch), Come to Mama
Duds: Just Another Day

5. JoJo – Mad Love.
Finally revealing to the world her long awaited third studio album, JoJo wins the award for comeback of the year. After being trapped in a terrible recording contract for nearly a decade and a few failed singles, she finally was free and this album is almost impeccable. There’s heartwreching ballads and unapologetic anthems comprising one of the most solid albums of the year. This is a can’t-miss.
Tracks: 14/15 – 93% - 930 points
Plays: 301 points
Total: 1,231 points
Keepers: High Heels, I Am, F**k Apologies (feat. Wiz Khalifa), Music, I Can Only (feat. Alessia Cara), FAB (feat. Remy Ma), Mad Love, Vibe, Honest, Like This, Clovers, Reckless, Good Thing, Rise Up
Duds: Edibles

4. LeAnn Rimes – Remnants
Released overseas in 2016, Remnants shows LeAnn rising from the ashes, determined to shake off the negative and overcome. Every lyric is poignant and sharp, driving the messages home. LeAnn is one of the biggest voices of my generation and her last two studio albums have been absolutely amazing as she shows us a raw, personal side following the major controversy in her life. Anyone who knows my story and listens to Remnants will know exactly why this album was a grand slam in my eyes. Plus, who doesn’t love a country album that comes with a parental advisory sticker? 
Tracks: 14/14 – 100% - 1,000 points
Plays: 256 points
Total: 1,256 points
Keepers: The Story, Love Line, Outrageous Love, Remnants, Long Live Love, I Couldn’t Do That to Me, Humbled, Do It Wrong With Me, How to Kiss a Boy, Love Is Love Is Love, Dang Dang, Give Me Something (I Can’t Give Myself), Mother, Learning Your Language
Duds: None.

3. Rihanna – ANTI
For Rihanna who seemed to release an album a year throughout her career, the 3 and a half year wait for this album seemed almost unbearable until one Thursday night in January when she unleashed ANTI. Upon the first listen, I thought I had just listened to an experimental pop album that Rihanna recorded in some stranger’s dark basement while tripping on acid. However, I will openly admit I’m prone to hating Rihanna’s albums initially, and, just like the others, this grew on me. I proceeded to spend the following months screaming some of the best tracks at the top of my lungs like Love on the Brain and Close to You. There’s a handful of duds on it, but, given the risks she took on it, I wouldn’t say that’s too bad. Goodnight Gotham would have been a good song, but giving it the Birthday Cake treatment annoyed me.
Tracks: 14/19 – 74% - 740 points
Plays: 603 points
Total: 1,343 points
Keepers: Love on the Brain, Close to You, Needed Me, Consideration (feat. SZA), Kiss It Better, Work (feat. Drake), Desperado, Same Ol’ Mistakes, Higher, Pose, FourFiveSeconds, Bitch Better Have My Money, American Oxygen, Never Ending
Duds: James Joint (Interlude), Woo, Yeah I Said It, Goodnight Gotham, Sex With Me

2. Gwen Stefani – This Is What The Truth Feels Like
It’s been a decade since her last solo album, and Gwen certainly makes up for lost time. Never aging, Gwen appears flawless as ever when she popped up in late 2015 with the tear-jerking Used to Love You. The brutally emotional lead single lead into the upbeat Make Me Like You. Her comeback album is probably her most solid work to date.
Tracks: 16/18 – 89% - 890 points
Plays: 536 points
Total: 1,426 points
Keepers: Misery, You’re My Favorite, Where Would I Be?, Make Me Like You, Truth, Used to Love You, Red Flag, Asking 4 It (feat. Fetty Wap), Naughty, Me Without You, Rare, Rocket Ship, Getting Warmer, Obsessed, Loveable, War Paint
Duds: Send Me a Picture, Splash

1. Beyonce – Lemonade
On a Saturday night in April, Beyonce unleashed yet another amazing surprise release. The album chronicled the different stages of emotion after being cheated on, ending in forgiveness & reconciliation. Not only was the music on point, but the visual album was an English majors dream, loaded with metaphors and imagery. Every track is well-crafted and significant to move the album along in a smooth storytelling fashion. Hands down, this was the album of the year.
Tracks: 12/12 – 100% - 1000 points
Plays: 490 points
Total: 1,490 points
Keepers: Sandcastles, Sorry, Daddy Lessons, Formation, All Night, Don’t Hurt Yourself (feat. Jack White), Hold Up, 6 Inch (feat. The Weeknd), Pray You Catch Me, Forward (feat. James Blake), Freedom (feat. Kendrick Lamar), Love Drought
Duds: None.
So there we have it, another year of music in the books. I look forward to seeing what 2017 brings musically. We are expecting some big releases like P!nk, Christina Aguilera, and Katy Perry!

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