2010 was a decent year for music, I would say albums as a whole have been improving since the early 2000’s, where many albums were single-oriented with filler. Electro and Dance music were the genres of the hip this year with everyone from indie bands to Rihanna taking a stab at it. Here are my top albums of the year (ranked), along with my top songs (which are not ranked). Can’t wait to see what 2011 has in store!
#1) Robyn- Body Talk
Robyn has been my artist of the year, a never ending stream of new music that only Kanye could compete with. This album contains 10 tracks from the 2 EPs released in June and September, along with 5 new songs from November, it’s a greatest hits package of Robyn ’10. From the first listen of Body Talk Part 1, you know you’re in for a treat. Highlights include “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do” (which should’ve been the intro), “Dancehall Queen,” “Get Myself Together,” and of course, “Dancing On My Own” to name a few key tracks… The only song that really REAALLLYY should have been on the greatest hits of Body Talk from an EP was “Criminal Intent” from Body Talk Pt. 2, which is a highlight of the year for me.
#2) Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Kanye is not my favorite rapper. Jay-Z, Biggie, Lil Wayne, are just a few names that come before him on that list. Kanye is however a favorite artist and producer of mine. He knows pop culture, as a communication’s major I appreciate that. MBDTF is an album, a true album, not a collection of songs, but an album worth listening to start to finish. The album feels rich, enchanting, and still catchy as anything else on radio today. It is not dance music like the rest of music is going, Kanye goes his own way (sign of genius). I will not choose highlights because I do believe it is an album as a whole, not split up. So just take an hour, close your eyes, and take in the magic.
#3) Kelis- Fleshtone
This is the most underrated album of the year in my eyes. Kelis made the most flawless and most extreme transition from R&B to Dance, girl doesn’t half ass this shit. Like West, Kelis has made an album here that doesn’t work as singles nearly as well as a whole album. The songs even are mixed together to create a sense of dj-ing (see Madonna’s Confessions on a Dancefloor for the same effect). The content is liberation, enlightenment of birth, and love, how can you go wrong? The dancing and pounding beats never stop, with the best producers from Boys Noize, Guetta, DJ Ammo, and Free School, all contributing to Kelis’s party.
Also see the mixtape by Kelis Queen of Hearts, awesome party starter as well.
#4) Vampire Weekend- Contra
Vampire Weekend are their own category in music today. They are organic and indie pop music, they use an M.I.A sample, elements of ska, punk, world instruments, etc. Somehow they package it so neatly and peacefully. Vampire Weekend has evolved with Contra, they are breaking new ground and challenging themselves without losing fans and only expanding their audience. “White Sky,” “Holiday” and “Run” are all excellent, but the last three songs,”Giving Up the Gun,” “Diplomat’s Son” and “I Think Ur a Contra” are among their best songs ever, and most eclectic. Also, if you get the chance, see them live, it will only make you love the songs more.
#5) Drake- Thank Me Later
The mellowest album of the year. Drake has been able to, along with Kid Cudi and Kanye, bring a new sensitivity and chill-ness to rap music. The album is a self-reflection on Drake, not an easy task for a first album. The mix of rap and singing is perfect and what Nicki Minaj still can’t get right in comparison. Thank Me Later is confessional, smooth, and an introduction to a man with a future in the industry. “Miss Me” “Shut It Down” “Over” “Fancy” and “Fireworks” hit moments of brilliance with production of Kanye and wit and blunt of Jay-Z.
Eminem describes how shitty his last album and how messed up he is better than I ever could, so let’s just focus on what he also says best him self, he’s back! By enlisting some fresh producers like Boi-1da and help from singers like Pink, Rihanna, and rappers like Lil Wayne, Eminem brings his A-game, outshining the production and contributors with his best rhymes in years. Originality and humor is back, unlike Relapse. The cherry on the album is the mega-success “Love the Way You Lie,” Rihanna and Eminem kill the song which will be remembered as one of the best of the year.
#7)Janelle Monae-The ArchAndroid
Monae has been preparing to unleash an LP on the public for a few years now, releasing EPs last year. The ArchAndroid is a highly original album in a year where a lot of music sounded alike. Funky, catchy, poppy, and simply unique and eclectic. “Cold War” and “Tightrope” are two of 2010’s best songs, but much of the album can create the same feeling of fresh talent from Monae.
#8)*TIE* Rihanna-Loud/ Kylie Minogue-Aphrodite
RiRi is not the best singer. I never will think she is, except for the few songs that she manages, see “Love the Way You Lie”, “Russian Roulette” and “Take a Bow.” She has learned how to make an album without filler. Each song offers something on Loud, from the bar drinking fun of “Cheers” to the sex of “Skin” and the crazy twists and turns in between where she embraces the club “Only Girl (In The World)”, M.I.A style crazy production “Raining Men” and my personal favorite, the rasta flavored hard “Man Down”.
Kylie Minogue’s Aphrodite brought the star back to a true artist after the poor X album. Stuart Price creates an effortless pop album that transitions easily through songs that still each have a unique and pristine sense. There are no throw away tracks ( a first for a Kylie record with me) and “Cupid Boy” “All the Lovers” “Get Outta My Way” and “Too Much” is some of the best most unashamed pop of 2010.
#9)Ellie Goulding-Bright Lights
One of the best debuts of the year, and my favorite British import of the year, Ellie Goulding has created what Goldfrapp’s Seventh Tree should’ve been. It’s a mix between 2009’s Florence and the Machine and the dance of Little Boots and La Roux. What a marvelous place to put in between, calm but powerful, soft but still pop and catchy. “Starry Eyed” “Under the Sheets” “Human” and “Home” are my favs but by no means are the best, that is up to you with this album full of pop perfection.
#10) M.I.A- /\/\ /\ Y /\ (Deluxe Edition)
M.I.A is one of the most influential women of the 2000’s, her music has impacted pop music more than many can guess. References to her can be found all over the music landscape after the release of her first two albums, both classics. Her third, MAYA, is a noisy, industrial rebellious album. It is not for casual or easy listening or listeners. Genius shines through the mess of noise though. “XXXO” is pop gold, “Lovealot” has a controversial message in the chorus, “It Takes a Muscle” is one of the best covers of 2010 and “Internet Connection” was one of my favorite songs of the year. The album is rough and not a smooth listen at times… but it will educate the listener on true music.
Other Best Albums include… ( in no order)
Ciara- Basic Instinct, Crystal Castles-Crystal Castles, Deadmau5-4×4=12, Erykah Badu- New Amerykah part II, Girl Talk- All Day, Gorillaz- Plastic Beach, Hurts-Happiness, Jenny &Johnny- I’m Having Fun Now, Kid Cudi- Man On The Moon II, Kings of Leon- Come Around Sundown, LCD Soundsystem- This Is Happening, Sheryl Crow- 100 Miles from Memphis, Nicki Minaj-Pink Friday, Nina Sky- The Otherside EP, Scissor Sisters- Night Work, Sia- We Are Born, Simon Curtis- 8bit Heart, Taylor Swift- Speak Now
….and mixtape 500 Days of Weezy.