My Top 16 Albums of 2016 Part I
Hey guys! So we're coming up on the end of the year, and if you remember last year, I did a top 15 albums of 2015. I wanted to do one this year, but I figured it would be harder since a lot of my favorites did not release records this year (see: One Direction and Adele). But then I got to forming a list, and I had over 16, and I had to trim down a lot. So below are the first 8 that made the cut. I'll have the top 8 next week, so stay tuned for that. I will also have an honorable mentions on both posts, as like I said there were so many amazing albums this year. So sit back and enjoy this trip through this year's best records.
16. Childish Gambino: "Awaken, My Love!"
Released: December 2, 2016
This isn't the Childish Gambino we've known from the past two albums. The music is different, and it's a gamble. One I think paid off and didn't. The songs are more grungy and RnB, rather than rap, but Gambino also experiments with different sounds and voices to create an album unlike anything released this year. The album might not be for everyone, but I like the fact that Gambino took a chance and a risk. It's unclear whether fans will follow him through this genre change, but I think it's definitely a quality record.
Tracks to Listen For: "Redbone" "Me and Your Mama" "California"
15. John Legend: Darkness and Light
Released: December 2, 2016
John Legend has made me a fan. Surprisingly enough, I was a bit annoyed with him because I heard the song "All of Me" everywhere, and I was tired. But then "Love Me Now" was released. First of all, the music video to this track is beautiful and inclusive, but also the song itself is just beautiful. Then with collaborations like Chance the Rapper and Miguel, the rest of the album drew me in. Legend's strength is writing dreamy ballads about love, and he knows it too. This album is definitely a must listen when you are getting up in your feelings. I'm also incredibly charmed by the fact that he wrote a song on the record for his daughter. Legend is the man we all deserve in our lives. Chrissy Teigen is one lucky gal.
Tracks to Listen For: "Love Me Now" "Penthouse Floor" "What You Do To Me"
14. Olly Murs: 24 HRS
Released: November 11, 2016
I love a good pop album. I feel like some people are scared to admit that they listen to things like bubblegum pop, but if it's a good song, it's a good song. Olly Murs knows how to make a good pop record. 24 HRS is Murs fifth album, and what I love is that each album has been a progression from the last. Songs like "Back Around" and "Private" have different sounds, but I have been playing them on repeat for weeks. They just get stuck in your head, and it's almost impossible to get them out. I thoroughly enjoy listening to this record, as it's easy. I also love the change of pace songs like "Years and Years" bring to the flow of the album.
Tracks to Listen For: "Private" "Back Around" "Grow Up"
13. Shawn Mendes: Illuminate
Released: September 23, 2016
I'm so impressed by this record. When planning this post, this album was not even in my mind, but then I heard Mendes perform his track "Mercy" on Saturday Night Live. If you haven't seen the performance, check it out here. After listening to that performance, I was enraptured. First of all, Mendes can really sing, and he also reminded me of a younger Ed Sheeran. The rest of the album is similar, featuring acoustic tracks filled with love and promise. Mendes sounds more mature and polished than his previous album. It sounds like he knows what his sound is, and his sound is best when it's just him and a guitar. Illuminate is a great sophomore record, which makes me excited for future albums.
Tracks to Listen For: "Mercy" "Treat You Better" "No Promises"
12. OneRepublic: Oh My My
Released: October 7, 2016
I have to admit Ryan Tedder could sing me anything, and I would enjoy it. In this album especially, he goes above and beyond with his vocals. In songs like "Wherever I Go" and "Kids", the choruses are ambitious and high-reaching. Then you get to tracks like "Dream" where rockier and edgier tones shine through. This record makes you want to dance, cry, and sing. A pretty good combination I think. Oh My My does not reinvent the OneRepublic sound, it just enhances it. The record soars in most areas and coasts in others, but thankfully never falls flat.
Tracks to Listen For: "Kids" "Better" "Let's Hurt Tonight"
11. Panic! at the Disco: Death of a Bachelor
Released: January 15, 2016
So I almost didn't put this album on here, because I completely forgot it came out in 2016, but when I realized it did, it was a no brainer. This is the first record with only one original Panic! member, Brendon Urie. I feel like I have waxed poetry about Urie's voice on here in the past, but if not, let me do it now. This guy can sing. I saw him live, and it's not autotune for sure. I love how on this album, Urie holds nothing back. He sings about the death of his singleness, but doesn't mourn it. The record is more of a party celebrating the journey of transitioning from one life to another. The songs are all catchy, descriptive tunes that range from rockier punk pop to songs that sound like they could have come from Michael Buble. It's a weird but workable combination.
Tracks to Listen For: "Don't Threaten Me With a Good Time" "Emperor's New Clothes" "LA Devotee"
10. Bruno Mars: 24K Magic
Released: November 18, 2016
I did a previous review of this album a few posts ago, but I'm mentioning again. Something that has changed since the previous post is that I think I like the debut single "24K Magic" now. It took a moment to grow on me, but now I quite enjoy it. Mars is another one that has changed his sound and persona. If this album came out during the era of 80s or 90s funk and disco, it would fit right in. It's a throwback album done well. Again my only critique is that I wish it was longer, but every song on the record is a hit in my opinion. Mars somehow makes an album with every song sounding completely different yet that fits in with the rest. For a genre he just entered, he sounds like a seasoned pro.
Tracks to Listen For: "Chunky" "That's What I Like" "Versace on the Floor"
Released: January 29, 2016
I also completely forgot this album was released this year. I'm so glad I remembered though. The most impressive part of this album is that every single song is a rejected song. Sia pitched all of these tracks to other artists, and they turned them down, so naturally she decided to make an album out of them. I bet the artists that turned down these songs probably feel a bit silly now, but I'm thankful they did. Sia makes these songs her own with her unique tone and incredible vocals in songs like "Alive" and "Unstoppable". Sia has one of the best voices in pop music today, and she doesn't hold back on this record. This is Acting is an epic album with songs that are transformative and (pardon my pun) alive. This record is just great song after great song.
Tracks to Listen For: "Bird Set Free" "Alive" "House on Fire"
Now for some honorable mentions:
Bastille: Wild World
The 1975: I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet unaware of it
Carly Rae Jepsen: Emotion Side B
So again, I'll have my top 8 favorite albums from this year next Monday. See you next week!