Another year in music is over. Last year I recounted my top 10 albums of the year, and it’s time to do it all over again. This year’s list was very tough, it’s been an absolutely amazing year for all genres of music, so many artists have released such mind blowing pieces of work! Here are the 10 I’ve chosen as the best of the best.
This year I tried not to simply focus on my 10 favourites, but on 10 that I truly believe are the best, whether this is overall, or means a complete album with 0 filler, or an album that’s defining it’s genre, these are all something special.
Lorde – Melodrama
Top Track: ‘Homemade Dynamite’
Whilst this list is in no order, Melodrama 100% cinches the top spot for me. Melodrama encapsulates heartbreak, late-teenage parties and the transition into ‘true’ adult life in a handful of unique and experimental tracks. From the thumping beats of ‘Green Light’ to the soft piano of ‘Liability’, and it’s reprise, Lorde proves that she’s a forced to be reckoned with. A 4 year wait between records is nothing if it results in anything half as good as Melodrama.
Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?
Top Track: ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’
Royal Blood’s second LP is more Royal Blood and better. With massive tracks like ‘Lights Out’ leading up to the release, it was set to be amazing. Despite the band consisting of only two members, the duo have managed to create so many varied songs. ‘She’s Creeping’ and ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ are too massively distinct tracks but both contain the Royal Blood spark that makes this one of the best albums of the year.
Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life
Top Track: ‘Cherry’
‘Welcome to Hollyweird’ stated one of the first promotional videos for Lust for Life. With tracks featuring The Weeknd, Sean Ono Lennon and the incomparable Stevie Nicks, Lust for Life is one of the most surprising and refined records of the year. ‘Coachella – Woodstock On My Mind’ in particular highlights Lana’s incredible prowess, with this song being written on her way home from Coachella and making it’s debut on the album a few weeks later.
St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION
Top Track: ‘Los Ageless’
St. Vincent continues to entangle us in her weird and wonderful world of music that no one but her could even begin to imagine. ‘Pills’ is a twisted synth pop earworm deconstructing our world’s reliance on medication, ‘Slow Disco’ relies solely on vocals and strings andthe two main pre-release tracks, ‘New York’ and ‘Los Ageless’, both rely on imagery of two starkly U.S. cities in two starkly different tracks.
Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa
Top Track: ‘Be The One’
The U.K.’s pop scene has been completely changed this year by Dua Lipa’s success, ‘New Rules’ was the first U.K. number one by a solo female since Adele’s ‘Hello’ in 2015. In what is one of the most well rounded pop releases of the decade, Lipa explores relationships, friendships and sexuality in a relatable and empowering manner. ‘Hotter Than Hell’, ‘Be The One’, ‘Lost in Your Light’ and ‘New Rules’ have already been massively popular worldwide, I can’t wait to see what she does next.
The xx – I See You
Top Track: ‘Dangerous’
This year The xx have had what might have been their biggest yet; their 7 day residency at London’s O2 Academy Brixton being the longest of any artist in history. I See You announces itself with the, now iconic, large fanfare in ‘Dangerous’, the record only grows from there. 10 tracks (13, if we’re talking deluxe) of no filler, of diverse and energetic performances and of lyrical masterpieces. I See You really isn’t one to be missed.
Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer
Top Track: ‘Cigarettes & Cush’ (Feat. Kehlani and Lily Allen)
Stormzy’s album reaching number one was a huge moment for the UK grime scene, and for artists not signed to typical mainstream labels. Stormzy’s music appeals to everyone, those who’ve been following London’s grime scene for years and to those who heard ‘Big For Your Boots’ on the way to work. Stormzy shines on his own and with the amazing artists he chose to collaborate with, Lily Allen, MNEK, Kehlani, to name a few. Stormzy has shown the mainstream media that grime is here to stay.
Halsey – hopeless fountain kingdom
Top Track: ‘Bad At Love’
I wasn’t alone in worrying for Halsey’s second LP after the lackluster ‘Now or Never’ was released as the lead single, however hfk turned out to be an absolutely stunning album. Hits include ‘Strangers’, the sad but alluring recounting of an LGBTQ+ relationship, featuring Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui, ‘Bad at Love’, a raw recollection of failed relationships, and ‘100 Letters’, a memorable powerful pop ballad. hfk is almost too real in it’s openness with the perils of love, but it’s so good that it requires many repeat listens.
SZA – CTRL
Top Track: ‘Drew Barrymore’
‘That is my greatest fear, That if, I lose control, or did not have control, things would just, you know, I would be fatal’
SZA’s personal and open album is one for all to find solace in. ‘Supermodel’ opens with the aboved sampled quote and we re-enter the world of SZA with solitary guitar and her vocals lead the way. CTRL is a journey that doesn’t hold back, SZA doesn’t shy from what she wants to say which makes this record all the more alluring. And with features from Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar, CTRL is an incredibly strong debut album.
Rationale – Rationale
Top Track: ‘Into The Blue’
Rationale’s incredibly smooth vocals are completely intoxicating, you could listen to him sing all day, everyday and never grow tired. All 12 tracks are wonderfully crafted soulful R&B with some indie pop thrown in here and there. He truly has the range, to reference a now outdated meme, and has the lyrical ability to go with it – ‘Prodigal Son’ is wonderfully deep and autobiographical. Look out for ‘Deliverance’, ‘Re.Up, ‘Into The Blue’ and ‘Fast Lane’, and in choosing a standout or two, I’ve chosen a third of the album. It’s fantastic from start to finish.
The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful
Top Track: ‘The Man’
Rag’n’Bone Man – Human
Top Track: ‘Arrow’
Sampha – Process
Top Track: ‘(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano’
Khalid – American Teen
Top Track: ‘Young, Dumb & Broke’
HAIM – Something To Tell You
Top Track: ‘Little of Your Love’
Tweet me your favourite albums of the year: @daveygranger