When it comes to music, this year’s been more fruitful than a fruit salad.
Who cares about Trump when you’ve got Beyoncé? With the rise of grime throughout the course of the year, and some of the biggest acts in the world dropping some spicy hot anthems, 2016 has honestly been an artistic cocktail spiked with a few-too-many shots of talent. Although the loss of greats such as David Bowie, Prince, Lemmy, George Michael and Leonard Cohen hasn’t been easy, their legacies will be reverently preserved with the recent additions we heard this year. So, from Yeezy to the retired Ziggy Stardust, here’s what we at the live entertainment team deem the top ten albums of the year:
- Slaves – Take Control: Hard hitting heavy riffs punch you square in the gut when listening to this decisive LP. The two punks even bumped their heads together with Beastie Boy Mike D, making for a jump and thump-jumbled track. Slaves reinvigorate a modern punk genre, earning their latest release a cosy spot on the list.
- The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it: Despite having the creepiest name since Will Smith’s Big Willie Style, The 1975 conjure up a bright nippy array of indie allurement. The twangy ‘UGH!’ flicks around in your head like a trapped bee, but in a less traumatic way, of course.
- Blossoms – Blossoms: Comfortably rooted guitar, with tinkering synths dancing over the surface makes up pretty much all of this brilliantly soft LP. The invigorating mid-album revival is almost as warming as the album cover itself, leading the band into sizzling pop hooks that could cook your dinner.
- Frank Ocean – Blond: From the chipmunk-esque and strangely moving vocals on ‘Nikes‘, to the vigorous André 3000 spitting verse on ‘Solo (Reprise)’, Blond magnificently confirms Frank Ocean’s legendary status – earning him the right to chill with the likes of Kanye and Kendrick Lamar. Blond features the most opulently emotional hooks, making it one of the best R&B albums of the year.
- Skepta – Konnichiwa: This grittily urban riot of an album shows that Skepta is truly the king of grime. “You don’t wanna hear my verse come after your verse” couldn’t be more true – trust me daddy. Konnichiwa is both deeply thought-provoking, whilst remaining 100% gangster – arriving in style to our number six spot.
- Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book: The slick production on Coloring Book is immediately noticeable from as soon as you eagerly hit play. Chance’s latest proficient instalment is certainly as colourful as the name suggests, showcasing brash, trap beats and stunning vocal performances. Features from acclaimed rappers such as Lil Wayne give the album a certain spice, making it an astonishing and noteworthy release this year.
- Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool: Above all else, A Moon Shaped Pool is one hell of a breakup album. The ending of Thom Yorke’s marriage has had a profound effect on the already notoriously gloomy frontman, leading the way to some of the most beautifully heart-wrenching songs Radiohead have ever written. The swerves and plunges throughout the album almost convey the emotional equivalent of diving into a moon shaped pool, making this album one of the – already legendary – group’s best efforts yet.
- Kanye West – The Life of Pablo: “Sometimes I’m wishin’ that my d*ck had GoPro, So I could play that sh*t back in slo-mo. I just shot an amateur video; I think I should go pro.” Those lyrics say it all really. Moving swiftly on.
- Beyoncé – Lemonade: The number of collaborators on this album alone really hammers in the idea that Beyoncé’s not messing around. Electronic masterminds like James Blake furnishing aspects of the writing makes for a unique-sounding bouquet of songs. It’s difficult to expect anything less from the sassy queen of pop; the undisputedly brilliant renegade’s discography is so highly regarded, with her latest lemon-flavoured burst proving no exception.
- David Bowie – Blackstar: Throughout the course of his illustrious career, David Bowie has seamlessly blurred the borders of genre, with his latest creation proving to be his epitome. Plush jazz meets stroppy rhythms, all topped off with the signature flinty vocals that make David Bowie songs so distinctive – and frankly incredible. Highlights include the mystical ‘Lazarus‘, which projects an intensely eerie tone, in fitting with the themes regarding death established in the album. Sadly, we won’t get to enjoy another Bowie release, but we can be more than happy with the way in which the lad insane concluded his legendary journey. ★