As an early Christmas present to you all, here are my twenty favourite albums of the year. This was much harder to do than my songs list because the albums this year have either been very good or very bad, and thus there hasn’t been much of a middle ground. Also, I’ve chosen to include EP’s because, this time next year, I think they will be as popular with the music industry as an album. Anyway, here they are:
20. Leona Lewis – Glassheart
Leona Lewis’ third album finally was released this year, having previously being delayed to add a host of new tracks. It would be interesting to hear the original version of the album, as I predict that version doesn’t have the same number of ‘generic Leona ballads’ that this does. However, she soars on the dubstep-influenced Come Alive and Glassheart, and Shake You Up is reminiscent of early Whitney Houston.
19. Rita Ora – Ora
Another album that was finally released this year was Rita Ora’s debut, which has been in the pipeline for years. Much like the Leona Lewis album, little remains of the original version (although Uneasy – her planned debut single – appears on the album). Admittedly, there are some horrible moments on the album (the will.i.am produced Fall In Love is the worst offender), but when she gets it right (on Radioactive), she shows why she is one of the UK’s most promising stars.
18. Cheryl – A Million Lights
Cheryl Cole (sans the surname) released her third album this year, and it is (in my eyes) a stark improvement on her last. Although nothing on it matches the dizzying heights of Call My Name, the bizarrely titled Sexy Den A Mutha is sass-tastic and so is the Lana Del Rey-penned Ghetto Baby. It’s a shame this album didn’t have much success as it’s up there for me with her debut.
17. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
This is one of a few albums on my list that I think in retrospect, I’ll regret not putting it higher. Following on from discussing his sexuality on Tumblr, Ocean released this in July. A great soul album, Channel Orange puts Ocean on the musical map, and I predict big things for him in the new year.
16. Loreen – Heal
Although this album is a lot slower than I expected from the singles, it serves to show why Loreen is the most viable star to come out of Eurovision in the last few years. Euphoria remains the album’s centrepiece (now with added strings), but as a whole the album is the best tribal-orchestral-dance album you’ll hear all year.
15. Alexandra Burke – Heartbreak On Hold
Despite having minimal commercial success, Heartbreak On Hold is a good follow-up to 2009’s Overcome. Ditching the pop sound that made her famous, her attempt at dance works for the most part (especially on the singles and Tonight). However, my main problem with the album is the amount of autotune, which is not needed for an artist like Burke. All in all, this is still a good album.
14. P!nk –The Truth About Love
This year saw P!nk make a comeback after giving birth, and she did so with The Truth About Love. Although not as consistent as her previous efforts, highlights include the signature P!nk rock ballad Try and the Lily Rose Cooper assisted True Love, which should be a huge hit next year. However, the best track is The Great Escape, a personal account of her struggles with drug ause.
13. Marina and The Diamonds – Electra Heart
I have to point out here that there is a considerable gap between this and fourteen. Anyway, Electra Heart is Marina’s second album, and shows a departure to a poppier sound. The album works on tracks such as Radioactive (which was criminally a bonus track) and Starring Role, but suffers from being a bit ‘style over substance’ on tracks such as Hypocrates.
12. Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
This is an album that I’ve arguably put too high on the list, but at 21 songs long (minus the re-release tracks), there is room to cut out the rubbish and still be left with an album. Some may argue that this isn’t the point of an album, but I’m going with it regardless. Although Nicki’s rap persona is the one she should be using more frequently, tracks such as Starships and Automatic are undeniably brilliant lol-pop.
11. Delilah – From The Roots Up
Quite the contrast placed next to the Nicki Minaj album, From The Roots Up is a delicate, sophisticated soul-pop album by Delilah. Personal favourites are the super-sensual Inside My Love and Breathe, as well as last year’s hit Go. This album was and still is slightly over-shadowed by the Jessie Ware album, but it’s still undeniably very good.
10. Lana Del Rey – Born To Die
After the surprising success of Video Games in 2011, Lana Del Rey released her first album in January. The first single is still my favourite song on it, but she shines on tracks such as Blue Jeans and Radio. Although it suffers from being a bit samey by the end and being a bit lazy lyrically (how many ‘pale moonlights’ has she really seen), it does show why she deserved the hype.
9. Sky Ferreira – Ghost
Your probably wondering how a five song EP can be better than eleven full length albums. The answer is because it’s properly amazing. My personal favourites is Everything Is Embarrassing (which seems to be everyone else’s favourite too), but I love the fact that everything is really different to each other. If this is anything to go by, her album will be great next year.
8. Solange – True
The other EP on my list is this from Solange. Despite a minimal budget, this seven song EP is a glorious slice of soulful pie. Every song has it’s merits, but she’s at her very best on the single Losing You, the sublime Lovers In The Parking Lot and the cheeriest song ever with a swear word in the title, Some Things Never seem To Fucking Work. Beyonce may be making a comeback in 2013, but it’s Solange’s album I’m most looking forward to.
7. Bright Light Bright Light – Make Me Believe In Hope
This was always going to be the highest male album on my list wasn’t it? Bright Light Bright Light’s debut album was one of the year’s better musical surprises, and is one of the coolest albums of the year. My personal favourite is Disco Moment (even just because I listened to it on repeat with Dancing On My Own by Robyn before prom – ironic), but every song is very, very good.
6. Rihanna – Unapologetic
I think that anyone who knows me will be slightly surprised that this isn’t in my Top Five. The reason is that there are a couple of songs on here that I don’t particularly like (Loveeeeeeeeeee Song is one, Pour It Up is the other), and when putting this list together, I like every song on the next five albums. Anyway, the highs on Unapologetic are up there with her best: Diamonds will be a classic in years to come, Stay is her best ballad and Jump is incredible. Even Nobody’s Business is very good (once you de-tatch the song from being about Chris Brown).
5. Emeli Sande – Our Version Of Events
2012 was definitely the year of the Sande. Take away how great she was at the Olympics, the mammoth album sales and you’re still left with a brilliant album. Despite initial disappointment that this wasn’t an album more akin to Heaven, Our Version Of Events is a collection of sophisticated ballads that I love. The album is also intelligent without being pretentious, which is a trap some artists fall into. My highlights (Heaven aside) include the beautiful Hope, and her version of Read All About It. Overall, this album just shows that she is a class act.
4. Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough?
Much like the Emeli Sande album, Is Your Love Big Enough? is an album of sophisticated ballads. Moreover, this is a very clever album, best showcased on the track Au Cinema. However, when the tempo increases (on tracks such as the title track and Forget), she shows that she could be a festival staple next summer. My favourite song on the album is Gone, a ballad which could push her into the stratosphere if given the platform. Let’s hope someone takes a risk on her next year.
3. Carly Rae Jepsen – Kiss
Much like the Bright Light Bright Light album, Carly Rae Jepsen’s debut is actually really cool in the fact that it’s not trying to be. This album gives me early Britney vibes, and it’s a shame this has been overshadowed by Call Me Maybe. However, there’s far more here than that one hit. Hurts So Good is almost cavity inducing (in the best way possible), Curiosity is pop perfection and Tonight I’m Getting Over You is equally good. This is definitely the best pure pop album of the year.
2. Ellie Goulding – Halcyon
So she did quite well on my singles list, and the album is up there too. Halcyon is head and shoulders above her debut, and is still an incredible album. Every song are at the same level, but my personal favourites are Anything Could Happen (obviously), the beautiful I Know You Care and well the whole of the album. She also now passes the converted fan test (both my Media teacher and sister have gone from hating her to liking her), which is also all the proof you need that she’s fantastic.
1. Jessie Ware – Devotion
So, my favourite album of this year is Devotion by Jessie Ware. I could write pages as to why this is a fantastic album, but to put it simply, no track on this album is below great. She hasn’t gone into the studio to write something that will sell millions of copies or something that will get played on the radio, and in doing so has created something that potentially could sell millions of copies and does get played on the radio. Apart from the three songs on my singles list, I also love Sweet Talk, which is just perfect. I could describe every song I love, but I love every song.