2016 was a year of incredible songs. I mean there are so many bangers that have made this year an unforgettable one. However on the album front we have been starving of genuine great collections. However I have compiled a list of 10 great pop albums that are the strongest representations of the emotional and production growths that we have witnessed this year.
- Tkay Maidza – TKAY
Tkay Maidza’s debut has been a long time coming but it’s okay because it was totally worth the wait. There’s no denying Tkay’s talent and this album shows the eclectic range her material has adopted. And while this may have been a more pop directed release her hip-hop game is still strong and relevant. Summer jams galore.
Must Listens: “Simulation”, “Afterglow”, “Monochrome”
- The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It
The 1975’s self titled debut was an ambitious affair that saw them winning over a legion of fans. On their sophomore release not only do they give you the longest album title of the year they also give you one of the most versatile too. It jumps between indie rock, 80’s inspired electro synth pop, soulful ballads and INXS/Duran Duran inspired anthems. So basically they are giving you a bit of everything, and more
Must Listens: “Somebody Else”, “If I Believe You”, “The Sound”
- Banks – The Altar
“The Altar” impresses with it’s unique strength and growth from her emotional debut ‘Goddess”. She’s going towards a bolder sound and isn’t afraid to let you know what she REALLY thinks. The beats are dark, heavy and is borderline influenced by RNB production while still giving you indie-pop vocals and hooks. She’s taken her already developed sound and layered textures with a new found confidence in not only her vocals but her lyrics as well making this an overall must listen.
Must Listens: “Lovesick”, “This Is Not About Us”, “Gemini Feed”
- The Weeknd – Starboy
While he may be attempting a new synth driven sound that some may call more mainstream but others may call experimental The Weeknd still manages to give you the essence his previous albums contained; Sex and all the feelings. There are pulsating synths, mesmerising falsetto, nostalgia and a whole lot of quotable lyrics. At 18 tracks long the album could have been reduced in length to have a bigger impact but are we really going to complain about having more The Weeknd songs? The answer is no.
Must Listens: “Reminder”, “False Alarm”, “Sidewalks”
- Broods – Conscious
This album is very different from their debut but not only does it show growth but it also shows bold experimentation. The pop crossover got a bit of criticism but once you witness their new live show and hear these songs you can’t help but applaud them. They create a euphoric feeling that the songs embody with the big synths that will have you non stop grooving.
Must Listens: “Couldn’t Believe”, “Free”, “We Had Everything”
- Tove Lo – Lady Wood
In 2014 Tove Lo released my favourite album of the year and in 2016 she has come close to re-creating that magic. On “Lady Wood” she breaks the album into two parts. “Fairy Dust”; the pure euphoria and high of an encounter and “Fire Fade” the self awareness and dark low’s that soon follow. It’s a moody album that is polished with glittery synths that try to hide the dark undertones so radio remains interested. This collection of tracks grow on you with each listen and she provides some of the most brutally honest and relatable lyrics of the year.
Must Listens: “True Disaster”, “Lady Wood”, “Flashes”
- Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman
“Dangerous Woman” is a collection of confident pop tracks that boast her incredible vocals, smooth harmonies and ridiculously catchy hooks. The songs experiment with a reggae, dance, R&B and big band influenced twist on modern pop that gave me Christina Aguilera “Back To Basics” era vibes. It’s a step in the right direction for Grande and shows a maturity to her songwriting that strengthens the underlying message of love and empowerment that her music has always held onto. She is no longer the Nickelodeon star that could sing really well, she is an artist.
Must Listens: “Be Alright”, “Greedy”, “Side To Side”
- Rihanna – ANTI
“ANTI” had the most drawn out and confusing promotional lead up that I have ever witnessed for an album. But thankfully it didn’t disappoint. In its entirety “ANTI” is not the album you expected from Rihanna but even if it was unknowingly, this is the album you wanted from her. She’s confident, brave, honest and all types of sexy. This album will encourage other artists to take more risks with their music and not heavily worry about what the record labels deem as a “hit”. Pop music is evolving so I have to ask; has Rihanna given us the future?
Must Listens: “Kiss It Better”, “Love On The Brain”, “Needed Me”
- Beyonce – Lemonade
“Lemonade” is a visual album that explores infidelity and how far you are willing to go for love. The twelve tracks experiments between pop, soul, hip hop, R&B, blues, rock, country, gospel, funk and trap. So yeah, pretty much every genre and she does it successfully capturing the vibes and emotions each genre specifically embodies. This isn’t what you would expect your typical Beyoncé album to sound like, it’s not your radio ready feel good pop collection, it’s a dark and reflective masterpiece that carries on the visual impact her last album made. This is a record you need to listen to a couple of times to really soak in the different messages and musical ideas, but you also need to watch the accompanying movie because all I can say about that is, she slays.
Must Listens: “Sorry”, “All Night”, “Don’t Hurt Yourself”
- JoJo – Mad Love
We have been deprived of a JoJo album for 10 years and that really is an upsetting statistic. Luckily for us though she is back and better than ever. Her third studio album “Mad Love” is an experimental and bold collection of tracks that document her struggles and triumphs making this her most intimate yet. You may be reading this and shocked that I have awarded this my number one album of the year but when you listen to it in it’s entirety I’m positive you will understand why. JoJo is now a woman and this album introduces you to her. The songs aren’t gimmicky but they still have strong hooks which will get stuck in your head after a first listen. The lyrics are still as emotional and relatable as “Leave, Get Out” and show a fearless and empowerful side to her. You just need to forget any pre-conceived ideas you may have about her and just focus on how great the album is.
Must Listens: “F.A.B”, “Edibles”, “Like This’