Being a wanton stan, almost every year has me saying something along the lines of, "ZOMG THIS IS THE BEST YEAR FOR POP EVERRR". Usually this is just because some new Aubrey O'Day single leaked or another tragic non-event. But this year really is kind of MAJAH, isn't it guys? Maybe not for major pop star releases. Last year was destined to be THE year for those. GaGa, Beyonce and Britney were all coming back and it was going to be a bloodbath for anyone else who was trying it. And yet...none of them really performed the way they should have. Britney's albums sales were terrible. Beyonce couldn't get ANY single to chart. And GaGa had a mixture of problems, the biggest of them being her own pre-release album overhype while not delivering.
It reminded me that while the big girls are often the ones with the power to really create exciting music, it is the other voices in the pop community that often make the most innovative work, and as the releases keep being announced, I can't stop thinking that 2012 might actually be one of the most exciting years in the pop world (no f'real this time)!! While we all are obviously excited for some of the upcoming releases (Scissor Sisters, Gossip, New Beyonce singles!!), I want to take this moment to talk about the most exciting albums that have already been released...oddly there aren't as many pop albums as usual because most of them are coming later in the year. Hopefully with this we can both come to together on albums we love and maybe even find out a few new ones! Below are my picks for best albums of the year...please leave your picks in the comments!
Emeli Sande - Our Version of Events
This year's Adele, tbh. Emeli Sande is one of the most promising singers I have come upon for quite a while. Strong, soulful vocals. A chic look. A beautiful tendency to write introspective lyrics. Not to mention uniformly rave reviews from every live performance (even getting approval from Madonna herself!). My current favorite album of the year, this one will be hard to beat by any other artist.
Santigold - Master of My Make-Believe
A fantastic melange of genres that Santigold is known for, "Master of My Make-Believe" is enough to remind the world that Santi is still one of the most exciting artists around. Yeah, she is still a bit of an MIA knock-off, but these days Maya is such a mess it is nice to have the same aesthetic on a more put-together pop singer. However, the album was not quite good enough to warrant how long it took for the album to get here...worth checking out but not as good as I was hoping.
Sigur Ros - Valtari
I love Sigur Ros more than just about any artist or band. Every album more beautiful than the next, this Icelandic post-rock band creates instantly memorable if unintelligible music. This album started out a little bit slow, feeling a bit been-there-done-that. But as it progressed it was almost overwhelming and one of the band's most impressive efforts to date.
Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
The most uneven album of the year is also the most exciting. Messy buzz single releases and a schizophrenia that went beyond Her Minajesty's normal schtick, Roman Reloaded plays like 4 different recording sessions and no time put in for cohesion. Despite this very large issue, there is just enough good music on this album for it to be worth it. Raving club bangers, hard talking rhymes, and sweet R&B grooves create the backbone of Roman Reloaded and it will be enough to keep her in the game....even if it is lacking the dominance she so often brags about.
Madonna - MDNA
Here's the thing. I am aware that this album has flaws. I am aware that she could have gone in a better direction. I am aware that while she shouldn't have to, acting her age might have come off a little bit more sincere. But seriously, when has Madonna ever done what we expect of her? As I wrote last month, I think she is kicking just as much ass ever, and has some of her best work in years right here on MDNA. Not counting the flaw-free pop masterpiece Confessions, this is Madonna's strongest work in a decade, and also her most varied. There is something here for every type of fan of the Queen of Pop. While this may not make for the most enjoyable whole album listening experience, it DOES warrant respect for the incredible music that Madge is still producing.
Donkeyboy - Silver Moon
Now this is an exciting one. A Norwegian pop band that doesn't seem to know how to make a pop song that isn't wildly infectious and polished. Even better they help fulfill my never ending quest for quality male pop music. I could pick a stand-out track, or I could point out that every single song on this album is a sleek masterpiece. Check this one out...nice to be reminded that dance pop doesn't have to be inane and childish.
Gotye - Making Mirrors
Gotye and fun. are the 2 break out acts of 2012 so far with monstrously popular singles that refuse to release their iron grip on the top of the charts. However, while fun. was the band I was more excited for (their lead singer used to sing for one of my favorite bands, The Format), Gotye's album ended up being refreshingly superior. Joyful and youthful, this is a massive pop record. I am crossing my fingers that any follow up singles help continue Gotye's success.
Wolf Gang - Suego Faults
So remember when the entire world was obsessed with The Shins because they made exuberant and relatable pop music? And remember how since then their music has continued to grow more inaccessible and even a bit maudlin? Well mourn no more, because Wolf Gang is like The Shins on crack. Huge pop rock songs surrounded by inescapable melodies and catchy instrumentation make up this near-perfect album. I have come back to this one over and over the last few months, and don't think that will stop anytime this year.