There's something magical about a great album. It's an experience. You play it on start to finish, it takes you on a journey... you return to it again and again, and it becomes a volume in the soundtrack of your life. These are my top five favorites from 2016!
5. Best Summer Ever - Har Mar Superstar
Minneapolis music scene favorite and internationally known artist Sean Tillmann goes by more than one stage name, but his Har Mar Mall-inspired Har Mar Superstar moniker is how he's known best. His half-experimental, half-polished 2016 effort "Best Summer Ever" is easily his best, an album that's both personal and universal. Check out the music video for "It Was Only Dancing (Sex)," shot locally at Grumpy's bar.
4. Lady Wood - Tove Lo
"Queen of the Clouds" Tove Lo hails from Sweden, the "it" destination for making glossy radio pop. Despite this, and despite the fact that she writes glossy pop for others, her own music is moody and edgy. Her second album "Lady Wood" hits where her first missed, delivering a clear, concise message that creates a listening experience that's almost palpable.
3. This Is What The Truth Feels Like - Gwen Stefani
There was little chance Gwen Stefani could reclaim the uber success of her initial solo career after a lengthy 10 year hiatus. Although the LP didn't hit it big, "This" is her very best yet. Fun fact: it was entirely co-penned by gay songwriter Justin Tranter, the highly sought after penman who recently has dominated pop radio with hits like "Sorry" for Justin Bieber, "Good for You" for Selena Gomez, and "Cake by the Ocean" for Joe Jonas' new band DNCE.
2. Anti - Rihanna
Nobody, not even Beyoncé, is as consistently successful on Top 40 radio as Rihanna. That's why RiRi's anti-pop radio 2016 effort "Anti" was such a gamble... it's an experimental, dark, and highly personal ode to 1990s R&B and her native Caribbean. The risk that paid off big time, ironically delivering her biggest pop radio hit of all-time, "Work (feat. Drake)."
1. ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2016
Glory - Britney Spears
After fans and critics had a mixed response her 2013 album "Britney Jean," Britney Spears came back "stronger than yesterday" in 2016; her body is rocking, her live performances are as hot as they were in 2003, and her new music ranks amongst her all-time best. Fun fact: Justin Tranter also cowrote on much of this LP! Her new album "Glory" picks up where "Blackout" left off in 2007, pushing her iconic sound forward while also remaining radio friendly.
This list was previously published in Twin Cities Gay Scene magazine.
What was your favorite album of 2016? Tweet me: @DerekPlease