What a phenomenal year for music (and just about nothing else). Compiling this list of my most listened to albums made me realize I have absolutely no idea what my taste in music really consists of, but I’m good with that.
Disclaimer: These albums aren’t what I think were the best albums of 2016. I haven’t listened to nearly enough music to make that list. Also I don’t work for Pitchfork or Rolling Stone so no one’s paying me to judge music all day, unfortunately. But I know what I like to listen to and what makes feel something, you know? Enjoy, check them out if you haven’t already, and let me know if there are any albums I’m missing out on!
In no particular order:
Starboy – The Weeknd
Release date: November 25, 2016
Standouts: Sidewalks, Reminder, Ordinary Life
My first thought upon listening to this was Tom Haverford describing what a banger consists of, because so much of this album is catchy as hell and it’s probably my most-played album of the year despite it being released a month ago. I thought I would be disappointed at how pop/mainstream this album is (ugh I know I hate myself), but I’ve played Trilogy so much that another similar album from him would probably have driven me crazy.
For Your Eyez Only – J Cole
Release date: December 9, 2016
Standouts: For Whom the Bell Tolls, Change, She’s Mine Pt. II
I fucking love this album. I’m not sure if that’s the consensus from J Cole fans but I personally thought it was beautiful – albeit a bit slow, but still. I’ve replayed songs so many times just to hear certain lines, because I think lyrically, this album is incredible. I also binge-listened to J Cole around this time last year to make up for all the lost time where I didn’t know who he was, so it was a nice memory trip for this album to be released around the exact same time one year later.
The Ride – Catfish and the Bottlemen
Release date: May 27, 2016
Standouts: Twice, Soundcheck, Heathrow
Something about this band just makes me so happy, and listening to them makes me nostalgic about being in high school discovering all my current favorite bands, because they sound so quintessentially British-alt-rock and I love it. I’ve been awaiting a new album since The Balcony, and while I still prefer their debut, I wasn’t disappointed.
A Seat at the Table – Solange
Release date: September 30, 2016
Standouts: Cranes in the Sky, Scales, Don’t You Wait
Making music that’s just borderline pure art must run in this family. I had never listened to any of Solange’s music before this year, but this album was all-around stunning, and a beautifully articulated commentary on race and society. Special mention for the production value of this album because all I can say is wow.
Awaken, My Love! – Childish Gambino
Release date: December 2, 2016
Standouts: Riot, Redbone, Boogieman
I was so incredibly impressed with how innovative and creative this album was – all while being catchy and retro as hell. I had read a review that described the album as “colorful” and I can’t think of a better word to encompass it.
Blonde – Frank Ocean
Release date: August 20, 2016
Standouts: Solo, Nikes, Seigfried
The rawness of this album is something I’ve never really experienced before, and despite not being one of the die-hard-STOP-TEASING-US-FRANK fans, it’s hard not to see the beauty of this album and recognize the effort that went into it. You can feel when someone is passionate about what they’re doing, and that makes you want to listen to it even more.
American English – Tor Miller
Release date: September 30, 2016
Standouts: The Dirt, Surrender, Washington Square Park
I’m calling it – this kid is blowing up in 2017. Also he’s younger than me, that was a fun realization (sigh). This album has a combination of catchy pop songs and introspective ballads and they’re all just wonderful – it’ll make you wanna get up and catch a flight to New York City tomorrow.
Everything You’ve Come to Expect – The Last Shadow Puppets
Release date: April 1, 2016
Standouts: Aviation, The Dream Synopsis, Miracle Aligner
These weirdos are at it again. I was really bummed to have missed them (and Alex Turner’s dad dance moves) at Osheaga this summer, so just the album will have to do for now. I just miss Arctic Monkeys so much, so this gave me that taste I need to keep me going while I await not-so-patiently for a new album from them.
Lemonade – Beyoncé
Release date: April 23, 2016
Standouts: Don’t Hurt Yourself, Freedom, Sorry
How anyone can say Beyoncé is overrated after an album like this is beyond me. I really don’t know what else to say except that I genuinely believe this is one of the greatest albums/pieces of art of all time. Fight me.
Coloring Book – Chance the Rapper
Release date: May 12, 2016
Standouts: Same Drugs, All Night, Blessings
I had listened to like three Chance songs before this album, despite having seen him live a few years back (I had no idea who he was). After listening to this album (like 20 times) I’m so excited that an artist like this is gaining popularity, because this is some happy-to-be-alive type music that I really am grateful for right now. It’s been a rough year – listening to this album will make you feel a little better, I promise.