End Of Year

Backfill: 2012 EOY: Part 1 of 4

Thankfully, these will get more readable from now on without my notes, but as before, bold for what should be higher, underlined for what should be lower and italics for all my notes and updates outside of this and this is archive writing from me copied from the year noted from Buzzjack.com. For this first part, it will only be the album rankings, the singles from 2012 come later. And yes, somehow there are 42 albums I thought I’d listened to enough to rank, a number I never expect to beat again.
42. The Script – #3

Highlights: Hall Of Fame, Broken Arrow, Six Degrees Of Separation, If You Could See Me Now

The 42 albums on this list are the 42 that have made it onto my iTunes that I could justify in some way as being related to 2012. Or December 2011, I go November to November for convenience in announcing the chart in December. So bottom of this list is The Script’s unimaginatively titled (never a good thing) 3rd album. I’ve found it hard to get interested in this ever since my brother bought it, it’s not bad per se but it’s very similar to Science & Faith, but worse. Hall Of Fame and Broken Arrow are the only ones I’d be sorry to lose (I wouldn’t even be that generous now). Throughout, the best non-single, in this case, Broken Arrow, is linked in the title.

41. Elisa’s – Det Sa Klick!

Highlights: Linjen I Min Hand (335), When You Walk Into The Room

This dansband came to my attention with their fairly wonderful Waterloo pastiche of Linjen I Min Hand (also probably the only one I ever paid any attention to – why did I get this album again?). It’s the clear highlight of the album by some distance, I’ve only picked out a second highlight almost at random. It’s OK Swedish pop but there’s not a whole lot to be excited about. Treat this as an entry for Linjen I Min Handen mostly, the rest of the tracks really just blend into one another as some nice, inoffensive, Swedish warbling.

40. Lena Philipsson – Världen Snurrar

Highlights: Live Tomorrow, Du Följer Väl Med?, Världen Snurrar, Vart Tog Du Vägen

First album I have listened to by Lena Ph, and I do get a distinct impression that she is not an album artist. The singles are great, she really knows how to pick them, Live Tomorrow is quite excellent, aided by the STHLM mix, and the other two listed are fun listens. With this and Elisa’s both finishing so low, I am beginning to get a feeling I’m racist against foreign language albums (this would prove not to be true in the future but I think I was just barking up the wrong tree with some below-par Swedish albums). It is true it makes it harder for me to get interested about tracks when I can’t even understand the title at a glance, and harder to pick standouts (stop making excuses, it’s wrong). It also may be just the late stage Lena is in her career, or that I never really cared about a song of hers before Live Tomorrow, and even that’s not really her song.

39. SoSo – T.T.I.D.S.D.I.E.U.I.C

Highlights: Who’s Gonna Love Me, My Women My Guitars, Happy People

A rather interesting project by SoSo and she gave away her album for free! Excellent. The three highlights, again, are all I’d recommend listening to if you are in a hurry, but the rest, despite seemingly consisting half of one-minute interludes isn’t bad experimental electro-pop by any means. The cover of My Women My Guitars (never heard of the original) stands out enormously, as does single Who’s Gonna Love Me. (as does Happy People, I think that’s my favourite now, although My Women My Guitars is awesome too)

38. Rachel Platten – Be Here

Highlights: 1000 Ships, Nothing Ever Happens, 53 Steps, Don’t Care What Time It Is

A very decent pop album, buoyed up by the excellent 1000 Ships, it’s not a masterclass in its genre by any means but if you like light airy pop (which is a subgenre I’m SO into) it’s one album that should be on your list to get. No rush about it though, I wouldn’t say the rest of it is brilliant, but it’s kinda sweet.  (the rest of it is brilliant, I think this was helped beyond 2012 by her retaining some kind of relevance, but those highlights are still favourites)

37. Amanda Mair – Amanda Mair

Highlights: Sense (285), Doubt, House, It’s Gonna Be Long

Like Rachel Platten, it’s another great entry for my airy pop loving self – but I haven’t found a whole lot of time to listen to it. Sense is a quite excellent track that would be one of the highlights on a major artist’s album, and Doubt is good I s’pose. Good effort Amanda, it just lacks a spark for me to LOVE you but I LIKE you.

36. Emeli Sandé – Our Version Of Events

Highlights: Heaven, My Kind Of Love (280), Mountains, River

The biggest selling album of the year (it was? I despair) makes it to #36 with me, largely because despite the clear production quality of what Emeli is producing (questionable), a lot of it is just rather boring. Heaven was far preferable to dreary shit like Next To Me, but the latter is what’s selling for her unfortunately. My Kind Of Love is surprisingly good and Mountains and River are good album tracks but I don’t think this is really worthy of selling the most this year, it’s certainly no 21. I love love love the title though. That seems quite negative but it’s nice, I just wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to it. (It should be pretty negative, I’ve gotten rid of this aside from the highlights listed because they’re tolerable)
35. Elsiane – Mechanics Of Emotion

Highlights: Underhelped, Nobody Knows, In The Shadows

On a high of the grower of Vaporous from last year, I downloaded Elsiane’s 2012 album hoping for more of the same. Underhelped aside (which is great), it wasn’t really anything like it and in some ways it was almost too airy for me. There was a nice amount of energy in Nobody Knows but it sounds very samey all the way through. Good atmospheric music, can’t hold a candle to Vaporous.
34. Olly Murs – In Case You Didn’t Know

Highlights: I’m OK, In Case You Didn’t Know, Heart Skips A Beat

Anyone remember this album? (no!) I still haven’t heard Olly’s newest despite rather liking Troublemaker, partly because I fear it’ll be as patchy as this. It’s half excellent pop that Troublemaker emulates, the highlights are the main ones, but stuff like Oh My Goodness and This Song Is About You (ugh) (ugh) really drag it down. I suppose I should really stay away from Olly’s albums (and I would from then on), although now and then I discover a gem like A Million More Years or I’m OK on this that makes it all worthwhile (kinda worthwhile).

33. Azealia Banks – Fantasea

Highlights: Out Of Space, Jumanji, f*** Up The Fun, Neptune

And another free album, this time from Azealia Banks. After 212, I have all the time in the world for this woman (…), and some tracks on this are genius, Out Of Space in particular. Some of it I don’t really GET but that’s normally the case with a rap album for me, it’s very rare I’ll love all of it, I’ll mainly love the catchy tracks that get chosen as singles. Therefore Fantasea is a good listen in places but there are a lot of demos that are nowhere near 212.

32. Linkin Park – Living Things (I’m seriously questioning 2012’s judgement already by putting this at #32)

Highlights: Burn It Down, Powerless, Lost In The Echo, Castle Of Glass (this is now my favourite on this album, I can’t believe it wasn’t there)

Linkin Park’s return I suppose I wasn’t really prepared for. It doesn’t sound like they’ve pushed much new ground here (but it does!), it’s very much what you would expect from a Linkin Park album (nah, it’s far more electronic), and again, it’s got little on past glories (um). Of course, it’s not like they had anywhere else to go without repeating themselves (um um). I suppose my biggest gripe is that it doesn’t have a huge amount of replay value (um um um that would prove to be completely untrue). However Burn It Down is a great lead single and Powerless and Lost In The Echo are different but good bookends to a diverse yet familiar record.

31. Train – California 37

Highlights: Bruises, 50 Ways To Say Goodbye, Drive By, When The Fog Rolls In

I’ll say more about the 3 singles in my song chart but they drag this record up SO SO much. A Train album is probably not really worth your time unless you’re really into that kind of stuff, which I kind of am but only the really catchy stuff that gets released (true, but this is the one that came closest to being worthwhile). The rest of the album is less well-written Train songs, which occasionally score a catchy tune but more often that not leave you bored.

Yanno, the albums that I really like start at #28, so there’s not many more patches to go through. (… why did you do all of this. At least there’s a few you’re not admitting to liking)
30. Gotye – Making Mirrors

Highlights: Somebody That I Used To Know, Eyes Wide Open, In Your Light

Like its most well-known track, Making Mirrors is a grower of an album. It also reveals that Gotye has really not put out an album filled with Somebody That I Used To Know clones, amazing as that would be. It’s fairly diverse and experimental, just not much of it is my type aside from the two singles. And even then, Eyes Wide Open is a pale shadow of STIUTK. Good background music, definitely. (how damning with faint praise)

29. Delilah – From The Roots Up

Highlights: Go, Love You So (381), 21, Breathe (607), Cinnababy

Part 2 in the nice background music in this section, Delilah’s debut effort certainly attempts to show off her sultry voice as much as possible. On the tracks with a good idea behind them, like the genius Go, it really works. I was ever so slightly amazed that this ever got released, it got pushed back so much I wasn’t expecting something great when I got it. It did exceed expectations, it’s a good light-soul-electronic album, which is what Go pointed to when it first got released before all the push-backs happened. (and it’s not one I’ve really ever gone back to, just a bit uninteresting sadly)

28. The Killers – Battle Born

Highlights: Runaways, Deadlines And Commitments, Miss Atomic Bomb, Battle Born

While I love The Killers as a singles band, much like Coldplay, their albums are an entirely different beast and I knew I was not going to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed Runaways. Like all Killers albums though, a few album tracks stand out to me on the first few listens through and I play those till eternity (I guess that is sadly very accurate). It’s a step up from Day & Age (wash your mouth out that’s their best) and I was never into Hot Fuss that much (blasphemy I know) so it’s currently standing as their 2nd best album for me, and the first album on this list I like the majority of. Deadlines And Commitments is a slow creeper, it’s my second most played track from the album after Runaways and I didn’t even realise it, great Killers track.

27. Madonna – MDNA (okay I sorta want to give this an underline but the highlights are good enough to warrant not doing that)

Highlights: Gang Bang (310), Masterpiece (213), I Don’t Give A (614), Give Me All Your Luvin’ (284)

Unlike The Killers, I went into this with almost no expectations. I loved Madonna’s Confessions era (and need to get the album SOMETIME, I heard there’s a rather fabulous track with my name on it (oh look there’s a name reveal and I intended to keep that secret – not that you couldn’t half figure it out from Izzy)) but otherwise she really passed me by before I got this album (somehow, this my first Madonna album, I have a few of the better ones now, I’m not a huge fan, just occasionally she can be quite good). It changed my opinion of her, I now vaguely like her. Nah, this album is good, Gang Bang is fabulous and builds all the way through, Masterpiece is beautiful and was genuinely the last track to miss out on my top 212, I Don’t Give A is very fun, there are some good other pop tracks, however there are a few too many dubstep influences for my liking. Also, M.I.A’s verse on Give Me All Your Luvin’ is genuinely the best thing on this record. [/controv] (heh, I do love the M.I.A)

26. of Verona – The White Apple

Highlights: Castles, Dark In My Imagination, Unique In Its Madness, The Enemy

Everyone remember of Verona, right? No, it’s ok, I understand – curse that S O H N fellow (Castles was an entry of mine to a contest and I came 2nd with it, behind a S O H N track). Anyway, Castles was quite wondrous, and I’d heard Dark In.. also so naturally I wondered what the album would be like. And it’s good. Not so good I was blown away but it’s a lovely pop-electronic-rock-whatever album and although there’s not much like Castles and therefore nothing as good as Castles, it’s all quite engaging stuff – particularly those 4 highlights. They are an interesting band – kind of in the very centre of my music tastes, so I will continue following them, I’m sure. (which I actually did to an extent, I don’t have another album, if they have put out another but I’ve kept hearing their new songs)

25. Mika – The Origin Of Love

I may not have made my Mika fandom overly clear in my time on Buzzjack but I am a fan, he persistently remains my 5th most played last.fm artist despite efforts from Avril and Alexis to undermine him. It’s surprising then that he has no entries in my singles chart (and why was that exactly?), but this is less good than his last two albums, despite being fairly amazing. Life In Cartoon Motion is still one of my favourite albums ever, this is nowhere near that. I would definitely recommend the gorgeous Step With Me though, and it’s consistent as a listen at least, no dud tracks really, no Love Todays or Blue Eyes to mess it up (it is actually a lot better than its commercial success indicates). Which is a point in its favour at least.

24. Santigold – Master Of My Make Believe

Highlights: Disparate Youth, Go!, The Keepers, Freak Like Me

One of the big surprises of this year was me finally listening to a Santigold song and LOVING it. We’ll just ignore Big Mouth for these purposes (why? I’ve come around to it, it was jarring at first but that sort of song, you should expect it), but that song was Disparate Youth (to slay Eyes’ singles charts near you soon (I am, or was, called Eyes there)) and it motivated me to listen to this surprisingly great album. Go in particular is a bit of a jam and I love the whole… feel of the record, it’s very well produced for someone who completely passed me by prior to this year. I shall have to check out earlier efforts now.

23. Scissor Sisters – Magic Hour

Highlights: Only The Horses, Shady Love, Keep Your Shoes On

I was not expecting to put the Scissor Sisters this low, but this album hasn’t held up that well over the latter part of the year. It’s got nothing on Night Work (which I criminally underrated when I put it in my 2011 chart). Even Let’s Have A Kiki got a little boring after a while. The 3 tracks I’ve highlighted are excellent, classic catchy SS tracks. I haven’t seen a whole lot of love for KYSO, it’s so effortlessly cool. wub.gif (how could I have put a SS album this low when they’ve been so rare ever since, also yes, this and Mika is the sort of pop that remains eternal with me, really camp glam-rock inspired ridiculousness)

22. Alyssa Reid – The Game

Highlights: Without You, The Game (440), Alone Again, Go

After knowing this for more than a year, her new found fame made me put it in my Y/E chart again, and it’s grown on me since last year. Without You is rather wondrous, The Game is as excellent as ever (only Séyetan (I’m called Séyetana in BJSC, that’s my demonym, I’m cool) entry to have some connection to suce$$ *.*) and Alone Again is due some uber success in my singles chart. It’s all harmless pop (which is why it gets an underline, I don’t do harmless pop anymore), not much depth to it but Alyssa does a good job.

21. Taylor Swift – Red (best Taylor Swift album, I don’t want to hear about 1989, or whatever happened to her since she literally without exaggeration sold out)

Highlights: We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, I Knew You Were Trouble, Red, 22, Begin Again

This year I also really started my love for Taylor Swift. She has a lot of tracks in my singles chart, and tracks from her older albums are growing on me finally too. Yet I have been remarkably uninterested in Red, I tend to pick a few Taylor tracks I love and stick with those. It’s a great country-pop sound, and I didn’t like having to cut it out of my top 20, but I have shown far more love for the 20 albums above it, all of which are great, perfect albums, mostly. (we’ll be testing that theory…)
20. Ke$ha – Warrior (test one, surprisingly passed)

Highlights: Die Young (445), C’Mon (527), Warrior (519), Wherever You Are, Crazy Kids, Past Lives

A surprise addition to my EOY chart (yeah, I’ll say but this is still an album I enjoy), I never expected to like a Ke$ha album this much but it is quite excellent pop from a singer I have disliked in the past. I haven’t heard her debut but this is so much better than some of the singles from that. Despite all the singles being too late for my EOY chart this time round – some of them may make it in 2013 depending on how they hold up next year, Die Young I’ve only recently unlocked by playing it loud, it become of glorious like that. Very pleased with Ke-dollarsign-ha this time – her distinctive style sometimes feels forced but rarely does it feel this way on Warrior. Past Lives in particular is a really good way to show she has diversity, it’s a very clever record.

19. The Saturdays – On Your Radar (surprisingly also passed, this is the best Saturdays album, despite housing All Fired Up)

Highlights: Faster, Get Ready Get Set (538), Notorious, White Lies, I Say OK (notice the highlights list is only 20% singles, this is very rare for me)

I decided to put this in 2012 as I only managed to hear it for 6 days of 2011 – although I might have put in my EOY chart last time, can’t remember. Anyway, floppy Sats album – contains some excellent pop tunes regardless, and the Sats best for me. There aren’t many ways to write this commentary without sounding like one of those deluded Sats loons that hide out in the Saturdays forum all the time masturbating over What About Us remixes (zing! also you read that right, Buzzjack houses a Saturdays forum), but it’s so so solid and contains some real tight harmonies so it’s a real shame it got ignored. It’s provided me with my all-out dance-pop needs for the year, god knows so much of that genre has been shit this year, it’s nice to have some that’s still awesome.

18. Of Monsters And Men – My Head Is An Animal (theory still passing, I nearly gave this a bold but it’s only half amazing)

Highlights: Little Talks, Dirty Paws, Mountain Sound (255) King And Lionheart (560), Sloom

Unlike dance-pop, folk-pop has been really good to me this year – one of the two major examples being the Icelandic band Of Monsters And Men (I had forgotten you’d put them this high and I’m pleased with you). They have a lovely strong sound flowing through the album – it is an album that feels very well put together and while that would often put me off, contrasting vocals keep things interesting – particularly on King And Lionheart (<3333 not enough love for this song). Very much worth a listen if you liked Little Talks, it is by far and away the best thing there but Of Monsters And Men are a very distinctive band and that’s largely what attracted me in the first place.

17. Keane – Strangeland (we’re still going good, this is the best Keane album, god 2012 was so good)

Highlights: Sovereign Light Cafe, Silenced By The Night, Day Will Come

I’ve always found Keane a little inessential up to now, they’re a bit like an inferior Coldplay a lot of the time and I’m not so keen on wanting that (okay that’s a bit harsh, yes it’s partly true but they’re better than a lot of acts), yet their 2012 album is their best yet. Using interesting melodies to create a good, well-flowing album, it surprised me how high up I put this but it deserves it a lot (defo). It’s quite long, at 17 (!) tracks, but unusually for an album of this type, it’s mostly all rather worth it. (still a fave) 

16. Kyla La Grange – Ashes (obviously passing, I have never enough love for Kyla and this should have been top 10, just look at all the highlights and I have a couple extra to add to that, this is seriously one of my favourite albums ever now)

 (leaving this here because it’s gorgeous)

Highlights: Heavy Stone, Vampire Smile, Been Better, Lambs, Woke Up Dead, Walk Through Walls, Courage, Catalyst, I Could Be

First off, that album cover is luscious. One of the most simple, yet effective covers I’ve seen this year. Second of all, don’t listen to the version of Heavy Stone which is on the album (I said this in the 2011 thing, it is my only problem with this album). Listen to the video version (which is apparently now called the Chess Club version), and I’ve linked that above. The album version just sucks all the life out of what was an immense song. Otherwise, this wasn’t quite as good as I was hoping for with Heavy Stone and Vampire Smile out there (but it would all grow on you), but it’s still one of the best debut albums I’ve heard this year and has a sound very friendly to my ears. Also, I do wish that the first part of Lambs wasn’t connected to a hidden track, it’s not really worth it (eh, Sympathy is fine) and Lambs itself is one of the best songs on the album. I can live with it though.
15. iamamiwhoami – Kin (and we’re still okay for perfectly valid albums, Kin is a great experimental project)

Highlights: sever, goods, drops, play

Overrated by nearly everyone in that thread (not quite, for context, this album got a large amount of hype from a certain part of Buzzjack’s community) and like the only thing the alternative world has been talking about over the past year – at least what I’ve seen, if it was pop it’d be played to death everywhere. Yet it is a rather jolly good album on the whole – especially given it’s full of growers. Sever didn’t hit me until halfway through the year and it’s by far my favourite. Nothing you could blast out of speakers really but it’s a lovely cohesive listen, Jonna’s voice is something you get used to over the record and it does buoy it up. (don’t be so critical! says the pot)

14. Ellie Goulding – Halcyon (definitely keep, this is her best album, if you leave Halcyon Days out of it)

Highlights: Figure 8, My Blood, Atlantis, Halcyon, Joy, Anything Could Happen

A bit of a grower of an album, Halcyon initially left me feeling very cold – compared to Bright Lights it seemed to have nothing in terms of soul. Fortunately I went back for a few more listens and after those few more I think it’s actually the stronger of her albums… subtle melodies throughout and even Anything Can Happen is tolerable now (oh yes I hated that at first for some reason, I’m sorry). Deceptively excellent effort from one of the best British singers around right now.

13. Lights – Siberia (I always have time for Lights, definitely keep)

Highlights: Banner, Peace Sign, Flux And Flow, Where The Fence Is Low

The oldest album on the list by quite a few months, I only started listening to Siberia earlier this year so I figured I could get away with sneaking it in here. A lot more dubsteppy than The Listening, this is one place where I don’t mind it too much, most of the time it works well with her delicate voice – only misstep is with Day One, not really sure what she is trying to achieve there. Banner is anthemic and the real highlight of this record. Because I didn’t enter anything from this into my chart despite loving it all, this is the highest album with no entries in the singles chart.

12. Timoteij – Tabu (still one of my favourite foreign language albums, how did I get it all so wrong in 2011 but so right in 2012?)

Highlights: Stormande Hav, Tabu, Het, Glod, Bara For En Natt, Hogre

I really wanted both this and the next album in the top 10. It’s easily the best foreign-language album this year – and Timoteij MAY even be my favourite foreign-language band (to be fair, they were until I discovered Japan). For the most part, it’s perfect schlager-pop – with some really epic instrumentals to elevate some excellent girl group songs to truly wonderful status. *.* I’d recommend this HIGHLY to any pop fan – if you are one, you simply HAVE to like this. Stormande Hav and Tabu will be covered later on in the singles chart, but Het and Glod in particular are real highlights of just how epic girl groups can get if they can sing AND play instruments along with it. The Saturdays WHO? (exactly! these girls sound like they’re enjoying what they’re doing)

11. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar (passed, there are a few dud tracks so I wondered but the tracks that hit are so strong)

Highlights: Emmylou, Wolf, The Lion’s Roar, King Of The World, Blue

Folk-pop again rears its head in my albums chart. The duo of First Aid Kit lend distinctive voices to this wonderful album – giving it all a very emotional quality that is perfect for me. The singles are pretty much the strongest fare on here, but the other songs fill the gaps – and more of their voices is never, ever, ever bad. I shall have New Year’s Eve on repeat in 2 weeks. *.* You can expect to see Emmylou and a couple of others from this album very high up in my singles chart. Excellent album, First Aid Kit, more of this please. I shall have to check out their floppy debut sometime soon.

ALBUM #10

LITTLE MIX – DNA  (ah ha, we fail as we get into the top 10, I thought we were home and dry. From those ratings below, I’d only really listen to Red Planet now)

Wings: 10/10
DNA: 11/10
Change Your Life: 10/10
Always Be Together: 8/10
Stereo Soldier: 5/10
Pretend It’s OK: 9/10
Turn Your Face: 7/10
We Are Who We Are: 9/10
How Ya Doin?: 8/10 (??? 2/10 is more like it)
Red Planet: 9/10
Going Nowhere: 9/10
Madhouse: 7/10
Love Drunk: 9/10
Make You Believe: 7/10
Case Closed: 8/10

Mostly what I wanted from Little Mix when they won this time last year (because you had no experience). It’s not quite as good as Overcome in terms of X Factor debuts but it slips in at a comfortable second and is a fine pop album. It has a most excellent start with Wings, DNA and Change Your Life, then falters a bit with every other track from then on being rather amazing. Red Planet is far too underrated by people, I’d call it the 4th best on the album – Pretend It’s OK is a lovely ballad – and How Ya Doin is nicely quirky. Only misfire is Stereo Soldier for me, a concept that really just doesn’t work. Otherwise a great effort from the girls and I look forward to their next album – as long as it isn’t their Heartbreak On Hold. (it wouldn’t be and I’ll be far kinder to that particular one when it shows up in a future Backfill, this is just a bit too ‘first product pop album’ these days for me)

ALBUM #9

OWL CITY – THE MIDSUMMER STATION (mostly very good, and probably better than I’m giving it credit for here, I don’t think it should be higher though)

Dreams And Disasters: 7/10
Shooting Star: 8/10
Gold: 7/10
Dementia (feat. Mark Hoppus of blink-182): 9/10
I’m Coming After You: 10/10
Speed Of Love: 8/10
Good Time (feat. Carly Rae Jepsen): 11/10
Embers: 9/10
Silhouette: 10/10
Metropolis: 6/10 (I resent this low score, Metropolis is possibly the BEST on there)
Take It All Away: 8/10
Bombshell Blonde: 10/10
Top Of The World: 8/10

After scoring my #2 album last year, Owl City’s 4th album (yes, 4), can only just about make #9 here – it’s a rather patchy effort (that would need time to grow on you). Good Time is of course FLAWLESS but it’s not just that with the good parts, Bombshell Blonde is the closest he’s come to releasing something truly fabulous, I’m Coming After You struck me early on because of it’s catchiness, and Silhouette is the spiritual followup to Vanilla Twilight, beautiful AND emotional. wub.gif (I don’t disagree with all of that, those are still all the best tracks aside from Metropolis) Aside from Dementia and Embers, the rest is a LITTLE patchy throughout, and it’s nowhere near as good as the previous albums, but this is what tends to happen when you release an album every year. Yes, Adam Young’s the male, unsuccessful Rihanna. (I’d say the male Ellie Goulding more than anything…)

ALBUM #8

RIHANNA – UNAPOLOGETIC (definitely lower, this is completely an album that is half good, half shit)

Phresh Out The Runway: 8/10 (8? it’s a mess)
Diamonds: 11/10
Numb (ft. Eminem): 7/10 (as high as 7? jeez)
Pour It Up: 5/10
Loveeeeeee Song (ft. Future): 8/10
Jump: 8/10
Right Now (ft. David Guetta): 7/10
What Now: 9/10
Stay (ft. Mikky Ekko): 10/10
Nobody’s Business (ft. Chris Brown): 4/10 (>>giving a Rihanna/Chris Brown track any score at all)
Love Without Tragedy / Mother Mary: 8/10 (10/10 + 7/10)
Get It Over With: 6/10
No Love Allowed: 7/10
Lost In Paradise: 10/10
Half Of Me: 9/10

SPEAKING OF HER, the newest album in the top 10 is naturally Rihanna’s latest effort – Unapologetic. Like Talk That Talk it is rather patchy, likely due to Rihanna’s prolificness (*prolificity). Pour It Up and Nobody’s Business are far too weak and awful for a Rihanna album – and why she’s put CB on her album I can’t eh.. (I mean to say I can’t understand why she’d ever do that, obviously because he can’t make music and it leads to something awful)

Negatives aside, about half of it is a CRACKING listen as always. Stay will do big in my chart next year, it’s a little more stripped back than most RiRi ballads but that doesn’t hurt it at all, her voice sounds great on it. Lost In Paradise has excellent production an gets better on repeated listens, while Love Without Tragedy and What Now are reasonable additions to a top 5 (and then basically none of the rest was any good at all!!!). All of the rest of the album is great but it feels a lot less cohesive than even Talk That Talk. Even I’m beginning to beg Rihanna for a bit of a break now. Next time her album for ThanksgivingRihannamas might not even make my top 10! ohmy.gif (and look, I cursed her tradition of doing that)

ALBUM #7

RIHANNA – TALK THAT TALK (yes I entered it again, I’ll just skip over all of this then)

You Da One: 7/10
Where Have You Been: 11/10
We Found Love (ft. Calvin Harris): 9/10
Talk That Talk (ft. Jay-Z): 9/10
Cockiness (Love It): 5/10
Birthday Cake: 0/10 (okay I’m glad you did this if only for that)
We All Want Love: 8/10
Drunk On Love: 8/10
Roc Me Out: 8/10
Watch n Learn: 8/10
Farewell: 10/10
Red Lipstick: 8/10
Do Ya Thang: 9/10
Fool In Love: 8/10

Top 10 for the second year in a row – not even that, 7th for the second year in a row, Rihanna albums are normally the only ones that get to do this as I appreciate the older one throughout the entirety of the following year and put it higher accordingly. Because I have an extremely strong top 6, this hasn’t quite happened for Talk That Talk. An extremely weak mid-section with the worst thing she’s ever recorded in Birthday Cake is buoyed up by a fantastic start with the singles and helped by a solid 8/10 latter section. Farewell is a beautiful ballad and Do Ya Thang is a really lovely song that doesn’t get enough love around here.

We Found Love hasn’t held up that well, Where Have You Been has. It’s weird because there shouldn’t be much difference between them, yet I see a huge difference – for a lot of people it seems to be the other way round but WFL just feels a little basic now. TTT is all very solid and similar, perhaps unlike Unapologetic, Rihanna’s most cohesive and well-structured as a whole – shame its not quite the strongest material as that is a CANNY track order.

So, that’s Rihanna out of the running… who is left? (someone far more consistent)

ALBUM #6

LOREEN – HEAL (yes, I might even put it up into the top 5 now, I did go a bit overboard with Loreen this year but there were good reasons for that this time)

In My Head: 8/10
My Heart Is Refusing Me: 10/10 (this new version was everything)
Everytime: 9/10
Euphoria: 11/10
Crying Out Your Name: 9/10
Do We Even Matter: 10/10
Sidewalk: 8/10
Sober: 7/10 (old version 9/10)
If She’s The One: 8/10
Breaking Robot: 9/10
See You Again: 9/10
Heal: 8/10

Potentially the album I was anticipating the most this year, at least once we’d gotten past Loreen’s inevitable victory at Eurovision. While nothing on it was quite as good as Euphoria (with extra strings *.*), that would be something quite hard to top and there are 3 or 4 songs that are worthy of standing up to it. My Heart Is Refusing Me obviously, but also Do We Even Matter. It seems to be an unusual choice of standout for many people – yet it is wonderful for me, quite ethereal and haunting – makes use of Loreen’s beautiful voice perfectly. Everytime and Breaking Robot are at different ends of the spectrum as far as Loreen goes,
but both great, the production on Breaking Robot + the fragility of Everytime, and See You Again is a lovely pop song – although count me in among those who aren’t a fan of the new version of Sober. It’s a VERY strong album yet it’s probably hurt a bit by Euphoria being so good that there’s not much else to focus on. (honestly everything else there would in time prove itself of being worthy of standing up to Euphoria, just a shame that she wouldn’t do anything to that standard again)

ALBUM #5

RUBY FROST – VOLITION (oh yes, this, quite a surprise top 5 but it is well worth the position)

Porcupine: 9/10
Smoke & Mirrors: 9/10
Volition: 9/10
Come To Life: 10/10
O That I Had: 8/10
Water To Ice: 11/10
Odyssey: 10/10
Moonlight: 9/10
Bendigo: 8/10
Young: 10/10
Goodnight: 8/10
Hazy: 7/10

Only the 3rd best debut album this year, yet she’s one of my favourite discoveries of the year. If you’ve been in the BJSC forum, then you’ll have noticed my obsession over Kiwi singer Ruby Frost, an electro-pop singer with a stunning, stunning album. Porcupine opens the record up (#seyetanrejectvictory) to a rousing chorus (I entered her two times so I got pretty into her), followed a few tracks later by the wonderful Come To Life – which has an excellent live studio recording linked in the title – and my favourite of the album tracks by some distance. Water To Ice is the highlight of the record (#3 smash in New Zealand *.*), but other singles Odyssey and Young (2nd and 5th respectively) hold the album up immensely. It’s very consistent all the way through and I’d highly recommend giving this a listen if you like electro-pop of any sort. (and I would repeat that recommendation, particularly all the 10/10s)


ALBUM #4
COVER DRIVE – BAJAN STYLE (lmao of course, I did enjoy these guys rather a bit too much, though I don’t quite regret it)

Twilight: 10/10
Lick Ya Down: 8/10
Headphones: 8/10
That Girl: 7/10
Sparks: 11/10
Explode: 10/10
Wrongside: 9/10
Can’t Live In A World: 8/10
Hurricane: 9/10
I Know You Too Well: 10/10

#4 is about the highest I can get away with putting Cover Drive’s debut album (and I was self aware about it), but I do really enjoy it. There are a few factors that will almost always make me love music – coming from Barbados (and therefore singing with that accent) is one of them. Singles aside, because they’ll be covered later on, as an album, it really lives up to it’s title by being Bajan, and having a lot of style. Hurricane and Wrongside are two excellent examples of how much they gel as a band – and while their fame may be fleeting, it should really last a bit longer as I think there’s a lot of room for them to grow and become ‘Rihanna with a band’ (but they would not become this of course, have you even heard the name for 4 years, or at all?). I Know You Too Well is a glorious way to finish off the record – and while it’s a long way below the top 3, it’s been a fantastic experience listening to it.

ALBUM #3

LANA DEL REY – BORN TO DIE + PARADISE (I’m just going to let this speak for itself, I did pretty good on it and I don’t disagree with anything too much here)

Born To Die: 10/10
Off To The Races: 9/10
Blue Jeans: 9/10
Video Games: 7/10
Diet Mountain Dew: 9/10
National Anthem: 10/10
Dark Paradise: 10/10
Radio: 9/10
Carmen: 7/10
Million Dollar Man: 8/10
Summertime Sadness: 9/10
This Is What Makes Us Girls: 9/10
Lolita: 7/10
Without You: 8/10
Ride: 11/10
American: 7/10
Cola (Pussy): 9/10
Body Electric: 8/10
Blue Velvet: 9/10
Gods And Monsters: 8/10
Yayo: 6/10
Bel Air: 7/10

Based on only Video Games, Lana Del Rey’s album was certainly not one I was really expecting to enjoy this much – blasphemy ahead, but I always found that extremely overrated. However it quickly showed itself to be a false downer, with the premiere of Born To Die, everything Lana touched began to be amazing (Video Games is legitimately one of the weakest on the album). I keep forgetting just how many beautiful tracks the main album has on it, from the slow beauty of Summertime Sadness and Dark Paradise, to the relative highs of National Anthem and This Is What Makes Us Girls, Lana delivers almost perfectly on each of them – and as a result has made the best debut album of the year – what a way to burst onto the scene. The Paradise EP was not one that ESPECIALLY needed to be done but it did bring out her best track in Ride – the rest of it I could really take or leave – or just fit the best other two onto the main album.
Incredible album, it’s hard to believe there’s something that could beat her – but there are, there are 2.

ALBUM #2

MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS – ELECTRA HEART (I’ll allow this too, it’s very good although Marina’s first album is slightly better, but I do really enjoy all the songs on there as shown)

Bubblegum Bitch: 10/10
Primadonna: 10/10
Lies: 9/10
Homewrecker: 9/10
Starring Role: 9/10
The State Of Dreaming: 9/10
Power & Control: 9/10
Living Dead: 9/10
Teen Idle: 10/10
Valley Of The Dolls: 8/10
Hypocrates: 9/10
Fear And Loathing: 9/10 (maybe the best track, I do disagree with some of these 10 allocations, should be Lies and Hypocrates rather than Primadonna and Bubblegum Bitch)
Radioactive: 9/10
Sex Yeah: 9/10
Lonely Hearts Club: 8/10
Buy The Stars: 10/10

Yeah, that’s correct. While scoring these, I only found TWO tracks underneath 9/10. Electra Heart is almost almost perfect. It doesn’t have a HUGE HUGE standout (although I suppose the best is Primadonna) so I haven’t given a 11/10. The whole album is so internally consistent – not one bad track at all – very unusual even for albums in this top 10, that it’s hard for me to imagine it as anything less than a perfect album – and it came very close to my #1. This year I really got into Marina proper – I bought The Family Jewels as well and I almost played it more than this – can’t remember which is more played right now, will check last.fm later. (The Family Jewels is almost certainly more played now)

I love Marina. There’s a distinctiveness to her voice that certainly elevates her tracks above the majority of what’s out there. Earned.

ALBUM #1

NIGHTWISH – IMAGINAERUM (BEAUTIFUL #1, I am again not going to say anything that would ruin this, aside from maybe point out something on the scores, because this is still one of my favourite ever albums)

Taikatalvi: 9/10
Storytime: 10/10
Ghost River: 10/10
Slow, Love, Slow: 9/10
I Want My Tears Back: 9/10
Scaretale: 7/10 (should be 9, it was the last track to really grow on me from this album, I love it as I do all the others now)
Arabesque: 8/10
Turn Loose The Mermaids: 11/10
Rest Calm: 10/10
The Crow, The Owl, And The Dove: 10/10
Last Ride Of The Day: 9/10
Song Of Myself: 9/10
Imaginaerum: 9/10

And here is where my looning (but as if stanning a metal band is anywhere near what most of this forum does with girlbands (hehehe)) goes into overdrive. While Imaginaerum is TECHNICALLY a 2011 album and was on my EOY list last year, this is the year where it has truly come into its own. I have listened to this album three times as much as any other album on this list over the last year – so it’s kinda justified and there was never going to be ANYTHING else. Taikatalvi is a rare Finnish track that leads perfectly into lead single Storytime – itself giving a fairly good lead in to the batshit crazy Ghost River (the closest the album ever gets to metal) and from there it’s a smorgasbord of genre diversity. Slow, Love, Slow is a jazzy lounge midtempo, Arabesque an interesting atmospheric instrumental, Turn Loose The Mermaids a haunting Celtic ballad, The Crow, The Owl And The Dove an almost all-out pop song and Last Ride Of The Day, by the band’s own admission, meant to capture the feelings of being on a rollercoaster. And just when that’s not enough, the album closer is an instrumental that is a smooth medley of most of the instrumentals on the album. I may be overhyping these but they are all really lovely songs and I’ve been looning for them all most of the year. Done for a film released only a couple of months ago, it really is the best album I’ve been enjoying all of this year. Symphonic Metal UP and we thank you for reading along. (and Backfill will return in a couple of days, this thing is partly helping me reach one post a day and I owe it that)

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