I love music. As I’m a songwriter, this should come as a surprise to no one. I also like to share my opinions, as anyone who knows me can attest. It only seems natural to share my critical analysis of my favorite albums of 2016. This year hasn’t been the best, but some great music has come out of it anyway.
If you don’t see your favorite album, let me know what it is in the comments.
Without further ado, in order of release, here are my favorite albums of 2016.
Sia – This Is Acting (January 29)
Sia isn’t your conventional artist. After penning hits for Rihanna, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Beyonce, Sia soared to superstardom by working with established artists such as David Guetta and Flo Rida. With the takeoff of her solo career, Sia hid her identity behind an over-the-top wig while letting dancers take the spotlight on stage. It might seem gimmicky, but Sia is actually quite serious about privacy. Not to mention, every artistic decision surrounding this is well thought out, if a little bizarre.
“Cheap Thrills” has been overplayed on the radio to the point of annoyance, however, This Is Acting provides eleven other tracks the radio isn’t playing. Their mistake.
Really all of the tracks are worth checking out, but I have three standouts. “Alive” is the second track, and was featured on the movie “Fifth Wave.” “Bird Set Free” and “Unstoppable,” featured on “The Shallows” and “Queen of Katwe” respectively, are two more great power ballads.
The deluxe edition of the album gave us “The Greatest,” which features rapper extraordinare, Kendrick Lamar. “Confetti” is another track on the deluxe edition I highly recommend.
Lindsey Stirling – Brave Enough (August 19)
Lindsey Stirling is one of the few modern instrumentalists who has been able to make a career as a solo artist. Her third album, Brave Enough, is brimming with not only instrumental tracks, combining modern EDM with skillful violin, but also with feature artists such as Christina Perri, Lecrae, and Dan + Shay.
Lindsey has established herself as an entertaining and honest personality through her Youtube videos. Her first video for one of her Brave Enough tracks “The Arena,” is visually stunning, and the soundtrack sounds like the iconic score for a blockbuster franchise. “Where Do We Go?,” featuring Carah Faye, lead singer of Shinny Toy Guns, speaks a bit to Stirling’s Mormon faith lyrically. The track displays some of Lindsey’s more pop sensibilities and could easily rival anything on the radio.
“Those Days,” featuring the country duo Dan + Shay, is a more relaxed, less produced track. Along with “Something Wild” (featured on the live adaptation of Pete’s Dragon), “Those Days” allows the rustic beauty of Lindsey’s violin to shine through. I also recommend giving “Gavi’s Song,” “Love’s Just a Feeling,” and “Don’t Let This Feeling Fade” a listen.
OneRepublic – Oh My My (October 7)
OneRepublic has been making the charts since 2008 with the release of “Apologize.” Ryan Tedder, lead singer and songwriter, has penned various hits over his career, including Beyonce’s “Halo,” Adele’s “Rumor Has It,” and Ellie Goulding’s “Burn.” Ryan’s also written OneRepublic hits such as “Good Life” and “Counting Stars.”
Their new album has sixteen tracks to choose from, many of which will probably find their way into the Hot 100 Charts. “Kids” is hands-down my favorite track on the album. It’s fun, upbeat, and has a sort of wispy, nostalgic aspect to it. OneRepublic has proven itself a master of layering, especially in percussion, which shines through in “All These Things” The other released single, “Wherever I Go,” is another one of my favorites. I also recommend listening to “Future Looks Good,” “Fingertips,” and “Human.”
Britt Nicole (October 7)
The self-titled fourth album from the Christian pop artist has been long-awaited. Britt soared to new levels of success with her album Gold, which had several tracks cross over onto pop radio and mainstream movies. After the success of Gold, Britt took a few years off to get married and start a family.
The first single off the album “Through Your Eyes” is in step with much of Britt’s previous works lyrically, while offering some much-needed fresh perspective. Musically, it holds up against anything in Top 40. Tracks like “All the Money” and “Fallin’ In Love” give the album some fun dance beats amidst towering ballads like “After You” and “Concrete.” I also recommend listening to “Better”, “Pave”, and “No Filter,” if only for their lyrical quality.
JohnnySwim – Georgica Pond (October 14)
I fell in love with this folksy, husband-wife duo at one of their concerts my senior year of college. Johnnyswim is the kind of band you tell your friends you’re into just to seem cool and deep, but I really do love them. Their new album is full of the sultry harmonies and acoustic riffs they’re known for. The balance between raspy and melodic, indie and pop sensibility, is perfect, as always.
My recommended tracks for this album include “Summertime Romance,” “Villains,” and “Let It Matter.” The only reason you need is the harmonies, but the lyrics and slick guitar playing don’t hurt either.
Chris Quilala isn’t a household name, but you may recognize his worship team Jesus Culture. The worship band has become a global phenomenon since their first album release in 2005, giving us worship songs such as Holy Spirit and Your Love Never Fails. Chris has been at the forefront of the movement, along with Kim Walker-Smith, since its inception. This is the first solo project Quilala has undertaken, and it’s a masterpiece.
The ethereal tracks and Chris’s gentle tenor combine, creating a heavenly sound in every song. The lyrical strength of songs like Because of Your Love and The Length of the Cross captivate the listener. Tracks like Reign and After My Heart give off some 1980’s vibes, while Encounter and All To You reiterate the Jesus Culture sound.
So those are my picks for best albums of 2016, at least some of them. There are many more that I love, but I couldn’t put them all here, or we’d be here all day.
Check them out and tell what you think!
What are your favorite albums of 2016? Let me know in the comments!