Let's face it...2016 was the year we'd all like to forget. (Can we ask for a do-over?) It was a year full of disheartening headlines, and just when you thought we'd end on a good note....November smacked you in the face one last time. When the going gets tough, though, there is one thing we all count on: music. Here are my favorite albums of 2016, the ones that held me tight when I wanted to tune the world out most.
15. The Colour in Anything, James Blake
English singer/songwriter James Blake gave me all the feels on The Colour in Anything, an album that seems most fitting on a thoughtful rainy day. Blake has the vocal ability of Sam Smith, but it's his innovation sonically on this record that really catches your ear. Wonder what I'm talking about? Listen to "Put That Away and Talk to Me."
14. Out of the Shadows, Callie Hopper
Callie Hopper is one of the best discoveries of 2016. This album shows off her songwriting chops, which are far beyond than her twenty years on this earth.
13. Big Mess, Grouplove
Grouplove is generally best experienced live. Their energetic personas help breathe a new life into their music on stage. Yet, Big Mess is a rare record where you can rock out just as hard alone in your bedroom.
12. Last Year Was Complicated, Nick Jonas
Admittedly, I was late to the Nick Jonas party. Like a true hipster, I refused to give a Jonas brother a chance. Then "Close" feat. Tove Lo happened, and I fell down the Jonas rabbit hole. Quickly, "Bacon" feat. Ty Dolla $ign became one of my regular jams, and the rest of the album feels like a Timberlake-esque adventure, which I love. Nick Jonas is no longer a teen heartthrob- this record solidifies his place as a pop prince-in-waiting.
11. The Driver, Charles Kelley
Anyone who has listened to country radio in the last few years knows exactly who Grammy Award-winning group Lady Antebellum is. Charles Kelley is 1/3 of Lady A, and his debut solo album is some of his best work yet. "Leaving Nashville" is the most relatable song about Music City in years, and this seemingly classic record features mega stars like Stevie Nicks, Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley. This is songwriting at its best.
10. Views, Drake
When Drake wasn't making headlines for a beyond adorable Apple commercial singing Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" or dating Rihanna, he was busy releasing another hit record. Any song that references Cheesecake Factory (Why you gotta fight with me at Cheesecake/You know I love to go there) automatically makes me love Drake even more. Drake even toyed with a new sound on this album, particularly with "One Dance," and he's never sounded better.
9. Something Worth Saving, Gavin Degraw
Gavin Degraw could sing the phone book, and I'd buy it. Gavin's soulful voice essentially makes him the Class Favorite of music, and he's one of the nicest people on the planet. "Kite Like Girl" and "Making Love with the Radio On" are the kind of happy ditties this year truly needed.
8. The Hamilton Mixtape, Various Artists
The only person that rivaled Beyonce's year was Lin-Manuel Miranda, who constantly made waves during 2016. He broke records with the ticket sales of Hamilton, hosted everyone from President Obama to Hillary Clinton, and wrote songs for Disney's Moana. This mixtape is a smorgasbord of current music's finest talent performing Hamilton. It. Is. Perfection. And almost nothing felt as timely as the release of "Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)."
7. The Suffers, The Suffers
I will forever remember the first time I saw The Suffers perform live. I was standing side stage at their Voodoo Fest performance, and from the first time lead singer Kam Franklin opened her mouth, I had chills. She is simultaneously ground breaking and a throwback, and the 10-person band brings a whole extra layer of soul.
6. Revolution Radio, Green Day
Politically outspoken Green Day released their first album in four years, and it was the best example of music rising to the occasion. Revolution Radio is incredibly powerful, with an energy that makes you feel like Green Day are just as excited to be back as the fans are.
5. It Doesn't Have to Make Sense, Ingrid Michaelson
I've loved Ingrid Michaelson for almost a decade (you know, when none of us could get "The Way I Am" out of our heads for anything), and this is, by far, her best body of work to date. As a whole, the album is incredibly cohesive, boasts poetic and moving songwriting, and her voice is nothing short of an instrument. Her vocal control alone leaves you in disbelief.
4. Starboy, The Weeknd
The Weeknd can do no wrong, as evidenced by his slew of back-to-back unconventional hits. Nothing on the radio ever sounds like his singles, and six months later, as he evolves into something else, everyone else is releasing mere imitations. He's an innovator, and Starboy pays ample homage to the XO record while still pushing forward. Wait for it..."Party Monster" will end up being one of the biggest hits of 2017.
3. 11 Blocks, Wrabel
Okay, so this technically is not an album- it's a single. But to not mention Wrabel in my countdown of this year's most impressive would be doing you, the reader, a disservice. Mark my words- Wrabel is next year's biggest breakout artist. The honesty conveyed in "11 Blocks" is stunning, and his voice is simply...perfection.
2. Anti, Rihanna
Risks like Anti are few and far between for established hitmakers like Rihanna, and this was a rare occasion where it paid off. Rihanna strayed away from her Top 40 mainstays to create an album that establishes Rihanna as an artist. While Rihanna will always be known for her sexiness, it's the depth in this record that stands out the most. She also pushes the envelope with the production, making her one of the top contenders at the 2017 Grammys.
1. Lemonade, Beyonce
Queen Bey surprised the world yet again with Lemonade, a mic-dropping visual album that came to slay. She dabbles in rock alongside Jack White and dips her toes in country music with "Daddy Lessons," all the while making the R&B album of the century. Whether it was really about Jay-Z's affair with Becky with the good hair or just an incredibly genius fictional narrative about a woman scorned, this record is not only the best of this year, but maybe the decade.