ON THE 5TH DAY OF CHRISTMAS ENDXRPHIN BRINGS YOU: ZAV’S FAV ALBUMS OF 2016

It’s the fifth day of Christmas, which means it’s my turn to tell you my favorite albums of 2016. Although we can all agree we realized Too Much in 2016, we also realized some amazing albums that made this year somewhat tolerable.

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5. Anti – Rihanna

“Where’s R8?” was a question that many people were asking in 2015, but Rihanna finally delivered and did she deliver. This album, in my opinion is her most mature and best album to date, unlike some of her previous albums, which seemed more like a series of singles this one demonstrates her versatility. Rihanna is a commercial success as we saw with another Calvin Harris feature “This Is What You Came For,” but Rihanna proved to the world that she can create a well put together album. Anti has heavy elements of trap mostly in the first half of the album and then gets softer towards the end with more ballad-esque songs such as “Never Ending.” Overall, the versatility and cohesion makes this a truly great album and it was a great way to kick off 2016 music wise. Highlights: Consideration, Kiss It Better, Same Ol’ Mistakes, Love on the Brain, and Close to You.

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4. Sting – Stellar

Although this is only a mini-album, it was too good to not include. This not very well-known Korean girl group had a “comeback” with their song “Sting” which drew my attention first. “Sting,” the lead single, was influenced by tropical house, a genre I particularly enjoy, but the background instrumentations made this song a true gem with the subtle horns. In comparison to most K-pop albums, this album actually pays attention to cohesion and the creation of an actual album, not a series of singles to sell the best. The introductory song “Do You Hear Me?” leads into “Sting” perfectly as it uses some of the production to show the listener bits of the song. This short album illustrates this small girl group’s dedication to music such as with “Cinderella” which was written by the leader Gayoung. (An uncommon thing in the K-pop world.) Highlights: Sting and Insomnia

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3. Freetown Sound – Blood Orange

Blood Orange returns with an amazing album that brings to light some social issues all while creating a soulful pop album. He mostly produces and writes for other people such as Solange, but his solo music is just as good, if not better than the music he produces as Dev Hynes. Songs such as “Desirée” highlight the more soulful, R&B sound while “Best to You” is pop perfection with it’s dreamy synths. This album brings up contemporary issues such as in “Hands Up” with samples from an interview with Vince Staples. This album just has the feeling of a solid album, because it is. I had never listened to any of Blood Orange’s music before this but I am now a fan of his work. Highlights: Best to You, Desirée, Hands Up, Juicy 1-4, and Better Than Me

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2. A Seat at the Table – Solange

Solange returns, four years after the release of her True EP with a truly ethereal work of art. Solange has made drastic changes in her music styles over the years as she started with mainstream pop, to indie pop, to now psychedelic soul. This new soul sound fits her the best, with her gentle but sometimes harsh voice. This album features interludes to explain the creation of the songs, making for a true artistic experience. Tracks such as “F.U.B.U.” and “Don’t Touch My Hair” demonstrate the pride she has in her blackness as the former song stands for “for us by us” illustrating this is her people’s music and she’s proud of it. Highlights: Weary, Cranes in the Sky, Don’t Touch My Hair, F.U.B.U., and Scales

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1. Lemonade – Beyoncé

It comes as no shock from a member of the BeyHive that Lemonade would be my favorite album from 2016, but I try to judge these with the least amount of bias. Lemonade truly impacted the world, culturally especially with the controversy caused from “Formation” and with the “becky with the good hair.” She created an album with so many genres from rock to country to R&B to pop. Beyoncé makes her most innovative album and I absolutely love it

Honorable Mentions: Nightride by Tinashe, I Just Wanna Dance Tiffany, Street by EXID, Dangerous Woman  by Ariana Grande, Don’t You by Wet, This is What the Truth Feels Like by Gwen Stefani,  HANA by Hana, The Velvet by Red Velvet, and Vroom Vroom by Charl

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