Thursday, December 30, 2010

Personal Airplay, top 100 of 2010

For the second year in a row, Lady Gaga tops my year-end personal chart. Only this year she only nabs one entry, whereas last year she scored three ("Poker Face," "Just Dance" and "Paparazzi"). Rihanna and Katy Perry also return to my top 10, both their first appearances since 2008, while B.o.B. scores to singles in my top 10.

# PK Title - Artist
1. (1) Telephone - Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce (10 wks @ #1)
2. (1) California Gurls - Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg (9 wks @ #1)
3. (1) Love the Way You Lie - Eminem feat. Rihanna (6 wks @ #1)
4. (2) Airplanes - B.o.B. feat. Hayley Williams
5. (1) Nothin' on You - B.o.B. feat. Bruno Mars (2 wks @ #1)
6. (1) OMG - Usher feat. (2 wks @ #1)
7. (2) Rude Boy - Rihanna
8. (1) All Night Long - Alexandra Burke (1 wk @ #1)
9. (1) Just the Way You Are - Bruno Mars (2 wks @ #1)
10. (1) Tik ToK - Ke$ha (6 wks @ #1)

11. (2) Teenage Dream - Katy Perry
12. (2) Billionaire - Travie McCoy feat. Bruno Mars
13. (2) Alejandro - Lady Gaga
14. (3) Pass Out - Tinie Tempah
15. (1) Fuck You! - Cee Lo Green (2 wks @ #1)
16. (3) Need You Now - Lady Antebellum
17. (2) Pack Up - Eliza Doolittle
18. (2) Only Girl (In the World) - Rihanna
19. (2) Replay - Iyaz
20. (4) Dancing On My Own - Robyn

21. (1) Get Outta My Way - Kylie Minogue (2 wks @ #1)
22. (5) She Said - Plan B
23. (2) Firework - Katy Perry
24. (2) Do You Remember - Jay Sean feat. Sean Paul & Lil Jon
25. (2) Dynamite - Taio Cruz
26. (1) The Flood - Take That (7 wks @ #1)
27. (4) Dirty Picture - Taio Cruz
28. (5) Getting Over You - David Guetta feat. Fergie, Chris Willis & LMFAO
29. (4) Hollywood - Marina and the Diamonds
30. (2) Starry Eyed - Ellie Goulding

31. (2) We Speak No Americano - Yolanda feat. D Cup
32. (8) Missing You - The Saturdays
33. (2) I'm in Love (I Wanna Do It) - Alex Guadino
34. (3) Ridin Solo - Jason DeRulo
35. (7) I Am Not a Robot - Marina and the Diamonds
36. (3) Written in the Stars - Tinie Tempah
37. (2) Start without You - Alexandra Burke
38. (1) Fireflies - Owl City (2 wks @ #1)
39. (3) Opposite of Adults - Chiddy Bang
40. (4) Just Be Good to Green - Professor Green feat. Lily Allen

41. (1) Magic - B.o.B. feat. Cuomo Rivers
42. (4) Beautiful Monster - Ne-Yo
43. (5) All the Lovers - Kylie Minogue
44. (10) Ego - The Saturdays
45. (2) If We Ever Meet Again - Timbaland feat. Katy Perry
46. (9) She's Always a Woman - Fyfe Dangerfield
47. (2) Why Don't You - Gramophondzie
48. (1) What's My Name? - Rihanna feat. Drake (2 wks @ #1)
49. (3) Good Times - Roll Deep
50. (4) Promise This - Cheryl Cole

51. (5) Happiness - Alexis Jordan
52. (6) Guns and Horses - Ellie Goulding
53. (3) Dirtee Disco - Dizzee Rascal
54. (5) Broken Heels - Alexandra Burke
55. (5) Raise Your Glass - P!nk
56. (1) Bad Romance - Lady Gaga (2 wks @ #1)
57. (8) Barbra Streisand - Duck Sauce
58. (3) Rock that Body - Black Eyed Peas
59. (5) BedRock - Young Money feat. Young Lloyd
60. (4) I Like It - Enrique Iglasias feat. Pitbull

61. (8) Well, Well, Well - Duffy
62. (5) Te Amo - Rihanna
63. (3) Carry Out - Timbaland feat. Justin Timberlake
64. (2) Please Don't Let Me Go - Olly Murs
65. (6) Memories - David Guetta feat. Kid Cudi
66. (6) Until You Were Gone - Chipmunk feat. Esmee Denters
67. (1) Commander - Kelly Rowland feat. David Guetta
68. (8) Green Light - Roll Deep
69. (2) Not Afraid - Eminem
70. (6) Shame - Robbie Williams & Gary Barlow

71. (8) Right Thru Me - Nicki Minaj
72. (9) Radioactive - Kings of Leon
73. (4) Doubt - Delphic
74. (7) What If - Jason DeRulo
75. (5) I Need You Tonight - Professor Green feat. Ed Drewett
76. (8) Kickstars - Example
77. (7) Frisky - Tinie Tempah feat. Labrinth
78. (9) Heartbeat - Enrique Iglasias feat. Nicole Scherzinger
79. (8) In My Head - Jason DeRulo
80. (8) Kings and Queens - 30 Seconds to Mars

81. (7) On to the Next One - Jay-Z feat. Swizz Beatz
82. (7) Hey Soul Sister - Train
83. (4) I Got You - Leona Lewis
84. (10) This Ain't a Love Song - Scouting for Girls
85. (8) According to You - Orianthi
86. (3) Find Your Love - Drake
87. (2) Watcha Say - Jason DeRulo
88. (13) Check it Out - feat. Nicki Minaj & Cheryl Cole
89. (11) Heart Vacancy - The Wanted
90. (5) Hard - Rihanna

91. (4) Your Song - Ellie Goulding
92. (6) The Silence - Alexandra Burke
93. (12) All Time Low - The Wanted
94. (14) Drop the World - Lil Wayne feat. Eminem
95. (4) Hang with Me - Robyn
96. (10) Poison - Nicole Scherzinger
97. (8) Acapella - Kelis
98. (1) Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys (1 wk @ #1)
99. (10) Blah Blah Blah - Ke$ha
100. (12) Your Love - Nicki Minaj

Personal Chart #1's

Here are my personal chart's #1's this year:

1. Tik Tok - Kesha (6 wks @ #1)
2. Telephone - Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce (10 wks @ #1)
3. OMG - Usher (2 wks @ #1)
4. Nothin' on You - B.o.B. (2 wks @ #1)
5. All Night Long - Alexandra Burke (1 wk @ #1)
6. California Gurls - Katy Perry 9 wks @ #1)
7. Cammander - Kelly Rowland (1 wk @ #1)
8. Love the Way You Lie (6 wks @ #1)
9. Get Outta My Way - Kylie Minogue (2 wks @ #1)
10. Just the Way You Are - Bruno Mars (2 wks @ #1)
11. Fuck You! - Cee Lo Green (2 wks @ #1)
12. Magic - B.o.B. feat. Cuomo Rivers (1 wk @ #1)
13. The Flood - Take That (7 wks @ #1)
14. What's My Name? - Rihanna (2 wks @ #1)

Billboard Hot 100, January 8, 2011

1. Grenade - Bruno Mars
2. Firework - Katy Perry
(10. Just the Way You Are - Bruno Mars)

Dethroning Katy Perry's "Firework," from #1 is R&B crooner Burno Mars' "Grenade," which moves a notch to the pinnacle this week, scoring Mars' his 2nd solo chart-topper and his third overall; selling a massive 559k copies this week; a personal sales best for the singer as well as one of the biggest one-week sales for a single ever. Trailing closely behind is Perry who's "Firework" dips a spot to #2, however still remains bulleted, selling a just as impressive 509k copies. Both singles join the ranks of Flo Rida's "Right Round" which moved a heavy 636k units last last year and Kesha's "Tik Tok," which did a cumbersome 610k a year ago today (the same week Lady Gaga missed a chance #1, selling 450k of "Bad Romance") as the biggest one-week sales for an American single. "Grenade" is also this weeks airplay gainer. Mars also rounds out the top 10 bookending with "Just the Way You Are," which falls 4 spots to #10.

3. We R Are Who We R - Kesha

Kesha returns to the top 3 with "We R Who We R," re-bounding 5-3. I'm expecting to begin to fall in the next few weeks as its lost its bullet over on Mediabase; although I'm predicting a very tedious fall as its still in the top 3 on iTunes.

4. What's My Name? - Rihanna feat. Drake
5. Raise Your Glass - P!nk

Both Rihanna's "What's My Name?" and P!nk's "Raise Your Glass," fall down a notch but still remain bulleted. Both singles still in the top 10 on Top 40 Airplay as well as iTunes.

6. Black and Yellow - Wiz Khalifa

American rapper Wiz Khalifa scores his first top 10 with "Black and Yellow," it's the lead single from his forthcoming third album, currently untitled climbing 6 spots up to #6. The closest Khalifa had gotten to a charting single on the Hot 100 was with his single "Say Yeah" in 2007, which peaked at #12 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 (the equivalent to #112 on here). Is these ones of those novelty American hip-hop tracks that will find its way over to the UK after being such as success here? Is Wiz the B.o.B. of 2011?

7. Tonight (I'm Loving You) - Enrique Iglasias feat. Ludacris & DJ Frank E

Enrique Iglasias is having quite the chart-comeback, following his first top 10 in years with "I Like It," featuring Pitbull last chart year, Iglasias has scored another with "Tonight (I'm Loving You" which leaps a solid 6 spots up to #7. It's his 5th top 10.

30. I Just Had Sex - The Lonley Island feat. Akon

Comedic American trio The Lonely Island land their first top 40 single with "I Just Had Sex" with Akon, a SNL comedy sketch turned top 40 hit. The last couple appearances on the chart was with T-Pain on "I'm on a Boat" which peaked at #56 in 2009 and "Jizz in my Pants" which peaked at #72 the year before (I'm surprised it didn't peak higher than that, I remember it being so popular).

39. Rocketeer - Far*East Movement feat. Ryan Teddar

American electro-hop quartet land their second top 40 hit "Rocketeer," rising 2 spots up to #39. Can this be as big as "Like a G6"? It features OneRepublic front-man Ryan Teddar.

Personal Airplay, December 30, 2010

TW (LW) Title - Artist
1. (1) What's My Name? - Rihanna feat. Drake (2 weeks @ #1)
2. (2) Grenade - Bruno Mars
3. (5) Raise Your Glass - P!nk
4. (6) Hold My Hand - Michael Jackson feat. Akon
5. (7) When We Colide - Matt Cardle
6. (3) The Flood - Take That
7. (4) Your Song - Ellie Goulding
8. (8) Right Thru Me - Nicki Minaj
9. (15) Lights On - Katy B feat. Ms. Dynamite
10. (9) Firework - Katy Perry

Monday, December 27, 2010

Best Albums of 2010

This year I reviewed around 50 albums, quite a bit more than the amount I've done in the last 2 years. Below is my 30 best albums of 2010, albums that missed the mark and albums that just plain sucked. There were quite a lot of albums I really enjoyed this year, however for me British rapper Plan B delivered the years best album. Click on the album art to see the full reviews.

The 30 Best Albums of 2010

1. Plan B - The Defamation of Strickland Banks. For his second album British rapper Plan B adopted a new personality, Strickland Banks, ditching the foul-mouthed grime of his debut for a more exquisite blend of old-school soul and motown. From its sleek production to its gripping storyline to its daring lyrics, Plan B nurtured a successful transformation, delivering a winning body of work, thus delivering the best album of the year. What I said: "Its solid mix of soul, R&B, jazz and hip-hop sure does not disappoint." Best track: She Said.

2. The National - High Violet. I described The National's fifth album High Violet as a "dizzying clash of rock-orientated sounds" almost re-calling the same grungy rock as Arcade Fire. It's the unusually driven alternative rock that I love. The Brooklyn based band delivered a wildly gripping set built around that sound, it was also the years biggest grower for me. What I said: "strange but gripping fifth album--one of the more interesting albums I've heard all year." Best: Sorrow.

3. KT Tunstall - Tiger Suit. Scottish acoustic-pop singer KT Tunstall delivered a phenomenal third album. Pursing a more edgier take on the acoustic rock sound than her first two, languished with layers of folkish pop, alternative rock and techno-ish dance influences, Tunstall capitalized on fun ("Come On Get In") subtlety ("Still A, Weirdo") and intrigue ("Golden Frames") tying her work together with a wall of lyrical depth. What I said: "a fun record without having to weigh in too much on risk taking and pushing the envelope but just delivering an enjoyable strong set." Best: Uummannaq Song.

4. Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid (Suits II & III). As eclectic as ever, American singer Janelle Monae delivered a monster debut, sewing together influences from pop, R&B, rock, hip-hop and old school funk. It's an ambitious set, admittedly at times too ambitious, but enough of it strikes the right chords for it to be a winning mix of different and interesting sounds and the most well-rounded modern R&B album I've heard in awhile. What I said: "cohesive and generally consistent without the dramatic switches in genres seeming overwhelming." Best: Tightrope.

5. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Following the experimental detours of 808's & Heartbreak, American rapper Kanye West returned to prominence with this daring set, weaving together both sounds stemming from both the experimental outlook on hip-hop as well as well-crafted beats with a commanding lyrical approach, in fact making this his best effort since 2005's Late Registration. What I said: "West reigns as one of world’s greatest lyricists and another thing that hasn’t changed is I still think he’s a douche." Best: Monster

6. Delphic - Acolyte. Alternative dance band Delphic was my favorite discovery this year (sorry Two Door Cinema Club), delivering a captivating spur of upbeat rock lined with cool climatic electronic undertones, some tracks too lengthy for their own good (but its all in the dance-studded fun) through their widely impressive debut Acolyte. What I said: "A very unique sound interesting enough to spawn a solid full-length album whilst still captivating my interest." Best: This Momentary.

7. The Roots - How I Got Over. American hip-hop band The Roots's ninth album was a refreshing listen. It's not the archetypal beats and lyrics of today's generic hip-hop, they find their spark with more complex arrangements as well as throwback to the old school, exuding a vintage sense of hip-hop. Like I said in my review, nine albums deep in their career, The Roots deserve to be put on the same pedestal as Jay-Z and Eminem, especially when they are arguably churning out better work than the both combined. What I said: "sometimes complex arrangements, exuding a more vintage sense of hip-hop." Best: Right On.

8. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs. Canadian rock band Arcade Fire followed up their dark critically acclaimed second album, with a richer, brighter more varied indulge in rock, delivering a nostalgic warp of confined rock as well as showcasing different approaches to the genre. What I said: "deliveres a varied, coherent set—more musically interesting." Best: Ready to Start.

9. Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday. American rapper Nicki Minaj flew the flag for female rappers this year, ultimately rehashing the whole perception; pink wigs, comical rapping styles, attitude tied in with a commercial egde illustrated with this highly anticipated debut which put her behind Lauryn Hill as the female rapper with the biggest first week sales. What I said: "in-all it’s an admirable set, a sturdy balance of hip-hop and pop." Best: Save Me

10. Hurts - Happiness. Synth-pop duo delivered an electrifying debut, showcasing a charming blend of soundscapes, synths and dance beats re-calling the sounds of '80s pop. It's another that wasn't really a critics favorite despite hot tipping prior, but I sure loved it. What I said: "it's consistent as nearly every track is a winner and a good handful are knockouts." Best: Better Than Love

11. Maroon 5 - Hands All Over. Maroon 5 took the laid back pop/rock of their debut Songs About Jane and the confident outlook of its follow up It Won't Be Soon Until Long to make their most well-rounded offering to date, their third Hands All Over. Clambering with upbeat funk, pop, rock and even some country thrown in the mix. What I said: "winning mix of both a confident and solid bowl of fun upbeat funk, pop, rock and even a bit of country." Best: Misery.

12. Kylie Minogue - Aphrodite. For her eleventh album, Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue pursued her love for feel-good electro dance-pop, re-calling the same vibrance and fun as 2002's Fever. It's where she shines brightest, which is probably why the more urban/pop moments on 2008's X didn't work so well. What I said: "crammed with synths, upbeat fun electronic soundscapes and instrumentation's all eluding a sence of celebration." Best: Get Outta My Way.

13. Rihanna - Loud. Barbadian singer Rihanna's fifth album acted as cheerier counterpart to 2009's dark Rated R. It was frothier, happier and wildly optimistic underlined with a recurring theme of sex for that raw edge ultimately illustrating that she may be in a happy space right now, but she's still horny as hell ("S&M," "What's My Name?" and "Skin"). What I said: "acts as the perfect counterpart to Rated R, as well as being yet another solid pop album. " Best: California King Bed.

14. Mark Ronson & the Business Intl - Record Collection. British producer Mark Ronson, explored a more eclectic variety of sounds for his third album and whilst the '80s inspired pop were fun ("Bang Bang Bang") the album shined best the more experimental numbers ("Glass Mountain Thrust"). What I said: "deliverers the side of eclectic mix of sounds you would expect from a producer like Ronson." Best: Bang Bang Bang

15. Brandon Flowers - Flamingo. Critics may have passed on Killers frontman Brandon Flowers' debut but I loved it. It may have cut a bit close to the sound Flower's had already pursued with The Killers but ultimately was a solid body of work. Indulging in a stirring front of '80s new wave, synth-rock sheeted over layers of imperturbable pop influences. What I said: "It's just as good as anything the The Killers have put out." Best: Crossfire

16. Underworld - Barking. British house duo's Underworld delivered a fantastic psychedelic dance album. It was supposedly the most mainstream the duo had been in comparison to their seven other albums, but I loved their unearthly blend of different dance-oriented sounds. What I said: "It's very vibrant and fresh; ultimately a riveting dance album pulled over some cool pop influences." Best: Scribble.

17. Rumer - Seasons of My Soul. In a year chock-full of electro-pop and alternative rock, British singer Rumer's soulful debut was a refreshing switch-up in sound. Oozing with layers of enticing, sultry jazz as well as an emotional heart-warming outlook on bluesy folk re-calling the same relaxed atmospheric ambiance as Sade and Norah Jones. What I said: " warming blend of enticing soul and emotional outlooks on bluesy folk." Best: Slow.

18. Sade - Soldier of Love. Following 10 long years since their critically acclaimed fifth album, Lovers Rock, sultry four-piece Sade finally delivered its follow-up. Just as cooling and heart-warming as ever, subtly trailing its calming blend of soft-rock, atmospheric soul and R&B as well as exploring growth. What I said: "heart-warningly cooling, the harmonies and melodies still as captivating." Best: The Moon and the Sky.

19. Hot Chip - One Life Stand. English electro-pop five-piece explored softer and more serious sounds, successfully indulging in a light mix of alternative rock with electronic overtones, more personally appealing than 2008's critically acclaimed Made in the Dark. What I said: "evokes a more emotive feel through its more sonic surface." Best: I Feel Better.

20. Bombay Bicycle Club - Flaws. British alternative band Bombay Bicycle Club watered down their raw alternative rock sound for their second album, stripping away piercing electronic guitars to fathom more folk and complex acoustic guitar arrangements. What I said: "There's enough melody and cohesion to make this collection of tracks work and work well." Best: Rinse Me Down

21. Bruno Mars - Doo Wops & Hooligans. R&B crooner Bruno Mars had a stellar year, landing three massive hits ("Nothin' on You" and "Billionaire") as a guest vocalist and his own "Just the Way You Are" from his light reggae and pop-studded debut capitalizing on his increasing popularity. What I said: "The album lays on a thick slab of pop underlined with hints of Caribbean and reggae inspired flavor." Best: Just the Way You Are

22. Devlin - Bud, Sweat & Beets. London-based rapper Devlin delivered quite an invigorating debut re-calling the same aggressive stature as Plan B's debut, ignoring the hip-hop/electro-pop trend demonstrated by his peers such as Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah and sticking to his routes, rapping about the slums of London over relentless hip-hop beats. It's not that accessible but it's a worthy listen--even more so if you're into British hip-hop. What I said: "It's refreshing to see Devlin sticking to his roots for his debut." Best: Brainwashed.

23. Eminem - Recovery. As a genuine fan of Eminem, it was hard to ignore the apparent lack of quality in last years' Relapse. Thankfully this year he returned with a much more concrete body of work, although nothing that holds a candle to the rappers' glory days with The Marshal Mathers LP. What I said: "It's not brilliant as its current commercial success would suggest, but it does enough to patch up the gaps Relapse left." Best: Love the Way You Lie.

24. Eliza Doolittle - Eliza Doolittle. British singer Eliza Doolittle's self-titled debut packed in a big acoustic punch, packing in a cool laid back collection of coherent acoustic-pop, soul and folk. Lyrically blunt in the same vein as fellow British singer Kate Nash. What I said: "soulful collection of coherent acoustic-pop, soul and folk influenced songs." Best: Pack Up.

25. Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown. Showcasing a more dynamic approach to rock, American rock band Kings of Leon's fifth album still trailed the mainstream influences of 2008's Only By the Night; shimmering productions and alternative rock grandiose, only not as well--but there were still some good moments. What I said: " does showcase a more dynamic approach to rock than the last album." Best: Radioactive.

26. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma. I wasn't familiar with Californian producer Flying Lotus before, his third album was the first I'd really given a chance, illustrating different layers of stimulating experimental electronic fronts--it works more as an invigorating clash of interesting sounds than a solid body of work. What I said: "an interesting mix of sounds, not as groundbreaking as critics and fans alike seem to think." Best: A Cosmic Drama

27. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach. Whilst not as gripping as their self-titled debut nor as coherent as their last release Demon Days, animated alternative band Gorillaz still delivered an enjoyable set of songs shining particularly on the more on the more experimental sounds. What I said: "The Gorillaz sure delivered one heck of a third album and whether it's perfect or not doesn't matter as surely there is something here for either an experimental or hip-hop listener of the Gorillaz." Best: Stylo.

28. Drake - Thank Me Later. American rapper Drake was the year's most hotly tipped rapper however his debut album was more built around hype than substance, but did deliver a handful of decent tracks. It wasn't the hot rap record I was expecting but nothing too bad. What I said: ""doesn't necessarily present him to be a great rapper nor lyricist however appeal lies in his commanding of the beats he flows over and the solidarity of the tracks." Best: Find Your Love

29. The Wanted - The Wanted. I wasn't largely impressed with Britain's newest boyband The Wanted's debut album, however for the most part it did hit all the right notes, delivering a standard bag of bass-heavy pop with soaring melodies and harmonies; a handful of solid tracks. What I said: " standard bag of bass-heavy pop with soaring melodies and harmonies." Best: Replace Your Heart.

30. Tinie Tempah - Disc-Overy. While fellow British rap acts such Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Stryder mastered the art of successfully matching grime and chart-friendly rap/pop for their debuts, Tinie Tempah tampered with the formula, delivering a solid set of easy-listening (I say easy-listening...), radio-friendly pop. What I said: "delivering a handful of great pop -influenced tracks, which could land the rapper another batch of hits." Best: Pass Out.

Also recommended:
Yeasayer - Odd Blood
Duffy - Endlessly
Olly Murs
You Me at Six - Hold Me Down
Robyn - Body Talk, Pt. 1 (I wish I had gotten into Robyn a bit more, but that electro-pop sound is getting a bit worn-out now.)
Take That - Progress (I didn't get around to doing a review for this, but I did like it a lot although I didn't love it.)
Michael Jackson - Michael (Another absent review. I didn't like this as much as I'd hoped but it's a solid set.)

Other albums I reviewed, but wouldn't recommend:

Cheryl Cole - Messy Little Raindrops
Example - Won't Go Quietly
Joshua Radim - Simple Times
Kesha - Animal
Magnetic Man - Magnetic Man
Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark - History in Modern
Professor Green - Alive 'Til I'm Dead
Toni Braxton - Pulse
Tinchy Stryder - Third Strike

Albums that missed the mark:

Kate Nash - My Best Friend is You. Admittedly, I did really like this at first. It wasn't the fun of her first album Made of Bricks nor did it have the witty lyrical humor and cut-throat story telling that made that album such a joy, but Kate Nash's second album showcased growth and a rawer alternative feel, whilst for the most part I enjoyed it, I felt excluding the fun and wit shadowed over everything I found appealing about her in the first place. Best: Don't You Want to Share the Guilt?

Ellie Goulding - Lights. Topping BBC's Sounds of 2010 list, Ellie Goulding's debut Lights delivered a host of good shimmering electro dance-pop moments, but wasn't the solid pop it could have been and didn't quite match the quality of previous list-toppers Adele and Little Boots. Best: Starry Eyed.

Lady Antebellum - Need You Now. Country trio Lady Antebellum definitely banked on commercial success with their sophomore album, which was ultimately a more cohesive turnout than the self-titled debut and whilst it did deliver a handful of great numbers, I still didn't hear anything that separated them from their fellow country bands, such as Rascal Flatts and Dixie Chicks. Best: Need You Now.

The Script - Science & Faith. More lyrically compelling than their self-titled debut, but The Script failed to be more varied in their sound which ultimately made Science & Faith a boring record with the same rock/pop being re-hashed over and over again. Best: For the First Time.

Disappointing albums of the year:

Black Eyed Peas - The Beginning. Are you kidding me with this album?

Lil Wayne - Rebirth. Lil Wayne thought rapping odd lyrics over a mash of electronic guitars and drums would rightfully make this a successful rap/rock album. Wrong!

Usher - Raymond vs Raymond. It still fascinates me how Usher can go from releasing a knockout like Confessions to releasing two duds in a row.

Vampire Weekend - Contra. Not necessarily the biggest disappointment this year, but I didn't enjoy it as much as their self-titled debut. It came down to personal taste in the end.

Jason DeRulo - Jason DeRulo. I panned this for being a weak pop album, but I really enjoyed the singles and even some of the album cuts later on in the year but it's still a weak debut.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Album Reviews: British Hip-Hop

Dizzee Rascal and Chipmunk had British hip-hop covered last year, sharing a total of 6 top 10 hits between them. This year a new leading force, Tinie Tempah, ruled the charts, as well as newcomer Devlin (his mate painted my house once) meeting with positive reviews for his debut album. Here's a quick run though of British hip-hop albums I've been listening to recently:

Tinie Tempah – Disc-Overy (4/5). It seems every popular British hip-hop artist have mastered the art to creating a well-balanced album after they score their first hit—a heavy side of radio-friendly rap with catchy hooks matching it effectively with dark bass-heavy topical grime, re-calling their roots before the UK charts were kind to them. Tinie Tempah doesn't quite use that formula on here, everything on here is pretty fun, radio-friendly and untaxing. You already know the fun skittering beats of breakthrough hit “Pass Out,” blaring electronic undertones of “Frisky,” and the contemplative pop of “Written in the Stars,” however Tempah boasts on the introductory darkening beats of “Simply Unstoppable,” which is about the closest to inaccessible hip-hop you''ll get on here. It's not a bad thing though, he wears the sound pretty well—delivering a handful of great pop -influenced tracks, which could land the rapper another batch of hits, such as current piano-assisted single “Invincible” with R&B singer Kelly Rowland and the delightful beaty collab with pop singer Ellie Goulding on “Wonderman.” But the albums most interesting moment is the firey collab with Swedish House Mafia on “Miami 2 Ibiza,” great synth-drenched undertones, kinetic beats and electronic flourishes. Best: Pass Out, Miami 2 Ibiza, Frisky, Written in the Stars, Wonderman, Simply Unstoppable.

Devlin – Bud, Sweat & Beers (4/5). Tinie and Tinchy were quick to leave the frustrations of London street life behind for a frothy naïve dabble in pop assisted hip-hop to secure their place in the upper-reaches of the UK charts—ultimatley 'selling out' as some hardcore hip-hop fans would call it. However British rapper Devlin (did I mention his mate painted my house once?) demonstrates on his aggressive debut those frustrations quite intensely, re-calling the same cut-throat and blunt affirmations as The Streets rather than his young contemporary counterparts. I like this a lot, but it's rather inconsistent, where it capitalizes on the relentless hip-hop beats, blunt lyrics and complex frantic delivery (“1989,” “Brainwashed” and “Marching Through the Fog”) it works well, however where it warms to a lighter radio-friendly sound (“Let it Go” and top 40 hit “Runaway”) doesn't work quite as well. Also, while it's refreshing to see Devlin sticking to his roots for his debut, however didn't fellow British rapper P'lan B do this way better on Who Needs Actions When You Got Words? Best: Brainwashed, 1989, Brainwashed, Marching Through the Fog, London City, Yesterday's News, Finally.

Tinchy Stryder – Third Strike (2/5) There were some great moments on Tinchy Stryder's major label debut, Catch 22, delivering an honest mix of grime and pop, however on the rapper's third album things feel a little patchy and lightweight—reeling from the thundering electro-pop/rap of “In My System” and the hard-hitting grime of “Game Over,” which features a host of British hip-hop rappers, including Tinie Tempah and Devlin, there aren't anymore worthy moments and kind of falls flat, ultimately any trails of something better than “Game Over” is buried beneath the excessive barrage of unnecessary features. Best: Game Over, In My System, Tommorow.

Billboard Hot 100, January 1, 2011

1. Firework - Katy Perry
2. Grenade - Bruno Mars
3. What's My Name - Rihanna feat. Drake

It's a third week at #1 for Katy Perry's "Firework." It's also the first #1 in the new chart year for 2011, holding off tough competition from both Bruno Mars' "Grenade," and Rihanna's "What's My Name," which both switch places this week, bulleted successively behind Perry. "Firework," is also this weeks airplay gainer, where it gains nearly 120 million listener impressions.

4. Raise Your Glass - P!nk
5. We R Who We R - Kesha

The most part of the top 10 is pretty boring this week, with either non-movers or fallers. Both P!nk's "Raise Your Glass" and Kesha's "We R Who We R" manage to stay bulleted in last weeks position. They're both in the top 3 over on Mediabase too (along with "Firework") with over 12,000 spins this week.

9. 6 Foot 7 Foot - Lil Wayne feat. Cory Gunz

The only new entry in the top 10 this week is rapper Lil Wayne's "6 Foot 7 Foot" featuring Cory Gunz, the lead single from his much-anticipated ninth album The Carter IV, the fourth installment in his Carter series. The single debuts #9 selling 166,000 digital copies, his second top 10 this year (following "Right Above It" featuring Drake which peaked at #6) and his fifth top 10 overall.

19. Coming Home - Diddy-Dirty Money feat. Skylar Grey

P. Diddy's Diddy-Dirty Money's "Coming Home" featuring Skylar Grey, scores the hip-hop trio a first top 20 hit. Over on the Billboard 200, their debut album Last Train to Paris arrives at #7, with 101,000 copies sold.

26. Back to December - Taylor Swift

As country/pop singer Taylor Swift's mega-successful third album Speak Now returns to the to of the albums chart this week, single "Back to December" continues to climb back up, re-entering the top 30. The single peaked at #6 earlier this year.

27. Hey Baby (Drop it to the Floor) - Pitbull feat. T-Pain

Also entering the top 30 is Cuban rapper Pitbull's "Hey Baby (Drop it to the Floor)" featuring T-Pain, the lead single from his forthcoming fifth album Planet Pit, climbing 5 spots up to #27, scoring the rapper his fourth top 30.

39. Hold My Hand - Michael Jackson feat. Akon

"Hold My Hand," the third posthumous Michael Jackson single surges up 26 spots up to #39, scoring his first top 40 since his death and (I can't believe I'm about to sit here and count them up) 35th overall (or 36 depending on whether you count "Scream" and "Childhood" as separate singles). This is Akon's 25th with features.

Personal Airplay, December 23, 2010

1. (2) What's My Name? - Rihanna feat. Drake (1 week @ #1)
2. (3) Grenade - Bruno Mars
3. (1) The Flood - Take That (7 wks @ #1)
4. (4) Your Song - Ellie Goulding
5. (10) Raise Your Glass - P!nk
6. (7) Hold My Hand - Michael Jackson feat. Akon
7. (NW) When We Collide - Matt Cardle
8. (6) Right Thru Me - Nicki Minaj
9. (8) Firework - Katy Perry
10. (11) Christmas Lights - Coldplay

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What I'm Listening to...

I haven't done this in awhile, here's a quick round-up of what's been on repeat on my iPod lately. There's quite a few of them:

Terrible Love - The National. Brooklyn rockers The National's fifth album High Violet has really grown on me, it's now one of my favorite albums this year. It's a chilling set, unravelling a haunting web of vertiginous rock sounds. Current single "Terrible Love" lumbers with layers of muffled guitar effects and haunting soundscapes, exhibiting a dizzying climatic clash of intense rock towards the end.

Kidz - Take That. Military-esque stomping, heavy bass lines, synths and piano keys, the forthcoming new Take That single is a nice switch up from the sweeping British pop of "The Flood." I don't think they have explored this Muse-inspired progressive electronic rock sound before.

Rolling in the Deep - Adele. Lets hope English singer Adele has more of a comeback with this cool toe-tapping drum-heavy number with gutaric undertones than former-rival Duffy.

Fuckin' Perfect - P!nk. This is quite anthem for the girls, isn't it? Like most of P!nk's recent hits, it's produced by pop mastermind Max Martin, also quite the soaring ballad with a message in the same vein as previous single "Raise Your Glass."

Moment 4 Life - Nicki Minaj feat. Drake. I've been listening to American rapper Nicki Minaj's debut album Pink Friday a lot, there's a lot on there could land her a handful of hits, but following the pop-influenced sounds of "Your Love" and "Right Thru Me" is the more optimistic R&B flourishing "Moment 4 Life," with label-mate Drake.

It's Ok - Cee Lo Green. Trailing that awesome old fashioned sound (I say old fashioned because I'm not sure what decade, '50s? '60s?) in the same vein as "Fuck You!" He's found a formula and made it work. Go Cee Lo!

Hurts - Sunday. Pulsing bass lines, synths and dramatic soundscapes and strings. The new Hurts single is great although I wouldn't put it over "Stay" or "Wonderful Life." Also, as great as it is, I think "Blood, Tears & Gold" could be a good single too.

Invincible - Tinie Tempah feat. Kelly Rowland. Your standard piano-assisted R&B/pop ditty, but still obviously very appealing. Another hit for Tinie? Probably.

Lights On - Katy B feat. Ms. Dynamite. Cool afro-centric dance beats, awesome party-friendly track. Just as good as the dub-step exploring "On a Mission." Nice to see Ms. Dynamite back again.

Keeping My Baby - Duffy. Quite downbeat and dramatic with the old fashioned Bond-styled chorus. Hopefully lands the Welsh singer a hit, following the underperformance of "Well Well Well."

Hold My Hand - Michael Jackson feat. Akon. I like this a lot better than "Breaking News," I love the whole modern R&B feel about it--Akon is a bit annoying though.

The Flood - Cheryl Cole. I'd call this the best of a bad situation, it's one of the few songs off Ms. Cole's album that I actually like. It's a pretty decent enough ballad.

Raining Men - Rihanna feat. Nicki Minaj. Skittering drum beats, attitude-driven lyrics in the same vein of Beyonce's "Diva" and "Video Phone."

When We Colide - Matt Cardle. Loving the X Factor winner's single, now christmas #1. I don't think I've really liked an X Factor winner's single so much, maybe since Alexandra Burke's "Hallelujah."

Christmas is in the Air Again - Mariah Carey. This is an album cut from Mariah's new Christmas album. It's stunning take on a classic '50s sound, glazing strings with a fairy-tale like backdrop, effectively worked by Carey's breathy vocals which actually work pretty well here.

The Time (The Dirty Bit) - The Black Eyed Peas. This is such a great... no, I'm kidding.

Cee Lo Green "It's Ok"

The new Cee Lo Green single is awesome, "It's Ok" exhibiting that sleek old fashioned toe-tapping, doo-wopping pop in the same vein as "Fuck You!" only not as blunt. Check it out below

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Album Review: You Me at Six - Hold Me Down (3/5)

Still revisiting releases from earlier this year, I thought I'd try something that didn't make it on to the Metacritic lists. English rock band You Me at Six have garnered following since their roaring debut 2 years ago. They've landed a couple moderate hits in the UK, but I haven't paid any attention until now—their sophomore Hold Me Down is quite a charging mix of American styled rock, punk and pop—the combination successfully mastered on some standout tracks and not so well on others.

The thundering drums and electronic guitars of “The Consequences” kick things off, sounds quite archetypal really, but better is the electrifying “Underdog,” punchy choruses and exhorted guitar and drum patterns, understandable that it landed the album its biggest hit (even if it was only a modest peak at #49) It's quite radio-friendly too. Following is “Playing the Blame Game,” another high-flying guitar-drum driven belter.

While “Underdog” capitalizes nicely on that punk, rock/pop combination—there are better tracks in its middle section such as “Liquid Confidence,” which starts off quite mild, with light hovering hi hats and Glee-styled harmonising, before heavy electronic guitars, drums and boisterous vocals kick in for the All-American Reject styled chorus. “Hard to Swallow,” draws upon that same style, with a bit more of a tuneful chorus and harder rocky undertones, but still very accessible. The soaring Daughtry influences on “There's No Such Thing As a Accidental Infidelity,” are quite nice too.

There are a a lot exceptions, but I'm that big on rock without heavy pop influences, so a lot on here just doesn't do it for me unfortunately—although they're not bad tracks, I just don't see myself listening to them much, I'm talking about tracks such as “Trophy Eyes” which I don't mind, but rely too heavily on its piercing layered guitar-driven undertones, without any distinctive melody.

Hold Me Down was a recommendation from a friend, who's really into American-styled punk/rock and pushed me to give this a try and while I appreciate the sound You Me at Six pursue, It's not one I'll come back to for successive listens. I think there are other bands that do this sound better, such as American rock band Just Surrender—although this album does have some great highlights.

Best: Liquid Confidence, Underdog, Hard to Swallow, Playing the Blame Game

Friday, December 17, 2010

Album Review: Michael Jackson - Invicible (2001, 3.5/5)

With the first posthumous Michael Jackson album, Michael out in stores this week, I thought I'd revisit the King of Pop's last proper release before his tragic death last year. 2001's Invincible arrived at one of the many low points for Jackson throughout his career. Whilst it was Jackson indulging heavily in new millennium R&B and pop, with the help of the appropriate producers such as Rodney Jerkins and Teddy Riley—It's primarily remembered for being the album that didn't deliver any hits or shift as many copies as Thriller.

Critics denounced the album for being monotonous, showcasing an apparent lack of charm and being ultimately underwhelming. I've never thought Invincible was that bad of an album—my biggest gripe with it is that it's way too bloated and with an extensive running time of 80 minutes, there's not enough solid tracks on here to back it up. I rarely listen to the whole album without getting bored halfway through (which is a shame as the album does have a couple belters towards its end).

The first three numbers are all similar heavy beat-driven R&B, laying on the musical antagonism a tad too thick. Maybe three tracks trailing the same sound was a bit much—but it's not a bad sound though and I thought suited him quite well. Out of the three, the cumbersome hammering of piano chords and rhythmic bass lines of “Unbreakable” work the best; employing his swagger and rage against surrounding scrutiny nicely.

We shift from beat-driven R&B to the laid back modern soul of “Break of Dawn” and “Heaven Can Wait.” Again both trailing similar sounds, exhibiting smooth, lustrous soul but both largely driven by heavy beats. I think “Heaven” does the job better; very sincere. The albums biggest hit, “You Rock My World,” cool piano-assisted slice of bass heavy swaggering R&B follows (I listened to this loads when I was a kid) this should have followed the first three tracks, the track listing would have made more sense as after this there's more downbeat mid-tempo's following, the plodding “Butterflies,” which is a fan favourite but just goes right through me, better is the gliding “Speechless” the shortest song on here and relies less on beats and more on gentle guitar and string arrangements.

The albums second half isn't necessarily weaker, but is quite patchy, there are some duds but among them are some of my favourites on here. The chugging beats of “2000 Watts” re-call that of the first three tracks at the beginning; it's a little worn, but what's interesting is how low the pitch on Jackson's vocals are. Again, this should be on the first half as from here on the last 7 tracks are all mid-tempo's or ballads.

My favourite track on the album is the dulcet lovelorn ballad “Don't Walk Away,” gentle restraint guitars, strings, gelatinous percussion and mood-fitting bursts of electronic guitar towards end just before its climax where its composition gets thicker. The swaying playschool balladry of “The Lost Children” sounds good too; even using kiddish murmurings to capitalize on that sound (I'm not implying anything), It also sounds like something that could have featured in 1990's kids television serious Rupert Bear. The western-styled, spanish-guitar driven mid-tempo “Whatever Happens,” is quite lovely too.

Apart from the aforementioned, there's nothing else that appealing on its second half. “Privacy” is very dry beat-heavy rock/pop, sounds like something George Michael recreated on “Freeek!” “You Are My Life” and “Cry” lay on the syrupy ballads a bit too thick and the inclusion of “Threatened” kind of takes the piss a bit, doesn't it? Is not the first three tracks, “You Rock My World,” “Privacy” and “2000 Watts” rolled into one? Invincible isn't a great album, but it's not a bad album either—there are handful of good tracks on here, you just have to dig through the duds to find them—in all it deserves a listen at least.

Best: Don't Walk Away, You Rock My World, Heaven Can Wait, Speechless, Unbreakable, The Lost Children, Whatever Happens

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Billboard Hot 100, December 25, 2010

1. Firework - Katy Perry

Pop singer Katy Perry clocks in a second week at #1 with "Firework," still bulleted, matching the two week reign of last #1 single "Teenage Dream," however I'm sure this could be here much longer, as it continues to lead the digital songs tally this week (it's in its third week) and rise on top 40 radio; garnering 10,000 spins this week, rising up to #3, only behind P!nk's "Raise Your Glass" and Rihanna's "Only Girl."

2. What's My Name? - Rihanna feat. Drake

And speaking of Rihanna, her former third 2010 chart topper inches back up the chart, rising only a spot up to #2. It's also this week's airplay gainer. It enters the top 10 on top 40 radio this week.

3. Grenade - Bruno Mars
5. We R Who We R - Kesha

R&B crooner Bruno Mars lands his second top 3 single with "Grenade," which climbs 2 spots up to #3 this week. This could well be a second #1 for Mars next year. Working her way back into the top 5 is former #1, Kesha's "We R Who We R," which rises 3 spots up to #5.

6. Only Girl (In the World) - Rihanna
7. Just the Way You Are - Bruno Mars
9. Just a Dream - Nelly
10. Bottoms Up - Trey Songz feat. Nicki Minaj

The majority of the top 10 is pretty static this week, 5 of the 10 are non-movers and apart from Perry's "Firework," the rest of them aren't bulleted.

15. Tonight (I'm Lovin' You) - Enrique Iglasias feat. Ludacris and DJ Frankie E

I was actually quite shocked when I saw this on iTunes earlier this week, I don't own an Enrique Iglasias album, so I was surprised to see him release such an explicitly titled song (change "Lovin'" to its dirtier alternative and there you have it) didn't think he was the type. But anyway, off the back of the success of "I Like It," Iglasias scores a sixth top 20 single with "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)," it's his second hit off his third album Euphoria. (The pulsing collab with Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, "Heartbeat" never charted unfortunately.)

18. That's All She Wrote - T.I. feat. Eminem

It's not an official single, but probably relentless cherry-picking from American rapper T.I.'s new album No Mercy, causes album track "That's All She Wrote" featuring fellow rapper Eminem to debut in the top 20 at #18. The albums actual lead single "Get Back Up" stalled at #70.

24. Coming Home - Diddy Dirty Money

Music mogul P. Diddy's new business venture, Diddy Dirty Money (which is made up of Diddy himself, former Danity Kane member Dawn Richard and someone called Kalenna Harper)'s fourth single from their forthcoming debut album Last Train to Paris climbs 27 spots up to #24, scoring the trio their biggest hit so far. Their only other single to crack the top 40 was "Hello Good Morning" featuring T.I. which peaked at #27.

26. Right Thru Me - Nicki Minaj

After weeks of hovering around the #31 mark, American rapper Nicki Minaj finally cracks the top 30 with her single "Right Thru Me," climbing 5 notches up to #26, earning Minaj a new peak. A little more time and I think this could match the #14 peak of previous single "Your Love," her biggest solo hit to date.

33. Back to December - Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift returns to the top 40 with "Back to December" rising 10 spots up to #33.

Personal Airplay, December 16, 2010

TW (LW) Title - Artist
1. (1) The Flood - Take That (7 weeks @ #1)
2. (2) What's My Name - Rihanna feat. Drake
3. (8) Grenade - Bruno Mars
4. (4) Your Song - Ellie Goulding
5. (3) Only Girl (In the World) - Rihanna
6. (5) Right Thru Me - Nicki Minaj
7. (11) Hold My Hand - Michael Jackson feat. Akon
8. (7) Firework - Katy Perry
9. (6) The Silence - Alexandra Burke
10. (13) Raise Your Glass - P!nk

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Previewing Michael Jackson's Michael

I got the new posthumous Michael Jackson album today, and while I'm not that impressed (I wasn't expecting to be anyway) there are a handful of good tracks on here. If you heard "This is It" last year, that cliche '70s inspired mid-tempo groove, that's what it sounds like the sound of this album is built around (particuarly my favorite track so far "Best of Joy") save for the more modern sounding "Hold My Hand" with Akon and beat-driven bass lines of "Hollywood Tonight" and "Breaking News" which definitely re-call that of 2001's Invincible. Review will be up this weekend, probably the last album I'll review before I post my Best of 2010 list.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Alexandra Burke 'Overcome'

From one X Factor winner to another, Alexandra Burke has had quite stellar 2010, landing 3 top 10 hits and a double-platinum certification for her debut album Overcome, trailing the same format of Leona Lewis' circa 2008, Burke ends the year with a re-packaging of that album, re-titled Overcome - The Deluxe Edition, adding four new tracks, new cover and DVD disc compiling all her music videos thus far. Here's a quick overview of the new tracks:

  • Start without You (feat. Laza Morgan). You already know this one, the chart topping pop/reggae fusion, capitalizing on both lyrical nonsense ("eh boy, I push it out," what exactly?) and just good fun. I know it's quite cheesy and ultimately not a pop song with quality as its main priority, but is some misguided way, it's irresistible.
  • The Silence (Single Mix). Not actually a new track, but the single mix of current single "The Silence," shortens the original quite a bit getting rid of the "it's killing me, it's killing me" after the first chorus and adds some heavier strings, haunting vocals and a choir in the back drop. I liked this a lot on the original album--it's a shame it's her first to miss the top 10.
  • All Night Long (Remix) [feat. Pitbull]. Again, not a new track but the original "All Night Long" has been substituted for the single version featuring Miami rapper Pitbull. It still sounds so good, I hope she kicks things off in the US with this single.
  • Perfect. The second new track on here is "Perfect" a flourishing string-heavy ballad before the drums and piano kick in after the first chorus--clocking in both a nice production and Burke's booming vocals. I think this was written by pop singer Bruno Mars (he has his own version, I found on YouTube).
  • What Happens On the Dancefloor (feat. Cobra Starship). What an unlikely collab. Burke teams up with American pop/punk band Starship for this nice slice of dance-pop. The lyrics are generic, the chorus is obnoxiously repetitive but it's infectious enough to work. I think this would have single potential, but I hear there won't be anymore singles released from this album.
  • Before the Rain. The last of the new tracks is "Before the Rain," a dramatic ballad, it has a more serious feel than "Perfect." It's wonderfully executed--production, arrangement and vocals intact.

Single Review: Matt Cardle - When We Colide (4.5/5)

Former pub singer Matt Cardle was crowned the seventh X Factor winner on Sunday, accumulating over 44% of the votes over runner-up Rebecca Ferguson and is now poised to top the UK singles chart this week is his debut single, a cover of Scottish alternative rock band Biffy Clyro's "Many of Horror (When We Colide)," which they released earlier this year.

It's actually a pretty awesome cover and as well as liking the original, I've also taken to it because it's not the cheese charging surge of previous winner songs, particularly last years' winner Joe McElderry's cover of Miley Cyrus' "The Climb," which I did, in fact, think was just awful. "That's My Goal," "A Moment Like This," and give or take "Hallelujah," were pretty big on the cheese factor too. This is refreshing and even stripping away the X Factor tag, is quite a pleasant listen. Cardle joins quite a lengthy line of failed male X Factor winners. I hope the writing's not on the wall for him as it would be quite nice to see a male winner acheive the same level of success as Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke with their first albums.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Best Albums of the 1990s (1 - 20)

1. Oasis - (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1994). No album captured the raw energetic feeling behind the britpop sound better than Oasis' phenomenal second album. Tamed with soaring pop melodies, lavish pop/rock instrumentation--exuding a rich aura of '90s driven rock'n'roll. An immeasurable blend of acoustic riffs and escalating well-crafted ballads, building the foundations for the Oasis legacy off the back of hits spawned by this album including the anthemic classic "Wonderwall." It's a masterpiece and one of the most important albums in British pop history--a concept yet to be challenged. Best: Don't Look Back in Anger.

2. Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998). "It could all be so simple" Hill opens on the bewitching R&B of "Ex Factor," "but you would rather make it hard" she continues; describing Hill's demonstrating of topical and lyrical layering of emotions unraveled within the confides of this magnificent set. Showcasing her poetic writing and bold vocal strengths over striking beat-driven hip-hop beats and silky grooves as she ironically illustrates an educational spectrum of of subjects regarding the pains and joys of love. Best: Doo Wop (That Thing).

3. Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill (1995). Plugged with vengeance and rage, Alanis Morissette delivered a rough bag of acoustic-styled ballads ("Ironic") confident mid-tempos ("Mary Jane") and ear-splitting alternative rock ("You Oughta Know"), most of it fronted by Morissette's off-beat vocal. It won the Grammy for Album of the Year and also became 1995's best-seller as well as one of the most successful albums of all time. Best: Ironic

4. Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt (1996). Launching one of the most successful hip-hop careers in history was the debut album from Jay-Z. Intelligent and honest storytelling over laid back smooth hip-hop beats with lyrical fronts that embrace American street culture, particularly "Can't Knock the Hustle" not only Jay-Z's best, but among the best hip-hop albums ever. It's an ultimate style of hip-hop that has been emulated countless time off the back of this album. Best: Can't Knock the Hustle.

5. The Verve - Urban Hymns (1997). For their third album, English alternative rock band The Verve embraced a grand sense of alternative rock, pursuing sweeping trippy soundscapes and lavish rock grandeur thus delivering this striking set, however amongst the grandiose did manage to land some tamer moments like the warm guitar-driven "The Drugs Don't Work." Best: Bittersweet Symphony.

6. Radiohead - OK Computer (1997). The vigorously acclaimed third album by English rock band Radiohead showcased the band's lyrical aspiration and introspective musical experimentation. I've always preferred the left-field experimental rock/electronica of its follow-up Kid A, but giving this a more purposeful listen--it's a stronger set, overflowing emotion and illustrating elaborate imagery. Best: Karma Police

7. Nirvana - Nevermind (1991). I use to think there was nothing more to this album than "Smells Like Teen Spirit," when in fact there's more on here that demonstrates why it's heralded as one of the most influential rock albums of the '90s. Charging rock numbers strapped with numbing textures and mood shifts. It's American rock at its finest. Best: Lithium.

8. Notorious BIG - Ready to Die (1994). Raging hip-hop beats, confident rhyme patterns, accessible flow, formidable storytelling American rapper Notorious BIG landed one of the best hip-hop debuts of the '90s and in the midst of West Coast rap domination fronted by Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre in the early '90s, BIG had a large hand in bringing East coast rap to the forefront. Best: Juicy.

9. TLC - Crazy Sexy Cool (1994). For their second album, R&B three-piece downplayed the relentless hip-hop beats of their first album in exchange for a more seductive take on R&B, delivering a blend of silky grooves ("Creep") powerful slow jams ("Red Light Special") funk tied with topical insights ("Waterfalls"). The album earned the threesome Album of the Year at the Grammys. Best: Waterfalls.

10. Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet (1990). It's the anger, protest and sheer lack of conservative appliance that make hip-hop duo Public Enemy's third album work so well. Driven by powerful cut-throat lyrics and relentless hip-hop beats , it's topical hip-hop at its finest. Best: Brothers Gonna Work it Out.

11. Radiohead - The Bends (1995). Radiohead's second album pursued more grand and more forceful experimental rock sounds, capitalizing on the grandeur of their debut but this was a more gripping and particularly better follow-up and ultimately set the platform for its even more compelling follow-up Ok Computer. Best: Planet Telex.

12. Green Day - Dookie (1994). It's funny to think fans thought Green Day had sold out to the corporate machine with their third album Dookie, where would that leave American Idiot? when in hindsight sounds just as inaccessible as ever, with its punky blend of American rock and alternative pop-rock demonstrated particularly on the charging "Basket Case." Best: Basket Case.

13. Janet Jackson - The Velvet Rope (1997). For her topic-heavy sixth album Janet Jackson developed a darker persona following a 2 year battle with depression, which transferred effectively into her work, covering a ray of touchy subjects including domestic abuse ("What About") homophobia ("Free Xone") isolation ("I Get Lonely") sexuality ("Rope Burn") delivering her best and most personal set yet. Best: Together Again.

14. Nas - Ilmatic (1994). Riveting hip-hop beats, honest storytelling with unique delivery, just a few of the things that made American rapper Nas' critically acclaimed debut one of the best hip-hop albums of the '90s. In fact, it was a height of hip-hop craft he never quite topped again. Best: Life's a Bitch.

15. Oasis - Definitely Maybe (1994). The first two Oasis albums, this and (What's the Story) Morning Glory? go hand in hand, the same way the Radiohead albums The Bends and Ok Computer do. Setting the platform, experimenting with a diet illustration of the sound on the former album before perfecting that sound and going all out on the latter. Best: Shakermaker

16. Mariah Carey - Daydream (1995). For her fourth album Mariah Carey began to move away from the strict adult contemporary pop of her first three records and began to adopt a more urban-driven feel to her work with the help of Jermaine Dupri, exquisitely demonstrated on the dark R&B of "Long Ago," but still Carey still shined best on the soaring ballads. Best: One Sweet Day.

17. Madonna - Ray of Light (1998). Following the lukewarm reception of her last two records, with the help of acclaimed producer William Orbit, Madonna returned in 1998 with this chilling, vibrant more serious take on pop, showcasing deeper insight on life lyrically, exuding a ray of emotions through cold numbers such as "Frozen" and "Drowned World/Substitute for Love." In fact, I'd say this was her only good album she released in the '90s. Best: Frozen.

18. U2 - Achtung Baby Baby (1991). Following the success of 1980's landmark with The Joshua Tree, which successfully saw U2 experimenting with soaring American rock sounds--after a slight mistep with its follow up--the Irish rock band delivered a killer seventh album, that once again successfully detoured in musical direction: heavier rock, spacier chords and more ambitious, effectively landing one of their most acclaimed songs to date "One." Best: One.

19. R.E.M. - Automatic for the People (1992). The eighth album from American alternative rock band R.E.M. saw the four-piece venturing into more topical, darker, more haunting and melancholic rocky territories, overseeing a spectrum of emotions elevated by death and loss, but still did provide lighter moments ("Everybody Hurts" and "Sweetness Follows") Best: Everybody Hurts.

20. 2Pac - Me Against the World (1994). Wearing his heart on his sleeve, American rapper 2Pac landed a phenomenal and highly influential third album, showcasing complex lyrical delivery that dealt with anger, pain, desperation all with intricate precision. Best: Me Against the World.