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Popbytes’ Top Ten Favorite Albums of 2011!

Popbytes’ Top Ten Favorite Albums of 2011!
December 31, 2011 MICHAEL KNUDSEN
Adele - 21

Without any introduction or further ado, I finally present to you my top ten favorite albums of 2011!

#1 Adele 21

When I first heard Adele’s sophomore album back in January, I knew right away that it was going to be huge and also land a spot in my top favorites albums of 2011 list! Of course it became a smash hit, sold a bunch of copies (appealing to a wide variety of demographics) and managed to pick up multiple Grammy nominations. To be honest, I’ve grown a drop tired of it since the singles have been seriously overplayed, they’ve kind of worn out their welcome but there’s simply no denying how incredible this album really is. It’s too bad that Adele won’t be releasing another album anytime soon, but thankfully she’s on the road to recovery after undergoing throat surgery a few months ago.

Essential Tracks:
Rolling in the Deep, Rumour Has It, Turning Tables, Set Fire to the Rain, Someone Like You

Adele - 21

#2 Stevie Nicks In Your Dreams

Stevie Nicks is a fucking legend, no one care argue with that. In Your Dreams is her first studio album in almost ten years, thankfully it was well worth the extremely long wait. It’s a beautifully crafted album that cuts straight to the heart, there’s something so comforting and soothing about her unique voice, if you haven’t checked out this release yet, please do yourself a favor and pick up a copy! Sadly in today’s youth-oriented world, it’s easy for Ms. Nicks to be passed over but I’m telling you this is such a solid album that’s definitely not to be missed.

Essential Tracks:
New Orleans, Italian Summer, For What It’s Worth, Secret Love, In Your Dreams

Stevie Nicks - In Your Dreams

#3 Tori Amos Night Of Hunters

This modern take on classical music themes (spanning over 400 years) is for sure a bit of a departure for Tori Amos, but Night Of Hunters (her 12th studio release) is a truly solid and polished piece of work. Unfortunately it probably isn’t gathering her new fans, yet diehard Toriphiles such as myself I think were quite pleased with her massive undertaking at creating a 21st century song cycle that turned out simply gorgeous on many levels, plus the production is beyond flawless! For an optimal listening experience, I recommend a good pair of headphones! Tori is really is my favorite artist – since 1992. Has it really been twenty years since I fell head over heels for this enchanting and brilliant red-headed siren?

Essential Tracks:
Shattering Sea, Fearlessness, Edge of the Moon, Carry, Star Whisperer

Tori Amos - Night Of Hunters

#4 Beyoncé 4

When I first heard this album, I’ll admit that I wasn’t all that crazy about it but after a couple of repeat listens, it turned out to be hands down one of Beyoncé’s strongest showings yet. It didn’t really pan out to be a huge commercial success, but for sure was a personal triumph, a beautiful, thought-provoking and intensely emotional album that showcases what girlfriend truly does best, sing her gorgeous heart out!

Essential Tracks:
I Was Here, I Care, I Miss You, Start Over, Countdown, Run The World (Girls)

Beyoncé - 4

#5 Rihanna Talk That Talk

Rihanna gets down and dirty (RiRi is best served raw) on this super tight dubstep influenced release (her sixth studio album) that is probably her best work to date besides her 2009 masterpiece Rated R. It’s nice and compact (you won’t be able to find any filler here), with a bunch of strong songs (that belong together creating a real album) that could potentially be huge hit singles. Girlfriend is at the top of her game, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, I say more power to her!

Essential Tracks:
Where Have You Been, We Found Love, Talk That Talk, You Da One

Rihanna - Talk That Talk

#6 Clare Maguire Light After Dark

I first discovered quirky British singer and songwriter Clare Maguire via Marina and The Diamonds who mentioned her to me during my interview with her last year. Clare’s debut album is totally incredible and is exactly the kind of music I enjoy, her deep voice always gives me a serious case of the chills. This album is probably the one on my list that many people haven’t heard about yet so I’m trying to get the word out!

Essential Tracks:
Ain’t Nobody, The Shield and the Sword, The Last Dance

Clare Maguire - Light After Dark

#7 Drake Take Care

I wasn’t really a huge fan of Drake’s but this album (his second release) totally turned me onto him, it flows from start to finish. Plus the title track featuring the lovely Rihanna (now making the rounds as his latest single) is my favorite collaboration of the year, it’s such an incredible song. Even though I feel a drop ashamed to admit this, there’s something so damn sexy about him, I can’t really put my finger on exactly why I find Drake so appealing but I just do! Who else admits to feeling the same exact way?

Essential Tracks:
Make Me Proud, Take Care, Headlines

Drake - Take Care

#8 Lady Gaga Born This Way

Of course Lady Gaga is beyond overexposed at this point (on multiple levels) but when you strip away all the craziness, her over the top theatrics and sometimes annoying public persona (we get it, you’re different), she’s an incredibly talented musician and this album is epic, showcasing her musical diversity and songwriting skills. Plus the overall positive message of self empowerment and being comfortable in your own skin (I was born this way baby) is something we definitely can all use more of. I first started writing about her on PopBytes over three years ago when nobody knew her name, it blows my mind how much of a worldwide sensation she’s become in such a short time span! Gaga is just getting started (her energy level is out of control and unmatched, how does she carry on at maximum speed all of the time?), I can’t wait to see how Gaga’s burgeoning career and music progresses over the coming years.

Essential Tracks:
Hair, Born This Way, Marry The Night, Scheiße, Judas, Americano, Heavy Metal Lover, Yoü and I

Lady Gaga - Born This Way

#9 Will Young Echoes

Although this is his fifth studio release, I wasn’t all that familiar with Will Young until recently. I knew that he won the first season of the British music competition Pop Idol back in 2002, but that was about it. After I saw the totally endearing music video for Come On (posted below) I had to investigate what all the fuss was about and now Echoes (which unfortunately was not released here in the states) ended up with a spot on this list (one of only two males). Besides being beyond adorable, he has an amazing voice and this album really showcases just how talented he is, I’d like to see him break out here soon!

Essential Tracks:
Runaway, Come On, Jealousy

Will Young - Echoes

#10 Kelly Clarkson Stronger

Girlfriend almost lost out being included on this list after she declared her love for republican and possible presidential nominee Ron Paul (ugh) the other night on Twitter (which caused a huge backlash) but all politics aside (my least favorite thing to discuss), Stronger is definitely one of this year’s best releases. It’s hard to believe that almost ten years have passed since Kelly was crowned the first winner of American Idol (now heading into its eleventh season). She has come so very far since those days and has seriously proven herself to be an incredible musician and songwriter (earning her success via dedication and hard work), way more than any other Idol winners except for country sensation Carrie Underwood.

Essential Tracks:
What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger), Mr. Know It All, Einstein, Dark Side

Kelly Clarkson - Stronger

Honorable Mentions

k.d. Lang Sing It Loud
Gloria Estefan Little Miss Havana
Jennifer Lopez Love?
Melanie C The Sea
Coldplay Mylo Xyloto
Indigo Girls Beauty Queen Sister