Friday, December 28, 2012

Top Seven Albums of 2012

     The end of the year is finally here, which means it is time for most reviewers to write lists of their favorite releases of the year. Usually people do countdowns starting at ten or five, but since seven is my favorite number, I've decided to make my countdowns from seven! I will also be making a list for the seven best music videos of 2012, which will be coming soon! Well, enjoy!

7. Halcyon | Ellie Goulding
     This year, Ellie Goulding's "Lights" became a "sleeper hit" in the United States, which sparked my interest in the English artist. I bought, and subsequently enjoyed, Lights, and a few months later, Halcyon was released worldwide. Halcyon takes a different direction than that of Goulding's debut album, with many dubstep and electronic elements being present. The first half of the album was superior to Lights, while the second half of Halcyon was quite a disappointment. (In fact, the only reason that this album was given a rating of three-out-of-five stars in an earlier review was because of its less-than-exciting latter half.) This being said, the first half of the album was impressive enough for me to put this album in the number seven spot on this list. The most memorable songs were "Don't Say a Word," "Anything Could Happen," "Figure 8," and "Explosions." If Goulding can take the sound from the first half of Halcyon and make another album with it, I would be content.

6. Vows | Kimbra
     This year, I caught wind of Kimbra while watching music videos on VH1. "Settle Down" was playing, and the bizarre style of the video and catchy sound attracted me the New Zealand native. Vows was actually released last year in many countries, but wasn't released in the United States until this year, which is why it is eligible for this list. Kimbra experiments with multiple genres including indie, electronic, and even soul and jazz. The most impressive songs on the album were "Settle Down," "Good Intent," "Cameo Lover," and the United States bonus track, "Warrior." Although Vows was quite nice, I see some room for improvement, and I hope that Kimbra can pull off another strong release in a year or two, because I'll be glad to take a listen!

5. Red | Taylor Swift
     Avid music listeners were on the edges of their seats while awaiting the release of Taylor Swift's much-anticipated Red. The lead single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," completely blew up worldwide, and just made for more excitement for Red. Although that first single wasn't very representative of the entire album, Red was still a solid release from Taylor Swift. I enjoyed "I Knew You Were Trouble," "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "Treacherous" the most from Red. The album easily met the expectations set by Speak Now, and showed a lot of experimenting from Swift in terms of overall sound. I really hope to see more songs like "I Knew You Were Trouble" come from Swift in the future, because her voice is so versatile and works with many genres.

4. The Truth About Love | P!nk
     P!nk finally broke back out on the scene this year, with a new release, The Truth About Love, with a few surprisingly different sounds. I enjoyed the majority of the album, but it simply didn't live up to P!nk's previous release, Funhouse. The album Funhouse had a much better flow and had many more outstanding songs, while The Truth About Love showed a lot of experimentation in musical styles from P!nk. These changes in genres can be seen in songs such as "Are We All We Are" and "Where Did The Beat Go?" while P!nk's regular pop style comes back in "Slut Like You," and the album's lead single, "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)." So, whether listeners a different sound from P!nk, or a return to normality with pop music, they got a little bit of both with this album. To be short, The Truth About Love was a pretty solid release from P!nk. 

3. Electra Heart | Marina and the Diamonds
     I was lucky enough to discover another artist besides Kimbra and Ellie Goulding this year. Besides those two artists, I also uncovered Marina and the Diamonds, a Welsh artist who released her sophomore album last summer. I actually listened to Electra Heart before I listened to her first album, The Family Jewels, but I thoroughly enjoyed both. Electra Heart contains a great combination of elements from dubstep, bubblegum pop, and electronic music. Electra Heart shined with "Primadonna," "Power & Control," "How to Be a Heartbreaker," and "Fear and Loathing." After I listened to both The Family Jewels, as well as Electra Heart, it was quite evident that Marina and the Diamonds has really expanded in terms of genres and overall sound, and I am truly looking forward to more music from her in years to come.

2. Born To Die | Lana Del Rey
     It seems like it has been forever since Lana Del Rey was just a simple new-comer in the music industry, but Born To Die was surprisingly only released early this year.  This album came in second place on this list, just behind Lana's sophomore release Paradise. I picked up the album a few weeks after its release, a purchase which was signaled just by listening to "Video Games" and "Born To Die." I immediately fell in love with it after listening to it once. With Born To Die, Lana Del Rey helped bring about a renewed love for indie music in pop culture. Her music, as well as her voice, have a very soothing and relaxing sound. Songs like "National Anthem," "Summertime Sadness," and "Without You" were the most memorable from the album. Born To Die was an extremely remarkable, especially for a debut album.

1. Paradise | Lana Del Rey
     It shouldn't be a surprise that Paradise comes in at number one on this list. It was my most anticipated release of the year, and when I finally got my hands on a copy, I praised the album immensely in my review of it last month. The album heightened my love for indie music, which was jump-started by Lana's debut album. As a whole, Paradise was almost completely free of any flaws. The production of the album completely blew me away, as it was so superior to that of Born To Die. This improvement could be tagged to the fact that Lana Del Rey worked on Paradise extensively with Rick Nowels, who produced many of the standout tracks on Born To Die. "Ride," "Cola," and "Body Electric" were the most outstanding songs from the album, each with its own great qualities. Hopefully, she will not give up her solo career to work in scoring films, as she had contemplated before, because I need more albums like Paradise in my life.

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