Best Albums of 2010: Mid-Year Edition

These ears never stop.

Overall, 2010 isn’t even in the same ballpark as 2009 was musically, but there is still a lot to come. The rap game was smoking with debuts by Drake and B.O.B. as well as the return of Cypress Hill and The Roots. A lot of the rest left me wanting more.

I base “the best” off melody and meaning. I think I’ve listened to most of what’s legit to come out this year and my ear is happy to accept all new applicants.

Here’s the top 10 I’ve heard so far:

10. Vampire Weekend- Contra

Track of Choice – Horchata (It’s the only time I’ve seen it referenced in a song)

Backstreet Boys and Natasha Bedingfield come natural to me. Vampire Weekend is a guilty pleasure.

9. Janelle Monae- ArchAndroid

Track of Choice – Cold War

The Kansas City, Kan., native has some pipes! The theme of the album is a tad weird though. Just enjoy the poppy hits.

8. Coheed and Cambria- Year of the Black Rainbow

Track of Choice – Pearl of the Stars

Great for both fans of the old and the new.

7. Daniel Merriweather- Love and War (Released 2009 in Australia, but 2010 in the U.S.)

Track of Choice – Change

I can see this guy getting huge because he knows music and how to do it right.

6. Scorpions- Sting in the Tail

Track of Choice – Raised on Rock

The final album from the greatest love-song band of our time. They finished with quite a sting.

5. Slash- Slash

Track of Choice – Starlight feat. Myles Kennedy

Slash’s debut solo album is reminiscent of Santana albums: assemble some of the greatest singers from any genre and bring out the best of them with the best of his guitar playing. The names on here are astounding: Ozzy, Adam Levine, Chris Cornell, Fergie, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and the list goes on. And Slash brings out some new forms of himself. The album is not as heavy as you might think, which is a strength.

This album was the savior for rock music for the first half of 2010.

4. Gorillaz- Plastic Beach

Track of Choice – Some Kind of Nature (feat. Lou Reed)

Snoop Dogg had me at “Welcome to the world of the plastic beach.”

You want to talk about amazing new sounds, here you go. None of that disastrous noise a lot of the bloggers list as “music” (that’s also a stab at Animal Collective). There’s so much going on in 18 tracks, it’s like an adventure every time you listen. After about eight listens, I’m still uncovering new treats along the way.

3. Keane- Night Train

Track of Choice – Looking Back

I can’t believe Keane is anywhere close to scratching the top-10, let alone the top spot. I remember a time they were a piano-driven band singing down-trodden love songs you could fall asleep crying to. Then their second album sounded forced in a new direction. But they were sick of being compared to Radiohead and Coldplay, so they took a different approach.

SICK BEATS. The moment I heard the first single Stop for a Minute featuring K’naan, I wanted to start moving. And Looking Back samples the theme from “Rocky,” also featuring K’naan, which is done as well as you could do it.

When you finally get past how unique the sounds are, you can see that the writing is fantastic as well. Only problem was the 31 minutes of playtime on eight tracks. I wanted more.

2. B.O.B.- B.O.B. Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray

Track of Choice- Ghost in the Machine

The assembly of Hayley Williams, T.I., Rivers Cuomo, Janelle Monae and Eminem on the same album says it all. This album is beautifully diverse and is appealing on a level I haven’t seen in some time. B.O.B., aka Bobby Ray, can rap and even sing while having fun (Magic) and getting serious at times (Ghost in the Machine). There’s enough here to connect with him on a personal level, especially on both Airplanes tracks.

Some of the songs are so catchy, I have no idea what took him so long to break out. B.O.B. is the best newcomer of the year. The best word to describe him is “appealing.”

1. Emienem- Recovery

Track of Choice- Talkin’ 2 Myself

This was unexpected.

Eminem has been one of the more popular rappers because of his expression of anger against everyone he comes in contact with and his usually twisted themes.

“Recovery” goes against all of that. And it’s beautiful to hear.

Gone is any resentment toward another human being. Gone are the Jamaican accents he said plagued his last two albums. Gone are any sick themes and skits you’d have to skip. Here is a mature man who gets it.

“Recovery” shows a new Marshall Mathers that I’m sure everyone can take a liking to. The tracks on this album come from a humbled man admitting his jealousy toward Lil’ Wayne and Kanye (Talkin’ 2 Myself) and even speaking out to God for help in the tear-jerking You’re Never Over. In multiple occasions, Em reminisces about Proof, his best friend who passed away in 2006 and even the love he still has for his ex-wife.

With all the sentimentalities aside, Em wants everyone to know he’s still the best around and backed it up. All 18 tracks included on the bonus version are listenable. It includes including appearances by Lil’ Wayne in a stone cold sampling of “What is Love” by Haddaway in No Love, Rihanna (Love the Way You Lie), and Pink in the slammin’ Won’t Back Down.

The rapping is as good as it was from his first two, just the themes have been changed. You have to love where this guy has come from and how he got to this point. The energy and passion is back for a new purpose. Don’t believe he’s back? Take this excerpt fron Talkin’ 2 Myself:

“This time around it’s different, them last two albums didn’t count. ‘Encore,’ I was on drugs, ‘Relapse,’ I was flushing ‘em out. I’ve come up to make it up to you- no more f*cking around. I’ve got something to prove to fans, I feel like I let ‘em down. So please accept my apology. I finally feel like I’m back to normal.”

“Recovery” is as raw and real as it gets and proves Eminem is the best rapper on the planet.

I’ve only ever liked one song by Miley Cyrus. I’m not a fan of hers. But hearing her new album was shocking. I loved it actually, but I was not brave enough to put her in the list. I thought it would ruin the credibility of this list. But remember this: good music is good music, no matter who performs it.



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