2016: A Year In Music (Albums)

2016 is pretty much almost over, and throughout the course of today I will be unveiling the most played Artists, Albums and Tracks of 2016 in my Last.FM music statistics. Basically, what music have I been listening to the most? Well, here we go…

This post is looking back at the best albums of 2016 and what albums have been racking up the plays in my iTunes collection. So before we look at the Top 10 in great detail, here is some of the albums that have just missed out on a place in the Top 10 but are definitely worth checking out…

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Yes, there were some corkers of albums which unfortunately missed out on the Top 10 this year, all of which you should go and check out when you can. You can check out the full charts later in the blog.

So it’s time to countdown the Top 10 albums played in 2016, from #10 all the way down to #1…

#10 Sia – This Is Acting (271 plays)

Sia released her seventh studio album (hard to believe, right?) “This Is Acting” back in January 2016 and reached #3 in the Official UK Charts. It features some amazing tracks including “Alive”, “Bird Set Free”, “Cheap Thrills” and “Move Your Body”. The album is great from start to finish and really has a lot of confidence about it, which is great for Sia after so many commercial failures of previous albums. Here is what A.V. Club said about the album around the time of it’s release…

 “There’s a clear theme here, and it’s emancipation—from fear, from doubt, and most of all, from feeling as though she wasn’t meant to be a star. Gone is the uncertainty that still clung to many of her earlier efforts at mainstream pop hits of her own; success has granted her the confidence to dive into the deep end of the mainstream music pool, and the results are potent.”

#9 Justin Bieber – Purpose (302 plays)

So this album was released back in 2015 (November 2015 to be precise) and even though the album is considered to be old, it has racked up a big number of plays this year. There were some big monster hits on the album including “Sorry”, “What Do You Mean?” and “Love Yourself”. This is the album that made me turn into a Bieber fan, it is packed full of well produced pop songs and is an album you can put on from start to finish and enjoy it for what it is. The album reached #2 in the UK Album Charts last year but takes the #9 position in my 2016 end of year chart, congratulations Justin! Here is what Consequence of Sound said about the album around the time of it’s release…

“Purpose reaches some of the highest highs and lowest lows in Bieber’s career. Skrillex and Diplo successfully serve up twitchy beats ready to incite anything with a pulse, but the sentiment at the album’s core leans toward insufferable. Even when Bieber hits mediocre, he reaches it by stumbling headfirst down a cliff.”

#8 Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman (316 plays)

At #8 this year is the album “Dangerous Woman” by American superstar Ariana Grande. The album was released back in May 2016 and since then has racked up a big amount of plays to land in the Top 10. This is the third studio album by Ariana and showcases much more of a mature sound from her. The album even managed to get all the way to #1 in the UK official Albums charts. There are many hit songs on this album and the tracks to watch out for would be lead single “Dangerous Woman”, “Side By Side”, “Be Alright”, “Into You” and “Thinking Bout You”. Here is what NME said about the album around the time of it’s release…

“Apart from the consistent songwriting clout that elevates this album from recent efforts by Grande’s teen-star peers, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez, the modish message of empowerment feels honest coming from Grande.”

#7 Beyoncé – Lemonade (377 plays)

Beyoncé made a big comeback this year with the release of her sixth studio album “Lemonade”. The album was released all the way back in April but she had a high profile appearance at the Super Bowl back in February along with Coldplay as well. This album took a few listens for me to really get into it, the initial shock of how dark the lyrics are will take you back, or so I found anyway. Nevertheless, there are some great stand out tracks on this album including “Sorry”, “Hold Up” and “Formation” which she performed at the Super Bowl. The album reached #1 in the UK Albums chart. A big amount of plays for the album this year and will it also get a few plays next year too? Here is what Spin had to say on the album…

“The album is out to sonorously suck you into its gully gravitational orbit the old fashioned way, placing the burden of conjuration on its steamy witches’ brew of beats, melodies, and heavy-hearted-to-merry-pranksterish vocal seductions. In her mastery of carnal and esoteric mysteries, Queen Bey raises the spirits, sizzles the flesh, and rallies her troops.”

#6 OneRepublic – Oh My My (392 plays)

I have been raving about this album for the past few months and despite only being released in October 2016, it has already racked up a staggering amount of plays. Go and check out the album now if you haven’t already. I fell in love with lead single to this album “Kids” as well as other stand out tracks “Future Looks Good”, “A.I.” and “Let’s Hurt Tonight” which is also the new single. I also got the opportunity to see them live at the Apple Music Festival in September and they were fantastic. The album is a real solid effort and should be a staple in anybody’s music collection. The album reached #6 in the UK Albums chart and here is what The Guardian had to say…

“This is their fourth album, but OneRepublic still sound like a testbed for frontman Ryan Tedder’s other job as a purveyor of top-drawer pop tunes to Beyoncé, Adele et al. Tedder has used his golden ear for hooks lavishly here: if OneRepublic’s 2014 hit Counting Stars was ear-wormy, these tracks are certified ear-centipedes.”

#5 Coldplay – A Head Full Of Dreams (427 plays)

So from one man band to another, Coldplay have also had a fantastic year after releasing this album (their seventh) back in December 2015. This album is also packed from start to finish with great tracks including “Adventure Of A Lifetime”, “Birds”, “Hymn For The Weekend”, “Everglow” and “Up&Up”. There was rumours that this would be their last ever studio album, but they have confirmed that an EP will be released early next year which is good news for fans like me. I had the pleasure of seeing Coldplay at the Wembley Stadium back in June and I was so close to them, being right at the front of the crowd. I wonder if the EP will gain some big plays next year too. The album reached #1 in the UK Albums chart also and here is what The Guardian had to say about it…

“A Head Full of Dreams is frustratingly blighted by the sense that Coldplay haven’t fully committed to the album’s big idea: It’s a moot point whether that’s a sign of innate conservatism or of a band that know exactly what they are doing, who understand that you won’t keep packing out those Midwestern sports stadiums if you frighten the horses.”

#4 Rihanna – ANTi (458 plays)

So at #4 we have the long awaited new album from Rihanna after nearly four years since her last. Rihanna released “ANTi” back in January 2016 and has since rocked up many plays also. The stand out track from the album has to be “Work” which is amongst my most played songs of the year as well as “Kiss It Better”, “Needed Me” and “Love On The Brain” which should have been picked to be a single. Rihanna has been plagued with many problems in recent years, and this album is described as one of her dark efforts. I am hoping she will come back again with another great album in the next couple of years, we shall have to see. The album reached #7 in the UK Albums chart and here is what Rolling Stone had to say about the album…

“Rihanna has remade pop music on her own terms with a sprawling masterpiece of psychedelic soul that’s far more straightforward than its tangled rollout.”

#3 Adele – 25 (476 plays)

What a phenomenal year it has been for Adele, this album has broken so many records for her commercially and is regarded as her best album to date. I have to agree, and even though I wasn’t much of an Adele fan before this album I consider myself to be now. This is her third studio album and was released back in November 2015, went to #1 in the UK Albums chart and also went 10x Platinum in the UK alone. I love the album, and despite there only being 11 tracks on the album it is pure perfection from start to finish, I can only imagine she would have been much higher if there were more tracks on the album to listen to. I would list the stand out tracks but literally each song on the album is a stand out track, just go and listen to it right now! Here is what AllMusic said at the time of release…

“Fittingly, 25 also plays better over the long haul, its march of slow songs steadily revealing subtle emotional or musical distinctions, where all 11 songs are … a piece … [of] shaded melancholy gaining most of their power through performance, and arguing that the cohesive sound only accentuates how Adele has definitively claimed this arena of dignified heartbreak as her own.”

#2 Britney Spears – Glory (503 plays)

Over 500 plays for the album “Glory” by Britney Spears, which is the ninth studio album released by the superstar. The album, comprising of many mainstream pop hits such as “Make Me…”, “Slumber Party”, “Just Luv Me”, “Do You Wanna Come Over?” and “Hard To Forget Ya”. The album was seen as a triumphant return to form for the singer who has had many troubles in her career, as well as her previous album “Britney Jean” being a commercial and critical flop. The album even reached #2 in the UK Albums chart back in August. Here is what Entertainment Weekly said on the LP…

The album is sounding like glimpses of the real Britney—her musical tastes, her voice—imperfections and all.

#1 All Saints – Red Flag (572 plays)

So here we are, the most played album of the year in my iTunes collection and it is the big comeback album by the girl group All Saints. They were huge in the late 1990’s, split up in 2001, then got back together in 2006 but this was short-lived and seen as a failure, before then reforming again in 2014 to perform many live gigs throughout the UK. 2016 saw them release brand new material in the form of their fourth studio album “Red Flag” and the results are tremendous. In the past, and even I could vouch for this, their albums have been seen as mixed full of hits and filler but this time around they have really worked on making a solid, cohesive sound on their album and I literally love every track on there. I also had the opportunity to see them perform as part of their latest tour back in October, and there are rumours that a new album from them could be coming as soon as next year to tie in with their tour with Take That, where All Saints will be supporting. I absolutely love them, I love the album and I am so glad to have them back and feel like they have a genuine love for each other again. The album reached #3 in the UK Albums chart and here is what Attitude magazine wrote about it at the time…

“The album has the sound of a group who still has plenty to offer in the here and now and a timeless return to form which extols the virtues of reuniting for the love of it rather than the money.”

The album is a real delight and would recommend it to anybody reading, you have to hear what they have cooked up. The most played song from the album is “One Strike”, I wonder where that will end up in the Top Tracks of the year, more on that later! Until then, you can check out my highlights clip of my time seeing them on tour back in October…

So there you have it, that was my most played albums of 2016. I hope you enjoyed my countdown and now you can check out the full list by clicking here. Please note, that as per Last.FM rules they no longer include compilation albums so even though there are some featured, these no longer count in the Albums chart.

Thank you for reading, I wonder what albums are going to be my favourites in 2017.

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