fun. - Some Nights
Being a fan of so many different musical genres, there is nothing I love more than when two seemingly disparate genres are fused together to create something fresh. But very rarely is that fusion handle as well as on Some Nights, the second full-length album by the indie rock band, fun. Their decision to go with a hip-hop producer (Jeff Bhasker) has effectively shaped and helped realize one of the year's best albums. Highlights include Some Nights, We Are Young, Carry On and All Alright.
Imagine Dragons - Night Visions
Another pairing between an indie rock band and a hip-hop producer. This time around, its the Nevada-based Imagine Dragons and the English producer Alex Da Kid, who come together to build upon the success of their Continued Silence EP, a record that originally spawned their current hits, Radioactive and It's Time. Other highlights include On Top of the World, Amsterdam, Underdog and Nothing Left to Say/Rocks.
Zedd - Clarity
By and large, this is the most impressive debut by an EDM artist I've heard. The German producer, Zedd, came to fame due to his remix of Lady Gaga's Marry The Night, a song that had one of the meanest rubber duck basslines ever. With Clarity, Zedd has shown the world that he indeed has other tricks up his sleeve. Why he wasn't given a Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album is anybody's guess, but that does not change the fact that Clarity is one of the year's finest EDM offerings. Highlights include Spectrum, Lost At Sea, Fall Into The Sky and Follow You Down.
Usher - Looking 4 Myself
I lost my taste for straight-up R&B some time ago, which might explain why I wasn't too excited or impressed by Usher's previous album, Raymond V Raymond. But with Looking 4 Myself, Usher has not only pushed the boundaries of the R&B genre, he has also ended up with quite possibly his most praise-worthy album till date. Nothing can ever take away the feeling of wonder I felt the first time I heard the title track, a song that is as far away from straight-up R&B as you can get, without losing any of the genre's soul and groove. Highlights include Climax, Lemme See, Looking 4 Myself and Numb.
No Doubt - Push and Shove
It's hard to believe that it's been 9 years since No Doubt's 2003 greatest hits album (The Singles 1992-2003). Maybe it's because we've been blessed with two Gwen Stefani solo albums between then and now. Either way, their latest release sounds just as good as the older stuff, and its nice to see a band that isn't trying to conform to the current electro pop craze. Highlights include Looking Hot, Push and Shove, Undercover, Sparkle and Heaven.
Madonna - MDNA
The queen of pop is back, and its a testament to her versatility that she is still relevant in the music industry after nearly 30 years. After the more urban sound of her previous album, Hard Candy, MDNA marks a return to the familiar dance-pop oriented sound of her 2005 album. She hooks up with past collaborators, Stuart Price and William Orbit, and current-generation hit makers like Benny Benassi and Martin Solveig, and together they've been able to produce a worthy successor to Confessions on the Dance Floor. Highlights include I'm Addicted, Love Spent and Masterpiece.
Robbie Williams - Take the Crown
Ke$ha - Warrior
A rather late entry in a year of great music, but one that is very much worthy of inclusion. Ke$ha introduced the world to her electro pop, heavily-autotuned (not to mention highly-addictive) madness in her debut album, Animal, and its follow-up EP, Cannibal. With Warrior, she tries to prove that she isn't a one trick pony. She even dropped her usual autotuned vocals for a couple of choice songs, making it apparent that she sings with a bit of a country drawl. She drew inspiration from genres like old school rock 'n roll and country, and the way they've been infused into her music is nothing short of amazing. Highlights include Die Young, Crazy Kids, Wherever You Are and Supernatural.
deadmau5 - > album title goes here <
Bruno Mars - Unorthodox Jukebox
One of the year's most eagerly awaited albums manages to sneak into my list of favorites following its December release. And already it is apparent that Bruno Mars has cut another record just teeming with future hits. It was fun watching his previous album (Doo wops and Hooligans) churn out hit song after hit song, and I am fairly confident that Unorthodox Jukebox is prime to follow suit. Highlights include Locked Out Of Heaven, Gorilla, Treasure and Natalie.
And the winner is...
fun. - Some Nights
While I had somehow managed to not crown the lead single, We Are Young, as my favorite song for 2012 yesterday, there is no denying that the complete set deserves today's top honor. After all, it is the only one on my short list of favorites that is also vying for an Album of the Year Grammy next year. It has some fierce competition though, from the likes of The Black Key's El Camino and Mumford & Sons' Babel. But you never know with these things, so I'll be rooting for the underdog once again. Hopefully I won't be disappointed a second year in a row.