The 21 Best Pop Albums of 2016

beyonce-lemonade

2016 is almost coming to an end so it is time to look back at some of the pop highlights of the year. A lot of big pop stars dropped an album this year and of course we were surprised by some impressive debuts as well. These are the 21 best pop albums of 2016!

21. Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman
Ariana Grande Dangerous Woman

“It was a big year for Ariana Grande with a successful album and some big radio hits. The pop star did not deliver a flawless record, but the highs were high enough to give Dangerous Woman a place in this list. Ariana effortlessly mixes pop, soul, contemporary R&B and even some hints of jazz and funk into an enjoyable mix that could have delivered 10 hits instead of 3.”

20. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
bruno-mars-24k-magic

“Bruno Mars made us wait for his third studio album, but when it finally came out we were treated to a delicious mix of funk, pop, old school R&B, all performed by those gorgeous silk like vocals. He shows more attitude than ever before but who can blame him, he is a super star with yet another great album to back up the hype.”

19. Bastille – Wild World
Bastille Wild World

“Where artists are often struggling for a direction on their sophomore album, the guys of Bastille went all in and stayed true to their sound while improving it. It could have been a little more compact, but they keep our attention with bombastic uptempos and heartbreaking ballads. If anything Wild World proved that Bastille is here to stay.”

18. Gwen Stefani – This Is What The Truth Feels Like
Gwen Stefani Truth

“Gwen Stefani takes us on an emotional journey on This Is What The Truth Feels Like. We experience her break up and we share with her the new found love. This is a relatable ‘break up and falling in love again’ album full of strong hooks and contemporary productions that still feel unmistakably Gwen. and as long as Gwen does Gwen, she still sounds believable and cool, even after ten years!”

17. Clare Maguire – Stranger Things Have Happened
clare maguire stranger things have happened

“British singer-songwriter Clare Maguire disappeared from the public eye for years after her debut record came out to deal with her demons and by the time nobody was expecting her to release anything anymore, she came back swinging with a dark and moody, but highly personal, classy singer-songwriter pop record. To dive so deep in your own soul to deliver these moving tunes absolutely deserves respect!”

16. Kensington – Control
Kensington Control

“Kensington is easily the most successful band of the Netherlands at the moment, but their home country is becoming way to small for them. Their infectious and powerful brand of pop rock deserves an international audience and Eloi’s gloriously raw vocals need to be heard by more. On Control Kensington goes deeper, harder and louder, leaving more room for experiments which results in a dynamic and cohesive record that might well be their best to date!”

15. Delta Goodrem – Wings of the Wild
delta goodrem wings of the wild

“Australian pop star Delta Goodrem is one of the masters in the contemporary piano pop genre, but incorporated some dance influences in her sound as well these days. Wings of the Wild might not have been bold enough to bring Delta’s international success back, but it perfectly showcases what she is capable of in terms of songwriting, vocals and irresistible pop melodies. No wonder she still is one of Australia’s biggest stars!”

14. Zayn – Mind of Mine
Zayn Mind of Mine

“When you’re writing about the newest releases in music, you sometimes dismiss certain elements of an album that later creep up on you in all their glory. I initially criticized Zayn’s debut for missing hooks, but they do unfold themselves with every listen. It is safe to say Mind of Mine is a brave record from a former boyband member. Zayn created an R&B infused smooth pop sound with an edge that does not go for the big and bombastic, but more for the subtle and understated. That fits him perfectly and I think he will only grow in the foreseeable future.”

13. Britney Spears – Glory
britney spears glory

“Britney Spears might not be the energetic performer she once was anymore, she might not be the greatest vocalist either, but that does not mean she can’t make a great pop record. Glory is a well balanced mix between contemporary sounds and a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Furthermore, she actually sounds passionate and like she was having fun recording this. Britney shows she still has got what it takes with a well produced and hook overloaded new album!”

12. Aurora – All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend
Aurora Demons Greeting Friend

“Norwegian pop star Aurora Aksnes had been treating us to some impressive singles in 2015 and this year it was finally time for her full length debut. It turned out to be a perfect introduction to this young artist, who could definitely become the next big thing. There is just something about her, her fairytale like songs and those irresistibly strong pop melodies. If this is what she can come up with at the age of 19, I can’t wait to hear the masterpiece she will produce in five years time.

11. Solange – A Seat At The Table
solange-a-seat-at-the-table

“It is safe to say that this album finally gave Solange the recognition she deserves as a pop star in her own right. Lyrically, A Seat At The Table is relevant and important. It is not incredibly catchy but when given some time it melodically unfolds itself beautifully. Solange delivered her most personal, daring and mature work so far and both in terms of message and sound, it is an impresive step forward.”

10. The Weeknd – Starboy
the-weeknd-starboy

“Most big artists take at least two years to work on new music after the release of a successful album, but not The Weeknd. Last year he turned into a worldwide super star with the release of Beauty Behind the Madness which made the top 10 of A Bit of Pop Music’s best albums of 2015 and only a year later he drops yet another brilliant collection of modern R&B, this time with some electronica influences (thanks Daft Punk!). Listening to this album from start to finish is a sensation. I won’t say no to another one next year!”

09. Shura – Nothing’s Real
Shura Nothings Real

“About half of the track on Shura’s full length debut were released in some form already, but listening to them in the context of the record is such a revelation. There is literally no weak track to be found here and the way everything just merges into one another is exquisit. Nothing’s Real is hands down the richest debut record in terms of production, lyrical depth and melodies I have heard in quite a while! The electronic pop music scene shines even brighter with this release.”

08. JoJo – Mad Love
jojo-mad-love

“After a years long battle to get some new music out, it must feel like a total triumph for JoJo to finally drop another album and fair play to her, it sounds like one as well. She delivers a well balanced and fresh contemporary pop record with a thick R&B twist. The compositions are strong, the productions completely on point and her vocals grew into a mature powerhouse. If anything is proven by this release, it is that there is no stopping JoJo’s passion for music and boy are we thankful for that!”

07. Sia – This Is Acting
Sia This Is Acting

“Admitted, Sia’s This Is Acting is not your most diverse record in terms of sound, but she sure does something right as every single chorus hits home. The record full of tracks written for other artists turned out to be the one that further underlined her status as one of the biggest pop stars on the planet at the moment. Although ‘Cheap Thrills’ brought Sia her first number 1, it is one of the weaker tunes on the album if you ask me. If one of the weaker is still number 1 worthy, you know this is a great pop album!”

06. Tove Lo – Lady Wood
tove-lo-lady-wood

“Tove Lo showed progression with a more electronic sound on her sophomore album, which fits her like a glove. The whole record sounds like a unity, without repeating itself. The topics of the tracks are completely relatable and her songwriting style is straight to the point. The productions are immaculate from start to finish and Tove Lo truly is the coolest girl in pop at the moment.”

05. Rihanna – ANTI
rihanna-anti

“In more than one aspect, ANTI could be regarded as Rihanna’s first real album. Although she has brought us a long list of brilliant pop and R&B hits, it is the first time one of her records feels like a cohesive body of work, probably as Rihanna had a bigger role in the whole recording and production this time. The result is darker, more daring and more progressive R&B with the soulful throwback ‘Love On The Brain’ as the absolute highlight. Rihanna is setting trends instead of following them on her latest hits.”

04. Frank Ocean – Blonde
Frank Ocean Blonde

Blonde is an outstanding body of work that needs your complete attention in order to fully wash over you in all its glory. It’s a brave effort that goes deep in terms of lyrics and reaches high when it comes to innovative production and build up of the tracks. Like no other, he builds unique and detailed soundscapes you can get completely lost in. This was well worth the four years wait!”

03. BANKS – The Altar
BANKS The Altar

“BANKS knew exactly what she wanted to do with this sophomore record, stepping up her game after an already impressive debut. It kept the key elements that turned Goddess into a success, dared to push her boundaries and let us look deep into her soul once again. Both sonically and emotionally, The Altar is one of the most pleasing records of the year. The raw heartache on this record is almost unchallenged.”

02. Lady Gaga – Joanne
lady-gaga-joanne

“It is hard to compare Joanne to any of Gaga’s earlier work as the sound and production is drastically different from anything she has done before, but the big pop choruses and irresistible hooks are still there. Gaga sounds more organic, personal and if you ask her, she would probably say she sounds more like herself. Joanne is an exciting reinvention from an artist who is not afraid to take risks and still has a lot to offer!”

01. Beyoncé – Lemonade
Beyonce Lemonade

“This ‘conceptual project based on every woman’s journey of self-knowledge and healing’ is my absolute favourite album of the year. Striking about this record is how easily Beyoncé seems to blend genres and still make it sound like a cohesive body of work. We move from hip hop, to country and from rock back to piano ballads and it all works. The story, both sonically and visually, is a journey through a whole lot of emotions and every single part convinces. Lemonade will for sure be looked back on as a defining album of its time, both sonically and in terms of message.”

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