The 50 Best Albums of 2016
Now that 2016 is finally slowing down, it’s a perfect time for us to reflect on the past year in the world of music. Much like any other year, this year came with its own set of triumphs, tragedies, innovations, and throwbacks, but it was also unprecedented in a lot of unexpected ways. This may have been one of the best times for hip hop that we’ve ever seen, boasting releases from well-established artists like Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, and Danny Brown, breakthrough records from Noname, Isaiah Rashad, and Anderson .Paak, and a final album from the legendary A Tribe Called Quest, among countless others. Beyond this incredible outpouring of hip hop, we also experienced a surprising and heartbreaking string of final releases from artists who passed away this year, including David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, and A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg. Frank Ocean finally released his second album (and his third!) after a four-year wait. The Avalanches finally released their second album after a sixteen-year wait. Bon Iver and Childish Gambino decided to change genres completely. Jeff Rosenstock decided to be a dozen different genres all at once. Beyoncé inspired a new wave of poptimism like never before. Radiohead and Nick Cave both made their saddest albums yet, despite nobody realizing that was even possible. Couple all of this with exciting new trends in R&B (Blood Orange, Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino), the revival of exciting old trends in indie rock (Frankie Cosmos, Car Seat Headrest, Angel Olsen), a ton of new garage rock classics (King Gizzard, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees), and much more, and this was not a year to be missed. As a whole, it was a dense, complex, emotional, and ultimately, very satisfying time for music.
And so, in order to commemorate this past year, here are fifty of our favorite albums of 2016 from all of us over at WPTS Radio. The rankings here were determined by aggregating the opinions of many of our staffers, each of whom listed at least ten of their favorite albums that came out in the last twelve months. Each album on the list is accompanied by a brief piece written by one of our staffers, detailing why it stood out so significantly amongst the countless other great releases of the year. We hope that you’ll join us in looking back at many of the best moments of 2016, rediscovering some of the overlooked albums that are worth giving another listen, and taking the time to just sit back and appreciate what a year it’s been.
-Andre Lebrun, Music Director