These are my personal picks, and boy is this a weird list. Mostly because, while I am a huge music lover of all genres, I find myself primarily cycling between rock, metal, and k-pop.
Going through my extensively long Spotify playlist of favorites, I managed to narrow things down to a “top ten” format. My preferences and yours are definitely going to vary this time around.
You may find yourself citing Childish Gambino’s latest album, The Weeknd, or Beyonce, as the best 2016 had to offer. While I don’t disagree that those are solid picks, they’re not exactly in my daily playlist.
Without further ado, here are my ten favorite albums of 2016 that I recommend giving a try if you haven’t already!
10. The Clan Pt. 2 by Monsta X
I think my Shownu bias is showing, so to speak. One of my favorite k-pop albums of 2016 has to be the latest entry from Monsta X. I can’t fathom why this group doesn’t get the same degree of recognition as groups like EXO, BTS, TWICE, or Blackpink. There’s no question they deserve it. Hopefully they get more time in the spotlight in 2017!
9. Ex’act by EXO
This album, along with Monsta X’s latest entry, are my top k-pop picks of 2016. Again, this is all personal opinion, and I drafted a dedicated k-pop list if you’re interested in more of the genre’s highlights. Overall, Ex’act was a pleasant surprise… especially Monster! I’ve been a fan of EXO for a while, so I can say with confidence that this album is the apex of their impressive discography. I’m excited to see what 2017 has in store for the group and the adorable 10th prince Baekhyun (see Scarlet Heart Ryeo).
8. Rock is Dead by Dorothy
I’m a huge fan of female-fronted rock bands, and Dorothy is no exception. I recently discovered this gem of a band during an 8-hour car trip. Not only was I content to listen to this album from beginning to end (a rarity for someone with my level of musical impatience), but I found myself wanting to listen to Rock is Dead more than once. If Dorothy ever tours with the likes of Pretty Reckless and Halestorm, you can bet I’m throwing down all of my money to grab tickets!
7. The Boy Who Died Wolf by Highly Suspect
A major shoutout to my little brother who suggested I listen to Highly Suspect… I was not disappointed. In fact, this band has managed to rekindle my love for traditional rock music. The Boy Who Died Wolf is pure artistry from start to finish with trippy tracks like My Name is Human and heartfelt pieces like Send Me an Angel. This is definitely one of the best debut albums from a band I’ve heard in quite some time. Keep your eyes on Highly Suspect, they have a bright future ahead of them!
6. Hardwired… to Self-Destruct by Metallica
Ah yes, it’s time to throw out a nod to Metallica. I realize they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is nevertheless a solid return to form after a lengthy 8-year hiatus. Kudos, not just for incredible tracks like Moth Into Flame (which will get stuck in your head), but for not dropping another St. Anger disaster.
5. Dystopia by Megadeth
As a huge Megadeth fan, I was thrilled to get my hands on Dystopia at the beginning of 2016. I’ve revisited this album several times, and always manage to find something new to love about it. One of my favorite tracks on the album is Conquer or Die. This musical masterpiece tells a unique story, one that I’m content to listen to on replay over and over again.
4. Magma by Gojira
This French metal band keeps getting better and better as the years go by. I first fell in love with the band after listening to their album L’Enfant Sauvage. Magma is a bit of a change of pace from classic Gojira, and I found myself really enjoying the direction. Not only is Silvera a new Gojira, so is Shooting Star, which is downright haunting. Love Gojira, love their new album, and I’m curious to see how they top this one in the years to come!
3. Gore by Deftones
I love the Deftones, and firmly believe that they’ve never released a bad album. Gore is everything I’d hoped it would be and more. Continuing the somber tonality introduced in 2012’s Koi No Yokan, Gore is pure musical bliss from start to finish. I specifically love Hearts/Wires and Phantom Bride, as they speak directly to my heart.
2. The North Corridor by Chevelle
I wasn’t as big on Chevelle’s previous album, La Gárgola, as I probably should have been. I felt like the toned down pacing was just a touch too slow, and didn’t live up to other entries in Chevelle’s discography. I was pleasantly surprised by The North Corridor, which went in a much harder direction. Tracks like Young Wicked show why this band is one of the best hard rock groups around. Overall, The North Corridor is definitely one of Chevelle’s best.
1. Blackstar by David Bowie
We lost a lot of greats in 2016, including the legendary David Bowie. I get chills listening to Blackstar, as it’s full of melancholy conversation and artistic expression. The kind that only David Bowie could pull off. There’s no one else in the musical realm quite like Bowie, just as there’s no album this year quite like Blackstar. It’s a must-listen, even if only to pay your respects to the late, great Duke.
Now that I’ve shared my personal picks, I turn things over to you guys. Let me know which albums were among your top picks for 2016!