Monday, December 12, 2011

Favorite Things Week: Albums of 2011

This is my last week of posts for 2011 and I thought I'd get all Oprah with it and give you five days of *cue the Oprah voice* favorite thinggggggsssss.  Well...I guess it doesn't quite pack the same punch as Oprah.  I mean, unless you can hear her in your head saying favorite things like I hear her in mine.  Anywho, each day this week, I'll bring you some of my favorites in the pop culture world, culminating with my top ten list of favorite books of 2011 on Friday.  So let's get it started (no Black Eyed Peas).

I love, love, LOVE music, so it should come as no surprise that I have an opinion about the best albums of 2011.  Yeah, I'm old, I still call them albums.  Now I generally listen to audio books in the car, but occasionally a CD will come along that makes me pack my books away and sing along while I drive.  Here are my top five favorites of albums released this year.

5. All of Me: The Prequel by Estelle

I've been a fan of Estelle since I heard the infectious beat of Wait A Minute a few years ago.  I loved it so much that I went back and found her first CD, The 18th Day, and jammed out to that one too.  But it's been a few years since Estelle put out anything.  She kept tweeting that she was working on something and when Freak, a great song with catchy lyrics and a deep house beat, came out, I was convinced that the album was finally on its way. Not!  But Estelle assures her fans that it's coming and in the meantime, she released a mix tape to tide us over.  There's absolutely no way to listen to it and not find yourself twerkin'.  If you haven't yet, be sure to download your free copy here and be on the look out for the official release of All of Me.

4. As Above, So Below by Anthony David
Anthony David's voice is like cognac, it goes down smooth and stays with you for awhile.  Most of us were introduced to him when he did a duet with India.Arie called Words back in 2008.  He's actually been putting out albums since 2004 and each one just gets better.  His duet with Algebra on 4Evermore had to have been the feel good wedding song of the year.

3. 4 by Beyonce'
I confess, I had some doubts about  4 before I heard it, based on King B's last CD.  While B-day was everything, I Am...Sasha Fierce left SO much to be desired.  My first listen to 4 confirmed that Bey was indeed ready to reclaim her title.  I didn't, and still don't, care for 1+1 or I Care very much, but the rest of the album? She's giving us 80s/90s pop diva all over the place.  And if you had enough sense to purchase the deluxe version, you were treated to some real gems that weren't included on the regular version, including my favorite, Schoolin Life.  I was disappointed that Bey didn't make a video of it or perform it at her Live at Roseland concert.  With 4, she clearly got her grown woman on.

2. Watch the Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West

I was really afraid that I wouldn't like this album and that I'd have to cancel my membership in the Jay-Z stan club.  Kanye's last few CDs have left something to be desired, in my opinion, and I wasn't sure that the two of them could pull this off.  Wrong!  Watch the Throne stayed in rotation for months.  I don't think I listened to an audio book from the moment it came out in August through the end of September.  I was relieved when my literary twin, J Nic, came to visit.  I didn't know if she loved it as much as I did, but we played it the entire time she visited (when we weren't listening to 4).  Then @HuskyBro_Inc, who I knew detested Jay & Ye, got in the car.  I didn't tell him what I was listening to, I just let it play.  I looked over and he was bobbing his head, so I knew it was safe to unleash the "a-ha" on him.  I have to tell you, not only did he like Watch the Throne, he liked 4.  I converted him!

The Watch the Throne tour didn't make it to St. Louis, but someone on YouTube shot great footage of the Montreal concert.  Here's one of my favorites.

1. 21 by Adele

There are a handful of artists that I love, but they depress the dog stank out of me.  There's Donny Hathaway, Phyllis Hyman and, now, Adele.  I can't even tell you how many times I've listened to 21 in its entirety, never taking it out of the CD player.  It stayed on a continuous loop for months.  Even when I got out of the car, I'd listen at work or in the house...constantly.  Adele has a voice that makes unicorns cry and unicorns are magical, mystical, pretty damn happy creatures, no?  That lush voice combined with heart wrenching lyrics are enough to bring grown men to their knees.  I could be having a perfectly good day, start listening to Adele and start questioning my existence on my earth.  She's that damn good.  I can't even pick a favorite song on 21, each one speaks to me in a different way.  I'll just leave you with her singing Someone Like You while she lounges at home with just a piano player.  No autotune, no studio effects, just her clear and perfect voice.

So how about you? Which albums stayed in rotation in your car or home this year?

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