2016 stole some of our favorite musicians, but gave us these 50 amazing albums


What a crazy year for music.

We’ve lost innumerable high-profile musicians and songwriters, witnessed heated battles between artists and streaming services, and even seen the hospitalization of one of the music world’s biggest icons.

If this year’s happenings have taught us anything it’s this: Even when the light at the end of the tunnel feels like it’s slowly fading, great artwork will always prevail. And in that spirit, despite major challenges in the music industry and the world at large, 2016 was one of the best years for new music we’ve seen in a long time.

Each week this year, we’ve have had the distinct pleasure of listening to as much new music as possible, hoping not only to help ease the stresses of the world around us, but also the stresses of choice that can be a burden for the modern listener. We’ve listened to all of of the most-hyped (and many of the lesser-known) records and assembled our favorites into this ranked list of 50. Here, you will find newcomers and long-established artists alike, a living, breathing portrait of some of the most exciting sounds being made today.

Here are our top 50 albums of the year, for your listening pleasure. Want to explore in more depth? Check out our full Spotify playlist.

1. David Bowie — Blackstar

David Bowie’s final album is a dense and melodic look straight into the eyes of the end of his days, offered to the world by one of its greatest-ever songwriters. Every one of Blackstar’s 41 minutes feels vitally important to this tombstone work, a maze of jazz-influenced sounds that will keep many pondering life’s true meaning for years to come.

Buy on Amazon Buy on iTunes

2. Frank Ocean — Blonde

In a musical universe that feeds on hype, the four-year wait for Frank Ocean’s second studio album felt like it bolstered impossibly high critical expectations. But even so, Blonde is all that we hoped it could be and more. Within are 17 tracks of experimental R&B with soulful interludes and introverted musical explorations — including some of the downright hippest chord structures we’ve ever heard from a major release. There’s almost no drums on Blonde, an album which instead relies on the singer’s own beautifully melodic musings to drive it from start to finish.

Buy on Amazon Buy on iTunes

3. Beyoncé — Lemonade

The immense sense of empowerment felt by women — and particularly women of color — at the hands of Beyoncé’s sixth studio album is unparalleled in the world of pop. Searingly honest and staggeringly diverse in form and structure, the musical queen uses intimate personal pains and superimposes them on the downtrodden at large, grabbing listeners by the scruff of the neck for a journey of self-acknowledgement, actualization, and improvement.

Buy on Amazon Buy on iTunes

4. Leonard Cohen — You Want It Darker

Leonard Cohen’s final work is a gritty canvas of darkness painted with sandpaper-like vocals and tempered by church choir vocals, piano, and organ. You Want It Darker is a musical work that showcases the ideological battles that humanity faces at life’s end, a weighty tome in which the recently deceased songwriter fights a losing battle — hand to hand, lyric to lyric — with death itself.

Buy on Amazon Buy on iTunes

5. Anderson .Paak — Malibu

Anderson .Paak burst onto the music scene early this year, following a signing to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath imprint and several high-profile collaborations with the LA hip-hop mogul. Despite his high-profile sideman work, it’s his own record which revolutionized the sounds of 2016. A bright batch of upbeat singles that puts a bow on Southern California’s recent jazz-influenced hip-hop renaissance, Malibu is a release without a single dull moment that will have you dancing from first song to last.

Buy on Amazon Buy on iTunes

Music

From Jay Rock to Saba, these are the 50 best albums of 2018

We've spent the year listening to new albums, digging deep, and culling our master list into 50 favorites. From blockbuster releases to hidden gems, these are the best albums of 2018.
Music

Tune in to the best internet radio stations for your listening pleasure

Even in the streaming era, radio stations get some of the best exclusives and curate some of the finest handpicked playlists around. Here are the best internet radio stations, for your listening pleasure.
Movies & TV

The best Christmas TV episodes and specials

To help get you in the spirit of the season, we've compiled a list of the best Christmas TV episodes and specials. Whether it's free episodes on your favorite streaming service, or stop-motion classics, look no further.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Computing

Block out the sun and drown out the haters with Bose’s new AR sunglasses

Bose has announced its quirkiest listening device yet, a pair of headphone-integrated sunglasses that allow you to meander the brightest places with your favorite tunes in tow. Called the Frames, the glasses will sport 3.5 hours of battery.
Home Theater

Spotify Wrapped reveals rad facts about your musical tastes and habits

The website may be a bit tough to find at first, but Spotify Wrapped tells you awesome facts about your year in listening. From how many minutes you spent jamming out to your top artists, and beyond, there's a lot to dig into.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.
Music

From Paul McCartney to Mariah Carey, this is the best holiday music

Whether you're a fan of classic jazz standards or modern R&B masterpieces, there's something for everyone on our playlist of the best holiday music. Pour some eggnog and curl up by the fire, this one is sure to get you in the holiday…
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Music

The best new music this week: Josh Homme, Domo Genesis, and more

Are you looking for the best new music? Each week, we scour the internet to find the most compelling new releases just for you. On tap this week: Josh Homme, Domo Genesis, Eddie Palmieri, and Jacob Collier.
Music

Apple Music may sign up more exclusive artists with purchase of Platoon

Apple purchased London-based Platoon, which is a startup that helps independent musicians get discovered by major labels. The acquisition may help Apple Music sign up more exclusive artists.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Music

Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ becomes the most-streamed 20th-century song

Queen's iconic Bohemian Rhapsody has become the most-streamed 20th-century song. Knocking Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit off the top spot, the British band's 1975 classic has now been streamed 1.6 billion times globally.
Music

Jam out in style with the 25 best playlists on Spotify

Music is the world's most potent drug, and the best playlists on Spotify will make you catch feelings. We've scoured the service for its top collections, and brought them together in one place -- for you.
1 of 10