Music

The VICE Albums of the Year 2016

It's that time of year again! Just like last year! Just like every other oncoming year for the rest of time!
2016 december 20, 7:03am

As 2016 slams the brakes on, editors the breadth of the land put their feet up on the desk and just serve you some reconstituted yesterdays: top-10-20-30-50-100 countdowns of stuff that happened over the past 12 months.

But as you grind your way through multiple end-of-year music supplements banging on about A Tribe Called Quest's triumphant and necessary return, your eyes go oblong and there's a sense of intense, giddying deja vu. Haven't we seen it all before? In every other magazine/paper/webzine/cereal box? Like, every year? Forever?

Well, here's us helping you slice through the crap: this is The Only Top 49 Albums of the Year Countdown You'll Ever Need.

49: An artist "musing on mortality" but still alive.

48: An artist "musing on mortality" who died just after this was released.

47: Really should be musing on mortality a lot more, but hey, 25 always feels immortal, y'know, and sizzurp can be so insidious.

46: Was doing all that identity politics stuff years before it went mainstream.

45: "Originally written as an imaginary soundtrack for" oh fuck off.

44: You really tried with this one.

43: Everyone else gets it.

42: If you had time to listen to this in 2016 then we're all really sorry for whatever happened in your life.

41: Kate Tempest.

40: Return of artist whose raw public confession of homosexuality wasn't quite as good as Frank Ocean's because he had the misfortune not to work in a genre that hates gays.

39: Lucy Dacus or Tancred.

38: Van Morrison or Paul Simon.

37: Confessional Mental Health Redemptive Arc Thinkpiece with Boxout: Writer pens long memoir on how this record "saved" her from anxiety/depression/OCD issue.

36: Tireless cheerleading for Hillary was decisive in her losing three states.

35: So apparently we're all still pretending to like Savages this year?

34: Writer, carried away with weaving housing crisis narrative, forgets artist is actually the scion of billionaire property dynasty.

33: Parquet Courts.

32: Never high, never low, always there, always diaphanously spooky: yup this spot is reserved for hyper-dependable indie ox-person Bat for Lashes.

31: Actual bullshit.

30: Artist "announcing to the world exactly who he was, and that everyone needed to shut up and listen", apparently.

29: Sia.

28: Angel Olsen. Yes. And for this entire decade, you still haven't bothered to spend just five minutes googling who the fuck she is, have you? And even now you're not going to read this little appraisal to find out? No? Fine.

27: Thank god for Radiohead. At least someone's still making good old fashioned straight-down-the-line weird music.

26: The album of the year, a year ahead of its time.

25: Someone being lukewarm about The Avalanches.

24: "His anger at society's hegemonic structure provided the fuel to create an album that works to burn down oppression while celebrating his blackness." [Subs please fill in fragments or whole of this sentence for Dev/Kendrick/Danny Brown/Kevin Gates/YG/Frank Ocean/Chance as needed.]

23: Needless reference to Sade influence as signifier of so-uncool-its-cool, seemingly unaware of years-long project of Sade critical rehabilitation.

22: "Despite everything, somehow, it works." Where "somehow" = "because the editor needed this one in here to stand a chance of securing an interview next year".

21: Writer just ranting about Trump for first five paragraphs before tenuously-tied-to-artist point finally emerges.

20: Thankfully, this is the only moment of the year the term neo-soul ever has to cross anyone's radar.

19: Someone "coming of age".

18: Mentions "the narrative" of two stars dating in a way that doesn't even deign to respect the pretence of it being a real relationship; instead openly critiques the aesthetic/artistic "truth" of said dating "narrative". Yup, we're there already.

17: Skepta, with think-piece boxout: "The Year of the Grime Renaissance." Fifth straight year of same boxout.

16: Young Thug.

15: Someone trying to be Young Thug.

14: Someone trying to be the guy trying to be Young Thug.

13: Even this one is actually only the third-best album of the year with a track referencing Harambe.

12: Over-styled pop muppet, designed to show staff are still "in touch" with the charts, even though contrived new streaming-plus-radio-plus-downloads formulae mean that the charts themselves haven't been "in touch" with the public for four years.

11: Position of Sia album if she hadn't given all these songs to Rihanna as usual.

10: Beyonce. Boxout: "Are We at the Dawn of the Visual Album?" TL;DR: No.

9: Yes, it's a sentimentally high-placing for a posthumous release. Great. But everyone writing these warm revisionist elegies about the man's recent output really should be forced to do so while listening to Earthling.

8: Solange strategically a couple of places higher than Beyonce. Yup – suck on it, conventionalists.

7: October release date, croaky Americana, snow-dappled heartache, proof that End of Year List Music is now as real a genre as Oscar Bait – with the string arrangements done by many of the same people.

6: Thinkpiece: "Kanye's Cubist Masterpiece". Boxout timeline: "Kanye's Mad Year".

5 - 2: A few high-ranking albums of the year on Metacritic that the lazier hacks swotted up on and voted for to obscure the fact that they basically spent 2016 listening to nothing but Be Here Now, Doggystyle, In an Aeroplane Over the Sea and Room On Fire.

1: Album of the Year: Kings of Leon (Q); The 1975 (Nu-NME); Sven Vath (Mixmag); Neil Young (Uncut); Neil Young (Mojo); Neil Young (Classic Rock); Neil Young (Home & Garden); people humming transcendentally over distorted tape loops of concrete being laid (The Wire).

@gavhaynes

(Collage photos: Jenny McCambridge; Jarle Vines; Flickr user Charice L; Michael Straubmuller; Abby Gillardi; Kim Metso; Jon Elbaz; Batiste Safont; Kirk Stauffer)

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2016: When the World Fucks You and Leaves

Don't Blame '2016' for Your Shitty Year