When my parents purchased our family’s first CD player (c. 1991), my brother and I were each allowed to buy a CD. At age five, my choice was The Trollies Radio Sing-A-Long. I listened (and sang a long) to the CD constantly, from start to finish, multiple times a day. (This song probably still haunts my parents). As my tastes became a bit more sophisticated and I finally got the radio/dual cassette tape/CD player of my dreams, I stocked up on the essentials, ie: Mariah Carey’s Fantasy, No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom, the Monsters of Rap compilation CD, Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, etc. There was something magical about listening to these (and many other CDs) from start to finish and it’s now, it’s pretty cool to have some tunes that are a soundtrack to certain moments in life.
Being able to listen to an entire album without skipping a track is still a measure I judge music by. Listening on Spotify isn’t quite as exciting as making a trip to the music store and having a copy in my hands, but hearing a musician’s full 60-ish minutes and 10-ish tracks gives me a twinge of nostalga for being a kid. When Beyoncé released her new album in April, I got sucked into the Lemonade vortex with the rest of America and since then, it seems that solid start-to-finish albums are being released faster than I can listen to them, which makes me super happy.
Here’s what I’ve had on repeat for the better part of 2016:
Rihanna – ANTI
Like every girl in her mid to late 20’s, most Rihanna songs remind me of drinking Malibu rum at an overcrowded club that didn’t look very closely at my fake ID. So, I never took her too seriously until I heard her cover of a Tame Impala song and saw Questlove’s endorsement of ANTI on Instagram. The production on this album is killer and it’s all so fun to listen to.
James Blake – The Colour in Anything
Great music for getting in the zone during a long day at your desk. Plus, Frank Ocean wrote a few songs on this track list, which helped me wait out the high anticipation for that new album (see below).
Frank Ocean – Blonde
The buzz built for Frank Ocean’s new album was insane. The New York Times even went so far to (falsely) announce the album’s release date and reported the wrong album name. Blonde is no Channel Orange (Ocean’s amazing breakout album), but I hear and appreciate something new every time I listen.
Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
This dude is a prolific 23-year-old rapper with an impressive list of collaborations under his belt. His music was hard to find prior to the release of this album, which feels like going to church: lots of gospel choir and good feelings.
Beyoncé – Lemonade
No further explanation needed.
Other honorable mentions: Solange – Seat at the Table, Bon Iver – 22, A Million, Anderson .Paak – Malibu.
What’s playing on repeat for you this year?