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Under the Radar’s Top 100 Albums of 2016

Everybody Knows Music Helped Us All Through This Tough Year

Dec 16, 2016 Bookmark and Share

Everybody knows the dice were loaded in 2016. Everybody knows the election was fixed, everybody knows the good gal lost. Everybody knows, that’s how it goes, in 2016. Everybody’s got this broken feeling, like too many legends just died and we got a future president who lied and lied. Everybody knows Brexit caused woes. The poor stay poor, the rich get rich, that’s just how it goes.

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky, David Bowie went to heaven, joined by Prince, Leonard Cohen, and Ms. Sharon Jones. We lost some great ones in 2016, and not just musicians, there was the dad from Growing Pains and the mom from The Brady Bunch, the first American to orbit the Earth, and the most inspiring boxer of all time. Maybe we lost a bit of democracy too. The most divisive and toxic U.S. election in recent memory culminated with a result few in the artistic community wanted to accept, foreshadowing an uncertain 2017. The popular vote meant little, perhaps thanks to the meddling of state sponsored foreign hackers. You wanted it darker baby, well 2016 left us all black and blue, but as usual, there was a plethora of worthy music to distract us from the doom and gloom.

In this day and age there seems to be more and more music fighting for our attention at the click of a mouse or smart-phone screen. Music fans are often living on fast food sound snacks, quickly disposed of in favor of the next nibble. But there were many musical main courses worth considering in 2016. We’ve narrowed it down to 100. They include aforementioned musical icons issuing their final albums at death’s door, a sophomore album 16 years in the making, a concept record about a grieving bride, and even one EP, by reunited shoegazing legends who broke up again soon after its release.

So how did we arrive at such a menu? Twenty-one of our writers and editors (including myself and my co-publisher/wife Wendy) each submitted their personal Top 45 albums of 2016 lists and then those were all combined and calculated together to form this master list. For an album to make the list it had to be picked by at least three writers, but most were picked by more than that. Our #1 album was the runaway winner, with all but two of those who voted having it on their list somewhere. Each of the rest of Top 10 were picked by anywhere from 11 to 16 of our writers, so it was a true consensus. There are tens of thousands of albums released each year and there are some good ones that almost made our list, check out our forthcoming honorable mentions list for some of those.

So everybody may know that 2016 wasn’t the greatest year for many (but there have been worse). Leonard Cohen may have called it back in 1988, the dice are loaded in many ways. But dearly beloved, in 2017 let’s roll them anyway, and let’s dance and let’s go crazy, despite the rough times the next four to eight years may bring. It’s what David, Prince, Leonard, and Sharon would’ve wanted.

Check out our full Top 100 albums of 2016 list in our list section here.


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