For the first time, Better Live Than Dead will be crowning their “Album of the Year”.
As you may have noticed, over the past calendar year we have expanded our reach into the entertainment world. We have begun to review multiple record releases in an attempt to expand our brand to new readers throughout the interweb land.
In 2016, there were a good amount of musicians who released albums, in multi-genres, that found themselves worthy of the “Album of the Year” praise.
Here are the albums that garnered Album of the Year praise.
Twenty One Pilots – Blurryface
We all should know about this album by now. If you don’t, have you been living under a rock?
2016 was a big year for the duo, who spent most of the calendar year on a worldwide tour. Twenty One Pilots’ star has turned white-hot from January to December.
Blurryface was released in May 2015 and has grown in success with the band. Currently, the album sits 15th on Billboard’s Top 200. The album has spent 84 weeks in the Top 200, has peaked at number 1 and still continues to re-rise up the charts.
According to Billboard, this album also features the Top 2 Hot Rock Songs of the Year with “Stressed Out” and “Ride”.
The album itself quickly became one of the album’s of the year but because of its aforementioned May 2015 release, it is not eligible to win the prestigious BLTD Album of the Year.
Panic! at the Disco – Death of a Bachelor
This album instantly became Panic! at the Disco’s best release in the band’s history. Death of a Bachelor sold 190k album-equivalent units, with 182k coming from physical album sales. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, which marks a first for the group.
Death of a Bachelor marks itself as a Panic! At the Disco’s 5th studio album, but when stripped down, it essentially is a Brendon Urie solo album.
Urie played all instruments on the album, aside from the horns you hear throughout and the drums on “Hallelujah”.
The album currently is nominated for a Grammy for “Best Rock Album”, but faces some stiff competition in that category.
Metallica – Hardwired..
The first thing that ran through the listeners mind when listening to Hardwired.. was that, for the first time in 8 years, we have Metallica back.
Known for their strong disappearing acts, Metallica is back for at least the next couple years, after the strong debut and reaction to their 10th studio album, Hardwired.. to Self Destruct.
Hardwired..became Metallica’s sixth-straight studio album to debut at #1 of the Billboard 200, after the band sold 291,000 album-equivalent units in the first week. The album topped the charts in 57 countries.
On a pure numbers-based reality, Metallica had one of the top albums of the year. “Hardwired..“ sold 282k pure albums in the first week, which ranks only behind Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and Drake’s “Views” for biggest debut of the year, based on pure album sales.
Rolling Stone named “Hardwired..” as the top Metal album of 2016, despite the album being released in November. The song “Hardwired” was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Song.
This album, from start to finish, was a course in how to make a metal record – booming riffs, heavy drums and that classic Hetfield growl.
Green Day – Revolution Radio
Green Day’s return to the music scene following their triple album effort (Uno!, Dos!, Tre!) was a very, very strong one.
Revolution Radio peaked at number 1 on Billboard’s 200 and the Top Rock Album charts. The record also features two solid hits in “Bang Bang” and “Still Breathing”. If it is something that Green Day does well, it is write hits for radio.
The response to the album was good, with 95,000 album-equivalent units sold in the first week. Reviews were also strong, highlighting that “the band (Green Day) have decided to get back to basics. Revolution Radio is their most focused work in years.”
Listening through more than a few times, it is hard to argue that statement.
Blink 182 – California
Blink 182 has had one of their best year’s ever – Matt Skiba joined the trio in place of Tom Delonge, they go on to record California and have a very successful summer tour.
Blink 182’s 7th studio album has produced 2 hits, at this point, in “Bored to Death“, which topped the Alternative Song Charts, and “She’s Out Of Her Mind”, which has peaked at #3 on the Alternative Song Charts.
To put a bow on top of it, California enjoyed a fair amount of success and gave the group their first ever Grammy Nomimation (Best Rock Album).
California became Blink 182’s second album to debut at #1, and first in 15 years to top the charts. The album sold 186k album-equivalent units, with 172k of those being hardcopies of the album.
For many, the pushback of Matt Skiba over Tom Delonge was evident but this album truly developed into its own. Skiba 182 is alright in my book.
Radiohead – Moon Shaped Pool – (TJ Luckman’s choice)
Radiohead’s 9th studio album was quite a hit among music fans and critics alike, with some saying the album was “well worth the wait” and it was “a haunting, stunning triumph”.
Moon Shaped Pool debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Chart, which gave Radiohead their 6th #1 album in the UK. The album was certified gold a little over a month after it was released. In June, when the album was physically released, the album jumped back to #1 after 44k albums were sold.
As of this writing, Moon Shaped Pool ranks 3rd behind only David Bowie’s Blackstar and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black as the biggest selling vinyl album of 2016 in the United Kingdom.
To continue to throwing statistics at you, according to Metacritic’s Music Critic Top Ten Lists, Radiohead’s Moon Shaped Pool ranked 5th overall, receiving 5 first place votes, 10 second place votes and 40 other votes. This list came together after Metacritic compilied 165 individual end-of-year top-ten lists.
No album on this list can boast that they are higher than Radiohead.
Polyphia – Renaissance – (Tony Fortunato’s choice, as written by Tony)
This album is my pick for Best Album of 2016. This instrumental trio can really put out an album that not only is aggressive and full of energy, but also delicate and beautiful.
With songs like Amour, Light, and Nightmare every note feels like it was completely thought out.
With such a recent rise of progressive metal, talented bands like this show us what using the full potential of your instrument is like. It’s less about what the lyrics of a song say and more about what the music says.
To me this is a much more genuine feeling and I look forward listening to more of Polyphia in the future.
**Now, we turn our attention to the 2016 BLTD Album of the Year.**
Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
2016 felt like the year of Chance the Rapper. Many people knew of Chance, but 2016 was the year that Chance the Rapper forever became a household name.
What Chance did this year was beyond incredible – he has yet to officially release an album, Coloring Book is considered to be a mixtape. In the first week of its digital-only release, Coloring Book was streamed over 57.3 million times. When compared to traditional album sales, that is equivalent of around 38k album sales.
Behind those streaming numbers, Coloring Book opened on the charts at #8 and became the first digital-only album to chart on the Billboard 200 based solely on streams.
Chance’s efforts also earned him another first in the music industry when he became the first rapper ever with a solely streamed project to receive a Grammy nomination. Only thing about it is that the nominations didn’t stop at one. When all was said and done, Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book took home 7 Grammy nominations.
Rolling Stone proclaimed Coloring Book as the 3rd-best Album of the Year, behind Beyoncé’s Lemonade and David Bowie’s Blackstar. Not a bad duo to be behind, if you’re judging based off how critics have universally praised those two albums.
Christopher Weingarten of Rolling Stone states, “The album explodes with enthusiasm, as Chance embraces both the convoluted microphone mathematics of the old-school and the unpredictable melodic twists of the new. An electric dispatch from Chicago, Chance’s infectious sing-song weaves together his faith, a city in crisis, his new daughter and the unique struggle of being the world’s most famous unsigned musician: “If one more label try to stop me, it’s gon’ be some dreadhead niggas in your lobby,” he raps with the giddiness of someone who’s already the victor.”
Chance the Rapper indeed is the victor in the year 2016.