25) Inna – Hot
Some may laugh my pick for number 25, I choose to see Inna for what she is, a eurodance act that couldn’t be more generic if she tried. I doubt anyone could listen to Hot and not immediately need a few days on a beach somewhere. Taken for what it is the feeling this album gives me is worthy of a place on my 2011 list.
24) Will Young – Echoes
Will Young is one of those artists that I have always enjoyed, and yet would never call myself a huge fan. His latest album has a maturity seldom seen on his previous work, lead single Jealousy showcasing the Classy Pop style of the record. Far from his reality show roots, Will is one of the UK’s best talents.
23) Nicole Scherzinger – Killer Love
Though this is the first to be released under her own name, this is basically Nicole’s third album. Despite a tendency towards dull ballads near the end, this very much replicates the success of both Pussycat Dolls albums, whilst asserting Scherzinger as the newest Dance Pop diva in the music landscape.
22) Example – Playing In The Shadows
Example was very close to making my singles list with the lead hit from this album, one of many stomping dance tunes here. Example treads the line between everyday guy and Popstar very well, the feeling that it could be you performing his half raps across some of the best Dubstep/Bass inspired beats this side of Chase and Status.
21) Take That – Progressed
I was probably a bit harsh on Take That’s reunion album with Robbie this time last year, but I was very impressed with what I heard. Progressed seems to include everything that was missing from the original disc, and most noticeably features just 2 appearances from Robbie. Together as a set of albums, Progress and Progressed are the band’s finest moment.
20) David Guetta – Nothing But The Beat
David Guetta is everywhere, appearing/producing what seems like hundreds of songs in 2011. Nothing But The Beat surpassed my expectations, despite some obvious collabs of course (see Taio Cruz/will.i.am). Nicki Minaj steals the show in Turn Me On, and Usher features on Guetta’s best song since When Love Takes Over. Dance Urban crossover at its best.
19) Nero – Welcome Reality
Nero’s success in the UK really surprised me in 2011. A relatively unknown set of Bass producers, they were lucky securing the top spot on both charts with extremely low sales. That aside, this is a solid album full of huge Drum and Bass and Dubstep hits. Crush on You and Me and You are the standouts.
18) Rebecca Ferguson – Heaven
One of 2011’s most welcome surprises was the huge sauces of Rebecca Ferguson’s debut. Following X Factor she focused on making the music she wanted to make, and thanks to Simon Cowel taking an out of character hands off approach, she was able to co write every track. A beautiful record, and the first truly great album on this list.
17) Cher Lloyd – Sticks + Stones
Cher Lloyd was my favourite contestant on last year’s X Factor, and my prediction was that she would have one huge brilliant hit single, and an inconsistent mess of an album. Thankfully I was completely wrong, as following the lukewarm Swagger Jagger, the album is a youthful, catchy, and ultimately fun pop record. UK pop acts usually need to take the ‘I’m oh so serious’ route, so Sticks + Stones is a breath of fresh air.
16) Rihanna – Talk That Talk
The next two albums were my most disappointing of the year, Rihanna being one of my favourite artists. Last year’s Loud may not have been Rated R, but at least it was a solid collection of great RiRi tunes. Talk That Talk lies somewhere between the two, at times striving for the RR emotional sound, and others trying to please everyone with huge bangers. It comes across messy, and not messy in the way she describes on the still baffling Birthday Cake.
15) Beyonce – 4
As disappointed as I was with RiRi, 4 was the album that frustrated me the most in 2011. The tracklist of 4 is just ridiculous, who decided it was a good idea to end with Run The World after an album full of ballads and throwback tracks. That said, once I sorted my alternate order, with amazing bonus track Schoolin’ Life thrown in for good measure, the album really started to grow on me. It took me 6 months to appreciate, 4 was an album that forced its way into my life.
14) Florence & The Machine – Ceremonials
Lungs was a brilliant debut album, but the fact that Ceremonials equals, if not beats, the quality of that record is a truly impressive feat. Second single Shake Me Out is the best pitch for the album, epic choral production with a vocal that gives the album cohesion. There is true depth in every track here, both lyrically and sonically. A second album this good very rarely comes along.
13) Lady Antebellum – Own The Night
Lyrically Lady A still fall on the pop country side of the spectrum, but Own The Night sees them perfect their style. Hilary and Charles come together brilliantly as singers on just about every track here, and unlike the top heavy Need You Now, the album doesn’t lose steam as it continues. Most definitely the group’s strongest effort to date, Wanted You More and Just a Kiss competing to become their signature hit.
12) Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know
Laura Marling is the owner of my favourite voice of 2011. Her vocal on her third album is simply stunning, the emotion is her breathy half talk on The Beast is marvellous. This time though, the rest of the album lives up to her incredible voice. Much like the 5 minute journey she takes on Sophia from stirring ballad to country anthem, everything comes together into something truly magical on A Creature I Don’t Know.
11) Chase & Status – No More Idols
Very nearly matching the position the group’s best song took on my singles list, No More Idols was an early favourite of mine. In a year where dubstep and drum and bass tracks actually have a chance at hitting the charts, Chase and Status became the ‘fathers’ of the genre, inspiring others while releasing their best music yet. No More Idols transitions between Dub, Bass, Trance, Hip Hop and Soul effortlessly, and considering how diverse these tracks are, I commend the pair for making an ‘album’ out of them.