25) Usher – Looking 4 Myself
His last album make a huge impact on my 2010 list and while Looking 4 Myself doesn’t do the same there’s a reason I’ve included it here. Yes, Usher is still in his OMG phase of europop for most of this, the inescapable Scream being backed up by a number of other pop dance stompers here. This aside, it’s the collaborations with Swedish House Mafia and Diplo that push this album above being just another generic slice of R&B. Climax is especialling thrilling with Usher delivering the falsetto of the year.
24) Christina Aguilera – Lotus
One of 2012’s most anticipated comebacks, headlines were full of people both supporting and dismissing Lotus, and Xtina’s career in general. All of that aside though, the album stands strong, holding onto the things that made Aguilera one of the last decade’s biggest stars whilst still striving to push her sound. Some songs are blatant attempts to stay relevant, the ridiculously over the top generic dance track Let There Be Love in particular, but this is otherwise a strong collection of pop tracks. The duets with her fellow The Voice coaches Cee-Lo and Blake are standouts too.
23) Taylor Swift – Red
Taylor Swift on an end of year list? What madness is this! Next you’ll see Jessie J topping my singles list, or Twlight making an appearance anywhere near my blog. But here we are, and Red has made it into my top 25. I decided to give her a chance in 2012 and after enjoying nearly every track on this Country/Pop crossover I have to admit I was wrong. Perhaps I’m starting to appreciate country a bit more, and she comes along for the ride, all I know is that I Knew You Were Trouble and Red are both absolute Pop gems.
22) Nelly Furtado – The Spirit Indestructible
Another comeback record and this one comes from one of my favourite artists. A lot has happened since Nelly Furtado’s last English album, the 2006 smash Loose, the Timbaland movement is over in favour of most dance oriented beats so everything feels slightly dated here. That said, everything that made me fall in love with Nelly in the first place is here. The earthy sounds heard in Enemy and the striking changes of style throughout Waiting For The Night make The Spirit Indestructible a worthy return for one of the most interesting ‘popstars’ in recent memory.
21) The XX – Coexist
The XX are difficult to listen to. Not in the painful sense of something like Gangnam Style, but they require a certain level focus from the listener to ‘gain entry’ into the world of the album so to speak. With Coexist they strip back what little sound there was on their debut album and are left with an even more intense record. Angels is the prettiest they’ve ever sounded, whilst the closing tracks take them towards a, dare I say it, dancier sound. Coexist is as brilliant as I expected it to be, so it’s a worthy entry here.
20) Carly Rae Jepsen – Kiss
She may have shot herself in the foot by releasing the most infuriatingly catchy songs of the decade, the impossibly perfect Call Me Maybe, but on Kiss Carly Rae proves that she’s much more than a one hit wonder. It’s so refreshing to see an artist that appeals to a young demographic not attempt to go edgy on their full album, instead creating a record of obsessive hooks just as catchy as her signature hit. It may not be cool to love Carly Rae, but it sure is fun to.
19) Calvin Harris – 18 Months
It kind of feels like cheating allowing what is essentially a greatest hits of the last year and half onto my albums list, but I love me some Calvin. No fewer than 6 top 2 singles are present here, including monster hit We Found Love and his second hook up with Florence the brilliant Sweet Nothing. It doesn’t rest on its prior hits though, with new songs like Thinkin About You and Ellie Goulding collaboration I Need Your Love providing more of Calvin’s trademark floor filling beats. As an album, it works incredibly well, even if I am starting to miss Calvin Harris the ‘artist’ these days.