2018 best albums span country, rap, pop

  • This combination photo of album covers shows, top row from left, “Dirty Computer” by Janelle Monae, released by Atlantic Records, “Golden Hour” by Kacey Musgraves, released by MCA Nashville, "KOD," by J. Cole, released by Dreamville/Roc Nation/Interscope Records, “Insecure: Music from the HBO Original Series, Season 3,” performed by various artists, released by RCA, The Kids Are Alright” by Chloe x Halle, released by Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia, and bottom row from left, “Everything Is Love” by The Carters, also released by Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia, “Honey," by Robyn, released by Konichiwa/Interscope, "Sweetener," by Ariana Grande and released by Republic, "Chris," by Christine and the Queens, released by Music Because, and "The Radio Winners," by Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear released by Glassnote. (AP Photo) —AP

  • This cover image released by RCA shows "Insecure: Music from the HBO Original Series, Season 3," by various artists, which is named one of the top ten albums of the year. (RCA via AP) —AP

  • This cover image released by Dreamville/Roc Nation/Interscope Records shows "KOD," by J. Cole, named one of the top albums of the year. (Dreamville/Roc Nation/Interscope Records via AP) —AP

  • This cover image released by Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia shows "The Kids Are Alright," by Chloe x Halle, which is named one of the top ten albums of the year. (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia via AP) —AP

  • This cover image released by MCA Nashville shows "Golden Hour," by Kacey Musgraves, which is named one of the top ten albums of the year. (MCA Nashville via AP) —AP

  • This cover image released by Roc Nation/Parkwood Entertainment shows "Everything is Love," by The Carters, which is named one of the top ten albums of the year. (Roc Nation/Parkwood Entertainment via AP) —AP

  • This cover image released by Because Music shows "Chris," by Christine and the Queens, which is named one of the top ten albums of the year. (Because Music via AP) —AP

  • This cover image released by Atlantic Records shows "Dirty Computer," by Janelle Monae, which is named one of the top ten albums of the year. (Atlantic via AP) —AP

  • This cover image released by Glassnote shows "The Radio Winners," by Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, which is named one of the top ten albums of the year. (Glassnote via AP) —AP

  • This cover image released by Republic shows "Sweetener," by Ariana Grande, which is named one of the top ten albums of the year. (Republic via AP) —AP

  • This cover image released by Konishiwa/Interscope shows "Honey," by Robyn, which is named one of the top ten albums of the year. (Konichiwa/Interscope via AP) —AP

Associated Press
Published: 12/26/2018 2:47:57 PM

The top 10 albums of the year by Associated Press Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu.

1. Janelle Monae, Dirty Computer: When Janelle Monae released the masterfully brilliant The ArchAndroid in 2010, it was hard to imagine how this futuristic, already-seasoned artist could grow, and where that growth would take her. Enter Dirty Computer, her third full-length album and another work of genius from one of contemporary music’s best entertainers. There are so many ways to describe this stunning album: Honest. Fun. Sexual. Political. Thought-provoking. Empowering. Liberating. And simply put – it’s just damn good. Songs like “Crazy, Classic, Life,” “Take a Byte,” “Screwed,” “I Got the Juice” and “Pynk” inject into your bloodstreams and spread a carefree confidence throughout your body, causing you to dance, and dance, and dance some more. It feels like freedom.

2. Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour: At its base, Kacey Musgraves’ fourth album is a country record. And woven into it are sounds like dance, pop, R&B and other genres. The result is a piercing, soulful album where Musgraves’ gliding vocals treat each song like a mini masterpiece. The lyrics are strong and sharp throughout the 13-track album, and each song is touching and beautiful. Golden Hour will put a smile on your face, and live inside of your heart.

3. J. Cole, KOD: At a time when the entertainment world is questioning the relevance of the Grammys, it’s hard to take the organization seriously when J. Cole’s KOD didn’t garner a nomination for best rap album. His fifth release, which he mainly produced on his own, is powerful, striking and remarkable, and easily the year’s best hip-hop album, and we don’t need a Grammy co-sign to confirm that.

4. Various artists, Insecure: Music from the HBO Original Series, Season 3: There’s not much that can hold you over during the months and months of waiting in between seasons of Insecure, except for the TV show’s epic soundtrack. This compilation is a breezy effort that plays smoother than most of the albums released this year. Every song is outstanding – no skipping going on here – and the track list will give a chance to discover some artists you may have never heard before.

5. Chloe x Halle, The Kids Are Alright: The sister duo Chloe x Halle have beautifully mastered harmonization, and they sound like angels throughout The Kids Are Alright. The album intro, “Hello Friend,” brilliantly transitions into the title track and the rest of the next-level songs, from “Fake” to “Everywhere” to “Happy Without Me,” prove there’s more to come from the talented Beyonce mentees.

6. The Carters, Everything Is Love: Beyonce’s debut rap album was an adventure and further shows that there is probably little she can’t do. She shines, alongside Jay-Z, on their first collaborative album that is a mix of Soundcloud rap, alternative R&B and overall amazingness.

7. Robyn, Honey: Robyn’s album is like a tasty dessert, with just the right amount of sweetness.

8. Ariana Grande, Sweetener: With all her successful singles, Ariana Grande may not come across as an album artist, but that’s not accurate. Sweetener is her fourth album and her fourth laudable effort, which is a great blend of upbeat jams and pop-R&B ballads.

9. Christine and the Queens, Chris: French singer Christine and the Queens’ sophomore album is a pop escapade, with addictive songs like “Comme si,” “Girlfriend,” “Goya Soda” and “Feels so good” worth listening again, again and again.

10. Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear, The Radio Winners: Harmonizing with family members – done correctly – can feel like an out-of-body experience. The mother-and-son duo Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear know how to do just that, and their latest EP, The Radio Winners, proves it.




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