It was way too hard to narrow down all of our favorite albums this year to just 5, so we split between pop and country. Here are our favorite country albums that were released in 2016! (Okay so we picked 6, deal)
1.Thomas Rhett – “Tangled Up” Thomas rode the momentum of his hit single “Makes Me Wanna” and the funky vibes of “Crash And Burn” into an an album full of soulful, R&B tinged jams, all country at heart. “Die A Happy Man,” which Thomas wrote for his wife Lauren, will make you cry; “Vacation” will make you dance, and “I Feel Good” will turn any day around.
2. Hunter Hayes – “The 21 Project” 2015 was the year of trying new things for Hunter Hayes, including how he released music. After dropping digital singles throughout the Summer, Hunter released a 3-disc set featuring 7 songs as acoustic, studio and live versions. “Saint Or A Sinner” is one of our favorite songs of the year, no matter how we listen to it.
3. Kacey Musgraves – “Pageant Material” Kacey’s latest album sparkles just as much as she does on stage. She might not be “Pageant Material,” but she sure is great at crafting clever lyrics that anyone can relate to. Each track has a story of it’s own and they all come together to create one of our favorite country albums of 2015.
4. A Thousand Horses – “Southernality” What do you get when you mix Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers Band, and a whole lot of Southern moonshine? A Thousand Horses released the best “throwback” country rock album this year that we’ll be spinning for years to come. Standout songs are the title track, “Trailer Trashed,” and “Travelin’ Man.”
5. Old Dominion – “Meat and Candy” Even the band has commented on the strange name of their debut album but “Meat and Candy” is actually a fitting title for an album that has lots of sweet jams along with some more substantial tracks. Their live show is not to be missed.
BONUS: Cam – “Untamed” Released last week, Cam’s album barely made the cut but it’s one of the strongest debut albums we’ve heard in a long time! We’re still kicking ourselves for not picking up one of those cute yellow flash drive bracelets when we saw Cam open for Dan+Shay!
It feels like we just wrote our 2014 Albums of the Year post about 5 minutes ago, but it’s time to look back on our favorite albums of 2015! Here are our picks for our top pop albums of the year. We included 2 EPs because they were too good NOT to and we’re crossing our fingers for full albums from them next year!
1. Selena Gomez – “Revival”
After a public split from The Biebs, Selena Gomez is back! “Revival” was well worth the wait.
2. Carly Rae Jepsen – “E·MO·TION” Carly Rae is easily one of the most underestimated pop artists, and one that certainly knows how to make a throwback album that sounds like it came straight out of the 80s. (in a good way)
3. The Vamps – “Wake Up” The Vamps are poised to take over America with their new album and it’s about time – they’re so good!
4. Hilary Duff – “Breathe In, Breathe Out” Hilary Duff’s 5th studio album was well worth the (long!) wait.
5. DNCE – “SWAAY” This EP makes us want to sway and dance to every song! We can’t wait for a full album from Joe, Cole, JinJoo, and Jack.
5. Jake Miller – “Rumors” This EP was one of our favorites that came out in 2015 – every track is a JAM! We’re anxious for new music from Jake Miller.
Taylor Swift wrote an outstanding piece in the Wall Street Journal over the summer about the future of music, where she wrote that “people are only buying [albums] that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren’t alone in feeling so alone.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Here are the albums in 2014 that hit us like an arrow through the heart.
1. Dan + Shay – “Where It All Began”
It’s rare and special to find an album where you listen to each and every song, and can sing along to from start to finish. This album was by far our most played of the year, and the soundtrack to our 2014. We’ll be able to look back at this year as “where it all began” for Dan + Shay, who have a very, very bright future ahead of them. We can’t wait to see what’s next for the talented duo, starting with their 2nd major headlining tour in 2015.
2. Sam Hunt – “Montevallo”
We were lucky to have downloaded a copy of the “Behind The Pines” mixtape before Sam exploded over the summer with the release of his hit single “Leave The Night On.” He released his full length debut, “Montevallo,” in October, opening at the top of the country charts, and third overall. Sam’s unique style makes us excited about music. His blend of a 90s R&B sound with country storytelling blends perfectly with Sam’s southern drawl, deep voice, and spoken lyrics. He’ll be selling out arenas one day.
3. Hunter Hayes – “Storyline”
A sophomore album is always tricky, especially when your debut was nominated for a Grammy and countless other awards. But Hunter managed to knock it out of the park. The album is a more collaborative effort than his first, on which he played every single instrument. Hunter’s music grabs you from the first listen. We love how Hunter brings this album to life on tour, with unique arrangements for each song. He’s the rare musician who makes his live show a full experience that stays with you long after the show.
4. The Strypes – “Snapshot”
“Snapshot” is another debut album that immediately got our attention and made us wonder where The Strypes had been all our lives. Evidently they’d been honing their skills at pubs across their native Ireland, where they learned to play loud, fast aggressive, and just damn good old fashioned rhythm and blues. And they’re all still in their teens. There are no filler songs on the album – it’s solid from start to finish. If you ever have the opportunity to see The Strypes live, don’t miss it. Seeing the album come to life on stage was one of our favorite moments of the year.
5. Austin Mahone – “Secret”
Technically this is an EP, but at 8 tracks, it’s *almost* an album. We fell for Austin’s sound with tracks like “What About Love” and “Banga Banga,” but this EP, with it’s 90s pop influences, cemented Austin’s status as the one man boyband. We’re obsessed with the Britney and *NSYNC-esque slow breakdown in the title track, “Secret,” and couldn’t stop listening to “Next To You” on repeat for days. Austin’s working on his much awaited full length debut with the legendary Max Martin (who wrote basically every great 90s pop song you can think of), and we can’t wait for more!
6. Jesse McCartney – “In Technicolor”
Possibly the most underrated album on this list. His newest single, “Punch Drunk Recreation,” is a pop masterpiece. Armed with a Justin Timberlake sound, and retro look, JMAC outdid himself with this album. “In Technicolor” is one of those albums that will always be in style.
7. Nick & Knight – “Nick & Knight”
We admit that we’ll probably love anything that involves our favorite boybands – especially when two of our favorite members team up. But Nick Carter and Jordan Knight’s album is a fun R&B/pop album worth checking out.
8. 5SOS – “5SOS”
It’s a safe bet that 5SOS are going to be extremely monumental in bringing pop punk back to a radio station near you! We’ve had the band’s debut album on heavy rotation, and we don’t think we’ll stop playing it any time soon. Also, can people please stop referring to them as a “boyband?” These guys have the heart, drive, and sound to be restore Warped Tour to the glory days of 2006.
9. The Vamps – “Meet The Vamps” While we had to wait for this album to be officially released in the United States, it was worth the wait! The Vamps have an acoustic pop sound that makes you want to dance around your living room singing at the top of your lungs.
10. Walk The Moon – “Talking Is Hard”
With it’s December release, Walk The Moon’s sophomore album “Talking Is Hard” barely made our list. The Ohio band celebrated by live tweeting with fans the first listen of the album, divulging secrets like “there’s a mess up in this part of the song” to “the weird lyrics are from this member!” Walk The Moon are taking the album on a full headlining tour in the spring. It’s not too late to hop on the dance jam bandwagon.