2007 was a year in which hip hop suffered in both sales and quality but more traditional r&b was ascendant. Near the end of the year mainstream pop music made a huge comeback Here is the best of the best for the year in pop music albums.
The Shins album is the indie pop album of the year for 2007. When it debuted at #2 on the chart in February, 2007, it was the highest debut ever by an album on the legendary Seattle-based label Sub Pop Records. The album holds up as one of the best of the year.
Watch the video of "Phantom Limb."
Bruce Springsteen returned this year with only his second album with the E Street Band since the 1984 landmark Born In the U.S.A.. The result is some bracing rock coupled with the serious messages that have filtered through most all of the Boss' post-9/11 music. Even if it's not one of his top masterpieces, a strong Bruce Springsteen album is almost always one of the year's best. Magic is no exception.
Watch the video of "Radio Nowhere."
Easily, 2007's most arresting pop debut belongs to Lebanese-born Mika. Only misguided pop radio programmers prevented his debut single "Grace Kelly" from becoming a pop smash in the US as it did in most of the rest of the world. For fans of that hit, the album is chock full of more candy-colored pop certain to brighten the cloudiest of days.
Watch the video of "Grace Kelly."
To some, this album may seem to be a collaboration of one of the oddest of odd couples in the music business. Alison Krauss, with her band Union Station, is one of the leading lights of bluegrass. Robert Plant is the legendary lead vocalist for hard rock legends Led Zeppelin. Put them together and you have a masterful work. Both artists are aficionados of traditional music as well as being brilliant musicians in their own areas. This is simply one of the top collaborative albums in recent history.
Watch the video on the making of Raising Sand.
Some may see this album as commercial suicide for Kelly Clarkson. I see it as a bracing declaration of artistic independence. It is not an easy album to listen to, but that should not deter a listener from exploring the dark beauty to be found here...as well as some very catchy pop hooks. It's unclear what Kelly Clarkson's next step will be, but she has effectively cleared the path to go in whatever direction her muse takes her.
Watch the video of "Never Again."
I think we've finally learned that when Kanye West describes his work in terms evoking musical brilliance, it may not be hyperbole. This album may be slightly weaker than Late Registration, but it will be another popular music landmark for Kanye. The musical palette is so large here it is getting increasingly difficult to refer to Kanye West as a hip hop artist. He is simply a musical artist.
Watch the video for "Stronger."
Halfway through 2007 Fall Out Boy's latest collection ranked as the top album of the year. It holds for a #2 ranking at year's end and is the band's first truly great album. They expanded the musical tools in their arsenal to exhilarating effect. Moving well beyond simply the post-hardcore genre, the songs are memorable, clever, and the energy leaves you breathless.
Watch the video for "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race."
With her 3rd studio album Alicia Keys has eloquently staked her claim to be named the top solo artist in the music business. This album is a brilliant statement of Keys as an artist. It is coherent as a complete work on its own with individual songs that stand out as well, such as the #1 pop smash "No One." Don't miss this stellar work of art.
Watch the video for "No One."