Having just released our albums of the year, here's the rival list as told by the biggest names in pop.
We caught up with Craig David, Zara Larsson, Kaiser Chiefs, You Me And Six, Kyla, and Radio 1 broadcasters Clara Amfo, and Gemma Cairney to get the best music tips.
Craig David has had a phenomenal year with a number one album coming out 16 years after the first one. He’s even has two 02 arena dates, Coventry arena and Wembley scheduled for his forthcoming tour. The ‘Rewind’ star has never been more loved and check here for ticket information
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Working with young up-and coming procures such as Polaris prize winner Kaytranada has certainly helped him get such an interesting mix of R&B with garage, house, and DnB. Of working with Kaytranada he claimed, “Hopefully I’ll do more records with him next year, he’s huge but I think he’s about to blow.”
But as someone so closely connected with the industry, what album defined 2016 for him?
"For me it’s Skepta. He’s been pioneering the scene along with Stormzy, Kano and a few other guys. To have it impact majorly was a huge statement for that scene and now it opens up opportunities for so many MC’s and grime acts."
Kaiser Chiefs have had a brilliant 2016, too. Their sixth album is like no other album they’ve made. They challenged themselves to craft something more akin to the catchy dancefloor grooves of Miike Snow rather than the rugged mid-00s indie guitar-driven sound they’re most famed for. Thematically, it’s a shift to the personal politics one deals with when they’re in love meaning a shift in direction from their fifth album (Education, Education, Education , War) to something that connects universally and is great live - they head out on tour next year
But which of the albums that they were up against this year did they truly get off on? Nick "Peanut Baines tells his: “For me, as a keyboardist, it’s the new M83 record, Junk. He’s always good. You put it on , you go, ”Yep, sounds ace, sounds massive. It’s sort of like a West End show or something in terms of the music - it’s all sparkles.
Bassist Simon Rix praises Sunflower Bean’s Human Ceremony : “It’s a good guitar album and live it’s totally different to the record, it’s a lot more upbeat and happening. There was crowd surfing and all that stuff – great band.
Another star for the future who can recognise talent when she sees it is Kyla. She’s had a superb year thanks to the success of being featured on 'One Love' by Drake . The awesome R&B singer has also just been signed to Virgin EMI and hopes to see her debut album released as soon as next year. Her album of the year? "Beyonce's Lemonade. I just love how she comes with something different. From my perspective as a singer always trying to ways to revamp yourself, she's a guiding force - she’s the type of person who’s great at that.
Zara Larsson has set the pop world alight for all the right reasons in 2016. She's the future of pop and with an album due out next year of what she promises are "great pop songs on a great pop album ."
Of the decision to keep things mainstream, she said: "I see all the cool kids and they have a cool vision. I don’t have that, but I’ll be releasing songs as I did this yeah but on an album."
Sometimes simplicity and extravagance of pop is just what the doctor ordered and Larsson has what it takes to be an even bigger star.
As for her favourite album? Well, she agrees with Kyla and says: "Well I have to say Lemonade. I love everything about it. My favourites tracks were 'Daddy Lessons’ which is very unlike me. Because I don’t really like country, or it’s not my preferred choice. I kind of learned to love it this year. And I also love ‘Sorry'. I think when you watch the visuals, the actual Lemonade movie - it makes so much sense. She’s got to the point in her career where she can do whatever she wants, she has the time, money, and creative freedom. Whatever she puts out people will listen to it which is why she’s been able to take a bold new direction.
Matt Barnes from You Me At Six, who will be touring their forthcoming album Night People next year offered his top tip: “Childish Gambino. It dropped this month. So for an artist to put out a record in December to be the best record of the year is a bold stamtent, but it’s one that’s caught me off guard. It’s got groove, it’s got feel. He changed from hip-hop and rap to funk and soul. It’s Prince essence all over it for me there is room in the market for that and I think he’s captured it perfectly.
In addition to pop stars we consulted two top Radio 1 DJ's and very important tastemakers in Gemma Cairney and Clara Amfo.
Clara Amfo said: "It's a tough choice. But I'm going to go with A Tribe Called Quest’s album We Got It From Here….Thankyou 4 Your Service. It’s a great way for them to say goodbye - a great final hurrah. We lost Phife this year which was really sad. They, for me, are hip-hop. You can’t be a hip-hop fan and not be a fan of A Tribe Called Quest. I don’t trust people who say they don’t like them! It sounds so current. They’ve even got Jack White on that record. They can do that, they have a license to do that. It’s a beautiful musical album, even without them rhyming over it, even the instrumentals are amazing to listen to. There’s no Chance The Rapper, no Rejjie Snow, no Pharell without A Tribe Called Quest. They're so important.
Meanwhile, Gemma Cariney says: "Solange’s A Seat At The Table is the one. “I love it. One of the first albums in long time I’ve been able to listen to on repeat after it’s finished there’s something hook-y and interesting on the narrative of the entire piece. It proves that artistry is artistry; it can come in shiny pop or something more surrealist and I think Solange is nailing the latter.