One of the greatest music legends to have ever walked the Earth, the universally-agreed, "King of Pop," Michael Jackson, died in June.
His songs not only made you want to move but also stop and listen. He famously performed on stage with guitarist Slash. His James Brown-like, choreographed routines influenced and inspired many to imitate. His videos were like short films, very cinematic and creative, and, like his songs, were foremost about good storytelling. He was always energetic, emotional, and unique.
In terms of pop artists out there today, there's no one who can compare. That being said, Jackson was an aging rock-star whose glory, due to personal problems, faded by the turn of the 21st century. Yet, if early 2009 has proven anything, it's proven that not all glories go away.
Prince at age 51 still remains as prolific. Prince released his 25th studio album this year called "Lotusflow3r," and, in the three months since its release, has sold over a third of a million units. Bob Dylan, who's pushing 68, released his 33rd album this year, and, according to online sources, that album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, making Dylan the oldest person to ever debut that high.
Among the other aging rockers this year, the Irish band U2, led by singer Bono who's almost 50, scored big on the charts with its 12th album. Bruce Springsteen, age 59, won the Golden Globe for doing the title song for the film The Wrestler (2008), rocked out at President Obama's inauguration, and had his 16th album "Working on a Dream" jump to number one.
The first half of 2009 wasn't just an old boys club, many female musicians kicked butt too, except for Rihanna. Teenage, country artist Taylor Swift's "Fearless" record became the first platinum record of the year. Former American Idol contestant Kelly Clarkson sold a quarter-million copies in the first week of her fourth album, and Rapper M.I.A. used her music to spotlight the troubles in her native Sri Lanka, as well as take the opportunity to be the first artist to perform at the Grammys while eight-months pregnant.
Love vocalists Maxwell and Case, who both have been absent from the music scene since 2001, return with very soulful records. However, the best R&B album hasn't even been released yet, but that isn't stopping me from putting it on my best of the year list. I've listened to snippets from Canadian and West Indian singer Melanie Fiona's debut album "The Bridge" and felt it to be absolutely phenomenal.
When I compiled this list of music albums that I call the best, fun was my standard. I tend to like sad or depressing things. For example, I loved Melody Gardot's album this year called "My One and Only Thrill," but it was a little too depressing. It's jazz music, which is typical, but again I wanted fun. I'm not a fan of honky tonk, punk, heavy metal or hardcore gangster rap. The collection of artists here, however, have made fun CDs that I think are highly enjoyable.
ANIMALS IN THE DARK by William Elliott Whitmore
MIDDLE CYCLONE by Neko Case
A STRANGER HERE by Ramblin' Jack Elliott
YONDER IS THE CLOCK by The Felice Brothers
WRITTEN IN CHALK by Buddy & Julie Miller
ELVIS PERKINS IN DEARLAND by Elvis Perkins
NO LINE ON THE HORIZON by U2
BLUE LIGHTS ON THE RUNWAY by Bell X1
HAZARDS OF LOVE by The Decemberists
WILD YOUNG HEARTS by The Noisettes
TECHNICOLOR HEALTH by Harlem Shakes
A NEW TIDE by Gomez
FIST OF GOD by Mstrkrft
FORTRESS 'ROUND MY HEART by Ida Maria
JUNIOR by RoyKsopp
AMANDA LEIGH by Mandy Moore
MY MAUDLIN CAREER by Camera Obscura
TELEKINESIS! by Telekinesis
Best Rap/Hip Hop
ABUNDANCE by Platinum Pied Pipers
JAY STAY PAID by J Dilla
TROUBADOUR by K'Naan
THE TAKE OVER by Zion I
THUNDERHEIST by Thunderheist
NEVER BETTER by P.O.S.
THE BRIDGE by Melanie Fiona (Unreleased)
THE OSCILLATIONS-2XLP by Muhsinah
BIRTH OF CORNEILIUS by Corneille
LOTUSFLOW3R by Prince
BLACK SUMMERS' NIGHT by Maxwell
EPIPHANY by Chrisette Michelle