My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
West knew he would be facing the haters on his fifth album, calling himself "the abomination of Obama's nation." But if ever controversy fueled creativity, it did here, as West achieves a triumph of such epic proportions that only someone with his massive ego could have even imagined it. This is hip-hop as grand opera-from the orchestral majesty of the star-studded "All of the Lights" to the raw, romantic drama of "Blame Game," a piano-sampling ballad that somehow weaves in both John Legend and Chris Rock. Twisted genius.
There's something special around every corner in The Suburbs, which, with its shifting moods, peaks and then peaks again. The alluring atmospherics, providing the setting for some nostalgic lyrics, may have you rethinking that move to the big city.
Corinne Bailey Rae
While it came out way back in January-and, unjustly, didn't get as much love as her self-titled debut-The Sea didn't wash away from memory. A triumph of the human spirit, its heartbreaking beauty came out of the heartbreaking tragedy of her husband's 2008 death. Somehow you just know she'll love again.
If Arcade Fire made the best rock album of the year, then it's only fitting that this like-minded indie band, which once opened for them, came in second. Songs such as "Sorrow" and "Afraid of Everyone" are gloriously gloomy.
For sheer audacity, Monae pulled a Kanye-in the best possible sense-with her genre-defying debut. Turning this album into her own personal sci-fi movie-Princess Leia is among her inspirations-this fembot has real soul, whether she's getting funky or punky. It's no wonder that Monae-a protegee of both Diddy
and Big Boi-has been dubbed by Prince as "my favorite new artist." How's that for a royal blessing?
Cee Lo Green
The Lady Killer
Only Cee Lo could have gotten everyone and their grandmother gleefully singing "F- You" to each other. It was one of 2010's small miracles. But it'd hardly be fair to stop there, as Green backed up that viral hit with the smoothest, sexiest album of the year. Part Al Green, part Barry White, part Curtis Mayfield, he was the year's most unlikely stud.
JOHN LEGEND & THE ROOTS
The Roots had already put out one of the year's best hip-hop albums in How I Got Over. Then they topped themselves by teaming up with killer singer Legend on this inspired-and inspiring-collection of socially conscious soul from the golden age of Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway and Bill Withers. By revisiting the past, they provide much hope for R&B's future.
The Guitar Song
In an era when much of country music is designed for bite-size radio consumption, this old-school outlaw-and Matthew McConaughey
BFF-served up a meaty, 25-track double album that sticks to your bones.
After releasing the Body Talk Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 EPs in 2010, she put it all together on this dance-pop opus that, 12 years after "Show Me Love," made her the coolest chick in the club. Who needs a meat dress with beats like these?
Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses
As if he needed to prove something for winning that Best Song Oscar in February, the alt-country troubadour with the gravelly voice weary beyond his years shows he's much more than the Crazy Heart guy on this T Bone Burnett-produced set of true-grit tales.
COUNTRY'S FIRST COUPLE
Move over, Faith and Tim: Lambert and Shelton were Nashville's biggest sweethearts in 2010.
When Lambert, 27, and Shelton, 34, got engaged in May, it was just one of many 2010 highlights for the pair. He released two EPs-Hillbilly Bone in March and All About Tonight in August-whose title tracks both hit No. 1 on the country chart. In June she notched her first No. 1 country single with "The House That Built Me." Then after winning four ACMs in April, they were crowned Male and Female Vocalist of the Year at the CMAs-on Lambert's birthday (Nov. 10) to boot!
A who's who of musicians pick their fave singles and albums of 2010.
MARY J. BLIGE
"CAN'T BE FRIENDS" BY TREY SONGZ
It's just the best ballad for this generation. They've never heard anything like that. This ballad is real!
"F--- YOU" BY CEE LO GREEN
It was just leaps and bounds above anything else that came out this year. [Songs] that curse are always classic!
DOO-WOPS AND HOOLIGANS BY BRUNO MARS
The album has a great vibe with smooth pop vocals. Definitely a breath of fresh air.
THE SUBURBS BY ARCADE FIRE
It's nice to be able to enjoy an album as a whole, especially in a musical landscape overrun by singles.
"BREAKEVEN (FALLING TO PIECES)" BY THE SCRIPT
The lyric "When a heart breaks, no it don't break even" sums up every relationship I've been in!
BROTHERS BY THE BLACK KEYS
This album is the Black Keys at their finest. I got to see them live, and I really enjoyed their show.
LL COOL J
"NOTHIN' ON YOU" BY B.O.B FEATURING BRUNO MARS
It reminded me of a song I would have done. I think Bruno Mars did a great job on the chorus.
"THE HOUSE THAT BUILT ME" BY MIRANDA LAMBERT
It reminded me of an old lady who knocked on our door when I was 6. Sweet.
HAYLEY WILLIAMS (PARAMORE)
"JUST THE WAY YOU ARE" BY BRUNO MARS
He's amazing! It's nice to see just incredible artists blowing up and becoming superstars.
KATY PERRY & SNOOP DOGG
One of the songs of summer, this No. 1 smash shows that the Doggfather can add gangsta flavor to even the most sugary of dance-pop confections.
EMINEM & RIHANNA
"LOVE THE WAY YOU LIE"
Ri-Ri-who also scored a No. 1 hit with Drake ("What's My Name?") in 2010-perfectly tempers Em's toughness with her tenderness.
B.O.B & BRUNO MARS
"NOTHIN' ON YOU"
These two dudes weren't afraid to get mushy with a declaration of devotion that won us all over.
LADY GAGA & Beyoncé Knowles
Not since Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer teamed up on 1979's "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" have we seen a divalicious duet like this!
USHER & WILL.I.AM
Sure, it sounds like a Black Eyed Peas song-and Usher doesn't need to use Auto-Tune-but it still had us all going, "Oh my gosh!"