David T. Farr picks his top 10 albums of the year, naming Bruno Mars' album No. 1.
10. “Recovery” by Eminem
I am not an Eminem fan, but this record opened up another side of his talent for me. The lyricism is more powerful and real to me than anything I had heard from him yet, except for maybe “Lose Yourself” from “8 Mile.” The last couple of years truly turned out to be some of his toughest and perhaps most eye-opening. I hate to see someone suffer and go through bouts of depression, but the end result captured here may just be what someone else is needing to here. “Not Afraid” should be his new anthem. The true standout, however, is his collaboration with Rihanna on “Love The Way You Lie.” It has Grammy written all over it.
Best tracks: “Love The Way You Lie,” “Not Afraid,” and “”No Love.”
9. “I Dreamed A Dream” by Susan Boyle
I have always been a sucker for the underdog, and Boyle definitely filled the role. Boyle was an Internet sensation in 2009 with her “Britain’s Got Talent.” Nobody knew the magnitude of her talent and appeal until they heard her story and then her voice. This album truly spoke to the ears and hearts of people across the globe. She gives adage to the old saying, you can’t judge a book by its cover. She covers a wide range of material here, including The Rolling Stones and Madonna, but her strength comes from her ability to do what she was born to do: sing.
Best tracks: “Wild Horses,” “How Great Thou Art,” and “I Dreamed A Dream.”
8. “Save Me, San Francisco” by Train
OK, Who doesn’t love “Hey, Soul Sister”? Pat Monahan delivers those quirky lyrics like no other front man on the scene right now. I’ve been a fan of this group since “Meet Virginia” and I can happily say the band has never let me down. Some bands tend to lose identity as time passes, but not Train. “Save Me” is not a album built around one great song, but rather its an album filled with incredible stories — stories that are relatable and worth repeated listens. The band can jam when its warranted and then bring you down almost to an standstill to tug at heartstrings.
Best tracks: “Hey, Soul Sister” and “Marry Me”
7. “The Adventures Of Bobby Ray” by B.O.B.
I have to admit, Bruno Mars sold me on this album. The first time I heard “Nothin’ On You,” I had to get a copy. Mars’ fantastic vocals on the track’s chorus made me think of a young Michael Jackson. I hadn’t heard someone sing an R&B groove like that in quite a while, but the album showed me even more. B.O.B’s talent as a rapper astonished me. This was rap music with style and groove. He didn’t limit himself to the status quo, either. Instead,collaborations on this record with such diverse artists as Haley Williams (Paramore) on “Airplanes” blew me away musically, while Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo on “Magic” was just that. This record brought rap to the forefront for me.
Best tracks: Nothin’ On You” and “Airplanes”
6. “Jason Derulo” by Jason Derulo
He started the year with the No. 1 track “Whatcha Say,” but this album didn’t come out until the end of March. Let me tell you, it was worth the wait. The self-titled debut is an impressive blend of dance, pop and soul, all done with British flair. Hit after hit made him a major player in 2010. “In My Head” also topped the charts, plus the songs “Ridin’ Solo” and “What If” made impressive splashes in the Top 10. If you like to dance, this is the album to own. This young talent’s star will only shine brighter as his career progresses.
Best tracks: “In My Head” and “Ridin’ Solo.”
5. “Rokstarr” by Taio Cruz
Like Derulo, Cruz is a UK export. He, too, put out an awesome dance, pop-fused album worthy of mention. “Break Your Heart” featured Ludacris, giving the song some added flavor. It must have worked,d because it skyrocketed to No. 1. But it was one song, “Dynamite,” that made Cruz’s career explode. Crank up “Dynamite” and it will make you shout, “I throw my hands up in the air sometimes, saying’ ay-oh, gotta let go.” Perfect party song! Cruz was also keen enough to pair up with one of 2010’s other breakthrough artists’ Kesha on the track “Dirty Picture.”
Best tracks: “Dynamite” and “Break Your Heart”
4. “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry
Perry proved that the “sophomore curse” is a bunch of hogwash. “Teenage Dream” is an album any pop princess would have killed to have this year. The first single, “California Gurls” became the official song of summer, while “Teenage Dream” may have cornered the market on fall, too. Perry’s quirkiness adds to her appeal, but the girl can sing. Her vocal prowess on “Teenage Dream” made her step out from Lady Gaga’s shadow. Perry’s latest single, “Firework,” is an anthem for anyone who sees themselves as different but just as important as the next person. Grammy should be good to Perry for this effort.
Best tracks: "Firework” and “Teenage Dream”
3. “Need You Know” by Lady Antebellum
Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott are the perfect match for a winning combination in any field of music, particularly country and now pop. “Need You Know” was the crossover hit of the year, topping both the country and pop charts like no song in recent memory. Separately, Kelley and Scott would each be awesome singers, but put them together, like on the title track, and you have a masterpiece. What I love even more about this record is it doesn’t just fizzle out after the first track, instead it builds an impressive insight into the band’s full potential. Although the band can rock, country music is its forte, and this album pays homage to that on such tracks as “American Honey” and “Something ‘Bout A Woman.” This is a band to watch.
Best tracks: “Need You Now” and “Hello World”
2. “Sigh No More” by Mumford & Sons
Say hello to 2010’s best new band. I love this group and the more I listen to “Sigh No More” the more I love them. No other band caught my attention, musically speaking, like Mumford. The guys were a VH1 “You Oughtta Know” artist when “Little Lion Man” broke ground in America. Mumford has already been the rage in their native UK, but this record will take the group to all points around the globe, particularly America. Incredible musicianship and a blend of folk-rock-blues-jam music puts all other bands to shame. All 12 tracks on this album are amazing, taking you on a journey of finely crafted literary works of modern-day art, done folk style.
Best tracks: “Little Lion Man,” “Timshel,” and “Winter Winds”
1. “Doo-Wops & Hooligans” by Bruno Mars
Hands down the finest new solo artist of the year. Bruno’s talent is only beginning to show. He had already written top-selling singles for other artists this year, including B.O.B, Cee-Lo Green and Travie McCoy, even guesting on B.O.B.’s and McCoy’s. No. 1 singles. It was only a matter of time before Mars would be a bonafide star himself. His first single, “Just The Way You Are,” burst onto the radio mid-summer and soon found itself at No. 1. Mars’ light pop danceable sound describes the year, yet his style sets him apart from any other artist in 2010. “Doo-Wops & Hooligans” is a nice blend of dance tunes and poignant balladry, either written or co-written by Mars, but all complete with his signature, classic and proven golden vocal touch. The only thing negative I can find: the album has only 10 tracks. Once you listen, you just want to hear more and more.
Best tracks: “Just The Way You Are,” “Grenade” and “Marry You.”
David T. Farr is a Journal correspondent. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.