01. The Fame Monster
After delivering a behemoth of a pop album in the form of The Fame in 2008 (my choice for #1 album for 2008, which made it ineligible for my list creation), Lady Gaga delivered The Fame Monster EP at the end of 2009. The EP not only proves that Lady Gaga has the potential to last for longer than an album’s promotional span, but also manages to do more over eight songs than many albums do over 12-14. The Fame Monster is leaner, meaner (almost literally), and somehow a better album than The Fame – quite an accomplishment.
02. For Your Entertainment
Adam Lambert’s debut album is quite possibly one of the most refreshing, due in large part to the vocal strength of Lambert, undoubtedly one of the strongest male vocalists in recent memory to grace pop music. For Your Entertainment easily slides between dance-pop and pop rock throughout its fourteen tracks, rarely sticking with one particular sound over more than two tracks. In some ways, it’s the perfect album for the iPod Generation.
03. Rated R
Sometimes it takes immense pain or scrutiny to create beautiful or thought-provoking art. In the vein of Janet Jackson’s The Velvet Rope came Rated R, Rihanna’s form of therapy following her public drama after a domestic abuse situation with then-boyfriend Chris Brown became public. Rihanna has stated that Rated R became her form of therapy, and it shows. From violent images in “Russian Roulette,” “Fire Bomb” and “G4L” to the swagger of tracks like “Hard” and “Rockstar 101,” to the heartbreak of “Stupid in Love,” “Cold Case Love,” and “The Last Song,” Rated R is a brilliant piece of art.
04. All I Ever Wanted
After penning every song on 2007’s My December and making a decidedly non-pop album, Kelly Clarkson returns to her most successful sound with All I Ever Wanted. While the sound is reminiscent of 2004’s Breakaway, though, the lyrics fall somewhere between her previous two albums. The result is a diverse, effervescent pop album highlighted by Clarkson’s delivery. Once again, Kelly Clarkson proves to be one of the more intriguing figures in pop music, and with a new album in production said to take on a sound more akin to Garbage, future albums sound just as promising.
This album surprised me. Battlefield picks up where the hit singles of Jordin Sparks (namely “No Air”) left off, surrounding Sparks with an army of hit producers and a bigger budget. The result is a pop album that shimmers over a series of upbeat and midtempo pop tracks. Highlights include the title track, “S.O.S. (Let the Music Play),” and “Don’t Let it Go to Your Head.” While Sparks has yet to establish her own identity with her music, she earns a pass – this time. The album’s just too irresistably catchy to ignore.