Monday, 31 December 2012

[Countdown] Top Five Diva Albums Of 2012

2012 was a surprising year. Although we had releases from the big names- like Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna and Alicia keys- it wasn't from these seasoned Divas that the quality material came. And let's be real, some of their albums were downright disappointing.

This was the year of the newcomer. They burst periodically onto the scene throughout the year, bringing with them fresh and exciting new music that simultaneously put the old guard to shame while offering hope to a sagging, hit-chasing industry.

Check out my top five albums of this year, and don't forget to let me know what albums floated your boat in 2012 in the comments.

(Honourable mention) Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel.../ Regina Spektor : What We Saw from the Cheap Seats

These two alternative Divas share the position because they both released albums that were somewhat “more of the same”. But since they both consistently deliver quality material, that’s not a bad thing. They definitely would have featured higher on the list if they had tried something a smidgen different, but having them both put out new material this year was good enough for me.

(5) Grimes: Visions (5)

Grimes’ album Visions came from nowhere and lured me into its embracing, electro world from the very first second of opening track “Infinite Without Fulfilment”. With her wispy, but versatile voice, the Canadian singer/songwriter/producer sculpted an album of futuristic, quirky tunes that drew inspiration from as varied a source as Gregorian monks to classical music.

Personable and intimate, "Visions" was an album that stood out like a comforting beacon of creativity adrift in a sea of bland, cookie cutter, hit-single-chasing albums this year. 

(4) Jessie Ware: Devotion (4)

Though Jessie Ware was getting a lot of buzz at the start of the year, I wasn't biting. Having been compared to the great Sade I was suspicious that this was all going to amount to an exercise in hype-building and false advertising when the album did drop. I was wrong and I was right.

The singer doesn't sound like Sade, vocally, but there are similarities there, musically. Whereas Sade was the queen of laid back soul, Jessie Ware's own brand of the genre packs more bite and an undefinable edge. Both things that were needed to successfully revive and invigorate the genre in this modern age.

Championing British soul music for 2012, Devotion was stuffed full of quality tracks that showcased a deft vocalist, smooth beats and strong song writing- with "Taking In Water" and "Night light" being firm favourites of mine.

(3)Tinashe: Reverie(3)

Tinashe’s second mixtape of the year, Reverie, was a revelation to me. Coming hard with a 90’s inspired soundscape: the dark and atmospheric Rnb that made up this collection of songs brought back memories of a time when Aaliyah and Genuiwine ruled my playlists. It's a sound not dissimilar to that of breakthrough artist The Weekend, and having written- solely- every track on the album, this mixtape makes me excited for the full length RCA released album due next year.

Get Reverie, FOR FREE, here.

(2)Chromatics: Kill for Love (2)

More strictly a band, but since the lead singer is a female- one Ruth Radelet- I think The Chromatics should be allowed on the list. Kill for Love is one of those ambient-type albums that you can put on, and listen to from start to finish and not skip a single track. So cohesive is the the warming and comforting electronic spell this album casts, that I actually was a little sad when the it finished the first time I listened to it.

From the instrumental quiet-storm of "The Eleventh Hour" to the beauty of "Birds Of Paradise", the use of synths on this album is a master-class in balancing sound and space and less being more. Genius stuff.

(1) Lana Del Rey: Born To Die/ Paradise EP (1)

I didn't think Lana Del Rey could live up to the standard she set with her magical breakthrough hit "Video Games" in 2011. But this evocative writer not only managed to put out a whole album of excellence in the first half of 2012, in the form of her d├ębut Born To Die, but lightning hit twice, and she closed the year with the equally strong Paradise EP in December!

Combining a love of hip-hop with luscious strings and femme fatale characters, this was a Diva that carved out a lane entirely for herself in 2012.

And as for my song of the year? It has to go to Thamy and her track "Party @ Ur House". Truer words were never spoken this New Years eve! So from me and Thamy: "Live hard, Party Hard, Party Like A Rock Star"!

Have a great New Years Eve, People!


  1. My personal favorite release this year were...

    1) Born To Die/Paradise EP - Lana Del Rey

    2) Electra Heart - Marina and the Diamonds

    3) The Idler Wheel... - Fiona Apple

    And that's essentially it, I didn't pay much attention to music of this year.
    There were some other favorite releases as well but I tried to keep this (very short) list to just female releases, solo releases and English releases.

  2. Thank God, Santa gave me a HUGE garbage can to colect all this albums.

  3. I second Electra Heart-Marina and the Diamond.
    Also Boys & Girls-Alabama Shakes

    Other albums I liked were all by guys.
    Though perhaps as a stretch, Jack White-Blunderbuss can be counted since he used an all female band on the tour?
    And Dave Stewart- Ringmaster General features several females.
    Not even such tenacious links for Leonard Cohen- Old Ideas I am afraid ;-)

  4. I thought that Fiona Apple's album was the best 'Diva' album of 2012. And Grimes... she's my guilty pleasure, but her album is a marvelous train wreck; technically terrible, and I swear there was even a song in which she couldn't hit the notes. It's in its studio version goddamn it.

  5. Yess! I agree with all 3 of yours!

    Though, my guilty pleasure song of the year was Christina's "Your Body". Her squeezy pipes with a catchy tune somehow got me hooked on it. e.e

    Even though after she's been in the industry for quite sometime, I love Lana more and more. As for Electra Heart I think I've played the album most times this year. Pure catchiness in the album.

  6. Very pleased to see Lana number 1, being honest though I have not checked out the others at all, but I shall now following your recommendations!

  7. I didn't enjoy Born to Die all that much, I did, however, love the Paradise ep. For some reason, I can't stand Tinashe; everything about her stinks of desperation, and I refuse to give her music a chance because of it. I like to think of her and Jhene Aiko as being in the same vein musically, except Jhene Aiko executes her sound a lot better. With that being said, Jhene Aiko could benefit from some extensive vocal training. I still have to give some of the other albums on this list a listen. I've downloaded the idler wheel ages ago, and I have yet to listen to it.

  8. Oh and in my personal list Ellie Gouldings Halcyon would be in there....I am still hooked to that record! So much effortless and edgy class on one album!

  9. I love Jessie Ware, friends tried to big her up but wasn't having any of it. Got the album and I am hooked. Very controlled throughout, I saw her live at Fashion Rocks in London and she was just as good. Quite reserved and humble on stage.

  10. I think the biggest album last year was the Adele album the year before