So the Academy has their picks, and I have mine.
Today I want to share 25 of my top favorite albums. It’s an eclectic mix ranging from rock to pop to musicals to soundtracks, but these are the CDs that I can play over and over and never tire of. Before I reset my iTunes, I had played the song “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” by Panic! At the Disco over two hundred-some times. And that didn’t include all the times I jammed to the CD old school-style.
I embrace music going digital – it’s easier to share, it’s easier to listen to anywhere, and it’s nice to buy songs you like without having to buy an entire CD if you’re not a huge fan of that artist. However, there’s something about popping CD into your player and experiencing all the tracks from start to finish. Savoring the artistry, rocking out to your favorites, letting filler tracks grow on you.
This is in no way meant to be these are the top albums in all of music ever. These are just the ones I’ve enjoyed and hope you will too.
- A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out – Panic! At the Disco – Love how each song tells a story and how the lyrics are so original. Combining the brilliant lyrics with catchy melodies and experimenting with tradition pop music styles, it’s the perfect combo. Lead singer Brandon Urie’s voice is incredible, and I love how he delivers the songs with drama and flair.
- The Black Parade – My Chemical Romance – Every single song on this album is solid, and it brought back the concept album. Great mix of fast rock songs and slow ballads. The title song I think of as “Bohemian Rhapsody” for a new generation.
- Sigh No More – Mumford & Sons – Not my usual style of music, this cd hooked me with its old school style and feel. I feel like I’m in back in Ireland during the potato famine or surviving the Dust Bowl in the Midwest. Marcus Mumford’s voice is a perfect combo of low gravel and sweet melody. The instrumentation is killer, too. This whole album is musical genius and a nice vacation from the usual chart toppers. Love the depth added by the banjo and bass.
- Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys – My Chemical Romance – I tried hard to only pick one album per artist, but this and The Black Parade are just too awesome I couldn’t choose. While the former being the more typically dark, somewhat angsty rock MCR is known for, this is a more upbeat album, with a graphic novel concept. The CD follows the Fabulous Killjoys, superheroes in a futuristic desert setting ruled by corporations. The opening track alone gets you jamming and feeling like a BAMF all day long. With clever lyrics and themes like fighting for a better future, this CD just pumps me up.
- Meteora – Linkin Park – Loved the first album, but the songs on the second one just resonated more with me. There was not a song on this album I didn’t like and didn’t listen to hundreds of times. This was so different from what I usually listened to at the time, but it was so dead on to the feelings I had at the time and even still today, I love it. I was rather disappointed in LP’s newer album, but still love Chester as the forefront vocalist screaming the passion and tension into every track.
- Hybrid Theory – Linkin Park – Again, tried to pick only one album but both these albums just blew my mind. I loved the combination of rap, rock, and metal. And the rebellious lyrics or the fuck off I’m better than that power songs just jazz me up. Perfect for my teen angst in high school, these albums still fuel my running with a certain passion that can’t be found in other music.
- Intermission: Greatest Hits – dc Talk – For Christian rock, these guys break the mold and make a whole new one. Combining rock, rap, and contemporary Christian pop, these guys send a message that is anything but the normal cliché God is Great or Jesus Loves You. I love the clever lyrics and positive messages. Some of the songs just hit the mark commenting on what society has become without being preachy.
- Wanted – Vanessa Carlton – Although most people know “Ordinary Day” and “Thousand Miles” from being overplayed on the radio, there is much more to this chick. She writes and plays her own music, creating tunes that are catchy and haunting. Her best songs never made it into mainstream. I love her darker songs and the Gothic flare to them. Her second album delved even deeper into certain topics, but she always paints this beautiful image or story in her songs.
- Lungs – Florence + the Machine – Even her B-sides album was phenomenal. Florence’s voice carries so much emotion and is so haunting and beautiful. I love how this album dabbles in various music styles and in all subject matter. With a definite love for the ethereal, Florence makes all sorts of topics interesting, such as her song “My Boy Builds Coffins” or domestic violence in “Kiss With a Fist.” She’s in her own category and backed beautifully by her band, The Machine.
- Christmas Eve and other Stories – Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Christmas music is awesome to begin with, but you add rock guitars and screamin violins and it’s gets better. Add a rock guitar to anything and it’s pretty baller, but TSO does it best. Great on the album, even better in concert. Check out TSO’s non-Christmas hits too where they make classical music cool again and even have original pieces of their own.
- Phantom of the Opera – Selections From Original Cast version – My favorite musical ever. My friend introduced me to the soundtrack and I could NOT GET ENOUGH. I wasn’t even sure of the plot, but the singing was gorgeous, the organ in certain songs so soul-shaking, and each song made me feel something different. A great blend of being a traditional musical with modern twists.
- 21 – Adele – Loved this album before it swept 6 Grammys. Adele’s voice is just one of a kind, and sounds just as great if not better on the live bonus tracks. Even though she mostly sings simple love songs, mostly you broke my heart you bastard songs, she brings so much emotion into them, and her songs are very relatable. She’s one of the few artists I feel can transcend all audiences regardless of age or gender. Her style of music isn’t confined to a category. My only criticism of the album is it starts off strong, but then gets very slow and never picks back up. I like the songs, but if I want something upbeat or something that’s not going to remind me of heartbreaks past, this is not the album to just pop into the player for fun.
Stay Tuned for Part 2 of the list…