1) Born This Way - Lady Gaga. "In a year, from one album, Gaga has released 5 singles, 5 videos, had a Thanksgiving special, headlined in New York City on New Year’s eve, been around the entire world promoting at least twice, opened her own charity foundation inspiring youth bravery, while at the same time wearing heels higher than the Empire State building and keeping her flawless image intact. If that wasn’t enough, the themes in Born This Way range from self-acceptance to relationships, and throughout the album Gaga preaches a positive message of love and unity. There are unhappy themes, coming from dark caverns of Gaga/Stefani’s psyche, but instead of dwelling on her mistakes she moves on, triumphant, into the future. Sonically, Born This Way could be described perfectly as “Avant-guard techno rock”, however there are even country influences, electro pop, plus vintage 80’s references unusually suited yet mixed into the tracks too. This album feels more than your typical pop album, or acoustic set with a melodramatic attitude, and is instead is a fist-pumping, heart throbbing anthem for modern youth society. It’s a defining moment for pop culture, tied into 17 tracks of pure musical genius." - That's what I wrote about it in a blog post a year ago, and those feelings haven't changed!
2) Sam's Town - The Killers. This album is very visual to me. I love the dusty neon signs in the videos, and the hot sun, and the desert. I also love how in this album, the band seem more honest about their roots. During the release and hype around Hot Fuss, everybody thought they were English band, but in Sam's Town they're singing about their home and glamourising the trashy wasteland like it's the greatest place to be on earth, and I like that. Plus, I love how it's more conventionally rock than all of their other albums.
3) The Fame Monster - Lady Gaga. Had to go for Gagz again. I just adore the age-old story of the girl who had big dreams, achieved them all, and realised they're not all they cracked up to be. Being the sucker for lyrics and album story lines that I am, one of my favourite aspects about this album is that each song represents a different "monster" of fame (sex monster, money monster, loneliness monster) that Gaga encountered on her rise to superstardom. As much as I don't like to think about chart positions, the fact that this was a highlight of her career just makes the story all the more poignant. Also, this sound is the style pop artists will be chasing for years. It's perfect feminine pop combined with a darkness and actual depth.
4) Back in Black - AC/DC. One of those rare albums where every song is an absolute blinder. You could be knitting a scarf with your nan and feel like a badass listening to this rock n' roll masterpiece. It's possibly one of the BEST rock albums of all time, and that won't change. Ever. I cannot fault anything about this album, honestly. I'm never not in the mood to listen to it. (Won't describe the songs or the lyrics or the feel, because no doubt most people here will have heard it!)
5) Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers. No matter how many albums this band releases, or how many guitarists they swap and change, this will always be my perfect Chili Peppers. They really came into their own this this album. Not only has it soundtracked many great moments in my life, but it has inspired me to improve as a musician and to play different styles of music. Honourable mention: The Fame - Lady Gaga, Master of Puppets - Metallica.