The top 15 music albums of 2018

This year was a fiercely competitive year for music — hundreds of albums were released, but only 52 No. 1 positions were available to top the charts.

The world heard Travis Scott’s trap masterpiece Astroworld, Eminem stole the Beastie Boys’ artwork with Kamikaze, Lil Wayne came through and finally delivered Tha Carter V, Jack White alienated his fans and Damon Albarn came back hungry for more with the Gorillaz and The Now Now.

So which albums were the best? Well, that’s all opinion. Although there were many highlights, there’s only room for some on this list.

Vinyl on turntables, Oct. 26, 2015.

Here are Global News’ top picks for the top 15 albums of 2018, in no particular order.

(Let us know if you agree — or disagree — in the comments below.)

Top 15 albums of 2018

Sting & Shaggy – 44/876

With possibly the most unexpected combination of musicians, fans were sure they would be thoroughly disappointed by Sting and Shaggy‘s collab album, 44/876.

Surprisingly, the duo surpassed almost everyone’s expectations after the release of their debut single, Don’t Make Me Wait. 

Reggae-influenced music layered with the former frontman of The Police really is something you might want to hear — Shaggy’s harmonies truly are the cherry to top it all off as well. Seriously, don’t knock it ’til you try it.

The Weeknd – My Dear Melancholy

Although not a full album, this six-song EP bridges the gap between the critically-acclaimed Starboy (2016) and The Weeknd‘s long-awaited album set for a 2019 release.

My Dear Melancholy has been praised as the 28-year-old’s “most cohesive” effort to date. The downbeat themes matched with the power of his voice make for a highly emotional experience.

The 20-minute masterpiece is a return to form, reminiscent of the dark and dangerous mixtapes that made him a household name at the beginning of the decade.

BørnsBlue Madonna

The 26-year-old won the heart of adolescents worldwide with his first album, Dopamine (2016). With his sophomore effort, Blue Madonna, Børns broke into the mainstream as a modern synth pop sensation.

This album offers a flawlessly high range of vocals and harmonies sure to make the hair on your skin stand on its ends.

The beautifully conducted instrumentation doesn’t allow for a single song to be skipped.

Paul McCartney – Egypt Station

The year 2018 was a big one for Paul McCartney: not only did he release his 17th studio album, but he released his first album to top the Billboard 200 since 1982.

Egypt Station came as a concept album in which each song is a different destination, something that many fans have welcomed with open arms. Experimenting means that McCartney’s still got some tricks up his sleeves.

At 76 years old, you’d think the former Beatle might want to slow down.

Alice in Chains – Rainier Fog

Three decades on the go and the Seattle-based grunge legends are still at it. Rainier Fog comes as Alice in Chains’ third album featuring singer William DuVall.

This album speaks for both fans old and new; it attests to the perpetually improving quality of the band’s music.

There’s a surrounding sense of maturity and development, while they retain the haunting vocal harmonies and deeply emotional concepts that make the signature Alice in Chains sound.

The Voidz – Virtue

Ever wondered what happened to The Strokes? Well, The Voidz — for those who may not know — is the side project of frontman Julian Casablancas.

Virtue came as their sophomore album and is quite simply undefinable. Heavy synths, infectious bass grooves and unrestricted vocals make for the most original music in not only 2018, but possibly the entire decade so far.

In terms of music, there’s a little bit of something for everyone from this so-called “rock” band. The Voidz can not and should not be confined to a single genre.

Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino

AM (2013) left millions ravenous for more Arctic Monkeys after its breakthrough in North America. After five years of uncertainty, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino  was revealed to the world,

Realizing that the Monkeys never do the same thing twice, many fans were left disappointed. But after four or five listens, they saw its true potential, realizing that they were gifted a masterpiece.

A concept album set in the Moon’s only hotel, which is home to a lounge band named “The Martini Police”? Incredible!

Think that’s crazy? Well, it earned Arctic Monkeys two Grammy nominations and spawned two of the greatest music videos of all time.

Mac Miller – Swimming

The late Mac Miller released his fifth and final album, Swimming, only a month prior to his tragic death.

Swimming was an emotional release for the 26-year-old, largely focusing on his breakup with pop sensation, Ariana Grande. Musically, it’s an entirely fresh approach, channelling early soul vibes. Lyrically, it reflects on his maturity and development as a musician.

The album spawned three hit singles, Small Worlds, Self Care and What’s the Use?  It’s also up for Best Rap Album at the Grammys.

Drake – Scorpion

Like him or not, Drake’s success is undeniable. Armed with a team of songwriters, the 32-year-old spawned his first double album, Scorpion. It became a worldwide phenomenon.

The lead single, God’s Plan cemented Drake as the most popular artist among all streaming platforms. Within 2018, he had 12 Top 10 singles on the U.S. Billboard charts — he stole that record from The Beatles, who held it since 1964.

Ghost – Prequelle

How many metal bands take influence from bands such as ABBA and Blue Öyster Cult? Probably not too many, which is why it’s fairly obvious that Ghost is one of the most unique and accessible groups within the genre.

Prequelle launched the Swedes into mainstream success with its first single, Rats, which spent seven weeks on top of the rock charts.

The themes are dark, but the music says otherwise. Choirs, pianos and infectious disco numbers are not exactly what you’d expect. Ghost have raised the bar to a tremendous height in terms of how we see and hear rock and roll. Prequelle is not only diverse, but it’s incredibly original.

 Alessia Cara – The Pains of Growing

The Pains of Growing serves as an anthem for the likes of today’s adolescents. Alessia Cara delves deep inside the harsh reality of growing up and becoming an adult.

With only four years on the scene, the pop sensation has proved she’s matured from being just an “up-and-comer” — it’s clear in her musical capabilities.

Cara is one of the few rising stars who has provided pop fans across the globe with hopes for a future of quality music.

John Legend – A Legendary Christmas

John Legend is the real deal. Sure, A Legendary Christmas is mostly covers, but his renditions of holiday classics, such as Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Silver Bells, are purely authentic.

The incredibly selected compilation is beautifully accompanied by the smooth sensation of Legend’s powerful voice.

If you’re looking for something more, there are also five originals written by the man himself, sure to set the mood for any holiday season.

Greta Van Fleet – Anthem of the Peaceful Army

Credited as the saviours of rock n’ roll, Great Van Fleet already toured the world before the release of this album, which surprisingly enough is their debut, Anthem of the Peaceful Army.

Blending the music of the 1970s with concepts of the modern age, this band of 20-somethings has impressed the world all over again with original songs like When the Curtain Falls and The Age of Man.

Love them or hate them, they are doing good things for the future of rock music and if this is them just getting started, who knows what could be next?

Ariana Grande – Sweetener

Sweetener is known as the calm before the storm. This was Ariana Grande before her career skyrocketed into the height it sits at now.

Singles like God is a Woman and Breathin’ cemented the 25-year-old as an ideal role model for young women across the globe.

It’s not only the morals and sincerity that made Sweetener so good, though. The music speaks volumes alone. Lyrically, it shows Grande’s evolution as a songwriter and musically, it’s her most diverse yet. And it comes equipped with ballads and ferocious radio hits sure to make you shed a tear or two.

The Struts – Young & Dangerous

How would the lovechild of Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury sound, you ask? Well if you listen to The Struts, you’ll both see and hear it. The English rock band released only its second album this year and was already invited to tour the world with the Foo Fighters, by Dave Grohl himself.

While influences from bands like Queen, Slade and Oasis are present, there’s absolutely no hint of plagiarism. This is original and fresh content at its finest.

This is another band sure to become a household name. With their explosive live energy and dance music, The Struts have already made a mark across the world.

Luke Spiller of The Struts at the Opera House in Toronto, on Sept. 26, 2018.

Who did we miss? Which of these do you love? Share them in the comments section below.

Thank U, Next, 2018.

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