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The Year in Pop

The Top Ten Albums

1. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III
Lil Wayne may be a visionary, delivering his unhinged but subtly patterned rhymes in a wry croak. But this disc was a throwback to the time when pop stars commanded huge CD sales. The legendarily prolific rapper focused everyone’s attention on one uncompromising set of songs and quite possibly closed out an era.

2. TV on the Radio, Dear Science
The band’s melodic gifts have never been in doubt, but they sometimes got mired in noisy, self-indulgent dirges. Not on this album. The fresh, funky horn players from Antibalas give TVOTR just the kick in the ass they needed to make their finest record.

3. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
Brokenhearted dude heads up to a remote cabin in Wisconsin with an acoustic guitar to cry his heart out—and somehow defies all stereotypes to make an incredibly meticulous and powerful body of songs that, for all their pain, manage to feel uplifting.

4. Portishead, Third
After ten years away, the seminal British trip-hoppers managed to reinvent themselves while still sounding exactly like Portishead. The emotional despair and gorgeously grainy ambience remain the same, but now they’re underpinned by blasts of grungy Krautrock.

5. Hercules and Love Affair
Antony Hegarty (a.k.a. Antony of Antony and the Johnsons) should be a full-time disco singer. His doleful euphoria is perfect for dance music, and the rest of the vocalists on this loving re-creation of classic house and disco rhythms work just as nicely in your living room.

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