Check out #40-#36 here.
35. Jamie Cullum, The Pursuit (Verve)
We Americans had to wait a little longer for The Pursuit than his native Brits, the singer/songwriter’s third major-label album was a 2009 release in Jamie’s homeland. Turns out the album was worth the wait. Cullum is equally at home with poignant ballads as he is with energetic pop tunes, which is what separates him from supposed contemporaries like Michael Boring Buble. Extra points for his caffeinated supper-club version of Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music”.
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I wasn’t old enough to go out dancing in the Eighties, but listening to Chromeo makes me feel as though I’m rocking a dancefloor in the post-disco era. Full of falsetto, thumping basslines and peppy synthesizers, the Canadian duo’s third full-length album was the party record of the year.
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33. Sia, We Are Born (Jive)
My enjoyment of several albums on this list was bolstered by seeing the artist in concert. The second album by Australian singer-songwriter Sia Furler was one of those albums. She’s absolutely electric as a performer, and seeing her live gave me a new appreciation for the songs on We Are Born. Work with artists like Zero 7 proved that Sia could do the mellow, chilled-out thing very well, but there were some surprisingly good uptempo songs on this release as well. Bonus points to Sia for writing several of the handful of tolerable songs on Christina Aguilera’s regrettable Bionic release.
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32. Bruno Mars, Doo-Wops & Hooligans (Atlantic)
Bruno Mars spent 2010 proving that great pop lyricism isn’t dead. First, he lit up B.o.B’s debut single “Nothin’ on You”, then he helped Travie McCoy shake off the stigma of Gym Class Heroes (and his rep as Katy Perry’s ex-boyfriend) with “Billionaire”. Right as his debut solo single, “Just the Way You Are” began its’ ascent to the top of the charts, Mars also hit the charts as the co-writer of Cee-Lo’s delightfully ribald “Fuck You”. Doo-Wops and Hooligans proved that Bruno didn’t give all his great songs away. Coming across as the love child of Ne-Yo and Jack Johnson, Mars’ debut wound up a more enjoyable listen than the efforts of either of those veteran artists.
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31. Tracey Thorn, Love & It’s Opposite (Merge)
Tracey Thorn is one of those artists that I would happily listen to if she sang gibberish for 45 minutes. How can I qualify that? I sat through an album about divorce and menopause! I’m kidding, of course, but the latest solo effort by the Everything but the Girl singer was an honest look at the perils of aging. Written and performed tastefully, and with humor, Thorn’s album was honest, age-appropriate and touching. If you’re on Twitter, please make sure you check out Thorn’s feed. Her real-life observations will make you keel over with laughter.
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