My Popblerd brothers and sisters are putting together their top albums for the first half of 2012. I’m throwing my hat into the ring. Much like my man Stephen, I don’t quite have a full list of 10, but I won’t steal his gimmick of writing up all my summaries in 140 characters or less.

We’re going with a top 5. And let’s start from the bottom:

5. De La Soul – First Serve

Yes, I know that this is more of a side project than an actual, true De La album, but you can’t knock the art. Trying to stay in character is a little corny, but I appreciate the hustle. What it is, is an appetizer to when the next true De La album comes out. There’s humor, solid rapping performances and an attempt to put together a cohesive album where each song fits a theme. De La’s B+ is the best album of some rapper’s careers. Check out Big Money’s full review.

4. Elliott Yamin – Let’s Get To What’s Real

Elliott Yamin hasn’t let his dream die. Finishing third in my favorite season ever of American Idol, Yamin has always had the chops to compete in this real-life singing game. A lot of the album is uptempo surprisingly because he’s a really good ballad singer. Songs like “Gather Round” and “Downtown” lend to a more fun, throwback sound. It’s Yamin’s least safe attempt yet, though, save for the single “Three Words” and some of the other ballads, there’s not a chance you’ll hear many of these songs on the radio. I also think he has a soul album in him somewhere.

3. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel

There’s something about crazy chicks. I’ve had this discussion with friends about Apple. There’s an absolute brilliance that surrounds her when she sits at her piano. When she’s not at her piano? She just looks slightly malnutritioned and slightly to the left of center. But when she gets-a-singing, I immediately want to marry her. The second I knew that The Idler Wheel was a winner was when my 13 and 11 year old decided that I had to replay lead track “Every Single Night” after I snuck it in during a playlist on a car ride. Then I feared that they may have that gene for crazy chicks that I do and was immediately scared. The standout track on the album is “Werewolf”. It’s just amazing.

2. B.o.B. – Strange Clouds

I know that B.o.B.’s second album isn’t as celebrated as his rookie joint. I know that it’s not going to sell as many copies or get him on the MTV VMAs. But man, I still really like it. B.o.B. has mastered the art of staying on the side of hip hop while dipping his pinkie toe in other genres. There’s aren’t many times where you’ll hear Taylor Swift, Ryan Tedder, Lil’ Wayne, and T.I. all guest-star on the same album. I think the reason it works for him is because he’s absolutely genuine. He makes songs that can play to so many different music demos because he loves it all. I’m going to guess he gets “Both Of Us” with Taylor on the pop chart. Michelangelo with the flow, Picasso with the bars. Check out Drew’s full review.

1. John Mayer – Born And Raised

I couldn’t be more different from John Mayer. He’s never been married. I’m divorced. He loves them and leaves them. I’m very loyal. He seems a bit aloof, maybe uncaring sometimes, and most definitely selfish. And I’m definitely the opposite, or at least try to be. Then why do I relate to his music more than any other artist out there today? I really have no idea. It started with Continuum. And now this. Yes, I skipped Battle Studies, but not because I didn’t like it. I did. But it didn’t seem to have the same mind-clearing, introspective lyrics that you expected. And the music wasn’t quite as interesting. But Mayer is back with a vengeance. Maybe the reception to Battle Studies was necessary. All of the bad PR decisions that he made probably had to happen for Born And Raised to happen. So for those of you who hate Battle Studies, know that he had to go there in order to go here. The album’s quality is so even. There isn’t really one song that I love more than others. It’s absolute quality through and through. Check out Big Money’s full review.

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