Scoring the accolade of “Album of the Year” is coveted by many, but achieved by very few.
With brilliant deliveries from artists in every genre, deciding the reigning champion became more difficult than GlobalGrind geared up for.
Although the order in which the albums ranked on our list was a daunting task, the real headache came down to the number one spot, which led to an evenly divided GlobalGrind staff.
Team Frank and Team Kendrick argued their points, and when neither party was willing to budge we listed the five strongest tracks on each album to compare and examine their strengths and weaknesses.
After a stalemate, submission was eventually garnered by a member of Team Kendrick who decided to let the Grammy-nominated album, Channel Orange, reign as the best album of 2012.
From Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die to Ellie Goulding’s HALCYON, GlobalGrind didn’t forget a soul.
Check out GlobalGrind’s top 12 picks for 2012 below!
12. Lana Del Rey – Born To Die
Despite the mixed reviews from music critics across the board, Lana Del Rey’s debut album, Born To Die, is one of our favorites.
Lana’s hypnotic vocals, melodramatic hooks, calculated decision to create imagery around dreary, tragic love stories and her ability maintain her love-starved theme throughout the entire body of work make her album the perfect sulky solution to any lovesick woman.
Overall, Lana’s debut is a solid collection, but it’s clever lines like, “Take another drag, turn me to ashes,” which lands Lana at the number 12 spot.
11. Nas – Life Is Good
Ten is Nas’ lucky number.
After a four-year hiatus, Nas arguably delivered his best album since Stillmatic. Nas hands over a hip-hop resurrection of storytelling.
Despite appearing on the cover holding his ex-wife Kelis’ green wedding dress, Life Is Good isn’t a whiny hip-hop album about love. It’s quite the opposite.
Nas still delivers complex metaphors that sometimes don’t register until listen three or four, but Life Is Good, is unapologetically the Nas the world crowned as a legend.
10. Ellie Goulding – Halcyon
The world is still upset that Ellie and her EDM DJing boyfriend Skrillex have broken up, but at least we all can still enjoy her sophomore effort Halcyon.
Ellie’s high-pitched helium-infused voice often takes the listener to a place of reverie. Luckily for her fans, Ellie’s elegant vocals are matched with an equally as dazzling sonic delivery.
9. Taylor Swift – Red
Taylor Swift knows how to write an album.
No matter how much she annoys you with her juvenile persona or her attempt to captivate audiences with her innocence, Taylor undoubtedly delivers solid albums time after time.
Although her fans will soon expect the 23-year-old singer to begin to transition into writing more risky love ballads, Taylor did take risks with her album sonically.
Despite running the risk of alienating her country music core, Taylor delivered catchy pop tracks, and even surprised critics with hints of dub-step influences.
Taylor’s countless revenge songs about love, falling in love, loving love and hating love, make Red exceptional.
8. Mumford & Sons – Babel
What sophomore slump?
British folk rockers Mumford & Sons created a quiet movement with their debut Sigh No More off the strength of their catchy banjo-laden single “Little Lion Man” in 2010.
But the pretty regular dudes from London, who possess alarmingly sophisticated musicality, upped the ante with Babel, a gorgeous compilation of folk, bluegrass, hard rock and country influence – all conjoined with the strength and beauty of Marcus Mumford’s vocals.
There’s more banjo, more guitar and more passion, all helping Mumford gain the biggest selling debut album of 2012 in the U.S., and solidifying their spot as the champions of folk rock for the younger generation.
7. Rihanna – Unapologetic
What can we say? Rihanna rarely apologizes for anything, and she makes that very clear on her seventh studio album in seven years.
One may wonder how Rihanna continuously delivers albums year after year. Well, the Bajan pop star has quite a team. It took Rihanna seven tries to finally score a number one album, and this time the fans got it right. Unapologetic is Rihanna’s best delivery.
Unapologetic is rebellious, moody, bossy, but also tragic, because it’s subtle depiction of Rihanna’s somewhat tortured soul.
Rihanna’s latest delivery solidifies the “Diamonds” singer as a good girl gone bad, who is in fact, gone forever.
6. Passion Pit – Gossamer
Despite Michael Angelakos’ revelation that he suffers from bipolar disorder, Passion Pit still manages to deliver a glittery bomb of catchy melodies riddled with drums that allow the music to reign free.
Compared to Passion Pit’s debut album, Michael has added more depth in the delivery of his lyrics. Gossamer is a little scattered, but what one might expect that after the revelation above.
Despite the very apparent confusion on parts of the album, Gossamer is quite effortless in its arrangement.
5. Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream
Kaleidoscope Dream brings back the soul to R&B. Singer Miguel should pat himself on the back for single-handedly bringing back the traditional aspects of R&B.
Besides the “death” of rock and roll, traditional R&B was suffering from a long, slow, and painful death. That is, until Miguel released his sophomore album, Kaleidoscope Dream.
Digging deep and focusing in on the adoration of love, Miguel woos the world with his airy, soulful ballads, riddled with eccentric rhythms of funk, blues, and perilous tales of freaky, unabashed love.
4.Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
It was the first time fans heard from the “Criminal” singer in seven years, but the wait wasn’t in vain.
The 23 word album title is quite exhausting and may lead many to believe the album is scattered and unfocused, but the fact of the matter is, Fiona is more refined than ever.
The Idler Wheel...is impressive, bitter, and filled with woes, but features some of the most heavenly acoustic melodies music has heard all year.
3. Jack White – Blunderbuss
Although fans don’t get a tell-all album surrounding the demise of his personal relationship, Jack White still offers his own version of disillusioned tales of love.
When love attempts to kill the soul, Jack flourishes with excitement. He attempts to explain through 13 tracks why we all love love, even though love seems to hate us.
Jack White oddly loves the struggle and pain of it all, but sonically expresses why his inner pain often feels good.
Blunderbuss is so great because somehow Jack offers so much of himself on the record, but still leaves the listener wondering, who is the real Jack White?
Jack’s ability to be an open book, but still somehow remain a mystery, will have fans running back for his solo sophomore effort.
2. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar had the best hip-hop album of the year, by far.
Kendrick’s storytelling is unmatched and his ability to create a cinematic story surrounding his life as a teenager living in one of the most notoriously hardened neighborhoods in California proves he’s one of the few newcomers willing to bring the integrity and creativity back to hip-hop.
Between the countless skits and his ability to facilitate portraits of compassion surrounding those lost to the streets, good kid, m.A.A.d. city is the most refreshing and invigorating album this year.
1. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
Unadulterated honesty, unequivocal passion, complex metaphors, and personified imagery are all the reasons R&B singer Frank Ocean’s debut album lands at number one.
Frank loves hard. Frank loves aimlessly. Frank loves with reckless abandon. Frank loves without prejudice, but what hits home to most listeners is Frank loves without regret.
Frank’s awareness of the unrequited love he experiences and the subtle lessons he teaches through his conscious collective outshines every artist who released a body of work this year.