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Remember the days when people used to proclaim the death of the album? Too hasty, pop-culture Nostradamuses; from where we're standing, the launch of a new record seems to be more of an event than ever. One of the great things about our age of instant opinion overload is that even if that anticipated album you've been waiting months for turns out to be utter rubbish, you can take comfort in the anguished memes of others. Conversely, if it's everything you've hoped for, you can bathe in instant reviews and share your jubilation in ALL CAPS and fire emojis with those who are on your wavelength.

Here we list the 10 most controversial, most hyped, most disappointing and most confusing talking-point albums of the year.

1. Beyoncé - Lemonade

Naysayers were left clinging on by their fingertips in the torrent of love that greeted Beyoncé’s sixth album. Picking up where she left off with 2013's self-titled album - the visual-album format, the surprise-release tactics, the radical pop artistry - Lemonade went in harder and deeper than ever before. The lead single, Formation, celebrated black pride in politically fraught times, and was launched at the Super Bowl with a performance that gave clear visual nods to the Black Panthers. Too political for some, the show led to competing #BoycottBeyoncé and #IstandwithBeyoncé hashtags.

Lemonade is a major personal statement from the most respected and creative artist in the pop game
Rolling Stone

The rest of Lemonade was still very much concerned with black female experience, but viewed through the red-hot fury and pain of a near-breakup that many speculated was inspired by her husband Jay Z's infidelity. Sorry's reference to "Becky with the good hair" led to fevered speculation on Twitter as to the identity of the other woman, with stylist Rachel Roy and others coming under the full glare of the Beyhive.

Gossip aside, the reaction to the album was near-universal awed worship. Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield, giving the album the full five out of five, called it "a major personal statement from the most respected and creative artist in the pop game… her most emotionally extreme music, but also her most sonically adventurous". In their five-star review, the Independent said: "Lemonade is fiery, insurgent, fiercely proud, sprawling and sharply focused in its dissatisfaction."

Twitter, though, thought one person's reaction might have been a little more mixed:

Lemonade is a major personal statement from the most respected and creative artist in the pop game
Rolling Stone

2. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo

Having already grabbed everyone's attention with an entertainingly weird Twitter spat with Wiz Khalifa and their mutual ex Amber Rose, Kanye then ramped up anticipation by claiming his new record was "one of the greatest of all time". He launched it at a bizarre Madison Square Garden fashion-show-cum-playback event livestreamed on Jay Z's Tidal service, with models standing around as the album played. Not everyone rated it as a strategy:

Reaction to Pablo itself was, much like the album, mixed:

Alex Petridis at the Guardian termed it "rambling, chaotic, deeply underwhelming, impressively audacious, and completely infuriating", while Gavin Haynes at NME went with "dangerous, sparse, surreal, disjointed, hyper-realistic, cokey and constantly second-guessing its audience".

Among the sprawl, Pablo was full of classic one-liners ("What if Kanye made a song about Kanye / Called I Miss the Old Kanye? Man, that'd be so Kanye"), but most controversial was the following line from Famous: "I think me and Taylor might still have sex / I made that b**** famous”. Taylor Swift fans didn't like it, and neither, understandably, did Taylor Swift: an unedifying public spat between West, Swift and West’s wife Kim Kardashian followed.

Reviewers also picked up on Kanye's increasingly frayed tone, an element of Pablo that you can't help but read differently in light of West's recent hospitalisation for exhaustion. "West just drops broken pieces of his psyche all over the album and challenges you to fit them together," said Rob Sheffield at Rolling Stone. Craig Jenkins at Noisey, too, wondered, "Is it all, as some have presumptuously suggested, just a manic episode? Is Kanye weird? Is he in danger? As spectators we'll never know."

3. Drake - Views

Yes, I can definitely cry in the bath to this, but what else?
Noisey

Another surprise launch, Views drew muted notices, with most critics agreeing it was Drakey business as usual. Jonah Weiner in Rolling Stone noted: "The context Drake seems to care most about a decade into his career remains the armada of ex-girlfriends he can't resist obsessing over," while Noisey's Craig Jenkins concluded that "Views' shrewd attempt to synthesise the quintessential Drake album begs the question: Is this as good as it gets?" His Noisey colleague Emma Garland was more to the point: "On first, second, and even 12th impression, Views is devastatingly underwhelming. My initial feelings were: Yes, I can definitely cry in the bath to this, but what else?"

One of the biggest immediate talking points, oddly, was Drake's namecheck of a cheesecake restaurant chain in the song Child's Play, shortly after Beyoncé had given a certain seafood joint a huge takings boost via the lyrics of Formation.

Drake's attempt to signal the landmark intent of his fourth album by Photoshopping a tiny version of himself onto his hometown Toronto's most famous landmark, the CN Tower, on the sleeve also backfired. Give the internet a Photoshop challenge and...

Yes, I can definitely cry in the bath to this, but what else?
Noisey

4. Skepta - Konnichiwa

Even before his Mercury Prize win, Skepta's fourth album was always going to be a huge moment. The grime resurgence was peaking, and Konnichiwa had the quality, and the nerve, to ride the crest of the wave. Yet this was no simple crossover celebration. "Boy better know a man went to the Brits on a train," Skepta says on the album's title track. "Man shut down Wireless and then I walked home in the rain." The album was fascinating, riven by conflict over Skepta's ambition and his need, having rejected his pop-grime years, to stay true to himself. "A combination of snarling bravado and earnest self directed criticism - an elegantly brutal volte-face from a previous life," as Kevin Lozano of Pitchfork put it.

After Skepta's Mercury success, though, the rockists were out in force, outraged at his win over David Bowie's Blackstar. As many noted, however - including presenter Jarvis Cocker, below - Bowie himself would almost certainly have wanted Skepta to win, not that that was even the point.

Lethal Bizzle summed up the general feeling of optimism about the win:

5. The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It

The 1975's magnum opus very much demanded that you should have an opinion on it. Alexis Petridis at the Guardian diagnosed "a raging case of the serious artists… All the common indications are here, from the self-consciously wordy title to the presence of a sombre instrumental that skulks around for four and a half minutes hoping someone's going to compare it to Brian Eno or Berlin-era Bowie." Jon Dolan at Rolling Stone summed up the overarching 80s tone nicely: "At times, the vibe approximates what might have happened if Michael Hutchence had stuck around long enough to make a record with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy in the producer's chair."

But a band that tries to straddle as many boundaries as The 1975 - between pop and serious rock, between older music fans and millennials, between image and voice - can't help but stir up controversy. Some, like Reverend and The Makers, thought they were trying to be something they weren't, saying on Twitter: "That 1975 lad does my cake in. Ur in boyzone mate. Ya not Cobain." To which frontman Matt Healy coolly responded: "I AM YOUR OG AND I WILL BE RESPECTED AS SUCH."

6. Rihanna - Anti

This is Rihanna at her most strikingly self-assured and it's wondrous...
The Independent

Much like many of the major talking-point albums on this list, Rihanna's eighth record, another early/botched release, was one where she strove to push beyond people's perception of her. But as many reviewers noted, it didn't always feel, among the album's sometimes psychedelic/sometimes dark and trappy/sometimes retro-soulful changes of mood, that Rihanna knew exactly what her destination was.

Some commented on the album's almost-awkward avoidance of massive tunes, Rihanna's traditional calling card. But others saw this as a strong point. "There's honesty in Anti's slipperiness. No one wants one thing all the time, in love or music. Why should it be any different for Rihanna?" noted Noisey’s Craig Jenkins, while Emily Jupp at the Independent concluded that, "This is Rihanna at her most strikingly self-assured and it's wondrous..."

This is Rihanna at her most strikingly self-assured and it's wondrous...
The Independent

7. David Bowie - Blackstar

The many-layered lyrics of Bowie's last album were already a source of rich debate even before it was followed by his death. David Fricke at Rolling Stone called it "one of the most aggressively experimental records the singer has ever made... a ricochet of textural eccentricity and pictorial-shrapnel writing" while Pitchfork's Ryan Dombal said: "Bowie will live on long after the man has died. For now, though, he's making the most of his latest reawakening, adding to the myth while the myth is his to hold."

After news of Bowie's death broke, the internet was dominated by messages of love and mourning for days. Among the most widely shared was this from BBC Culture:

Yet as the Observer's Kitty Empire noted in a reappraisal of her original review, "Blackstar's greatness doesn't depend entirely on its codedness, on its sad context. It is a silvery, allusive, restless piece of art - death or no death."

People will be talking about Blackstar and the exact meaning of its many-layered lyrics for years to come.

8. Frank Ocean - Blonde

Channel Orange's stark, soulful RnB made Frank Ocean a phenomenon in 2012, and its follow-up Blonde was eagerly awaited. When it came, it was something of a surprise, not just in arriving at almost the same time as 45-minute visual album Endless, but also in the way it eschewed potential hits in favour of introspection and atmospherics. Tim Jonze at the Guardian termed it "undeniably one of the most baffling, contrary and intriguing records put out by a major pop star - not just this year, but any year."

Twitter, meanwhile, was drowning in its own happy tears:

9. Robbie Williams - Heavy Entertainment Show

Robbie Williams courts controversy the old way. As Jordan Bassett of NME put it: "Williams is a proper, old-fashioned pop star who knows it's part of his job to say and do ridiculous things." Heavy Entertainment Show didn't bother with a complicated launch strategy, instead barrelling in with the deeply bizarre lead single Party Like A Russian, which took aim at the party lifestyles of oligarchs with a monomaniacal litany of national stereotypes and bad puns ("I'm always off my trolley, so I never say sorry / There's a doll inside a doll inside a dolly"). It caused something of an international kerfuffle, with Russian news outlets trumpeting their outrage.

I think the song is a bit dated. To me it's like, yo... come on, you can do better than this
Zara Larsson

Back home, though, many remained unimpressed. Tim Jonze of the Guardian said, "The problem with Heavy Entertainment Show isn't that it has no good songs - it's that it's hard to imagine who would want to listen to it in 2016. Williams's dream of a shared mass experience with 'something for everyone' simply doesn't compute in a world where the way we consume music has become so fragmented and personalised."

Reviewing Party Like a Russian for Noisey, Swedish pop star Zara Larsson was even more crushing. "I watched the video to this and I thought it was very fun, but I think the song is a bit dated. To me it's like, yo... come on, you can do better than this."

The fans spoke with their wallets, sending Heavy Entertainment Show to No.1. As BBC News reported: "It is his 12th album to reach the summit - and pushes him ahead of David Bowie, who has 11 number one albums to his name."

I think the song is a bit dated. To me it's like, yo... come on, you can do better than this
Zara Larsson

10. Lady Gaga - Joanne

Lady Gaga's fourth album, Artpop, had been the wrong kind of talked-about, a confusing flop. The rawer, rockier Joanne caused a much more welcome buzz. Though it was launched with the somewhat gimmicky, beer brand-sponsored Dive Bar Tour (you have to wonder how the landlords of these establishments felt), the focus, unusually for Gaga, was squarely on the music: the low-concept power balladry of Million Reasons, the sassy stomp of A-Yo and the sheer loveliness of the album's title track shone through on their own.

Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone said: "With Joanne, Gaga starts over with music that feels stripped-down, restrained, modest and other adjectives that you wouldn't usually associate with her." Not everyone liked this new, stripped back Gaga, though. “Joanne feels too self-conscious, an affront to the Gaga of yesteryear," said Amanda Petrusich of Pitchfork. "The truest self, after all, isn't always the quietest."

The delighted fans, though, just weren’t having any negativity:

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