10. "Hot Sauce Committee Part Two," Beastie Boys
09. "Own the Night," Lady Antebellum
08. "Undun," The Roots
07. "Hell on Heels," Pistol Annies
06. "The Movie," Betty Wright and the Roots
05. "Nostalgia, Ultra," Frank Ocean
Although Frank Ocean may be one of the most buzzed about new artists of 2011, you won't find his debut album in the stores, on iTunes or Amazon.com. He released it on the Internet out of frustration that it wasn't getting any traction at his label, Def Jam. We're hoping the label dragged its feet on this brilliant debut because of valid issues (maybe they were waiting on that "Hotel California" sample clearance). But it's a sad commentary on the failing label system that the young Ocean crafted a sonically rich album that shows him as hilarious, heartfelt, cocky, insecure and most important, thoughtful — and it apparently fell on deaf ears.
04. "Watch the Throne," Jay-Z and Kanye West
While the first single, "Otis," suggested an album full of "how rich am I" rhymes from rap's most outsized figures, the album provided a much deeper narrative, as Kanye and Jay-Z mused on racism, black-on-black crime, fatherhood and other issues for an excellent album that was so much more than another vanity collaboration.
03. "4," Beyoncé
On paper, some may look at "4'' as a disappointment; it had no big smash singles compared with Beyonce's past albums, and underperformed commercially. Artistically, though, it was a triumph. While she still had pulsating beats on songs like "Countdown" and "End of Time," Beyonce dialed down her typical bombast for ballads, and midtempo grooves still smoldered as she relied more on passion than girl power.
02. "Barton Hollow," The Civil Wars
01. "21," Adele
A predictable choice, to be sure. But when an artist has delivered an album that is as close to perfection as "21," where else would it fall? Inspired by heartbreak, Adele's sophomore album stirs more than just melancholy: Songs such as "Someone Like You" and "Don't You Remember" will make you want to weep at their beauty. On "21," Adele comes of age as an artist, a songwriter and one of music's great voices.
[3:48 AM] poobear: its it true
[3:49 AM] poobear: that little slave girls
[3:49 AM] poobear: come on yall doors
[3:49 AM] poobear: and sell cookies :o
[3:49 AM] summer: They aren't slaves they're called girl scouts
[11:47 PM] cookie: my monotone voice and accent would make a funny rape
[11:47 PM] cookie: *rap