3. "Duets II," Tony Bennett
Featuring covers of classic songs and a plethora of today's hottest artists as duet partners, Tony Bennett's"Duets II" is not only one of the best albums of the year, but of all time. As stated in my review in the November issue of FlipSide, "The wide variety of songs covered is practically a musical history lesson, showing how much the industry has changed. Doing covers of classic hits with today's most talented artists proves that those tunes stand the test of time -- and so does Tony."
Album standouts are "The Lady Is a Tramp" with Lady Gaga, "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)" with John Mayer, "Body and Soul" with Amy Winehouse and "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)" with Queen Latifah.
2. "Born This Way," Lady Gaga
This is technically only Lady Gaga's second album, after "The Fame." (The EP "The Fame Monster" was released to bridge the gap between the albums.) On it, Gaga decided to tackle issues of self-acceptance, immigration, teenage rebellion, women's rights and death.
The lead single "Born This Way" is an empowerment song to the LGBT community, minorities and anyone who has ever hated him- or herself. It became the fastest selling single in the history of iTunes and is exemplary of why many of her fans love her.
"Born This Way" is more pop and less electronic than her previous album, but it still manages to produce booty-shaking beats while getting across meaningful messages.
Album standouts are "Born This Way," "Judas," "ScheiBe," "Bloody Mary," "You and I" and "The Edge of Glory."
1. "21," Adele
In 2008, the world was introduced to the promising up-and-coming young singer/songwriter Adele Adkins with her album "19." However, it wasn't until "21," released in January, that Adele was catapulted to the top of the music industry.
With more than 10 million albums sold, "21" has been a success both commercially and critically. Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-, saying, "At times, Adele's precocious talent feels prematurely aged by her material and moments of levity are hard to find. But at its best, '21' is that rarest pop commodity: timeless."
Timeless indeed, as "21" can strike a chord with listeners of any generation. Adele's raspy vocals are highlighted by a fantastic track list, including "Someone Like You," a powerhouse piano ballad that captures the feeling of true unconditional love.Other album standouts are "Rolling in the Deep," "Rumour Has It" and "Set Fire to Rain."