And so begins my obsession with making my ‘Top 11’.
Firstly, why eleven? A combination of a Spinal Tap joke, that eleven is obviously one better than ten, the need to be that little bit different and the fact that when you make top tens, you’re always plagued by that one you had to leave out! 11 is quite an aesthetically pleasing numeral as well, don’t you think? All long leggy streamlined strokes… (ok, obsessing too much now, please stop).
Secondly, this list required a lot of editing. When this was originally published, I included greatest hits collections, frankly because I hadn’t been bothered or inclined to listen to many other albums that year (the top seven on this list are still some of my favourite albums of all-time and completely hogged my CD player… yes, back in the days when we all still listened to CDs). I’d still love to include Basement Jaxx’s Singles Collection in the list as it’s a totally perfect record but it really doesn’t seem fair. Meanwhile, Natalie Imbruglia’s Counting Down The Days has always quietly been one of my all-time favourites without me ever having any conception of when it was released; also, with the benefit of hindsight, age and wisdom (ha!), two albums that actually made my ‘Worst’ list also reach the top eleven! So you can’t say I never admit to being wrong!
The Top 11 Albums of 2005 include the first great Girls Aloud album, the last great Sugababes album and the only great Rachel Stevens album. Enjoy!
1. Girls Aloud – Chemistry
Words cannot express the pure unadulterated joy and pleasure Chemistry brought me. In fact, it’s orgasmic stuff. Girls Aloud took every rule about pop music and stomped all over them in white stilettos, whilst rapping nonsense, slinging hooks like a heavyweight boxer, making train noises and generally looking rather beautiful. Vive la Aloud.
2. John Legend – Get Lifted
There has not been a more beautiful voice, or a more beautiful album, this year… FACT. Legend lives up to his name with this absolutely stunning debut, whilst that super-smooth voice slips down like errrr… a really lovely cough lozenge?! OK so the similes aren’t really working for me tonight…
3. KT Tunstall – Eye To The Telescope
People tried to say she was the new Dido, the new Melua or the new *insert boring female singer-songwriter here* but trust me, she’s much much better. The heartbreakingly beautiful Other Side of the World meant fans of afore-mentioned boring female singer-songwriters bought the album, only to be surprised by this surprisingly varied and accomplished debut. The real highlight – Tunstall’s gorgeously throaty voice and the amazingly infectious, potentially defined as folk but never mind Black Horse and The Cherry Tree. All together now… (it’s off the ads) woooooohoooooooo….
4. Rachel Stevens – Come And Get It
The British public didn’t really go and get it but more fool them. For sheer pop, it’s hard to better Rachel’s sophomore effort, which sees her spin an electro tour-de-force with the might of pop’s best producers behind her. Ignore the personality vacuum that is Rachel herself, quietly sucking away all charisma with Dyson-esque efficiency, and instead concentrate on pop gems that sparkle even more brightly than Queen Madge’s disco-ball.
5. Madonna – Confessions On A Dancefloor
With Confessions, the Queen of Pop returned, polished crown and lyrca leotard in tow, to create her best album in years. Disco taken to new levels of sleek and shiny glamour, this was an album that really worked well as one (ultra-toned) body of work, proving the 47 year-old still has what it takes. Dancefloor euphoria, plus it has an Abba sample… awesome.
6. Sugababes – Taller In More Ways
Missing Mutya already (actually scrap that, because Amelle is my new favourite girl-group member since the halcyon days of Ginger Spice and whichever member of Girls Aloud I’m into this week), Taller In More Ways marked a triumphant comeback for Britain’s coolest girl group. Showcasing a perfect blend of vocal harmonies, the Sugababes dish up plate after plate of daily specials, proving why they’re still the best in the business. Pulsating electro, cool r n b, lush balladry and pure pop storms are all served with consummate ease – and not a dance routine in sight.
7. Kelly Clarkson – Breakaway
Worth a place just for the anthemic Since U Been Gone and Behind These Hazel Eyes, Miss Clarkson’s album is perfect for anyone whose love life makes the comings and goings at Hollyoaks seem pedestrian. Or just anyone who appreciates the best pop-rawk you’ll find this decade. Full of throaty gutsy angst, backed by tunes strong enough to blast your ex back to the hole from which he crawled, Breakaway is the album Avril Lavigne should have made… if she was actually any good.
8. Natalie Imbruglia – Counting Down The Days
An album far more delicately beautiful than you’d expect with a Neighbours alumni at the helm, Counting Down The Days made no bones about its main asset – glorious, ethereal loveliness seeping from its every pore. In fact, it just about makes up for the days when Natalie and her artfully floppy hair was never off our screens during the Torn-era.
9. Kaiser Chiefs – Employment
Jollier than Santa after a dozen brandies, the enjoyable thing about the Kaisers is that they take themselves far less seriously than the likes of other supposed indie bands, instead making songs that just holler to be pogo-ed along to on a Saturday night out. ‘Ooooooooooo… watching the people get lairy’ is possibly one of my favourite opening lyrics… ever.
10. Pussycat Dolls – PCD
Sexy, skanky, slutty – but hey, they have great dance routines! Less an album and more a smorgasbord of hit after hit, if you can ignore the fact that the PCD have less soul than they do revealing clothing, this was a great party album.
11. Goldfrapp – Supernature
Black Cherry will forever be my favourite Goldfrapp album, but Supernature does a decent job of diluting Black Cherry’s dark sparkle to a more mainstream audience. From the irresistibly sexy Ooh La La to the swoonsome slink of Number 1, this glacial glide through electro couldn’t be more cohesive unless it was held together with Superglue.