20 Best Pop Albums of 2016

Rihanna, Gaga, the 1975 and more of the year in hooks

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Lady Gaga, 'Joanne'

7. Lady Gaga, 'Joanne'

Lady Gaga promised country-pop for her fifth studio album Joanne, but actually served up an excellent slice of acoustic pop that was part Seventies FM, part Nineties alternative. From the driving "Diamond Heart" to the excellent ballad "Million Reasons," Gaga's soft-rock transformation takes the pop star into a new direction without losing her flair for the dramatic and penchant for the kitschy. Those moments of fusion – like the novelty country-dance tune "John Wayne" and Beck co-penned masturbation banger "Dancin' in Circles" – are where the pop diva thrives, finding a character to embody and then letting the music tell a new story. B.S.

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