Rob Sheffield's Top 20 Albums of 2016

Beyoncé, 'Blackstar' and other favorites from a trying year

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David Bowie, 'Blackstar'

2. David Bowie, 'Blackstar'

A year ago, I was obsessively playing the new Bowie song, "Blackstar," and nothing about it sounded like a man looking back – a 10-minute space-glam trip with a jazzy R&B groove. Nearly a year later, after more obsessive listening, Bowie's parting gift remains full of mysteries, but it's the exuberance of Blackstar that really astounds. He's not summing up where he's been or revisiting past glories. Instead, he crams this album full of ideas for future songs he won't get to write and says, "You got it from here. You're welcome 4 my service." What an album. What an exit. What a life.

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