Rob Sheffield's Top 20 Albums of 2016

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

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The Monkees, 'Good Times'
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20. The Monkees, 'Good Times'

Some witty Peter Tork stage banter, from the Monkees' 50th anniversary tour this summer: "If you've been following us from the beginning, just remember one thing. Any one thing." But against all odds, they came back with one of the year's kickiest pop surprises. Thank producer Adam Schlesinger, the first actual Monkees fan ever to make a Monkees album – which might be why it's (easily) their finest since the Head soundtrack. All the guest songwriters rise to the occasion, because they're also fans: Rivers Cuomo, Andy Partridge, even Noel Gallagher. Seeing Mike Nesmith join live for "Papa Gene's Blues" – via Skype – was another surprise. Here's to crazy ideas and the artists crazy enough to make them real. In 2017, the world will need as many of those as we can get.

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