20 Greatest Alternative Albums Of 2016

The most essential albums of 2016 that might have passed you by.


The passing of many of music’s icons in 2016 has certainly cast a cloud over the year, with the likes of David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen and, just recently, the great Greg Lake all sadly passing away.

But you’d be mistaken for looking past some of the great albums that have been created this year too. And while 2016 has been a turbulent time for many different reasons, music yet again shows why it's such a uniting factor in the world.

From hip-hop to pop, from metal to rock – there’s certainly been no shortage of artistic variety on display. There has also been a great mix of new and old in 2016, showcasing upcoming talent as well as seasoned veterans far more than in recent years.

Our man Brian Wilson already covered some of the best this year had to offer, but here are some alternative choices to end your year with a bang.

20. M.I.A. – AIM

Sri Lankan-born songwriter M.I.A. has been dazzling music fans ever since the monumental success of her noughties anthem ‘Paper Planes.’ This, combined with her disdain for the status quo, has made here her one of the most relevant and rebellious artists of the digital age.

Even more relevant though is her political and social convictions, which shine through brighter than ever on this year’s minimalist political statement AIM.

She mainly tackles immigration and the refugee crisis, setting her sights, and unloading in her deadpan style. Whether you agree with her political stance or not, it shouldn’t detract from the clear songwriting prowess that peppers much of this bold, full-length bombshell. She hits the target with deadly precision on songs like the anti-establishment banger ‘Borders’, the speaker shattering stonker ‘Go Off’ and the playful bubble popper ‘Fly Pirate.’

AIM may lack some of the colourful fun of her first few records, but it makes up for it with its much more weighty lyrical themes. Go off on this ballsy LP – you won’t regret it.


Music Journalism graduate and freelance writer from Northern Ireland, who enjoys scouring the music archives for the best sounds from the past and present. Writer for the awesome publications WhatCulture, Metal Injection, Scribol, The Gamer, and Prefix.