9. Blackstar - David Bowie
No one was really expecting a new David Bowie album to come out at the start of 2016. If anything, the fact that we got the album the Next Day in 2013 was practically a miracle, since the Thin White Duke had mostly retired from the music world after the Reality tour, which he had to bow out of due to health reasons. Blackstar may have been another bold new reinvention for Bowie, but we wouldn't know how dark these days were until a few days after the album was released.
Just less than a week after the album came out, Bowie passed away from liver cancer, which he had struggled with in secret for the past few years but never told anyone about. When you look back on the album with fresh ears though, this entire record seemed to be signaling David's departure, framing every song around death and basically dissecting what his star power means to him and what it might mean when he's no longer on this Earth anymore.
Coating his music in a smooth jazz style, this almost feels like you're seeing David's last performance in a seedy New York club, where he can make peace with his star power on the title track, cry with us on Lazarus, and eventually tell us that he needs to keep some things private on the song I Can't Give Everything Away. The Starman may have kept the more intricate details of his life a mystery, but the fact that he was thinking about his fans when facing his final hours speaks volumes about the kind of artist that we were working with.