It's that time of year, folks; the time that listmakers love and indecisive sorts despise. In other words, time to round up this year's best album releases.
It's been a funny old year for music, not least because we've lost some iconic names. Nevertheless, the world keeps turning and we must rank our top 10.
Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments - and so let us know your own Top 10s if you're going to argue about it, for goodness' sake.
Check out our Top 10 Irish Albums of 2016 here.
1. David Bowie – 'Blackstar'
There are people who are going to assume that Bowie's swansong is so highly ranked on various end-of-year lists simply because of his legacy, but if you listen to 'Blackstar' from start to finish, you'll know that it's a special album. Look, Bowie made some patchy records in his time, but this one seems more complete than even some of his best-known endeavours. A record made by one of music's all-time greats – who was aware that he was dying when making it – it's a beautiful, poignant, musically interesting, challenging creation that has kept us consistently returning to it throughout the year.
2. Beyoncé – 'Lemonade'
Is 'Lemonade' a perfect album? It certainly is not. Is it Beyoncé's most musically diverse, boundary-pushing, politically-charged and uber-personal album to date? It sure is. One of pop's biggest stars showed that she wasn't content to sit back, churn out a few guaranteed chart-topping singles and make a few mil from the subsequent tour. This is Beyonce's statement album – and that's without mentioning the accompanying visuals.
3. Radiohead – 'A Moon Shaped Pool'
Let's call a spade a spade, here: Radiohead's last album The King of Limbs was... well, kinda crap. Coupled with the fact that Thom Yorke's solo album was also a bit... crap and the fact that he is now cultivating a man bun, Radiohead fans were right to feel nervous about this record. Thankfully, the Oxford boys came good with this moody, atmospheric, orchestration-heavy album (thanks, Jonny Greenwood) and reclaimed their throne as indie-schmindie overlords. Seriously, though, it was a bloody good album.
3. Solange – 'A Seat at the Table'
Her sister may be one of the biggest names on Planet Music, but Solange came out of nowhere with her third album at the end of September to challenge her in a way that no one expected. In many ways, 'A Seat at the Table' trumps 'Lemonade' in terms of its sheer scale and musical ambition: there's everything from r&b to jazz to nu-soul to synthpop in here, making for a super-eclectic collection. Its overly long running time ultimately lets it down in our opinion, but it's still brilliant. One of those albums that feels familiar yet new.
4. Rihanna – 'Anti'
She made us wait a bloody long time for it, but 'Anti' was worth it. Well, mostly. What we liked best about Rihanna's eighth album was the fact that for the most part, it steered clear of the obvious cheesy pop anthems and gave us something a little different – sultry r&b grooves, old soul tunes, something a little out of the ordinary. Oh, and then there was the banger that is 'Work'. You can't discount the bangers. In short, it was probably her best complete album to date.
5. Leonard Cohen – 'You Want it Darker'
File with Bowie under: 'Albums you mistakenly think are tokenistic inclusions'. If there is one good thing about Leonard Cohen's recent sad death, it's that it would have brought more people to this album, release just three weeks before he passed away. Like Bowie, Cohen was fighting cancer when making this album, but it's a beautifully understated, simple, short collection that wasn't without the odd gleam of the Montreal man's wicked sense of humour, as well as that incredible, evocative growl of his.
6. Christine and the Queens – 'Chaleur Humaine'
We know, we know. We're cheating a little with the inclusion of this album, since it was originally released in 2014 in France – BUT its international release was 2016 and it features English-language reworkings of songs and some new tracks, so.... it's on the list. Like most people, our first experience of Heloise Letissier's band Christine and the Queens was that remarkable performance of 'Tilted' on Jools Holland. Like most people, we had to know more – and what we found in 'Chaleur Humaine' was a sophisticated contemporary pop album that grooved and pinged and swung in all the right places.
7. The 1975 – 'I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It'
The 1975 are one of those bands. You know, one of those bands that you look at, and without hearing a single note of their music, think 'I hate them'. We, reader, were guilty of such judgement. They have a song called 'The 1975', for god's sake, and well, just look at the title of this album. You wanna hear the truth? This is a great modern pop record that nods to the sort of '80s synthpop that we have a huge soft spot for. Sure, Matt Healy isn't the most cuddly/admirable/awe-inspiring frontman out there, but his tongue-in-cheek lyrics on this album suggest that he's in on the joke. Don't dismiss them as another crap Brit-rock band, because you'd be doing yourself out of some damned good songs.
7. Drake – 'Views'
There is plenty wrong with Drake's fourth album. It's too long, for starters, and it thinks far too much of itself; there's only so much you can take of a millionaire musician grumbling about how bad he's got it. Despite those criticisms, you know what? This is a thoroughly enjoyable, slightly ridiculous, often brilliant r&b/hip-hop album based around the rapper's life in 'The 6th', or Toronto to us mere mortals. We all know that 'One Dance' is one of the biggest tunes of the year, but there's plenty else here (not least his collaboration with Rihanna on 'Too Good') to keep you reeled in.
8. Lady Gaga – 'Joanne'
It may not be the banger that most Gaga fans were expecting, but Joanne is arguably the New Yorker's most interesting album yet. Mostly, that's down to the personal nature of many of these songs; the title track, 'Million Reasons' and album standout 'Hey Girl', featuring Florence Welch, seem a million miles away from the flamboyant meat-dress wearing pop star that'll go to any lengths to make a provocative statement. Even so, the likes of the glitzy 'Perfect Illusion' and 'John Wayne' were enough to satisfy those thirsting for something to dance to.
9. Nao – 'For All We Know'
This is an album that probably bypassed a lot of people in 2016 – which is unfortunate, because it's really worth hearing. Neo Joshua, a 28-year-old Londoner, spent years singing backing vocals for artists like Jarvis Cocker and collaborating with the likes of Disclosure. Her own debut was worth the wait: 'For All We Know' has more heart and soul than most electro balladry, from the Salt N Pepa attitude of Inhale Exhale, the lovelorn throb of Adore You and the Chaka Khan-goes-jazz twist of Give Me a Little. More importantly, it's not just a throwback – Nao is doing something genuinely new here. Simply brilliant.
10. Angel Olsen – 'My Woman'
Angel Olsen is nowhere close to being a household name, and she probably never will be. But who cares? If the St. Louis-born musician continues to make albums as incredible, as vital and as memorable as this, commercial acclaim means nothing (although she may not agree with that, in fairness). This is passionate, fiery, folk with a hint of country and alternative rock thrown in for good measure. Moreover, it's a consistently excellent collection of songs from start to finish.
Hear a Spotify playlist of our Top 10 Albums of 2016 below: