The Best Albums of 2016, a Year of Constant Flux – Slate Magazine
There was an unruly energy to the first third of the year, when we witnessed experiments in album form and content from Beyoncé, Kanye West, Rihanna, Chance the Rapper, and Kendrick Lamar. Perpetual procrastinator Frank Ocean’s Endless/Blonde diptych came later but belongs in that company, as our sometime Music Club member Lindsay Zoladz discussed in her Ringer year-end piece. With album sales scraping ever-lower lows, including a plummet in digital downloads, it’s clear that streaming is now the emperor of all media—the new label wars are between Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, YouTube, and Tidal, etc., with Bandcamp and SoundCloud as the scrappy indies. The ontological status of the album has been in flux for years, but in a streaming context it’s more abstract than ever, totally malleable to the user’s whims as well as the artist’s.