Top 5 Musical Surprises in 2006

1. Justin Timberlake, FutureSex/LoveSounds. The new King of Pop? Yes.
2. TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain & The Decemberists, The Crane Wife. These two albums have received their just praise already, which wasn’t really surprising. What makes them surprising is the fact that switching to a major record label did not hamper their creativity in the least. These two albums are thus representative of those artists who produced great music this year after signing with a major label. Some switches were not successful (e.g., Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans), but the ones that were turned out to be the best of the year.
3. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere. Along with Timberlake, Gnarls Barkley is a sign of hope for the pop industry. When good music like this becomes so popular among listeners, we can be sure that great things are still to come.
4. Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped & Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Kick Your Ass. These albums were not surprising in that they both came from great artists who have produced consistently excellent music. What is surprising is simply that both bands are still kicking after so many years. Not only that, but both show signs of being in top form.
5. Spank Rock, YoYoYoYoYo. Spank Rock are surprising for numerous reasons. Their scandalous lyrics are shocking, but they also make some of the best dance music in the world.