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Here’s a look at USA TODAY’s Top 10 albums of the year.
USA TODAY

Good news was hard to come by in 2017, but great music less so. From hip-hop heavyweights to art-pop prodigies, here are some of this year’s best albums: 

Lorde, Melodrama

The Grammys got this one right when they passed over all the other releases by big-name female pop stars and nominated Melodrama for the 2018 album of the year. The sophomore release from the New Zealand phenom is a dazzling follow-up to her 2013 debut, Pure Heroine. Released when she was 17, Pure Heroine cast Lorde as an android-like observer of adult emotions to which she was largely immune, matched in coolness by the album’s minimal beats.

Compare that with Melodrama’s crashing tidal wave of feelings, with Lorde’s and collaborator Jack Antonoff’s lush pop compositions guiding the listener through her phases of heartbreak in all its wild nights and romantic obsessions and lonely mornings-after. It’s the very best kind of pop album, that’s maximalist in its high-drama storytelling, while personal enough in its songwriting to leave a stinging mark. — MM

Grizzly Bear, Painted Ruins

The Brooklyn-bred indie rockers returned after a too-long hiatus with some of their best music yet, weaving together a vivid tapestry of longing and regret that’s reflective of the band members’ own personal growth: going through marriages, divorces, kids and solo projects in the five years since 2012’s Shields. Sonically, it might also be their most assertive effort, building on their lo-fi foundation with piercing guitars and thunderous percussion that might combust if it weren’t for Ed Droste’s and Daniel Rossen’s pastoral harmonies. — PR

Kendrick Lamar, Damn

Damn is further proof to Kendrick Lamar fans of the rapper’s supremacy in his genre, completing a hat trick of breathlessly acclaimed albums alongside 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly and 2012’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. Damn is an easier listen than the weightiness of To Pimp a Butterfly, a challenging album by design, and casts Lamar’s life in a wider focus than the Compton-centric Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, meditating on his relationships with his family, community and newfound fame.

The album has its engaging radio hits, from the…