Music seemed to thrive in 2011 despite a bad economy. People really enjoy forgetting their problems, rolling their tops down and blasting the latest tunes.

While interviewing many music artists I tend to avoid the question about their opinion on the music biz. It usually goes sour with frustration over stolen music and labels not promoting enough. Luckily there is iTunes and YouTube to find what is coming out next.

These are my favorite albums and yes we still call it that even those most people buy singles these days. For this list I was looking for the complete package that really stood out from the pack!

10 Duran Duran/All You Need Is Now

Mark Ronson knows how to shake off the dust and spotlight a group’s strength, they played twice in Chicago this year to sold out crowds. Guess who was there to photograph them?

9 Nicki Minaj/Pink Friday

Not only did she bring the crazy female voice into rap but she opened for Britney and stole the show!

8 Lady Gaga/Born This Way

Although not the pop album everyone wanted, she made a gay anthem hit the radio waves, went country, and sang in German, never boring…

7 David Guetta/Nothing But the Beat

Instead of taking away the voice of the artist with beats, this DJ/producer knows how to highlight someone like SIA in unique ways.

6 Cults/Cults

Haunting vocals from Madeline made this Sony debut a surprise. See them at Smart Bar in April.

5 Pitbull/Planet Pit

Armando took over the world this year helping J Lo revive a struggling music career. Put the needle on this record to get the party started!

4 Ellie Goulding/Lights

This British lass covered Elton John’s “Your Song” and crossed the pond to play live twice in the windy city this year.

3 Florence + The Machine/ Ceremonials

Catching the tail end of 2011 with a follow up to her Lungs made Flo a diva live and angelic at the same time.

2 Adele/21

She made an album on her own terms, dressed like a lady and was surprisingly played on the radio. Hopefully she gets her voice back for the new year.

1 Foster the People/Torches

The nicest guys ever bring a full album that gets better with repeated listens. Their after Lollapalooza show at the Hard Roc

k was amazing and they return next year with one my favs Tokyo Police Club.

It’s interesting to note all of the artists on my top ten played live in Chicago. What a great city we live in see the acts bust their chops in small to large venues.

Let’s see what Madonna, Alanis Morissette, and Garbage can bring to the table for 2012!