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BEST OF 2009: Top Albums #5-1

This week, we're counting down the top albums of 2009.

#25-21   #20-16

#15-11  #10-6

5. Florence and the Machine, “Lungs” (Universal): In the fine tradition of Kate Bush, Florence and her Machine combine lush backdrops and ornate vocal twists to tell elaborate literary tales ("Rabbit Heart") or extraordinarily simple ones. ("Kiss With a Fist")

4. Kelly Clarkson, “All I Ever Wanted” (19/RCA): Clarkson takes the esteem issues, the feelings of betrayal and longing, that sunk her previous album and dresses them up in pop finery to create an approachable, radio-friendly package that also includes some creative and intellectual heft. ["I Do Not Hook Up"]

3. Phoenix, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” (Glassnote): Indie rock that reflects "Breakfast Club"-like optimism and synthesized sleekness ("Lisztomania") without compromising on big-picture epics ("Love Like a Sunset") and classical ambitions.

2. Jay-Z, “The Blueprint 3” (Roc Nation): Jay closes out the  Blueprint  series with the strongest edition yet, showing that he can bounce between his most effective takedowns ("D.O.A." and "Off That") and his most mainstream anthems ("Empire State of Mind") without breaking a sweat. Hits from this will stretch well into next year.

1. Miranda Lambert,  Revolution  (Columbia): Country’s next superstar comes across as the smarter, sassier older sis to Taylor Swift and the one set to carry the torch with Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris. Miranda Lambert’s “Revolution” erases gender and political lines (“Only Prettier”) and sweetly recasts religious fervor (“Heart Like Mine”) with a wink, a smile and a “Bless your heart.”

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