No new developments in R&B: Babyface put together an assortment of top vocal talent on the Waiting To Exhale Soundtrack, while Mariah Carey's Daydream was her best yet. Hip hop was still a disaster area aside from a few Wu-Tang solo projects - the best was GZA's Liquid Swords - and the first full release by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
There were also a number of comebacks from more veteran artists: Stevie Wonder finally finished his new studio album, Conversation Peace, and followed it immediately with a double live CD, Natural Wonder. Isaac Hayes came out of hibernation with two discs: the powerful Branded and less-interesting Raw & Refined. 70s superstars Elton John and David Bowie came back with their strongest albums in ages.
One of the year's top sellers was a formulaic and boring effort by LL Cool J; Nirvana/Pearl Jam imitators Silverchair also had a huge hit on their hands with the forgettable Frogstomp. Turning to less commercial failures, Adrian Belew wasted time with a collection of effect-treated guitar improvisations; Bill Laswell's Praxis fell into a morass of mindless metal, Elvis Costello's set of banal 50's covers was just baffling; and shock rappers Onyx were out of ideas on their weak sophomore release.
The year's best Latin music album was Nuyorican heartthrob Marc Anthony's Todo A Su Tiempo; the best jazz release was Steve Coleman's The Way Of The Cypher. (DBW)