Taurasi: 'My Favorite Albums of 2012'

By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: Dec. 28, 2012

As 2012 comes to a close, PhoenixMercury.com caught up with several Mercury players to look back on their favorite things of the year. Today, we talk music with Diana Taurasi.

Diana Taurasi is a music “connoisseur” in every sense of the word.

She listens to all kinds of genres. Literally everything (except maybe country, save for a few exceptions). I know this because I’ve burned a CD for her that has Mos Def tracks mashed with reggae beats (which is awesome, by the way).

Pre-game? Maybe she’ll bump some Tupac.

In between games? Maybe something a bit more mellow like jazz or indie rock.

Still, when I asked Taurasi to name her favorite albums of 2012, I honestly expected at least one of her favorites to be a traditional hip-hop artist. There really were quite a few albums that garnered both critical and popular acclaim in the hip-hop community this year (Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, etc.).

Instead, she surprised me with two albums I, too, personally love and recommend.

No. 2: Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More

Admittedly, Sigh No More wasn’t released in 2012 (the band debuted the album in 2009), but Taurasi discovered it this year so we’re counting it.

Mumford & Sons is a distinctive hybrid of alternative rock, folk and bluegrass that is seemingly impossible not to enjoy. From a musical standpoint, Taurasi loves how they blend traditional folk instruments (banjo, mandolin, piano, bass, etc.) into a more modern, cadenced feel.

Certified 2x platinum in the U.S., Spin Magazine sums up Sigh No More the best:

“With the heroically stomping folk songs on this winning debut, Marcus Mumford and his hale mates (who aren't kin) employ the soft-to-loud strategy with more finesse than most plugged-in rockers. Reflecting on real love and cosmic truth in rousing tunes like "Roll Away Your Stone" and "I Gave You All," these fired-up lads send their scruffy voices soaring over rough acoustic guitars, sparing banjo, piano, and brass.”

No. 1: Lana Del Rey – Born to Die

It’s easy to see why Taurasi loves Del Rey’s musical style; she sings with an eclectic mix of indie pop, blues, R&B, jazz and hip-hop – pretty much Taurasi’s favorite genres of music.

You can’t lump Del Rey into one category, and that’s certainly part of her widespread appeal. On Born to Die, Del Rey unmistakably demonstrates influences from hip-hop and traditional pop music that isn’t really heard in the music industry today.

With a distinctive sound that combines modern pop with vintage jazz, she effectively takes her audience through a roller-coaster of emotions while, at the same time, providing an easy listening experience.

To date, the album has sold almost three million copies across the globe.