Greg Gibson of Brooklyn Park:
1 Music in the Zoo, Minnesota Zoo. The state’s best outdoor summer concert series continued in the tradition espoused by the late promoter Sue McLean with vibrant, enjoyable music. On the final weekend, Josh Ritter rocked and Dave Koz showed how engaged in smooth jazz a diverse, smiling Minnesota crowd can get.
2 Tina Schlieske, the Dakota. She broke from her Tina & the B Sides rock persona to stretch that marvelous voice and cover Frank Sinatra to Nina Simone. This talented musician can’t be categorized.
3 Brian Oake, 89.3 the Current. His departure has left a big hole in our mornings. His musical knowledge is vast, and he brought comfort and joy to lots of listeners — including a former Minnesotan living in Atlanta who drove her son to school with a streaming Current morning show providing a soundtrack. He is missed.
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:
1 Taylor Swift, “Lover.” After the trend-chasing, somewhat strident “Reputation,” the pop queen has delivered a warmer, moodier, more intimate and chill collection of a generous 18 songs. She always surprises, and this time triumphs unequivocally.
2 Lizzo, MTV Video Music Awards. Well on her way to being one of the artists of the year, our homegirl owned it once again, this time doing two oldies, “Truth Hurts” and “Good As Hell,” proving that she was terrific before her major-label debut this year.
3 Tommy James and the Shondells, State Fair. Following the Happy Together Tour (the Turtles, Gary Puckett, the Buckinghams, Cowsills and still-good Chuck Negron) that’s half as good as it used to be, James impressed with his still-strong, solid band with four capable harmony singers and two versions of “I Think We’re Alone Now,” one of which will be featured in his forthcoming biopic about his Mafia-entangled career.