This year has been a wild one, to say the least, but if there’s one thing I know, it’s been a great year for music! As a passionate music lover, I thought it would be a great idea to round up the top five albums of the year, within five different genres. Read ahead to learn a little bit about each album, and hit play on our Spotify playlist to listen along while you read!
Rock: Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life
One of rock’s best-kept secrets is a two-piece band called Japandroids. Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia they have been low-key setting the rock scene on fire with angsty tracks since 2006. They follow similar music-writing styles as Modern Baseball and Arcade Fire by creating songs that actually tell stories. NPR describes Japandroids as “one part classic rock, one part punk” and that is a 100 percent accurate way to describe their 2017 album, Near to the Wild Heart of Life. Complete with angry anthems you can scream along to as well as emotionally charged love songs, this album deserves a spot in our top five. The lyrics to every single song are beautifully deliberate, and the instrumentals accompany them perfectly to create an entirely stunning rock album.
Hip-Hop: Tyler, The Creator – Flower Boy
I’ll preface this description by explaining that Flower Boy is extremely explicit, with 13 out of the 14 tracks marked as uncensored. However, that’s just part of what makes this album so beautiful. Tyler, The Creator created a brutally honest narrative that details multiple moments of his life, giving listeners a personal experience. The album covers all the bases with smooth yet gritty ballads and tracks that make crowds go absolutely wild when he performs them live. It is undeniable that Tyler, The Creator has unmatched talent, but this truly outstanding conceptual album tops all other hip-hop records that were released this year.
Country: Little Big Town – The Breaker
I do not like country music. At all. But Little Big Town began to change my mind with their newest album, The Breaker. The songs on the album are beautifully written and are completely different from the “typical” country song that turns so many people off from the genre. Little Big Town hits hard with their metaphorical lyrics and soothing instrumentals by combining uplifting summer anthems with smooth love songs and nostalgic tunes. The Breaker is definitely a surprise, but a welcomed one! It gives me hope that people who normally dislike country music can dig this mature sound, making it obvious that it needs to be in our top five.
Pop: Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life
When an album isn’t received well by fans or critics, there is a lot of pressure for an artist to come back and create something better on their next try. When Lana Del Rey’s Honeymoon was released in 2015, it did not receive much love. Fans of Lana Del Rey had high expectations for Lust For Life when the singer announced its release back in February. We all waited with anticipation for the fateful day in July when we were blessed with possibly the most beautiful album in Lana Del Rey’s entire catalog. The retro sound and positive vibes that this album gives off are quintessential Lana, and it’s honestly perfect. She has gone above and beyond in creating such a specific image for herself and her music, which makes her deserving of a space in our top five.
Indie/Alternative: The XX – I See You
Before this year, when I thought of The XX I thought of deep, emotional tracks that were reserved only for times when you needed to lie in bed and sob while trying to feel something again. Their newest album, I See You, keeps the deep themes that can be found in their previous songs, but the music is much more upbeat. The XX plays into electronic music by creating tracks that sound like dance music, but have emotional lyrics. The dynamic between co-lead singers Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim is truly beautiful and makes for songs that are somehow both upbeat and passionate. The blank blank is this and that.
Maggie Morgan is a junior majoring in Professional Writing with a concentration in Creative Writing. Hobbies include: spending all of her money on concert tickets, trying to convince Green Day to let her be their friend, geeking out about music history, dreaming of writing for Rolling Stone. You can follow her on instagram at @swaggie_.maggie.