We polled our global staff of teenagers about what 2017 albums they couldn’t stop singing and replaying. Here are the results:
#5 – American Teen by Khalid
American Teen takes us on an impactful adventure through the eyes of 19-year-old Khalid. He sings about falling in love, having his heart broken, being young, dumb and broke, and being a proud American. The leathery voice and euphoric dance beat make this album something very new in 2017 (and something that will hopefully stick around in 2018).
As someone who’s never been in a romantic relationship, there are countless songs and albums I have never been able to relate to. But, as a senior in high school, I can obviously relate to having close friends and friends that will drop me the minute the graduation ceremony is over. I can relate to wanting a relationship but things being too awkward. I can relate to being proud of and loving America, despite sometimes wishing our country didn’t constantly disappoint. I can relate to being a misfit but still wanting to make it big. As a fellow teenager, it is easy to relate to Khalid because he represents my generation so well. American Teen was the album I think we all didn’t know we needed until it came out.
#4 – Harry Styles by Harry Styles
Harry Styles, a former member of the iconic One Direction, completely reinvented his sound with his debut self-titled album. He used to be singing catchy pop songs. But now, his songs are reminiscent of the 70s and 80s with a soft-rock vibe. Some are more mellow; for instance, “From The Dining Table” is a simple song with soft, pretty harmonies. Others, like smash-hit “Kiwi,” are full-on rock, with the chorus being Harry screaming “I’m having your baby / it’s none of your business.” It’s the perfect album to roll your windows down to and sing along with. It fits Harry’s aesthetic perfectly (especially with the pastel pink album artwork) which is why it’s such a beautiful debut album.
#3 – Melodrama by Lorde
Melodrama by Lorde is a body of work that encapsulates the hidden beauty of struggle. Lorde’s sophomore album is a masterful study of being a young woman; a sleek and humid record infused with grief and hedonism. The entire record gleams and resonates through like a neon beam, crafted with the utmost care and wisdom.
Lorde analyzes the essence of being a teenager finding her own way through special and unsteady circumstances. Whether this involves being single, feeling too complicated to find love or partying away personal melancholy. Lorde forebears her peace in accepting that it is absolutely ok to dance by yourself. Lorde does not strive to follow any Top 50 or mainstream rubric through the record’s script, and that seems to follow up with a gigantic sigh of relief. Lorde’s beautiful lyrics drive all who are listening through unexplored spaces that illustrate her struggle in finding a nirvana, conveyed with self-aware hedonism and volatile rage, all while knowing that her heart will heal by tomorrow. Melodrama expresses percussive delivery and breathless spaces that you can not help but instill into your mind. It is not enough to say Lorde is one of this year’s saviors in music, but it is pretty easy to say her luminosity in Melodrama goes unmatched by any other.
#2 – DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
The album DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar is an insight into the artist’s mind. Lamar lets us know his perspective on a range of issues and he speaks his truth. The album is raw and Kendrick isn’t speaking for anybody but himself (and he definitely lets that be known). He strips himself down and reveals his flaws and ambitions, making the album feel real and passionate.
DAMN. showcases Lamar’s talents, especially with breakout songs like “HUMBLE” and “LOVE.” Lamar is a talented man who has previously put out two remarkable albums, To Pimp a Butterfly and Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. DAMN. certainly does not disappoint either. This album is proof that Lamar has the possibility to become an icon (if he isn’t already seen as one).
#1 – Ctrl by SZA
SZA’s honey-like voice sinks into our hearts with her album Ctrl. The beauty behind this album is how reflective it is on modern love, delving into her own personal experiences and giving listeners a deeper look into her own hunger for love and lust. While she sings about having a man on “The Weekend” and being somebody’s “Supermodel,” she also expresses her the struggles with self-esteem in “Drew Barrymore.” Ctrl is SZA’s book of confessions, she effortlessly explores genres that complement her voice so beautifully that these songs begin to feel like a storybook. Yet, when we really get into the nitty-gritty parts of Ctrl, it encompasses her worries and strengths, as well as the freedom she has to explore.
Ctrl deserves to be #1 because SZA’s doesn’t sugarcoat any of her experiences and expresses her true emotions about love and lust. She effortlessly makes every song her own, sharing her truths about emotional connections, sexual freedom, and desire for love.
2017 was a great year for music. Here’s to 2018 being an equally impressive year—if not better!