Hi, so it’s been a while.
I was pretty stoked on writing this month’s blog post, since I’ll be talking about music, the one thing that keeps me going in life. My original blog post was to write about one favourite album that was released every month in 2018 — but upon reviewing my favourite albums of 2018, I couldn’t find an album that I really enjoyed that was released in a particular month, such as January or April. Other months, such as May and June, had multiple album releases that I could not stop listening to for hours on end. So, I didn’t want to break my rule of choosing one album for each month by eliminating certain months or choosing three or five albums from a single month. What I did instead, was looked at the list I had at the moment, and narrowed nine of my choices down. Why nine? No particular reason, other than the fact that whenever I see users on Facebook rank their top songs or albums they’ve been listening to for the week, the collages they include in their post always seems to be of 3x3 album art covers. Yeah it’s the little obscure things that get me, don’t ask 🤷🏻♀️ But let’s jump right to it…
1) Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods: Okay I’m a biased and huge JT fan, don’t sue me. I’ve been a fan of him ever since his *NSYNC days, and every album and practically every collab he’s been featured on has me a fan. So when Timberlake announced Man of the Woods in late 2017, of course I would naturally anticipate his next release.
Not gonna lie though, this album had to take a few listens for me to grow to it. But this is to be expected with every new song or album release. As a hip-hop/rap and indie music listener, I was sort of but really turned off with Timberlake stating that this would be a “country” influenced album, but shortly after, I completely understood him wanting to take this album in that direction, due to where his roots are from. With the country and folk elements incorporated in Man of the Woods, Timberlake still kept his usual style of pop and R&B genres in his album — did you know The Neptunes and Timbaland are behind this production once again?
Favourite songs: Say Something, Man of the Woods, Higher Higher
2) The Weeknd’s My Dear Melancholy: I’ll cut this next selection some slack since My Dear Melancholy is actually an EP, not a studio album. So I’m also a biased and huge Weeknd fan, don’t sue me once again. My listening history with the Toronto-born artist goes all the way back to my Tumblr days dating back to 2011 when I first stumbled across House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls on my dashboard.
I was told that this next release would be very similar to his earlier works, such as his House of Balloons mixtapes and even Kiss Land. While I am feeling those themes of darkness and heartbreak in My Dear Melancholy lyrically, the production and sound wise are clouded by genres of electronica, something that was not included in The Weeknd’s first albums at all. Therefore, it took a bit of time for me to take this album in when it came to the production. Otherwise, this deserves a spot in my top albums of 2018 and I can’t wait to see what Abel Tesfaye has in store next.
Favourite songs: Try Me, I Was Never There, Hurt You
3) Pusha T’s Daytona: Pusha T is one of my favourite smaller rappers in the hip-hop scene, and I throughly enjoyed My Name Is My Name and King Push when they came out in 2013 and 2015, respectively. What I enjoy about his music are the themes described in his lyrics, notably how his life was fuelled with drugs and gang/street violence prior to him breaking out in the music scene.
However, since Daytona was released in the midst of the King Push and Drake feud, part of me wished he blew up massively, as a result of this. I feel like many hip-hop and rap fans can resonate with the lyricism that goes on in not only Daytona, but in his previous works as well. This album is just one part of it.
Favourite songs: If You Know You Know, The Games We Play
Honourable mention (not in the album): The Story of Adidon
4) Charlie Puth’s Voicenotes: My first non rap or hip-hop album mention will go to pop artist, Charlie Puth. So being enclaved in only two music genres, I didn’t have a strong understanding of who this artist was, other than the fact that he sang See You Again with Wiz Khalifa and We Don’t Talk Anymore with Selena Gomez. This all changed once I heard Done With Me with Kehlani in a friend’s car one summer night, and immediately I needed to know more about Puth and his album, Voicenotes. It is a release filled with bop after bop, and songs you can lip-sync to with a friend during a road trip. I call Voicenotes the 2018 equivalent of a typical pop album that is popular amongst a crowd that you can find back in the early or mid 2000s.
Favourite songs: LA Girls, How Long, BOY
5) Drake’s Scorpion: The most anticipated album of 2018, but not because of Drake’s status in the rap game or his continuing success throughout his career. This is because Aubrey Drake Graham, 32 year old rapper from Toronto, knows how to make hit after hit. Hyped up rap songs that will make you want to flip a table for no reason, or those slow R&B songs that you just want to chill to, Drake knows how to do them right.
Favourite songs: Emotionless, 8 Out Of 10, Don’t Matter To Me, After Dark
6) Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD: The sequel(?) to his debut album, Rodeo. Is it me or does it feel like upon listening to Astroworld, that I forgot that Travis even released Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight? For me, that album didn’t feel like it went on to be successful, versus Astroworld or even Rodeo, so I’m glad he followed up with this, because I believe this is Scott’s best album to date.
Astroworld is supposed to be a homage to the former theme park based off of Houston, where the rapper hails from. I can definitely hear some of his hometown elements in some of his songs, such as Wake Up with the guitar playing in the background (fun fact, the guitar is being played by John Mayer), or in Stargazing and Stop Trying To Be God, where the listener is really catapulted into the ultimate visitor experience by the rapper.
Favourite songs: Stargazing, Sicko Mode, Wake Up, 5% Tint
7) Ariana Grande’s sweetener: How did I become an Ariana fan in the first place? To be fair, some songs from her are some of my guilty pleasures, such as Love Me Harder and One Last Time. Ariana Grande is actually one huge guilty pleasure in all, now that I think about it. What makes sweetener one of my favourite albums of 2018 is how she really departs from her good-girl image that was evidently present back in her Victorious days, and even up to Dangerous Woman. She gets real intimate in sweetener, while still staying true to her silky and delicate aesthetic.
Favourite songs: God is a woman, breathin
8) LANY’s Malibu Nights: I only really got into LANY earlier this year from a friend of mine, and this band makes me wish that indie pop music is having a comeback. If you are familiar with their debut album, then you are probably familiar with their lyrics about heartbreak, longing, but also tranquility and peace. This also makes an appearance in Malibu Nights, especially due to the fact that the lead singer, Paul Jason Klein, had ended his relationship with pop singer Dua Lipa while making this album.
You know how some artists will say that they have an album coming up soon, and they announce a tentative date? Yeah, I’m one of those people that will actually believe in the date they had announced, and I wasn’t pleased when they kept pushing it back further. However, upon the release of Malibu Nights finally, this band’s follow-up to their 2017 release did not disappoint at all. I’m happy to see them in-person for the first time in June 2019.
Favourite songs: Taking Me Back, I Don’t Wanna Love You Anymore, Valentine’s Day
9) The 1975’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships: Aka how my life can be described. In all seriousness though, I’m digging the mood and aesthetic towards the majority of indie bands out there when it comes to their music. This shows through The 1975’s third album, but in a more toned down and minimalistic approach. I also find that although the content described in their songs remains the same, they have done a good job with experimenting with different genres that can be heard in A Brief Inquiry, departing from their usual new-wave and pop rock sound.
Favourite songs: It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You), Sincerity Is Scary