The semester’s best albums ranked

Photo courtesy of Spotify

By Emma Weidmann | Intern

1. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift

Nine years after the release of the original, Taylor Swift has managed to improve upon an already incredible album with more mature vocals, and reclaimed ownership of it in the process. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is the perfect album to cry and dance to all at once. The previously unreleased “From the Vault” songs, originally cut from the 2012 album, add a special twist, including more of the story of Swift’s songwriting journey. Part of the greatness of this album is its symbolism, as Swift continues to take back her early work from her old label. It’s another installation in Swift’s continuing battle for artists to own their own work.

2. “30” by Adele

Following her divorce, Adele wrote “30” to work through the difficult time, as well as to explain it to her young son. In fact, her son has a feature on “My Little Love.” She retains her signature gloomy and introspective songwriting, as well as continues to pay tribute to her muse, Amy Winehouse. Lyrically, Adele stays in her comfort zone of pessimism for much of the album, but breaks free on songs like “Oh My God” and “All Night Parking,” which are about the hopeful beginning of a relationship, rather than the end of one. “30” is a solid Adele album, well worth the six-year wait.

3. “An Evening With Silk Sonic” by Silk Sonic

This album is probably one of the most cohesively produced albums of the year. It has its aesthetic pinned down exact — groovy, bougie and silky. This album is also concise, a 30-minute listening experience, creating its own vibe that sucks the listener in for the entire duration. The aesthetic and sound of the album capitalize on the current craze for disco-inspired music, the same way Doja Cat and Dua Lipa topped the charts with “Say So” and “Don’t Stop Now,” respectively. Although it owes much of its sound to the past, it feels relevant and modern, nonetheless. And of course, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak are the perfect musical duo, seamlessly mixing hip-hop rhythm with smooth vocals.

4. “Star-Crossed” by Kacey Musgraves

The lead single, “justified,” asserts “healing doesn’t happen in a straight line,” and is an anthem for mental health and moving on from the past. Kacey Musgraves is known for her fusion of country and pop, and this album is no different. She is a glittery, Dolly-inspired cowgirl, a perfect introduction to country music for people who view it as a monolithic genre of Blake Sheltons and Florida Georgia Lines. Though not strictly country, the influence is clearly still strong — after all, those are her roots. This album has a fresh, airy sound with an emotionally diverse range of lyrics, making it more than just a breakup album.