In which I fulfill my dream of being a music writer, and share my favorite albums of 2018’s first half in no particular order…
Genres: Kpop; Khip-hop
Release Date: April 2
Favorite Tracks: Do it for Fun; Shine; Off-Road
In the past, I’ve never been able to fall in love with Pentagon’s B-side tracks, and thus the rest of their albums. Although their title tracks always stand out I’ve been underwhelmed by the rest of the songs. Positive changed that. Each and every song on this album is magical, from the infectious and high-energy Shine, to the gritty hip-hop line’s Do it for Fun, to the acoustic choir infused Let’s Do it Together and every track in between. It’s an all around good-feeling album that explores a plethora of different sounds.
The Kids Are Alright
Artist: Chloe X Halle
Genres: R&B; Indie
Release Date: March 23
Favorite Tracks: Happy Without Me; Baby on a Plane; Fake
I’ve been a fan of this sister duo since they were doing covers on YouTube. Now that they’ve released an EP, mixtape, and now full-length studio album under Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment, I can say I’m still a fan. We are graced with Chloe’s melodiously deep alto and Halle’s piercingly bright soprano that compliment each other so well. The Kids Are Alright is an album that’s decidedly Generation Z. Rather than fitting into the mold of traditional R&B, it dips into Indie, Hip-Hop, and even Rock at some points. Lyrically, Chloe x Halle exemplify our upcoming generation with lyrics that moan about a broken society but ultimately believe that “there are still cool people in the world”.
Genres: Kpop; Kr&b
Release Date: April 10
Favorite Tracks: Sweet Dreams; Thursday; Blooming Day
Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin have been a dynamic trio since the beginning of EXO’s first sub-unit. Blooming Days, however, really drives home just how much musical chemistry they have. The album’s days-of-the-week concept is fresh without feeling contrived and the decidedly R&B direction feels just right for this sub-unit. There are slow melancholy tracks like Monday, sweet laid back tracks like Playdate, and of course those classic EXO flirty numbers like Blooming Day and Vroom Vroom. Each member gets to shine in his own unique way and we get a front-row seat to see who EXO-CBX truly is.
Lost & Found
Artist: Jorja Smith
Genres: R&B; Soul
Release Date: June 8
Favorite Tracks: Teenage Fantasy; Blue Lights; Don’t Watch Me Cry
When I first heard Jorja Smith’s voice I was instantly hooked on her deep soulful tone. Her music reminded me of Adele’s: longing, mournful, and tinged with heartbreak. But it was charged with wokeness and social commentary. Lost & Found continues in that vein. But not only do we hear her beautiful tones we hear expert lyricism especially in her Lifeboats Freestyle. Each track is unique in it’s lyrics and music but they paint a cohesive picture because of the longing that is evident in each. Longing for lost love, satisfying truth, and a just world.
Love Yourself Tear
Genres: Kpop; Kr&b; Khip-hop
Release Date: May 18
Favorite Tracks: The Truth Untold; Paradise; Anpanman
In this 3rd studio album from BTS we get the best elements of the first two: that hip-hop aggression of Dark & Wild, and that introspective longing of Wings. This album shows the growth of BTS while still staying within that beautiful “Bangtan style”. This is exemplified subtly in how Suga whispers his name before his verses, how the intro track is completely in Korean, and how we have past and current songs connected like Attack on Bangtan and Anpanman. Although this release isn’t a concept album, it still stays committed to it’s theme of exploring the dark side of love. Thus, the album is decidedly darker in tone than Love Yourself: Her, with more of an R&B leaning. It explores Latin pop sounds in Airplane pt. 2, a tasteful use of autotune in Outro: Tear, and bumping electronic beats in Paradise. Tear also provides a space for every single member to shine, I definitely hear the vocalists’ growth in conveying emotion, and the rappers’ growth in embracing and honing their distinct style. Lyrically, BTS uses inspiration from folklore, fairytales, and personal experiences to craft a world in which we can loose ourselves.
Check out the playlist here: