I thought I would take a break from all my Hanson content and talk about some other music for a while. The year is winding down (how is it already November?!) and around this time I like to reflect on all the awesome things about the last lap around the sun. I’ve done quite a bit this year, and like every year, I’ve listened to a lot of musc. I’m constantly on a quest for new tunes to obsess over, so I present you with my top albums of 2017. Aka, the year of the ladies.
10. Hopeless Fountain Kingdom - Halsey
This album was a surprise to me. I love pop music and I love female artists and I’m done apologizing for that. It’s my favorite genre and that’s just..how it’s going to be. BUT I had never really taken the time to listen to Halsey until my friend Ryan convinced me to listen to this album. Ryan and I had just finished up a production of Hamlet (he was Hamlet and I was Ophelia) when he told me to listen to this album, so I was definitely in the right mindset when I finally downloaded the songs and listened to them. I love a concept album, and one based heavily on Romeo and Juliet? Sign. Me. UP. It’s not a complete retelling of the classic tragedy that we know so well, but instead Halsey’s own story, against the backdrop of the familiar tale.
Listen if you like - Lorde, PVRIS, Tove Lo
Favorite Track - Devil in Me
9. Beautiful Trauma - Pink
I was a Pink fan in...well, middle school, honestly, and I remember listening to her first two albums and secretly liking them way more than Britney or Christina. I’ll admit, she has been delivering incredible vocals and performances since day one, and I think that she’s incredibly consistent and criminally underrated. This album is no exception. She is such a force in the pop world, and I think this is her best album yet. The vocals are killer, the lyrics are stunning and thought provoking, and it’s just a reminder that she’s still killin’ the damn game.
Listen if you like - Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Jessie J
Favorite Track - Beautiful Trauma
8. Harry Styles - Harry Styles
I could very easily make this a list completely comprised of female artists, but I really like this album so I’ll throw a boy into the mix. I’ve never been a 1D fan (I respect them and I love that people are fans of them, I just didn’t have room in my life for another boyband), but as soon as Harry Styles’ dropped his debut solo album, I snatched it up as quickly as I could. The reasoning is...very on brand. I heard the pre-release tracks and I was immediately struck with how much the songs reminded me of Underneath (my favorite Hanson album), and how similar his voice is to Zac Hanson’s. But seriously, he knocked it out of the park with this album. His vocals are amazing and he totally proves his chops as a songwriter. The album has sweet, intimate moments, as well as huge, sweeping declarations, and its sound is unmistakeable. I am proud to be a relatively new Harry Styles fan!
Listen if you like: Hanson, One Direction, Ed Sheeran
Favorite Track: Sweet Creature
7. White Out Conditions - The New Pornographers
Again, this album came recommended to me, this time by my friend Kyle. I knew the album was out because I like this band, but it had slipped my mind (a lot of my favorite artists dropped music this year and I was distracted!). I’m so glad I finally gave it a listen though, because I became instantly obsessed. I think I’m a sucker for anything that really digs into tough or taboo topics (mental health, society, etc) while making the music itself sound like angels descending from the heavens. The juxtaposition of the words and the music is so compelling, and the rich harmonies layered with synths and urgent rhythms make it a stand out record for me.
Listen if you like: Neko Case, The Decemberists, Belle and Sebastian
Favorite Track: Second Sleep
6. Younger Now - Miley Cyrus
For someone who actually really enjoyed Bangerz, I was surprised at how much I loved this new record, but listening to it was like a breath of fresh air. Obviously, I’m all about self discovery and working towards becoming a better you every single day...and you can just tell that Miley has gone through quite a bit of that in the past year. One of the reasons I love female artists is because we so often get records like these. Ones that say “I did the whole crazy girl, partying things because that’s what society told me to do, I got carried away, but here are some songs about what I learned.” I don’t like that they are forced to fit into a mold, but I do love what comes when they break out of it.
Listen if you like: Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift.
Favorite Track: Malibu
5. Melodrama - Lorde
This album is one of many that was dropped into my lap at exactly the right time. Isn’t it crazy when life does that? It seems to happen more often than not, and this year I got quite a few “perfect timing” albums. When this album first came out I was hopelessly obsessed with it and listened to nothing else for at least a week. I was floored by how relatable the lyrics were, and it made me feel so much less alone and crazy than I had felt in the weeks prior. This year has been the year of the ladies, but more specifically, the year of ladies who were fucked over and made to feel like less than they actually are, who came back and wrote some killer songs about it. I have to say, I relate. Again, we went from the reckless abandon of a teenager at house parties, to the grounded maturity of a young woman who experienced heart break and was left to pick up the pieces.
Listen if you like: Halsey, Lana Del Rey, Marina and the Diamonds
Favorite Track: Supercut
4. Something To Tell You - HAIM
It’s no secret that I love sibling bands, and HAIM falls right under Hanson when it comes to my favorites. These sisters are seriously awesome, and so incredibly talented. I personally think this album blows their debut out of the water. Again, the record itself came into my life at the exact right time (like...literally to the DAY, it was actually kind of spooky) and the lyrics once again made me feel like I was part of a club of girls who had experienced the same thing. It’s all at once heartbreaking that these lyrics are so relatable and empowering. HAIM mixes styles so effortlessly, blending rock and pop, and writing killer hooks that you will never get out of your head. They weave in unexpected sounds and rhythms that leave you stunned and excited for more.
Listen if you like: CHVRCHES, First Aid Kit, Lorde
Favorite Track: Little of Your Love
3. reputation - Taylor Swift
Any other year, this would probably be my undisputed number one pick, because as you all know I worship at the church of Swift. But, this year of our Lord(e) 2017, I have to put it at number 3 ONLY BECAUSE so many incredible records were also released. That being said, I could write an entire doctoral dissertation about this album (or any Taylor Swift album). Do I think it can be compared to anything she’s done before? No. Do I think it’s the smartest and most compositionally sound body of work she’s ever released? Yes. Am I proud to be a Taylor Swift fan, one that is influenced and inspired by her every single day of my life? Absolutely.
Listen if you like: Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato
Favorite Track: Getaway Car
2. Rainbow - Kesha
I put this in front of reputation, because even I, a self professed Taylor Swift STAN, understand that a record about battling demons, breaking free of the cage, and emerging as something better, stronger, and more self aware is much more important than a record about being in love with a boy and drinking a lot of wine. I’ve been a Kesha fan since the very beginning. Seriously, since sophomore year of college, driving around Cincinnati with my friend Sam and listening to TikTok on repeat. As you have probably learned from this list alone, I LOVE POP MUSIC, even mindless pop music, and Kesha was always one of my favorites. But this album is something so much more than that. I was absolutely floored by every single song. It takes us a journey of...well...Kesha becoming her own hero. And if you don’t think I’m an absolute sucker for that, well, then you don’t know me at all.
Listen if you like: Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Rihanna
Favorite Track: Rainbow
1.Hopeless Romantic - Michelle Branch
True, I waited three long and harrowing years for reputation, but I waited FOURTEEN YEARS for the next installment of Michelle Branch’s story. Hotel Paper, Michelle Branch’s second album is one of my favorite records of all time (like, easily in my top three). This girl is literally the reason I begged my parents to get me a guitar, and the reason I started writing songs at the tender age of 12. I’ve survived on Hotel Paper since 2003 (with a little help from The Wreckers and a couple EPs) but when I heard that she was giving us a brand new album in 2017 I literally lost my damn mind. And boy, did it deliver. This album was released in April and I am still not over it. It’s a brand new sound while still being undeniably Michelle. I love every single track. It’s co-written and co-produced with her boyfriend, Patrick Carney (of The Black Keys) and I think that was a super smart decision on her part. His musical sensibility breathes a new life into her already incredible songwriting, and makes it perfect for the 2017 audience. I LOVE YOU FOREVER MICHELLE.
Listen if you like: Vanessa Carlton, The Black Keys, The New Pornogrpahers
Favorite Track: Fault Line
So there you have it. If you’re still reading, wow honestly thank you for being interested enough in my blabbering about female pop artists to make it all the way through this blog post. I would love to know what some of your favorite albums of the year were, and I hope everyone reading this knows that whatever music makes them feel alive is the right music! There is no wrong answer.
Peace, love, and don’t let the bastards get you down,