Category: Pop

kid krow by conan gray

Album: Kid Krow

Artist: Conan Gray  

Genre: Indie pop, Bedroom Pop

Record label(s): Republic Records 

Recommended Tracks: Track 8- Affluenza Track 10- Heather 

Conan Gray is a 21 year old American singer, song writer, and social media personality. He was born on December 5th, 1998 in California and raised in Texas. His genre is usually pop and he plays the guitar a lot in his music and does a lot of vocals. Conan first started off as a social media personality by uploading videos to YouTube in 2013. His content were usually vlogs centered on his life in his small town in Texas. He demonstrated his music, art and videos on YouTube. Conan released his first debut single, “Idle Town”, himself in 2017. He got over 14 million streams in Spotify and 12 million views on YouTube. He has gone on to release singles and EPs. He released his first studio album in March 20th, 2020 called “Kid Krow”. Conan’s music is inspired by Adele, Lorde and other artists. This album is a “coming of age” type of record that is inspired by Conan’s life, rough childhood experiencing poverty, discrimination and abuse while growing up mixed race. I would rate this album a 5 stars out of 5 due to the theme the album, the messages behind the individual tracks, and the usage of amazing instrumentals throughout the tracks. 

The 8th track on the album is called “Affluenza” . This track deals with themes of money and how money doesn’t solve your issues. This song also reflects Conan’s life with financial issues and wanting money but realizing that money can not solve issues. The track begins with a slow bass beat with drums playing slowly in the back. The best slowly gets louder and faster as it reaches the chorus. A piano comes in with key words for the chorus. It slows down again for the second verse until the chorus again. The bridge is the best part of the track because all instruments are quiet but the piano and when it plays it is heavy and quick. The lyrics of the song are clever and refer to other songs. The use of the word “Affluenza” was clever since it was used as a mental issue thinking that wealth bought privilege and that there is no link between consequences and the rational mind. Also the rhythm of the song is amazing because it changes when the focus is on the rich people and their issues. 

The 10th track is called “Heather” is could be the saddest song on the album. This song is about having someone you love love someone else and hating that someone else Jaír because they have the attention of the on you love. The song starts out with a twinkling sound followed by a guitar solo which gives the song a sad essence. The song goes on with the guitar for the rest of the track. The lyrics also feel sad and heartbreaking. The bridge is a really emotional part since it has vocals that echo the main lyrics and it also has vocals shouting which give the song emotion. The lyrics show a sense of longing to be Heather just to be the one your lover loves. This song is really heartbreaking and emotional. Kid Krow is meant to be a diary of sorts that detail Conan’s life. Even though it’s meant to reflect his life, it also reflects the audiences life since many of his listeners have gone through issues similar to his in their lifetime. Conan shares a lot of his experiences from abuse to poverty. These issues resonate with a lot of people and this is a reason why this album is amazing. The instrumentals also played a role in making this album amazing. The use of the bass and piano were awesome and gave the tracks a really cool vibe. The use of guitar solos also gave some tracks that sense of innocence and more emotion. Overall, if you enjoy artists that follow an indie pop vibe then I recommend you listen to Girl in Red. If you also love music that deals with real life and personal issues, then I highly recommend you listen to Conan Gray’s album, Kid Krow.

silver landings by mandy moore

Album: Silver Landings 

Artist: Mandy Moore  

Genre: Pop 

Record label(s): Verve Forecast 

Recommended Tracks: Track 1- I’d Rather Lose Track 3- Fifteen

Mandy Moore, born Amanda Leigh Moore, is an American singer, actress, and songwriter from New Hampshire. She first began to star in many local productions and performances at a young age. At the age of 13, Moore began to work on her music by herself. She was overheard by a FedEx delivery man who sent a copy of Moore’s unfinished demo to his friend who worked in A&R at Epic Records. Moore signed with Epic. Moore began to work on her debut album at the age of 14 and she even toured with the boy band, NSYNC. She debuted her single, “Candy”, on August 17, 1999. She then released her debut album, So Real, on December 7th, 1999. Moore released six more albums from then, including her most recent one, Silver Landings, on March 6th, 2020. This new album deals with themes of warmth and security after her separation. The instrumentals in this album give out a warm sound. I would rate this album a 5 out of 5 because of her lyrics and the traditional use of music and the sound the album has. 

The first track in the album is “I’d Rather Lose”. This song has a following a moral compass. The song starts off with an acoustic guitar and drums being played to a steady paste. When the vocals come in with soothing background vocals. The guitar and drums stay the same for pretty much the entirety of the track, but when it comes to the electric guitar solo after the bridge of the song. This solo was amazing and it felt so relaxing and the echoing electric guitar really made the song feel alive. Towards the end, the electric guitar is mixed in with the acoustic guitar and drums and they fade out towards the end. 

The third track is “Fifteen”, and this track deals with Moore’s personal journey. Discussing how she felt when she was younger making music and how all her experiences, good and bad, made her the woman she is today, and she is fine with that. The song starts off with an electric guitar and a bass playing softly and slowly with an echo, making you feel relaxed and calm. The lyrics really highlight her own personal life and makes the song hers and about her life, which is a good thing. She demonstrates reflection in this song and it helps make this song feel warm. The solo before the bridge is also really calming. The solo’s drums make the song feel heavy and deep. The end of the song feels like a really retrospective thought and gets you thinking about your own life and decision. This track was an amazing and beautiful one.Silver Landings is meant to be filled with the feeling of warmth and security without minding the crashes. Moore shares her personal feelings in this album but also shows signs of hope with makes the album feel hopeful and warm. The instrumentals really tied the album together. It also made everything feel real and personal. By using guitars, the album felt warm and as if the songs are full of emotion. Moore comes back to music with this personal album and it really breaks away from her young teenage pop self. Overall, if you enjoy music that makes you feel warm, and feels like you are listening to the artist themselves, then I highly recommend listening to Mandy Moore’s new album, Silver Landings.

changes by justin bieber

Album: Changes

Artist: Justin Bieber  

Record Labels: Def Jam Records, Island Records, RBMG Records, The Island Def Jam Music Group and School Boy Records 

Recommended Tracks: 4- “Intentions ft. Quavo”, 5-“Yummy”

Justin Drew Bieber was born on March 1, 1994. He is a Canadian singer, songwriter and actor. Bieber was discovered at 13 years old by talent manager Scooter Braun after he had watched his YouTube cover song videos. He was signed to RBMG Records in 2008. Bieber’s debut EP My World, released in late 2009. He became the first artist to have seven songs from a debut record chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Many people recognize Bieber by his hit song Baby ft Usher. At a very young age, he drew in large crowds from all around the world. Even today, Bieber’s life is streaming across the internet and all across magazines. I am going to give this album a three out of five rating. I will explain in the last paragh why. 

Intentions ft. Quavo is about Beiber talking about his significant other. He says that they are “picture perfect, you don’t need no filter. Gorgeous, make them drop dead, you are a killer. Shower you with all my attention. Yeah these are my only intentions”. This song is actually really cute. The lines above, he says multiple times throughout the song. Beiber shows his love, affection and appreciation to his significant other in this song. He also uses the lines “shout out to your mom and dad for makin’ you. Standin’ ovation, they did a great job raising you”. This song has a really mellow beat that one can vide with. Even when Quavo’s part comes in, he keeps it mellow like Bieber has. This song was executed nicely. 

Yummy is a song that is already well-known throughout the music company. It is one of the most played songs on the radio already. This song is also one of the most used songs on a very known app called Tik Tok. Yummy has a similar beat to Intentions ft. Quavo. It is very calm and mellow. Unlike Intentions ft. Quavo, Yummy is a song that I can see being played in a club. It definitely throws out club vibes. This song is also pretty basic with its use of lyrics. I learned the whole song by only hearing it twice. And I don’t really know the meaning of the song, it may just be me, but I missed it. 

The reason I gave this album a three out of five stars is because all of the songs have a similar beat to it. Not one song sounds out from the rest. In some people’s eyes, that might be a good thing because the album follows very well. But, if you are a person who likes a variety of music in one album (like me) then this album isn’t for you. Overall, the songs are good. If you are a Bieber fan or if you like mellow songs, this album is for you.

where the light is by surfaces

Album: Horizons 

Artist: Surfaces

Record Labels:  Surfaces, LLC/ TenThousand Projects, LLC, Surfaces Music/ TenThousand
Projects, LLC

Recommended Tracks: 1- “Rising”, 11- “Horizon”

Surfaces is a music group based out of Texas. The two members in the band are Forrest Frank and Colin Padalecki. After fully forming in 2017, surfaces released their first full-length album, Surf. The group has been praised for its genre-bending, feel-good music that has been compared to the likes of Sugar Ray and Rex Orange County. Following the major success of surf, surfaces returned in 2019 with their 2nd album, Where the Light Is, a summer soundtrack similar to it’s predecessor, with even more exciting production and refined songwriting. Horizons is the third album done by Surfaces. This band is mostly known as a pop artist genre. I will give this album a two out of five rating. I will explain at the bottom.

Rising is the first song that I have heard by Surfaces. It starts off with waves crashing. You can only hear the ocean. Then, it slowly picks up and adds some electro beats to it. I found this song interesting because it is only a minute and forty-two seconds but it gave me a total beach day picture with friends, chillin’ on the beach. It is a very calm song, one that you can definitely chill out and vibe to. I can definitely see this song in a beach movie with a bunch of friends gathered around the fire, having a great time. This song is my personal favorite out of the album. I do wish it was a little longer. 

Just like Rising, Horizons gave me the same beachy, surfer dude vibes. It does make sense though because the song is about swimming in the ocean and enjoying the waters. The singer talks about the ocean spinning him and taking him up high. My interpretation about the song may be different from yours, but I do think he is talking about the ocean and enjoying it. This song is also pretty calm. Unlike Rising, this song did not paint a picture in my head. I just followed the flow of the music but didn’t get a nice picture painted in my head. 

The reason why I gave this album a two out of five rating is because I thought that the singers’ voices were not the best. I loved the background music but not their voices. I really did love how each song had a beach vibe to it. So if you like calm, beach vibe songs then this is the perfect album for you. This album is one of the albums that you should add to your playlist when you are going to the beach. It will help add to that environment.

dreamland by coin

March 1, 2020

Album: Dreamland 

Artist: COIN

Record Labels: Columbia Records and Startime International 

Recommended Tracks: 4- “Crash My Car”, 9- “Nobody’s Baby”

Coin are an American indie pop band formed in 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. It currently consists of Chase Lawrence (lead vocals, synthesizers), Ryan Winnen (drums), and Joe Memmel (lead guitar, backing vocals). The band originally released two EPs in 2012 and 2013: Saturdays and 1992 respectively. They subsequently gained mainstream attention in 2015 with the lead single Run from their self-titled debut album, which was produced by Jay Joyce and released later the same year by Columbia. The group gained further success in 2016 with the lead single Talk Too Much from the band’s second studio album, How Will You Know If You Never Try, which was released on April 21, 2017. The song was their first to chart on Billboard‘s Alternative Songs chart. I will give this album a three out of five rating.

“Walk in like a wrecking ball. The way she moves make you miserable. All eyes on the golden girl. She’s gonna tell you, gonna tell you, gonna tell you. That you’re too sweet. Swan dive to the concrete floor. The pavement never felt so warm. One look and you already know. She’s gonna cut you, gonna cut you, gonna cut you. Cut you real deep.” This song is actually really really sad and deep. It is about a guy falling for a girl and she totally plays him. She leads him on thinking that she’s into him but then cuts him off at the end of the night. He says “You can crash my car tonight. Go out wasting all my time and money. I love the way you’re breaking my heart. And I can’t stand to see you leaving lonely.” This song is sad but has a nice beat to it. It’ll make you sad by the lyrics but keep you entertained by the beat. 

“Wake up, lying face up. I’m feeling like I found myself. I’m feeling like there’s something missing. I wanna shape up. Tryin’ to shake it up, yeah. Maybe I’m just bored to tears. Or maybe it’s in plain sight hidden.” This song is about changing yourself and being Nobody’s Baby. However, the song’s meaning confused me. I couldn’t really tell if the inner feeling they are trying to fight or change is within themselves or with someone else. The song goes on to talk about someone not moving closer to them. Anyways, the song has a very nice beat to it. If you love COIN, you will definitely love this song.  

The reason why I gave this album a three out of five stars is because some of the songs bored me. I would listen to them and they weren’t really catching my attention. The two songs that I wrote about and reviewed, were the only two that caught my attention. However, I did like the beat of most other songs. Even though some did bore me, they still had a great rhythm to them and were nice to listen to. 

miss Anthropocene by grimes

Album: Miss Anthropocene 

Artist: Grimes 

Genre: Electropop 

Record labels: 4AD, Roc Nation, Arbutus Records, Lo Recordings 

Recommend Tracks: Track 3-Delete Forever , Track 8- You’ll miss me when I’m not around 

Claire Boucher, a Canadian pop artist, goes by the stage name Grimes. Grimes music is dark and thrilling. From the beats to the lyrics her music keeps you on edge like a good horror movie. Miss Anthropocene gives me science fiction vibes because of the changes in octaves of her voice as well as the background instruments. I rate this album 3⁄5 . I was not really a fan of the music because I didn’t understand what Grimes was trying to portray. 

Track 3, “Delete you forever”, was enjoyable because it’s guitar notes. I prefer her signing with those acoustics versus the metal and EDM. I also enjoyed the lyrics of the song especially, “ more lines on a mirror than a sonnet”. 

Track 8, “You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around”, starts off really intense, “I shot myself yesterday, got into heaven Anyway…”. The lyrics really draw you in, as well as the instrumentals. The instrumentals sounds like slowed electropop, which intensified the lyrics’ meaning. 

græ: Part 1 by moses sumney

Album: græ: Part 1

Artist: Moses Sumney

Genre(s): Electro-Soul / Baroque Pop / Singer-songwriter

Record Labels: Jagjaguwar

Recommended Tracks: Track 9 – Colouour and Track 12 – Polly

Moses Sumney is an act best described by the singer-songwriter denomination than any genre classification, as his sound his sound is as explorative as it is unique, and as is the central theme of græ: Part 1, Sumney avoids classification and definition whenever possible. Sumney spent the first 10 years of his life in San Bernardino, California, before he moved back to Accra, Ghana with his family. Sumney approached music initially without any instrumental ability, composing only a capella songs, and when he attended UCLA he majored in creative writing with a focus on poetry. Both of these elements of his approach to music are apparent in his intricate songwriting, which results in some absolutely stunning lyricism on this project and on previous projects. Sumney’s debut album Aromanticism is ethereal, nocturnal, and gorgeous. Sumney’s phantasmic falsetto is perfectly complemented by strings, deeply resounding drums, and haunting flourishes. On Aromanticism grapples with isolation, especially within romantic relationships, as well as general feelings of falseness, discontentment, and desire, however Sumney’s songwriting uses poetic language that can be interpreted within many a listener’s narrative in many different ways. On græ: Part 1, Sumney still feels like quite an isolated voice within his sparse and striking instrumentals, however through the interludes and songwriting it’s clear that Sumney’s main focus on this album is the power and validity of ambiguity and having a multiplicity of identities. I would give this album a 4/5, as I find the songwriting just bewitching, and while I enjoy the sonic palette of Aromanticism quite a bit more, I think the exploration and diversification in sound serves well to articulate a narrative about ambiguity and refusal to be defined without compromising too much musical enjoyability. 

My first standout track is “Colouour”, which opens with an almost Negro Swan-esque saxaphone arrangement backed by some wandering pianos and a backing deep synth. Sumney’s voice causes the horns to drop out leaving just him and the piano before the track expounds into a collage of various sounds under his singing, which sounds absolutely gorgeous on this track. The song, like many of Sumney’s tracks, is much more of a musical poem than a song, however the simplicity and brevity of the lyrics only serves to bolster their impact. This song incorporates the album’s themes of color in its lyrics, if that wasn’t obvious from the title, imploring the listener or whoever the song was intended for to wear some color. This color metaphor is not out of line with the typical paradigmatic implication of color as self expression, however the song precedes an interlude about multiplicity of self, which is one of the album’s main themes. Within this thematic context, I think multiple different metaphors could be being conveyed. Either color directly reflects this typical paradigm, or perhaps the line about Sumney “trying to change” whoever the song is intended for ought to be interpreted more sympathetically. Perhaps “græ” and colorlessness represents the inability to be defined despite societies perpetual demands of self-determination. These thematic throughlines might become more apparent in græ: Part 2, if that is indeed a thing. 

My second standout track was one of the singles preceding the album, “Polly”. The song has some of the most gorgeous lyrics on the album, which are given the chance to shine due to the song also being relatively simplistic, with a repetitive backing guitar and occasional additional vocals delivered by Sumney being the only embellishments to Sumney’s sung poetry. My personal favorite lyrical moment/stanza on this song is probably:

“I don’t wanna live here

Sometimes don’t wanna live at all

I want to be cotton candy

In the mouth of many a lover

Saccharine and slick technicolor

I’ll dissolve”

This encapsulates the lyrical beauty demonstrated across this record and across Sumney’s discography, which is surely one of the main draws to his work.

Overall, this album is definitely one that requires thematic digestion, as I’m still puzzling over lyrics, themes, and songs in order to construct a more complete statement to derive from this work. Hopefully græ: Part 2 or whatever else Sumney might have planned for this project isn’t too far on the horizon, since the confusing single rollout and title hinting at serialization leave me wondering how this album is going to fit into a larger multi-part work. If you like Moses Sumney, I would recommend you check out serpentwithfeet, Sufjan Stevens (especially his cover of “Don’t Bother Calling”), or James Tillman. I would recommend this project to anyone that likes poetry, minimalistic music, or that likes to engage with albums in the way one would a novel.

manic by halsey

Album: Manic

Artist: Halsey 

Record Labels: Capitol Records

Recommended Tracks: 9- “Without Me”, 15- “Still Learning”

I am going to start off by giving you, as the reader, a disclaimer. Halsey is one of my favorite modern artists of our time. She is really amazing and is extremely talented. My disclaimer is that I am going to be biased towards this album. Because I am a fan of Halsey, I’m going to already give this album a high rating. However, I will try my best to give this album an unbiased rating and opinion. Halsey’s real name is Ashley Nicolette Frangipane. She is an American singer and songwriter. She gained  attention from releasing music herself on social media platforms. She was signed by Astralwerks in 2014 and released her debut EP, Room 93, later that year. Manic is a very interesting album. Like every album, it has both fast and slow songs. But, she adds a different touch to each of those songs by having SUGA, BTS, and other artists sing with her. I am going to give this album a five out of five rating. I will explain towards the end why. 

Without Me is one of the songs that made me become a fan of Hasley. I’ve always liked her music, but this song spoke to me the most out of all of her songs. This song is about Hasley putting someone above her, above everything in her life. But, then this person takes advantage of her. (This is my personal interpretation of the song). The lyrics are really sad, extremely sad actually. But because of the music Halsye has in the background, you can never get truly sad when singing the song. You could yell the lyrics but not get sad. It reminds me of a lot of 80’s music. This song is also one of Halsey’s most famous songs. I really love it. 

Still Learning is a pretty powerful song. It is about Halsey going through rough times. A man won’t stay, her money isn’t really hers because it is being passed around the family, and she has no self-esteem. But, she admits that she is still trying to learn how to love herself. This is a song that many of us could relate to. I recommend this song to someone who is going through a rough time. You and Halsey could relate to each other through this song. She speaks about learning to love yourself through rough times.  The reason why I gave this album a five out of five rating is because it is truly an overall amazing album. The song where Halsey, SUGA, and BTS all sing in it is amazing. She even has songs where she is talking in the beginning, then the music plays and she sings. All of her songs have something to do with her personal life. 929 is about the time and day she was born. I recommend this album for people who love pop music or who love Halsey. It is really good.

Dreaming of david by ryan beatty

Album: Dreaming of David

Artist: Ryan Beatty

Genre: Pop

Record label(s): Interscope and Mad Love 

Recommended Tracks: Track 2- Dark Circles Track 7- Genisis 

Ryan (Kevin) Beatty is an American singer and songwriter who was born on September 25, 1995, in Clovis, California. Ryan started his musical career on his Youtube channel by posting covers of popular songs in 2011. His channel was gaining high views so he unleashed his first debut single “Every Little Thing” in 2011. Ryan also released his debut EP in 2012. Afterward, he went on to release two more albums including his most recent “Dreaming of David”, released on January 31, 2020. This recent album kind of deviates from his usual work. His last album, “Boy in Jeans”,  has a more upbeat and fun feel to it as well as using more autotune and electronic production in it. “Dreaming of David” never feels monotone because his vocals change at any moment from lows to highs that creates a multi-dimensional song. Although this album still uses autotune and electronic production, it is supposed to feel human because of the way it is made, like thoughts left to hang and never fade. I would rate this album a 5 out of 5 stars due to how the music feels human even with all the electronic uses, this makes the album feel unique. 

“Genisis” is the second track on the album. The song title is associated with the dark hue under someone’s eyes from a lack of sleep due to stress of fatigue. This theme is recurring in this song and it feels that way. The music feels so melancholic with beats that resemble raindrops. The instrumentals feel so fast paste and a bit stressful with some beats repeating quickly, resembling the stress in the song. In the song, the singer is up all night thinking of n ex-lover, causing him to have dark circles. The vocals also give off the feeling of being tired and stressed. Ryan sings in a relatively low tone which feels like he is tired, his high notes also add more emotion to the song. The autotune gives the low voice a bit more of depth. 

The track “Genisis” is the 7th track on the album. This track has such a calming and soothing feel to it, it makes you feel as if you were laying on a cloud, and Ryan’s vocals are amazing in this track and help a lot with the soothing feel of the song. The instrumentals all have an effect that makes them echo. The layered vocals of Ryan really make a harmony in the song and show his wide vocal range, which is very impressive. The autotune on his high notes really make this song feel electronic but also really soothing when Ryan harmonizes with his other vocals. This song seems to deal with being fated for someone when they are in a time of need, the usage of biblical terms really ties in the theme of fate and faith in this song.

“Dreaming of David” explores gay love and feels more ambitious. Although this album is a bit too slow and maybe needs more predictability, but this album shows that Ryan has outdone himself again. The use of electronic production and autotune is still used in Ryan’s music but this album also has a slower and soothing feel to it and combined with the theme of it, makes the album feel human, despite the use of electronic production and autotune. If you enjoy pop music with a bit of an alternative feel, I recommend listening to Tyler, the Creator. Overall, if you love music that deals with love and the struggles of gay love, then I highly and strongly recommend taking a listen to “Dreaming of David” by Ryan Beatty.

Fine Line by Harry Styles

December 15, 2019

Album: Fine Line 

Artist: Harry Styles 

Record Label: Erskine Records 

Recommended Tracks: Track 1 – “Golden”, Track 5 – “Cherry”

Two years of anticipating Harry Styles’ second solo album finally came to an end on December 13, 2019. His album Fine Line was released, giving us 12 brand new songs to indulge in. It’s genuinely clear that Harry poured his heart into making this album. It’s cohesive, fun, heartbreaking, and definitely some of his best work yet. It’s great to hear how he experiments with his sound on Fine Line and doesn’t restrict himself from sticking to a mold or what people expect from him. Choosing only two recommended tracks was really hard to decide on because all of the songs are amazing in their own way. I rate Fine Line a five out of five. The tracks  “Golden” and “Cherry” stand out, and both differ sonically, showcasing Harry’s versatility. 

     “Golden” opens the album and upon first listen, I couldn’t think of a better song choice to start Fine Line. It begins with a soft drum beat before an explosive shift, introducing Harry’s voice. The lyrics seem to point toward the romanticization of a person, calling them “golden.” It’s fitting since this idea is welcomed at the beginning of the album, it contrasts a lot of the other songs that tear down the idealized outlook on people and relationships. The rhythm is fast-paced and energetic, and Harry’s vocals are warm and he sounds so sure of himself. 

     “Cherry” is a softer song that begins with acoustic guitar that leads up to Harry’s voice. It’s a song that feels inspired by the folk-rock genre, but it’s not totally stripped down as an acoustic song. There are layers of instruments that make it atmospheric and so pleasant to listen to. Lyrically, he sings about how it’s heartbreaking to see his ex-girlfriend moving on to another relationship and missing her. “Don’t you call him what you used to call me” echoes throughout the song, stinging with hints of sadness in Harry’s voice. It’s a heartfelt song and we get to experience Harry being vulnerable, which is a running theme in all of the songs. 

     Fine Line by Harry Styles is one of the best albums released in 2019. Every song is noteworthy and worth giving a chance.