Top Four Albums


Oliver Folan, Arts and Entertainment Editor '22

As many of you might know, listening to and making music is a very important part of my life, and while my knowledge of music runs far thinner than my knowledge of cinema, there are still a handful of albums I hold in high regard as being some of my favorites.

There are three albums that I consider to be the “three best.” Call it a holy trinity. Those three albums include Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, MF DOOM and Madlib’s Madvillainy, and Kanye West’s The College Dropout (if you had asked me yesterday what my favorite Kanye album was I probably would have said Late Registration). I wanted to refrain from talking about these albums in full because while I love these albums dearly, I feel uninspired to write about them. I also wanted to talk about albums that I have discovered somewhat recently or are just super underrated and not talked about enough.

Without further ado, here are 4 favorite albums of mine.


What’s Going On (1971)

Artist- Marvin Gaye

Genres- Soul, R&B, Pop

If you held a gun to my head and told me to choose an album more beautiful than Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, you’d have to shoot me. It’s an album that transcends far beyond the term “masterpiece” and instead enters the realm of perfection. There is no experience quite like listening to What’s Going On from front to back. No album flows as well as this does. The three-track run from “Save the Children” to “Mercy Mercy Me” is one of the cleanest things to have ever graced my ears. It’s such an emotionally and politically charged album, as the whole thing essential comes off as Marvin Gaye getting a bunch of stuff off his chest, asking society to improve just a little bit during these challenging times (Vietnam War). The title has many meanings. “What’s Going On” is used as a phrase spoken to family or friends in need of some catching up, but it’s also the rhetorical question Marvin poses to the listener. Like what the hell going on in the world right now? But while Marvin may be talking about some difficult issues and ideas, he does so in a way that feels so sweet and genuine. Listening to this album is like receiving a warm hug, except maybe even better. If you haven’t listened to it in full, please do yourself a favor. My favorite songs include “What’s Going On,” “What’s Happening Brother,” “Save the Children,” “God is Love,” “Mercy Mercy Me,” and “Inner City Blues.”


For You (1982)

Artist- Tatsuro Yamashita

Genres- City Pop, Funk

As all of you know from the assemblies in Keeler, I really love me some Japanese city pop, and Tatsuro Yamashita was one of the best to ever do it in the genre. For You is an incredibly accessible album that vibes harder than anything I have ever heard. It takes heavy inspiration from western music like The Beach Boys while maintaining the same flair that makes Tatsuro Yamashita’s music so unique. He has a niche for catchy hooks, beautiful arrangements, and clean production that always keeps me coming back to his music. I keep a CD of this album in my car at all times, just in case I’m ever in need of some vibes. I also do that because you can’t find the album on Apple Music or Spotify! My favorite songs include “Sparkle,” “Morning Glory,” “Futari,” “Love Talkin,’” and “Your Eyes.”


The Unseen (2004)

Artist- Quasimoto (Madlib)

Genres- Alternative Hip-Hop, Jazz Rap, Psychedelic Hip-Hop

Quasimoto’s The Unseen is immersive journey. To call Madlib’s production amazing is basically a cliche at this point, but has to be said. Listening to the project today, it’s hard to even comprehend that it came out 18 years ago. It really does sound that timeless. However, not to be slept on is Madlib’s abilities as a rapper. What I love about Madlib as a rapper is that he sounds so effortless in all of his songs. Take the song “Jazz Cats Pt. 1” for example. The whole track is just him name-dropping a bunch of his favorite Jazz musicians in the most laid-back delivery possible, but it complements the beats so well that it’s actually kind of remarkable. This laid-back energy is maintained throughout the album’s hefty hour-long runtime, but never does it feel stale at any point. If you love MF DOOM’s “Madvillainy” then you must listen to The Unseen. It’s a chill, psychedelic odyssey, and easily a top 5 hip-hop album of all time for me. It is also 24 songs long, so I can’t choose my favorites. They are all fantastic.


Charli (2019)

Artist- Charli XCX

Genres- Avant-Pop, Electropop, Hyperpop

I’ve been listening to Charli XCX non-stop for the past couple of weeks and have been in desperate need of a platform to talk about her music, hence the article. Her almost self-titled project Charli, perhaps more so than any other album I chose to write about in this article, has so many moments in it that blow my mind. A lot of that is due to Charli’s willingness to get weird as hell with it. For every mainstream banger on the album like “1999” or “White Mercedes” (both songs that I absolutely adore), you have a song like “Shake It,” which is one of the most insane things I have ever listened to. “Click” as well is so loud and crazy. The last 30 seconds alone is genuinely one of the most ear-piercing things I have ever heard in a song, but in the best way possible. “Thoughts” is another song that demolishes me every time I listen to it, both emotionally and physically. It sounds a lot like the old THX intro that would play before certain movies. “2099” is yet another mind-blowing track from the album. Listening to it feels like doing the butterfly stroke in a pool of mercury. Skip to 1:12 in the song and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Charli certainly isn’t an album for everybody, but my goodness I love it. Each song hits so hard, and I love how modern and futuristic it sounds. It is without question my favorite pop album. My favorite songs include “Next Level Charli,” “Gone,” “1999,” “Click,” “Thoughts,” “White Mercedes,” “Silver Cross,” “Official,” “Shake It,” and “2099.”