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The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Big Ten: 2023’s Best Albums

It’s time for my objectively correct opinions on this year of music

Every December, as the year comes to an end, your favorite snobby music critics throw together their picks for the best songs, artists and albums of the year in order to present to the world their glorious lists. Especially with the integration of Spotify wrapped (or Apple Music replay if, like me, you prefer the superior alternative to Spotify) the internet is filled to the max with critic after critic explaining why Drake’s newest album is actually really good (or bad), or why “1989: Taylors Version” is the best album of 2023, despite its initial 2013 release date.  

You may ask: with all these distinguished and acclaimed critics, why listen to me? Of course, I could explain how I’m Summit’s “headphones guy,” or how I’ve logged nearly 100,000 minutes of listening in 2023. More importantly, I’ve compiled an almost 40-album long list of favorites informed by Summit students, teachers and music nerds, as well as some of the year’s most critically acclaimed records. After several intense sessions of listening, I’ve curated the year’s top 10 albums, and ranked them accordingly for your own personal benefit of experiencing my model music taste.


10- “FORWARD” by Jordan Ward


While it seems apparent that “FORWARD” will eventually exist as a building block for Ward, that makes its inventive blend of rap and soulful R&B almost more exciting than it would be on its own. Upbeat soul songs like “FAMJAM3000” are harshly contrasted by the laid back ”Plugg” (or SoundCloud trap) style hip-hop cuts like “WHITE CROCS.” Despite “FORWARD’s” imperfections, such as its occasionally bloated tracklist, its representation of potential within the next generation of music is undeniably stirring. That’s not to say “FORWARD” substantially lacks in quality, as its smooth and lively sonics mark some of the best of the year.


9- “the record” by boygenius


I was extremely hesitant coming into “the record.” Although it’s clear that all three of boygenius’s members can hold their own on any given track, the ”kind of joke” feeling that surrounded the initial forming of the group felt goofy and disingenuous. Luckily, after a whole tour and 6 Grammy nominations, including album of the year, I am  proven wrong. Each song on “the record” feels fresh, exciting, and just as excruciatingly saddening as the prior. Whether it’s the hushed, slow paced ballad that is “Letter To An Old Poet”, or the explosive “$20,” “the record” is one of the most presently surprising albums to come out of 2023, and left me hopeful that boygenius will return with another project full of quaint melodies and vocal mastery. 


8- “Desire, I Want to Turn Into you” by Caroline Polachek


Every couple years, a new alternative-pop artist hops onto the scene and blows the mind of music lovers. In the recent past, Charlie XCX has been the female pop leader, commonly praised by music nerds for her fun and concise presentation of the genre. Much like XCX, Caroline Polachek delivers a punchy pop record, but now with an alternative twist that makes it feel like a fully reformed version of the pop music commonly plaguing the radio. You can clearly tell that “Desire, I Want To Turn Into You” knows exactly what it wants to do, and how. Its opening track, “Welcome to My Island” perfectly displays the range of emotions Polachek is able to convey with her voice alone, switching between staccato chanting and lustrous singing, and makes use of plucky electronic synths to create an atmospheric feel. Tracks like this, and many others, make this album feel incredibly refreshing in a world of boring and repetitive pop music.


7- “How Do You Sleep at Night?” by Teezo Touchdown


“How Do You Sleep at Night?” was the definition of a no brainer. This being Teezo Touchdown’s debut album, while being packed with quality and a strong sense of purpose and direction, is mind-boggling, and stands to compare with some of the most memorable debut albums in history. Teezo displayed unparalleled singing chops on songs like “UHH,” beautifully unique writing abilities on songs like “Impossible” and his general style and quirkiness on songs like “OK,”. By combining R&B, rap, rock and soul into one; a genre Teezo calls “Rock & Boom,” he created a seamless binding of soundscapes unlike that of any other current artist. Although “How Do You Sleep At Night?”  isn’t necessarily perfect, it serves as an excellent first step in what might be the start of one of the most exciting artists of the 2020’s decade.


6- “Maps” by Billy Woods & Kenny Segal


In the culture of lazy, repetitive production and writing that is modern rap music, it’s always a great sign to see the name Billy Woods attached to an album. Woods’ commanding, occasionally funny socially conscious bars throughout “Maps” would make even the likes of MF-DOOM proud. This combined with the grimey pilot production across this album create one of the most interesting and impressive efforts of the year. Along with Kenny Segal, Woods creates a unique, crushing sound not for the faint of heart hip-hop fan. If you’re looking for catchy, fun rap songs, you won’t find them anywhere layered between this multi-textured alternative hip-hop masterpiece.


5- ”Utopia” by Travis Scott


It was clear coming into ”Utopia” that Travis Scott needed something big to re-capture the attention of the global music scene following the 2021 Astro-fest tragedy. After a long 5 year wait, “Utopia” finally arrived, filled with the experimental, loud, gritty, and abrasive sounds of Scott’s earlier works, such as “Rodeo” and “Days Before Rodeo.” Along with subverting back to his roots, Scott created a project filled to the brim with boundary pushing and exciting ideas, many of which ring familier to his work on Kanye West’s experimental-opus “Yeezus.” While “Utopia” was no stranger to the atmospheric trap sound utilized in Scott’s 2018 project, “Astroworld,” its Avant-Garde moments truly shine through as some of the best of this year.


4- “I Killed Your Dog” by L’Rain


While seemingly impossible to sum up in one sentence, “I Killed Your Dog” is best described by its own title: kind of funny, kind of disturbing, and mostly intriguing. L’Rain delivers yet another psychedelic-alternative rock experience that embodies the spirit of the genre. Packed full of catchy, ear grabbing grooves like “Pet Rock” (who’s title yet again displays the oddedy of L’Rain’s expression) “I Killed Your Dog” leaves room for more; more weird, that is. The title track consists of L’Rain desperately exclaiming that she had, indeed, killed someone’s dog. Entranced by swirling guitars, the track leaves the listener just as confused at the end as they were at the start. “5 to 8 hours a day (WWwaG)” yet again included trippy passes of, in the best way possible, Incoherent guitars and confusing melodies. “I Killed Your Dog” asks more questions than it answers, and leaves the listener with a sense of wonder, excitement, and probably worry for that poor dog.


3- “Guts” by Olivia Rodrigo


After Rodrigo’s immensely successful debut album, ”Sour,” the pressure was on for “Guts” to live up to its predecessor. This album offers much more than the beautiful Swiftie sounding ballads we have come to expect from Rodrigo, (although they do reside heavily within the track list). Rather, “Guts” displays a brand new, equally emo, yet much more confident and punchy rendition of her earlier music.  Off rip, Rodrigo hits the listener with the vigorous pop-punk banger, “All American Bitch,” which explodes into electrifying guitar runs and shouting vocals. These anthemic rock tracks pop up time and time again, and make up “Guts’” identity. Not only did “Guts” hold its ground as Rodrigo’s sophomore album, but it completely excelled in its genre. All signs are pointing towards Rodrigo shifting fully into the edgy-teenager pop punk sound she utilized across this record, and if she continues to come up with tracks like “get him back!” I won’t be one to complain.


2- “Let’s Start Here.” by Lil Yachty


If on the morning of Jan 26, 2023 you asked me who Lil Yachty was, I would tell you he was one of the many once-invincible SoundCloud rappers who was now struggling to stay relevant. However, later that night, after the release of Lil Yachty’s genre-bending record “Let’s Start Here.”,  I would tell you he was one of the few successful artists to crossover from rap to another genre, and one of the best artists doing alternative rock today. Even though “Let’s Start Here.” wasn’t the groundbreaking album many fans let it on to be, it was one of the best executed “Pink Floyd” derived albums to come about this decade. While Yachty does clearly take strong influences from many of the psych-rock bands of the past, he does the genre on his own terms. Yachty brings together a masterclass of producers and artists to create one of the best concept albums of the decade so far. Its intense, disturbing, immensely layered and often rewarding description of drug abuse and love left me hungry for more of this brilliant performance from of all people, Lil Yachty.




When you combine hip-hops two most notable weirdo’s, JPEGMAFIA (who mind you, is only one person) & Danny Brown, you’re bound to end up with a project like “SCARING THE HOES” that truly makes you stop and think, “what the hell did I just listen to?” Again and again I had to stop and consider if I was listening to utter garbage, or one of the most genius collaborative albums ever conceived (it only took one or two passes to realize it was indeed the ladder). JPEGMAFIA’s eccentric and chronically online production, as well as rapping paired with Brown’s supply of off the walls, occasionally disgusting and always exciting delivery and lyrical content creates a truly unforgettable experience. “SCARING THE HOES” feels like a comedy album you might expect from a weird-al type character, whilst still holding its own weight in feeling like a serious, masterful far-out alternative rap project. Each song explodes with neck-snapping production usually equipped with some of the most unorthodox samples imaginable, like the almost 40 year old Japanese beef commercial jingle used in “Garbage Pail Kids.” Songs like “Lean Beef Patty” end just as quick as they start, with its distinctive chipmunk sampling and chaotic synth shots, while still feeling complete and rich in content. Pressed from the combination of genius and audacity wielded by both artists, this unprecedented magnum-opus is just about all you could hope for from an album coming from this off-center duo.

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About the Contributor
Finley Gober
Finley Gober, Staff Writer

When he finally finishes his mountain of homework, you’ll find Finley Gober spending time with none other than himself. Finley has great interest in music, film, fashion, and writing, and therefore found himself joining the Pinnacle to write about his interests instead of talking at his friends about them. He’s great at starting creative projects, and not as much at finishing them. If you ever need another song for your playlist, or a movie to watch next weekend, Finley is the guy to ask. Most importantly, Finley's favorite movie is “Moonlight”, favorite album is “To Pimp a Butterfly”, and favorite animal is a panda.

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