Chamomile Tea’s Top Ten Albums of the Summer

Hello everyone! As you may know, we are currently on our break. We know you guys are catching up with our old episodes, but we would also like to share our top ten albums from the summer that have given us absolute life. Even when we are not on air, we want you guys to know what we are bumping, and what we adore in the contemporary culture.


ANGIE:

Harry Styles - Harry Styles

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Why You Should Listen:

Summer of 2017 was Harry Styles’s debut into major stardom. If you didn’t know already, I am a high key Directioner, and have followed the boys of One Direction since their formation on the X Factor UK. It’s a no brainer that One Direction is one of the most popular boy band of the 00’s, but even with tremendous success, the boys have seen some bleak days. After the departure of former member Zayn in 2015, and their “hiatus” since 2016, it’s pretty clear that the end is near. What is making me feel better that Made in the A.M was One Direction’s last album is the solo efforts of each member. Niall Horan has made great single hits with “Slow Hands” and “This Town,” and other member Liam Payne has made summer hip hop bangers including “Strip That Down” and “Get Low” with Zedd; however, Harry was the main course of discussion for his solo musical path. Harry did not disappoint. Styles’s self-titled debut album capitalizes on many traditional sounds of Britpop and soft rock that was made popular by acts including The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Queen, and even late American musician Elvis Presley. What makes Style's debut unique is the quality of each song, and the respect he has for the genre. This album traces what Style’s was trying to create during the ending era of One Direction sound wise. The album creates a more dynamic transition, and hardens his individualism that was cornered away while Styles was tucked away in a boy band. Compared to most albums released by popular male musicians, Styles is the only one doing traditional pop-rock, which makes it easier to see his popularity rise (besides his good looks and his acting abilities shown in his film debut Dunkirk).  Styles has kicked into high gear headlining Harry Styles: Live on Tour for the next two years. I am excited to see which direction he will go next (get it?), and hopefully it’s nothing but pure entertainment.  

Top Tracks:

  • Meet Me in the Hallway
  • Carolina
  • Two Ghosts
  • Woman

Melodrama - Lorde

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Why You Should Listen:

Lorde is a very eclectic popular musician. Granted she is only 20 years old, but the New Zealand artist has made staples in the industry already. I should point out that my opinion about Lorde is biased because I bought her debut album Pure Heroine during the week it came out in 2014. I was amazed by the sound Lorde was putting at only 17 years old during the beginning of her popularity. I was a senior in high school, and here was a girl my age talking about the same insecurities, insights, and vision I had at eighteen. Despite her song "Royals", which I think is overhyped and overplayed, the rest of her debut album was a youthful classic for the late 1990’s crowd. After the hyped died down from Pure Heroine, I thought “What is she going to do next?” Three years went by, and though her promotional song "Yellow Flicker Beat" for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 was a quick bop, I was starting to think Lorde was a quick fade that would be in the back of my teenage youth. Then she came out with Melodrama. She shut me up real quick. What makes Melodrama a solid sophomore effort for Lorde is that she grew up. Her lyrical development sprinkles on the images of early adulthood, break-ups, and the right amount of angst, and the beauty of fucking up. In a quick sense, Lorde grew up with me. Majority of the songs dealt with what I have witnessed in the past three years. Being under the influence, failures with men, enjoying being youthful, and the mistakes I make are all linked to the lyricism that is painted by Lorde as poetry. Lorde hasn’t lost her touch. I am happy that she isn’t going anywhere, and being an organic musician.     

Top Tracks:

  • Green Light
  • Sober
  • Homemade Dynamite
  • The Louvre
  • Perfect Places

Beautiful Thugger Girls - Young Thug

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Why You Should Listen:

Young Thug is a fucking weird trap rapper, and I love him for that very reason. Period. Mr. Thugger’s reception is a mixed bag. Quirky bitches like me love him, including white publications (which is another conversation). Real OG rap music lovers don’t get Thugger with his mumble-rap style and his androgynous fashion statements. Granted, Young Thug has a solid following. Being from Atlanta, I knew about Young Thug since the beginning of his career. His first radio hit was "Stoner," which was a cult hit for the cannabis crowd. I wasn’t initially impressed, but I did enjoy some of his features with rappers including Travis Scott and Gucci Mane. It wasn’t until his single "Best Friend" and his mixtape Jeffery that signaled to me that Young Thug wanted a stable career. I should mention that his mixtapes Bater 6 and I’m Up were some “hood boogers” that I enjoyed, but it was something about Jeffery and "Best Friend" that gave me the idea that Young Thug is here for the long haul. His music videos were filled with interesting cinematic visuals, and his music is more enjoyable than most of his trap contemporaries (i.e. Rich Homie Quan). When the release of his debut album Beautiful Thugger Girls this summer, I was nothing but in awe. Thugger gifted the album with crafted vocals, which I can’t even explain how crazy insane they are, along with innovative trap lyrics that my ATL ass enjoyed. Thugger explored with more diverse production elements, including some country-sounding guitar riffs. If anything, I am disappointed by the album sales, because Thugger deserves. It’s still green on Thugger’s career, but I hope to see a Lemonade-style epic from him soon because that man is drinking the right amount of lean to be making these David Bowie visuals. Especially from a trap rapper.

Top Tracks:

  • Daddy’s Birthday
  • Me Or Us
  • You Said (ft. Quavo)
  • Get High (ft. Snoop Dogg & Lil Durk)
  • Feel it

Pretty Girls Like Trap Music - 2 Chainz

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Why You Should Listen:

To not put 2 Chainz on this list would be an insult. 2 Chainz inspired the name of this whole fucking thing that is Chamomile Tea, and not to mention my whole high school experience. Pretty Girls Like Trap Music is an album, shown by the title, is so direct about what it is about: trap music and the bitches who enjoy that shit. I am one of them. The album caters to multiple sounds of trap sounds. If anything, 2 Chainz finally found a recipe to cater his idiosyncratic lyrics and good ole’ fashion trap. I dare to say this is 2 Chainz’s magnum opus. The blend of braggadocio, cocaine, and the imagery of ATL signals a new form of royalty for 2 Chainz. King of the South? Not right now, but he keeps making albums like this, we might see something greater in the near future. Favorite line: “My side chick got pregnant by her main dude, and I’m offended.” When will your fave EVER!

Top Tracks:

  • Good Drank (ft. Quavo & Gucci Mane)
  • Poor Fool (ft. Swae Lee)
  • It’s a Vibe (ft. Ty Dolla Sign, Trey Songz, Jhene Aiko)
  • Blue Cheese (ft. Migos)
  • Trap Check

4:44 - Jay Z

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Why You Should Listen:

It’s another Hov classic. This is the album that got my shit together next to Beyoncé’s acclaimed visual album Lemonade. 4:44 is an album filled with apologies, vulnerability, and black male identity that creates a masterpiece. It’s only packed with ten tracks, and was all produced by Jay-Z’s top collaborator No I.D. Lyrically, Jay-Z touches on diverse topics including ongoing hip hop culture, his family life, his relationships, stereotypes and racism. After listening to this album all summer, it’s clear that a new era of Jay-Z is here, and it seems by the grace of this album, we are going to get quality classics from Mr. Shawn Carter soon. (As well, we were given the introduction of Blue Ivy Carter as the new rap icon).

Top Tracks:

  • The Story of O.J.
  • Smile (ft. Gloria Carter)
  • Bam (ft. Damian Marley)
  • Moonlight
  • Blue's Freestyle / We Family (ft. Blue Ivy Carter)

TON: 

Ctrl - SZA

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Why You Should Listen:

I'm mad Angie snatched 4:44 right out under me, but it's all good cause I've got Ctrl and she's pressed. It had been a long road getting to Ctrl for SZA. With three EP's under her wing (See.SZA.Run, S, Z), her debut album, originally titled A, was set to be released in 2015. After multiple album delays and setbacks (which I blame RCA Records for, but SZA has explained that some of it was due to her anxiety during the songwriting process), the highly-anticipated Ctrl was finally released to the world on June 9, 2017. Frankly, I hadn't paid much attention to SZA prior to Ctrl. I knew she had some great songs, but as an artist, I was not following her like that.

However, when the video for "Love Galore" dropped, I was in it. You guys know I love a good visual, which she had consistently delivered. But on top of that, you know I love when a bitch is in her feelings. "Love Galore" had me screaming "Why you bother me when you know you don't want me? Why you bother me when you know you got a woman" all summer long. Ctrl as an album is nothing short of what "Love Galore" teased. With lines like, "My man is my man is your man, heard that's her man too," and "Let me tell you a secret / I been secretly banging your homeboy / Why you in Vegas all up on Valentine's Day," I got my life. Ctrl delivered vulnerability, blunt honesty, modern romance, and fearless sexuality -- all blended together into a well-crafted alt-R&B package.

Top Tracks:

  • Supermodel
  • Love Galore (ft. Travis Scott)
  • Doves In The Wind (ft. Kendrick Lamar)
  • The Weekend
  • Broken Clocks

Fifth Harmony - Fifth Harmony

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Why You Should Listen:

These are my girls. I had been following them since their conception during X Factor as a group of five. From early on, there was noticeable tension between the four girls and Camila Cabello. This divide only grew with their last album 7/27, with Cabello plotting her departure from the group and subsequent solo career despite the efforts from the other girls to keep the group together, including alleged group therapy sessions that Cabello chose to skip out on time to time again. On top of that, the girls were overworked, with trauma and mental health issues arising from their rigorous schedules, and the ownership of their own trademark, name, and art was in the hands of Syco Music and Epic Records. After a grueling battle with their record labels, the four girls -- Dinah Jane Hansen, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Lauren Jauregui, and Normani Kordei -- were able to win back ownership with the help of entertainment lawyer Dina LaPolt.

All in all, it had been a tough year. With this in mind, Harmonizers like myself were anxious to see where the group was going with their next album. Personally, I wanted the girls to move more towards R&B (i.e. their debut album Reflection) with an anthem of independence to bust through the gates post-split (á la "Survivor" with Destiny's Child). What we got instead for the first single was "Down," a breezy love song that apparently also serves as a hidden-message testament to their fans' love (that's a stretch). Don't get me wrong -- it's a bop! But it's not the big statement or blatant display of evolution that I wanted from them. The promotions leading up to the album were also very shaky, which had me nervous.

However with the release of their self-titled album (what a classy clapback), I'm happy to say that this may be their best album yet. It's a solid pop album from start to finish, with songs like "Sauced Up" giving us the spunk that we love from them. Sonically, it is a perfect medium between Reflection's R&B stylings with 7/27's tropical house soundscape, while still showing signs of evolution, both in their heavier leanings towards R&B (ex: "Angel") and in the cohesiveness of their production and harmonies (their voices blend noticeably better without Cabello's presence, and they are harmonizing with each other a lot more than before, in which each member would layer her own voice to create their harmonies.)

Also, the girls are a lot more in their element. For the first time, they were allowed the freedom to write on their own songs, and they are happier and prouder than ever with the art that they've created. This evolution shows. Is it the statement that I initially wanted post-split? Not quite. The songs still mostly revolve around love. However I now realize that the album doesn't need to be a big statement. I can try and take hidden meanings from some of the songs all I want (like "Angel" could very well be about Cabello and their record labels instead of a lover), but at the end of the day, all they needed to do was deliver. And with Fifth Harmony, they gave us bop after bop.

Top Tracks:

  • Sauced Up
  • Deliver
  • Angel
  • Bridges

Good For You - Aminé

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Why You Should Listen:

Aminé knows how to put a smile on my face. When my friend Kera first put me on to Aminé's breakout single "Caroline," I was hooked and literally had this song on repeat. Soon enough, it became a turn up staple. When this song came on in the clubs or at parties, bitches would go dumb when they hear "Bad thang, fine as hell, thick as fuck." Plus, you know you've made it when your song is in a Beyoncé Instagram post. If "Caroline" was what caught my attention, then what made me consistently follow Aminé as an artist was his consistency in putting out great songs. His next single "REDMERCEDES"? A bop (although it is not on the album). "Heebiejeebies" with Kehlani? Also a bop. When his debut album Good For You rolled around this summer, I was so happy to see that this full-fledged project continued to offer what I loved from his singles and more. Having stated that his biggest influence are Andre 3000 and Kanye West, you catch glimmers of this in the playfulness of his flow and the way he experiments with his production. His sense of humor shines through on tracks like "Hero," where he literally starts out the song with a list of mispronunciations of his own name. This playful perspective extends into his stories about love and life. Republic Records did that. Aminé did that. As he embarks on his first headlining tour this October, I am very excited to see what else Aminé has in store.

Top Tracks:

  • Caroline
  • Hero
  • Spice Girl
  • Wedding Crashers
  • Turf

Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 - Calvin Harris

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Why You Should Listen:

Who knew that, of all people, Calvin Harris was going to deliver the boppiest album of the summer? Running just short of 38 minutes at ten tracks, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 is a airtight collection of breezy songs assisted from start to finish by the most poppin' list of collaborators. Literally, Calvin Harris must've sat in a room in front of a vision board filled with pictures of the biggest voices in pop and hip-hop and threw darts at it to choose who goes on what track. Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean, and Migos shouldn't work together on a song... and yet now "Slide" is one of my favorite songs of all time. It is the unpredictability and seamless blending of musical elements, along with the retro dance-pop soundscape, that makes this album so fun to listen to.

Top Tracks:

  • Slide (ft. Frank Ocean & Migos)
  • Cash Out (ft. ScHoolboy Q, PARTYNEXTDOOR, DRAM)
  • Heatstroke (ft. Young Thug, Pharrell Williams & Ariana Grande)
  • Skrt On Me (ft. Nicki Minaj)
  • Feels (ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean)

American Teen - Khalid

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Why You Should Listen:

Technically, the album was released in March. However, I slept on it and didn't bump it until the summer (and telling from how the album didn't reach its peak position of #4 on the Billboard 200 chart until August, it's safe to say this album generally didn't pop off heavily until the summer either). Therefore, American Teen rounds out my list of the top albums of the summer. Am I pressed that Khalid is out here, nineteen years old and fresh out of his mama's house, getting all of these opportunities? A bit, but the success is well-deserved. What Khalid does with his debut album that's got me so hooked is the way he perfectly encapsulates how it is to navigate life as a young person. Listening to this album takes me back to the Pennsylvania suburbs living under my mom's roof, wanting to break out and live my life while also feeling uncertain about my future and yearning to be boo'ed up. Yes... it's oddly specific, but Khalid captures this feeling very well. Even now that I'm not stuck in the suburbs, these themes of uncertainty, being young and carefree, and navigating your love life through read messages and Snapchats are still very real. Also, Khalid can sing. His voice slides over these pop beats so well while also holding so much weight and melancholy in its tone. That shit is rich and smooth like chocolate. It's safe to say that Khalid is having a great summer--his album is certified gold and he just won the Moon Person for Best New Artist at the 2017 MTV VMA's. With an album like American Teen under his belt, I can't wait to see what else is in store for Khalid.

Top Tracks:

  • Young Dumb & Broke
  • Location
  • Another Sad Love Song
  • Saved

We hope you enjoyed this list as much as we've enjoyed these albums during the summer. Before we return on Sunday, September 17th, check out our previous songs of the week on the Spotify playlist "Chamomile Tea Presents: Song Of The Week": http://spoti.fi/2iTarIz.

Chamomile Tea