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UIC Radio's Top 21 Albums of 2023



As we approach the end of 2023, we're taking a moment to reflect upon some of the most remarkable albums that defined this year in music. The ranking is compiled from the results of a survey where every member of our station had the chance to submit their top 10 albums of 2023. The sheer volume of outstanding releases made our annual station-wide poll fiercely competitive.


Here are UIC Radio's Top 21 Albums of 2023, where music and culture ignite!


#21: Hackney Diamonds - The Rolling Stones

This is an energetic album with incredible verve. Keith Richards supplies driving rhythms and catchy loud guitars fit for stadium audiences that demand you to groove, matched by Jagger’s catchy choruses. Jagger’s voice is as powerful and stylishly rough and as ever. “Why you angry with me? I’m not angry with you,” demands the opening song. “Why you spit in my face?” ”Angry” is a good relationship song that captures typical Mick Jagger’s humor and machismo. Hackney Diamonds maintains the Rolling Stones’ classic blues rock style that lifelong fans love. It is their first album since the death of drummer Charlie Watts in 2021, whose simple on-beat style is included on “Mess It Up” and “Live by the Sword.” Former longtime bassist Bill Wyman is featured on the latter, making “Live By the Sword” arguably the last song recorded by the classic Rolling Stones line-up. “Get Close” has a 70s flair, featuring Elton John on piano, and has a fine trombone solo, reminiscent of such things in “Miss You.” Jagger keeps his songs relevant for listeners of any age on the relationship ballad “Depending on You,” singing, “Too young for dying, too old to lose.” “Bite My Head Off” serves as a counterpart to “Angry,” featuring Paul McCartney on bass. “Whole Wide World” has a satisfying repeating riff, and Jagger’s rarely recognized British accent is evidenced in this tune about his past living in England. With nice slide guitar immediately evoking a sunny blue sky, good lil harmonica and rhythmic acoustic guitar, “Dreamy Skies” is a nice change of pace and style. “I’ve got to take a break for a while,” Jagger sings. “Live by the Sword” has the best message societal message, as Jagger chooses to end with repeated “If you live by the gun, you gonna die by the gun.” “Driving Me too Hard” is yet another song expressing frustration, perhaps with the writing and recording process, which Jagger said was tough going. Keith Richards follows a similar vein when singing in “Tell Me Straight.” The lyrics “How do we finish, how do we start? [...] how do we part?” sound like a reflection on the band’s fate after Watt’s death. The penultimate track, “Sweet Sounds of Heaven,” is an emotional ballad and the grand peak of the album featuring a high vocal accompaniment from Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder on keyboards and piano. Jagger seems to reflect on himself and perhaps the Rolling Stones when he sings, “Let the old still believe that they’re young.” The track reads as if they’re questioning themselves whether this is their final album, and providing a sparkling stunning conclusion to their career, if so. Like an epilogue, or perhaps an epitaph, the Muddy Waters cover “Rolling Stone Blues” is a nod to their moniker, a stripped down blues tune with guitar and harmonica, sounding like a tune from their very first year as a band. Jagger captures their history perfectly in the song’s concluding lines, “Well my mother told my father just before I was born / ‘Got a boy child coming / He’s Going to be a rolling stone’ / Oh well.” If this indeed is their final album, Hackney Diamonds is a fitting end, true to themselves and style, honest, emotional, and damn fine music. — Scary Fingers



#20: Javelin - Sufjan Stevens

Javelin by Sufjan Stevens is an elegiac masterpiece. Dedicated to his late lover, who passed away earlier this year, Javelin explores the complex feelings of losing this person he believed to be a soulmate. My favorite tracks are the first three. The opening track, “Goodbye Evergreen," begins as a heartbreaking, piano-driven farewell to his lover, exploding into a chaotic, bright mix of drums and bells, the musical representation of the hurricane of emotions a loss such as this can cause. The following tracks, “A Running Start” and “Will Anybody Ever Love Me?” expand on Stevens’ love and anxiety surrounding it. He expresses his fear of letting go and how he can ever approach the topic of love again, yet ultimately knows that in order to express his love, he must let him go. Stevens’ songwriting shines throughout this album. Although it is simple, the emotions woven into each line are palpable, inviting the listener to grieve and love this person alongside him. Whether it be for the excellent lyricism, beautiful strings, bells, and pianos, or a good cry, there is something profound anyone can find within this album. — Sean Juarez



#19: The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess - Chappell Roan

Chappell Roan has firmly stamped her identity as the Midwest Princess, carving her path in the music industry. Teaming up with the esteemed Dan Nigro, known for his collaborations with artists like Olivia Rodrigo, Roan's album is a testament to her unique alt-pop style, showcasing her exceptional lyrical storytelling. Her songs effortlessly blend raw honesty with unshakable passion, resonating deeply with her audience. Identifying herself as a "femininomenon," Roan embodies a creative spirit reminiscent of the determination and artistic flair that propelled Lady Gaga to stardom in 2009. Her album speaks directly to the experiences of queer youth navigating the confines of their seemingly static Midwestern locales. It's vibrant, bold, and unapologetically flamboyant pop tracks have swiftly become anthems for the Generation Z crowd. As the reigning princess in the world of queer-pop, Chappell Roan's debut album marks the promising start of her musical journey. Her relentless pursuit of artistic expression through dance and her unwavering dedication to her craft continue to elevate her status. Her music serves as a guiding light, inspiring and empowering a new wave of listeners, securing her position in the ever-evolving music scene. — Bradley Gambosi



#18: KAYTRAMINÉ - KAYTRAMINÉ

A collaborating album by Aminé and Kaytranada, released on May 19, 2023, dives into a different world of hip-hop and rap with a mix of electronic. Kaytranada, known more for his electronic and DJ skills, showed his array of musical prowess when it comes to the music industry by collaborating with Aminé, who focuses closely on hip-hop and rap music. Fans were excited to see these two collaborations, and hit songs like 'Let's Talk About It' and ‘Master P’ curated from their album show the deep connection these two artists show with each other. As someone who didn’t necessarily listen to both of these artists, I can assure you that after this collaboration album, I know way more songs from their individual discographies than you might think. — Samantha Dorado



#17: Red Moon in Venus - Kali Uchis

Kali Uchis’s Red Moon in Venus is most definitely an album that you can listen to anytime. If you’re feeling gloomy, loved, or happy, this is the album you need. Kali Uchis’s albums continue to leave me impressed and amazed by her growth. “Red Moon in Venus” features artists Omar Apollo, Don Toliver, and Summer Walker. The album successfully lands in the top 10 on the Billboard 200. Kali Uchis also toured for her Red Moon in Venus tour in the U.S. Hearing the album live with her performance was an amazing experience. The album’s significance for Kali Uchis captures the essence of deep emotions and spirituality, representing the influence of the moon and Venus on human feelings. The significance of this album aligned perfectly with the audience. While we have this album, be ready for the newest album, Orquídeas, releasing January 12th, 2024! — Brenda Levya



#16: The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We - Mitski

The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We is Mitski’s 7th studio album, following her 2022 album Laurel Hell. The record experiences one of Mitski’s signature genre switches as she adopts a new country, orchestral folk sound. Prominent features that peek into the Americana tone include the pedal steel, fiddle, cicadas, and howling dogs. The evolving sound of the album compares to the meaning it holds: living is ever-changing and ever-evolving. It blends the melancholy ache of love and loss with the reclaimed tenderness of the human experience. Beginning with the first song of the album, "Bug Like an Angel," we experience the rawness of Mitski’s voice on top of a simple acoustic strum. Until the heaviness of the lyricism accumulates, the calmness is disrupted by a chorus that powerfully takes over the sound. The album follows a uniquely mysterious journey, with track number 5, “The Deal," peeking through with an overwhelming sense of stuckness and struggle. The feeling of an entrapped soul as it feels the essence of a human is too much to bear. The album ends with a turn-around of self-love in “I Love Me After You." Mitski expresses liberation and growth towards her propensity to love. In essence, the album is an experience. Listening, you will feel the growth of love and identity flowing between every lyric and strum of an acoustic guitar. The record is an album of great significance. It sticks out in the alternative/indie scene as it holds game-changing fervor that will be increasingly desired as music evolves. — Marina Alikakos



#15: Bewitched - Laufey

By the time Laufey released her second studio album Bewitched in September, “From The Start” had already soared to the top of her most-streamed songs on Spotify (186,522,255!). The Icelandic-Chinese jazz artist took a different approach to her storytelling in this album than did in Everything I Know About Love last year. She’s much more up-front about her experiences, and the raw emotion is cushioned by the gentle instrumentals in every track, but it’s not any easier to stomach. She still has pop-ier songs, like "Lovesick," but the yearning, melancholic influence in this album is undeniable, especially in “Promise” and "Misty." Her most notable track when the album was released, in my opinion, was “Letter To My 13-Year-Old Self." The track transports you back to a time where seeming like you were different was world-ending, and the lyrics reflect those feelings she had. It’s like a lullaby to the inner child, soothing those fears of both not fitting in and not standing out. This song captures the common theme she establishes throughout the album between the emotions and the anecdotes: There is beauty and there is love in the little things we take for granted. There is so much joy to be derived from the mundane. — Kamari Crews



#14: This Is Why - Paramore

Years after Paramore’s After Laughter and lead singer Hayley Williams’s two solo album releases, the band has emerged back into the stratosphere with a new album, This Is Why. Coming in at 10 tracks, 36 minutes, 16 seconds long, there is no time for fluff on the album. The songwriting is as gut-wrenching and introspective as ever. This album starts with the four singles, such as the titular “This Is Why” and “C’est Comme Ça,” creating a beginning stretch of loud, bombastic energy. The album then goes into a more melancholic and soul-searching stretch for the remainder of the album, with notable songs such as “Big Man, Little Dignity” and “Liar." I had the honor of seeing the hits of this album performed live in concert as Paramore toured this summer. The band energized the crowd, getting people to get up and sing their hearts out to their full discography, not missing a beat on the new music. Fans had been clamoring and fiending for a new record, and This Is Why delivered. It is great to see Paramore revisit the pop-punk sound, with emphasis on the punk. It is not regressive in the slightest; there is maturity in this return to form. One of the beautiful things about the band members being seasoned artists in the industry is that they were able to release a remix album, Re: This Is Why, which contained artists that they have been friends with or have inspired over the years. Their ever-evolving sound has grown to inspire Remi Wolf, Wet Leg, and many others. In this revitalization of rock in the year 2023, this is not an album to miss. This is why Paramore will be rocking on for years to come. — Maxxwell Guffey



#13: Let's Start Here - Lil Yachty

To say that this album came as a surprise to a lot of people is an understatement. Lil Yachty, known for his songs like "Yacht Club" and "Poland," shocked his fans and many others when he released this psychedelic rock-inspired project. This album is a huge step for him creatively, and what he does with this album, he does surprisingly well given what his career in music has looked like so far. Yachty displays an impressive amount of versatility across this entire album. From his vocal stylings to the unique production on each track to the features from artists like Teezo Touchdown and Justine Skye, this album is many things, but boring is not one of them. Inspiration from bands like Pink Floyd and hip-hop groups like Outkast being united in one work and executed with both style and reverence is more than enough reason to give this project a listen. This album resonated with me in a way that can only be described by listening to it for yourself. — Jack Loftus



#12: Girl with Fish - Feeble Little Horse

The band feeble little horse was only supposed to release one record, which was their first record, Hayday. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for them to decide it was worth it to regroup and record their record from this year, Girl with Fish. It’s a short-but-sweet 26-minute-long album that grabs you from the very first riff on "Freak" all the way to the end. Though the album is relatively short, it is jam-packed with ideas, melodies, and sounds that combine to make each song memorable on its own. The band uses fuzzed-out guitars, occasional loud drums, and sometimes electronic instruments to make some really fun productions. It can take a second to even place where some sounds are coming from, which is especially impressive considering this record was recorded and produced by the band themselves. Girl with Fish has very addicting production and songwriting, which brings along some of the most catchy, contagious, and replayable songs and melodies that I’ve heard this year. — Gavin Bohan



#11: the record - Boygenius

Boygenius has grown to stardom in the year 2023, so obviously we had to include their first album, the record, in our album of the year review. For me, just like many others, I was moved by their self-titled EP and instantly took a liking to the group. The pairing of Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and Phoebe Bridgers made for obvious success, as each of the artists had thriving solo careers. However, after the release of the record, I, as a listener and fan, finally understood the motivation behind the band and their devotion to friendship. The entire album is a cumulation of shared experiences and love ballads made for each other. the record has something for everyone, with smashing indie rock songs, acoustic heavy monologues, soft, dreamy sentimental ballads, and upbeat indie pop-inspired songs. They poured every one of their strengths into this album, and the result is just a very easy-to-listen-to album. While I enjoyed every song on the album, especially after seeing their grand live show this summer, there were a few songs that stuck out the most to me. The song We’re in Love highlights the vulnerability of being in love and the turmoil of relationships. With Lucy on the vocals, this song is just so moving and beautiful. And of course, my absolute favorite had to be their song "True Blue," a beautiful retelling of the love that comes from understanding everything there is to know about a person, the good, the bad, and the ugly. This song has so much meaning, and its upbeat nature does not take away from the range of emotions that are packed inside it. It is everything that comes with true platonic love and dedication to loving someone. Overall, I think the record is such a beautiful album, and there is no reason why you shouldn't give it a listen. — Tess Wyniemko


#10: Heavy Heavy - Young Fathers

The fourth album from Scottish experimental group Young Fathers is another grand and daring addition to their ever-growing discography. Blurring the lines between avant-garde hip-hop, trip-hop, R&B, gospel, and soul, and delving deeper than ever into their African and Celtic roots, they’ve created one of their most free and human-sounding records to date. The booming bass and drums, combined with the majestic performances and choirs of the trio and additional performers, lead to a record that is passionate, rebellious, and celebratory in every way. On the title Heavy Heavy, Young Fathers say this: “It could be a mood, or it could describe the smooth granite of the bass that supports the sound, or it could be a nod to the natural progression of boys to grown men and the inevitable toll of living; a natural momentum of a group that has been around long enough to witness massive changes." It’s also one of Cillian Murphy’s favorite albums of the year, so that’s all the more reason to give it a listen. — Smaran Kapa



#9: Praise a Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) - Yves Tumor

Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) reads more like a Christian rock Fall Out Boy song than an otherworldly alt rock album. Yves Tumor is hardly an easy artist to define or pin down, with multiple different styles, from the electronica and trip hop of his earlier work all the way to the glitzy Britpop of 2020's Heaven to a Tortured Mind. Florida native Sean Bowie is able to pull from a wide range of eclectic sounds from the 20th century and re-contextualize them into the futurist aesthetics of the post-internet age. His ability to morph into different musical styles so effortlessly reminds me of another famous musical chameleon, David Bowie. David Bowie's 1972 record, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, is considered an all-time glam rock classic and, for me, immediately draws parallels to Yves' Heaven as a Tortured Mind in its dedication to over-the-top glitz and theatricality. If "Heaven" is Yves' "Ziggy," then the most immediate comparison that comes to mind is that "Praise A Lord..." is his "Aladdin Sane." Bowie's 1973 follow-up to "Ziggy." Its heart is set on capturing the hard rock sounds of the time and bringing them into his alien world, which feels exactly like what Yves Tumor is capturing on "Praise a Lord". The album, through stripping away a few layers of abstraction and atmosphere, is able to get to the core of what makes Yves Tumor such an interesting artist. The album starts out with the lead single "God Is a Circle," which already stands out as one of Yves' most explosive tracks. The song is reminiscent of industrial punk songs of the 1990s, such as "March of the Pigs" by Nine Inch Nails. The whole record is dripping with dark religious imagery, painting a picture of God as a judgmental force casting down feelings of self-doubt and shame on Yves early in the record while almost liberating him later on. The production on the record stands out with the kind of starkness and empty space necessary to allow the instruments and songwriting to stand out. The guitar and bass mixes on this album have the kind of growl that you would want on a rock record (and subgenre titles aside, this is a rock record). Standout tracks from the record, such as "Meteora Blues," "In Spite of War," and the aforementioned "God Is a Circle," are the kind of rock songs that most bands could only dream about, let alone write themselves. Uhhh, just listen to it. — Townes Genoves


#8: Desire, I Want To Turn Into You - Caroline Polachek

In her sophomore album, indie artist Caroline Polacheck took the time to dip into electronic sounds. Desire I Want to Turn into You is such an intense, fire-filled album. With strong dance beats, this album made me want to move and fill my life with passion. Many people know Polacheck through her well-known song "So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings" from her first album, Pang. However, through this album, she has proved to be a heavy hitter in the music scene. There are nothing but incredibly indulgent songs throughout this album. "Welcome to My Island," one of my favorites from the album, is a pop-heavy song that features some of Polacheck's wonderfully intentional screeching that upholds most of the song, with the chorus explaining the title of the album. I also loved the song "Pretty In Possible." It highlights the unique ability that Polacheck has to make her voice defy the laws of reality and highlights her range. This song also encompasses the interesting cadence that she chooses to sing in, which has become her signature sound. But if there is one song from the overall amazing album that you absolutely need to listen to, it would have to be "Bunny is a Rider." It had been released a few years prior, but it has found its perfect spot on this album. It's the type of song that keeps you on your toes, and the use of whistling is so prominent that it's easy to get stuck in your head, and whenever it does, I am never mad about it! You should listen to this album on your commute home, and when you are in the shower, you should request that every club play this album and make sure that you never leave home without it! — Tess Wyniemko


#7: CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST: The Estate Sale - Tyler, The Creator

Tyler, the Creator, is back with the extended version of his 2021 project, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST. With 7 new songs that all ended up on the cutting room floor for the original release but now live to see the light of day, The Estate Sale is not something you'll want to miss. The amazing features from A$AP Rocky and Vince Staples, guest production from Ye, and even more of the dulcet tones of DJ Drama yelling into the microphone all come together to make this release something special. From the inspired lyrics of "DOGTOOTH", to the reflective storytelling of "SORRY NOT SORRY", this album is not one to let fall by the wayside. While not perfect, this little extension, combined with the original project, is amazing. As with most releases from him, this album is both serious and goofy at the same time. If you're a fan of Tyler already, you'll love this project, and if you haven't listened to him before, what better time to do so? — Jack Loftus



#6: 1989 (Taylor's Version) - Taylor Swift

Whether you are a Taylor Swift fan or not, you have definitely heard of 1989. 1989, Swift’s fifth studio album, has produced some of her biggest hits, including “Shake It Off," “Blank Space," and “Bad Blood." If you are not a Taylor Swift fan, you may be a bit confused about 1989 (Taylor’s Version). To make a long story short, Swift is in the process of re-recording and releasing her first six studio albums so that she has full ownership over her music, which is why the new version of the album is followed by “Taylor’s Version." On every re-recording, Swift keeps the original tracks from the album while also releasing new tracks that were written for the album, which she refers to as “vault tracks." On this album, five vault tracks were released, along with the entire deluxe version of the album and “Bad Blood" feat. Kendrick Lamar, making this album an hour and twenty-one minutes long with 22 tracks. In my opinion, this album is easily a no-skip album, even with songs like “Shake It Off’, which has been overly played on the radio for years. Besides being full of hit songs, the production on this album is incredible; most of the tracks were produced by big names like Jack Antanoff and Christopher Rowe. Out of all of the vault tracks released on this album, I think the most notable is “Is It Over Now?”. Not only is it the most popular out of all the vault tracks, but it also provides answers to so many questions surrounding the other songs on the album. Overall, this album is a masterpiece and deserves all of the hype surrounding it. — Kamari Crews



#5: Scarlet - Doja Cat

Over the last 2 years, Doja Cat has been involved in her share of controversy and hatred, stemming from the way she addressed her fans on X and her more “unhinged” behavior on Instagram. Everybody always had something to say about her, whether it was her personality or her appearance, which was a scalding hot topic after she shaved her eyebrows, and she relished in the attention. On September 22nd of this year, 2 years after her hit album Planet Her, she released the 17-track Scarlet, and the entire image she’d been creating of herself since 2014 was erased. Her darker social media posts supplemented her teasing of the album, and her premature releases of "Attention," "Demons," "Balut," and most notably, “Paint The Town Red” generated a lot of talk about what the album might sound like. Fans were split 50/50, having a “love it” or “hate it” attitude towards all 57 minutes of Doja’s clapbacks to the insults. While “Agora Hills” dominates in the streaming category, other songs have gotten quite a bit of attention, like “Gun” and “Go Off." Personally, I’m a huge fan of the sound of this album as Doja steps a little further from the realm of pop/R&B and embraces her meaner Rap persona, and her hard-hitting right-out-the-gate “Ouchies” personifies this (“Skull And Bones," another favorite of mine, also does this to an extent)—airier background vocals and brighter instrumentals juxtapose her defensive, braggy lyrics: “And trust me, baby, God, don’t play with hate like that/So you gon’ be real upset when he pick Cat/To be the one up on them charts all over the map”). Love it or hate it if you want, but I’m taking Doja’s don’t care attitude with me into 2024. — Sam Snyder



#4: Pink Tape - Lil Uzi Vert

Continuing their back-to-back albums, Lil Uzi Vert never disappoints. From “Luv Is Rage” to “Eternal Atake” and now “Pink Tape," they showed growth within their rap career. As “Pink Tape” was released, this became the first hip-hop album to hit the Billboard 200. Songs from the “Pink Tape” album will most definitely remain unforgettable. While having hip-hop songs on the album, there was a shift to rock music towards the second half of the album. Songs like “Fire Alarm," "CS," "Werewolf,” and “Nakamura” were new to Uzi’s album and executed perfectly with artists Sleeping With Sirens and The Snow Strippers. Hearing this live at the Pink Tape tour, you can tell they put their all into the album! — Brenda Levya



#3: Utopia - Travis Scott

His long-awaited 6th studio album, Utopia was released earlier this year, on June 25, 2023. With features like Teezo Touchdown, Drake, Playboi Carti, Beyoncé, and more, Travis Scott fans were overwhelmed by the new sound and era Travis Scott was able to bring to life. This album was in the works for 5 years, right after his 5th studio album, Astroworld. This album, I think, pretty much met or even exceeded fan expectations and was worth the wait. With the introduction to the album being ‘HYENA’, you can already feel that the album was going to sound really different compared to his past albums. Scott was teasing fans with songs like ‘Escape Plan’ and ‘Mafia’ about what to expect when Utopia dropped. While still emerging into the world of hip-hop and rap music, Scott continues to deliberately influence younger artists or even those who look up to him. — Samantha Dorado



#2: Guts - Olivia Rodrigo

Going back to 2021, my senior year of high school, the album SOUR emerged as the soundtrack for my high school experience. Each and every track spoke volumes to what I and many others were feeling at that very time. She captured the essence of being a 17-year-old. Now in the year 2023, Olivia Rodrigo has brought us another view into her soul, exposing us to the mind of a 19-year-old. It is a very turmoil-ridden and chaotic soundscape. Once more, she has made the soundtrack to my college experience, a time of experimentation, mistakes, and growth. The intro track “all-american b*tch” sets the scene for an album that goes through the ups and downs of becoming an adult and figuring your stuff out in a volatile short amount of time. “love is embarrassing” is my favorite song off of the album, fully encompassing the over-the-top melodramaticism that comes with relationships during this tumultuous, volatile age. “pretty isn't pretty” is an amazing song, with the production being very reminiscent of the Cure’s “In Between Days,” as she further expands the diversity of musical inspiration on this record. “teenage dream” goes down as one of my all-time favorite concluding tracks, encompassing every insecurity one could have at this age in a really earnest and revealing song, pleading to not be lost in aging out into irrelevancy, accepting that all you know is what is happening in the present, and awaiting the alluding scariness of the future. This album is essential to listen to when you want to look back and revisit 2023. This album captured the exact moment of being an official adult but not fully grasping that notion. We all must wait with bated breath to see how her experience of being 21 will close off this trilogy of four-lettered albums with a purple motif. — Maxxwell Guffey



Honorable Mentions:



  • Nadia Sabe Lo Que Va A Pasar Mañana - Bad Bunny

  • Sit Down For Dinner - Blonde Redhead

  • .10,000 gecs - 100 gecs

  • New Blue Sun - André 3000


#1: Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd - Lana Del Rey

Being one of the most passionate Lana Del Rey fans at UIC Radio, I'm absolutely thrilled that her album has secured the top spot on our 2023 list, just as it has in numerous other publications, and rightfully so. Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd is Lana Del Rey's ninth studio album, where her sonic production finally matches her poetic storytelling through song. This album effortlessly traverses numerous genres that conventionally wouldn't blend well together. Nevertheless, Del Rey adeptly melds folk, gospel, soul, and trap-pop while still maintaining her classic cinematic dreamy glam-pop. "A&W," the second single from the LP, stands out as one of the pinnacles of her career. This track ingeniously combines two distinct songs within one piece. The first half narrates a nostalgic reflection on her childhood and the evolution into adulthood, while seamlessly transitioning into a hypnotic trap-pop segment exploring her experiences in womanhood and as a sex addict. This album serves as a comprehensive representation of her musical evolution, one she has tirelessly pursued despite critics' relentless attempts to diminish her musical genius. The album encapsulates fragments of the elements we've grown to love from her previous music, yet it also pushes forward with a more folky, Americana sound that she has been associated with in recent years. Despite her rapidly growing popularity, Lana continues to simply introspect through her songs. This album serves as a revelation where the boundary between the caricature of Lana Del Rey and the person behind the persona, Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, is finally dissolved. It feels like a therapeutic session, delving into themes of mortality, mental health struggles, redemption, and the significance of family. Unlike her earlier works, even amidst the album's darkest moments, there's an undercurrent of hope and a genuine sense of optimism for what lies ahead in the future. — Bradley Gambosi



Warm wishes for everyone in 2024! xo - UIC Radio

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