I have 15 phenomenal albums to share with you today. These fifteen albums are the albums that I have enjoyed as albums, not just a few songs here and there. These are the albums that I appreciate start to finish. They’ve inspired me as a vocalist, as a songwriter, and just someone who likes to hear good art. They are in no particular order.
1. A.M. – Arctic Monkeys. I was very much into alternative radio upon the birth of this album, and the first impression of it that I had was “Do I Wanna Know?” I loved its eeriness. The guitar tone was incredible and distinct. I love the cohesiveness that can be heard throughout. Every song is gold.
- Favorite Track: “R U Mine?”
- Least Favorite Track: “No. 1 Party Anthem”
2. Born to Die – Lana del Rey. This album was released during my freshman year of college. I have fond memories of listening to this album as I drove to and from my classes. It’s a dark, vintage, romantic album. It’s melancholy. Much like I said about AM above, it’s all so cohesive and distinct. I love how she managed to blend so many different elements and made it all work together well.
- Favorite Track: “Diet Mountain Dew”
- Least Favorite Track: “Video Games”
3. Red – Taylor Swift. Firstly, I am so grateful for the work of Taylor Swift. I discovered her as an 8th grader and she went on to give me the perfect soundtrack to all my boy chasing. Red is the album she has created that I am most connected to. This came out the same year as Lana’s album above, so I’m sure I shuffled between the two albums. This was Taylor’s first overtly pop album, in my opinion. I didn’t like the super poppy tracks so much, with the exception of one of the bonus tracks: “Starlight.” This album brought about my favorite T-Swift song of all time, as well as one of my favorite songs period. That song is the impeccable “All Too Well” which is just really a lyrical masterpiece and causes me and probably any other female who’s ever been through a breakup to go through ten thousand old emotions as if they’re fresh again….and we’re okay with it because she got it completely right.
- Favorite Track: “All Too Well”
- Least Favorite Track: “I Knew You Were Trouble”
4. Greatest Hits – Fleetwood Mac. Yes, you read that right. I know any die-hard, lifelong Fleetwood Mac fan out there is judging me, but this is the album, I promise. My husband and I were gifted a record player for our wedding and while chilling on our honeymoon, I decided to pick out some things on Target.com to buy with a gifted gift card. I looked through the available vinyl albums and decided since I liked a few Fleetwood Mac songs, I’d give their Greatest Hit albums a shot. I’m wildly surprised that “The Chain” isn’t on this album, because it’s my favorite of theirs. I remember hearing my favorite off this album and then wanting to hear it on repeat, which is hard to do with a vinyl album.
- Favorite Track: “Tusk”
- Least Favorite Track: “No Questions Asked”
5. When the Sun Goes Down – Kenny Chesney. This was the album that turned me into a country music fan. Something about the storytelling in “I Go Back” made me a believer. I drank the cowboy kool-aid. His brand of country was something I finally could get behind, and at the time I was a new resident of Alabama and this gave me some hope for fitting in with at least some of the locals. Just like the song itself says, every time I hear “I Go Back,” well, I go back.
- Favorite Track: “Anything But Mine”
- Least Favorite Track: “Being Drunk’s a Lot Like Loving You”
6. Wildflower – Lauren Alaina. I don’t know exactly how I ended up getting this album for Christmas one year, because I wasn’t heavy into her season of American Idol, but I’m so glad this album found a place in my collection. What an amazing breakout album. Lauren has such range and filled the spot in my heart that Martina McBride occupied for years before. The writing on this album is impeccable and it all seems to suit her so well.
- Favorite Track: “The Locket”
- Least Favorite Track: “Georgia Peaches”
7. + – Ed Sheeran. I think I discovered Ed through Tumblr, which I was really active on at the time. I can only describe this collection of songs as a warm sweater. This album has a season for me and it is fall. It is one of those albums I pull out as the season rolls in (or I am longing for sweater weather) and I light my Leaves candle and drink some hot tea. It’s relaxed. It’s dreamy. It’s what the coffee shop in my soul would sound like.
- Favorite Track: “Kiss Me”
- Least Favorite Track: “Wake Me Up”
8. The Outsiders – NEEDTOBREATHE. I got this album when I was working as a Sales Associate for Family Christian, perhaps in 2012. The album cover looked really cool and I remembered the band name being a band that opened for Taylor Swift, so that was a selling point for me. Little did I know that I was buying an album that would rock my world. I loved the way that the songs were about God, but weren’t explicitly Christian, and didn’t sound like every other CCM song. It left room for interpretation and it was just mainstream enough to share with people who didn’t love Christian music. The opening keys lick for “Girl Named Tennessee” changed my life. No lie.
- Favorite Track: “What You’ve Done to Me”
- Least Favorite Track: “Through Smoke”
9. The Search for Everything – John Mayer. This one I did not see coming. I had heard “Love on the Weekend” and loved how easy it was to listen to and so I gave the full album a listen and just loved the western elements he incorporated. Must’ve been heavily influenced by his residence in Montana. The jazz chords though! #SHOOK
- Favorite Track: “In the Blood”
- Least Favorite Track: “Theme from the Search for Everything”
10. The Walk – Hanson. As a Hanson fan to my core, one of their albums had to be present on this list, and I landed on this one for a few reasons. This album kind of felt like they’d finally found their footing as an independent band. It felt alternative, but not inaccessible as I felt some of the songs on Underneath felt. This album was released the summer before high school started for me, and as I moved from Alabama back to the area I’m from. It serves as a bookmark for a time when a lot of change was happening in my life, but the music is by a band that’s always been familiar to me. Not to mention, the music was incredible.
- Favorite Track: “Been There Before”
- Least Favorite Track: “The Walk”
11. M!ssundaztood – P!nk. I was a moody kid. I’m just a moody person, I guess. A real Peyton Sawyer. This album came out when I was 8 years old. “Don’t Let Me Get Me” was super popular and my mom was a big fan of the singles, so this album found its way into our house. I think this was the first “bad girl” album I heard as a kid, but it certainly would not be the last. I admired P!nk’s honesty and just rawness, even as a kid. She wasn’t afraid to express herself even if what she was feeling wasn’t sexy or cute or even positive. Having her music at that time was crucial for me as a person who would go through her own difficulties (bullying mainly) in the next couple years. It also shaped me as a songwriter desiring connection at an early age.
- Favorite Track: “M!ssundaztood”
- Least Favorite Track: “Eventually”
12. Let Go – Avril Lavigne. Sometimes I’m surprised I was allowed to have this album but like I mentioned about P!nks album above, it was good for me to hear a large range of emotions expressed in music. I thought I was really hardcore for having this album as a kid, but Avril was definitely all bark and no bite. This shaped my sound, especially “Things I’ll Never Say.”
- Favorite Track: “Things I’ll Never Say”
- Least Favorite Track: “I’m With You”
13. Every Nation – Lindy Conant & the Circuit Riders. This was the first live worship album that really captivated me. Lindy’s voice is pure electricity. If you’ve seen her live in any capacity, you know she’s just an electric person. She’s authentic and vocal about her crazy love for Jesus and for missions. This album found me when I was embarking on a summer missions internship and it couldn’t have been a better soundtrack to that time.
- Favorite Track: “Freight Train”
- Least Favorite Track: “Come What May”
14. Los Lonely Boys – Los Lonely Boys. This was the soundtrack to summer of 2004 for me. The harmonies reminded me of a Hispanic Hanson band and I was all over it. As an 11-year-old, I was switching between melody to high to low and I felt like a rock star. I’ve seen these guys live and they create a HUGE sound. They’re the real deal and this album will always be treasured.
- Favorite Track: “Real Emotions”
- Least Favorite Track: “Onda”
15. Move Along – The All-American Rejects. This album came out in the middle of my middle school experience. I had heard the singles, “Dirty Little Secret” and “Move Along” on the radio and was hooked. Their sound was so needed on pop radio at that time. It was rock n roll, feel-good music that sometimes carried a little snark and sometimes carried hope. This is what played in my headphones on the bus and this is what blared as I cleaned my room on Saturday mornings. Picking a favorite was very difficult!
- Favorite Track: “It Ends Tonight”
- Least Favorite Track: “11:11pm”
This is where I’ll cut myself off, or I’ll just keep uncovering albums that I couldn’t live without. I’m sure there are several more. I’m so happy that my life has been sprinkled with excellent albums to live my life to. They’ve played on road trips with friends. They’ve inspired my own art. They’ve grown me as a person. For all of this I am grateful.