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From Jay Z to Imagine Dragons, who has your vote for the best summer record?

There’s no better feeling than belting out the lyrics to your favorite summer songs at the top of your lungs while the wind whooshes through your hair and car, making it almost impossible to talk, sing or even breathe properly. Recently, a lot of artists have debuted their new music just in time for summer, which begs the question, whose album is the best? Here’s a breakdown of some of the top records that are fighting to claim this year’s infamous title of Album of the Summer.

“Harry Styles” by Harry Styles

The well-known One Direction member, considered to have been the leading man by some, was the first of the remaining four, after Zayn Malik left the band, to release an album of his own after the band announced its hiatus in fall of 2015. Since releasing his first and only single off the album, “Sign of the Times,” Styles has impressed listeners by cementing his own place as a solo artist within the music industry.

Irv Gotti isn't feeling Drake&#...
Irv Gotti isn't feeling Drake's new album
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While many people expected a pop album, Styles surprised everyone with a record that has a unique, rock and roll flair. His album’s sound mirrors artists and bands that he’s said to have influenced him, including Fleetwood Mac and David Bowie. Whether listeners are looking for a song to scream along to, like “Kiwi” or “Carolina,” or want to have a good, dramatic singalong with “Two Ghosts” and “Meet Me in the Hallway,” the ten-track album has a song for everyone.

“hopeless fountain kingdom” by Halsey

Halsey’s sophomore album comes two years after her 2015 debut album “Badlands.” Her new record covers all of the topics that most music typically does, including sex, love, drugs and breakups. Despite the common themes, Halsey has put her own spin on them and provides fans with lyrics relating to an array of situations that a lot of people, young and old, may face in their lifetime.

Halsey teased the album to fans when she released her first single, which is currently all over the radio, “Now or Never.” The album features collabs with Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui in “Strangers,” Quavo in “Lie” and Cashmere Cat in “Hopeless.” Although some songs on the album may not seem like the upbeat pop music that is canvasing radio stations today, each song tells a story that somehow echoes experiences in a person’s life, while still creating an unparalleled narrative.

“Melodrama” by Lorde

Fans have been waiting for Lorde’s sophomore album since the release of her debut album, “Pure Heroine,” in 2013. Now, four years later, her new album debuted at number one on the U.S. charts shortly after its release. Lorde provided fans with a preview of her upcoming record when she released her first single from the album “Green Light” a few months prior to releasing “Melodrama.”

Shortly after, she released “Liability,” a softer song that many fans felt a close connection to. The album captures Lorde after a breakup and showcases her struggle with being alone and single. In a sense, the album celebrates self-love in this seemingly negative society. Lorde perfectly captures the feelings millennials around the world experience and she puts them into catchy, heart-wrenching and appealing lyrics that are easy to sing and dance along to, like Lorde herself would, to the beat and without a care in the world.

“4:44” by Jay Z

Currently number one on U.S. iTunes, Jay Z’s long-awaited thirteenth album caused buzz across almost every social media platform when it came out on June 30th. While the album was originally only available on the streaming service, TIDAL, fans could still get a peak of the single “4:44” on Jay Z’s YouTube channel, where he also recently released another song, “The Story of O.J.”

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The album features numerous artists and familiar names like Frank Ocean in “Caught Their Eyes,” Damian Marley in “Bam” and James Blake in “MaNyfaCedGod.” Along with famous artists, Jay Z also featured his own family members, including his mother Gloria Carter in “Smile,” his daughter Blue Ivy Carter in “Blue’s Freestyle/We Family” and, of course, his superstar wife Beyoncé in “Family Feud.”

“Evolve” by Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragon’s third album hit streaming services, stores and the internet in late June. Since then, the album still holds a place on the iTunes’ top selling albums chart at number four. Along with the single “Thunder,” the most well-known song from the album so far, “Believer” has recently taken radio stations by storm as an upbeat, motivational track. Although some considered the band to have taken a step back with their second album “Smoke + Mirrors” after the success of their first album “Night Visions,” the group definitely took five steps forward with this latest album. While the new songs mirror sounds from “Night Vision,” they still sound like fresh, new takes on the older hits. With the sanguine drum beats paired with lead singer Dan Reynold’s confident voice, the album makes any listener feel powerful and ready to take on life.

Unfortunately, there can’t really be one winner in this fight for album of the summer; each album offers a unique insight on life through influential music. Each artist and band did a phenomenal job creating a piece of art that generations to come will listen to. The “winner” of the battle truly depends on what mood you’re in at the moment of decision. If you want a good rock and roll-type sing along, “Harry Styles” is a great fit, but then in the moments when you’re craving another millennial to relate to while trying to face adulthood, “Melodrama” is the way to go.

No matter what the mood, each album brings something to the table, and just think about it, these aren’t even all of this year’s summer albums, they’re only the ones that have already been released. Lana Del Ray’s “Lust for Life” is coming out later this July, while The Killers, DJ Khaled, Calvin Harris, Fallout Boy and Madonna are also releasing new ones, proving that the fight to be the best is never over.

Writer Profile

Lauren Clohessy

Northern Illinois University

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