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Friday, March 01, 2024

The Cardinal sings the praises of this year’s Grammy nominees

The Daily Cardinal staff assembled their reviews of some of the past year’s most acclaimed and anticipated albums, all of which have been nominated for 2023 Album of the Year at the upcoming 65th Grammy Awards ceremony on Feb. 5. Our writers and editors sing their praises and share their thoughts on the lineup, a selection that features a host of various sounds and textures spanning from pop and rock to R&B and rap.

“Voyage” by ABBA

After a 40 year hiatus, ABBA makes their long awaited return with their 2021 release “Voyage,” an album that transports its listeners through a multitude of emotions. Going from the happy and upbeat “Don’t Shut Me Down” straight to the mellow and emotional “I Can Be That Woman,” “Voyage” certainly has variety. With the inclusion of the iconic synth lines and piano, ABBA will surely rocket its audience back into the nostalgic world of the 1970s. Another notable distinction of the album is that many of the songs tend to feature unique storylines, focusing on an event and delving deep into the emotions surrounding it. The album also contains various Easter eggs for long-time listeners. Receiving wide critical and audience acclaim, “Voyage” marks a strong return for the Swedish pop group and is definitely deserving of a Grammy.

— Allie Armstrong, Staff Writer

“30” by Adele

Adele's newest album “30” contains a vast array of songs which take the listener through her struggles with various relationships, specifically her divorce and the raising of her son. This is an emotionally diverse album that will have its listeners dancing one second and crying the next. Despite the sorrowful source material, a few of the songs — notably “Cry Your Heart Out” — manage to adopt a groovy rhythm with a strong emphasis on cheerful drums and piano. Throughout “30,” listeners are rocked by Adele’s raw emotion as she lays her life bare, the lyrics complemented by real-world audio clips. The only criticism I had while listening to this album was that some songs do tend to linger on a bit too long. However, that is certainly not enough to take away from my overall enjoyment of the material. “30” is certainly worthy of a Grammy.

— Allie Armstrong, Staff Writer

“Un Verano Sin Ti” by Bad Bunny

Bad Bunny flew onto my radar this year after a friend recommended “Un Verano Sin Ti,” as I tend to enjoy Latin music. Normally, I lean toward salsa, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this album. Its rhythmic and lyrically smooth style inspires movement. Many of its tracks made me think of bachata, a Latin form of dance. Coming from someone who isn’t always keen on trying new music, “Un Verano Sin Ti” is a definite contender since it sticks to a theme without sounding redundant. It is widely appealing, inspiring major commercial success that ultimately led to a greater appreciation of Latin musicians.

— Paige Stevenson, Staff Writer

“RENAISSANCE” by Beyoncé

“Renaissance” is everything you’d expect from a Beyoncé masterpiece — and more. While the album is full of rich, layered dance tracks, it’s also a powerfully liberating sonic journey that unapologetically celebrates Black excellence and beauty. Beyoncé’s unparalleled voice showcases her musical and lyrical versatility throughout the album as she sails between songs like “COZY” — a self-love power ballad — and the gospel-esque twerk anthem “CHURCH GIRL.” And, of course, there’s the viral “CUFF IT,” an infectious dance tune that’s so bouncy it could turn the notoriously mundane 3650 Humanities lecture hall into a Los Angeles nightclub. Any record capable of such an impossible feat is a triumph — and, in the case of Renaissance, it further solidifies Beyoncé as one of the greatest artists of our time.

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— Tyler Katzenberger, State News Editor

“Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)” by Mary J. Blige

"Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)" may not be a top contender this year, but nobody can deny that it's a jubilation of an experience. Uplifting, soulful and bombastic, Blige's 14th album is an invigorating and self-empowering love letter to classic R&B. While the album might be a crowd-pleaser, a few of Blige’s collaborations fall flat and it doesn't quite reach some of the lyrical and emotional highs that many of its fellow nominees have achieved this year. Despite these small issues, "Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)" is still a standout album well worthy of its nomination.

— Noah Fellinger, Arts Editor

“In These Silent Days” by Brandi Carlile

One of the more understated albums nominated this year, "In These Silent Days" by Brandi Carlile, is perhaps one of the more poignant and soulful nominees for Album of the Year in 2023. From beginning to end, from "Right on Time" to "Throwing Good After Bad," each and every song is effective and expertly crafted; no filler here! Carlile captures an enthralling blend of ‘70s-inspired rock and folk, forging something new while still managing to inspire an unplaceable sense of nostalgia. Featuring acoustic guitar, piano and drums to weave melodies ranging from soft-spoken to aching with sorrow, Carlile achieves an album which isn't as flashy as its competitors but is nonetheless moving and timeless.

— Noah Fellinger, Arts Editor

“Music of the Spheres” by Coldplay

Coldplay’s ninth LP feels like the theme music to an opera written by Carl Sagan after seeing the famous “Pale Blue Dot” image for the first time. Its intergalactic reaches send listeners on a voyage around a Max Martin-produced musical solar system of joy and existentialism. Sure, points throughout the journey feel a little cliche, and the album’s themes of humanism are a little overdone. But by the time you reach the album’s final track, you’ll be treated to a sweetly somber symphony that inspires you to make another trip through the stars.

— Tyler Katzenberger, State News Editor

“Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” by Kendrick Lamar

“Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” feels like a raptured breath shared in the privacy of a confession, one which lays bare the artist’s image as undeniably fallible and misguided. Its thematic breadth is nothing new for Lamar, whose whole discography seems to field the vast complexities of the Black American self — and indeed the human self — as a displaced metonym for structural violence in America. This record, at least for me, strips bare the authorial mystique of the artist in revelation of an utterly honest being through discomfiting sincerity. 

Kai W. Li, Arts Editor

“Special” by Lizzo

Lizzo’s “Special” deserves to win album of the year simply because she’s worked for it. It’s one of the rare albums that manages to successfully fine-tune and improve on the strengths of the album that came before it. While “Cuz I love you” focused more on R&B sounds, “Special” takes those and beautifully combines them with the strength of pop hits that have been dominating the airways. The result is songs that are lyrically significant but still catchy; danceable but emotionally damaging, something that appeals to all kinds of audiences. 

— Gabriella Hartlaub, Staff Writer

“Harry’s House” by Harry Styles

Harry Styles released his third studio album, “Harry’s House,” on May 20, 2022. It has since topped charts and broken records across the globe. “Harry’s House” is a 13-track exploration of romance, nostalgia and change, featuring groovy, relaxed and joyous sounds. It is no surprise that “Harry’s House” is up for Grammy nominations in three categories: Best Album, Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. Standout songs on this album include “As It Was,” “Daylight” and “Late-Night Talking.” This album deserves a Grammy for its intimate lyrics which showcase Styles’ growth, the A+ production value featuring lush instrumentation and its variety which ranges from jazz beats to Japanese-pop influence — all further solidifying his place in the music industry. 

— Sylvia Miller, Staff Writer

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Tyler Katzenberger

Tyler Katzenberger is the managing editor at The Daily Cardinal. As a former state news editor, he covered numerous protests and wrote state politics, healthcare, business and in-depth stories. Follow him on Twitter at @TylerKatzen.


Noah Fellinger

Noah Fellinger is an Arts Editor for The Daily Cardinal. He's covered the performing arts, new film and television releases, and labor issues in the arts. Follow him on Twitter at @Noah_Fellinger.


Gabriella Hartlaub

Gabriella Hartlaub is an arts editor for the Daily Cardinal. She also reports state politics and life & style stories. Follow her on Twitter at @gabihartlaub.


Kai Wen Li

Kai W. Li is an Arts Editor at The Daily Cardinal covering music, visual arts, and film. Follow him on Twitter at @kaijuneli.

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