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The Emerald

Sacred Heart Cathedral's student-run newspaper. We've got issues.

The Emerald

Sacred Heart Cathedral's student-run newspaper. We've got issues.

The Emerald

What did SHC Listen to in 2023?

Meghan Zang ’24
boygenius embracing during a performance.

Albums are not only sets of songs—they serve as cultural touchstones and influence how we interact with the world. Music can express unique worldviews through a variety of genres. From providing emotional outlets to reflecting current trends, albums express the music world’s vast diversity for listeners to analyze and enjoy. 

Hip-hop artist Drake headlines 2023 releases with his eighth studio album For All The Dogs and his collaboration Her Loss with 21 Savage. Earl Sweatshirt and the Alchemist collaborated on a hip-hop album that fused rap, trap, and psychedelic sampling, while Lil Yachty independently dropped his own album with similar influences. André 3000 of hip hop duo OutKast debuted his first solo album New Blue Sun, a flute-and-synth-based new jazz album that contrasts with the stronger content he produced prior. Taylor Swift released Midnights in October of 2022—an exploration into the many sleepless nights of the singer’s eighteen-year career—along with 2023 re-recordings of Speak Now and 1989. Summer Walker and SZA both created R&B albums with strong soul influences this music season. Besides these chart-toppers, this year has also seen the rise of smaller independent artists such as Gracie Abrams, Del Water Gap, The Japanese House, and Chappell Roan. Country music also grew in popularity in 2023 with the releases of Zach Bryan’s self-titled album and Rustin’ In The Rain by Tyler Childers. Here are some of SHC’s favorite albums of the year:

boygenius performing at the Live Oak Bank Pavilion in Wilmington, North Carolina. (Wikipedia Commons)

Album Spotlight: the record by boygenius (Clean version)

Released: March 31, 2023

Genre(s): Indie Folk, Indie Rock

boygenius is a supergroup composed of indie rock artists Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus. The band formed in 2018 when each of the artists had already experienced their first bouts of critical acclaim. In March of 2023, they released the record, which blends Baker’s rocker guitar solos, Bridgers’s lilting voice, and Dacus’s sharp, uncontrived songwriting. Each song is emotionally devastating and big-hearted, filled with insightful lyrics, clever in-jokes, and profound mutual admiration. the record skyrocketed the supergroup into indie rock stardom and garnered six Grammy nominations, including “Album of the Year.”

SHC students say:

“I love the record. It works its way into all of my playlists.”—Anne Eslick-Persyn ‘25

the record is amazing. Julien Baker is an outstanding guitarist.”—Quinn Middleton ‘25

Travis Scott performing in Frauenfeld, Switzerland.

Album Spotlight: UTOPIA by Travis Scott (Clean version)

Released: July 28, 2023

Genre(s): Alternative R&B, Experimental Hip Hop, Neo-Psychedelia

On July 28, 2023, Travis Scott released his fourth studio album: UTOPIA. After five years of features and collaborations, UTOPIA accomplishes the impossible task of living up to post-ASTROWORLD expectations. Inspired by Kanye West’s 808’s & Heartbreak, UTOPIA expands Scott’s techno-psychedelic hip-hop sound while still honoring his musical mentors. Spanning 75 minutes, the album flits between low-frequency trip-hop, alt-rock sampling, and Atlanta-trap inspired tracks. Although UTOPIA may not amount to the commercial heights of ASTROWORLD, it exceeds the former in innovation, subtlety, and production.

SHC students say:

“I enjoy the pretty melodies behind the rap.” — Lucy Rios ‘25

“Travis Scott really came into his own with this album.” — Max Sandoval ‘25


Laufey performing live at WFUV. (Wikipedia Commons)

Album Spotlight: Bewitched by Laufey

Released: September 8, 2023

Genres: Jazz, Vocal Jazz

Icelandic-Chinese singer-songwriter Laufey modernizes jazz in her stunning sophomore album Bewitched. Laufey has built a bridge to jazz through her significant social media presence and the relatable subject materials of her work. With 14.6 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, it is evident that Laufey has grabbed the attention of the younger generation. Bewitched became the biggest jazz album debut in Spotify history, amassing 5.7 million streams upon its release date. The album, which croons between classic jazz, bossa nova, bedroom pop, and singer/songwriter alternative sounds, remains experimental and imaginative while maintaining its commitment to jazz.

SHC students say:

“I really love this album. The instrumentals are amazing.”—Parker Nash ‘25

Bewitched is a great album. It’s perfect for studying.”—PJ Vigo ‘25


Mitski performing at Paradise Rock Club, Boston, Massachusetts. (Wikipedia Commons)

Album Spotlight: The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We by Mitski

Released: September 15, 2023

Genres: Americana, Indie Folk

Calling this work her “most American album,” Mitski returns to the stage with songs inspired by the intensity of love, vulnerability, and isolation. With raw vocals backed by an orchestra, drumkit, and choir, Mitski presents an impactful, emotional delivery throughout the record. She does not underestimate her audience, as indicated by gut-wrenching lyrics such as “I want someone to take this soul.” The album’s heavy instrumentation pushes listeners to feel Mitski’s vibrant lyricism while also providing a significant contrast to her simple vocals. 

SHC students say:

The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We changed my life.”—Ella Saeger ‘25

“I love Mitski. It’s great to see more Asian American women in the media. It’s important for our stories to be told.” — Zara Bashir ‘27


Chappell Roan performing at the House of Blues in Chicago.

Album Spotlight: The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess by Chappell Roan (Clean version)

Released: September 22, 2023

Genres: Alternative Pop, Dance Pop

Chappell Roan is the drag alter-ego of alternative pop artist Kayleigh Rose Amstutz. Amstutz, born and raised in Willard, Missouri, named her stage persona in honor of her late grandfather Dennis Chappell and his favorite country song “The Strawberry Roan.” In 2023, she released her first album: The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess. Jam-packed with candid, campy, and coming-of-age storytelling, “The Rise and Fall” has become emblematic of queer pop counterculture. Once she finishes her own cross-country tour, Amstutz is set to open for Olivia Rodrigo’s “GUTS” world tour.

SHC students say:

“Chappell Roan changed my life. I saw her live and she’s such a great performer. ‘Kaleidoscope’ is amazing.”— Meghan Zang ‘24

The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess makes me want to dance.”—Adriana Giomi ‘25


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About the Contributors
Aurora Chen '25
Aurora Chen '25, Arts and Culture Editor
Aurora Chen ‘25 is super excited to be one of the Arts & Culture Editors for the Emerald this year! She is also involved in the Oracle and Shakespeare Club.
Kat Leong '24
Kat Leong '24, Arts and Culture Editor
Kat, a rising senior, is happy to serve as one of two editors for the Arts and Culture section. Along with working at the Emerald, they are heavily involved in Instrumental Music and help run GAME Club, Guitar Club, and Music Listening Club. Kat loves jamming with their math rock band, attending concerts, and collecting records in their free time—talk to them anytime about music!

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