2015 marked the end of the era of the pop divas, and since then, the industry has been dominated by men. Thankfully, 2019 seems to be the year to end that. Not only have female artists been running the charts again, but many have also been releasing some of the best albums of their careers. Here are some of my favorites:
- Purpose by Taeyeon
The long-awaited follow-up to 2017’s My Voice, Purpose brings soul to an industry dominated by electropop. She fuses genres like R&B, pop, jazz, and neo-soul to bring a career-defining body of work. It explores darker themes like personal anxieties and loneliness, which seem particularly authentic given the singer’s depression. However, the album escapes the danger of being a snooze-fest through fiery tracks like the Adele-esque “Spark,” the confident “Love You Like Crazy,” and the sultry alternative R&B track “LOL.”
Beyond the fusion of genres and exploration of serious themes, what gives the album its great depth is Taeyeon’s vocal ability. She explores her wide vocal range while expressing her equally wide emotional range, to the point where her vocal stylings act as a medium through which she conveys her feelings. Taeyeon retreats to a soft falsetto to sing about her nervous doubts and girlish love in “Do You Love Me,” and transitions to soaring belts and roars in “Better Babe.” She takes advantage of the dual-sided nature of her delicate yet powerful vocal color, using its lightness in “City Love” and darkness in “Wine.” Coincidentally, she also hits the highest note in the album in the former track and the lowest note in the album in the latter.
Overall, Purpose is a surprisingly cohesive album that expresses Taeyeon’s emotional journey and shows off her incredible voice.
- Lover by Taylor Swift
I’ll be honest; I was never a fan of country Taylor. Sure, I sang along to “You Belong With Me” in 2008 whenever it came on the radio, but for a while I never really cared for Taylor Swift. That changed with the release of 1989 (which just so happened to be on my sixteenth birthday), one of my personal favorite pop albums of all time. I didn’t think she could ever match the quality and perfection of that album, and Reputation proved me right. Sure, I liked the album, but as a follow-up to one of the best albums of all time, it just didn’t step up. Lover, however, reminded me to never underestimate Taylor Swift.
The album combines the synthpop and electropop sounds that made me fall in love with Taylor with 1989, but this time it’s accompanied by a dramatically different theme of growth and unconditional love. She also borrows from other genres for a few tracks, even going back to her roots with the titular song, to create a body of work that’s somehow both eclectic and cohesive.
Lover highlights Taylor’s maturation as both a person and an artist, and in my eyes, it cements her as one of the most talented artists of the century.
- Songs For You by Tinashe
Tinashe is a criminally underrated artist. Sure, most people know her name, and “2 On” was a moderate hit, but the album it came from, Aquarius, and every other work she’s released has, well, underperformed. She’s a talented singer, songwriter, producer, dancer, and performer, yet she isn’t receiving the attention she deserves. But maybe the release of her first indie album, Songs For You, will mark a much-deserved change in her career.
Blessed with a new level of creative freedom, Tinashe flexes her incredible artistry to create one of my favorite R&B albums since Jazmine Sullivan’s 2015 album Reality Show. From the writing to the production to the vocals, Songs For You proves that Tinashe’s talent is unparalleled.
- Hot Pink by Doja Cat
There’s been a recent wave of amazing female rappers, and Doja Cat might just be my favorite. Her rapping is full of personality, and her singing is actually quite lovely, and she fuses both on Hot Pink to create the perfect throwback to 2000s R&B.
- Clarity by Kim Petras
If anyone knows how to do pop, it’s Kim Petras (or Carly Rae Jepsen). Accompanied by her powerhouse vocals and exciting writing, Clarity is nothing but pure pop perfection.