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September Music Radar: Kacey Musgraves, Greta Van Fleet, and Kanye’s Donda

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

It’s been a packed year for music releases and 2021 has brought us many refreshing and unique sounds. With what feels like the beginning of the end of covid, new music and live concerts have felt much needed. 

star-crossed

The first album on my September music list is pop-country singer and songwriter Kacey Musgrave’s star-crossed that was released on September 10th. star-crossed which was written following Musgrave’s recent divorce is her fifth album and includes themes of heartbreak, grief, and self-reflection. 

Kacey shared that the 15-song album was inspired by Greek tragedies and is broken up into three acts. One of my first thoughts during my initial listen of starcrossed was how cinematic and reminiscent the songs were of the most famous star-crossed lovers: Romeo and Juliet. It’s a unique listening experience and songs like starcrossed and gracias a la vida make you feel like you are in your own dystopian, romantic dreamscape. This darker, forbidden love trope featured in star-crossed contrasts from the album Kacey released before this called Golden Hour. I first stumbled across Kacey Musgraves’s music when I heard hits from Golden Hour such as Space Cowboy, Butterflies, and Slow Burn. Golden Hour has a more dreamy, lighthearted, and optimistic view of love in its lyrics and disco-like melodies. I do prefer Golden Hours sound more but I think star-crossed shows listeners a new side of Musgraves that’s alluring.

If this release wasn’t exciting enough, Musgraves also revealed that there’s a star-crossed film that includes colorful visuals to accompany the sounds of the album. It seems like this has been her most ambitious project, and I think the concept she chose to base the album on was a unique choice and was pulled off well. My favorite songs from the album are justified, cherry blossom, hookup scene, and good wife. These along with the rest of the album are definitely worth the listen.

Greta Van Fleet

Although this band isn’t on the new releases list, they are quickly rising in popularity. The group from Frankenmuth, Michigan consists of three brothers Josh Kiszka, Jake Kiszka, Sam Kiszka, and their longtime friend Danny Wagner. I first heard of Greta Van Fleet when a clip from Saturday Night Live of lead singer Josh was parodied on TikTok for his dramatic facial movements and body language. Not a great way to discover a band, but I’m glad I was introduced to them. 

Greta Van Fleet creates music that falls under the hard rock, blues rock, and progressive rock genres. Alongside their undeniable talent and catchy music, I think one of the main reasons Greta Van Fleet is on the rise is that they’re allowing listeners of all ages to return to the music of the late ’60s and ’70s. My favorite genre of music is rock, and I instantly loved their music because of the classic rock sound and energy they emulate. They’re most commonly compared to Led Zeppelin and Joshs’ powerhouse voice reminds listeners of Zeppelins’ Robert Plant. Robert Plant even acknowledged them himself during an interview and jokingly referred to them as “Led Zeppelin I”. 

Greta Van Fleet has released two EP’s (From the Fires and Black Smoke Rising) and two albums Anthem of the Peaceful Army and The Battle at Garden’s Gate. My personal favorite songs from them are Light my Love, Black Smoke Rising, Heat Above, and A Change is Gonna Come. If you’re also a fan of old-school music, Greta Van Fleet is the sparkly jumpsuit-clad, high-energy band you should start listening to. 

Kanye’s Donda

Last but not least, one of the most awaited, yet controversial album releases was Kanye West’s Donda. Kanye has proven to everyone again that his time under the pop culture spotlight is not done. Donda is Kanye’s 10th album and unsurprisingly he made many bold choices when it came to the artistic vision behind it and how he revealed it to the public. Fans got to hear the album for the first time during three separate listening events across the country. A replica of Kanye’s Chicago childhood home served as his unofficial stage as each song on Donda played, accompanied by a bible verse on the screen. Guests like Marilyn Manson appeared, Kanye was set on fire, and Kim Kardashian even made an appearance in her wedding dress. As bizarre as the listening parties were, I did take away that this album was Kanye’s way of paying tribute to his childhood and mother and bridging the gap between Christianity and his style of music. 

Sound-wise, the album was impressive, but if it wasn’t for the crazy lineup of features and performance art surrounding the album, I don’t know if it would have been as exciting. My favorite songs from Donda were Jail, Moon, Junya, Ok Ok, and Remote Control. Although they don’t compare to the up-beat, old-school hip hop feel of Kanye’s previous work, I can appreciate the meaning behind the album and the good songs that came out of it. As Kanye said once before though, “I miss the old Kanye.” 

Jane Thompson

CU Boulder '24

My name is Jane and I'm a sophomore from Chicago studying Strategic Communications. You can usually find me listening to music, drawing, or exploring Boulder with friends!
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