Sure, 2019 might just feel dominated by the Billboard Hot 100 record-breaking “Old Town Road” and its array of remixes, but there have been plenty of other releases to talk about. Some artists, like Katy Perry, have been slowly making new hit songs. Others, like Taylor Swift, have released some incredibly mediocre music, with less-than-stellar results. Ed Sheeran released a collaboration album that’s simply forgettable and messy. The Jonas Brothers capitalized on their comeback, with their album “Happiness Begins” having the biggest pure sales week since 2017 at the time (this has since been surpassed by Taylor Swift’s album “Lover,” which was released on Aug. 23).
But those are just a few artists in a field of many. In no particular order, here’s a roundup of some of the summer’s best music. Honorable mentions include Vampire Weekend’s “Father of the Bride,” Sabrina Carpenter’s “Singular: Act II,” Banks’ “III,” Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” and Peppa Pig’s “My First Album” (no, that’s not a joke).
Tyler, the Creator: “IGOR”
His first U.S. chart-topping album, “IGOR,” is a concept album — it tells a story, explores a love triangle and creates a character. Its production is fantastic. Every song has layers of sounds with texture and taste. “RUNNING OUT OF TIME” is a spacey, sparking hit. “EARFQUAKE” is a bright love song. It’s a funky R&B album with plenty of gorgeous music to unpack. While it might be one of Tyler’s most creative works, it’s also incredibly vulnerable. “IGOR” focuses on what Tyler’s been hiding in previous albums. It’s too early to tell if it’s his best work of hazy hip hop, but it’s a contender. “IGOR” treads the line between heartache and heartbreak, and that’s where it should stay.
Carly Rae Jepsen: “Dedicated”
“Dedicated” is a purely fantastic body of pop music. From the serotonin-inducing “Julien” to the traditional Jepsen hit “Now That I Found You” and the guilty self-pleasure “Party for One,” Jepsen has crafted one of the year’s best works. The album’s arguably best song “Everything He Needs” is a buzzy bop and might just capture “Dedicated” best — there’s longing and devotion, but also a hint of something else, a relationship on the cusp of beginning and ending simultaneously. It’s a love and heartbreak album, but when Jepsen struggles with relationships, the songs are still infectious dance-pop. There are some real complexities on “Dedicated,” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a pop album to dance to at 3 a.m.
Megan Thee Stallion: “Fever”
If you heard people or brands using the phrase “hot girl summer,” or maybe seen the popular motto on social media, thank Megan Thee Stallion. Houston’s newest prodigy has released what might be the best debut album of the year so far. “Fever” is catchy, well-developed and full of bangers. There’s an authenticity to Megan and her music. The opening track “Realer” showcases Megan’s talent, “W.A.B” is a sickeningly catchy bop and “Running Up Freestyle” is just awesome. Beyond her rapping skills, Megan’s also a genius writer. She’s written some of the best lines of the year, including one off “Realer”: “Don’t wanna link with these bitches, ain’t feelin’ ‘em/I’ll knock the shit out that bitch like a enema, ah.” It’s hard to believe “Fever” is a debut album. For many artists, something this good is unachievable.
Kim Petras: “Clarity”
Looking for some forward-thinking and catchy pop perfection? Petras’ debut album “Clarity” comes after a few years of some great extended plays, including the spooky-but-make-it-sexy “Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1” (2018). But “Clarity” stands above all of Petras’ previous works — it feels more complete, like there’s a deeper story here. “Icy” is a post-heartbreak jam while tracks like “Got My Number” and “Sweet Spot” are sexy Saturday night fun. With “Clarity,” Petras has found a way to point herself out as a leader of the ever-changing pop landscape — someone whose nuanced take on the genre makes her light-years ahead of some pop stars who are struggling to see where pop music is going. It seems like Petras really does have clarity.
For people who only know her from her single “Whip My Hair,” here’s an introduction to an older and far more fantastic Willow Smith. Her third album “WILLOW” is a creative vibe perfect for a long beach day or not-so-sober late nights. There’s a certain maturity on here that’s almost treading on wisdom — Willow sings about relationships and love on “PrettyGirlz” while tackling a sense of loneliness and a lack of belonging on “Time Machine.” It’s all very genre-mixed and wild, with guitar strings and soft drums and Willow’s dreamy voice swirling all around. “WILLOW” deserves appreciation just for experimenting, but even more so because the experiments resulted in such a wildly cool experience.
There are plenty of releases to look forward to, albums that just arrive on the cusp of the end of the summer and will certainly make for a smooth transition into the beginning of fall. Taylor Swift’s “Lover” (2019) will most likely be a less-developed “Red” (2013), Charli XCX’s “Charli” (2019) is finally bringing Sky Ferreira out of the hole she’s been in since 2013, and Lana Del Rey’s “Norman F**king Rockwell” (2019) is finally coming after speculation it would release this past March.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Jonas Brothers’ album “Happiness” had the biggest pure sales week since 2017. This has since been surpassed by Taylor Swift’s “Lover.” The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily regrets this error.