SZA has completely taken over the music world ever since her album CTRL dropped on June 9 of this year, and I am already one her biggest and most faithful fans. Within four days of even hearing the album, I must have listened to it in its entirety about a million times and knew every single word to every single song. SZA has an incredible vocal range and can jump from high to low like it's no ones business. The thing that got me the most about this woman though, is her honesty. Her songs are so ridiculously relatable that I am sure 90% of listeners have been through the same thing at some point in their lives, allowing them to feel her songs on a whole different level. She speaks of major body insecurities, sharing a romantic partner with another woman, losing friends, working a job she hates and not feeling good enough for anyone. Powerful, honest, and beautiful- SZA is absolutely killing it.
Check out "20 Something", one of my favorite tracks from her debut album CTRL.
2) FREDDIE MERCURY
Farrokh Bulsara, aka Freddie Mercury, is one of the most talented musicians to have ever graced this earth. His live performances were some how better than his recorded ones, and I don't think that man ever knew what it was to sing off-key. I believe Freddie shaped music in a way that still resonates in the industry today, and I know millions of people were impacted by his life. He was eccentric, unapologetically himself, and knew music theory like the back of his hand. He sang beautifully, was a multi-instrumentalist and brilliant frontman. If you have never seen him live, check out the video below and prepare to be blown away. We miss you, Freddie. There truly is no one like you.
3) JAPANESE HOUSE
I was first introduced to the Japanese House in San Diego when "Still" came on in a local cafe's Spotify playlist, and since then the band has been in my top ten all time favorites. Amber Bain is the solo creator and performer of the Japanese House, releasing four EP's on her own. Originally from Buckinghamshire in the U.K, Amber's music has made its way across Australia, the United States and more. The 25-year-old incorporates guitars and electronic instrumentals into her music, giving off an early Imogen Heap feel with intensely layered vocals. She tends to change her voice to sound heavily computerized and lower, giving it an androgynous feel at times- and it totally works. Another reason we love The Japanese House is because Amber uses the most beautiful visuals when it comes to her music videos and album art. She tends to shy away from showing her face to the public, but rather wants her audience to focus on the deeper meaning of her work and the underlying beauty of it. Amber, could you please stop being so perfect?
Check out "Still" below.
4) JHENE AIKO
Jhene Aiko has been a personal favorite of mine for years, and I remain a loyal fan to this day. The Californian native captured my heart when she released her single "The Worst" in 2013, opening up a whole new world of female beat- riders and ambient vocals that made us feel all types of ways. Jhene lost her brother to cancer in 2012, and many of the songs off her two preceding albums Sail Out and Souled Out reflect the pain, love and heartache she has suffered since then. Because of her honestly and lack of metaphor use in her lyrics, her music has proves to be the realest in the game. We have never known Aiko to hold anything back, which allows her fans to get a glimpse into her life and emotions, making her extremely relatable. She is also one of the most prolific female musicians of her genre, and we have continued to be blown away by her work.
Check out her latest single "While We're Young" below.
5) BLINK 182
What can we say about these Blink 182? I mean, they're a classic. If you grew up in the 90's, you were probably cruising down the street in your beat-up Camry blasting these guys on repeat. Blink 182 and Tom Delonge's side project Angels & Airwaves literally got me through high school, and I will forever be grateful for that. When I listen to them in present day 2017, I close my eyes and am immediately taken back to my teenage years- drinking beer, skipping class and falling in love every other week. Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus are currently making music under the name Blink 182 without Delonge, and it is undoubtedly good. But as a former Delong fangirl and obsessor, I'm just going to stick to the classic Blink.
Watch my favorite Blink song of all time "After Midnight" below.
This band only recently made my top ten, so I don't know too much about these guys yet. I know they formed in 2009 and are from Virginia, but that's about it. I fell in love with Turnover upon hearing the track "I Would Hate You If I Could" from their newest album Peripheral Vision. Their sound reminds me a little of the 80's era and all of their songs carry an extremely chillier vibe. "I Would Hate You if I could" is about a relationship that fell through, but still haunts the lead singer to this day. He recalls times spent with his former partner making love, smoking weed and laughing until the sun came up. Yup, we've all been there. Thanks for the feels, Turnover.
7) RUN THE JEWELS
I saw Killer Mike and El-P perform at Hopscotch Music Fest a week ago, and it was by far one of the best shows I have ever been to. Run The Jewels was one of those shows where you can feel the bass resonating through every inch of your body, and not one person in the crowd was standing still. A wave of thousands of people were jumping in unison and shouting every single lyric to every song at the top of their lungs- and it was magical. Run The Jewels also tends to use their music to get political messages across, bringing to light social issues that are important to them. They are incredible lyricists, performers and work brilliantly as a functioning duo. Not to mention, their music is beyond dope. Duh.
Check out "Legend Has It" below.
For me, Hozier brought back the traditional singer-songwriter sound that I initially fell in love with as a youngin'. He allows his voice and guitar to take the spotlight and stand center stage, leaving all the bells and whistles behind. He is an incredible guitarist who has a way of phrasing his lyrics to shoot you right through the heart, remaining transparent and portraying his artistry beautifully. His voice is extremely recognizable and tends to soothe the listener into oblivion, proving to be one of the most timeless artists out there. I personally don't think he gets enough credit, but that's neither here nor there. I will continue listening to him daily in order to further my emotional and spiritual education, softening my heart one perfectly plucked string at a time.
Listen to "Like Real People Do" below.
9) LIL DICKY
Many know Little Dicky as the hilarious Jewish rapper who came into the game after securing a track with Snoop Dogg in 2015 titled "Professional Rapper". While most of his songs are satirical and comedic, he does have a few softer ones in which it is impossible to deny his intelligence and lyrical genius. Lil Dicky, aka Dave Burd, is one of the best writers out there in my opinion. I mean, just listen to "Pillow Talk" or "Russell Westbrook On a Farm" and tell me I am wrong. I also like Lil Dicky because he only came in to the rap game after deciding to leave his full time "big boy" job, losing his long-term girlfriend and upsetting his parents in the process. He obviously new what he was doing though, because just look at him now. I bet his ex-girlfriend Molly is kicking herself right about now. Major respect for this man and his journey.
Watch "Russell Westbrook On a Farm" below.
10) LEON BRIDGES
Leon Bridges is completely bringing old school RnB back to the music world, and I am so grateful for this. Not only does he look like he stepped out of an old-fashioned sitcom, but his overall demeanor is incredibly sweet and humble for someone with his level of talent. His music incorporates sounds from the doo-wop era, heavily using brass chorus and up-beat tempos that make you feel good no matter what mood you're in. Leon is also a wonderful instrumentalist, so make sure to check out the videos in which he absolutely smashes it on the guitar. Overall, this dude is just a legend. Thank you for existing Leon, I love you.
Watch his live performance of "Better Man" at ACL below.