For the title category ‘Modern Pop’, the boundaries of what constitutes modern itself are notional and constantly expanding. We say this a lot for our Top Albums posts, but there’s no reason to not cherish the timelessness of the sound and enjoy the possibility of being surprised, and even be fuelled by it. Here are some of our Modern Pop Classics!
Presenting a listening guide for the Top 10 Modern Pop (vinyl) albums:
1) My World by Justin Bieber
Released when Justin was 15, My World is Justin’s first album, more like an EP given its duration. The album has many notable producers and songwriters. Although the songs are not quite top level quality, Justin lends his squeaky-clean charm and natural ability to make the album stand out!
A musician who commands solid commercial power and has an impeccable ‘innocent’ image in his own right, ÷ falls in line with both his image and music. The album lacks honesty, not because soul-searching individuals fancy pop, but that it makes the lack of imagination that much distinct. The sentiments are generic, with a personal touch here and there.
Influences of hip-hop and jazz that shine through both the production and Winehouse’s vocals on this album- memorializing Amy as one of the greatest songwriters of her generation. The lyrics are in-depth and raw, and influential even after nearly two decades of it’s release.
‘Fine Line’ is every bit storytelling with a mystic music style, with song writing playing catch-up in places. The album feels like a combination of attempts to mimic Bowie’s imagination, as one of Styles’ influences, ’70s power pop and Laurel Canyon folk-rock to the sort-of soul of Coldplay- a whole new flock of influences embodies in songs throughout the album.
5) When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? By Billie Eilish
Human, honest and all-encompassing, the album is littered with glossy pop, cartoonish show tunes and sculptural, choral electronic strangeness. It is imaginative and will most likely entrance you, with longing and darkness interspersing a rather light-hearted atmosphere. It is safe to say, for the 19-year-old Eilish, that pop is in safe hands.
If ‘doomed-but-devoted’ is a trope, Lana possibly started it. While the lyrics on this one may sound snoozy and indecisive, but it makes up for it in the magnificent melodies. They are effortless and high quality; recontextualizing her presence in the world of music- from an indie singer-songwriter to that of a beautiful turned pop musician.
This earth-shattering 2011 album cemented the British pop vocalist’s icon status. 21 is filled with colossal songs, elegant and glistening, bending but never breaking under the heft of Adele’s voice, which sounds like Amy Winehouse mashed with opera. It is not surprising that Adele tried to craft her songs intentionally to be timeless, that are both absolute and nuanced.
Lorde’s work is usually crafted with utmost care and softness of the spirit, something she brings alive in ‘Melodrama’ as well. The album is a study of being a young woman, finding her own conviction in unsteady circumstances and opines for embracing oneself as rewarding. The album is lyrically hard-hitting, sprinkled with a mix of Lorde’s self-awareness and felicitous writing.
Steering away (or rather into) her perceived essence, “With some indie record that’s much cooler than mine”, Taylor has created an album that is distinguishable from her previous work, sonically experimentative and canny of a pop album- all at the same time. It is contemplative, rough-edged and spacey, welcoming the arrival of a post-pop Swift.
Future Nostalgia is upbeat, breathtakingly fun and cohesive. Reminiscent of disco, Dua Lipa brings together disco strings and funk bass in the vein of Chic and Donna Summer: possibly her secret ingredient. With fun, versatile numbers, this one is perfect for self-isolation dance parties!