A review on music released during quarantine

Ungodly Hour by Chloe x Halle.

Photo by Genius

Ungodly Hour by Chloe x Halle.

Bela De Jesus, Managing Editor of Global Perspectives

While the world was under lockdown over these past few months, some of the biggest artists in the industry released albums to help us all cope with this year. Taylor Swift released Folklore, Chloe x Halle released Ungodly Hour, Lady Gaga released Chromatica and Beyoncé released Black is King, a visual album for the soundtrack, The Lion King: The Gift. 

On July 24th, Taylor Swift shocked the world by announcing her new album Folklore only 24 hours before it would be released. Swift collaborated with Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner to create an intimate and folky album during their quarantine, clearly going back to Swift’s country roots. Each song is very personal, as she talks about the pain and happiness that comes with love. She also writes about the role of women in society in her songs “mad woman” and “the last great american dynasty”. Swift has always been known for her lyrical prowess, but this album takes songwriting to the next level, with lyrics like “drunk as they watch my shattered edges glisten” from “mirrorball”. Her lyricism in this album is very powerful and you can tell each word was chosen very carefully. The production of the album is pretty simple compared to the huge pop hits of her past, creating an intimate feel for the album. Folklore is truly a cohesive and well written album, showing a new side of Swift’s music, but still staying true to what she does best, lyricism and melody.

The sister duo Chloe x Halle released their second album Ungodly Hour on June 12. The contemporary R&B album was produced by Beyoncé and features the talented vocals of the two sisters. Their harmonies show that the sisters are talented and were truly meant to sing together. Their voices meld together very well and create a heavenly sound. The album as a whole is very cohesive and has a clear sound the artists are trying to achieve. The production of the beats are really well done and are perfect to dance to. The lyrics are catchy, but can be superficial and repetitive at times. On the other hand, there are some lines that show true promise and lyrical prowess, like the line “You know that I’ve, I heard it all before/You’re hesitant, wish you could give me more/I know you like to play those silly games/When you’re done, call my name” from Ungodly Hour. Some highlights from Ungodly Hour are “Busy Boy”, “Tipsy” and “Wonder What She Thinks Of Me”. As a whole, Ungodly Hour is a powerful and well produced album that shows the duo Chloe x Halle really know what they’re doing. 

The famed Lady Gaga released her album Chromatica on May 29, 2020 of this year. The album features Ariana Grande, Elton John, and BLACKPINK. Although many were excited for this album to show different sides of Gaga’s music, the album did not live up to its true potential. Although the album is clearly going for a specific sound and vibe, it has been done before. The production sounds very similar to her older music, the club and dance sound of the late 2000s. However, the party and club songs are masked by truly sad lyrics, such as “You love the paparazzi, love the fame/Even though you know it causes me pain/I feel like I’m in a prison hell/Stick my hands through the steel bars and yell” from “Fun Tonight”. There is something valuable in the contrast between Gaga’s heartbreaking lyrics and techno production, yet, her great lyricism gets drowned in loud production. Many of the songs and beats on Chromatica sound very similar to the others, showing little variety in genre across the album. Chromatica is a decent album, however, Lady Gaga has shown so much greatness in her career and this album does not express everything she is capable of. 

Black is King, the visual album written, directed, and produced by Beyoncé, was released on July 21. The film is essentially a group of music videos for each song loosely connected by the plot of the Lion King. It follows a young African king as he gets lost from his community and comes back to where he is from to save his people. Beyoncé is portrayed as a mother figure in the films who encourages the king to be bright, strong and glorious. From a cinematic standpoint the film is exquisite. The cinematography and use of the camera is really well done and allows the viewer to notice things without pointing to them. The outfits worn by each member of the cast are vibrant and complex, reflecting different traditional African clothing. The film was shot in some of the most beautiful places in South Africa, Ghana, California, and Arizona. The beautiful scenery is the perfect background for stunning choreography to go along with the album, adding even more meaning to the music. Although the movie had little plot, making it sometimes hard to understand, however, it is meant to be a performance through film and not necessarily a riveting plotline. The visuals were remarkable, and the film represented so much more. During a time of racial strife worldwide, black people have gone through so much pain and the stereotypes against them have consistently overshadowed the reality of their gorgeous culture and background. Black is King was able to bring that culture to the forefront of the popular media and help people recognize what they are fighting for.