In a sequel to last year’s post, the Bwog Staff discusses the albums that defined their semester. For some of us, it was our first semester on campus adjusting to the frantic pace of city life. For others, they were celebrating some of their last time on campus. We hope you enjoy our selections.

Abigail Rubel 

Talking with the Taxman About Poetry by Billy Bragg

Bragg is perhaps best known for “Saturday Boy” (which is an amazing song but not on this album). But most of his songs are left-wing protest music, and in the age of Trump that’s something that always makes me feel better about the political situation. “There Is Power in a Union” will make your heart bleed for the grad workers, and “Help Save the Youth of America” needs no explanation.

Zoe Ewing

Queen by Nicki Minaj

Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy defined the end of last spring semester for me, so this semester I had to latch onto another set of super-quotable and generally powerful songs.  The album shows a huge range in Nicki’s music: “Good Form” is the epitome of bad bitch vibes, while “Come See About Me” is surprisingly vulnerable.  Also, I refuse to choose between Cardi and Nicki. They (sort of) made up, which is good enough for me.

Zack Abrams

Sweetener by Ariana Grande

Ariana’s willingness to keep pushing through trying times would be inspiring to any Columbia student, and the Pharrell-produced bops on Sweetener always get me grooving along to my problem sets. This album is infectious and fun, exactly what I needed this fall.


Sarah Braner

Palo Santo by Years & Years

I went to their concert here and it was the first time I was able to just let go and completely forget about everything I had been worrying about. I’ve felt suffocated by my relative anonymity as a first-year and how I always feel I have to put my best foot forward so people didn’t judge me, but the anonymity I experienced at the concert allowed me to scream along to the words without caring how terrible I sounded and how awkward my dancing was. Now every time I listen I’m reminded of how amazing that feeling was and I’m inspired to try to work some of that into how I interact with people here.


Isabel Sepúlveda 
High as Hope by Florence + the Machine

This was basically a natural progression from my post-breakup obsession with Kesha’s Rainbow in the spring. Though I rarely listen to albums in their entirety, these songs, with their heavy, folksy feel combined with stunning lyrics create an arching narrative of an optimism that can only be born from pain (whether familial, platonic or romantic) that I had to listen together. After a rough first six months of 2018, this album was a reminder that even if things are heavy right now, there’s a light somewhere at the end.

Betsy Ladyzhets 

Gutter Anthems by Enter the Haggis

Although a friend introduced me to Enter the Haggis (which is, you guessed it, a Gaelic rock band) last year, I’ve become particularly obsessed with them this semester. They combine folk stories, intense bagpipes and fiddles, and more modern alt-rock instruments in a way I find unique and powerful. Gutter Anthems (released in 2009) is the album I’ve put on repeat the most recently, especially the last four tracks. It’s described by the band as a “collection of stories,” and really runs the gamut of emotions I’ve felt this semester: love, loss, nostalgia, anger at the U.S. government’s response to climate change, motivation to get up and go play at a football game when I’m super hungover, fear of never making it home when I’m lost in the middle of the Atlantic after a fishing voyage gone awry, etc.

Leo Bevilacqua

Lonerism by Tame Impala

It brought me a sense of closure. It’s hard to explain. It took me a long time to love myself. This album didn’t help me get there but it helped me appreciate my fragmented psyche and my memories, traumas, and nightmares. It helped resolve my loneliness and helped solidify my passions. It helped me realize that what makes me less than perfect is what makes me talented, vital and special.


Jake Tibbetts

We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes by Death Cab for Cutie

Yes, it was released before I was even born. Yes, it’s a Death Cab album, which means it’s unapologetically cheesy. And yes, my decision to pick this album only further cements my status as Bwog’s resident insufferable softboy. But this concept album, about a fling that was doomed from the start and ended just as quickly as it began, hits home for me, someone who found himself making the same mistakes over and over and over and over again throughout the semester. The second verse of the first track begins with “I tried my best to keep my distance from your dress / But call-response overturns convictions every time.” This is, as the kids say, a Big Mood™.


Gabrielle Kloppers

I Want To Die In New Orleans by $uicideboy$

For some reason, the only thing I can study to, or be productive to, is songs by $uicideboy$. Nicotine Patches, Carrollton, and Long Gone make me feel like a bad bitch, and so, I naturally listened to the album on the way to every interview, exam, and stressful situation I embarked on this semester. The angry energy drives me to greater things, as I hope it does to all of you.

Henry Golub

Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino by Arctic Monkeys
This album makes staying up until 2 am every night feel cool. Beyond that, though, it showed me that well-written lyrics can elevate otherwise good music to a higher plane. Each song depicts a languid, decadent space resort from the perspectives of its disillusioned inhabitants. From the beginning, you feel sedated by images of consumerism and disappointment — like you’re one of the burned out space-vacationers. Parsing Lit Hum books inspired me to do the same with the album’s songs. It sounds corny, but I like that I can engage with contemporary artists in the same way I’ve learned to do with ancient ones.


Honorable Mentions

Sarah Harty – Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Aditi Patil – Iridescence by BROCKHAMPTON