Uplifting the Voices of Princeton Day School

The Spokesman

Uplifting the Voices of Princeton Day School

The Spokesman

Uplifting the Voices of Princeton Day School

The Spokesman

Have a Listen!

Check out senior Sam Cohen’s playlist!

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Sam Cohen Ranks His Top 50 Albums of All Time


From Frank Ocean to David Bowie, arranging my Top 50 albums was not an easy task, but here is my best crack at ranking my favorite records of all time. 

*The Top 25 albums on the list include small explanations for their position. 

50. “Madvillainy” (2004) — Madvillain

49. “Sky Blue Sky” (2007) — Wilco

48. “The Soft Bulletin” (1999) — The Flaming Lips

47. “Room On Fire” (2003) — The Strokes

46. “Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers” (1976) — Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers

45. “Operation: Doomsday” (1999) — MF DOOM

44. “3 Feet High and Rising” (1989) — De La Soul

43. “Ivory” (2022) — Omar Apollo

42. “Wolf” (2013) — Tyler, The Creator

41. “Currents” (2015) — Tame Impala

40. “Led Zeppelin” (1969) — Led Zeppelin

39. “Satin Doll” (1974) — Bobbi Humphrey

38. “Houses of The Holy” (1973) — Led Zeppelin

37. “Summerteeth” (1999) — Wilco

36. “Please Please Me” (1963) — The Beatles

35. “Apollo XXI” (2019) — Steve Lacy

34. “Hunky Dory” (1971) — David Bowie

33. “Nostalgia, Ultra” (2011) — Frank Ocean

32. “Brighten The Corners” (1997) — Pavement

31. “Vampire Weekend” (2008) — Vampire Weekend

30. “Innerspeaker” (2010) — Tame Impala

29. “Rocket To Russia” (1977) — The Ramones

28. “Call Me If You Get Lost” (2021) — Tyler, The Creator

27. “To Pimp A Butterfly” (2015) — Kendrick Lamar

26. “Abbey Road” (1969) — The Beatle

25. “Getz/Gilberto” (1964) — Stan Getz and João Gilberto
Starting the Top 25 is the first physical jazz album I ever owned. It’s deservingly one of the best-selling Jazz albums of all time, and no vinyl collection is complete without a pressing of Stan Getz and João Gilberto’s lovely collaboration.

24. “Talking Book” (1972) — Stevie Wonder
Easily Stevie Wonder’s best work. “You and I” is up there with the best love songs of all time alongside “In My Life” by The Beatles. This album is a perfect example of how consistency can elevate a collection of songs.

23. “Electric Warrior” (1971) — T. Rex
Electric Warrior captures everything I love about ‘70s rock ‘n’ roll. The range of instruments paired with band leader Marc Bolan’s voice makes it one of the best rock albums of the decade.

22. “Loaded” (1970) — The Velvet Underground
The pinnacle of Lou Reed’s artistry. The perfect set of songs to listen to while reading on the beach.

21. “Flower Boy” (2017) — Tyler, The Creator
I listened to this album in full for the first time during quarantine, and it became the soundtrack to my life during Covid. The eighth track “Boredom,” could not have described how I felt any better. This album has some of my favorite features ever from some of my favorite artists including Steve Lacy, A$AP Rocky, and Frank Ocean. If you haven’t listened to any Tyler, the Creator yet, this is a great introduction.

20. “Channel Orange” (2012) — Frank Ocean
Songs like “Super Rich Kids,” “Pink Matter,” and “Pyramids,” are the only reason I’m not upset about Frank releasing only one album since 2012.

19. “The Dark Side of The Moon” (1973) — Pink Floyd
One of if not the best and most iconic album covers of all time. The music speaks for itself, and it is unfair for anyone to have an opinion on music without listening to Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of The Moon.”

18. “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” (1972) — David Bowie
The Ziggy Stardust alter ego flawlessly embodies the sounds of Bowie in the early 1970s. This album reminds me of the music I listened to in my mom’s car when I was growing up. Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” and “Hunky Dory” (1971) made a massive impact on my scope of rock music.

17. “Mm..Food” (2004) — MF DOOM
The first hip-hop album I ever heard. My dad would blast MF DOOM on vinyl when I was little, and it wasn’t until a few months before Doom’s death in 2020 that I discovered how unique his flows and rhyme schemes are. “Mm..Food” has my favorite songs and skits of his, making it his best album.

16. “Wish You Were Here” (1975) — Pink Floyd
Placing any Pink Floyd album over “The Dark Side of The Moon” may be insane to most; however, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond, (Parts I—V)” may be the best 13 minutes of music in Rock N Roll. Wish You Were Here feels like getting lost in a dream, with no desire to be found.

15. “What’s Going On” (1971) — Marvin Gaye
Listening to “What’s Going On” in 2023 as opposed to listening in 1971 is a completely different experience. In 1971, the song’s messages about the Vietnam War were very relevant, giving the album a status most artists never reach. “What’s Going On” reminds me of the perpetual significance of music.

14. “Because The Internet” (2013) — Childish Gambino
Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, may have been in the most creative pocket of his life when he wrote “Because The Internet” and he created the hit TV show “Atlanta.” Tracks like “I. Pink Toes,” and “3005,” established his versatility which is further developed in his most recent projects.

13. “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain” (1994) — Pavement
At the time of writing (November 2023), this is an album I can’t get enough of and is my most played album of this fall. Pavement is known for its lackadaisical approach to recording, so this is as close to a perfect album as it can come. “Cut Your Hair” along with “Gold Soundz” and “Range Life” are all-time indie rock classics. This is the most important and best Pavement album, and it stands as the basis for my opinion of Indie Rock bands.

12. “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots” (2002) — The Flaming Lips
A few months ago, “Yoshimi” would not have been this high on the list, however, after seeing The Flaming Lips perform the full album in concert, it’s clear it deserves a spot in the Top 15. The mix of psychedelic instrumentals with powerful lyrics creates an uncharted sound which The Flaming Lips take advantage of.

11. “Ctrl” (2017) — SZA
Sza could have retired after releasing “Ctrl,” and I would have been satisfied. “Ctrl” is like nothing I’ve heard before. An equal amount of attention on the vocals and lyrics as on the production allows SZA to define her voice and style.

10. “Apricot Princess” (2017) — Rex Orange County
Leading off the Top 10 is Rex Orange County’s sophomore album, “Apricot Princess.” This album is full of some of my favorite songs dating back to the spring of 2019. I once wrote down every lyric of “Television / So Far So Good” in the back of Middle School Math Teacher M. Jack Madani’s 8th grade Algebra class because this album was all I could think about. Without falling in love with this album, I would have not found some of my favorite artists today.

9. “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” (2002) — Wilco
Starting from track one, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” feels different from any other Wilco album. A combination of trying experimental things and repeating old tricks allowed Jeff Tweedy and Wilco to improve on their past and make a statement. Although “Jesus, Etc.” may be the most famous track, “Heavy Metal Drummer” will forever be one of my favorite Wilco songs. The line “unlock my body and move myself to dance,” is my favorite moment on the album. “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” is one album I wish I could hear for the first time again.

8. “Brothers” (2010) — The Black Keys
Staying in the Indie Rock realm, number 8 on my list is “Brothers” by The Black Keys. I have had a black and white poster of this album plastered against my bedroom wall since the album was released. Unlike other indie rock albums on this list, like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, I have no specific reason why this album is so high up. The only thing that I know for certain is that these are some of the best rock songs ever written.

7. “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” (2012) — Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar is hands down the best rapper of my generation. Every album he has released is pretty much perfect in its own way. Kendrick never repeats what he’s done on a previous project, and no one can replicate his mastery of Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. Through songs like “Money Trees” and “Compton,” listeners are given an unforgettable lens into Kendrick’s life.

6. “Is This It” (2001) — The Strokes
The Strokes took the music scene by storm after the release of their debut album “Is This It.” Similar to “Brothers,” this album is simply full of amazing songs. Every time I listen, I feel like I’m on stage at a small NYC club waiting to get signed to an independent record label. Songs like, “Hard To Explain” and “Soma” showed me the importance of structure in a rock song. Is This It gave me a scope of being a rockstar, and gives me the same lead-singer energy with each listen.

5. “Lonerism” (2012) — Tame Impala
“Did you know Tame Impala is one guy?” Although it may be an overdone joke, it is crazy to think about after listening to an album as flawless as “Lonerism.” Every song on the album sounds like it’s stripped from a soundtrack for some sort of psychedelic action movie. Kevin Parker, the man behind Tame Impala, displays his genius through each track. Enchanting listeners through well-produced instrumentals and intriguing imagery, “Lonerism” is one of a kind.

4. “The Beatles” (White Album) (1968) — The Beatles
It would be unfair to make a list of my favorite albums and not include The Beatles. Without them, half of the albums on this list would have never graced my ears. I had lots of difficulty choosing which album deserves the honor of being in the Top 5. A younger version of me may have chosen “Please Please Me” or “A Hard Day’s Night,” but now I know it has to be a later Beatles album to take this high position. After mulling it over, the self-titled album came out as my top Beatles LP. the “White Album” holds a special place in my heart because the deluxe version of the album, with outtakes and scrapped songs was released during the peak of my Beatles fandom. There is no way to name a Beatles album as “the best,” but for now, it’s the “White Album.”

3. “Nothing Happens” (2019) — Wallows
Leading off the Top 3 is an album every high schooler should listen to once: “Nothing Happens,” the debut studio album by Wallows. The album is all about being a teen and all the struggles, pressures, and fun that come with adolescence. The album is a melange of songs for dancing, and singing along to. Seeing the band perform these songs live is an out-of-body experience. “Nothing Happens” will always be the soundtrack to my teenage years, and act as a reminder of high school and innocence.

2. “Blonde” (2016) — Frank Ocean
“Blonde.” Probably the greatest album of all time. Nevertheless, it is not my favorite of all time, but it’s close. “Blonde” is perfect— every song, every lyric, every ounce of production, and every story Frank Ocean tells. Speaking of the album doesn’t do it justice, from the closing verse on “Nikes” to the beat switch on “Nights” it is impossible to put the excellence into words. Frank Ocean created something otherworldly, and I’ve spent hours trying to figure it out, but every time I conclude that the album is just perfect, simply put. One of my biggest dreams in life is to see Frank perform these songs live. Although it is very unlikely, due to how seldom he performs, it would be the greatest day of my life. If you’re reading this and haven’t listened to “Blonde,” please drop everything and listen. Then go find out what my number one favorite album is.

“IGOR” (2019) — Tyler, The Creator
My favorite album of all time is “IGOR” by Tyler, The Creator. My favorite artist, and my favorite work of his. The “IGOR” persona that Tyler embodies is like a current-day Ziggy Stardust, an alias that creates sounds similar to previous work but elevates it in every way. The record tells the story of Tyler falling in love, realizing the love isn’t reciprocated, moving on, and eventually falling back in love with the same person. The album starts and ends with the same dragged-out synth chord, indicating the cycle Tyler is stuck in. The album feels compelling and different from other albums of his due to how well the narrative is drawn out. The best albums have songs that are great on their own but are even better in the context of the album. I imagine “IGOR” will be my favorite album forever, nothing gives me the strong feelings that this album does. I think “Blonde” may be the better album from a music-critiquing standpoint, but “IGOR” holds a much deeper place in my heart, and I wouldn’t be nearly the melomaniac I am without this album.

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    Chris MaherJan 25, 2024 at 10:15 am

    Pretty solid Sam. Missing some must haves though!