Most Overrated Albums of 2017
As 2017 wraps up, the CommRadio Arts Department will be taking a look back at the year in music. For overrated albums, the albums placed on the list are not neccessarily the worst albums of the year. Rather, these projects received unearned critical or commercial acclaim and stole the lime light from more deserving projects. Here is the Arts Department’s list of the most overrated albums of 2017.
Ed Sheeran – Divide
What’s so unfortunate about Divide’s success is that it shows how the average music listener just really doesn’t want to be wowed anymore. There’s a time and a place for subdued, conventional songwriting when there's an earnest message or sonic complexity behind the composition, but somehow Ed Sheeran comes through with probably the least captivating or fun pop music of the year and has found success. The amount of people who respond to criticism of this album with “sometimes you just want to listen to something simple and relatable” completely misunderstand what pop music has the power to be. Artist’s like Ed Sheeran can achieve accessibility with a project without having to repeat the common tropes of the medium ad nauseum. – Chandler Copenheaver
Kelela – Take Me Apart
In a year where R&B was revitalized by the likes of Syd and SZA, both doing something completely different within the genre and still being successful at it, it is hard to excuse what was an overhyping of Kelela’s latest project Take Me Apart. While there are enjoyable songs on the album, Kelela was running in the same lane as SZA and does not come close to accomplishing what SZA did. Where SZA showed relationships in a new light and from a place of women as the ones with all the power, Kelela seemed to relay on the old tropes of what a women is in a relationship. Although not a bad album by any means, it was hard for Kelela to compete with her contemporaries in such a strong year for R&B. – David Arroyo
LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
It’s been odd to read reviews claiming this album is an important part of the political landscape of 2017 because there’s not much James Murphy and company say here that they didn’t say better back in the 2000s. And unequivocally there’s nothing the album does artistically the group hasn’t done on previous albums. Yet, for some reason, critics and fans alike have flocked to the album like it’s the long awaited and sincere follow up to the band's original discography. LCD Soundsystem made a name for themselves by being a band that could bring colorful production and wild charisma to the music that inspired them. But instead, American Dream sees LCD Soundsystem caring less about what they can accomplish musically and more about offering fans and critics a watered down repackaging of everything they’ve done before. – Chandler Copenheaver
Brand New – Science Fiction
The alternative/indie rock band Brand New have been lingering in the background of the music industry for almost 18 years now. In that almost extended span, the band has released only 5 studio albums, all ranging within two or three years of each other. After an almost nine year hiatus, Brand New released their fifth, and rumored last, studio album titled Science Fiction. The album gained immediate critical acclaim and claimed number one on the Billboard 200. The widespread enthusiastic acclaim makes Science Fiction sound like a complete revolutionary, new and exciting sound, but the album just seemed like one last final grab at their glory days. It was a complete throwback to the early 2000s, not presenting anything advanced or out of the ordinary for the band. The album was surely overrated and over-hyped simply based on the almost ten year break in between albums for the band. With that long of a gap, it seems fitting to release an album worth waiting for; something audiences have never heard before or marvelous, but after that span of time, fans were given the same, cringe-worthy kind of edgy 2000s sound they were listening to in Brand New’s prime. – Lilly Adams
Arcade Fire – Everything Now
If there’s any proof needed that music publications are afraid of ruining their relationships with musicians, look no further than nearly every review of Arcade Fire’s Everything Now. For one of the most celebrated independent artists of all time to move to a major record label, only to release an album that regurgitates 35 years of sound-of-the-moment pop trends, maintain a 66 on Metacritic and receive two perfect reviews is obscene. But perhaps if Arcade Fire had not pumped out so much “satirical” marketing as an attempt to seem self-aware, only to become worse than what it’s satirizing, than the album would seem less offensive. Instead, Everything Now devolves into one of the few figureheads of independent music perpetuating the problems of the music industry. – Chandler Copenheaver
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email email@example.com.
David Arroyo is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lilly Adams is a freshman majoring in film/video studies. To contact her, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Senior / Public Relations
Sophomore / Film/Video Studies