Albums of the Summer

Sam Smith: “In the Lonely Hour”

British artists who gain widespread success in the United Kingdom can often find it hard to achieve the same magnitude of success in the United States. However, British singer-songwriter Sam Smith’s full length debut album “In the Lonely Hour” not only managed to debut at #1 on the Official Chart Update in the UK, but also debut at #2 in the United States for the highest number of first week album sales.

This pop and R&B album centers around the theme of unrequited love.

“[The album is] just a diary from a lonely 21-year-old,” Smith said in an interview with Digital Spy. “It’s my way of defining what is love, and how unrequited love is just as painful, just as powerful, as what we call ‘normal’ love.”

The album has received favorable reviews from critics, who exalt Smith’s vocal range. Andrew Ryce from Billboard called his voice “one hell of a set of pipes, able to go from a commanding lower register to an inhumanly high squawk in record time.” Three singles from Smith’s new album have already been released, and the fourth single, “I’m Not The Only One,” is set to be released on August 31.


Lana Del Rey: “Ultraviolence”

Quirky, mysterious, and even indicates average reviews and controversial, Lana Del Rey is no conformist. Her new summer album, “Ultraviolence”, continues to incorporate unique, unconventional sounds that push the boundaries of modern pop.

“Ultraviolence” has achieved widespread commercial success.

It is Del Rey’s first number one album on the United States charts, and has sold more than a million copies worldwide as of July 2014. Critics have praised its melancholy, cinematic, even bluesy sound with Mark Richardson from PitchFork calling the record “tragic and beautiful—darkly-shaded ballads are what she was created to make, and this album is nothing but, a Concept Album from a Concept Human.” Del Rey has created a strong identity for herself that this album reinforces and supports.

MetaCritic is another website that aggregates reviews of music albums and gives albums a score from 1-100. A score of 81- 100 indicates universal acclaim, 61-80 indicates generally favorable reviews from critics, 40-60 poor reviews. “Ultraviolence” received a score of 74.

Her new album has proved to critics and public alike that she is here to stay, and not a one-hit-wonder.

“Lana Del Rey’s 2012 debut LP, Born To Die, was too unfocused to live up to the high expectations generated by the enigmatic power of songs like Video Games and Blue Jeans,” Benjamin Boles from Now Music said. “Now Del Rey has answered those diminished hopes with a consistently strong album, proving her initial appeal was more than just the result of clever marketing.”