As 2018 draws to a close, it’s time for music fans and publications across the world to reflect over the past 12 months and pick out their top albums of the year.
NME and Billboard both recently posted their end of year lists, with The 1975 and Ariana Grande both deservedly taking the titles. A Brief Enquiry Into Relationships shatters everything you know about indie pop and Sweetener, despite many fans’ reactions, came with a prestige like no other.
It takes a lot to make it onto these Album of the Year lists. In 2018 the music industry is thriving more than ever as social media allows the rise of true talent. On top of talent, an album needs to have hits, be something original and come with a hell of a lot of promo behind it to climb up magazine and websites’ end of year lists.
One record that seems somehow to be being left off these lists is Anne-Marie’s debut effort, Speak Your Mind. It’s pop – gloriously catchy, simple pop. But it’s so much more than that.
However you want to look at Anne-Marie’s Speak Your Mind, whatever angle you take, it’s one of the biggest records of 2018. There is just zero denying that. Pop music in 2018 has very much been shaped by Anne-Marie’s voice. Speak Your Mind includes Top 10 singles such as ‘Ciao Adios’, ‘FRIENDS’ and ‘2002’, reached number three on the UK Albums Chart and has been certified platinum.
The reason Speak Your Mind is being excluded from these lists is because of its genre. It’s as ‘pop-y’ as music comes today, but just how hard it is to succeed whilst being that is underestimated. Lyrically and sonically, Speak Your Mind is nothing short of ingenious.
‘FRIENDS’ is a laughable play on the friend zone, but is laden with a current playfulness that every pop artist in the game strives to hit. ‘Ciao Adios”s most catchy line is only half in English, but the fact it has been screamed back to Anne-Marie across the globe over the last 18 months shows just how potent this pop is. ‘Alarm’ is another track that epitomises what the genre sounds like in 2018. Astonishingly, that hit was released over two years ago, penned even before that – the pop star is a songwriter ahead of the game.
Having commercially successful singles is only half the battle when it comes to being named Album of the Year. The record needs to have a genuine side, something listeners can hear themselves in. And as much as this is flawless pop music, Anne-Marie hides nothing. ‘Trigger’, a tropically-tinged track that had fans’ mouths watering at live shows years before its release, and the soaring ‘Heavy’ may be disguised by their upbeat production, but these are genuine heartbreak stories that the singer has experienced. The pen is in her hand.
Elsewhere, Anne-Marie makes no attempt to cover the pain. ‘Peak’ is a heartbreakingly raw reflection on a one-sided relationship and as the star’s voice cracks in the chorus no-one can deny this is her story. Elsewhere, ‘Then’ is a fan-favourite that tracks the struggle of moving on.
Speak Your Mind truly has everything, it’s as three-dimensional as they come. On top of tracks written just for their pop quality and the revealing of honest scars, the record is empowering too. Opening track ‘Cry’ is a rallying battle call to listeners, asking them to see the power they hold in themselves, and latest single ‘Perfect’ is an ode to self-love which reveals simple insecurities that seem comical on the surface but take a lot to admit.
That’s why the message of Speak Your Mind is so special. With Anne-Marie’s refreshing and flawless vocals, as well as a production that succeeds in landing bang in the middle of futuristic pop electronica and the simplicity of noughties pop gold – it’s a recipe for success.
Managing all of that in a debut record has allowed Anne-Marie to storm to the top of the game in 2018. She’s made high profile appearances on TV across the planet, toured across the globe with none other than Ed Sheeran and constantly sold-out her own solo shows as she lines up for a mammoth 2019 European tour. That commercial success is important too – it’s the final ingredient in what truly allows an album to be seen as ‘successful’.
With all of that, it begs the question. Where is Speak Your Mind in these end of year lists? However you look at it, Anne-Marie stole 2018 and this album fires on all cylinders.
Has Speak Your Mind made your Top Albums of 2018? Let us know @CelebMix on Twitter.