Top 30 Albums that You Should Listen to Before You Die

Photo by Joey Clinton.

Written by Regina Sanders. Media by Joey Clinton.

Summer is around the corner and that means new music is coming. But before you run to your Spotify and Apple Music playlists, check out what some of your peers believe to be the best albums created!

Jon Bellion’s “The Human Condition” is one of the best albums that I have ever listened to. From start to finish, it tells a wonderful story, although you can listen to it out of order.
If you want an album to be the soundtrack for your summer, look no farther than Walk the Moon’s sophomore album “Talking is Hard“.


M83’s sixth studio album and 2013 Grammy nominee “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” features some of their best work. “Midnight City” is arguably their most-known song. This album, however, features highlights like Claudia Lewis and “Ok Pal”. This album is perfect for any season, any event, and any adventure.


Sleeping with Siren’s debut album is packed with standouts. It opens strong with “If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn”. “With Ears to See and Eyes to Hear doesn’t have a single song you’d want to skip.
Drake’s sophomore album and Grammy Award winner for Best Rap Album “Take Care reportedly has spent six years on the Billboard 200 chart as of 2017. With a record like that, it’s worth a listen!
Tinashe’s “Aquarius” is essential to University of Alabama student Daria Spencer. “It’s her first album but it’s a masterpiece. I absolutely love the R&B vibes that she serves in this work!”
David Bowie’s fifth studio and concept album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its relevance and significance.
Lady Gaga’s fifth studio album and Grammy Award nominee “Joanne is a stand-out. Lady Gaga is a stand-out artist giving her all in albums and performances. It’s hard to pick one album but “Joanne” offers a personal, solid body of work.
Papyrus editor Miranda Coffee adds EDEN’s debut album “Vertigo to the list. “It’s different from what people would normally listen to. Listening to the lyrics you find that it’s a lot deeper, and has a lot more meaning than you think.”
GU student Tyler Thorpe includes Coldplay’s “A Head Full of Dreams” “because it encompasses the old sound of Coldplay along with the advancement of a new sound and feel.”
Former Greenville student Sarah Twitty highlights Mat Kearney’s “Just Kids [The Deluxe Edition]“. “Basically, every song makes you feel reminiscent, in a good way.”
Resident Chaplain Will Sunderland counts “Foy Vance, Live at Bangor Abbey” as a body of work that people should listen to. “The language of the songs has a profound and intimate way of connecting with your soul, and he does a superb job of connecting with his audience. Even as you’re listening to a recording of it, you feel as if he’s talking to you. Its beautiful music showing mastery of an art well-performed and crafted.”
Sufjan Stevens sixth studio album “Age of Adz” has an 80% on Metacritic. The website lists this album as Stevens’ return after five years. If you think electro-orchestral folk-pop songs don’t blend well, then think again.
Michael Jackson’s sixth studio album  “Thriller should be listened to as it is the world’s bestselling album. There is a good chance you’ve heard multiple songs from this album and there is a good chance you’ve danced to them.
One of Burritt Resident Chaplain Autumn Van Buren’s essential albums is “Atlas: Year Two” by Sleeping at Last. “It explores all different emotions and senses of being human,” she said, adding, “Also, [Sleeping at Last created] songs based on the enneagrams and they will rip your heart out! It’s an ongoing music series simply exploring the beauty and messiness of life.
Marvin Gaye’s eleventh studio album- “What’s Going On” is a must-hear because, according to Mary Moore, “it has many prophetic messages.”
Beyonce’s sixth studio album and the Grammy-nominated “Lemonade is culturally relevant and each song tells a part of the story and flows into the other.
Kendrick Lamar ’s fourth studio album “DAMN. ” on the fact that it won a Pulitzer Prize and is a Grammy Award-winning album alone.
Death Cab for Cutie’s “Plans“; it’s a beautifully put together album with a flow like none other. If you want an album that “examines emotions from a variety of unique metaphors” then look no further than Death Cab for Cutie’s “Plans.” It is what Morgan Rich will listen to in totality.

For inspiration, Josiah Mohr suggests Switchfoot’s “The Beautiful Letdown“. “[It] reminds us what is important in life and why we can’t be satisfied with going through the motions,” the GSGA member says.
Logic’s “Everybody” struck a chord with Tawnie Kozora, as the personal nature of the album spoke to her. “[Everybody] covers so many issues in the United States and the world, [from] mental health to racism there is a song for it.

Nathan Craig adds The Script’s third studio album “#3” to the list because, “with hit songs like ‘Hall of Fame’ and ‘If You Could See Me Now”, it’s a very emotional album that’s a thank you to ordinary people and just songs that help you realize the importance of things in like.”
RC Johnny Hinton adds Lorde’s second studio album “Melodrama” because it “explores musicality and feelings.”
Sodexo employee Rachel Luke insists on Gungor’s “One Wild Life: Soul” as an album to listen to. “They are incredibly beautiful and diverse musically. The songs engage with the magical beauty that is this life as well as the brokenness and heartache.”
Katie Brown found encouragement and faith in Britt Nicole’s “Gold“. Brown cited those uplifting reasons as to why everyone should listen to this album.
Florence and the Machine’s second studio album and Grammy-nominated “Ceremonials“: Brenna Weins states that every one of Florence and the Machine’s albums “gives you that moment” and that includes this exceptional album.
Avicii’s second studio album “Stories” is the perfect album to listen to when you need to be encouraged. Songs like Trouble and Broken Arrows are sure to help anyone out of their toughest rut.
Fall Out Boy’s fourth studio album “Folie à Deux” was the band’s last studio album released before their hiatus. On that fact alone, the album seems to hold a special place in fan’s hearts.
Troye Sivan’s album “Blue Neighborhood is an impressive debut. Listening to this album, you’ll either find Sivan narrating your adolescence or you’ll find him recounting similar experiences. 
Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox is his second studio album. It’s Bruno Mars’ best work. Everyone should listen to him, as he’s an amazing artist. But “Unorthodox Jukebox” is Mars’ best and most consistent work. He blends various genres seamlessly.

A special thank you to everyone who contributed to this list! Check out each artist and their music wherever music is streamed or sold. Hopefully, one ends up being the soundtrack for your summer!

(All images courtesy of Apple Music. Featured image by Joey Clinton.)


  1. You picked some great albums although, as a Greenville ’90s grad, I expected to see Jars of Clay in the mix. 🙂

    Seriously, thanks for this list and including great picks like Mat Kearney and Switchfoot.


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