The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Review | buzz picks the worst albums of 2023

Meryl Resurreccion

From the closing of Tacool to Altegeld’s construction ruining graduation photos, this semester has been rough for University of Illinois students. Many subpar albums released by established artists did not help.

Rated out of 10, here are the buzz staff’s picks for the worst albums of 2023.


“For All the Dogs” Drake 

Worst song: “7969 Santa” 

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Overall rating: 5.4

Throughout the past decade, Drake has consistently proven himself to be one of the greatest rappers of his generation, releasing creative masterpieces like “Take Care” and “Thank Me Later.” Though Drake remains one of the biggest rappers today, routinely releasing chart-topping albums, his last few releases have lost the charm that made his early albums so memorable. “For All the Dogs” may have been one of the most disappointing albums of the year, with only a few catchy songs. The rest drone on with uninspired lyrics and lazy beats. 


“Austin” Post Malone

Worst song: “Overdrive”

Overall rating: 5.2

The first word that comes to mind when describing Malone’s newest album is “forgettable.” Seventeen songs and 52 minutes long, his fifth studio album “Austin” is a jumbled attempt of muddled creativity, a project that does too much and too little at the same time. Malone attempts to step away from the hip-hop sound he has nearly perfected into something a little more pop-powered, but his attempt ultimately falls flat. Each song becomes a bland display of experimental ambition that is easily forgotten — it also didn’t help that the record was released on the same day as Travis Scott’s chart-topping “UTOPIA.”


“-” Ed Sheeran

Worst song: “Salt Water”

Overall rating: 5.1

Sheeran’s fifth studio album “-” explores themes of loss, depression and heartache amid an acoustic guitar and downcast strings. Despite the complex themes and intricate lyricism, “-” fails to become the masterpiece it could have easily been, with shapeless songs that begin to blend into each other halfway through the album. Sheeran’s intimacy isn’t enough to save the album from turning into a fatigued and shapeless exhibit of loss, with the thought of the wasted potential looming over each track. 


“Portals” Melanie Martinez

Worst song: “Nymphology”

Overall rating: 4.6

Alternative-pop artist Martinez attempts another conceptual project with the release of her third studio album “Portals.” The themes of dark fantasy and mythology are intriguing, but with subpar songwriting, most tracks come across as particularly pretentious. Stale production with mundane compositional techniques contributes to the air of ostentatious posturing towards self-enlightenment. With high art comes high expectations — unfortunately, Martinez failed to deliver. 


“Summertime Friends” The Chainsmokers

Worst song: “My Bad”

Overall rating: 4.3

Dance-pop duo The Chainsmokers released their fifth album “Summertime Friends” in October. Luckily, it went largely unnoticed by the average music consumer. The title track is the only song on this album with audible effort put into it. Every other song is interchangeable, with the exception of the monstrosity “My Bad.” The distasteful use of autotune on guest artist Shenseea’s vocals and the use of Andrew Taggert’s vocals reiterate the fact that The Chainsmokers are not recording artists — they are glorified producers.


“Grapes Upon the Vine” TV Girl

Worst song: “I’ll Be Faithful”

Overall rating: 3.7

TV Girl’s newest album “Grapes Upon the Vine” is drenched in their familiar groovy charm and down-to-earth vocals, following a familiar formula that has made their past albums so successful. Unfortunately, “Grapes Upon the Vine” is simply a waste of time, offering nothing new besides TV Girl’s unimaginative sound and messy half-done samples. Halfway through the album, you will find yourself getting bored, skipping through one-dimensional-sounding songs just to be greeted by another one. “Grapes Upon the Vine” comes off as lazy, reaping the spoils of previous albums and basking in a sound that they know works. Except this time, it doesn’t. 


“Black Butta” RuPaul

Worst song: “Black Butta”

Overall rating: 3.3

Reality television star and world-famous drag queen RuPaul released her 13th studio album “Black Butta” on Jan. 6 of this year. The devolution into mediocrity of RuPaul’s music has been well-documented, and this new release continues the same trend with great strength. The bridges on nearly all of the tracks sound out of place, and catchiness is only afforded to the opening track. With the large success of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” you would assume RuPaul would have a large budget for a musical endeavor; however, the pedestrian sonic landscapes show that every expense was spared when crafting “Black Butta.”


“Sremm 4 Life” Rae Sremmurd

Worst song: “Bend Ya Knees”

Overall rating: 3.0

Not to be confused with the hip-hop duo’s previous works of “SremmLife,” “SremmLife 2” or “SR3MM,” “Sremm 4 Life” is a poor reiteration of their previous works’ formulas. With every new release, Sremmurd increasingly relies on their counterparts rather than developing their sound. Each track is virtually indistinguishable from the other, with repeated flows, percussion choices and themes explored being unique to none. Though there are some entertaining moments, this album is greatly lacking in what the title claims to have: life. 


“It’s the End of the World but It’s a Beautiful Day” Thirty Seconds to Mars

Worst song: “Life Is Beautiful”

Overall rating: 2.4

“It’s the End of the World but It’s a Beautiful Day” is Thirty Seconds to Mars’ sixth studio album, and it’s nothing more than a generic and repetitious collection of pop songs. While the band’s earlier albums were unique and filled with a complex type of creativity that only Thirty Seconds to Mars could produce, their most recent album is simply not memorable. Each track lacks creativity, with repetitive lyricism and a one-dimensional sound that creates a dull album without a single redeeming quality.  


“One Thing at a Time” Morgan Wallen

Worst song: “Ain’t That Some”

Overall rating: 1.2

“One Thing at a Time” is a two-hour listening session that is not worth your time. Wallen pushes the limited boundaries of bro-country to a new low, an unforeseen feat for the generic subgenre. Failed attempts at trap stylings serve as an empty gesture towards genre immersion, leaving the listener wondering who this album is really meant for. There is not much to critique, as uninspired content leads to uninspired reviews. “One Thing at a Time” embodies everything wrong with contemporary country radio: laziness. 


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About the Contributor
Annisyn Krebs-Carr
Annisyn Krebs-Carr, Senior buzz Reporter
Hi, I’m Annisyn! I am currently a freshman majoring in journalism. I started with The Daily Illini in Fall 2023 as a buzz staff writer, and became Senior buzz Reporter in the spring. I’m excited to be a part of The DI editorial team, and I’m looking forward to writing more arts and entertainment content. When I’m not writing for The DI, I enjoy playing with my dogs and watching movies. For any questions or concerns feel free to contact me at my email below.
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