Top 5: Favorite Albums of 2017

While 2017 wasn't exactly the best year, to say the least, it managed to pull through when it came to two things: music and video games.

Some great albums were released this past year, and not taking a minute to recognize them would be a real disservice. I didn't pay much attention to the American music scene and, even when a song popped onto my radar, I never felt inclined to listen to the artist's full album. My list is essentially all Korean and Japanese music, but even if music with non-English lyrics isn't your jam, give these albums a listen and let me know what you think in the comments below.

5. Goblin: The Lonely and Great God OST - Nam Hyeseung 

Goblin was a cultural phenomenon in South Korea. It's the second highest rated drama in Korean cable TV history, with the finale bringing in an almost 19% nationwide audience share. While it technically started airing in December 2016, it didn't wrap until January 2017, so I'm counting it as a 2017 release. While the show had amazing tracks released by top Korean artists like Stay with Me by Punch and Chanyeol (above) and I Will Go To You Like the First Snow by Ailee, the instrumental part of the OST is just as breathtaking. The whole album is just a spectacular rollercoaster of emotions, just like the drama.

4. Shangri-La - VIXX

If you thought I wouldn't put a VIXX album on this list, then BOY WERE YOU WRONG! They are my favorite group for a reason, after all. Shangri-La was, unfortunately, the only album the group released this year, and it was just a mini-album, but it lived up to the very high expectations I have for them. VIXX has a seemingly endless spring of talent between the six members, and that really shows in every single track on this album. I love every song, but Black Out and Into the Void are probably my favorites. You can check out the whole album on Spotify.

3. Universe - EXO

EXO is known for releasing a winter album almost every year, so Universe was far from a surprise when it was released. However, unlike their past winter albums where songs were hit or miss with me, Universe is packed with great tunes that make you just want to curl up by a fire and sip some hot chocolate. I wrote a full review of the album for The Kraze, but long story short is that Universe was truly one of my favorite albums of the year, even if it did come out just days before 2017 came to an end. Been Through is definitely my favorite track, but Spotify has the whole album so you can listen and see what you think.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild OST - Manaka Kataoka & Yasuaki Iwata

There were a lot of good game soundtracks that came out this year. Between the old-school swing on the Cuphead OST to the groovy tracks on the Persona 5 OST and Sonic Mania OST to the collection of just about every style you could imagine on the Super Mario Odyssey OST, there was a soundtrack for almost every musical style you could think of. The Breath of the Wild soundtrack, however, was the one that really stuck with me this year.  Every part of a game is so important to the overall experience, and the music is no exception. One part of why Breath of the Wild was named Game of the Year by almost every review site out there is because the music was perfect. The tempo speeds up when you're in a fierce battle, but calms down when you're exploring. There's special tracks for each village that really encompass each village's individual cultures, as well as a tune that will start playing when it rains or when you approach a stable. One character, an elusive Rito bard named Kass, even has his own song, which he's always playing. It becomes a sort of beacon, letting you know when he's nearby.

1. UNOFFICIAL - The Oral Cigarettes

Probably my favorite band that I discovered this year, The Oral Cigarettes took my playlists by storm. They've released some great single albums this year, including the one that has my favorite track, Black Memory, but when it comes to albums as a whole, none can compare to UNOFFICIAL. Their latest full album is so packed with good music, it's basically unbelievable. On top of that, quite a few of the tracks have music videos, which are all a visual ride. Their darker, alternative punk sound is something I've always enjoyed, but The Oral Cigarettes take it one step further by providing some really interesting riffs and musical phrases that make their songs really fun to listen to. UNOFFICIAL is available, in full, on Spotify, so be sure to check it out.