My Top 10 Albums of 2019

In past years, I've shared lists of my favorite books I've read and shows that I've seen. (My top ten shows list is coming soon, worry not.) This year, I really enjoyed listening to a lot of new music so I wanted to share some of my favorite albums. I've gotten into folk pop and indie folk music and even started using Spotify finally. (Here's one of my favorite Spotify playlists.) 

But I wanted to share some of my favorite albums that were released this year with you all. It's a mix of cast albums, movie soundtracks, EPs, and new releases from favorite artists. I've presented them here in no particular order.

Lover (Taylor Swift)
Track I have on repeat: "I Think He Knows" 
It will likely be a shock to no one to hear that Taylor Swift's latest album, "Lover," is undoubtedly my favorite album of the year. When Taylor releases a new album, it's not just new music for me to listen to; it tends to open a new era in my life. This album is really special to me because for the first time, Taylor seems so genuinely happy both in her relationship and in who she is. I'm not sure if I'm willing to relinquish "Red" as my favorite TS album, but this one is certainly close.

Beetlejuice cast album 
Track I have on repeat: "The Whole Being Dead Thing" 
I'll be talking about "Beetlejuice" more in my top shows I saw this year post, but suffice to say it was one of the biggest surprises of this year for me. Alex Brightman and Sophia Ann Caruso are easily two of the brightest talents on Broadway right now. This album captures the essence of the show really well, is perfect for singing along to, and has a couple of lyrics specifically for the recording.

Rocketman soundtrack 
Track I have on repeat: "I'm Still Standing" 
"Rocketman" was another surprise for me this year; I've always liked Elton John's music, but I loved this film. It was everything that I wanted "Bohemian Rhapsody" to be. I've actually returned to this album quite a bit. While I, of course, love hearing Elton sing his own music, I also love to hear Taron Egerton sing it. Plus...Richard Madden singing "Honky Cat." Enough said. 

Company cast album 
Track I have on repeat: "Marry Me A Little" 
As soon as I saw "Company" last January in London, I was eagerly awaiting the release of a cast album. The musical was great in its original form, but it's transcendent in this new gender-flipped production. So many of my favorite performers were in this show from Rosalie Craig to George Blagden to Jonny Bailey and it's such a treat to be able to listen to their incredible vocals over and over. I lost count of the number of times I cried while walking through the streets of New York listening to Rosalie sing "Being Alive." 

January to June (Zach Adkins) 
Track I have on repeat: "Dexter Hall" 
I love discovering newer singer-songwriters and Zach Adkins's music is something really special. Fans might know him from Broadway's "Anastasia" and I was lucky enough to see him in North Carolina Theatre's production of "West Side Story" earlier this year. He has a beautiful voice to complement his songwriting skills and I look forward to more music of his in the future. If you like indie folk type music or Ed Sheeran's albums, you'll probably love Zach's.

The Clockmaker's Daughter cast album 
Track I have on repeat: "Spindlewood" 
What's not to love about a musical concept album that sounds like you combined an Irish and a Disney fairytale? I wrote a full review of this album, but I continue to love it just as much as I did when it was released. It has gorgeous vocals from the likes of Fra Fee and Ramin Karimloo and a lovely mix of ballads and uptempo songs. I would love to get to see a production of this show someday. 

RH-2: Live at Summerhouse Studios (Rob Houchen) 
Track I have on repeat: "More" 
Rob Houchen is one of my favorite songwriters and singers and I've loved all of the music he has released thus far. I love the rendition of "More" that he has on this album; it's the perfect song to listen to if you need to pump yourself up.

Oklahoma cast album 
Track I have on repeat: "Lonely Room" 
I've been very outspoken about my love for this radical new production of "Oklahoma" on Broadway that unfortunately closes this month and I'm so grateful to have a cast album for it. If you'd told me I'd be jamming out to "Oklahoma" last year, I would have thought you were crazy. But with exciting new folk-y orchestrations and fantastic vocals, it's an obvious choice for one of my favorite albums of the year.

Amidst the Chaos (Sara Bareilles) 
Track I have on repeat: "Orpheus" 
This was the year that I properly discovered Sara Bareilles who had sort of been in my periphery for years. Not only did I finally see "Waitress" on Broadway, but I also fell head over heels for Sara's newest album. I had the hardest time choosing just one song to list above! It's the perfect album for when I'm chilling in my apartment because I find Sara's voice to be very soothing but the lyrics and the artistry on display are so inspiring.

Hadestown cast album 
Track I have on repeat: "Livin' it Up on Top" 
I love listening to this album on my way to work in the morning because it's so fun to sing along to. I love the folk influence. From Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada's beautiful ballads to Andre de Shield and Amber Gray's upbeat bops, each song feels more perfect than the last. And can we talk about Patrick Page's voice?

Honorable Mention: Dove Cameron's singles 
Track I have on repeat: "Out of Touch" 
In the past few months, actress and singer Dove Cameron has started releasing her own music. It's exciting to see her flourish as an artist post-Disney Channel life and get to have more freedom over her work and her image. I've loved each of the four tracks she has released: "Waste," "Bloodshot," "Out of Touch," and "So Good." They're perfect songs to dance around to or blast in the car. I can't wait for Dove to release more of her music in 2020! 

What were your favorite albums of 2019? Do you have recommendations for me to listen to? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter. x

My Goals for 2020

Now that my goals for 2019 are (mostly) done, it's time to share with you all my goals for 2020. As I've said before, I prefer goals to resolutions are they're more concrete so it feels easier to work towards them.

One. Watch 100 movies.
This is one goal that I'm carrying over from last year. For this challenge, I only include films that I haven't seen before or that I haven't seen in at least ten years. (AKA rewatching Joe Wright's 2005 "Pride and Prejudice" twelve times does not count.) It was a bit of a struggle at the end to try to hit one hundred, but I think that it will be easier for me this year as I won't have a big move getting in my way and I get screeners sent to me now because of being a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. It's one of the challenges I've enjoyed most in 2019 as I've discovered some new favorites, fixed blind spots, and rewatched things I haven't seen since I was a child.

Two. Visit five new historic sites. 
This is another that I'm carrying over, but demanding five instead of three. I'm hoping that this spurs me to actually visit some of the historic sites here in Raleigh that I haven't gone near since moving. Maybe I'll even do some traveling within North Carolina to find some cool ones.

Three. Read 12 books. 
I'll admit that my goal of 20 books for last year was too ambitious and I came nowhere near it. I'm hoping that I can actually keep myself to one book a month if I offset some of the longer books on my TBR with quicker, shorter reads.

Four. Do a blog series based on my undergraduate thesis. 
I've been meaning to round up all of the research that I did on French Enlightenment salonnières and make a blog series about them for a few years now. There are so few people who actually know much about them and I'd like to introduce at least a few more people to them. I'm determined that this is the year that I actually stop procrastinating and do it.

Five. Put money aside into my savings. 
Now that I'm properly settled down into an apartment and not looking to move states again anytime soon, I'm hoping to start putting money aside into savings instead of living paycheck to paycheck as I have been. I just moved a bit over last week, which is an encouraging starting point. I'm hoping to use some of this money to fund a bit of traveling this year.

Six. See 30 shows. 
Hopefully this won't be too difficult as I'm hoping to plan trips to New York and London over the course of 2020 and I'll be seeing shows to review for BroadwayWorld Raleigh here at home.

Seven. Work out at least twice a month. 
I haven't properly worked out much since I moved to North Carolina in July (wince). I need to get back into it in the new year and I figured that setting an easy goal like working out twice a month would actually make me more likely to achieve it. I have a small gym in my apartment complex that I can use, but I'd also like to try out Class Pass.

Eight. Earn money from my writing. 
This is definitely my most ambitious and nerve-wracking goal. I'm very happy writing for the three outlets that I regularly write for, but I would like to branch out and try pitching my work to some other outlets -- maybe even paying ones.

Nine. Cook three meals in my Instant Pot. 
I got an Instant Pot for Christmas from my parents and I'm so excited to learn how to use it. I really want to do more proper cooking in my apartment so I thought that this would be a fun goal.

Ten. Read War and Peace
Yes, this is one I've been carrying over in my goals for a few years now. But hopefully 2020 is the year that it will finally happen!

What are your goals or resolutions for 2020? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter. x
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