The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Catherine Pascal, Staff Writer • May 3, 2024
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Anya Geiling, Contributing Writer • April 30, 2024

The Bill Clinton Meme: Our Top Four Albums


You’ve probably seen the “Bill Clinton Swag” meme circulating social media in the last few weeks – the original photo of Bill Clinton surrounded by records has been transformed into a viral meme and music fans all over are using an online website to swap out these albums for their own favorites. Members of our e-board thought long and hard about their top four album choices and shared some words about why these albums are worthy of a spot in their own “Bill Clinton Swag” meme: 


Dayra Santana – Editor-in-Chief

“Cardinal” by Pinegrove 

This album came out in 2016, during my senior year of high school amidst college admission rejections and promposals. It’s only eight tracks long but each song is complex and colorful. When you let this album really sink in, you realize it’s one about friendship and the things we sometimes leave unsaid in these relationships. I listened to this album every single day of my senior year and a month before graduation, I skipped school to line up early for Pinegrove’s show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I was front row that night, my elbows perched up on stage as I screamed out the lyrics to my favorite songs. “Cardinal” is an album that I hold near to my heart, an album that always reminds me that I “should call my parents when I think of them, should tell my friends when I love them.”

“Stranger in the Alps” by Phoebe Bridgers

This album, Phoebe Bridgers’ 2017 debut, has not left my mind since I first listened to it. Bridgers is a natural story-teller and each song on this album is a confession as she recounts heartache, funerals, and motion sickness. Every single word in this album counts and yet they are, at times, so simple that they feel like they could be found in a diary entry or in the Notes app on your phone. This is an album that I wish I could have written – but I’m lucky to have heard it anyways. 


“Immunity” by Clairo

This album came out last summer and instantly became the soundtrack to every car ride, packed subway car and late afternoon in the city. Clairo is well-known for her bedroom-pop anthems like “4EVER,” but this album is a more refined extension of her teenaged love songs, her lyrics more meaningful and subtle but still relentlessly catchy. “Bags,” my favorite track on “Immunity,” in which Clairo agonizes over an unrequited love, has made its way onto every single playlist I’ve made since I first heard it. 


“American Football” by American Football 

This album was released in 1999, a year after I was born, by a band that was only together for three short years, and yet it has achieved cult status and is one of the most influential emo albums of our time. It’s a strange mix of math-rock guitar riffs and trumpet solos, but it comes together to form some of the most emotionally stunning 40 minutes of music I’ve ever heard. The band broke up only months after this self-titled release, and so this album, in many ways, feels like teenage years frozen in time. It also has my favorite covers – a simple mid-western house with it’s attic window lit up. It’s an iconic image, one that almost makes you feel like you know what the album is going to sound like before you even hear it.  


Jillian Ortiz – Managing Editor 

This was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I hate picking favorite things – I don’t even have a favorite food or color. But for this, I went by the albums that I can sit through and listen from start to finish – albums that I never want to skip a song on. 


“Fine Line” by Harry Styles

The moment I played this album, I knew it was going to be the album of the century. Period. I will never be able to say a single bad thing about anything Harry Styles makes, says or does, but even if I was able to I would not be able to deny that this album is worthy of praise across the board. It’s a true masterpiece. From the opening track “Golden” to the last note of “Fine Line,” it is obvious that this is not just an album – it is an experience. It is intricate, intimate and every lyric, chord and breath was carefully chosen. Put it in the Louvre! 


“Black Messiah” by D’Angelo and the Vanguard 

This album gives me the chills. Every single track. D’Angelo’s voice is like no other. This album in particular is a standout because it marked his return to the music scene after a very lengthy hiatus (14 years!). It is soulful, funky and a statement maker. D’Angelo was very wise with this album – you’ll have to listen to pick up on why. Additionally, The Vanguard are phenomenally talented and provide the perfect instrumentation for D’Angelo on this album. Ask me to pick a favorite track off of this album. I can’t. The only way I can explain it is for you to give it a listen yourself. 


“4 Your Eyez Only” by J.Cole 

The first time I listened to this album, I cried. I cry every time. We get it – Cole went platinum with no features with “2014 Forest Hills Drive,” and “Born Sinner” is drool-worthy (there’s probably a better way to describe it). But there’s something special about this album. It’s especially intimate, and I truly love albums that tell a story. I can’t skip a single track. I had the privilege of attending the “4 Your Eyez Only World Tour” back in 2017 and I think that honestly made me fall more in love with the album. The way he presented the tour resonated with everyone in attendance. 


“Wasteland, Baby!” by Hozier 

Where do I even begin with this one? This album honestly was not my favorite thing when it first came out, but after a few listens it was the only album I was able to listen to for a month straight. I even flew out to London to see his “Wasteland, Baby!” tour at the London Palladium. There’s something so peaceful about his voice. This album combined many elements to make it one of my favorites of all time. Hozier covers a range of topics, emotions and sounds and bundles them all up in less than an hour. I think it is universally agreed upon that the man can do no wrong. 


Shaolin Barid – Business Manager

“Lover” by Taylor Swift

Ever since this album came out last summer (back when life was simpler), I have been listening to these songs nonstop. Taylor Swift’s incredible songwriting, her pastel aesthetic and poppy sounds fit perfectly together for my taste. I’ve never related more to a Taylor Swift album than I have to this one. Not only does this album simply exude a light feathery feeling of happiness but it really drives home the appreciation for including personal experiences in songs that anyone can relate to. 


“For Ever” by Jungle

Jungle’s “Casio” pulled me in first, but it was the delightful, catchy beats of “House in LA,” “Cherry” and “Happy Man” that made me stay for the entirety of the album. For me, this has been one of my top albums thus far as it synced perfectly to my moods, held steady for great study music and allowed me to be immersed in a different world where the sun shines everyday. 


“Bubba” by Kaytranada

Kaytranada’s “Bubba” is a perfect example of music that gives off dark, calm, underground vibes. Kaytranda’s funky beats were well accessorized by his minimalistic approach to each track. The first time I listened to “What You Need,” I instantly knew that I’d found my go-to car song. The aesthetic that “Bubba” brings to the table depicts a foil in comparison to “For Ever” and I absolutely love the dark nature of the album. It makes me feel a sense of relaxation within darkness. 


“Born This Way” by Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga. Shall I say more? This album embodies classic dance-pop magic and emits a sense of dark and royal beauty. I revisited my love for this album recently and I cannot emphasize enough  just how empowering it is to listen to Lady Gaga sing-whisper, “When I am on a mission, I rebuke my condition, if you’re a strong female, you don’t need permission.” Again, Lady Gaga. Shall I say more?


Sydney Denham – Sports Editor

Firstly, coming up with just four albums was hard enough (the four below are in no specific order). Then having to describe why I liked them seemed even more difficult than I thought it would be. Mainly because for every single one of these albums I could’ve just said, “because they’re just so great,” and left it at that. Yet, here is my best attempt at expressing my love for these four albums which I feel introduce the wide variety of music I have on my Spotify playlists. 


“Trilogy” by The Weeknd

This album came out as three different mixtapes from 2011. It is a masterpiece. There are various different sounds to complement Abel’s powerful tones. There is so much I can say about this album   it is difficult to cut it all down to one paragraph. The song “Twenty-Eight” is always played on every one of my car rides. Especially after having listened to his newest album, “After Hours,” it is evident that “Trilogy” had a huge impact on who he has become. He uses some of the same language in both albums, criticizing the person he was during the time “Trilogy” was made. To say the least, this album has the perfect blend of alternative and R&B to make all of its music suitable to any mood. 


“Ultraviolence” by Lana Del Rey

This album came out at the end of my middle school years. I used to listen to Lana a lot and I was lucky enough to go to her concert at the end of my freshman year in highschool. Yeah, this album is old, yet I can still listen through without skipping any songs. It will truly get you in your feelings every time you listen to it. This psychedelic, desert rock album mixes with a sense of dream pop to create a whirlwind of sounds behind Lana’s melancholic vocals. Anytime I have a long paper to write for my classes, Lana Del Rey is playing in my headphones to keep me focused. 


“Late Registration” by Kanye West

“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is looked at by most people as West’s best album. In my opinion, his earlier work is much better. “Late Registration” really gives off “pink polo Kanye” vibes. This album is packed with hits and tells great stories. It followed up his debut album “The College Dropout,” which won the Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2004. I think “Late Registration” really surpassed people’s expectations. This album really brings back memories of Kanye when he was in his prime. To this very day, Kanye West’s concert I went to in 2016 was by far the best concert I have been to. Even though it started two hours late and I missed my train home, I would go back to that night in a heartbeat. 


“2014 Forest Hills Drive” by J. Cole

I’ve never skipped a song on this album. These songs fit into any of my playlists. Whether I am working out, doing homework or going for a drive, any one of these songs fit in there. From beginning to end, this album screams J. Cole. I think this is his best album, with “4 Your Eyez Only” as a close second. Every song on this album tells a story. Also, for lack of better words, J. Cole is a lyrical genius in my opinion. I had the chance of seeing J. Cole on his last tour, and he really made me feel like a new person when I walked out of the concert. I sang, laughed, cried and got angry, yet still walked out with a smile from ear-to-ear.


Maher S. Maher – Social Media Manager

Like Patrick says below, it’s impossible to pick just four albums. When I did the Bill Clinton post for my Instagram story (shameless plug: @mallowmaher) I used several versions. The albums below are my recommendations, there will not be a song that disappoints you on any of these. Listening to any of these albums from start to finish will be a wonderful adventure. To that effect, and my earlier point of wanting more than four, my only regret is that I couldn’t fit Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.


“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles

The quintessential album of the quintessential band in rock history and considered the greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone, Sgt. Pepper’s represents the best-case-scenario when an artist chooses to go all-out experimental after earning their creative license. The Fab Four transitioned from their youthfulness on albums like “Help!” Every detail of this album is meaningful, the iconic cover with its brilliant references, or the tracklist behind the overarching backdrop which gave modern music the idea that an album can be a bigger idea besides a collection of tracks. The songs on this album are culturally ageless and leave listeners with a deep sense to revisit.


“you’re gonna miss it all” by Modern Baseball

Since their high school days, Modern Baseball has always incorporated powerfully charged lyrics and raw emotion into their work. In their studio albums, one can see a great foundation being built in their music on “Sports,” released two years earlier. To many, a listen-through of this album feels like a somewhat-melancholy adventure into resurfacing those internal crypts that contain buried teenage pain, anxiety, and confusion. But oddly enough, this album doesn’t bring you down, it clears the haze of those emotions so that you can finally be at peace with that angsty young person. 


“Highway 61 Revisited” by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is probably the most accomplished musician we’ll ever see. He has reached the perfect crossroad between superstardom and world-changing art. His music has an unparalleled depth, and “Highway 61 Revisited” is one of the most influential albums in this country’s history. Dylan’s unique, tinny, snaring voice opens the American soul in an album named after a highway that connected much of the midwest. Better attempts to define this deep character can also be seen later in some of his later albums like “John Wesley Harding.” But on Highway 61, we meet Dylan, the 23-year old whose music is changing the social commentary around the Vietnam War and society. 


“Didn’t It Rain” by Hugh Laurie

I know for a fact that I am Hugh Laurie’s biggest fan. This man has had the perfect entertainment career, and I’ve explored it all. I dug up and watched all the archives of “A Bit of Fry and Laurie,” a 90’s British comedy skit show he did with Stephen Fry; I’ve rewatched “House” so many times over, I know the show detail for detail. Everything Laurie touches turns to gold because of how brilliant of an artist he is – his blues albums are no different. How the hell can a British guy capture the heart of the old-timey American soul so well? “Didn’t It Rain is his second and last album, with recreations of iconic songs like Champion Jack’s “Junkers Blues.” This album modernizes old blues, making them easier to listen to and yet still earning the appreciation of the art.



Sara Rodia – Co-Opinion Editor

“My Dear Melancholy” by The Weeknd

Even though this is not technically a full album and only an EP, it is a pure masterpiece. Each of the six songs is a work of art and I could listen to them over and over again without ever getting sick of them. The words in each song are so deep and call on such powerful emotions that I become engulfed in each word of every song everytime I listen to this EP. The Weeknd by far tops the charts as my favorite artist and while I love each one of his albums in its own way, “My Dear Melancholy” just hits something different inside me and I fall in love with the EP every time I hear it.


“Hamilton” by The Broadway Cast of Hamilton / Lin-Manuel Miranda

So yes, “Hamilton” calls on the Broadway nerd in me big time, but it is a pure work of genius and I could probably rave about it in a full ten-page essay with sources. The way Lin-Manuel Miranda weaves repetitive lyrics, phrases and melodies throughout the entire two hour and 22-minute soundtrack is amazing to me and the way you can listen to the soundtrack and know the entire story without even seeing the show is glorious. I mean, just listen to “Nonstop” and about half of the previous songs are referenced in a truly surreal way tying everything together beautifully. There is not a single song on the 46 song soundtrack that I skip and I could easily lay in my bed and listen to the entire soundtrack without getting bored. Regardless of if you like Broadway or not, Hamilton is a work of pure genius that everyone needs to listen to at least once.


“2014 Forest Hills Drive” by J. Cole

“2014 Forest Hills Drive” is the go-to album that I put on when I get into my car after not driving for a while. The first thing I do when I hop into my car after being at school for two months and not driving is put this album on and you can believe I blast it (preferably with the windows down when it’s warm out). This album tells a story and I think we can all agree those kinds of albums are not only the best but the most impressive. J. Cole is an unbelievable artist and this album embodies him the best without a single song falling below amazing. Catch me driving around blasting “No Role Models” to escape my house every day for … well, who knows how long.


“American Teen” by Khalid

I can still remember being a junior in high school when this album came out and being able to relate to so many of the songs on it. This album screams American teen, so you can imagine how relatable it was to me when it came out. “Young Dumb & Broke,” “8teen” and “Let’s go” embodied my mindset heading into my senior year and songs like “Shot Down” (my all-time favorite song of his) and “Keep Me” came so close to my heart. I will never be able to listen to this album without feeling it in my soul and remembering all the good and hard times that came in high school. Let me just leave this at “Angels” because I think we can all just agree with no context needed.


Alicia Venter – News Editor

This literally took me forever, and while there are other albums that I listen to more often now, (i.e. Hamilton), these are the albums I always come back to and that hit different. These choices make me look like a 70-year-old midwestern grandmother who led the only anti-Vietnam protest in her small hometown, and I take pride in that.


“Waylon and Willie” by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson

I used to listen to both Waylon and Willie separately growing up, singing in the car and being absolutely in love with them. They are basically southern classics, for those of you who don’t know who they are. Each man has a wonderful backstory they have been simple, great people who sing so well and peacefully together. The song “Wurlitzer Prize” is just so wonderful and relaxing, I could listen to it on repeat for hours. They do a cover of “Gold Dust Woman,” from the album “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac, which has also made this list, barely beating out My Chemical Romance (why must I only get four!). If you don’t like the first song on the album, “Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” I can only pray for you. My only wish would be that their classic, “Luckenbach, Texas,” that they sung together, was a part of the album.


“Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac

Every time I play this album, I think about how the main singers were going through a divorce, and only spoke to one another when recording – if that isn’t iconic I do not know what is. The songs on this album are so powerful, each making me dance, sing or get deep in thought. I like to dance around to “Gold Dust Woman,” and scream-sing “The Chain” and  “Second-Hand News.” I mean, they are insulting one another … singing in the same booth. I only want that energy.


“Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War – The Soundtrack” by Multiple Authors

Ken Burns – an icon. The Vietnam War – my favorite musical era. This soundtrack, with my favorite songs from the era by my favorite artists – an absolute, complete, monumental, mind-blowing bop. There is nothing else to say.


“The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” by Bob Dylan

If you don’t know how much I love Bob Dylan, you probably shouldn’t ask, because I could go on all day. A southern boy who moved up north, he was the first singer to win a Nobel Prize in Literature for his lyrics. What. A. King. He has a 17-minute song about the assassination of John F. Kennedy (and if you don’t know how much I love the Kennedy’s, you are behind in the game). This album encompasses my entire energy, draws light on my favorite musical time period (Vietnam) and is extremely clever and intelligent. Each song shows how incredibly smart he is, each word chosen carefully and purposefully. The song “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” IS my theme song. “Masters of War” is how I feel about ‘Nam. “Oxford Town” sends me into shock everytime I listen to it. Basically, this album makes me feel, and that takes a lot, so shout out to it.


Dana Livingston – Chief Copy Editor

Choosing four and only four albums as my favorites was just as hard for me as it probably would be for you (yes, you) reading this right now. As a cop out, I could easily just list the discography of The 1975, my favorite band on the face of the planet, and call it a day, but I can’t, so I wont. Here’s the dilemma: music taste is often fluid, changing and adapting to our daily whims and moods – my top four right now might not be my top four tomorrow or even next week. But after hours of thought, I think I’ve finally got it. Read it and weep. 


“H.E.R.” by H.E.R.

Whew. I’m confident that “H.E.R.,” H.E.R.’s standout, debut album, will forever follow me as one of my favorite albums of all time. H.E.R. has reproduced the sound that my parents once touted as their favorite in their own youth – the sensual soulfulness that embodies the genre that is R&B. This album is a testament to the reimagining of what it means to create music with an R&B sound in the 21st century. I find myself thinking of this album as a symbol of a generational bridge, bringing those old souls who seek the sexy sounds of classic R&B together with the new souls who wish to continue to take part in that timeless musical tradition.   


“A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships” by The 1975

This album is 58 minutes and 26 seconds of pure harmonic bliss. The 1975 was always known as that one band that put out the songs with warbled lyrics, with the frontman who flailed around on stage. For me, this album, the band’s most recent, represents a shift in focus toward writing songs about things that should matter to us in the here-and-now: the failure of “modernity,” political unrest, the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community and much, much more. 


“American Idiot” by Green Day

The year is 2011. I’m an “angsty” seventh-grader who paints her nails black and thinks constantly wearing a flannel is a personality trait. I remember “discovering” this album while eavesdropping in on the older kids on the school bus and thinking I was an absolute legend for knowing all the lyrics to “Jesus of Suburbia” – which was not an easy feat, let me tell you. I listen to this album when I want to revisit my short-lived emo phase and immerse myself in music which acts as a storybook tale of the ultimate punk rocker. 


“Ginger” by Brockhampton 

This album, released after the band took a six-month hiatus following the forced exit of Ameer Vann, is one I like to listen to when I’m feeling scatterbrained. When I first listened to this album, from track one to track 12, I was just … confused. The “pretty” beats and vocals in songs like “Sugar” and “Ginger,” were overshadowed and offset by the harsh lyricism of songs like “No Halo” and “Boy Bye.” The album seemed like a cramped hodgepodge of unrelated sounds. But, for me, this album came to represent the reality of feeling a bit lost and scrambled while struggling to understand your brain after a broken relationship or just trying to get over obstacles that you yourself are forcing in your own path. 


Nick Bello – Photo Editor

“Swimming” by Mac Miller

The last album before Miller’s untimely death in 2018 is what made me really appreciate his music. The Pittsburgh rapper dives into the ups and downs of his life with songs like “Self Care” and “2009”  where he discusses his struggles with substance abuse. The album, however, also features a lot of upbeat songs like “Ladders” and “What’s The Use?,” which feature swanky beats and loveable lyrics. I think this album speaks to me so much because it is where Miller really opens up about his struggles and becomes vulnerable. I find that this isn’t easy for an artist to do and is quite courageous in my opinion.


“All-Amerikkkan Bada$$” by Joey Bada$$

This is another album that made me really appreciate an artist, as I wasn’t really a huge fan of Joey Bada$$ before listening to this album. I can recall my friends listening to this album a lot when it came out around my freshman year, however, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the greatness of the album until this past summer.  I find that the jazzy beats he uses combined with powerful lyrics about race relations in America are really what make this album. 


“Testing” by A$AP Rocky

I really think that this album is slept on for reasons I am not sure of. Sure it may not have as many hits compared to his first two albums, however, I feel that there is a lot to love about this album. The first I had heard of this album was through the single “A$AP Forever,” which was remixed a little bit when the album was released. I really like the grittiness of “Tony Tone” and the collaboration with UK rapper Skepta in “Praise Da Lord.” 


“Cleopatra” by The Lumineers

Yes, I am perfectly aware that this doesn’t seem on brand for me, however, growing up in the suburbs of Massachusetts, I have developed an ear for some folk rock. I’m not sure when this album appeared on my radar but it has been a favorite of mine for a while. I think this album has a really good flow from start to finish as all of the songs seem to follow a sort of theme, (side note: the music videos for this album are amazing). Songs like “Cleopatra” and “Sleep On The Floor” have become synonymous with this album, but, my favorite song on this album is “Angela” because I can relate to leaving my small town for bigger things.


Patrick Loftus – Culture Editor

It’s virtually impossible to just choose four albums, so I’m in the same boat as most of the editors here. For this list, I’m going with four albums that I know like the back of my hand. 


“The Cars” by The Cars 

It’s not enough to just say this album was part of my childhood. No, this album was the soundtrack of my early life. When I was a toddler, I can remember my parents and uncle playing the Beatles all the time. Whether it was driving to my uncle’s house all the way out in Suffolk County, or going on long road trips to a theme park every summer, I always heard the Beatles, and I loved it. But another time, my father played this Cars album, and five-year-old-me was blown away. I remember by the second grade, the Cars were officially my favorite band because of this album. (And they still are today, although it’s a tie between them and Rush.) This album put so much imagery in my mind as a young child like driving down a lit road at night and I’ll always remember the places I’ve been in the early days of listening to this album. 


“Power Windows” by Rush 

I was in middle school, slowly getting into Rush, when my friend recommended this album to me. Maybe it’s because I’m obsessed with synths, but I immediately fell in love with this album from the start. I remember going track by track, thinking to myself, “there’s no way the next song is as good as this one,” and being happily wrong about that. Even after discovering Rush’s whole discography from a time period of 2011-2014, this album remains on top.


“Time” by Electric Light Orchestra 

Ok, this was probably the hardest decision I had to make. I have to give an honorable mention to their album “Secret Messages” , but this futuristic concept album beats it by an eyelash. I’ve always loved ELO as a kid, but senior year of high school was when I delved into their later stuff pretty much these two albums, plus another from ’86. “Time” included one of their last big hits,  “Hold on Tight” as Jeff Lynne’s 80’s works kind of live in the shadows of his 70’s ones (Think of “Mr. Blue Sky” from ’77). I don’t care if this album doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, it will always have a special place in my heart and mind. 


“New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84)” by Simple Minds 

This album was all I played during that weird senior period between finals and graduation. 2017 was a great summer for me, and this album is part of the reason why. Derek Forbes’ slick and hard-hitting bass lines along with that classic 80’s synth are what drew me in to this album. And the song “Hunter and the Hunted” got me through some scary times when I was starting college. This band is the only one I haven’t seen live on this list, but knowing that some of these tracks are always on their setlist, I’m hoping to see them as soon as I can. 


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