August Tournament Recap: Album Bracket Winner Revealed


Caiden Lujin, Editor

The 2022-23 school year started with a bit of a tune-up with this month’s Instagram poll: Gen Z’s favorite albums (sorry parents). 16 candidates were split among four genres March Madness style, the best of hip hop, R&B/soul, pop, and alternative/indie culminating with one victor. Here are the results.


16th place: Traumazine (Megan Thee Stallion)

Two weeks after its release, Traumazine places last in the eyes of Springs, the only album to not crack at least a hundred votes. Megan Thee Stallion’s second studio album had no shortage of disses and personal anecdotes, but it fell short in round one against hip-hop region opponent Whole Lotta Red.


15th place: Ballads 1 (Joji)

Japanese singer-songwriter Joji released Ballads 1 in 2018 as part of a career transformation, dropping his former YouTube persona of “Filthy Frank” to pursue music. The 12-song R&B tracklist was a success on the charts, but things slowly went dark for his fans in this bracket. Ballads 1 jumped out to a significant lead for the first hour or so, but lost convincingly to Gemini Rights.


14th place: Cry Baby (Melanie Martinez)

Cry Baby came up just short of placing higher, one vote to be exact, but the 2015 release was no match for Currents. The album is extremely personal and delves into topics such as sensitivity and the importance of, you guessed it, crying. The tracklist is headlined by songs such as “Dollhouse” and “Carousel”, both of which received multi-platinum nods in the US, but only 145 votes to show for it in the alt/indie region.


13th place: Planet Her (Doja Cat)

Surprisingly enough, viral sensation Doja Cat couldn’t step to Harry’s House in a blowout of a vote, 146-251. Featuring “Kiss Me More” and “Get Into It (Yuh)”, Planet Her was not even within the stratosphere of moving on to the next round.


T11th place: AM (Arctic Monkeys)

2013 marks the oldest album in the bracket, and tying for 11th isn’t too shabby. AM sits in the middle of the logjam that is the bottom half of the rankings, and stepping to Gen Z icon Billie Eilish in the alt/indie region with an 81-vote differential is certainly no slouch.


T11th place: Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers (Kendrick Lamar)

This album was released at the end of the 2022 school year so it had the advantage of students basking in it over the summer, but being that it is a rather niche form of hip-hop focused on lyricism and storytelling, it certainly wasn’t the kind of album to throw on the aux. 154 votes in round one is equal to AM, and Certified Lover Boy moves on.


10th place: Ctrl (SZA)

Hence the name, SZA tackles finding a sense of control in her life on the album. Pit against eventual-finalist Blonde in the R&B/soul region, however, Ctrl ran thin. The matchup was the closest of the entire round, though, just 42 votes separating the rivals.


9th place: Sour (Olivia Rodrigo)

The last of the first round exits is a rather surprising result, Sour describing only the taste in the mouth of Olivia Rodrigo’s fanbase upon seeing the vote count. Last year’s yearbook actually featured this album on the music page, and as the interviewer for a lot of different opinions on the album myself, it was hard at first to piece together the loss. The answer? Taylor Swift.


8th place: Gemini Rights (Steve Lacy)

If the music industry were a major sports league, Steve Lacy would be the consensus rookie of the year. “Bad Habit” was his first major breakthrough hit, reaching the Hot 100 for the first time in his career, where the track still remains. Having co-produced the Grammy-nominated 4 Your Eyez Only by J. Cole while still in high school, it’s safe to say Lacy is building an undeniable resume in the world of R&B, and if this tournament featured the same albums five years in the future, you can bet this album would place higher.


7th place: Currents (Tame Impala)

Currents fell into the alt/indie category for the sake of the tournament, but the actual content of the album is much more layered than the rest. An ambitious psychedelic-disco Daft Punk-esque cluster made a decent run before falling to Happier Than Ever.


6th place: Whole Lotta Red (Playboi Carti)

Christmas 2020 release Whole Lotta Red, upon its drop, was one of the most polarizing hip-hop albums of all time. In fact, the top two results upon searching just the title are literally, “was Whole Lotta Red a flop?” and “why is Whole Lotta Red so good?”. Playboi Carti went off the rails from his previous projects, experimenting with a punk-rock-rap hybrid with some deeply spirited performances to go with it. As far as where students at Springs put the album, around the middle of the pack is in line with the greater public opinion.


5th place: Harry’s House (Harry Styles)

At this point in the tournament, it became clear that every album needs at least one heavy-hitting song to carry it through. For Harry, “As It Was” did numbers for his placement and he as an artist has experienced exponential growth in the pop industry over the past couple of years. Not to mention, the entire student body of Clear Springs was apparently in attendance at Harry’s concert last November. It appeared we had a new king of pop on our hands, until again, Taylor Swift.


4th place: Certified Lover Boy (Drake)

The road for hip-hop ends here, Certified Lover Boy amassing just under 600 total votes throughout the week. It makes sense for it to have made it this far, Drake is the prototype for the state of mainstream rap, steamrolling through the lesser-known subgenres. But in this tournament, there’s always a bigger fish.

3rd place: Happier Than Ever (Billie Eilish)

Cracking the top three is a likely case of artist over album, Happier Than Ever being the least popular of her three albums, but Billie Eilish is such a dazzling figure in music that she can’t help but place this high. “Happier Than Ever” and “Therefore I Am” act as the engine for this rank, and 632 votes is the final tally.


2nd place: Blonde (Frank Ocean)

The project with arguably the most longevity of the bunch made a fitting run to the final round. Perhaps the reason it didn’t win it all was the fact that the actual album title is “blonde” with an E and the album art reads “blond” without one. That’s reason enough for me, at least.


1st place: Red (Taylor’s Version) [Taylor Swift]

2021 re-release Red (Taylor’s Version) is a redone version of the 2012 album Red, which, according to Swift, was hindered by trouble with her record label. The newer version was a means of releasing a rendition of the album that was more in line with her personal artistic visions and less of the confines that come with signing to a major label. “All Too Well” runs five minutes and 28 seconds long on the original and ten minutes on Taylor’s Version. Upon release, it took the world by storm, and it clocks in at a whopping 1,030 votes, claiming the Gen Z album title with ease.