Seniors, this is it—the time has finally come for the class of 2018 to graduate! To commemorate the occasion, Bark Beats has chosen one memorable album from each of the past four years.

Freshman year

The Weeknd – “Beauty Behind the Madness” (2015) 

Courtesy of Republic Records

The Weeknd, also known as Abel Tesfaye, made a huge splash in the 2015 music scene when he released his third album, “Beauty Behind the Madness.” Whether we were blasting “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills” at full volume or making fun of his completely over-the-top (literally) hair, there’s no denying the contemporary R&B singer’s impact on Redwood’s pop culture. Tesfaye caught our attention freshman year with hair memes and hip-hop melodies. Everything we now know and love about his music stems from this album: the dark, elusive lyrics and storylines (yes, he was nominated for a Kid’s Choice Award for a song about cocaine), the strikingly smooth vocals and the impressive range. Seniors, if you’re in the mood to revel in your post-high school state, I recommend listening to this album on the way to the “senior sunrise” on Friday morning after graduation.

Recommended Track: “Tell Your Friends”

“Tell Your Friends” is a testimony to Tesfaye’s past struggles and present success. He writes, “Used to roam on Queen, now I sing Queen street anthems/Used to hate attention, now I pull up in that wagon/I was broken, I was broke, I was so broke/I used to roam around the town when I was homeless.” The velvety piano tune effortlessly accompanies the lyrical journey Tesfaye takes us on without overshadowing his voice.

Sophomore year

Beyoncé – “Lemonade” (2016) 

From Beyoncé’s iconic “Single Ladies” music video dance to her two outrageous pregnancy announcements to her incredible ‘Beychella’ performance earlier this year, Queen Bey has always been the great pop influence of our generation. To no surprise, her 2016 album “Lemonade” was a huge hit, especially the music video for “Sorry,” a defiant girls-run-the-world roast featuring Serena Williams, which was supposedly directed at her husband Jay-Z for cheating. The song produced recognizable lines such as “Boy bye” and “He better call Becky with the good hair.” Her sixth studio album was impressively packed to the brim with genres encompassing R&B, rock, soul, hip hop, pop and blues and featuring vocals from James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd and Jack White. At

Courtesy of Columbia Records

the top of Bolinas Ridge or the Headlands, I encourage you seniors to let loose—dance to Queen Bey, and appreciate the quintessential Marin views before moving into a college dorm.

Recommended: “Daddy Lessons”

Country blues definitely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when evaluating Beyoncé’s style, but it’s certainly one music genre she tackles fearlessly with “Daddy Lessons.” Though it’s a bit jarring going from many of the middle-fingers-up, shade-throwing songs to this, “Daddy Lessons” is quite catchy.  Beyoncé sings, “He said take care of your mother/Watch out for your sister/And that’s when daddy looked at me/With his gun, with his head held high/He told me not to cry.”

Junior year

Khalid – “American Teen” (2017)

Khalid Robinson (mononymously known as Khalid) topped the 2016 charts with his single “Location,” a song which can only be described as rhythmic, mellow, vibey and outrageously catchy. The now 20-year-old R&B star released his album “American Teen” in early 2017, quickly rising to the occasion of his celebrity status. His song “Young Dumb & Broke” became Redwood’s crowd anthem, playing at rallies, dances and in cars, a mix of angsty teen and smash hit. Another highlight is “American Teen,” the first track and

Courtesy of RCA Records

namesake of the album, with lyrics like “So wake me up in the Spring/While I’m high off my American dream/We don’t always say what we mean/It’s the lie of an American teen.” This is the perfect tracklist to vibe to the day before leaving for college—it’s a tribute to teen shenanigans and experiences, a mix of reminiscent and rebellious.

Recommended: “Another Sad Love Song”

The upbeat tempo and deep base of this track contrast with the melancholy lyrical message of the song—in a quite riveting and appealing way. The smooth tones of Robinson’s voice mesh perfectly with the surrounding tones and beats, especially during his repetition of “burning” followed by ad-lib and a chorus of “turning.” He acknowledges the cliche of “another sad love song” with this sophisticated piece, but surpasses the typical brokenhearted ballad by miles.

Senior year

Kendrick Lamar – “Black Panther The Album” (2018)

Not only did the “Black Panther” film redefine the standards of superhero movies, but “Black Panther The Album,” headed by Kendrick Lamar, brought together an astoundingly talented group of artists to tell an auditory story of the comic book hero. Lamar has writing credit on all 14 tracks and raps in most songs, diving head first into the album with “Black Panther,” where he raps about

Courtesy of Interscope Records

comic book politics and the fictional city of Wakanda. He curates a compelling collection, including Khalid, Travis Scott, SZA, Future and others, among them lesser-known South African musicians Babes Wodumo, Sjava, Yugen Blakrok, and Saudi. “Black Panther The Album” provided Redwood with a few more pre-Prom jam songs or tunes to wake the ever-sleepy student, parking at 7:10 a.m.. Seniors, go out with a bang! Blast Kendrick Lamar out the window on your way out of the parking lot for the last time as a Redwood student.

Recommended: “The Ways (with Swae Lee)” featuring Khalid

This softer, elegant song paid tribute to the women showcased in the film. It was skillfully executed, and the collaboration between Khalid and Swae Lee meshed nicely. Khalid’s effortlessly smooth vocals (singing lyrics such as “Your body and your mind is your contribution/I’m here to give you love and never lose ya”) combined with the muted drumming to create an appealing sound throughout the piece.

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