Image Description: An image of vinyls against a pink and orange glittery background.
Image Description: An image of vinyls against a pink and orange glittery background.

Illustration by Ahmed Bilal

Music Column Vol. XVIII: An (Academic) Year in Music

After a full (academic) year of the Music Column, some secrets and behind the scenes moments are revealed, as well as some last recommendations for musical masterpieces to add to your summer hits playlists.

May 8, 2023

I do not really remember my 18th birthday. I could not celebrate it because it happened to be during the first global lockdown, so the festivities were strangely subdued. It is one of my greatest regrets. That is why I feel obliged to try to make the 18th edition of the music column memorable and special.
What a year it has been! Definitely one full of transformative experiences. The Music Column being one of the most important ones, too. For starters, I had to face the difficult truth that despite my self-assigned title of music journalist, my taste in music was streamlined at best, and boring at worst. I definitely had a favorite genre of music when I started the column (obviously indie rock). I listened to almost entirely American and British music (and perhaps the occasional Bulgarian and German rapper, but even that did not make it into my columns), and I exuded an air of profound know-it-all snobbery when it came to my throwback pieces.
However, most of the artists I presented in the 18 editions I discovered because I went out of my way to find more interesting musicians to write about. I discovered many of them merely 24 hours before I wrote the column.
Now that I have revealed the biggest secret of the Music Column, the only thing left to share is some tips on how to find good new music.
During my first year here at NYU Abu Dhabi, I was lucky I found enough time to visit the concerts organized by the Arts Center. It was at these concerts that I discovered some of my new favorite musicians like the rapper Freek, the singer-songwriter Ghaliaa, and the Latin music legends Raul Midon and Alex Cuba. So, if you want to experience love at first sight (or listen), a concert is the best way to do so. The summer will definitely offer many opportunities to see new artists live.
If you are looking for specific data on music artists, maybe even some gossip, or a release timeline, then your most trusted sources should be Pitchfork, NME and Album of the Year. While Rolling Stone is still widely considered the authority on all things music, I think that lately they have branched out too much into pop culture and their picks for top albums are mostly among the mainstream. These other few sources I suggested above tap into more subversive artists and often come up with surprising recommendations.
Finally, take a chance on your roommate’s gym playlist. That is how I gathered some great Arab rap and pop songs. It is also the key to a good conflict-free rooming experience (free pro tip for the class of 2027).
As the academic year comes to an end and there will be no Music Column to replenish your daily mixes (because I know that was your only source of inspiration and fresh music), I offer some final recommendations of albums to look forward to during the summer.
For the fans of soft indie music, Sufjan Stevens, Arlo Parks and Rufus Wainwright have prepared new releases for May and June (May 19, May 26 and June 2, respectively). Several musicians whom you have previously met in the Throwback section are actually about to release new music as well, including legends Foo Fighters (album released on June 2), Yusuf/Cat Stevens (June 16), and Bob Dylan (also June 2). If you are looking for some progressive rock, mark your calendars for June 23, July 7, July 14, July 21, and August 4 when Portugal. The Man, Nothing But Thieves and Grouplove, PVRIS, Greta van Fleet, and Miles Kane, respectively, will make a comeback. K-pop fans, you better start preparing from now for Stray Kids’s upcoming promotion for their new album 5-Star, to be released on June 2 as well. And rap enthusiasts, fret not, rappers Travis Scott (however controversial), G-Dragon, and Ashnikko will come to the rescue of your summer hits playlists.
That’s all, folx!
Yana Peeva is Senior Columns Editor. Email her at
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