Kendrick Lamar – arguably the best rapper of this generation – for his 2017 album DAMN. You inevitably had a friend who shared something about it on social media if you aren’t in tune with Pulitzer Prizes. But what’s really cool is that this is the first time a hip-hop album has won. What is even cooler is that this is the first time any genre that isn’t classical or jazz has won.
That then brings an inevitable question into the fold: Who else could have won? Let it be known that Kendrick absolutely deserved to win. DAMN. is a masterpiece. But hypothetically, let’s just say he didn’t drop DAMN. last year and whoever decides Pulitzers also decided that no jazz or classical album would win. That is fun and sets the stage for this column to happen. And no, this isn’t a best album of 2017. This is based on lyrics and songwriting and actually deserving to win a Pulitzer. Here it goes.
There are three, yes, three albums that truly stick out from 2017 (remember, we are pretending DAMN. wasn’t released). , SZA’s CTRL and Mount Eerie’s A Crow Looked at Me. Each of those is a masterpiece in its own regard. Each sheds emotion, provokes thought and creates its own world through the duration of the album. But only one of those would deservedly win the Pulitzer.
So we have to say goodbye to one of them right now. Though , it isn’t as Pulitzer-worthy as the other two. Why? It misses a generational gap. Lorde’s follow-up to Pure Heroine exceeded any and all expectations, but it's an album that focuses mainly on trying to find your place as a young person, and those who gave birth to this generation may not connect to the trifles described in the album — trying to figure out what love is, trying to find your perfect place in a world that you just can’t seem to fit in. But it doesn’t matter, because Lorde reminds you throughout that your place is what you are and what you make it to be.
Now there are two, to stress it again, masterpieces left. And CTRL falls short in what feels like a coin toss. SZA’s debut is amazing from beginning to end. With features from the likes of Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar, SZA is able to tear your entire heart apart in just under an hour. The production, vocals, literally everything about this album is perfect. For example, “The Weekend” is as emotional and powerful a song as they come, describing a complicated relationship in which a man in a committed relationship is running around with another woman but only on the weekend. Essentially, it's sung from the perspective from both the “main girl” and “side girl,” and they seemingly agree to take shifts with the man: week and weekend. It’s a confusing, beautiful song — just like the album. It falls short for a Pulitzer only because of the one album that’s left.
All that’s left is Mount Eerie’s A Crow Looked at Me. Mount Eerie frontman Phil Elverum lost his wife, Genevieve Castree, to pancreatic cancer. A Crow Looked at Me comes from Elverum’s experience in life without his wife, the mother to his daughter, and how to figure life out after the person you have fallen in love with is gone. The album opens up with the song “Real Death” in which Elverum reflects on death. “Death is real / Someone’s there and then they’re not,” which is somehow the simplest way to encapsulate death within two lines of a song. And the poetic simplicity of the album continues. The song “Seaweed,” however, is arguably deserving of a Pulitzer on its own. Elverum tells a story about how he went to the place where they wanted to build a home for their family. Castree has been dead for 11 days. Elverum asks her if she likes Canada geese as they surround the area around him. He then asks if she likes foxgloves. He seems to already be forgetting small details about his wife. As he sits in a chair, he spreads her ashes and refuses to think of them as her, as he thinks of her as the sunset in the distance. That is probably the saddest thing to ever think about, but to live that is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination of emotion.
Yes, the album continues down that same path. It’s one of the most beautiful things that someone could ever make out of something that no one should ever endure, but the reality of death is something that every person must come to terms with at some point. Elverum is able to make it simple, poetic, somber and beautiful.
Thus, A Crow Looked at Me wins the Pulitzer, and we all sob together to it.
Chuck Greenlee is a junior studying communication studies at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Did you cry to 'A Crow Looked at Me?' Let Chuck know by tweeting him .