The TRL Pop Quiz works like this: our editors are posed a music-related question and have only 15 minutes and just 100 words to research, choose and explain their answers. For this edition, we wanted to examine which artists we feel got it even more right the second time around. This week's quiz: What is the best sophomore album?
good kid, m.A.A.D. city is one of my favorites, and I think one of the best sophomore albums to exist. I love hip hop and I love emotions, but rappers aren’t always open like this. I enjoy the intimate look into Kendrick’s early life and family. His vivid lyricism brings hip hop, his story, and the story of a kid growing up in a neighborhood like Compton to the ears of people who may not usually listen to rap. You feel proud of Kendrick listening to this album and more than five years later, he’s still changing the world with his music. - Landyn Pan
good kid, m.A.A.d. city is a near-perfect album. Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album came out in 2012, and blew my mind. It includes well-loved hits like “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Poetic Justice” featuring Drake, but there’s not one song on this album that I skip when I listen to it. “The Art of Peer Pressure” is an excellent song, lyrics hopeful and serious and compelling. “Backseat Freestyle” is a straight up BOP. Kendrick’s sophomore album was a strong promise of musical excellence to come. - Leah Williams
As a teenager growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey, I was obsessed with Cobra Starship. Little did I know that long before his dance-pop days, Gabe Saporta was in a pop-punk band called Midtown. Their sophomore album Living Well Is The Best Revenge is honestly one of my favorite records of all time—it has the perfect balance of angsty anthems and upbeat, emo bops with tongue-in-cheek lyrics that would be included in a motion picture during the early 00s. - Sydney Gore
The 2000s reign of The Killers wasn’t quite as good as we (or the Billboard charts) would like to imagine. That being said, I loved this album extremely hard as a perpetually angst-ridden teen. For whatever The Killers had that we loved so much, Sam’s Town has it just as much as Hot Fuss: their melodrama, their unabashed corniness, their All-American desire to escape their small town. The horns on “Bones” sound awful to me now. “This River Is Wild” doesn’t soar like it used to. But out of respect for my teenage self, I refuse to be disappointed by it. - Gus Turner
I have to give honorable mentions to several serious contenders: Continuum by John Mayer, Late Registration by Kanye West, and the phenomenal favorite good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar. But since gkmc was really my first exposure to Kendrick, I have to go with FutureSex/LoveSounds, the classic second effort by Justin Timberlake, a start-to-almost-finish smash record. Its futuristic R&B stance doesn’t make a single sonic misstep for at least six songs straight, from its simmering opener straight through the daring “SexyBack,” spacey “My Love,” and vindictive “What Goes Around (Comes Around)”—all thee Hot 100 #1s. - Terron Moore
Adele’s second studio album 21 takes the cake for best sophomore album. There’s no denying the album elevated her career to a superstar level and gave her worldwide recognition. “Someone Like You” got constant radio play, but the album has no shortage of ballad bops, including “Rolling in the Deep,” “Rumour Has It,” “Turning Tables,” and “Set Fire To The Rain.” Not only that, but 21 became the biggest selling album of the 21st century, tying with The Beatles’ compilation album 1. - Kristen Maldonado