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. This week's question: what's the unpopular music hill you'll die on?
Albums should never be listened to on shuffle, especially the first time through. It makes me viscerally uncomfortable to listen to songs out of order. The best albums have a trajectory and a flow that the artist and producers purposefully chose, and an album is best consumed in that order, at least at first. You wouldn’t watch a movie with the seasons on shuffle, or a TV season with the episodes mixed up. I feel the same way about albums. That’s my musical hill to die on. - Leah Williams
People need to stop knocking on auto-tune, because it has merit and is an art in itself. It’s not just a bad crutch that people who can’t sing lean on; it’s an awesome instrument when used stylistically (as proven by T-Pain, Childish Gambino, Kanye and many more) and can give people who don’t have vocal talent a chance to be more expansive in their music creation. I’m talking about people who have other types of musical talent like rappers or those who can compose rhythms and melodies, but now for the first time they can sing if they want. - Landyn Pan
Because they barely make 80s power ballads anymore, and you deserve one, here it is: Carly Rae Jepsen is responsible for the best pop power ballad of this millennium. It’s “All That,” and every time I hear it, I don’t understand why Carly isn’t considered one of the best very women in music. Her songs are often steeped in desperation to be loved, but it’s so sweetly pure here as it builds into a monster climax of piano and slap bass—“I wanna be the place you call your home,” she nudges, “just let me in your arms”—that you simply believe it. - Terron Moore
Though most conversation about his post-retirement output focuses on Watch the Throne, 4:44 and even The Blueprint 3, Jay Z’s best album since The Black Album is 2007’s American Gangster. This might not be a controversial hill, but it’s certainly an underrepresented opinion, which is strange considering that this album indisputably features Jay Z’s best rapping since he briefly hung it up. The project reached no. 1 on the Billboard 200 and boasted Rolling Stone’s best single of 2007, “Roc Boys (And the Winner Is…)”. Nevertheless, it’s been weirdly overlooked among the rankings of his greatest works, including Jay Z’s own ranking. - Gus Turner
I will live and die on my music hill, screaming that DEBORAH COX IS THE QUEEN OF DANCE REMIXES!!! She’s best known for her fire 1998 track “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here,” which still bops to this day. Back in 2004, she made her Broadway debut as the title role in my favorite musical Aida. What really solidified her as a dancehall queen is when she took one of most emotional, heartbreaking ballads her charaacters sings, “Easy As Life,” and turned it into a wig-snatching remix. Your fave could never turn a Broadway ballad into total club mix slayage! - Kristen Maldonado
When I say that Bangerz by Miley Cyrus is an impeccable work of art, I’m not playing around. Folks are quick to discount Bangerz since it marked the beginning of Miley’s more controversial era (“Wrecking Ball,” “We Can’t Stop,” Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz), but I take it those haters never listened to the album top to the bottom. Bangerz tells the tale of falling in love with Liam Hemsworth and growing apart, beginning with “Adore You” and ending with “Someone Else.” I promise you’ll hear the narrative, as long as you give Miley a chance. - Matt Gehring