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Semester check-in for our charts highlights top artists like Mitski and Hozier

Along with these expected top slots, our charts for the semester (and for the past week!) range from shoegaze to pop to hip-hop.
Semester check-in for our charts highlights top artists like Mitski and Hozier

“KCSU’s Weekly Gems Countdown” is written by the KCSU Music Directors and describes the top artists that your local 90.5 FM DJs are playing this week! This article is posted weekly on Wednesday morning and discussed on the show “KCSU Weekly Gem Countdown” which airs every Wednesday from 12-1. During the show, you can tune in to hear the countdown, learn more about each artist behind the songs topping KCSU’s charts, and listen to DJ Fruit-Bat and Lady J break down the sound and feel of each song!

This week we have a special edition because KCSU are celebrating DJathon, our semesterly fundraising week! The first half of our gems is the top five tracks spun from the past week, and the second half is our top tracks from the semester as a whole!

10. Chappell Roan – pop – 10 spins – highlighted hit: “HOT TO GO!” off of the September release “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess”
Chappell Roan has been writing and releasing her own music since she got her start on YouTube as a teenager in 2017, an internet-led “dark pop” princess whose word-of-mouth success began with her track, “Pink Pony Club,” going viral on TikTok in 2021. Building a further following from accompanying artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Fletcher on tour, Roan became known for her camp (self-made) outfits and unapologetically glittery pop music.

Her debut record, “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess,” sees Roan really coming into her own sonically and aesthetically, met with praise from critics and fans alike. We’ve featured “HOT TO GO!” before on Gems, and it’s definitely a favorite of our DJs here at the station lately!


9. Animal collective – alt/indie – 11 spins – highlighted hit: “Gem & I” off of the September release “Isn’t It Now?”

Animal Collective are considered one of the most prolific and idiosyncratic acts making music, which they’ve been doing since the early 2000s. Formed from a group of friends in Baltimore, the band currently consists of Avey Tare (David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Geologist (Brian Weitz), and Deakin (Josh Dibb). It feels a disservice to AnCo to try and define them by any genre, but they’ve been described as experimental pop/rock, freak-folk, electronica, psych, and more.

Every release is different, taking the band in new and unexpected directions. Their most acclaimed record is 2009’s “Merriweather Post Pavilion,” considered a classic in the world of indie music. Their most recent release, September’s “Isn’t It Now?” is formed from songs they started working on remotely in 2019, and ended up as their longest record to date. We’ve featured “Gem & I” before on gems, and it’s one of the record’s most popular tracks!

8. Boygenius – alt/indie – 13 spins – Highlighted Hit: ”Cool About It” off of the March release “the record”
Formed from indie darlings Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers, and Julien Baker, boygenius’s first, self-titled EP came out in 2018. Formed “on accident” after the three became friends, boygenius’s cult status has grown into a devoted fanbase. Their first full-length album, “the record,” came out this year in March, and it was met with acclaim from fans and critics, a critical, commercial, and fan-led success.

Their newest release as boygenius, the four-song “the rest” EP is what came of songs that didn’t make it on the original record, and each track was revealed one-by-one over the course of their tour until the EP was released. Our highlighted track, “Cool About It” is off of their earlier release from this March, called “the record.”


7. Wilco – folk – 14 spins – highlighted hit: “Cousin” off of the October release “Cousin”

A staple of the Chicago music scene, Wilco were formed in 1994 out of the remnants of alternative country group Uncle Tupelo with members Jeff Tweedy (vocals) and John Stirratt (bass). They’ve released over twelve studio albums and slowly evolved since their 90s rock-folk sound, moving into indier realms as time has gone on. Releases like “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” and “Sky Blue Sky” are considered classics for good reason.

Recently, Wilco have been having a resurgence thanks to the inclusion of their music in the popular Hulu show “The Bear,” where tracks like “Via Chicago” and “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” have elevated scenes in beautiful ways. Their newest record, “Cousin,” isn’t named as a reference to the character on “The Bear,” but is inspired by Tweedy feeling like a “cousin to the world.” Our highlighted track is the one the record takes its name from, also called “Cousin.”

6. Troye Sivan – pop – 16 spins – highlighted hit: “One of Your Girls” off of the October release “Something to Give Each Other”
Another artist who got their start on the internet, Troye Sivan’s story is a particularly compelling one. He started posting YouTube videos as a kid, growing in popularity through his teenage years through his comedy, vlog, and song cover videos. His debut EP, “TRXYE,” came out in 2014, followed by his debut studio album, “Blue Neighborhood,” which came out in 2015.

Sivan’s second album, “Bloom,” was released in 2018, and in the time between that and his third record, “Something to Give Each Other” he’s released a steady stream of singles alongside focusing on acting for a while. Released October 13th, “Something to Give Each Other” has been received with immense praise from fans and critics. Our highlighted track, “One Of Your Girls,” has been featured on Gems before, the record’s most

played and talked-about single thanks partially to its gender-exploring music video.

And now for our top artists from the fall semester so far…

5. Slowdive – alt/indie – 48 spins – highlighted hit: “kisses” off of the September release “everything is alive”
Slowdive are shoegaze royalty. Formed in Reading, Berkshire in 1989, the band consists of Rachel Gloswell (vocals), Neil Halstead (vocals/guitar), Christian Savill (guitar), Nick Chaplin (bass), and Simon Scott (drums). Slowdive’s career started as a slow burn, their cult status slowly growing in shoegaze circles until their second record, 1993’s “Souvlaki,” become one of the most seminal shoegaze records ever created. They broke up after their third record, 1995’s “Pygmalion,” but reunited in 2017 with a new album, the self-titled “Slowdive.”
“everything is alive” was released September 1st, and it describes the sound of this record well—the soundscapes the band explore over the course of the record are living and breathing, subtle and layered without any elements getting lost. Our highlighted track, “kisses,” is one of the album’s leading tracks and a popular play from the past few months.



4. Joey Valence & Brae – rap/hip-hop – 55 spins – Highlighted hit: “PUNK TACTICS” off of the September 2023 release “PUNK TACTICS”
Bringing the sounds of 90s east-coast hip-hop to the TikTok age, Joey Valence & Brae are known for their scrappy, heavily-mixed rap songs, proudly wearing their Beastie Boys influences on their sleeves. Joey Valence and Brae met their Freshmen year at Penn State, goofing around with music together and starting out posting their stuff on TikTok, collaborating on tracks like 2021’s “Crank It Up” and “Double Jump.” Following the success of these songs, their career moved from a few successful TikToks to appearances on programs like The Ellen Show, where their music began to reach an audience bigger than just the in-the-know teenagers who already liked their stuff.

Released September 8th, “PUNK TACTICS,” is the culmination of these collaborations, their debut record together. The record is high-energy, fast-paced, experimental, sample-heavy, and bursting with both the influences of their hip-hop successors and with all the new stuff they’re bringing to the table. Our highlighted track, “PUNK TACTICS,” is the one the record takes its name from and definitely one you’ll hear often if you tune in to KCSU!

3. Beach House – alt/indie – 56 spins – highlighted hit: “Devil’s Pool” off of the March release “Become”

Beach House are one of the most well-known dream-pop/shoegaze acts there are. A duo formed in Baltimore in 2004, the duo consist of Victoria Legrand (vocals, keyboard) and Alex Scally (guitar, keyboard, backing vocals). Bringing their ambient, synthy dream-pop melodies to a broader audience, Beach House are a particularly well-known example of how fuzzy guitars and space-age vocals are rapidly becoming the norm in contemporary pop music, influencing other popular artists you may have heard of like Alvvays and Suki Waterhouse.

The EP “Become” is based off a few extra tracks created during the process of molding their 2022 record, “Once Twice Melody.” They describe the songs as not fitting “in the world of OTM, but…a little world of their own.” Our highlighted track, “Devil’s Pool,” is Beach House’s artist pick on their Spotify, one we’ve enjoyed before on Gems!




2. Hozier – folk – 69 spins – Highlighted Hit: “De Selby (Part 2)” off of the August release “Unreal Unearth”
Hozier (aka Andrew Hozier-Byrne) is a singer-songwriter from Ireland who skyrocketed to fame after his 2013 song, “Take Me To Church” became one of the most popular songs of the year (now with over 2 billion streams on spotify). His bluesy, folk-oriented music explores love, politics, religion, nature, and everything else one might expect from an Irish wordsmith whose songs reference everything from the bible to Dante’s Inferno to his favorite jazz songs and poems.


Hozier’s most recent release, “Unreal Unearth,” was released a few months ago on August 18th! It’s based upon Dante’s Inferno, with each song representing one of the circles of hell that Dante journeys through in the famous poem. Hozier wrote this album partially as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, telling “As a structure, I did want to acknowledge something in my experiences of [that] two, three year period, and what I was processing. I [wanted] to find a way that nods to that, and the significance of that — albeit, not necessarily in a way that was a lockdown album or a pandemic album, or songs that focus on the nuances of that experience, but at least acknowledge the journey. And it’s taking the structure of that journey as imagined by Dante, these Nine Circles he walks through and then he comes out the other side.”

The record is a hit with Hozier fans who waited patiently for its release, and Hozier’s two Red Rocks shows a few weeks back were attended by tons of students who’ve spoken pretty highly of the show! Hozier has been in our charts consistently since we got “Unreal Unearth” into our rotation! Our highlighted track this week is what opens both the record and his shows, “De Selby (Part 2).”





  1. Mitski – alt/indie – 85 spins – highlighted hit: “My Love Mine All Mine” off of the September release “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We”
    Mitsuki Miyawaki, known simply as Mitski, is a singer-songwriter who’s been releasing music since her first few self-released records, “Lush” (2012), and “Retired From Sad, New Career in Business” (2013), which she originally made while still in college. Mitski’s cult status among indie fans only grew after her subsequent releases “Bury Me At Makeout Creek” (2014) and “Puberty 2” (2016). Mitski achieved more mainstream success following 2018’s “Be the Cowboy” with tracks like “Nobody” and “Washing Machine Heart” going viral on TikTok and Twitter.

Mitski’s music is associated with many online niches: sad Kendall Roy edits, sad edits in general, what’s often called “sad girl” music, but Mitski rejects the idea that her music has to be defined by sadness, saying in a video for Crack Magazine that “The sad girl thing was reductive and tired like 5-10 years ago, and it still is today…let’s retire the sad girl shtick.”

Her newest album, “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We,” was released September 15th to massive acclaim from critics and fans. Mitski describes this on her Spotify as her most “American album,” and the subtle twang woven throughout some of this record’s tracks emphasizes that inspiration. This record has been so popular here at KCSU that it’s no surprise Mitski is our top artist of the semester so far, dozens of spins above the competition! Our highlighted hit is “My Love Mine All Mine,” which is far and above her most popular track from the record here at the station.