Music To M’ Years!
Better late than never, right guys?! Well, forgive me for being tardy to the party, but I’ve been getting stuck into my creative writing again. All 13 Episodes (the first season) of The Caliente Affairs are available to read on this website now, but I’m going to make a proper blog post about that (along with the accompanying movella) later on; probably tie it in with Valentine’s Day – because, you know, love and what have you.
I’m here today to tell you what music I listened to in 2013. More specifically, what NEW music I listened to. Thanks to my last.fm profile, I can share with you my Most Listened to Albums from 2013. In reverse order…
I have a somewhat rocky history with Ellie Goulding. I didn’t like Starry Eyed, but loved Under The Sheets, and Guns And Horses, but those two singles kind of basically flopped, so her album was reissued with more tracks that basically recycled the sound of Starry Eyed – and thus her career took off again and she stuck to that formula, very rarely straying from it. The times she does are when I enjoy listening to Halcyon – specifically the deluxe edition track Ritual. But again, her album was reissued (that’s right, four copies of this album now exist), and Ritual was cruelly made unavailable for streaming in the UK. For those of you who can, listen to it.
Cher made a great and welcome comeback in 2013, but Kate Nash still hasn’t found a comfortable sound for her much needed comeback. There are flashes of brilliance, such as Death Proof (named after her (and possibly my) favourite Tarantino film), but it barely sounds like a key on her once familiar piano was even touched. Trade the guitars in for something else. Hey, you could try synthesisers. It apparently worked for Daft Punk, although in my humble opinion, R.A.M. just sounds like elevator Muzak!
Whilst not all the tracks on Leona Lewis’s festive themed album sparkled like tinsel on the tree, it was well received when played for the family. And it gave us that batshit crazy performance of One More Sleep, so I suppose we have that to be thankful for.
Demi Lovato looks to have found UK chart success, after starting and stalling with Give Your Heart A Break, and Skyscraper (which was cruelly covered in a less than impressive but stupidly successful karaoke-fashion at the end of 2013). Heart Attack was the obvious standout, but a nice surprise came when Cher Lloyd (much missed, come back soon) lent her vocals to Really Don’t Care.
13 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH
I listened to this in full, apparently. I wouldn’t have guessed, it was so forgettable, however Annabel was beautiful. I guess I look forward to rediscovering this in 2014 whilst watching the accompanying short film.
15 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH (*), OWNED (^)
Perhaps unfairly outdoing every diva in the comeback category was Céline Dion (you were considered, Ciara, but most of those 15 plays were for Livin’ It Up, which I deemed my sexyjam of 2013). It was well worth the wait, it’s been decades since I’ve actually enjoyed listening to Céline Dion, and I’m glad to be proud of saying that I do listen to her, as now she has this amazing new album to backup my praise. She’s never sounded better, have you listened to Breakaway? Another artist back to receiving high praise from me – Fall Out Boy. Proof that something good can come from having a complete mental breakdown but rebuilding yourself as something new; more positive (*coughAmandaBynescough*). Stay strong and stick with this new found sound. Speaking of new, Tamar Braxton was a pleasant find in 2013. The only thing I knew about her prior to listening to this album were that she is related to Toni Braxton, and her reality show persona was impersonated by a drag queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Oh, and I suppose I should say something about Katy Perry. Nothing was as good as your t.A.T.u. rip-off, but your Loreen rip-off, Unconditionally, comes close. Also, I should point out the Sia-penned track Double Rainbow. I can’t hand out praise to Céline without giving credit where credit’s due (Sia was a writer on Loved Me Back To Life)
17 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH (*)
Matangi gets off to a mixed start, but really hits its stride from aTENTion onwards, peaking with Bad Girls and maintaining the pace from then on. M.I.A. threatened to leak the album if Ιnterscope took any longer to negotiate a release date. BADASS! And I like to think, Beyoncé’s inspiration! Janelle Monáe gave us an impressionable performance of Dance Apocalyptic on the David Letterman show (literally, ON it!), and we have this album to thank for that. Lastly, Hurts deliver what is quite possibly their most impressive work to date. Have you listened to Somebody to Die for?
18 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH (*)
I have always liked P!ATD‘s music; it’s amazing how consistent it’s remained in spite of the tumultuous path of the band. I think this is their best overall offering since A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. I am especially fond of Girl That You Love, and I found the video for Girls/Girls/Boys rather *ahem* eye-catching. Truth be told, I knew nothing of VV Brown until Popjustice wrote a raving review of her 2013 album, calling it the greatest album of the year. And, they weren’t too far off. It is very good, especially The Apple. Avril Lavigne’s eponymous album may be her best record since her debut. No stand-outs, but strong overall. And Diana Vickers made her long awaited return, after being royally screwed over by record labels; I hope she finds a voice in the future as an independent artist.
19 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH (*)
I am always baffled by the United Kingdom’s inability to get on board with Eurovision. It’s a viable launching platform for genuine talent, not someplace to parade oddities and the elderly (well, mostly). It’s done wonders for the careers of Loreen, and Emmelie de Forest. And, had she released an album in 2013, I’ve no doubt Margaret Berger would have featured highly on this list (her two singles alone clocked up 10 plays each). So, it’s of no surprise that Germany’s favourite faux-Londoner has found a place in my heart, and in my ears. Stardust builds on the more mature sound of her 2011 album – famous for Taken By A Stranger, her sophomore addition to Eurovision history (you know, that song that sounds like it kind of features the tone one would hear when receiving a message on Grindr, which is exactly what I like to think it is, given the seedy undertone of the lyrics). Forgive me for skipping one track on Delta’s redux, I was listening to it on Christmas Day and perhaps had more urgent places to be, things to do, people to see! Regardless, I found this a lovely little treat and it only helped secure my love affair with ol’ Nina Tucker, after having recently imported her most recent album of new material, which was cruelly overlooked outside of Australia. I hope when (if) her new album is released (featuring 2013’s Heart Hypnotic), they will include some of the tracks from Child of The Universe as a bonus (or maybe release the whole thing, like how No Doubt’s first two albums were released after they became successful). I don’t think Between is better than Frankmusik’s second album, Do It in the AM, but it’s still pretty catchy in parts.
22 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH (*), OWNED (^)
I knew nothing of AlunaGeorge, and I think it was twitter buzz that may have lead me to finally cave in after three months and listen to Body Music – and I’m glad I did. It’s a very good, very in-depth introduction to what is sure to be a steady stream of funky Electronic R&B hits (let’s hope there’s none of that disastrous straying from genres that sometimes occurs… I’m looking at you, Ting Tings… you couldn’t just stick with Hands and given it us nine more times, could you, no, you had to go and record an entirely different sound). Speaking of entirely different sounds, is that a Christmas Tree angel I hear? No, it’s the beautiful voice of Kelly Clarkson. Wrapped In Red deserved to be more well received in the UK, as it was miles better than Leona’s attempt at a Christmas album (as is evident by its five original pieces, two of which, Wrapped In Red, and Underneath The Tree, are sure to become festive favourites for years to come). And it takes some cojones to outdo Imogen Heap, but BY GOD does Kelly not only outdo it, but her version of Just For Now is knocked out of the preverbal ballpark. Who knew?!
Whilst we all know who was my favourite country in 2013’s Eurovision Song Contest (I still regret not buying her albums when I was actually in Norway last year), I was happy with Denmark winning. Even though Only Teardrops is not the best song on the album, it is the reason the UK got it at all. Tracks like Hunter & Prey, Change, and Beat the Speed of Sound show that Emmelie is on her way to fleshing out a rich sound like past Eurovision winners.
I can’t believe how young Lorde is; having written and recorded Royals when she was only fifteen, she shows more talent than even the most seasoned of professionals. Even though I much prefer Team over Royals, but that may be due to the fact that Royals has become saturated and overplayed. I fear wether Lorde will be able to match the success of her first single, and suffer the same fate Lana Del Rey did – where the (much more solid) tracks Blue Jeans, and National Anthem did not chart as well due to radio stations and music channels constantly playing Video Games and Born To Die (in fact, Lorde cites Lana’s lyrics as inspiration to Royals, making it the antithesis to the opulence referenced in songs from Born To Die). It’s not as if she won’t recover; this is only the start of a what I predict to be a very fortunate career.
27 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH, OWNED
Filling the boots of Brite Futures wasn’t going to be easy, but BY GOD do Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party come close. Naturally, as they were tour buddies with Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head. Fitting somewhere snug in-between Capital Cities and CSS, Top Less takes themes already explored by NPSH, like sexy facial hair and a seductive ingenue, and breathes new life into them, keeping the sound retro yet relevant and timely. Sound like a paradox? Scared the universe will fold in on itself? Then good, you’re starting to understand the sound of TLGLTP!
28 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH (*)
I’ve always been a fan of Miley’s music, from back in the days when she was singing songs written by Ke$ha (another much missed artist in 2013; get well soon), it was inevitable I would find something I liked on her highly anticipated, unapologetically controversial album… *cough* Bangerz. It all started with the aptly titled We Can’t Stop, and only got better with Wrecking Ball. The album grows even stronger with the best track, Drive. I fail to understand why Adore You, the weakest opening track on an album since Selena Gomez’s Birthday, is being promoted over the untapped gold that remains buried between the less than sparkling tracks.
40 PLAYS, TWICE THROUGH
A rock band to rival my love of No Doubt? I think it’s possible. Trading in Gwen Stefani’s west-coast twang for a much more chilled and relaxed Feist-vibe, Haim came out of obscurity to score a number one album in 2013 – despite me having already seen them perform in 2012 (only, I didn’t know who I was watching at the time). This is the kind of sound you wish Estelle would have come back with, but instead it was up to three sisters from America to show me what I didn’t even know was missing from my life. Now, songs like Falling, If I Could Change Your Mind, Forever, and Send Me Down will forever be emblazoned on my Most Played lists.
43 PLAYS, ONCE (*), TWICE (²)
45 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH
49 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH
There’s a certain sound Britney Jean should’ve stuck to. When it hits the mark, with songs like Work B**ch, Now That I’ve Found You, and Til It’s Gone (despite it’s erroneous lack of an apostrophe), Britney Jean is almost perfect. But when it falls short of the mark, in mediocre performances of Alien, Don’t Cry, and Chillin’ With You (redeemed only by the appearance of Jamie Lynn Spears), it’s easy to attribute poor sales to a lack of quality, rather than the more glaringly obvious reason of mismanagement and under-promotion. Thankfully, even when it’s off, it’s still Britney, and she only has to deliver one stand-out track like Perfume to justify the entire album. I look forward to the obvious upcoming duet with Katy Perry on the track Passenger (Remix – à la Till The World Ends); with her two year residency in Vegas, I’ve a feeling Britney Jean will eventually find its deserved audience.
50 PLAYS, ONCE THROUGH
The reissue, adding the superb We Got The Power, means I can happily include this as my second most listened to album of 2013.
163 PLAYS, 6 TIMES, OWNED
Fusing together every facet of her life, Natalia Kills managed to produce not only one of the best albums of 2013, but the best album of career. Lessons learnt from Perfectionist (or rather, the chart failure of Perfectionist), Natalia moved away from the tailored professional pop sounds helmed by Martin “Cherry Cherry Boom Boom” Kierszenbaum, and decided to let everything in Trouble sound more pure and deep. Collaborating with Emile Haynie and Jeff Bhasker, Natalia was allowed to express her raw emotions in songs such as Stop Me, and Watching You. You don’t have to know in-depth about her past in order to hear the pain and struggle she’s gone through. If Daddy’s Girl, Devil’s Don’t Fly, Marlboro Lights, or Saturday Night don’t paint a picture for you, then… you’re simply dead inside! I pray to every deity in the ether to let this girl shine in 2014; not only is she worth the accolades, but this album, her words, they deserve to have a wider audience.
ALBUMS I DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO REALLY LISTEN TO IN 2013 DESPITE CLEARLY BEING QUITE GOOD