I present to you, the reader, my top 10 countdown of the best albums that were released last year. It was REALLY difficult to narrow down the hundreds of albums that were produced in order to pick my favorites. There were several that unfortunately had to be left out. The 10 I picked accurately depicted my overall favorites. I would do another post about my favorite songs, but they are all from these albums anyway, so there is no point! Enjoy this though!
10.) Swings Both Ways – Robbie Williams. The singer took a departure from the norm to produce an entire album of swing and jazz music. Some notably catchy songs include “Shine My Shoes” and “Wanna Be Like You.” The album is filled with jazz collaborations ranging from Lily Allen to Olly Murs or Rufus Wainwright. Hopefully Swings Both Ways will single a new path in Williams career.
9.) Foreverly – Billy Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones. This collaboration is a major departure from the norm of the Green Day frontman, but it works perfectly when sung in tandem with the soothing Norah Jones. The perfect album to sit around to on a lazy day, just watching the time pass away. The songs “Barbara Allen” and “Roving Gambler” seem to stand out.
8.) Matangi – M.I.A. The controversial rapper was not afraid to let everyone know who is boss. Her slick rhymes seem to flow right over the anthemic beats that find a mixture in between trap music and the local Sri Lankan music of her heritage. She is not afraid to cause problems (i.e. Her ever dramatic tale of trying to release a documentary or her Superbowl fiasco), but it seems as though she really does not give a rats ass what everyone thinks about her. “Double Bubble Trouble,” “Y.A.L.A.,” and “Come Walk With Me” are the stand out hits on the album.
7.) All This Bad Blood – Bastille. The band that is known for their hits “Pompeii” and “Poet” should be known for much more than just two songs.
All Most of the songs on the album could be certifiable hits. They have a sound that is familiar to many bands but where they stand out is there lyrics, which all sound so often poetic and beautiful. It is both predictable, while been completely new to us. I can’t wait for their next album.
6.) Yours Truly – Ariana Grande. The debut album from the Broadway-turned-Nickelodeon-turned-teenage-songstress was a sure fire smash. Every song is infectious and filled with that bubble gum pop that everyone loves, whether or not they want to admit it. Both “Tattooed Heart” and “Piano” stand out to me because they show off her superior vocal range and her varied musical styling. She can pull of doo wop and dance music without the bat of an eyelash, all the while belting in whistle tones that make even Mariah Carey envious. And with the same team behind her that is responsible for Justin Bieber we do not have to worry about her leaving us.
5.) Magna Carta Holy Grail – Jay Z. Between several documentaries, buying and selling the Barclays center, owning a sports management organization, multiple incarnations of tours, a baby, and a bootylicious wife Jay Z has his hands full. Somehow though he managed to pull off releasing a killer album. From “Picasso Baby” to “Tom Ford” Jay Z established himself as a meta rapper with a penchant for the finer of arts. He may be telling Miley to twerk it out, but he makes sure to let us know that he is a class above the rest. This album proved one thing: that he is still on top right where he belongs.
4.) The Blessed Unrest – Sara Bareilles. With a voice like butter and the ability to tell a story through song Bareilles reminds us why she is just so great with this album. From her anthemic and uplifting “Brave” to her saddened “Manhattan” it is quite obvious that she is one of the most talented singer/songwriters of our time. While many critics found her Grammy nomination for Album of the Year a surprise, I think it is rightly deserved. She is one of the most inspirational and talented singers, while somehow remaining so down-to-Earth. I would through innumerable Dollars to whomever could get me a concert ticket to see her perform live.
3.) Yeezus – Kanye West. What is there left for me to say that any other critic has not already said? 2013 was the year of Yeezus. Between Kanye’s bizarre forms of promotion to his tour featuring a white Jesus, we were always looking to see what he did next. While you may not be a huge fan of him personally you cannot deny that the album is pure gold. There is nothing about this album that is not viral. His music video for the song “Bound 2” became a meme being parodied by thousands around the world. His supporting tour featuring many masks by Maison Martin Margiela proves that he is a true heavy hitter. Kanye says he wants to become a designer, but I pray he never forgets the music industry that loves him so dearly.
2.) ARTPOP- Lady Gaga. The much hyped 4th studio album from the undisputed goddess of modern pop did not disappoint. It’s songs are bold and push the limits of what defines pop music. After a long time away from the scene, Gaga came back with a vengeance. The sheer level of production quality is currently unmatched, featuring such producers as DJ White Shadow, Madeon, Zedd, Will.i.am, and RedOne. Each individual song tells a story, from the carefree attitude of, “Donnatella,” to the more meaningful and personal to notes of both, “Dope,” and, “Swine.” Every single song stands out, meaning there are no fillers on the album, which is a rarity in this day and age. It is however decidedly unfortunate that much of the press and promotion surrounding the album has been mangled and butchered by her label, thus effectively tarnishing the albums near perfect quality. Hopefully she can rebound and the second half this albums era can be filled with art, beauty, and creation.
1.) Beyoncé- Beyoncé. Destiny’s Child’s soul survivor dropped her 5th studio album at the very end of the year to much a surprise in the music industry. When she wants to keep a secret she certainly knows how to (ie. her marriage to Jay Z and her pregnancy with baby Blue Ivy). She didn’t even tell her label she wanted to release it until just 30 minutes before she did. The album is a visual album, featuring 17 music videos for the 14 songs on the album. Each song and video tell beautiful little stories of her personal life. She sings songs like “Heaven” about her miscarriage, “Jealous” which is rumored to answer her feelings about Rihanna who famously collaborated with Jay Z. However, the Houston native is not afraid to remind us that she is still a sex machine with songs like “Partition” or that she is still just as hood as ever before with “***Flawless”. This is an album that is not built for radio play, but none of that matters because the self-titled album full of King Bey’s vanity is one of the best things I have listened too in a long time.