2013 in Music, part 2: Albums

2013 is ending. It’s been a blazin’-bittersweet year. Cherishing and enjoying your favourite albums from your favourite artists, I bet, was one of things you need to get through the year. This is the second part of my music kaleidoscope. These are my favourite albums released between January and December 2013.

  1. “Heartthrob” by Tegan Sara
    Release date: January 29, 2012
    Never have I  ever listened to this cool sisters-duo but when this album comes out, getting it was the right choice. I can not say a lot or even compare this album with its predecessor. Objectively, they write songs and composed their musics in a neatest way. This album is very descent. Seeing people giving a lot of positive comments about this album, I think it’s safe for me to say that this album heartthrobing-ly rocks! It naturally became my first favourite album in 2013. Rolling Stone also declared this album #30 Top 50 Albums of 2013.
    Most-loved track: Goodbye, Goodbye
  2. “Girl Who Got Away” by Dido
    Released date: March 4, 2013
    I know this lovely lady for the first time when she released her sophomore album, “Life For Rent” (2003). My sister bought me the album and I was very happy. Girl Who Got Away is her fourth album since “Safe Trip Home” (2008). If the third album sounded very serious, this album sounds a little bit carefree and simple but saying a lot in the truest way. Saying things like “no love without freedom, no freedom without love” in the lead single “No Freedom”, to the sarcastic up-beating second single “End of Night”, the sentimental promotional single “Let Us Move On”, or even my most favourite and the most beautiful- happy-carefree title-track “Girl Who Got Away, she brings us a simple pop album in her everlasting soothing voice.
    Most-loved track: Girl Who Got Away
  3. “Paramore” by Paramore
    Release date: April 9, 2013
    Knowing this band since they released “Decode” as a part of Twilight soundtrack on 2008 and been in love with them ever since. They rocked 2009 with third album “Brand New Eyes” and 2011 with “Single Club” EP. This year they even gave us explosions with their self-titled fourth album. This is Paramore’s first album to debut at #1 Billboard Hot 100. You can’t not love this album for every track in this album is brilliant and well-thought. I remember how amazing it was when the line “if there’s a future we want it now” from lead single “Now” was everywhere. Or how lovely and cute Hayley in the “Still Into You” music video. Or when “Ain’t It Fun?” was trending and became, at least for me, the most mood-elevating growing-up song I’ve ever heard. In this album they also make a song called “Part II” as the sequel to “Let The Flame Begins” from Riot (2007). Buying this album was one of the best decision I’ve made in 2013!
    Most-loved track: Ain’t It Fun?
  4. “Save Rock and Roll” by Fall Out Boy
    Release date: April 12, 2013
    The band is back, now with the freshly shaped-up Patrick Stump. They know how to make good songs. Patrick’s voice is definitely the unique part that makes me love this band since “From Under Cork Trees” (2005). In this album Fall Out Boy stops naming their songs with long titles like they did before. They also collaborate with more musical acts like Foxes, Big Sean, Courtney Love, and even Sir Elton John, which makes this album sounds even more awesome. Last but not least, they’re now on their on-going “The Young Blood Chronicles” project in which they’re releasing every track in this album in in the format music video sequels. Awesome indeed.
    Most-loved track: Just One Yesterday (featuring Foxes)
  5. “English Rain” by Gabrielle Aplin
    Release date: May 13, 2013
    I know her from “Home” EP in early 2012 and I love this girl ever since. Later that year she signed a contract to work on her debut album “English Rain” under her own record label. On November 2012 she released a cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “The Power of Love” for John Lewis’ Christmas advert which serves as the first single. On January 2013, the song “Salvation” was leaked on iTunes and became my most favourite track of the album. On February and May 2013, she released “Panic Cord” and “Please Don’t Say You Love Me” respectively which adapts a lot from folk music. On July 2013 she released the album version of “Home” and wrote a special song for the final season of British teen television series, Skins. And finally December 2013 she officially released the final album version of “Salvation”. Aplin, i think, is a very talented new artist who beautifully write and compose her own songs. My days in these past two years are full of her. It’s a shame this album is not released in the US yet.
    Most-loved track: Salvation
  6. “Momentum” by Jamie Cullum
    Release date: May 20, 2013
    Yes I love jazz music too! Especially this English bloke. It’s a 4 years span between “The Pursuit” (2009) and this album, and here’s what happened: He’s married and having two daughters. That inspires a lot of materials for Momentum and makes it a lot less heavy than any of his albums. You don’t wanna miss out the catchy easy-jazz “Everything You Didn’t Do” which was released as the first single, the serious “Love for $ale”, the soothing “Get a Hold of Yourself”, the cheerful opening track “The Same Thing”, or the beautiful piano tunes on “Save Your Soul”. It’s a shame not a lot of people love jazz music anymore.
    Most-loved track: Save Your Soul
  7. “The Blessed Unrest” by Sara Bareilles
    Release date: July 16, 2013
    “You said, ‘Remember that life is not meant to be wasted. We can always be chasing the sun. So fill up your lungs and just run!'” That line from the second track of the album, “Chasing the Sun”, is one of the proofs that Sara Bareilles is a song-writing prodigy who can inspire people. The first single “Brave” is also the proof which a lot of people love to listen to. The fact that written and created in Manhattan, a lot of references in this album are about New York City which makes it even lovelier. I think “The Blessed Unrest” is the best pop album of 2013. She gets two nominations in the 2014 Grammy Awards for “Album of the Year” and “Best Pop Album”, which she highly deserves. I’m rooting for her so much.
    Most-loved track: Chasing the Sun
  8. “Halcyon Days” by Ellie Goulding
    Release date: August 23, 2013
    It’s a re-release of “Halcyon” (2011) which includes 10 new songs. Frankly I think the new tracks are more fresh and contain more perfect summer beats than the ones in “Halcyon”, which I think would have been more suitable to release on fall or winter, not summer. I enjoy a lot of tracks, including: the lead single “Burn”, the perfect “You My Everything” which was featured on Skins, the mood-boosting “Stay Awake” which is very suitable for summer, and the calming “Under Control”.
    Most-loved track: You My Everything
  9. “Fire Within” by Birdy
    Release date: September 17, 2013
    I recognised this lovely British girl from her notable self-titled debut album, Birdy, at the end of 2011. The album contains cover songs such as Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”, Phoenix’s “1901”, The xx’s “Shelter”, or The Naked and Famous’ “Young Blood”. This year she released her sophomore album “Fire Within” in which she wrote all the songs. And the result? Brilliant. She’s a very gifted musician, to be honest. “Wings” served as the first single while “Light Me Up” did as the second single. But I love this particular track called “All You Never Say” in which she’s being very sentimental and all-sweet.
    Most-loved track: All You Never Say
  10. “The 20/20 Experience: The Complete Experience” by Justin Timberlake
    Release date: September 27, 2013
    Extraordinary is probably the word that suits this triple-threat artist the most. He always creates something in the most extraordinary way. He never comes out half-heartedly. Remember when we thought “FutureSex/LoveSounds” (2006) was, like, the best record ever at the time? Hold your breath. Because 7 years later JT brings  an even more extraordinaire; the most breathtaking experience: “The 20/20 Experience”. Yes, this record is very elegant and classy. Released as two-parters: “1 0f 2” on spring and “2 0f 2” on fall, he shakes 2013 with “Suit & Tie” in the beginning of the year, the heartbreaking “Mirrors”, the bitter “TKO” and the NYC-esque themed “Take Back the Night” by the later part of the year. Both parts debuted at #1 Billboard 200. On December 10, Timberlake was nominated for 6 Grammy Awards categories, 4 of them are from “The 20/20 Experience: The Complete Experience” and the other two are from his collaboration with Jay-Z on “Holy Grail”. All hail Timberlake.
    Most-loved track: Mirrors
  11. “Pure Heroine” by Lorde
    Release date: September 27, 2013
    The same day JT released “The Complete Experience”, Ella Yelich-O’Conor a.k.a. Lorda also debuted her very first studio album worldwide. With the lead single Royals, her name is raising in the US as well as worldwide during summer 2013. The song topped Billboard Hot 100 for 9 consecutive weeks; making her the first New Zealand singer to do so and the longest running debut number-one single, tied with Ke$ha’s “TiK ToK” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. “Pure Heroine” is very unique. It brings you a lot by only using minimal musics. Lorde’s songwriting skill is also striking in many ways, both metaphorically and literally speaking. Her songs often contain distinct sarcasms  that attract controversy. To be honest, I actually praise her for that. She speaks her minds bluntly in the smoothest way. Billboard gave 94/100 for this album, describing the album as “immaculate” and stating that Lorde was “the most vocally striking and lyrically thought-provoking” artist to breakthrough in recent times. Even Rolling Stone gave the album 4 stars out of 5 and declared it as the 7th best album (out of 50) in 2013. Lorde was smoothly nominated for 4 categeries in 2014 Grammy Awards, including Best Pop Vocal Album for “Pure Heroine”, and Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Performance for “Royals”. Way to go!
    Most-loved track: Ribs
  12. “ARTPOP” by Lady GaGa
    Release date: November 11, 2013
    “Come to me with all your subtexts and fantasies… My ARTPOP could mean anything.” The title track says it all. Everyone’s ARTPOP could mean anything. This is what this album is all about. Lady Gaga explores more. She improves. Some people say that “Applause” is like a left over from “The Fame” (2008), but I say, they’re wrong. It’s different. Lady Gaga always makes sure every corner of every track in her album is well-thought. She did that perfectly in “The Fame Monster” (2009) and she did it again now in “ARTPOP”. So here’s my track-by-track interpretation: The first three tracks “Aura”, “Venus”, and “G.U.Y. (Girl Under You)” mainly talk about self-empowering and equality of genders; followed by “Sexxx Dreams” and “Jewels N’ Drugs” that talk about sex and possessions. I caught “MANiCURE” and “Do What U Want” slightly as some sort of bad romances while “ARTPOP” is of course about her artistic view. She also brought up her teenage issue in “Swine”. Fashion issue is all over “Donatella” and Fashion!”, for she is also Versace’s brand ambassador now. She brings up fame issue again on “Marry Jane Holland” and her addiction to drugs on the sentimental song, “Dope”. Finally, she expresses her freedom on “Gypsy”, which I love the most, and also on “Applause”. This album is amazing and I think people need to stfu about their irrelevant hates toward Gaga.
    Most-loved track: Gypsy
  13. “Beyoncé” by Beyoncé
    Release date: December 13, 2013
    The Queen loves to surprise us. Without any promotion or even the slightest hint, she dropped her self-titled fifth album on December 13 on iTunes. This is a visual album contains 32 items: 14 songs and 18 videos. Each song is packed with its respective music videos. The singles are being released two-by-two, just like the format of “I Am… Sasha Fierce” (2008), with “Drunk in Love” and “XO” serve as the first. There is this one notable song called “***Flawless” which features the speech of a Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, about Feminism. The music video for “***Flawless”, directed by Jake Nava, was popular with fans and critics for its innovative choreography, particularly the hand movement pictured. The New York Times described its attention online as creating a “ripple effect” (the mean of releasing visual media online, so that people can share it via social media like Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr). Innovative? Yes. Well, what can I say? It’s The Queen B, Yoncé, we’re talking about.
    Most-loved track: ***Flawless (featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

It’s a wrap! HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014!