ARTISTdirect's Top Five Albums of 2013
Thu, 12 Dec 2013 13:19:00
2013 is drawing to a close. A lot of awesome albums came out this year – Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Selena Gomez all released quality albums that we lurve. But these, these are our absolute and unquestionable favorites.
Trust us. We're professionals and we're experts. If you do not know, own or love these albums, then put them on your last-minute holiday wish list or buy them for yourself. Treat yourself.
Ariana Grande, Yours Truly: The gorgeous singer has a billion dollar voice, rich with tone and loaded with emotion. Plus, she is the first singer since Mariah Carey to hit notes as high as the heavens. Her debut Yours Truly is the best album of 2013 and she is poised to step into the throne at the top of pop. Ariana has arrived. With her celestial voice, which is imbued with warmth and depth, she is utterly believable when her songs adopt an urban edge ("The Way," with Mac Miller) and she moves mountains with her ballads, like the gorgeous "Almost Is Never Enough," where she shares electric vocal chemistry with her real-life boyfriend, Nathan Sykes of The Wanted. We don't use this term often, but Ariana Grande and Yours Truly are flawless and indicative of where pop music NEEDS to keep going in 2014. Oh, and don't snooze on "Tattooed Heart." That one embeds itself into your brain, like ink in skin, like its title. A++++++. Yours Truly is truly the year's best...
One Direction, Midnight Memories: The biggest band in the world ditched the bubblegum, teen pop in favor of more mature, well-crafted songs with a neo-folk bend. The boys co-wrote most of the songs, as well, in a testament to their individual talent, so check those "manufactured group" notions at the door. The songs are as catchy as they are impactful. There are plenty of acoustic numbers, such as the single "Story of My Life" and "Through the Dark" but the band also nods to '80s glam with songs like the title track. Overall, it's a mix of their influences and their inspirations, and the end result is as addictive as crack rock. We cannot deny their perfection with harmony and we applaud their decision to take a risk and break out of the sugary, saccharine-slathered teen pop of their first two albums. They demonstrated incredible growth with Midnight Memories. Are 1D the next Beatles? They very well could be. Remember, Paul McCartney and John Lennon and co. were a boy band when they crashed American shores, and they went from "I Want to Hold Your Hand" to "Helter Skelter." One Direction are not far behind and should follow the same career trajectory. Yeah, we said it.
Miley Cyrus, Bangerz: Miley Cyrus was not afraid to do whatever the hell she wanted with Bangerz. She mixes club jams ("We Can't Stop") and decidedly street, urban cuts (the title track) with affecting ballads ("Wrecking Ball" and "Adore You") and the risk paid off. She also ditched her Disney past and embraced and indulged her hip-hop side. She invited rappers and Britney Spears to join her album's party. While it's true that Bangerz was all over the place, style-wise, refusing to pledge allegiance to any singular style or genre, as we said, it was Miley's album and she did whatever the hell she wanted. She runs things; things don't run she! See what we did there? We semi-quoted her. Nice work, Miss Miley Cyrus. And the album also reminded us of a crucial, critical point. Miley Cyrus can sing. Twerking, teddy bears and crazy antics aside, the girl is blessed with a gorgeous, raspy voice.
Backstreet Boys, In a World Like This: The onetime boy band still has "it," with "it" being that thing that quality which draws fans to them, after all these years. In a World Like This is a modern pop album, proving that terrific harmonizing has no boundaries and knows no age limit. The voices of Howie Dorough and Nick Carter and AJ McLean and Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell mingle mellifluously and this album is for the BSB fans that shrieked over 'em during their puberty phase and for the new crop of young girls looking for quality music made by multiple males. No, they are not a boy band anymore by virtue of their ages, but that is just a number. They are still incredibly deft at what they do. Our favorites include the title track and "Show 'Em (What You're Made Of)." Backstreet's back, alright!
Demi Lovato, Demi: Demi Lovato's Demi is the singer's fourth album and it is a pop album and a dance album, full of fun, personal tracks that invite dancing as much as they exude introspection. But it's not an EDM album by any means. It's just fun and you can dance to it. First single "Heart Attack" i a whip-smart track that showcased and established the singer and Glee guest star and X Factor judge as a vocal force to be reckoned with. "Neon Lights" gets the party started every single time we crank it, and "Made in the USA" is addictively catchy tune that we work out to. But despite the fluffy tracks –and fluffy is good in our minds—Lovato can chip paint off the wall with her stronger-than-all voice. Oh, and "Warrior," which closes the album, is as empowering as it gets. Love Demi the person and Demi the album.
What is your favorite album of 2013?
—Amy Sciarretto & Rick Florino