I've italicized albums that I'd consciously choose as my favourites. Consider them recommendations to listen to if you're using this as a way to find new music.
- 10. Daft Punk- Random Access Memories: I found it strange how hyped this album was. Somehow, not doing anything for a while caused Daft Punk to suddenly be the band everyone was talking about. The talk stopped shortly after the album was finally released, but the hype wasn't for nothing; Random Access Memories is a decent balance of artsy bullshit and accessible horseshit.
- 9. Tricky - False Idols: Tricky hasn't changed much. 1995's Maxinquaye and 2013's False Idols have a similar sound. Yet this type of trip-hop doesn't, to me, sound retro. I guess that makes it timeless. What a tricky trick.
- 8. Anamanaguchi - Endless Fantasy: It took me like ten tries to write that name and I'm still not sure if I got it right. Anyway, this is another Kickstarter-backed album consisting of crazy-ass 8-bit video game inspired insanity. It's like Mega Man is jizzing in my ears.
- 7. Lady Gaga - ARTPOP: What's with stylizing album titles with capital letters? There are like 5 of them on this list alone. STOP YELLING, MUSIC. Anyway, I'm still clapping for Applause, the first single off of ARTPOP. The rest of the album is an improvement over 2011's Born This Way, but still tainted by the bullshit of trying too hard ("I've overheard your theory, nostalgia's for geeks" ... what? Nobody has ever said that), but it's pleasant enough.
- 6. CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe: I've been anticipating this album since I first heard Recover, an unironically 80s-influenced bit of synthy loveliness. The full album lives up to the promise of that single, and like I said before, I think fresh sounding albums like this are really what pop was about in 2013. There's an emotional honesty here that's missing in the faux-depth of ARTPOP or the calculated shock value of Bangerz.
- 5. Arctic Monkeys - AM: I always dismissed this band as another critically-acclaimed bore. But something changed with AM, with its fuzzy guitars and weepy lyrics. It scratches the same itch that the Black Keys do, except the Black Keys didn't put out an album in 2013, so I just let those monkeys go nuts and now I'm hardly itchy at all.
- 4. Selena Gomez - Stars Dance: After seeing Gomez starring in Spring Breakers, all I can think of when I see her is James Franco creepily growling "spring breeeaaaak" over and over. Regardless, Stars Dance is one of my favourite straight-up pop albums of the year. The title track is a highlight, though I'm skeptical of her claim to be able to make stars dance. Stars are non-sentient balls of gas and do not respond to music.
- 3. White Lies - BIG TV: Probably the best of the "still doing the 80s voice" bands. The songs here stand out even aside from the retro atmosphere. It's cheesy, but a little cheese never hurt anyone. I particularly like blue cheese, even though it's basically rotten food. Seriously, blue cheese is like eating gunk from the garbage. Delicious, delicious garbage. Wait, what are we talking about? Oh yeah, music...
- 2. Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob: This could have been a disaster, moving to a slick mainstream pop sound. However, what's always made Tegan and Sara special is their raw emotional core, and that remains intact even if it's surrounded by synths instead of guitars. It still feels weird to see them go from little Canadian folk duo to full-fledged pop stars hanging out with Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, but I can live with it if they keep making ditties that give my tear ducts a workout.
- 1. Haim - Days are Gone: Gosh damn I love this album. I don't even know why; it's mostly unremarkable pop songs, but they are just put together so perfectly. Haim's influences are from previous decades, but have a sincerity that makes their songs sound fresh in 2013. Once in a while, it's nice to listen to a bunch of actually-talented people doing good songs.
IT'S OVER. What did you listen to in 2013? Tell me in the comments.
If any of you are still out there, that is. Apparently I only blogged six times in 2013. I guess blogging is...well, not dead, but frail. Only useful for certain purposes. I'll still blog on the rare occasions when I have a thought that exceeds 140 characters though. Happy new year 'n shit.
See also: my most listened-to albums of previous years.