Here are the ten albums that topped my iPod this year. From UK dance to ATL body grinding, this list has it all.
10. “Heal” / Loreen
Before the 10 of you that actually know who this is starts hollering that it was technically released in October of 2012, hear me out. If you read my #Addicted post about Loreen, you know that I’ve been girl crushing on her for a couple of months now. I first heard of her this past May, and downloaded most of her album on the spot, which is why I’m lumping it in 2013’s list. It is such a chill album. It’s great to put on at night and cruise around town with the windows down. Her husky voice and R&B grooves are soothing to the soul. Plus, she’s just a badass. Dope.
9. “Beautiful” / Jessica Mauboy
Jessica Mauboy, my little Aussie burst of sunshine, released her third album this year and it is just what I expected from her: pure fun. There are plenty of catchy, bubblegum pop songs that I was addicted to for weeks. She also sprinkled in some of her soulful R&B style, which in my opinion, is her sweet spot. There’s not much of a statement being made with this, just a lot of fun, and I like to have fun, so bravo.
8. “Midnight Memories” / One Direction
We all know I have a little weakness (little is debatable) for 1D. I was so intrigued to hear the album’s direction (lame, I know) after they released “Story of My Life,” which is a completely new sound and style for the lads. As it would turn out, they picked up some indie/folk along the way, as well as unleashing their inner rock stars, which oddly sounds like 80’s rock n’ roll. The boys are growing up and the sound on this LP reflects that.
7. “Avril Lavigne” / Avril Lavigne
I can always count on Canada’s punk princess for solid work. Does this measure up to her last album, “Goodbye Lullaby”? Not so much, but it’s still pretty great. She, like One Direction, also hopped on board the country folk train somewhere in rural Tennessee for inspiration. And again, like “Midnight Memories,” incorporated some edgier rock songs, like the creepily seductive “Bad Girl” featuring the king of creep, Marilyn Manson, and radio-friendly “Rock N’ Roll.” Some of the songs I most appreciated were the “Goodbye Lullaby”-esque tracks like “Hush Hush” and “Falling Fast.”
6. “Into the Night” / MDNGHT
OK, this is a bit of a stretch. This is only a four-song EP, BUT it still doesn’t mean it’s not brilliant! This UK group is still on the upswing, but I am loving what they’re producing. It’s another nighttime chill album with a falsetto that is music to your ears, well, technically it is, but whatever, you get what I mean.
5. “Journals” / Justin Bieber
The grand finale of Bieber’s “Music Mondays,” “Journals,” was, to me, a defining moment for the pop star’s career. The set exhibits a matured sound and departure from radio pop to sultry R&B, which is still taking me a bit of time to come to terms with. Standouts are “Roller Coaster,” a funky, summer jam, “One Life,” baby-making sorcery, and “Memphis,” a banger with a chorus that will get stuck in your head for days. Too bad he’s “retired” now; it was just starting to get good!
4. “Ciara” / Ciara
ATL’s hip-hop princess is back and better than ever. It’s been years since “Promise” was the hottest track around, but now we have “Body Party” and “I’m Out” to make up for that. There is something about her silky smooth ways that I love, almost Aaliyah-like–I repeat, “almost.” Another standout is her collaboration with Future, “Where You Go.”
3. “Beyoncé” / Beyoncé
Must I explain? We all know Bey is a beast and she just drops album without notice and puts down the whole competition without really trying. It’s all unfair, it really is. Regardless, her secretive project still has everyone in the world in a daze–and their fourth or fifth pair of underpants by this point. After “4,” I was curious to see where the vision would go. Instead of retro and eerie, she went HAM and HAM-ier. Lots of bass. Lots of anthems. Lots of booty. What more could you want?
2. “Prism” / Katy Perry
I am an unabashed Katy Cat. It’s no secret. At first I was a little underwhelmed by this album, but as time passed, I’m beginning to appreciate it more. Sure it’s not jam-packed with potential number ones, but it’s a cohesive and diverse set. The first half is very “Teenage Dream,” and the second half is very indie pop–Tegan and Sara-ish. There is a little something for everyone. “Birthday” is still a song everyone needs to hear. Mark my words: “Birthday” will be released as a single in May of next year and hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 by mid-June.
1. “Settle” / Disclosure
OK. I don’t even know what planet this duo came from, but I’m so thankful they chose Earth for their Sprinkles cupcake run. This British sensation has been spreading throughout the underground networks for months now and you should definitely check it out. It’s rare for me to find an album that I can play start to finish and not want to skip a song. This album is the duo’s first and features a bevy of featured guests to add to their house-music sound. It’s just magical, for lack of better words and description.