Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Year in Songs

13 of the best acts and songs of 2013 and some of the oldies but goodies revisited this year.
2013 has been an interesting year for music...From mainstream pop revelations to newcomers on their way to stardom to dependable artists and their dependably good music, here is a rundown of 13 songs I've enjoyed, made memories to and most definitely will keep on replay even when 2013 is over. Enjoy!

J. Cole feat. Miguel Power Trip

 For Pete's sake, homie, pull it together
                  Just fuck her one time and be through it forever

You can't sing, rap, write a song about love playing you like a game and make it sound, honestly sexy and effortlessly cool. J. Cole does just that. When Miguel starts singing in the chorus, followed immediately by J. Cole's persistent "we are, we are, we are...", you know you got yourself a song you'll be playing on those kinds of  nights, when all your broken heart could do is walk the streets and those orange lights alone and some drink in you. One of the-to borrow the term, sickest hip-hop, RnB hits this year. 

Sam Smith Nirvana

Oh you take me to Nirvana
I don't think this will last
But you're here in my arms

Listening to Sam Smith soar through  high notes and give justice to all the fantastic musical build-up of Nirvana's verses makes you want to cry. It's grand in terms of vocals, but humble because of its intimate, it's just-you-and-me lyrics. Definitely makes the perfect pair: handsome, dramatic vocals courtesy of Sam Smith and great, unbridled writing. It's one of 2013's little known gems of a sad love song. 

Lady Gaga feat. R. Kelly Do What U Want

Sometimes I'm scared I suppose
If you ever let me go
I would fall apart
If you break my heart
So just take my body
And don't stop the party

Regardless what people say about Gaga, she still had an awesome year. ART POP is a serious (dancey) contender in the musical arena and people ought to give her more credit for versatility AND keeping all things Gaga still intact. Teaming up with the smooth R. Kelly on this one-the way he sang his verse was just perfect, makes it an addicting song, you'll have to stop yourself from listening to it after a while. Who knew someone as hardcore Pop as Lady Gaga would make great music with a straight-up RnB singer like R. Kelly.? That's why I still anticipate Lady Gaga...

Phoenix Trying To Be Cool

I'm just trying to be cool
It's all because of you
Some fanatic attitude
We're both on
Phoenix has always been an intelligent band. They set the standard for what people should be listening to next. Up and coming bands that fall under good, are paying homage to the Phoenix sound, and you couldn't blame them. Trying To Be Cool is poetic, mellow but undeniably done up in true Phoenix fashion, never missing  out on the energetic beat. Plus you can't ignore the well orchestrated music video. Watch and repeat.

One Direction Little Black Dress

Little Black Dress 
just walked into the room
Makin' heads turn
Can't stop looking at you

To us Directioners (yes, late bloomer here), we're all quite aware how much the boys have grown up. One Direction is slowly peeling off the bubble gum trading it in for new spirits, borrowing from 80s rock n' roll. Little Black Dress is an example of their new sound. Simply written but catchy and still fun like most 1D songs, credits go to Louis and Liam who co-wrote the track and with credits to all their more mature, rugged voices combined, it's definitely one of the better songs off their new album. 

Miguel feat. Kendrick Lamar

How many drinks would it take you to leave with me?
Yeah, you look good and I got money 
but I don't wanna waste my time

Miguel had a great 2013. He's finally warming up under the spotlight he's long deserved and talent like his should never go unnoticed. How Many Drinks is just one of his many, growing hits, that reminds people how sexy should sound like in music. And what's so amusing about this song too is despite its honesty (the lyrics will help you understand), it doesn't sound trashy at all. So, how many drinks will it really take you to leave with me? Good job, good job.

Ariana Grande feat. Big Sean Right There

And if you never change,
I'm gonna stay right there

By now you'd think every whistling, high-hitting female singer has dried up the Mariah Carey comparison, right? Until Ariana Grande made it to the big leagues. The Nickelodeon star does have the chops (and courage) to cover a Mariah Carey hit like Emotions and make it sound like we're back to the early 90s, when Mariah had cute, curly hair. I'm a fan of Ariana because I'm a Mariah Carey fan and also because her timing is perfect. At a time crowded with Mileys, Gagas, Katys, Taylors and everyone else in between, Ariana's sound- the sweet fusion of RnB, Hip Hop and Pop, will take you back to the late 90s to early 2000s when this was the sound of choice. While it's not new, it's refreshing. She proves how timing is indeed everything. We're counting down Ariana. The skies real soon.

Arctic Monkeys Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?

Now it's 3 in the morning
And I'm trying to change your mind...
Left you multiple missed calls 
and to my message you reply
Why'd you only call me when you're high?

It's the same question I ask...Kidding. While the lengthy video gives you that feeling or impression of being under the influence, the song's steady, light head-banging beat and Arctic Monkey's lead, Alex Turner's smokey singing, makes for a sure formula of musical recall, not only with indie rock fans, but also for those who have ears for the undeniably cool.

Miley Cyrus Adore You

When you say you love me,
Know I love you more.
When you say you need me,
Know I need you more.
No doubt about it, 2013 is Miley's. She's got so much hate and love driving plenty of interest towards her and whether you're a Smiler or not, you'll want to pay attention. I love the new Miley. I feel like it's more of who she really is and while I don't approve of everything she does, I give her a crown for embracing that tough job of entertaining, growing as a musician and being herself. Her new album, Bangerz is actually a really good record. She has country, RnB, hip hop and rock working for her. But her most vulnerable tracks like Wrecking Ball and Adore You- a personal favorite (Rooting For My Baby too), showcase how much of a star she is. It strips her down to all soul and need for love and her honey-like sound shines. Tongue-wagging and all, I love Miley. And thanks for making 2013 memorable.

Justin Timberlake You Got It On

Tell me what's better than the two of us
Cause you by yourself is more than enough for me...

A legend who's enjoying 2013, Justin Timberlake. Another reason why he's such a success is cause he's always stuck to his roots but has never let his sound stagnate. You Got It On has the makings of a classic, line it up alongside lots of Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway songs and you'll find yourself a perfect playlist of love songs even your grandkids would enjoy. Vocally, Justin is always spot on and You Got It On only did him better. Song writing at its best too. Every girl and girl at heart who's had a crush on JT, will smile and blush at this song. Justin never goes wrong. Ever.

Drake feat. Majid Jordan Hold On, We're Going Home

I got my eyes on you, you're everything that I see
I want your hot love and emotion

I remember hearing this for the first time (thanks to Joanne, my officemate) and never wanting to listen to any other song. I got stuck. That good, really. And to be honest, I like Drake the singer more than Drake the rapper. Lyrics are straight to the point but come across poetic, romantic even and it's the basic, almost elementary tone that makes it terribly easy to like and memorize. Of course, the Pia Mia cover is genius, but if it weren't for Drake's, that wouldn't even come about. Definitely, a 2013 trademark song.

Disclosure F for You

Because I play the fool for you

Brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence make up the British wonder that is Disclosure. The best dance songs of the year ALL come from their album, Settle. You could literally put the album on loop and have a 9-to-5 AM dance party and everyone heads home happy. Cool is a terrible word to describe their music. They're beyond that. And it's also very right that they are up for a Grammy. F for You's video is most likely a sneak peek of how their concerts will look like, the brothers side by side, out-of-this-world-beautiful effects and lights and their heart-racing music. That's it. Simple-just like their 3-line song above, but all too awesome to not name them a favorite. I'm proud I'm calling this music from our time.

The 1975 Chocolate

Yeah, we're dressed in black from head to toe,
Guns hidden under our petticoat
We're never gonna quit it, no, we're never gonna quit it

And my favorite 2013 discovery is The 1975. I always envy those cool kids who know bands and songs at least 5 months before everybody else, but I'm happy anyway when they're discovery is a true diamond. I came across The 1975 on SoundCloud. I wasn't really paying attention cause I was running through my feeds when I came across You. Someone's way-ahead-of-yours SoundCloud account had this posted and it managed to paint this scene in my head, something fit for a movie and so, like any social media citizen would do, I reposted. Months later, Harry Styles tweets about The 1975 and it was as if I didn't know them. The ending was, I got myself the album and have basically reposted the entire album on my SoundCloud. Chocolate though has to be my favorite. I only have the slightest idea of its meaning-you know, drugs, teens, but it sounds so good, so terribly infectious and its pleasing guitar notes dancing from start to finish combined with Matthew Healy's young, powerful voice got me hooked. The songs they sing and the sound they champion is of that age, of kids on their last few years of innocent youth and it's that somewhat sweet transition from teens to young adults. It is a pop rock band and it might too kiddy for some, but for me The 1975 manages to soothe commercial and independent ears, something artists these days strive so hard for. They're a pretty solid sound and band and I'm excited to see them here in Manila. 2013 wouldn't be, for me, if they weren't part of it.

- Gerard

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