I don’t know whether I’m just getting older but I feel like it’s been a strange year for music. There still seems to be a craze for folky pop and British singers adopting an American twang…naming no names.
I’ve always loved music by real artists who write about real experiences, and while they don’t perhaps always get played on Radio 1 that’s the reason I love them even more.
With that in mind, as we approach the end of another year (where has this year gone?!), I wanted to share twenty of my favourite tracks of 2013 with you.
Ever since the release of her first EP in 2003, Rachael Yamagata has held a special place in my heart. Her heartfelt lyrics and gravelly vocals stand out more than many female artists at the moment, plus she has a great sense of humour (see her Twitter feed!)
This track from her second to last release, Chesapeake is probably one of the ‘poppiest’ on the album but I love the piano accompaniment and arrangement of the whole song. The video is cute too!
2. Sky Ferreira – Everything is Embarassing
You may remember Sky Ferreira from the electro-pop sounding ‘One’ in 2010, but ‘Everything is Embarassing’ is pure pop perfection.
Back with a mature look and sound, this year Sky really stood out with this track. The 80s beat and summer vibes made it one of my track of the year. Expect big things in 2014.
3. MS MR – Hurricane
MS MR’s vocals and sound have been compared to Florence and The Machine but I actually think they’re less pop and more Indie.
‘Hurricane’ oozes cool and it’s one of those tracks that sticks in your head, in a good way.
4. Duke Dumont feat. A*M*E – Need U (100%)
As soon as I heard this track I loved it. It’s so catchy and has such a great beat you can’t help but move to it, which is why I think the video is so great too as it represents exactly how it makes you feel!
I also think this is a track that will definitely stand the test of time, and be played year after year during Summer months.
5. Lana Del Rey – Ride
Ah, Lana Del Rey – the singer I can’t get enough of. Everything she does makes you take notice. Her videos aren’t just videos, they’re mini films, and I for one can’t wait for a new album in 2014.
‘Ride’, released as part of the ‘Paradise’ edition of her debut album, is Lana at her best – hauntingly beautiful vocals, lyrics that tell a story and music that projects an old Hollywood vibe. She can do no wrong in my eyes.
6. Sia – Kill and Run
Although Sia is an artist that tends to shy away from the spotlight nowadays, preferring to lend her songwriting skills to other artists such as Beyonce, this track showcases Sia’s vocals beautifully.
Although not officially released as a single, this was one of the stand out tracks for me on The Great Gatsby film soundtrack. Its majestic and swooping strings fit the film perfectly, and the vibe is reminiscent of Sia’s early work such as ‘Breathe.’
If Sia is an artist you haven’t heard of before, I can’t recommend checking out her albums enough. She is an amazing and talented individual.
7. Daughter – Still
‘Still’ is such a hauntingly beautiful and sad song, I dare you to listen without feeling emotional! Although it starts slow, once the beat kicks in this track is irresistible. A firm favourite of mine from this year.
8. Camera Obscura – Do It Again
From their fifth studio album, ‘Desire Lines’ released in June, ‘Do It Again’ is such a feel good song.
Synthy-pop mixed with vocals that don’t try to hard but are full of beautiful melody, make this a welcome return from the band.
9. The Killers – Shot At The Night
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly ten years since the release of The Killers’ debut album, ‘Hot Fuss,’ but with the release this year of their greatest hits album came a new track showcasing Brandon’s vocals at their best.
‘Shot At The Night’ is another catchy track from the band proving they’ve still got what it takes to stand out from other bands at the moment, not least because they’ve honed and developed their own sound over the last 10 years – no banjo, country-esque offerings from this band!
10. Alice Russell – I Loved You
After seeing Alice Russell live at the Union Chapel a few years ago, I can confirm she is one of the UK’s most talented female vocalists. I’m amazed she doesn’t get more recognition, but unfortunately not all artists have a massive PR push behind them.
‘I Loved You’ is from Alice’s latest album ‘To Dust’ and definitely one of the stand out tracks on the album. I love soul music and this track has a real old school vibe to it, with Alice’s vocals sounding effortlessly soulful over a catchy beat and gospel-esque backing vocals.
11. Sam Smith – Lay Me Down
Sam Smith has to be one of my stand out artists of the year, and to hear he’ll be awarded the Critic’s Choice award at 2014’s Brit Awards is great news.
Although Sam has released a few tracks this year, ‘Lay Me Down’ has to be my favourite. It feels like we’ve been lacking a talented male vocalist in the UK for a while now, and Sam couldn’t have come along soon enough to inject some raw, soulful talent into the UK music scene.
12. Foxes – Beauty Queen
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you may remember my post from last year regarding ‘Ones to watch’ in 2013. Louisa Rose Allen aka Foxes was one of those artists I featured and she’s certainly gained more recognition this year.
With the release of several singles including ‘Echo’ and featuring on Zedd’s track ‘Clarity’, this is one lady making a name for herself.
‘Beauty Queen’ has to be one of the best tracks Foxes has released so far and the video, although not an official one, cleverly pieces together clips that represent the song perfectly.
13. Janelle Monae – Q.U.E.E.N. feat. Erykah Badu
This year saw the return of the fantastic Janelle Monae. Still rocking her trademark monochrome look, ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ featuring Erykah Badu is as catchy as ‘Tightrope’ was with extra sass.
14. John Legend – Made To Love
Another of my favourite artists released a new album towards the end of this year, John Legend. The first single, ‘Made To Love’ was a welcome return of John’s raw vocals and perfect musical arrangement.
15. Drake – Hold On, We’re Going Home
Although I loved Drake’s collaboration with Rihanna, ‘Take Care’ I haven’t been a huge fan of his other music. When I first heard ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home,’ I didn’t even know who it was and was actually quite surprised it was Drake.
I love the vibe of this track, from the strong beat intro that pulls you in to the synth and smooth vocals, it’s just so catchy.
16. Birdy – Wings
I’ve been a fan of Birdy since her cover of ‘Skinny Love’, and when she released her second album of original tracks this year I couldn’t wait to hear it.
The first single to be taken from the album, ‘Wings’ is Birdy at her best. Hauntingly beautiful vocals, swooping strings and beautiful piano arrangement. This is one track you don’t get fed up of hearing.
17. John Newman – Losing Sleep
I wasn’t really a fan of John Newman, even though he’d been tipped for big things. That was until I heard ‘Losing Sleep.’
Like Sam Smith, John has an amazing vocal talent that the UK has long been waiting for. Although this song is quite “pop”, it’s catchy as hell and has a cool edge that makes it stand out – even when played on commercial radio.
18. Lady Gaga feat. R. Kelly – Do What U Want
The world’s craziest pop star was back to her best this year with the release of a new album, and in particular this slice of pop perfection featuring R.Kelly.
19. Jessie Ware – Imagine It Was Us
Another artist from my ‘Ones to watch’ post last year, Jessie Ware has had an amazing year since the release of her debut album ‘Devotion.’
‘Imagine It Was Us’ has a real disco feel which accompanied by Jessie’s subtly soulful vocals make it one of her best tracks to date.
20. Beyoncé – Blow (Preview)
I couldn’t write this post without a mention to Queen B. After breaking records with the release of her visual album out of the blue earlier this month, Beyonce is in a league of her own.
Although there’s no official single release from her latest self-titled album, I thought I’d pick one of my favourite tracks ‘Blow’ to share with you. Above is a 30 second clip of the video which, similarly to Jessie Ware’s track ‘Imagine It Was Us’ has a real disco vibe which is also represented in the video.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about twenty of my favourite tracks from this year. Are any of yours listed above? If not. let me know which have been your favourite tracks this year and who you’re tipping to be big in 2014.
Thanks for reading, Stay Chic!