The best pop singles of 2013

It is time for the last list of 2013. It was a good year of music. Here are my favourite pop singles of the year.

25. Karise Eden – Threads Of Silence
Karise Eden won The Voice Australia last year and launched her first self-written single ‘Threads Of Silence’ a while later. The song is a heartfelt piano ballad where she shows the strength of her vocals in the big chorus. It kind of reminds a bit of Adele’s more stripped down tracks, which is obviously a compliment. Impressive debut!

24. Tom Odell – Another Love
Tom Odell launched his career successfully with the beautiful and heartbreaking single ‘Another Love’. The lyrics are touching and definitely relatable and Odell’s delivery is heartfelt. The moment where the second verse kicks in, always gives me goose bumps. Those lyrics are so honest and powerful. What a song people, what a song!

23. Laleh – Colors
Laleh had to follow up the huge success of ‘Some Die Young’ and the album Sjung. She came back with a single and album called Colors. The single is not miles away from the sound ‘Some Die Young’ has, but it is even more catchy and a little bit more uplifting. Her style of both her voice and her writing are distinctive and ‘Colors’ is a typical Laleh track in that sense. Absolutely nothing wrong with that!

22. Céline Dion – Loved Me Back To Life

I have never been a big fan of Céline Dion, but in collaboration with Sia, she managed to create on of the best singles of the year. ‘Loved Me Back To Life’ is a ballad with a modern sound and of course Céline’s voice sounds strong and emotional. For Sia, it was one of the many successful jobs as a writer for other artists. They should work together more often, because Celine’s voice fits this type of songs perfectly.

21. Lorde – Tennis Court
Lorde, the young singer from New Zealand, was one of the biggest discoveries of the year. While her song ‘Royals’ turned out to be a worldwide hit, I still think ‘Tennis Court’ is her best track. Everything is so on point here: her distinctive vocals, the fresh production, the honest lyrics and that undeniably catchy melody. Such a smash!

20. Tove Lo – Habits
This Swedish young woman came seemingly out of nowhere with one of the best pop tracks of the year. ‘Habits’ was her first single, but the heartbreaking character of the lyrics in combination with that immensely strong chorus is such an event to listen to. She showed she has more up her sleeve with single ‘Out Of Mind’ that almost made this list as well. Welcome Tove, you are one of my favourite pop stars from now on.

19. Cassadee Pope – Wasting All These Tears
Cassadee Pope won The Voice USA last year and followed her mentor Blake Shelton’s path and started to make country music. Her first single ‘Wasting All These Tears’ is a big pop/country belter, that you could expect from the likes of Carrie Underwood as well. It is a brilliant song with a huge chorus and strong lyrics. Cassadee has such a beautiful tone to her voice which makes this song all the more special.

18. Marco Mengoni – L’Essenziale
Famous Italian pop star Marco Mengoni won the San Remo Festival and represented Italy in Eurovision with the beautiful ballad ‘L’Essenziale’. The lyrics are touching, the melody is beautiful and Mengoni has got a distinctive and incredible sound of voice. Who does not melt when he sings in Italian about how he would create new places for you when your world falls apart? Lovely!

17. Birdy – Wings
Birdy came back swinging this year. She left behind the piano covers and presented a different sound with the single ‘Wings’. It is such a good song with a melancholic atmosphere, beautiful lyrics and one hell of a strong chorus. Birdy’s soaring vocals top it all off. This single definitely shows her potential as an interesting pop star.

16. Agnetha Fältskog – When You Really Loved Someone
ABBA’s Agnetha Fältskog made a comeback with new original material. She released the beautiful song ‘When You Really Loved Someone’ as the first single. It is a traditional pop ballad with a quite modern production. The lyrics about losing the love of your life are simple, but really effective and Agnetha gives them more meaning with her fragile delivery. She shows that she has still got it vocally as well.

15. Lady Gaga – Applause
All eyes were on Lady Gaga to make a big comeback. The opinions differed a lot when she first premiered lead single ‘Applause’, but the strong pop song turned out to be a success in the charts and on the radio. It is not the best thing she has done so far, but the chorus is great and the lyrics are sharp as ever. Gaga one again showed she is still relevant in the pop world.

14. Florence + The Machine – Over The Love
Florence + The Machine took a break from recording, but still found time to create a song for the soundtrack of the fantastic movie, The Great Gatsby. It is a beautiful song with touching lyrics and of course Florence makes it even better with her impressive powerhouse vocals. The build-up towards the last chorus is very well executed. One more The Great Gatsby track to come in this list!

13. Icona Pop – I Love It (feat. Charli XCX)
This was one of the biggest hits of the year and probably one of the catchiest hooks that I’ve heard in quite a while. This pop banger works very well on the dance floor and it is hard to resist screaming along to the chorus. It’s is a great track to let off some steam and frustration. Such a deserved worldwide hit for these girls.

12. AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love
AlunaGeorge’s first official single is still their best song to date. ‘Your Drums, Your Love’ is a song that is built completely around an immense chorus that gets to you every time you hear it. Aluna’s soft vocals work brilliantly in combination with George’s productions. This song shows off their lovely style best.

11. Charli XCX – You (Ha Ha Ha)
Pumping beats, screaming synths, smooth vocals and feisty lyrics. These are the four elements that make Charli XCX’s ‘You (Ha Ha Ha)’ into a geat track. The production sounds great and it is so hard to resist singing along to that ‘in your face’ chorus. It still sounds fresh every time I hear it.

10. Amanda Fondell – Dumb
It is a shame Amanda Fondell did not get far in Melodifestivalen, because ‘Dumb’ is such a great pop song. The verses are even better than the chorus, but the repetition of ‘done/gone’ etcetera, works haunting as well. The middle-eight that almost feels like an emotional breakdown is stunning and her delivery is convincing. I don’t care what the Swedish people voted, this remains a fantastic pop song.

09. Veronica Maggio – Sergels Torg
Swedish singer Veronica Maggio made a big comeback with her single ‘Sergels Torg’. The lyrics are sad and heartbreaking, but the melody is quite catchy and uplifting at the same time. You do not have to understand a word of what she sings in order to feel the emotion in the last part where she almost screams her frustration and desperation away. Such a heartfelt track, I love it.

08. Anouk – Birds
Anouk gave The Netherlands a spot in the final, and even a top 10 position, for the first time in years at the Eurovision Song Contest. She performed her heartbreaking, cinematic, melancholic and above all gorgeous ballad ‘Birds’. The orchestral sound works well with her voice and the track is grand, moving and captivating.

07. Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop
2013 was a huge year for Miley Cyrus, who transformed into the most talked about pop star with her controversial performances and outfits. However, miss Cyrus has the material to back it up, because ‘We Can’t Stop’ is a brilliant party track. It is insanely catchy and the production is great. Wouldn’t we all like to twerk a bit to this track? I thought so!

06. Haim – Forever
The girls of Haim broke through in 2013 and their first single ‘Forever’ is definitely one of the best things this year in pop had to offer. The production is perfect, their voices sound wonderful together and that chorus is just undeniable. The track swings and it immediately showed the sisters already found their own style and sound with their first single. Impressive, indeed!

05. Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball
With ‘We Can’t Stop’, Miley Cyrus showed she knows how to party, but she also showed her even better emotional side on ‘Wrecking Ball’. This is one of the best pop ballads released in recent years. Miley’s delivery is heartbreaking, especially in the bridge where she sounds fragile and completely honest. The chorus literally hits like a wrecking ball and this all results in one huge pop ballad.

04. Emmelie De Forest – Only Teardrops
Emmelie De Forest managed to win the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013 with her song ‘Only Teardrops’. Although the song sounds tailor made for Eurovision, it has something fresh and contemporary at the same time. Above all, the melody is just irresistibly catchy. The flute, her voice and the drums all complement the strong melody and it made ‘Only Teardrops’ a deserving winner in Eurovision and one of the best tracks of the year.

03. Laura Jansen – Queen Of Elba
Laura Jansen surprised me with her fantastic single ‘Queen Of Elba’. From the moment I heard this song for the first time, I knew there was something special about it. The lyrics about crowning herself the queen of Elba and coming to terms with a life on her own are brilliant. The melody is lush and her voice is enchanting as always. More of this please!

02. Lana Del Rey – Young & Beautiful
‘Young & Beautiful’ was the only new single by Lana this year, but it is once again an incredible song. The melancholy in the lyrics fit the sound of the song very well and the movie The Great Gatsby could not have wished for a better soundtrack than this. Lana sounds beautiful and her delivery of the lines “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?” sounds honest and fragile. What an utterly gorgeous song!

01. Margaret Berger – I Feed You My Love
The best song of the year for me is ‘I Feed You My Love’, the song that represented Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest. From the first seconds on I am captivated by it. It sounds dark and fresh at the same time and the heavy beats and production are definitely ‘in your face’. The lyrics of the song (‘You put a knife against my back and you dare me to face the attack’) fit the dark atmosphere very well and it just sounds so effortlessly cool. Margaret’s voice is perfect on ‘I Feed You My Love’ and I really need her to release a new album soon.

Introducing: Laleh


Swedish singer-songwriter is ready for an international career

Over the past few years, she has been one of the most notable and interesting female artists in Sweden. Her first album was a huge success and the next two did fairly well, but it was only with her fourth album that she became on of the most popular artists there. Her career started to take off in the other Scandinavian countries as well, especially with the release of the single ‘Some Die Young’. In the next few months she will release this single in Germany and Sweden will get a whole new record. Therefore it is time to introduce you to Laleh.

Laleh Pourkarim was born in Iran, but moved to Azerbaijan and later Belarus when she was only one year old. At twelve she moved to Sweden, where she stayed. She started an acting career, but switched to music in 2005. It was the beginning of an interesting musical story that balances between great pop tunes and more alternative and mysterious sides to Laleh as an artist.

Laleh’s music career started with a bang when her self titled debut record reached the first spot in the charts. In the same year she won the Grammi award (the Swedish Grammy’s) for the best artist. Her first singles ‘Invisible (My Song)’, ‘Live Tomorrow’ and ‘Forgive But Not Forget’ were all great pop songs with an identity and interesting lyrics. She released her second album Prinsessor a year later, which did fairly well, but not as great as its predecessor. It still brought us great songs like the laidback ‘Call On Me’ and the piano-driven title track.

Pourkarim then took a break and returned to music in 2009 with ‘Me And Simon’. The album contains the song ‘Snö’ (Snow), which served as the soundtrack for the movie Arn – The Knight Templar. It is one of her best songs to date with its mysterious atmosphere, gorgeous vocals and beautiful orchestration. The album had a slightly more alternative sound, influenced by a bit of folk, but also contained a good pop song like ‘Big City Love’. In 2011 Laleh’s career gained momentum when she participated in the television show Så Mycket Bättre, where established Swedish artists interpret each others songs each week with a performance. Laleh turned out to be the public’s favourite of the season with her stunning interpretations of ‘Just Nu’, ‘Ängeln I Rummet’ and ‘Here I Go Again’ topping the digital charts.

A month after the end of the television show, she released her fourth record ‘Sjung’ (Sing) with ‘Some Die Young’ as first single. The brilliant and emotional track became her biggest hit in her home country so far, but it did even better in Norway. She stayed at the Norwegian number one position for eight weeks. It is not surprising it did so well, as this song perfectly showcases the incredible, meaningful song-writing and emotional delivery, Laleh is capable of. The rest of the album mixed pop with folk, with captivating and interesting songs like ‘Samuel’, ‘Elephant’, ‘In The Comet’ and ‘Who Started It’.

Next week, her new album ‘Colors’ will be released in Sweden. The title track and first single creates high expectations as it is up there with ‘Some Die Young’ as one of her best tracks. The melody is infectious and the lyrics are once again on point. The middle-eight where she sings “I pulled up my roots from the bottom I was caught in and I had a talk with the shadow and the light fighting for me” is brilliant and brings the song to a higher level. While she brings Sweden and Norway a new record, Germany will be introduced to her with ‘Some Die Young’ and possibly an album consisting of older and new tracks. Laleh is one to watch, as she has it in her to win over more countries with her impressive songs and lovely voice.

Watch this blog for a review on Laleh’s new record Colors.


Zweedse singer-songwriter is klaar voor internationale carrière

De afgelopen jaren was ze één van de meest opvallende en interessante vrouwelijke artiesten van Zweden. Haar eerste album werd een groot succes en de twee opvolgers presteerden aardig, maar het was pas bij haar vierde plaat dat ze één van de populairste artiesten van het land werd. Met de release van de single ‘Some Die Young’ wist ze haar carrière in de rest van Scandinavië ook van de grond te krijgen. De single krijgt nu ook een release in Duitsland en in Zweden verschijnt volgende week een compleet nieuw album. Tijd om je voor te stellen aan Laleh.

Laleh Pourkarim werd geboren in Iran, maar verhuisde al naar Azerbeidzjan en Wit-Rusland toen ze slechts één jaar oud was. Op haar twaalfde ging ze in Zweden wonen en daar bleef ze. Ze begon daar met acteren, maar besloot in 2005 toch een muzikale carrière na te jagen. Het was het begin van een interessant muzikaal verhaal, dat balanceert tussen sterke pop songs en meer alternatieve en mysterieuze kanten aan Laleh als een artieste.

Laleh’s muzikale carrière begon knallend toen haar naar zichzelf vernoemde debuutalbum de eerste plaats haalde. Tevens won ze dat jaar een Grammi (Zweedse Grammy) voor beste artiest. Haar eerste singles ‘Invisible (My Song)’, ‘Live Tomorrow’ en ‘Forgive But Not Forget’ zijn aangename poptracks met een identiteit en interessante songteksten. Een jaar later kwam haar tweede album Prinsessor uit. Het presteerde aardig, maar wist niet het succes van de voorganger te evenaren. Toch bracht het ons mooie tracks als het laidback ‘Call On Me’ en de vooral op piano gebaseerde titeltrack.

Pourkarim nam daarna een lange pauze om in 2009 weer terug te keren met het nieuwe album Me And Simon. Op het album staat de prachtige track ‘Snö’ (Sneeuw) die als sountrack werd gebruikt bij de film Arn – The Knight Templar. Het is absoluut één van haar beste tracks tot nu toe, dankzij de mysterieuze sfeer, de beeldschone vocalen en de uitstekende orkestratie. Het album klonk wat alternatiever dankzij invloeden van folk, maar het bevatte ook mooie popsongs als ‘Big City Love’. In 2011 raakte Laleh’s carrière in een stroomversnelling door haar deelname aan Så Mycket Bättre, een Zweedse televisieshow waar gevestigde artiesten elkaars liedjes interpreteren met een optreden. Laleh groeide uit tot de publiekslieveling van het seizoen toen haar interpretaties van ‘Just Nu’, ‘Ángeln I Rummet’ en ‘Here I Go Again’ de bovenste regionen van de digitale hitlijst haalden.

Een maand na het einde van de tv-show kwam haar vierde album ‘Sjung’ (Zing) uit, gepaard met de release van ‘Some Die Young’ als eerste single. De briljante en emotionele song werd haar grootste hit in Zweden tot nu toe, maar deed het nog beter in buurland Noorwegen. Ze stond daar maar liefst acht weken op de eerste plaats. Het is eigenlijk niet verrassend dat het lied het zo goed deed, gezien de fantastische, betekenisvolle tekst en Laleh’s overtuigende, emotionele performance. De rest van het album mixt pop met folk, in boeiende en interessante tracks als Samuel’, ‘Elephant’, ‘In The Comet’ en ‘Who Started It’.

Volgende week komt haar nieuwe album ‘Colors’ uit in Zweden. De titeltrack en eerste single creëert alvast hoge verwachtingen aangezien het in de buurt komt van ‘Some Die Young’ qua kwaliteit. Het heeft een aanstekelijke melodie en de lyrics zijn weer zeer de moeite waard. De bridge waar ze zingt “I pulled up my roots from the bottom I was caught in and I had a talk with the shadow and the light fighting for me” is briljant en het brengt het lied naar een hoger niveau. Terwijl Zweden en Noorwegen een nieuw album krijgen, krijgt Duitsland de single ‘Some Die Young’ nu en mogelijk later een album met nieuwe en oude tracks. Laleh is er één om in de gaten te houden, omdat ze het in zich heeft nog meer landen voor zich te winnen met haar indrukwekkende songs en fijne stemgeluid.

Houd dit blog in de gaten voor een recensie van Colors, het nieuwe album van Laleh.