The best pop albums of 2013

Because it is almost the end of the year, I will present you some lists of the best things that happened in pop music in 2013. Today, it is time for the list of the 20 best pop albums released in 2013. Let’s have a look!

20. Bastille – Bad Blood
Bastille Bad Blood
Bastille is one of the most exciting new acts that broke through this year. Bad Blood is a great record with a distinctive sound, mostly because of the singer Dan’s warm vocal style. ‘Pompeii’, ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’ and ‘Laura Palmer’ are all brilliant songs with a great production and instrumentation. Impressive debut!

19. Sara Bareilles – The Blessed Unrest
sara-bareilles the blessed unrest
A deserved Grammy nomination for this one. Sara Bareilles released an impressive album with amazing songs like ‘Brave’, ‘Hercules’, ‘Cassiopeia’ and the gorgeous ballad ‘Islands’. Sara always released good albums, but it feels like this time, everything is even a little better and this style fits her completely.

18. Marco Mengoni – #ProntoACorrere
marco mengoni-pronto a correre-cover
Marco Mengoni represented Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest with the wonderful ballad ‘L’Essenziale’. On his album, he shows he also sounds great on up tempo pop songs like ‘Non Me Ne Accorgo’ and the title track. His voice is amazing and the hooks on the tracks are extremely catchy. No wonder this was one of the most successful albums of the year in Italy.

17. Emmelie De Forest – Only Teardrops
The Danish Emmelie De Forest won this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, but ‘Only Teardrops’ was not the only good song she put out this year. Her debut album was full of good pop tracks in the same style as her Eurovision song. She shows she is more than a one hit wonder with this album and I hope we will get to enjoy more of her music in the next few years.

16. Ellie Goulding – Halcyon Days
Ellie Goulding came up with a re-release of her brilliant album Halcyon, now called Halcyon Days. She had huge hits with ‘Burn’ and ‘How Long Will I Love You?’ and the other tracks on this new version are great too. It is not the best collection she released so far (how could she ever top Halcyon?), but still she once again managed to put out wonderful songs like ‘Hearts Without Chains’ and ‘You, My Everything’.

15. Janelle Monáe – The Electric Lady
Janelle Monáe’s eclectic mix of R&B, soul, pop, funk, hip-hop and more, delivered us some amazing songs on her debut record The ArchAndroid. Her second effort does not disappoint with some of the best songs in her career so far, like the beautiful duet ‘PrimeTime’ with Miguel. The album has great variation but still feels like an extremely cohesive work of art. Janelle Monáe never disappoints.

14. Natalia Kills – Trouble
Natalia Kills came back with a surprisingly strong second album. Where her first record was quite hit and miss, Trouble is a more cohesive body of work with a higher quality of songs throughout the album. From the emotional ‘Saturday Night’ to the bonkers ‘Rabbit Hole’, Natalia Kills impressed with a great collection of strong pop songs.

13. AlunaGeorge – Body Music
AlunaGeorge was one of the most promising new acts this year and they absolutely delivered with their album. Their electronic style with Aluna’s distinctive vocals are immediately recognizable. Their singles ‘Your Drums, Your Love’ and ‘Attracting Flies’ are the best songs on the album, but almost every track has a memorable chorus and a great production.

12. Anouk – Sad Singalong Songs
Anouk Sad Singalong Songs
Dutch singer Anouk left rock music behind for a bit and made an orchestral album full of beautiful ballads. She represented the Netherlands at Eurovision with the gorgeous ‘Birds’ and songs like ‘Kill’, ‘Stardust’ and ‘The Good Life’ all have that same cinematic and captivating quality. The lyrics are heartfelt and personal and Anouk’s voice sounds better than ever.

11. Icona Pop – This Is…
These Swedish girls had an enormous hit with the amazing single ‘I Love It’, but they showed they have more to give with their album. Their music is a bouncing mix of pop, electro and dance and literally every track has a huge chorus with a great hook. Absolutely one of the best and catchiest releases of the year.

10. Diana Vickers – Music To Make Boys Cry
Diana Vickers took some years to record her second album, but it was definitely worth the wait. She changed her style a bit and focuses more on electro pop these days. Music To Make Boys Cry is a cute little record with a handful strong pop songs with great hooks and memorable choruses. The title track, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Boy In Paris’ and ‘Dead Heat’ should have all been hit singles.

09. Lady Gaga – ARTPOP
lady gaga artpop cover
Lady Gaga will always have to deal with huge expectations when it comes to the release of her albums and there will always be people who are disappointed with her new output. For me however, ARTPOP is a decent pop record with some great tracks on it. It is not her best work so far (The Fame Monster says hello), but still ‘Applause’, ‘Sexxx Dreams’, ‘Do What U Want’ and ‘Venus’ show she still knows how to write huge choruses.

08. Beyoncé – BEYONCÉ

Beyoncé BEYONCÉ album cover
I waited until the last day of the year to complete this list, as I could not predict if any artist would ‘pull a Beyoncé’ and release a record out of the blue. She surprised the world with this interesting, cohesive and captivating album. Almost every track on there sounds fresh and it seems Beyoncé found the style that fits her best. ‘Haunted’, ‘XO’, ‘Mine’ and ‘Jealous’ are all brilliant tracks and with every listen another song stands out. Great work Bee, we now understand why it took you so long!

07. Lorde – Pure Heroine
The success of the young singer Lorde from New-Zealand might be one of the biggest surprises of the year. It is still hard to imagine how a then sixteen-year-old was capable of creating such a cohesive, well-written album full of huge tunes. Not only singles ‘Royals’ and ‘Tennis Court’ are great songs, but she shows her talents on beautiful and catchy songs like ‘White Teeth Teens’ and ‘Buzzcut Season’ as well. If she is this good at the age of 16, what will happen when she is a grown woman?

06. Birdy – Fire Within
If any artist this year showed how she grew and matured musically, it is Birdy. After releasing an album full of covers as her debut, she did co-write her whole second album with a surprisingly strong record as a result. Beautiful ballads like ‘Words As Weapons’, ‘Strange Birds’ and ‘No Angel’ are still an important part of her music, but she also tries new, more up tempo sounds on ‘Light Me Up’, ‘Wings’ and ‘Standing In The Way Of The Light’, which fits her wonderful vocals perfectly. Definitely one of the most impressive albums of the year.

05. Charli XCX – True Romance
Charli XCX, known for her feature and co-writing on Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It’, released a brilliant debut album herself this year. True Romance is an album full of slick, stylish and pumping electro pop. Her lyrics are sharp, the beats are fat and her vocal style is immediately recognizable. Tracks like ‘You (Ha Ha Ha), ‘You’re The One’ and ‘Nuclear Seasons’ all have huge choruses with killer hooks. This young woman knows how to write some perfect pop tracks, ladies and gentlemen!

04. Gabrielle Aplin – English Rain
Gabrielle Aplin English Rain
Gabrielle Aplin has been working very hard for quite a few years, but in 2013 she finally dropped her first record ‘English Rain’. Her voice sounds angelic, her lyrics are strong and often relatable and the melodies are beautiful. The album deals with a broad range of emotions and Gabrielle is convincing as the teller of the stories. She is angry on ‘Keep On Walking’, thankful on ‘Salvation’, done with a relationship on ‘Panic Cord’ and cautious on ‘Please Don’t Say You Love Me’. This album has a great variety of strong songs and that voice is just lovely.

03. Miley Cyrus – Bangerz

The most talked about pop star of the year did not only twerk, she made a pretty great album as well. Singles ‘We Can’t Stop’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’ are both brilliant, but Miley proved to be capable of even more. There are a few missteps on this record (‘SMS (Bangerz)’ and ‘Love Money Party’), but the heights, such as the singles, ‘Drive’, ‘FU’,‘4×4’ and ‘Someone Else’ are all so good that it makes you forget not every song is perfect. Miley Cyrus proved herself to be an interesting pop star with some great tracks!

02. Haim – Days Are Gone
HAIM-Days Are Gone
Band of sisters Haim started the year with huge expectations after they won the Sound of 2013 poll. They did not disappoint with their debut record ‘Days Are Gone’ with a great recognizable sound and eleven strong tracks. The first single ‘Forever’ is still the standout track, but songs like ‘Falling’, ‘Days Are Gone’ and ‘Let Me Go’ all show their song writing talents. The sisters created an own sound and delivered a cohesive album that never bores.

01. Laura Jansen – Elba
The best album of 2013 came from an unexpected place for me, but Dutch singer-songwriter Laura Jansen delivered a truly impressive album. First single ‘Queen Of Elba’ is one of my favourite songs of the year and basically all tracks on the album are great. The lyrics are all well written, touching and tell very personal stories and the melodies are utterly gorgeous. From the uplifting ‘Golden’ to the emotional ballad ‘A Call To Arms’ and the more electronic ‘Lighthouse’ and from the great mash-up ‘Smalltown (Come Home)’ to the heartbreaking and personal ‘Pretty Me’, literally everything about this album is right. She crowned herself the queen of Elba, I crown her the album queen of the year!

Video Review: Gabrielle Aplin – Salvation

gabrielle aplin salvation video

Gabrielle Aplin releases classy video for ‘Salvation’

It has been a very successful year for Gabrielle Aplin. After topping the British charts with her rendition of ‘The Power Of Love’, used in the John Lewis Christmas advert of 2012, she gained momentum. In the spring of this year, the young singer released her debut album English Rain and scored hit singles with songs like ‘Home’, ‘Please Don’t Say You Love Me’ and ‘Panic Cord’. ‘Salvation’ is chosen as the next single, which seems like a perfect choice for the time of year. Recently, Aplin uploaded the video for the song and it a classy one.

‘Salvation’ is the fifth single from her debut album English Rain. Although the album is full of great songs and potential singles like ‘Keep On Walking’, ‘November’, ‘Human’ and ‘Alive’, ‘Salvation’ was the right choice as it might be the best track on the record. ‘Salvation’ is a piano ballad with a beautiful build up and an orchestral and breathtaking climax. Aplin’s sweet and flawless vocals work perfectly on this stripped back track. Lyrically, the song is about someone or something that helps to deal with a difficult period in life that just happened.

This theme is omnipresent in the beautiful video for the song. The video starts with some shots of Aplin walking on the streets, which reminds of her ‘Home’ video, where she was left alone with her belongings stolen from her. In the rest of the video we see Aplin in big and empty rooms, accompanied by a dancer in white, reminiscent of an angel. He offers her his hand and they dance together, which is captured beautifully on screen. The slow motion dance scenes fit perfectly with the slower parts of the song and in the climax, fast forward, stop motion and flashing lights are complementing the change of pace in the music. After the dances, Gabrielle leaves the angel dancer behind, which could be interpreted as her being saved by him and strong enough again to face things on her own. In this way, the video tells the story of the song extremely well, with excellent use of striking visuals and a beautiful choreography.


Video Recensie: Gabrielle Aplin – Salvation

Gabrielle Aplin komt met stijlvolle video voor ‘Salvation’

Gabrielle Aplin heeft een succesvol jaar achter de rug. Nadat de zangeres vorig jaar de eerste plaats in de Britse hitlijsten haalde met haar vertolking van ‘The Power Of Love’, dat werd gebruikt in de John Lewis kerst reclame, raakte haar carrière in een stroomversnelling. In het voorjaar bracht ze haar eerste album English Rain uit en wist hits te scoren met de singles ‘Home’, ‘Please Don’t Say You Love Me’ en ‘Panic Cord’. ‘Salvation’ is nu gekozen als de volgende single en die is perfect geschikt voor de tijd van het jaar. Gisteren zette Aplin de video voor het lied online en het is een stijlvol geheel geworden.

‘Salvation’ is alweer de vijfde single van het album English Rain. Hoewel het album vol staat met sterke songs en potentiële singles als ‘Keep On Walking’, ‘November’, ‘Alive’ en ‘Human’, is ‘Salvation’ toch de beste keuze, omdat het misschien wel het mooiste liedje van haar plaat is. Het is een mooie piano ballad met een sterke opbouw die uitmondt in een orkestrale en adembenemende climax. Aplin’s lieve en loepzuivere stem draagt het grotendeels kleine liedje met gemak. ‘Salvation’ gaat over iets of iemand die steun biedt bij het verwerken van een moeilijke periode in het leven.

Dit thema komt duidelijk terug in de video voor het lied. De video begint met een scène waarin de zangeres over straat loopt, wat een verwijzing is naar de video voor ‘Home’, waar ze berooid en alleen achterbleef. In de ‘Salvation’ video wordt de zangeres ondersteund door een danser in het wit, die regelmatig aan een engel doet denken. Hij geeft haar zijn hand en ze dansen samen in grote en lege zalen, wat prachtig in beeld wordt gebracht. De regisseur maakte veel gebruik van slow motion beelden die goed aansluiten bij het langzame liedje. De tempowisseling in de climax wordt verbeeld met fast forward shots, stop motion en flitsende lichten. Als de twee zijn uitgedanst laat Aplin de engel achter zich wat kan worden geïnterpreteerd als dat de zangeres door hem is gered en weer op het rechte pad is gezet. Ze is er weer klaar voor om de wereld alleen aan te kunnen. Op deze manier wordt het verhaal van het lied perfect verteld met behulp van mooie beelden en een sterke choreografie.