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!

Album Review: Diana Vickers – Music To Make Boys Cry


Diana Vickers releases her inner pop princess

Many people might remember Diana Vickers as the shy girl who auditioned for X Factor UK in 2008, with the song ‘The Blower’s Daughter’ by Damien Rice. After the show she was expected to go down the folky singer-songwriter route, but her brilliant first album, Songs From The Tainted Cherry Tree, had more of a pop-vibe to it. Now for her second album, Vickers completely releases her inner pop princess with an album that is full of electronic dancey, catchy choruses.

It has been quite the struggle for Diana to eventually get this album out. She parted ways with her label RCA in 2011, when she already started working on her second record, Music To Make Boys Cry. The reason for the end of their collaboration was the fact that both parties had different visions on what kind of music Diana should be making. After this, she worked independently on the album and did a movie in South Africa and earlier this year she got signed by the smaller label So Recordings, that eventually released the record.

We can now hear it is Diana who did not want to go for folky music, but she decided herself to release an album full of pure pop tracks with big choruses and current sounding productions. This already became clear on the title track that found its way to the internet in 2012 and was recently released as the second single. The track is insanely catchy, but still feels very ‘Diana’ thanks to her characteristic vocals. The same goes for the first official single ‘Cinderella’, a great pop track with clever lyrics, which makes it quite surprising that it did not do better charts wise.

The album continues with its fast pop catchiness in ‘Lighting Strikes’, which has a huge chorus that settles in your mind very easily and sounds a bit like a Kylie Minogue track. ‘Dead Heat’ has a somewhat slower tempo, but sounds sensual and captivating. ‘Boy In Paris’ is definitely one of the highlights of the album both in terms of melody and production. That song could have been a big summer hit for Vickers. ‘Mad At Me’ brings back an eighties vibe, but is packaged in the modern sound Diana uses on the rest of the album as well. On ‘Better In French’, Diana wants a guy to say he loves her in French and she sings a few lines in that language herself as well. It is once again a great pop tune and the song breathes a sexy vibe, thanks to the singer whispering lyrics like “wearing nothing but Coco No. 5”. The last song on the album, ‘Blame Game’, is a pop banger with an immense chorus that reminds a bit some of the better Katy Perry singles, which of course means it sounds like a hit.

‘Smoke’ is the only song on the album that sounds like a ballad and it does its job in context of the album. One could expect Music To Make Boys Cry to be samey and therefore a bit boring, but the latter is definitely not the case. All pop tracks on this album are executed extremely well and because of this, the lack of diversity is not distracting at all. The quality of the songs is high, and taking into account the fact that Diana co-wrote all of them, is impressive. Furthermore, she adds a personal touch to all songs with her unusual, but lovely vocal style. Vickers definitely did not make music to make this boy cry. Her sophomore album puts a big smile on my face!


Album recensie: Diana Vickers – Music To Make Boys Cry

Diana Vickers presenteert zich als popprinses op tweede album

De meeste Britten zullen zich Diana Vickers nog wel herinneren als het 16-jarige meisje dat auditie deed bij X Factor met het lied ‘The Blower’s Daughter’ van Damien Rice. Na de show werd verwacht dat de zangeres een folk-achtige singer-songwriter zou worden, maar haar eerste album, ‘Songs From The Tainted Cherry Tree’, bleek een sterk popalbum te zijn. Voor haar tweede album, Music To Make Boys Cry, richt Vickers zich op volledig moderne popmuziek met invloeden uit electro en dance.

Het was voor Diana Vickers geen gemakkelijke opgave om een tweede album uit te brengen. In 2011 verliet ze haar label RCA, terwijl ze al was begonnen met het opnemen van haar tweede album. De reden voor het vertrek waren meningsverschillen tussen het label en de zangeres over de muzikale richting van haar carrière. Hierna werkte ze zonder label hard door aan het album en speelde ze ondertussen nog in een film in Zuid-Afrika. Eerder dit jaar tekende ze bij het kleine label So Recordings, dat nu uiteindelijk haar tweede album uitbrengt.

We kunnen daarom nu horen dat het Diana zelf was die niet de kant van de folk op wilde gaan. Het blijkt namelijk haar eigen keuze te zijn om te gaan voor een album vol pure pop, met grootse refreinen en een eigentijdse productie. Dit was al duidelijk te horen op de titeltrack die in 2012 al op internet was te horen en onlangs uitkwam als de tweede single van het album. Het lied is ontzettend catchy, maar de stijl van Diana is nog steeds erg herkenbaar, dankzij haar opvallende vocalen. Hetzelfde geldt voor de eerste single, ‘Cinderella’, een heerlijke poptrack met goed gevonden lyrics. Het is dan ook verrassend dat deze single niet veel wist uit te halen in de Britse hitlijsten.

Het album gaat op volle vaart door met zijn pakkende popdeuntjes op ‘Lightning Strikes’, wat dankzij het grootse, pakkende refrein dat niet meer uit je hoofd gaat, een beetje aan Kylie Minogue doet denken. ‘Dead Heat’ heeft een iets lager tempo, maar klinkt sensueel en boeiend. ‘Boy In Paris’ is zeker één van de hoogtepunten op dit album wanneer het gaat om melodie en productie. Dit lied had zomaar een grote zomerhit voor Vickers kunnen worden. Op ‘Better In French’ wil Diana dat haar vriend zegt dat hij van haar houdt in de taal van de liefde. Zelf zingt ze ook enkele zinnen in het Frans. Het is wederom een prima poptrack die een sexy randje heeft dankzij Diana die teksten als “wearing nothing but Coco No. 5” fluistert. Afsluiter ‘Blame Game’ heeft een van de beste refreinen op het album en doet af en toe denken aan een Katy Perry single. Dit betekent dat het absoluut als een hit klinkt.

‘Smoke’ is eigenlijk het enige lied op het album dat klinkt als een ballad en het past goed in de context van het album. Men zou kunnen zeggen dat Music To Make Boys Cry een beetje veel van hetzelfde is en daarom gaat vervelen, maar dit is eigenlijk niet het geval. Alle popliedjes op dit album zitten zo goed in elkaar dat het gebrek aan diversiteit geen moment stoort. De kwaliteit van de songs ligt zeer hoog en dit is nog meer indrukwekkend te noemen als je bedenkt dat Diana aan alle liedjes meeschreef. Daarnaast geeft ze de liedjes nog meer persoonlijkheid mee door haar ongebruikelijke, maar zeer fijne stemgeluid. Vickers zingt op de titeltrack dat ze jongens graag aan het huilen maakt met haar muziek, maar dit is bij mij niet gelukt. Dit album tovert bij mij namelijk een grote glimlach op mijn gezicht!