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.

Album Review: Miley Cyrus – Bangerz


Controversial Miley Cyrus presents hyped album Bangerz

When Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears all announced their comebacks this summer, not many people would have guessed that, instead of them, Miley Cyrus would actually be the talk of the town for months. The controversy started with her daring party video for first single ‘We Can’t Stop’ and reached another height with her twerking performance at the VMA’s. If that all was not enough to keep people talking, she appeared naked in the video for ‘Wrecking Ball’. So far, she backed the controversial outings up with two great singles. Now the question is: is her new album, Bangerz, good enough to live up to the hype around her persona?

My answer would be; partly. Bangerz, produced by hiphop producer Mike Will Made It, is not really the groundbreaking album you would expect after seeing her MTV documentary ‘The Movement’. Cyrus talks about how she wanted the record to surprise everybody. She explains how every song should cause reactions like: “Wow, what was that?”. To be fair, Bangerz is not surprising or unpredictable enough to achieve this goal, but apart from a few ‘misses’, the album is pretty much a ‘hit’.

Let’s start with the ‘misses’ to get the negative part over with. ‘SMS (Bangerz)’ is the worst song on the album. It is tuneless and does not go anywhere. It is quite surprising Britney Spears agreed to collaborate on this track. Her verse does not add anything to the song. The idea of a duet by Miley and Britney was definitely promising, but both should have known better than to release this. ‘Love Money Party (feat. Big Sean)’ is not one of the highlights either, with an uninspired chorus and unimpressive lyrics.

The good news is, that these are the only two songs that completely missed the mark. The rest of the album’s ‘bangers’ range from decent to outstanding. Both successful singles, ‘We Can’t Stop’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’, are part of the last category. These songs are definitely among the best singles released in 2013. Especially ‘Wrecking Ball’ is among the best ballad-like songs released in quite a while and it is not the only good song in this genre to be found on this album. ‘Drive’ is a dark, captivating track that you cannot help but come back to. Miley’s emotional vocal style works very well and this might be a good choice for a future single. Also, the sweet opening track ‘Adore You’ is one of the better tracks on Bangerz.

Still, most of the tracks, like ‘Wrecking Ball’ and ‘Drive’ deal with a break-up. On the climax of the strong closing track ‘Someone Else’, Cyrus sums up that for her “Love is patient, love is selfless, love is hopeful, love is kind”, but at the same time “Love is jealous, selfish, love is hopeless, love is blind.” On the unusual, but pretty brilliant ‘FU (feat. French Montana)’ Miley is not happy with an ex-lover and she tells him in simple wordings what she thinks he should do with himself. Miley’s vocals are on fire on this track, which matches brilliantly with the aggression in the lyrics. She definitely shows some personality here.

Luckily for the fans of ‘We Can’t Stop’, Bangerz is not all heartbreak and angry feelings. A song like ‘4×4 (feat. Nelly)’ is one of the more straight forward uptempo tracks. It mixes a hiphop-beat brilliantly with slight country influences. The pre-chorus where Miley sings “I’m in the passenger seat, riding high in the air”, is one of the best moments on the album in terms of melody. If Miley and her label want a third world wide hit out of this album, they should release this song as a single.

While everybody is busy talking about Miley’s controversial behaviour, she released a strong album that mixes pop, with a bit of hiphop, which gives the young singer some identity as an artist. It might not be the groundbreaking record she initially wanted to make, but it is a solid effort, full of good productions. And as everybody keeps criticizing her, she will laugh in the corner with her next number 1.

Must Listen: Wrecking Ball, Drive, FU (feat. French Montana), We Can’t Stop, 4×4 (feat. Nelly), Someone Else.


Album Recensie: Miley Cyrus – Bangerz

Veelbesproken Miley Cyrus brengt album Bangerz uit

Toen Katy Perry, Lady Gaga en Britney Spears allen hun comeback aankondigden deze zomer, zullen maar weinig mensen hebben verwacht dat niet zij, maar Miley Cyrus maandenlang het onderwerp van gesprek zou zijn. De controverse rond de zangeres begon met haar uitdagende party video voor ‘We Can’t Stop’, maar bereikte ongekende hoogten dankzij haar twerken tijdens de VMA’s. Alsof dat nog niet genoeg was om de boze tongen bezig te houden, verscheen ze ook nog eens naakt in de video van ‘Wrecking Ball’. Tot nu toe ging het controversiële gedrag gepaard met sterke singles. Nu is de vraag: is haar nieuwe album, Bangerz, goed genoeg om de hype rond de persoon Miley Cyrus te rechtvaardigen?

Het antwoord is; gedeeltelijk. Het grotendeels door hiphop producer Mike Will Made It geproduceerde Bangerz is niet het baanbrekende album wat je zou verwachten, na het zien van Miley’s MTV documentaire ‘The Movement’. Cyrus vertelt daar dat ze een album wilde maken dat mensen zou verrassen. Ze wilde met elke song een reactie uitlokken als: “Wow, wat was dat?”. Om eerlijk te zijn is Bangerz niet verrassend of onvoorspelbaar genoeg om dit doel te bewerkstelligen, maar afgezien van een paar missertjes, is het album zeker de moeite waard.

Laten we maar meteen met de missertjes beginnen om het negatieve gedeelte maar gedaan te hebben. ‘SMS (Bangerz)’ is het slechtste lied op het album. Het heeft amper een melodie en bouwt nergens naartoe. Het is dan ook verrassend te noemen dat Britney Spears heeft willen meewerken aan deze track. Haar coupletje voegt totaal niks toe aan het geheel. Het idee van een duet tussen Britney en Miley was veelbelovend, maar ze hadden beide beter moeten weten dan deze track uit te brengen. Ook ‘Love Money Party (feat. Big Sean)’ slaat de plank mis met een ongeïnspireerd refrein en een flauwe tekst.

Het goede nieuws is, dat dit de enige twee complete missers van het album zijn. De rest van de ‘bangers’ variëren van degelijk tot uitstekend. Beide succesvolle singles, ‘We Can’t Stop’ en ‘Wrecking Ball’, behoren tot de laatste categorie. Daarnaast vallen ze zeker ook tot de beste singles van het jaar tot nu toe. ‘Wrecking Ball’ behoort zelfs tot de beste ballad-achtige songs van de afgelopen jaren en het is niet de enige sterke track in dat genre op dit album. ‘Drive’ is een donkere, meeslepende song waar je naartoe terug blijft komen. Miley’s emotionele stijl van zingen komt goed tot zijn recht en dit zou een slimme single keuze kunnen zijn. Daarnaast is er de lieve ballad ‘Adore You’ die het album opent. Ook dit is één van de betere tracks op het album te noemen.

Toch richten de meeste tracks, net zoals ‘Wrecking Ball’ en ‘Drive’, zich qua tekst op een break-up. Tijdens de climax van de sterke afsluiter ‘Someone Else’, somt Cyrus op wat liefde voor haar is. “Love is patient, love is selfless, love is hopeful, love is kind”, maar tegelijkertijd “Love is jealous, selfish, love is hopeless, love is blind.” Op de ongebruikelijke, maar briljante track ‘FU (feat. French Montana)’ is Miley niet bepaald blij met haar ex-vriend en ze vertelt hem dan ook in simpele bewoordingen wat zij vindt, dat hij met zichzelf moet doen. Miley gaat vocaal helemaal los wat perfect bij de agressie uit de songtekst past. Op deze track laat ze zeker persoonlijkheid zien.

Gelukkig voor de fans van ‘We Can’t Stop’, bestaat Bangerz niet alleen uit gebroken harten en boze gevoelens. Een song als ‘4×4 (feat. Nelly)’ is één van de meer recht toe recht aan uptempo liedjes. Het mixt hiphop-beats met country-invloeden op een zeer slimme wijze. De bridge waarop Miley zingt “I’m in the passenger seat, riding high in the air”, is qua melodie één van de beste momenten van het album. Als Miley en haar label een derde wereldwijde hit willen scoren, moeten ze deze track als volgende single uitbrengen.

Terwijl iedereen druk is met het bespreken van Miley’s controversiële gedrag, heeft de zangeres een sterk album gemaakt, dat pop mixt met een beetje hiphop. Het geeft de jonge Cyrus wat persoonlijkheid als artieste. Het mag dan wel niet het baanbrekende album zijn waar ze in eerste instantie voor ging, maar het is een degelijk album geworden, vol goede producties. En voorlopig zal ze om alle kritiek blijven lachen, omdat ze weer een nummer 1 aan haar lijst kan toevoegen.

Dit moet je gehoord hebben: Wrecking Ball, Drive, FU (feat. French Montana), We Can’t Stop, 4×4 (feat. Nelly), Someone Else.