Album Playlist: Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013, Part 1…


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As I look over my 2013 playlist from my iPod, I realize I have listened to numerous albums this year.  In fact, the amount of music that my ears have consumed and my pen has analyzed is pretty scary…and I still missed lots of albums! SMH! Some were special, some made me cringe, and some fell somewhere in between the two extremes.  As difficult as it was, as of October 7, 2013, I have compiled a list housing my favorites, least favorites, and honorable mentions.  I’m almost certain I’ve slighted someone and I’m sure there will be continual revisions, but for now, here’s what you should’ve spun, what you should’ve avoided like the plague, and those that were strongly consideration for favorites. Enjoy!

Favorites…

Pop 

51zyslCFevL._SL500_AA280_Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience 

Elton John, The Diving Board

My two favorite pop albums couldn’t be more different.  One’s a more singer/songwriter and rock-oriented effort (John) while the other balances urban and pop (Timberlake).  Two different extremes of the spectrum perhaps, both yield sound rewards.

Traditional Pop 

Michael Bublé, To Be Loved 

Bublé possesses one of the best voices in recent times by my estimations.

Electronic / Dance

41FJb1q2VyL._SL500_AA280_Daft Punk, Random Access Memories

James Blake, Overgrown

Daft Punk’s effort was the commercial triumph of the two, delivering the ubiquitous, tastefully risqué “Get Lucky”.  Blake’s brilliant Overgrown shouldn’t be written off by any means, easily showing a huge amount of growth since his debut James Blake.

Rock

41HOLOY507L._SL500_AA280_Queens of the Stone Age, …Like Clockwork

David Bowie, The Next Day

So we’ve got a legend who returns after a lengthy hiatus and an underrated band who somehow made their way to the number one spot on the Billboard Albums chart.  Awesome.  Both albums are among the year’s top regardless of genre.

Metal

510gRIX6xfL._SL500_AA280_Black Sabbath, 13

While atheism itself doesn’t personally appeal to me, Black Sabbath’s 13 is nothing short of brilliant, regardless of its numerous lyrical allusions to atheism and skepticism towards any religion.

 

Alternative

51Tqebc+IZL._SL500_AA280_Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City 

The Flaming Lips, The Terror 

The alternative music category is always stacked with gems, perhaps because this represents the ‘future’ of music with more experimental, less commercialized ideas.  Both Vampire Weekend and The Flaming Lips outdo themselves on their respective albums, no questions asked.

R&B

41o5xUIKO+L._SL500_AA280_Janelle Monáe, The Electric Lady

John Legend, Love in the Future

R&B may be suffering commercially, but critically, there are still some unquestionable triumphs.   Janelle Monáe epitomizes the future of the genre, mixing the best cues from the past and incredible creativity that clear thinks forward.  Legend on the other hand is more classic, but as impressive as the results are on Love in the Future, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Traditional R&B

51fqkurDW+L._SL500_AA280_Charles Bradley, Victim of Love

Mavis Staples, One True Vine

Haven’t heard these? Please take the time.  Soul at its best in 2013.

 

Rap

41E34dng69L._SL500_AA280_J. Cole, Born Sinner

Drake, Nothing Was The Same

No Kanye? He has an argument for both being here and not being here.  Honestly, choosing a favorite rap effort is a difficult choice this year as I felt the field has been wide open.  J. Cole definitely came up while Drake was a consistent and moody as ever.  Others could’ve easily landed here as well… the genre has had a good year.

Mixtape

Logic, Young Sinatra: Welcome To Forever

He’s got next, period.

Reggae

61C7Cg69MKL._SL500_AA280_Cornell Campbell/Soothsayers, Nothing Can Stop Us 

The Courtney John Project, Future

Reggae is underrated, but it shouldn’t be at the hands of veteran Cornell Campbell or innovative collective The Courtney John Project.  Sure we’re going gaga over Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk, and Robin Thicke, but we should also be talking about both these exceptional albums.

Country

51dLxmUchfL._SL500_AA280_Alan Jackson,  Precious Memories II 

I’ll admit, I’ve indeed slept on country some in 2013.  Shame on me, I apologize.  But, I do think that it is strange that from among the few country albums I partook, my choice for the best was a sequel, just saying.  For me, I just couldn’t say that either Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, or The Band Perry had my favorite album… Can’t speak on Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Justin Moore, etc. I’ll do better next year.

Gospel

Shirley Caesar, Good God 

It is a gospel legend… that’s enough said…

Blues

41-PUo3AtUL._SL500_AA280_Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Get Up!
Tedeschi Trucks Band, Made Up Mind

Talk about two underrated albums! Both are sensational and deciding between the two was incredibly difficult.  That’s why I “made up my mind” and selected both.

 

Jazz

5192VzEOazL._SX300_José James, No Beginning, No End

Jaimeo Brown, Transcendence 

José James could’ve landed in the R&B category, but we all know that jazz is a huge part of his artistry, right? No Beginning, No End is a terrific album that I hope the Grammy voters don’t shun.  Jaimeo Brown offers quite a creative, modern-jazz album that is incredibly eclectic, including elements of Indian music and spirituals.

Make sure you check out part 2 (Least Favorites), coming soon!!!

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