The 100 Best Songs of 2013: Complete!

Juicy J-WBU-019355

After a year filled with numerous albums and even more songs, choosing 100 of the best is an incredibly difficult task.  Like with the best albums of 2013, there will be surprises as well as snubs.  Sometimes the snubs are oversights while at other items there are just so many notable songs that some just get lost in the mix.  Regardless, here are 100 songs I found to be notable in 2013.


“I Luv This Sh*t”

August Alsina featuring Trinidad James

From album: Downtown: Life Under the Gun

August Alsina has one foul mouth on him, but his real talk mixed with the slower, horn-accentuated production is a match made in heaven, if a blasphemous one (see the hook).



Alice Smith

From album: She

According to highly underrated alt-R&B musician Alice Smith, Hollywood isn’t very kind: “I see no reason for chasing / in Hollywood, got to lose my patience / want this life to be a cabaret…” Hollywood may not be for the ‘faint of heart’, but “Cabaret” it self is brilliant.


“Every Man Should Know”

Harry Connick, Jr.

From album: Every Man Should Know

Sometimes the simplest, and most important life lessons to become a gentleman are best conveyed through song, preferably a mix between traditional pop, jazz, and country.




From album: Ciara

Judging by this track, Ciara is far from being a ‘freshman’… definitely. “I ain’t no amateur / baby I know how to handle ya / If you ready for this ride, get your saddle up / I need a boy with some stamina…”


“Golden Salvation (Jesus Piece)”


From album: The Gifted

We expect nothing less than Wale’s clever wordplay between “piece” and “peace”, particularly on an album titled The Gifted.  Specifically, Wale informs us that too many people don’t want to hear about Jesus or his ‘peaceful’, Christian approach; they’re more concerned about the bling-bling (aka Jesus piece).


“Holy Grail”

Jay-Z featuring Justin Timberlake

From album: Magna Carta…Holy Grail

Magna Carta…Holy Grail certainly left plenty to be desired, but few can deny that Jay-Z is one of the kings – all hail, “Holy Grail”!



Kid Cudi

From album: Indicud

Basically, Cudi is saying you can’t mess with him… he’s unbreakable… or something like that.


“Let Us Move On”

Dido featuring Kendrick Lamar

From album: Girl Who Got Away

Even English singer/songwriter Dido had to get Kendrick Lamar on the track… can’t blame her.  “Let Us Move On” is arguably the best moment from an underrated album nobody bought.   Well, I bought it to be fair.


“Vegas Girl”

Conor Maynard

From album: Contrast

The video is a trip…‘course the song is too.  Conor may still have some ‘schmaltz’ about him, but he also has some swag.  Swag on brother – swag on!


“Pusher Lover Girl”

Justin Timberlake

From album: The 20/20 Experience

Love and sex have been compared and likened to everything at this point (thanks R. Kelly).  JT decides to make his lady like a drug dealer, only she deals love instead of say cocaine.  What’s shocking is that this album opener works triumphantly.



Wale featuring Juicy J Nicki Minaj

From album: The Gifted

What does one learn from the ‘cellulite anthem’ “Clappers”? That “Shawty got a big ole butt…OH YEAHHHHHH!!!”


“Heart Attack”

Demi Lovato

From album: Demi 

I’m not going to front, I’ve been listening to Demi put her “defenses up” all summer…  I don’t think she could really survive the number of heart attacks she’d receive at the hands of my playlist on repeat though…


“The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”

Alice In Chains

From album: The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

While the Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs (at least that I can remember off the top of my head), I’m not so sure Satan created them… Regardless, this title track from Alice In Chains’ most recent album was among the best hard rock performances of the year, potential misconceptions and all.


“While I’m Alive”


From album: Miracle Mile

While I’m Alive” sports an irresistible, danceable groove; Electronic cues further sweeten things while the soulful guitar is the ‘cherry on top’.  Well written, the theme of “While I’m Alive” is getting past the past, broken relationships, and living ‘while I’m alive.’


“Bandz A Make Her Dance

Juicy J featuring 2 Chainz Lil Wayne

From album: Stay Trippy

Everyone needs a good stripper anthem in his (or her) lives, right? On the raunchy “Bandz A Make Her Dance”, Juicy J spits: “Bands a make her dance, bands a maker her dance / All these chicks poppin’ p***y, I’m just poppin’ bands…”


“Body Party”


From album: Ciara

Just when ‘the art of making love’ was getting boring… Ciara’s here to spice things up!


“Her Favorite Song”

Mayer Hawthorne

From album: Where Does This Door Go

Yeah, the accompanying music video is weird, even if the ‘dogs’ are meant to represent guys that are dogs (in theory), but the song is brilliant.  “But when she gets home, she puts her headphones on / she plays her favorite song and fades away…” I do the same thing… well not quite in the same context though…



Sara Bareilles

From album: The Blessed Unrest

Here’s the gist of the song: STAND UP AND BE A MAN!!!  $%^!



Atlas Genius

From album: When It Was Now

I promise this song is not about a popular brand of condoms or making love… really:  “Take a picture you could never recreate / write a song / make a note / for the lump that sits inside your throat…” I promise!


Forbidden Fruit

J. Cole featuring Kendrick Lamar

From album: Born Sinner

I know, I know – I somehow missed this gem on my “50 Best Rap Songs”, but the atonement is on this broader list.  The one-two punch of J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar is nothing short of fire, period.


“Love Me”

Lil Wayne featuring Future Drake

From Album: I Am Not A Human Being II

“Love Me” may have been a shallow as everything else was on I Am Not A Human Being II, but at least it was enjoyably shallow.  “Long as my b*****s love me / I can give a f**k ‘bout no hater…”



Depeche Mode

From album: Delta Machine

Sure, this track is titled “Angel”, but it surely must be representing a dark angel… Mysterious, chilling, and ‘bothered’, “Angel” finds Depeche Mode doing what they do best.



Pusha T featuring Kendrick Lamar

From album: My Name Is My Name

The rap IQ on “Nosetalgia” is off the charts, particularly with Kendrick Lamar collaborating with Pusha.   Pusha T proclaims himself the “Black Ferris Bueller, cutting school with his jewels on…what I sell for pain in the hood, I’m a doctor…” while Kendrick Lamar’s slaughtering verse is capped off with “Go figure mother f**ker, every verse is a brick.” True.


“Ain’t It Fun”


From album: Paramore 

Ain’t It Fun” may be Paramore’s best track EVER.  Driven by a funky groove, the band goes ‘big’ with a gargantuan bass line, full-force punk-laden guitars, and gospel vocals.  ‘ain’t it fun’? – Definitely!


“Pop That”

French Montana featuring Rick Ross, Drake & Lil Wayne

From album: Excuse My French

The raunchiest track from French Montana’s debut album is the best.  It’s all about popping… and I’ll leave it at that!

Continue reading “The 100 Best Songs of 2013: Complete!”

The 100 Best Songs of 2013: Part 4 (#25 – 1)

Lady Gaga-20131031-66After a year filled with numerous albums and even more songs, choosing 100 of the best is an incredibly difficult task.  Like with the best albums of 2013, there will be surprises as well as snubs.  Sometimes the snubs are oversights while at other items there are just so many notable songs that some just get lost in the mix.  Regardless, here are 100 songs I found to be notable in 2013.


“Started From The Bottom”

From album: Nothing Was The Same

Once more, the hook sums it up best: “Started from the bottom now we’re here / started from the bottom now my whole team f**kin’ here…”


“Diane Young

Vampire Weekend

From album: Modern Vampires of the City 

‘Dying young’ in it self is a drag, man, but “Diane Young” and its bubbly sound, quick tempo, and sharp-as-a-tack wordplay is a blast! “Baby, baby, baby, baby, right on time!”



Janelle Monáe featuring Erykah Badu

From album: The Electric Lady 

Catchy, ‘real talk’, soulful, contemporary, and laden with swagger, “Q.U.E.E.N.” proves to be one of the best songs of 2013, regardless of genre. “Am I a freak for dancing around?” Of course not! Monáe even throws some rhymes in there, further showing her incredible artistic versatility and restlessness. Dance on Janelle – dance on!


“Who Do We Think We Are?”

John Legend featuring Rick Ross

From album: Love In the Future

Legend impresses lyrically on the soulful, throwback “Who Do We Think We Are?”  Filled with widely interpretable lyrics including “We love, we love, we love the stars / we could fall so hard…”, Legend seems to reference any number of things including stardom, living up life, and/or literally getting high.  Rick Ross balls hard on his assist: “She gets Chanel / Ski trips to Vail / only the highest grade like trees that I inhale”.


“Two Fingers”

Jake Bugg

From album: Jake Bugg

From Jake Bugg’s perspective, life hasn’t been easy – Clifton (England) had its issues, though he’s getting moving forward from a rough past.  On this brilliantly penned, retro singer/songwriter cut, Bugg has to “…drink to remember, I smoke to forget…”, and eventually “…hold(s) two fingers up to yesterday / light a cigarette smoke it all away / I got out, I got out, I’m alive, but I’m here to stay.”


“F**kin’ Problems”

A$AP Rocky featuring 2 Chainz, Drake & Kendrick Lamar

From album: Long. Live. A$AP

Basically, even though adding an f-bomb technically intensifies problems rather than solving them, the relief of letting the obscenity slip psychologically makes things feel both calmer and better… something like that! LOL! The f-bombs are here for the taking.


“Wrecking Ball”

Miley Cyrus

From album: Bangerz

Thank goodness there was more to “Wrecking Ball” than the atrocious video where Miley Cyrus rides the wrecking ball in the nude.  Miley’s shock value seems to be part of her ‘new Miley’ thing, but “Wrecking Ball” it self stands tall without any extra attention-seeking gimmicks.  The refrain alone is shimmering pop at its best.


“Black Skinhead”

Kanye West

From Album: Yeezus

“Black Skinhead” was one of the most unapologetic tracks of the year – no questions asked.  Among my favorite lyrics:  I’m aware I’m a wolf, soon as the moon hit / I’m aware I’m a king, back out the tomb b***h!” There it is!


“Power Trip”

J. Cole featuring Miguel

From album: Born Sinner 

All about love or a play on double meanings – you decide on the year’s smoothest rap track that’s got Cole “up all night, all I’m singing is love songs…” Face it – you can’t go wrong when you got Miguel on the track! He’s a beast…a sensual one at least.



“Rap God

from album: The Marshall Mathers LP 2

Eminem confirms whom the real “Rap God” is as he ‘wipes his butt’ with the competition (not as frankly as he might put it, but I’m trying to ‘be good’ here).  No one is exempt – well maybe except for Kendrick Lamar.



Justin Timberlake

From album: The 20/20 Experience 

On standout track “Mirrors”, Timberlake graces his audience with an eight-minute juggernaut that straddles the lines between pop and urban music.  His falsetto is sweet as syrup, the vocal harmonies superb, with the strings of The Benjamin Wright Orchestra providing the ‘cherry on top.’  The chorus is among the very best moments: “Cause I don’t wanna lose you now / I’m lookin’ right at the other half of me / the vacancy that sat in my heart / is a space that now you hold …”


Miley Cyrus

“We Can’t Stop”

From album: Bangerz 

You know, the sad thing is that when Ms. Cyrus told us she “won’t stop,” well, she told the absolute truth.  Who would’ve thought that referencing twerking and popping mollies would only be the beginning? “It’s our party we can do what we want!” Indeed Miley, indeed.

BTW, what about a little parody fun?



Arcade Fire

From album: Reflektor

“Reflektor” definitely didn’t represent the expected direction many thought that Grammy-winning collective Arcade Fire would take, given its percussive, danceable groove. The cut dances tastefully though, eschewing today’s EDM cues in favor of a mix of neo-disco and traditional Arcade Fire characteristics.  The songwriting is accessible, with the chorus being irresistibly catchy and simple.


“Obvious Bicycle”

Vampire Weekend

From album: Modern Vampires of the City

“Obvious Bicycle” is arguably the most beautiful song from Vampire Weekend’s discography at this point.  Highlights of the mysterious opener include Ezra Koenig’s effortless falsetto, which is ripe as ever on the chorus. “Obvious Bicycle” is nothing short of warm and hypnotizing.


“A Couple of Forevers”

Chrisette Michele

From album: Better

Chrisette Michele returns the ‘passion’ and ‘romance’ to R&B with this breathtaking, thoughtful ballad.  “Just a couple of forevers / a couple of forevers / I’m the only one, you’re the only one / together ‘til never…” I’ll be your ‘forever’ CM.


“Same Love”

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert

From album: The Heist

This hip-hop anthem embracing tolerance and equality for same-sex relationships was quite a risky, courageous move.  More than just merely breaking barriers, “Same Love” is a brilliant song.


“Blood On The Leaves”

Kanye West

From album: Yeezus

Blood On The Leaves” is the crowning achievement from Yeezus. Constructed around a Nina Simone sample (“Strange Fruit”), thoughtful piano, and some awesome biting brass, “Blood On the Leaves” shines like a beacon.


“If I Had A Tail”

Queens of the Stone Age

From album: …Like Clockwork

Characterized by a killer driving groove, a classic rock-worthy anthemic chorus, and standout songwriting, “If I Had A Tail” yet another gift that keeps on giving.  “If I had a tail / I’d own the night / if I had a tail / I’d swat the flies.”


“We Can’t End This Way”

Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite

From album: Get Up! 

Soulful, gritty, and organic, this blues-gospel number is truly a gem.  The backing gospel choir truly puts the cherry on top.  After all, “we can’t end this way!”


Do What U Want

Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly

From album: ARTPOP 

Taken at its most literal (aka sexually), “Do What U Want” is a good song.  When examined figuratively (empowerment, non-shallow things), it’s just plain awesome.  If there was ever a question of Lady Gaga’s vocal abilities, she squashes them deader than a doornail here.



Katy Perry

From album: PRISM 

The lyrics say it all:  “I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter / dancing through the fire / cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar…” You better “roar” Katy!!!


“God Is Dead?”

Black Sabbath

From Album: 13 

Atheists and Christians alike can appreciate this hard-rocking joint… well to an extent (at least the question mark is in place).  To Ozzy’s credit, later on in the track he states, “I don’t believe that God is dead…” Still, the communion (sacrament) seems compromised when Ozzy states “The blood runs free / the rain turns red / give me the wine / you keep the bread…” Oh well.


Blurred Lines

Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams

From Album: Blurred Lines

Even after multiple controversies surrounding “Blurred Lines” (misogyny and potential ‘artistic theft’), Robin Thicke’s career is thankful for the gift that just kept on giving. You can’t deny how catchy it is, or how slick ole boy’s falsetto is.




From album: Pure Heroine 

Now this teen has real swag… Justin Bieber, take notes!  “And we’ll never be royals / it don’t run in our blood / that kind of lux just ain’t for us / we crave a different kind of buzz…”


“Get Lucky

Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams

From album: Random Access Memories

The groovy, sexy “Get Lucky” only makes the act of ‘making love’ even more enticing.  Pharrell sings it best on the golden hook: “She’s up all night to the sun / I’m up all night to get some / she’s up all night for good fun / I’m up all night to get lucky…” Yeah boy!

Be sure to check out the previously released parts with songs #100-76, #75-51, and #50 – 26.

The 50 (+1) Best Albums of 2013

Kanye West-20131126-42

Ranking the very best albums of any year is incredibly difficult; there are always misses.  2013 was filled with some triumphant musical moments, though not all of their parent albums were necessarily ‘worthy’ of being considered the best of the year. Because of various factors, this list has its surprises and like any album reviewed, its triumphs and flaws.  One thing’s for sure – the top ten to fifteen albums are pretty close to the cream of the crop from my perspective.  Here are the 50 (+1) best albums of 2013!


Vampire Weekend

Modern Vampires of the City


51Tqebc+IZL._SL500_AA280_The Ivy Leaguers outdo themselves on this eclectic, alt-rock tour de force. Stacked from start to finish, Ezra Koenig and company deliver sharp wordplay and highly liberal thinking.

Recommended Spins: “Obvious Bicycle”; “Unbelievers”; “Diane Young”; “Finger Back”; “Worship You”; “Ya Hey”

Seals The Deal:  “Obvious Bicycle”


Kanye West


Def Jam

51xNTn2L83L._SL500_AA280_Give credit to Mr. West where credit is due – previously Yeezus probably wouldn’t have landed in the top five, let alone the top two.  But as with certain wines and cheeses (Swiss namely), there is an aging process to provide a delicious and satisfying taste.  The same could be said of West über-ambitious Yeezus – or something similar that is!

Recommended Spins: “Black Skinhead”; “I Am A God”; “New Slaves”; “Blood on the Leaves”; “Bound 2” featuring Charlie Wilson

Seals The Deal: “Blood on the Leaves” 


Janelle Monae

The Electric Lady

Bad Boy

51q3xK+M7zL._SL500_AA280_Don’t put the fork in R&B music just yet – Janelle Monae delivers the year’s most intriguing R&B album that brilliantly encompasses numerous styles and keeps things both classic and progressive. One of a kind, all should bow down to JM.

Recommended Spins: “Give Them What They Love” featuring Prince; “Q.U.E.E.N.” featuring Erykah Badu; “Primetime” featuring Miguel; “Dance Apocalyptic”; “Dorothy Dandridge Eyes”

Seals The Deal: “Prime Time” featuring Miguel


Daft Punk

Random Access Memories


41FJb1q2VyL._SL500_AA280_The best, and arguably most exciting electronic album of 2013, is shockingly less futuristic compared to its colleagues, drawing back to old-school pop, disco, and soul. Throwback it is, Random Access Memories is one of the year’s finest albums regardless of genre, and stands a solid shot of winning the Grammy for album of the year.

Recommended Spins: “Give Life Back to Music”; “Giorgio By Moroder”; “Lose Yourself to Dance” featuring Pharrell Williams; “Touch” featuring Paul Williams; “Get Lucky” featuring Pharrell Williams; “Fragments of Time”

Seals The Deal: “Get Lucky” featuring Pharrell Williams


John Legend

Love in the Future


41o5xUIKO+L._SL500_AA280_John Legend redeems himself big time on his fourth studio album Love in the Future following a somewhat disappointing effort in 2008’s Evolver.  While there are some more contemporary ideas here, Love in the Future is more about Legend flexing his soulful muscles, a niche he perfectly fits.

Recommended Spins: “In The Beginning”; “Who Do We Think You Are?” featuring Rick Ross; “Made To Love”; “All of Me”; “Stay The Night”; “Tomorrow”

Seals The Deal: “Who Do We Think We Are?” featuring Rick Ross 


Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite

Get Up!


51dp0nxPTmL._SL500_AA280_Blues albums rarely rack up huge accolades on a ‘big stage’, but Get Up! is that incredibly worthy exception.  Soulful and consistent through and through, Get Up! Easily ranks highly among the year’s gems.

Recommended Spins: “We Can’t End This Way”; “I Ride At Dawn”; “Get Up”

Seals The Deal: “We Can’t End This Way”


Black Sabbath



510gRIX6xfL._SL500_AA280_More than just the agnostics, atheists, and secularists will be pleasantly surprised with Black Sabbath’s most important album in years. Why is album 13 so important? It reunites the whole Black Sabbath crew (save for the drummer) for the first time 35 years!  Dark and foreboding, yet ‘sinfully’ appealing, 13 is quite the epic heavy-/black-metal album.

Recommended Spins: “End of The Beginning”; “God Is Dead?”; “Zeitgeist”;  “Live Forever”; “Dear Father”

Seals The Deal: “God Is Dead?”



Nothing Was The Same


41E34dng69L._SL500_AA280_Drake didn’t necessarily ‘step his game up’ on Nothing Was The Same – he just continued to flex his emo-/ alt-rap muscles like the pro that he is.  NTWS is filled with gems, all completely different from one another.  One thing’s for sure, he may have “Started On The Bottom”, but Drake is on top of the game by all means.

Recommended Spins: “Tuscan Leather”; “Started From The Bottom”; “Wu-Tang Forever”; “From Time”; “Hold On, We’re Going Home”; “305 To My City” featuring Detail

Seals The Deal: “Wu-Tang Forever” 





31-q26oFwyL._SL500_AA280_Beyoncé shocked the world with her surprise fifth studio album, Beyoncé.  Even so, that’s not the reason ‘Yoncé makes this list.  Ultimately, the R&B chanteuse delivers a sharp, risqué fifth effort that separates itself from the rest of her discography and many of the other releases from 2013.  Both shocking and alluring, Bey does her thang.

Recommended Spins: “Pretty Hurts”; “Haunted”; “Drunk in Love” featuring Jay-Z;  “Blow”; “Rocket”

Seals The Deal: “Drunk in Love” featuring Jay-Z


Arcade Fire



51wzw69ySAL._SL500_AA280_Few might’ve expected for Arcade Fire to follow-up their album of the year winning effort The Suburbs with an album like Reflektor  (I didn’t).  However, as all-over-the-place as Reflektor is, there are plenty of moments for alt-rock fans to cheer about.  Danceable, conceptual, and ultimately incredibly unique, Reflektor cracks the top ten best of the year, easily.

Recommended Spins: “Reflektor”; “We Exist”; “Here Comes the Night Time”;  “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)”; “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)”; “Porno”

Seals The Deal: “Reflektor”

Continue reading “The 50 (+1) Best Albums of 2013”

Sound Advice For Five Teen-Pop Acts

One Direction-20131104-79

I, the Brent Faulkner,  love my teen-pop acts, even if often times I’m critical and skeptical of them.  Maybe it’s fair and then again maybe it’s not and I’m just a ‘hater’, but nothing fuels my pen more than writing about the young-uns and their musical endeavors or lack there of.  Sometimes those endeavors are strong while other times they are questionable.  Regardless, who better than me to provide sound advice to further elevate the games of five of the hotter teen acts? No one, that’s rhetorical!


Austin Mahone

Austin Mahone-JOG-001451Dude, release the album already! “What About Love” caught fire where none of the rest of your singles ignited.  I would’ve dropped an EP like it was a hot potato and garnered even more buzz than your getting.  Yeah, I know girls are already swooning and will continue to swoon whenever the album finally drops, but still, you want your base to expand even beyond the teen-pop circles so you be making hella bread.  Ya dig?


Cody Simpson

Cody Simpson-PFR-010439My advice to you Mr. Simpson would be to find your true musical identity – and yes, I have some opinions on that as well.  On the Coast to Coast EP, I personally enjoyed the more urban-pop cuts like the opener “Good As It Gets” and follow-up “Crazy But True” while you could keep “iYiYi” featuring Flo Rida.  Then on your latest album Surfer’s Paradise part of the time you want to be a schmaltzy teen-pop star (“Pretty Brown Eyes”),  Jack Johnson or Jason Mraz (“Summertime of Our Lives”), or hang out with frat-rapper Asher Roth (“Imma Be Cool”).  I see where the folk-pop things comes from, but I’m thinking a whole album of folk-pop at age 16 will likely never make you a “royal”, at least among tween girls.



Lorde-20130618-171I wouldn’t even give you the stylistic label of ‘teen-pop’ star, but you are a teen and you sing pop (along with alternative).  But anyways, Lorde, keep doing your thing.  Pure Heroine isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely one of the more intriguing, fresh albums of 2013 by my estimations.  I mean, I know you seem to be concerned about being a “royal” and all, but why? You’re gettin’ paper!


Justin Bieber 

Justin Bieber2-20131021-53I think that asking you to wear a shirt and pull up your saggy pants is a lost battle, so I concede… At least for right now.  However JB, you finally show me some true “swag” on your grown-up single “PYD”. No, I’m not advocating that teens should be singing about sensual things, but Justin Bieber is 19, no longer that 15 year old singing “One Time”.  It is rare that I pay you a compliment Biebz (it still makes me want to barf, just a little), but the vibe of “PYD” might be something you might want to exploit on your upcoming album.  I know you’ve gotta be mindful of those tween girls and still be a role model… *cough, cough*, but we don’t need another “Beauty and a Beat”, “like never, ever” in Taylor Swift’s words.  Also, let’s avoid another “Lolly” (Ali Maejor).  That was done like so five-years ago  (Lil Wayne, “Lollipop” from Tha Carter III).


One Direction

One Direction-JTM-065121Yeah,  y’all are about done with those teen years – yes Harry Styles I’m talkin’ to you – but your fans are much younger.  After listening to latest album Midnight Memories, perhaps you’ve grown up a bit too fast.  No, I’m not referring to Zayn Malik being engaged, but the folk-pop, old-school rock sentiments throughout the album eliminated some of the ‘fun’.  No, I wasn’t wowed by “What Makes You Beautiful” or “Live While We’re Young”, but I know many young girls were.  They’ll still be wowed regardless, thanks to your looks and ample merchandise, but can’t you balance the schmaltz and trying that serious artistry thing?  Have you let Jake Bugg get to you?

Jhené Aiko, Sail Out

10 Memorable Tracks from November

Justin Bieber performs live in concert as part of his 'Believe Tour' at the Jos Miguel Agrelot Coliseum Carolina 10/20/2013 © WENN

Need ten jams to spin? Here’s my list of ten of November 2013’s hottest joints!

1)  Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly, Do What U Want” (ARTPOP)

Lady Gaga seen leaving her hotel carrying a large seashell umbrella in London London 10/31/2013 © Palace Lee, PacificCoastNewsApplause” may have been a bust of sorts, but Gaga got herself together with the help of one of R&B’s most salacious presences, R. Kelly.  Playing on words, “Do What U Want” accomplishes Gaga’s love for double meanings.  If examined sexually, Gaga presents herself as, well easy.  But when examined less pervertedly, Gaga is suggesting she is more than her body and could care less how you scrutinize it, etc.

2) Bun B featuring Pimp C, Lil Boosie & Big KRIT, “Cake”  (Trill O.G.: The Epilogue)


Bun B probably isn’t most of the present generation’s ‘go to’ MC, but the veteran UGK MC is nothing short of a beast.  Here, his late, great partner Pimp C delivers a masterful hook, while Bun is joined by Lil Boosie and Mississippi underrated MC Big KRIT.  KRIT also handles the production work, which seems like the perfect match for the 42-year old Bun B. My favorite catch line, “Them thighs come with that shake / b**ch in yo mind, ho I got cake.”

3) Justin Bieber featuring R. Kelly, PYD

Justin Bieber, PYD

R. Kelly may just be R&B’s most popular commodity again as Justin Bieber taps him for arguably his best Music Mondays release to date, “PYD” (“Put You Down”).  Previously, the Biebz has been whining about heartbreak and Selena Gomez namely, but on “PYD” he wants to get… well, down. No more of the G- and PG-rated Bieber where “damn” is as far as he’ll step from his teen-pop roots… he’s ready to step it up a notch.  And if we didn’t understand his intentions, him and Kelly repeatedly iterate the acronym throughout (“P-Y-D, P-Y-D”)

4) Jhene Aiko featuring Vince Staples, Vapors”  (Sail Out – EP)

Jhené Aiko, Sail Out

From the first track “Vapors”, one knows that  Jhene Aiko’s EP Sail Out is something special.  Playing doubly as a weed-smoking joint as well as a yearning for an ex- who was good in bed, “Vapors” is both brilliant and highly representative of the newfound alternative R&B movement.  “Can you hit it again?” never sound more telling from Aiko’s cool, calm, and collected vocal perspective.

5) Celine Dion, Water And A Flame” (Loved Me Back To Life)

Celine Dion, Loved Me Back To Life

Celine Dion’s latest album has plenty of strong songs that tickled my fancy, with the Daniel Merriweather cover “Water And A Flame” amongst ‘em.  The original is little known as Merriweather isn’t a big name in the United States.  Regardless, if Merriweather never receives his deserved recognition, at least one of the greatest pop singers provides a stirring rendition here.

6) Eminem, “Rap God”, (The Marshall Mathers LP 2)

Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP2

What more is there to say, Eminem delivered the hottest rap track of the year this side of Kanye West’s “Blood On the Leaves” and Kendrick Lamar’s epic rap verse on Big Sean’s “Control”.  If I’d been Big Sean, I would’ve fought to have gotten “Control” on Hall of Fame, even if it meant delaying it (it’s sold abysmally anyways).  But this is Eminem’s moment and quite an electrifying moment it is indeed.

7)  Jake Miller, “Homeless” (Us Against Them)

Jake Miller, Us Against Them

Homeless” is among the cream of the crop from Jake Miller’s debut album Us Against Them.  Vocally, Miller sounds solid as he sings plaintively on the chorus: “Here I stand in the cold / I try to knock as you change the locks / now I’m all alone / where am I supposed to go / if you are where my home is, I guess that makes me homeless.”  The serious vibe of the sung vocals is matched by Miller’s more agile, rhythmic rapped vocals. While  it’s a ‘bummer’ as far as its overall tone, it is at least a standout ‘bummer’.

8) Mariah Carey, “The Art of Letting Go” 

Mariah Carey, Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse

Mimi’s latest single, “The Art of Letting Go”, finds one of R&B’s preeminent divas doing what she does best, BALLADS.  Whether she’s singing in her lower register or ascending to her upper register with every bit of her emotion, Carey compels the listener and makes us think of our own moments when we’ve struggled to let go.  “The Art of Letting Go” is filled with exceptional, memorable, and prudent lyrical moments including “Evidently your words were merely lies / reverberating in my ears / and the echo won’t subside / there’s a deep deep loss of hope…” from verse two.  The bridge confirms that “Baby letting go, baby letting go / ain’t easy…”

9) Jake Bugg, “A Song About Love” (Shangri La)

Jake Bugg, Shangri La

Recently I reviewed Jake Bugg’s sophomore effort, Shangri La.  While I had mixed feelings, I certainly had rave reviews for one particular standout in “A Song About Love”:

“Is that all you wanted? Songs about love? / Is that want you hoped you would find / when it’s burning inside / but a song about love’s not enough.” Poetic by all means, “A Song About Love” seems to be the most complete performance of the album.  The metric shifting “A Song About Love” certainly offers the incredible nuance and an overall unique selection  Where many of Bugg’s songs seem quite simple, “A Song About Love” definitely steps up the game.

10) Lady Gaga, Dope” (ARTPOP)

Lady Gaga, ARTPOP

Another Lady Gaga track really? Yep.  “Dope” is completely different from “Do What U Want”.  Sure, it sounds as if it shouldn’t be a substantive track, but Gaga’s intents are quite notable, more so than some of ARTPOP’s ‘looser’ cuts. On the sole ballad from the album, Gaga opens herself up to vulnerability, suggesting that despite her past screw-ups with substances, she needs her man “more than dope”.  Sure she’s literal and dope doesn’t lend itself to the greatest heart-warming moment ever, but her personalized touch truly shines here.

Review: Jake Bugg, ‘Shangri La’


Bugg’s second album has its moments, less thrilling than his debut… 

Jake Bugg⎪ Shangri La⎪ Island ⎪⎪US Release Date: November 19, 2013

JakeBugg14-20130807-101After his self-titled debut album appeared in the U.S. In 2012, Jake Bugg drew rave reviews as a the modern day Bob Dylan almost instantly.  Sporting an acoustically-driven sound with his distinct, if raw, unpolished voice, the 19-year old Bugg seems like the ideal continuation of the Dylan lineage (no disrespect to you Jakob Dylan). That said and all things considered, the Bob Dylan comparisons are a wee bit overhyped as is the notion of Bugg being some sort of ‘savior’ of rock music in its most traditional form.  Bugg has plenty to offer, as he shows on Shangri La, but he also has plenty of room for improvement.  Shangri La has its moments, but it also has its flaws.

Among the best moments of Shangri La are tracks i “Slumville Sunrise”, single “What Doesn’t Kill You”, “A Song About Love”, and “Kingpin”.  “Slumville Sunrise” reminds me of sort of a poor man’s “Two Fingers”; it is similar in conception, though by now means a supersession.  “Slumville Sunrise” finds Bugg reflecting upon his life and the place he comes from (“My face upon the concrete, the dirt is in my mouth / I clench my fist and feet, I try to cry out loud…”). “What Doesn’t Kill You” is saddening but truthful, particularly upon its verses where Bugg references a friend (verse one) and a ‘flame’ (verse two) in which he “couldn’t face the world without her eyes…”.  Through the pain, Bugg shows the utmost prudence on the chorus: “What doesn’t kill you / what doesn’t hurt / sometimes you feel you’re up against the world… this life it seems / to bring you to your knees / you try you bleed then finally you breathe.”

JakeBugg8-20130807-112“Is that all you wanted? Songs about love? / Is that want you hoped you would find / when it’s burning inside / but a song about love’s not enough.” Poetic by all means, “A Song About Love” seems to be the most complete performance of the album.  The metric shifting “A Song About Love” certainly offers the incredible nuance and an overall unique selection  Where many of Bugg’s songs seem quite simple, “A Song About Love” definitely steps up the game.  Throw in a brief, but rocking joint like “Kingpin”, and Bugg is able to lose some of his seriousness, which is a pro.  Still, I wouldn’t call being a kingpin synonymous with ‘fun’, LOL.

Shangri La also has its less satisfying moments.  While opener “There’s A Beast And We All Feed It” sounds true to its bold title, it also seems a bit rough around the edges.  Perhaps it’s more aimed as an ‘interlude’ or ‘intro’, but it could stand a bit more polish.  A track like “All Your Reasons” isn’t ‘bad’ by any means, but clocking in at over five minutes is a bit of a stretch, particularly given the fact Bugg’s voice is an JakeBugg4-20130807-120‘acquired taste’ of sorts.  Another longer number “Kitchen Table” is more accessible, but still the prolonged length doesn’t lend itself as well as say a classic Dylan track might.  Other tracks are ‘good’ or average without being stellar or memorable.  The lack of another “Lightening Bolt” or “Two Fingers” certainly takes away from this effort.

Ultimately, Bugg’s second recording foray seems less thrilling compared to his debut.  Yes the sound palette has increased, but that doesn’t ensure a ‘hit’ in the least. Shangri La overall is less memorable, even if Bugg basically picks up where he left off the first time.  For me, my question for Bugg is has he reached his ceiling or does he have room to grow?  I’m not sure that Shangri La clarifies an answer to this completely; it may confound even more.  Still, the effort has its moments.


“Slumville Sunrise” ; “What Doesn’t Kill You”; “A Song About Love”; “Kingpin”

Verdict: ✰✰✰

Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP Hits No. 1


81s5KwsrJIL._SL1500_Unsurprisingly, Lady Gaga finds herself at no. 1 once more with latest album ARTPOP.  Selling 258,000 copies would be pretty impressive if it weren’t Lady Gaga.  Born This Way moved 1.1 million, and while a special discounting offer helped to seal the deal there, 258,000 copies seems like quite the fall off from her previous sales best.  Still, her Gaga-ness outsold her next closest competitions, Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (210,000) and the debut of Now That’s What I Call Music, Vol. 48 (142,000).  What is impressive about Eminem’s second week numbers and Now 48’s debuting numbers is that both buck the ugly trend where lately the second and third bestselling albums fail to move 100,000 copies. Billboard rightfully discusses the significance of  Now 48’s sales in particular.


Even though Lady Gaga was the big thing, ARTPOP wasn’t  the only new blood to the charts. Other debuts also make their respective splash into the top 10.  The BeatlesOn Air: Live at the BBC, Vol. 2 bows at no. 7 with 37,000 copies.  Jhene Aiko’s EP Sail Out lands at no. 8 with a respectable 34,000 copies.  Holdovers within the chart aside from Eminem included The Robersons’ Duck the Halls: A Roberson Family JakeBugg9-20130807-102Christmas (no. 4) , Katy Perry’s PRISM (no. 5), Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red (no. 6), Drake’s Nothing Was The Same (no. 9), and Lorde’s Pure Heroine (no. 10).   And just because you asked, yes “Royals” is no. 1 on the Hot 100 for the eighth consecutive week.

Who’s Got Next? Well now… Daughtry’s Baptized could certainly make some noise. Yo Gotti releases his major label debut (after being an independent artist mind you) with I Am.  Also  Jake Bugg releases his sophomore album Shangri La.  Basically, it seems like a ‘down’ week, compared to previous ones.  No disrespect of course.

New Music: Jake Bugg, ‘Jake Bugg’

Jake Bugg’s self-titled debut bowed in Britain back in October 2012. It made its US arrival in April 2013.

Jake Bugg ⎜Jake Bugg ⎜Mercury ⎜US Release Date: April 9, 2013 / UK: October 15, 2012

Producers: Iain Archer; Mike Crossey; Matt Prime; Jason Hart; Crispin Hunt

Jake Bugg
Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg released his U.S. self-titled debut album on April 9, 2013 (via Mercury).  Bugg is a very different artist from the most popular British imports in similar age – yes I’m referring to the ubiquitous One Direction (even the slightly older The Wanted).

An alternative singer/songwriter,  everything about the 19-year Brit seems to eschew the pop that his colleagues embrace.  Bugg ultimately hearkens back to earlier rock and roll of the 1960s, incorporating more garage- and folk-driven sounds.  There is something more organic and natural about Bugg’s approach, which is reflected on his solid debut.  And honestly, what wrong with stripping things down? Acoustic guitars can rock too!

Jake Bugg itself bowed in Britain back in Fall 2012.  The album recently bowed on the US Charts at no. 75.  Modest numbers, Bugg is still a relatively unknown in the U.S. Sales aside, there are some solid moments on Jake Bugg including the addictive “Two Fingers“, with arguably the album’s catchiest chorus: “So I kiss goodbye to every little ounce of pain / Light a cigarette and wish the world away / I got out, I got out, I’m alive and I’m here to stay…” Throw in overall exceptional, honest songwriting (“I drink to remember, I smoke to forget” or “Skin up a fat one, hide from the feds…”), and “Two Fingers” is an instant hit.  Opener “Lightening Bolt“, another gem, was a former iTunes single of the week.  A brief cut, “Lightning Bolt” is a perfect, uptempo introduction to Mr. Bugg.

On “Seen It All”  he paints a chilling story (“…I could see the mounting tension / the atmosphere of violence / and then they took a guy outside / 2012JakeBuggEB080712and someone stabbed him with a knife”) later revealing “I swear to God I’ve seen it all / nothing shocks me anymore / after tonight I’ve seen the light/ But not the kind I would’ve liked…” (Check out the video clip).  On “Broken“, Bugg delivers a truly heartfelt, beautiful ballad that is easily one of the valedictory moments.  Lyrically stunning, Bugg has a maturity that exceeds his age: “Run to the lobby where I saw you try / don’t give a damn for your reasons why we’re so / Down in the valley where the church bells cry / I’ll lead them over to your eyes / I am one, I am one… ” He speeds things up on the roots-driven folk-rock cut “Trouble Town”.

Perhaps Bugg won’t be a star in the US given the current commercial climate.  Regardless, Jake Bugg is a refresher; he hearkens back to the past, making his fans remember what truly made rock and roll music so spirited and popular back in the day. Jake Bugg is a welcome addition to any music collection, particularly the traditional rock and indie-rock/folk-rock/garage-rock fan.

Favorites: “Lightning Bolt”; “Two Fingers”; “Seen It All”;  “Broken”; “Trouble Town”

Verdict:  ✰✰✰✰

Chart Moves, 4.24.13: Fall Out Boy, Kid Cudi, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Michael Bublé

Fall Out Boy had a pretty good week, debuting at no. 1 and all…

Chart Rewind

Jake Bugg
Jake Bugg

Last week (April 17), Paramore crowned the Billboard Albums chart with 106,000 copies sold of Paramore.  Settling for the runner-up spot was Brad Paisley, who sold 100,000 copies of Wheelhouse.  Outside of the top ten, there was some action I’d like to highlight. On last Thursday (April 18) when the full chart materialized, some newbies saw their efforts bow.  Jake Miller, whom I wrote a post about saw his The Road Less Traveled EP bow at no. 55 (New Music: Jake Miller, The Road Less Traveled).  British alt teen Jake Bugg arrived in the U.S., hitting the charts at no. 75 with his self-titled debut Jake Bugg. Bugg’s album was released in his native Britain back on October 15, 2012, when he was just 18.  A ‘New Music’ post on Bugg is set to be published tomorrow.

This Week’s Chart Storylines…

Fall Out Boy Earns Second Career No. 1

Fall Out Boy had a fight on their hands, supposedly as they were duking it out with hip-hop left-fielder Kid Cudi.  When it

Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy

was all said and done, Fall Out Boy’s goal to Save Rock and Roll was just too much for Indicuds umm… Cudiness.  Save Rock and Roll debuted at the penthouse with 154,000 copies (Fall Out Boy Debuts at No. 1, Tops Kid Cudi on Billboard 200 Albums Chart).  Here’s what’s significant about that number – it’s only 4,000 copies more than 2008’s Folie á Deux sold during a crowded holiday week to bow at no. 8.  While the inflation and competitiveness of the holiday week must be kept in mind, Save Rock and Roll selling just 154,000 shows how much smaller music sales weeks are these days.  Being there second career no. 1, one has to go back to 2007’s Infinity on High to compare the numbers.  Infinity sold 106,000 more copies its first week – yikes.  Only time will tell if Save Rock and

Paramore's stock dropping?
Paramore’s stock dropping?

Roll can ultimately get the job done.  154,000 copies is not looking all that promising when you look at it from that perspective, right? BTW, I penned a review for the Chicago band’s comeback album which you can read here.

Oh and by the way, you know how I mentioned Paramore had a good week last week? If they were also trying to ‘save rock and roll’, their progress has been derailed by a giant descent from the penthouse to… well no. 12.  But think about it in this regards… if an album debuts at no. 1 with 106,000 copies, usually a 60% drop (often more) is common.  A 60% dip from 106,000 is ~42,000 copies, which in this day and age, would’ve kept the album in the top ten.  Unfortunately for Hayley Williams and company, states the album sold a tepid 27,000 copies… Ewwww. I smell commercial troubles brewing. It was good to be on top for one week…

Kid Cudi Settles for No. 2

As some like to say, “he tried it!” Kid Cudi tried to endear enough odd-balls like himself to win the national championship – well win the battle with

Indicud slightly underperformed expectations, but still pulled out a solid debut at no. 2.

some punks from Chicago for the top spot on the charts.  He was in it for a while, but when it was said and done, he fell 18,000 copies short… Wasn’t really that close was it? 136,000 copies isn’t bad for a rap album in 2013.  A$AP Rocky was able to pull in 136,000.  Lil Wayne did 217,000. Tyga only 54,000. Cudi’s right in there basically.  How does it compare to previous releases? 2009’s Man on the Moon debuted at no. 4 with 104,000 copies while 2010’s Man on the Moon II debuted at no. 3 with 169,000.  The difference? 33,000 copies.  It’s a bit disappointing given Cudi was projected closer to FOB’s numbers, but with albums NOT selling, who can complain about a no. 2 debut? He outsold Bon Jovi – hard to believe right?  As always, if you haven’t purchased/listened to Indicud and would like an opinion, here’s my review here.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Get Some Top 10 Action

Yeah Yeah Yeahs find themselves in the top 10. The numbers aren’t impressive, but it’s the little victories.

Most things were predictable this week.  Fall Out Boy and Kid Cudi celebrate relative successes while others continue to hope they’ll breakthrough.  While Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Mosquito might not exactly be touted as a ‘breakthrough’, a no. 5 debut is celebration worthy.  38,000 copies doesn’t do to much, especially considering the formula of an album losing more than half of its sales after the first week traditionally, but no need to rain on the parade for Karen O. and company, right?

Who’s Got Next?

Tuesday, April 23 was a big day for new releases.  Michael Bublé released To Be Loved (review is coming),

Michael Bublé, in his zone...
Michael Bublé, in his zone…

Phoenix released their anticipated follow up to Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix entitled Bankrupt! (review here),  Fantasia returns on a mission on Side Effects of You (Review: Fantasia, Side Effects of You), just wants to ‘get stupid’ on #willpower, while Snoop Lion enjoys his trees on Reincarnated.  The best sure bet seems to be Michael Bublé, who has had some success with no. 1 albums (’11s Christmas’09s Crazy Love, and 07’s Call Me Irresponsible). The rest are all question marks. While Phoenix gained a higher profile with 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, sales will be hard to predict.  Fantasia’s previous album, 2010’s Back To Me debuted well at no. 2 with 117,000 copies. That said, it’s been three years since that effort and “Lose To Win” isn’t an airplay staple. has done the solo thing before and it really didn’t go anywhere.  And as for Snoop Lion… I wouldn’t bet on him.

Chart Moves: Justin Timberlake, The Band Perry, Bruno Mars

The Band Perry gave Justin Timberlake a run for his money with Pioneer, but couldn’t pull off the upset.

Justin Timberlake Is the ‘Justin’ To Beat As of Late

Who the man? JT the man! Justin Timberlake spends his third consecutive week at no. 1 with The 20/20 Experience selling another 139,000

89,000 souls must’ve not been too offended… they purchased Tyler, the Creator’s 2nd XL release Wolf.

copies.  Add up the numbers, and ole boy has sold more than 1.4 million copies in 3 weeks! Believe it or not, there used to be a time that 139,000 copies wouldn’t be good enough for a no. 1 album.  But in the music business as far as album sales, “these are the times that try men’s souls”.  Well, maybe it’s not that deep, but Timberlake was more ‘opposed’ for no. 1 than expected as The Band Perry‘s Pioneer exceeded expectations with 129,000 copies sold.  Prognosticated at no. 2 with about 110,000, Kimberley, Neil and Reid gave ‘Sexy’ a run for his money… Tyler, The Creator also had a solid week, with Wolf bowing at a new career high no. 3 with 89,000 copies sold.  In comparison, 2011’s Goblin bowed at no. 5 with only 45,000 copies sold.  New Kids on the Block bow at no. 6 with 10, which sells 51,000 copies.  Compared to previous comeback effort The Blocksells are nearly -50%.  Killswitch Engage starts at no. 7 with 48,000 copies of their latest Disarm the Descent.  All-in-all, it was an active week on the Billboard 200.  For more details, check out Billboard’s article, Justin Timberlake Earns Third Week at No. 1, Band Perry Debuts at No. 2.

Continue reading “Chart Moves: Justin Timberlake, The Band Perry, Bruno Mars”