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PopBytes’ Top Ten Favorite Albums of 2013!

PopBytes’ Top Ten Favorite Albums of 2013!
December 31, 2013 MICHAEL KNUDSEN

Without any intro or further ado, I finally present to you my top ten favorite albums of 2013!

Lady Gaga ARTPOP

Yes, I know I am going to have some eyes rolling over this but I simply don’t care, I love ARTPOP! To be honest, I was thinking this was going to be awful based on the fairly messy campaign leading up to the album’s release. Yet once I finally had a full listen, I was taken over by Lady Gaga. It’s totally over the top, theatrical (it could even be produced on Broadway) and just plain bizarre and kooky but all the tracks seriously combine (with the exception of “Dope”) to make without a doubt one of my favorite albums of the year. There has been so much talk about how the album has basically tanked on the charts (which it did) but for me personally I’m sick of hearing about number of copies sold, I really don’t care if ten people bought ARTPOP, as long as I’m enjoying it, sales really mean nothing to me.

Essential Tracks: “Do What U Want,” “Venus,” “G.U.Y.,” “Gypsy”

Lady Gaga ARTPOP

Tegan and Sara Heartthrob

Although this album came out very early in the year, I knew instantly it would end up on my list. To be honest, I didn’t really know much about Tegan and Sara until Heartthrob even though they had been around for years (this is their 7th studio release), but I loved it so much, I went back and picked up all their previous albums. This is truly a perfectly constructed pop album with a groovy 80s vibe, I just wish it had made more of a splash, these two Canadian sisters (who sound so damn good together) deserve to be huge. I also had the chance to see the girls perform twice this past year, and they’re excellent live, I am so glad I finally discovered what some people have been enjoying since 1995.

Essential Tracks: “Closer,” “I Was A Fool,” “Goodbye, Goodbye”

Tegan and Sara Heartthrob

V V Brown Samson & Delilah

I was super bummed when V V Brown decided to can her Lollipops & Politics album right before it came out, since it was actually a great album that deserved to be heard. Yet she went off on her own after parting ways with Capitol Records and came up with Samson & Delilah (released on her newly created label), one of the most solid albums of the year. It’s definitely a different sound compared to her stellar debut album, Travelling Like The Light, it’s dark and raw, less poppy but still incredible. It’s obvious that V V is super talented and I’m urging everyone to check out this album if you haven’t!

Essential Tracks: “The Apple,” “Faith,” “Nothing Really Matters”

V V Brown Samson & Delilah

Katy Perry Prism

Given the major success of her last album, Teenage Dream (producing a record five number one singles), it was simply going to be almost impossible to top herself. Katy Perry certainly didn’t top Teenage Dream but she sure made a damn good and worthy follow-up. PRISM shows Katy’s growth as an artist, it’s definitely more mature but still has plenty of commercial appeal. I think there’s a number of possible singles off the album and Katy should get a lot of mileage out of this release in the new year. It still shocks me that just a couple of years ago I seriously couldn’t stand Katy yet I’ve made a complete 180, I now consider myself a pretty big fan these days.

Essential Tracks: “Dark Horse,” “Walking On Air,” “This Is How We Do,” “Legendary Lovers”

Katy Perry PRISM

Justin Timberlake The 20/20 Experience (Part 1)

2013 was without a doubt Justin Timberlake‘s year (and the only male on this list), he made a huge splash with his highly-anticipated return to the music scene after a lengthy absence (his acting career I found to be lame). I believe he had the top-selling album of the year and although I didn’t really care for the album’s initial single, “Suit & Tie,” the first part of The 20/20 Experience is truly a sonic experience from start to finish. This albums flows seamlessly from track to track, at first I wasn’t crazy about it but after a couple of repeat listens it completely took me over (especially the tracks produced by Timbaland). As for part two that was released later on in the year, I barely listened to it (I didn’t take to “Take Back The Night” at all), although I’ve been told that I should give it another chance.

Essential Tracks: “Mirrors,” “Tunnel Vision,” “Don’t Hold The Wall”

Justin Timberlake The 20/20 Experience Part 1

Fantasia Side Effects of You

Oh my Fantasia! I’ve loved her since her days on American Idol when she was crowned the winner back in 2004, but I sadly never really got into any of her albums until this one, it’s super fabulous! It might be her fourth studio release, but for me it’s her first. There’s an amazing, upbeat track called “Get It Right,” and that’s exactly what Ms. Barrino did with Side Effects of You. Plus don’t miss out on “Without Me,” featuring Kelly Rowland and Missy Elliott (who seriously needs to come back on the scene in a major way in 2014).

Essential Tracks: “Get It Right,” “Without Me,” “Lose To Win,” “If I Was A Bird”

Fantasia Side Effects Of You

Miley Cyrus Bangerz

Oh what are we going to do with that Miley Cyrus? All of her antics aside, girlfriend had an amazing year and had just about everybody talking about her constantly, all eyes were glued on Ms. Cyrus. I was so not a fan of Miley in the past but everything changed for me in 2013, and Bangerz is really a solid pop album (with some country twang tossed in) whether you like her or not, it’s really quite well done. I also love the album’s artwork and the Miami Vice vibe it’s tossing off, it’s just perfect!

Essential Tracks: “Wrecking Ball,” “We Can’t Stop,” “Do My Thang,” “FU”

Miley Cyrus Bangerz

M.I.A. Matangi

Sometimes M.I.A. annoys me with her overly political vibe (and flipping the bird during her Super Bowl performance was just plain lame) but she sure knows how to make good music. Matangi is totally the album to blast loudly when cleaning your place or having a party. It’s totally energetic and loads of fun, just like her show which I caught at downtown Los Angeles’ Belasco Theatre a few months ago, the place was jumping, definitely one of the best shows I saw this past year.

Essential Tracks: “Bad Girls,” “Y.A.L.A,” “Bring The Noize,” “Come Walk With Me”

M.I.A. Matangi

Selena Gomez Stars Dance

I’m almost a little shocked at myself over including this album because I was never into Selena Gomez (plus her dating Justin Bieber didn’t help matters), but Stars Dance is easily one of this year’s best pop releases. I absolutely love all the dancefloor-worthy tracks plus the singles released so far from the album (“Come & Get It” and “Slow Down”) have been stellar choices. I believe she’ll be able to get even more mileage out of this album in 2014.

Essential Tracks: “Slow Down,” “Stars Dance,” “Save The Day,” “Love Will Remember”

Selena Gomez Stars Dance

CHVRCHES The Bones of What You Believe

Scottish group CHVRCHES is the only band on this list, and it wasn’t until I saw them perform at Virgin Mobile’s FreeFest back in September that I decided to fully investigate their much buzzed about album The Bones of What You Believe, and it’s amazing. I absolutely adore lead singer Lauren Mayberry, she has an incredible voice and then when laid over the band’s beats, it all combines to make one of this year’s strongest releases, do not miss out on this one.

Essential Tracks: “The Mother We Share,” “Lies,” “We Sink”

CHVRCHES The Bones of What You Believe

Honorable Mentions

Pet Shop Boys Electric
Charli XCX True Romance
Lorde Heroine
Beyoncé Beyoncé
HAIM Days Are Gone
Natalia Kills Trouble
Sky Ferreira Night Time, My Time
Cher Closer To The Truth
Icona Pop This Is … Icona Pop
Sheryl Crow Feels Like Home

MK (Michael Knudsen) first started PopBytes back in September of 2003—while trying to make a website for his design portfolio, the site quickly turned into one of the premiere online destinations for all things pop culture! A native New Yorker, he currently resides in Los Angeles with his partner Ivan along with three dogs, three cats and two parrots. Follow him on Twitter @PopBytes.