Best Albums of 2013
The list of the Best Albums of 2013 features a wide range of styles, including Kanye West‘s rock-influenced hip-hop, Katy Perry‘s infectious pop music, Daft Punk‘s reinvented EDM sound, Jessie Ware‘s gorgeous vocal stylings, and Justin Timberlake‘s soulful pop.
Without that one massive album dominating the pop music landscape, like Adele’s ‘21’ and Lady Gaga’s ‘The Fame’ did in past years, the countdown includes a bunch of great records sharing the spotlight. Take a look at our picks for Best Albums of 2013 and let us know if you agree with our choices!
Nickelodeon’s favorite boy band serves up its best effort yet with ‘24/Seven.’ Thanks to the group’s legion of devoted Rushers, the album earned a No. 4 debut just in time for the boys’ summer tour with Victoria Justice. ‘24/Seven’ is typical catchy pop music, which never goes out of style. We bet you can’t listen to songs like ‘Picture This,’ ‘Song for You,’ ‘Like Nobody’s Around,’ and the title track just once.
A co-writer and featured performer on Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It,’ British songstress Charli XCX grabs the spotlight for herself with the release of her long-delayed major label debut ‘True Romance,’ a record oozing with creative pop arrangements. From the new wave influences of ‘Black Roses’ to the electro synth fun of ‘Take My Hand’ and the chilled-out dance vibe of ‘What I Like,’ this top album of 2013 establishes Charli XCX as an artist to watch.
After raising eyebrows with ‘We Can’t Stop’ and that still-buzzed about VMA performance, Miley Cyrus didn’t disappoint with ‘Bangerz.’ The album reflects her maturity with more adult lyrics, but also ballads that showcase the fact that, controversy aside, the girl can sing. With a roster of A-list collaborations under her belt, it’s clear that Miley is not stopping anytime soon.
One of the year’s newest and brightest talents, Ariana Grande, brought us an album that is a throwback to ’90s pop. It’s a perfect fit for the girl whose vocals are oft compared to that of Mariah Carey‘s. She excels on collaborations with Mac Miller and Nathan Sykes. ‘Yours Truly’ is one of the best albums of the year and we predict it’s just the beginning of what Ariana has to show us.
‘Nothing Was the Same’ isn’t a radio-ready album, but it’s still one of the best of the year. With multiple songs that extend past the five-minute mark, Drake is letting listeners getting a closer glimpse at who he’s become. Dubbed the “Drakiest” album to date, it’s more of what we love from Drizzy.
For their comeback effort ‘Save Rock and Roll,’ Fall Out Boy chose to incorporate dance music into their catchy rock sound and to collaborate with guests from way outside their own genre, including Big Sean, Elton John, and Courtney Love. All of that may sound like a questionable strategy, but it works. Our No. 6 pick on the Best Albums of 2013 debuted at No. 1, and ‘My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)’ became the band’s highest-charting single in six years.
On solo studio album No. 12, which earned instant Platinum certification thanks to the rapper’s deal with Samsung, Jay-Z is as passionate as ever, delivering sharp lyrics backed up by a variety of sounds. Hova embraces old-school R&B on the Beyonce feature ‘Part II (On the Run),’ opens up about fatherhood on ‘Jay-Z Blue,’ and incorporates a sweet falsetto hook from Justin Timberlake and an interpolation of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ on ‘Holy Grail.’
Jessie Ware’s excellent debut album, ‘Devotion,’ finally arrived stateside in 2013, revealing the U.K. songbird’s subtle, smooth vocal style. Throughout the record, Jessie Ware shows that restraint is her biggest asset. She sounds like a more contemporary version of Sade on sultry tracks like ‘Night Light’ and ‘Wildest Moments,’ and when Ware branches into dance music, the songstress maintains a level of sophistication that sets her apart from her peers.
Katy Perry bounced back from a period heartbreak with one of the top albums of the year. ‘Prism’ highlights the best of Katy: Her power ballad-ready vocals, her positivity and her willingness to be vulnerable. With catchy tracks like ‘Roar’ and slow jams like ‘Unconditionally,’ ‘Prism’ has something for every pop music fan.
Never one to get comfortable, Kanye West again moves into new territory on his latest album ‘Yeezus,’ one of our picks for the Best Albums of 2013. The LP takes the hip-hop god deeper into the realms of industrial rock and distorted electronics as he spits rhymes with more ferocity than ever before. Like the lead single ‘Black Skinhead,’ ‘Yeezus’ is a more challenging album than West’s earlier work, but even though it may not have as many songs with radio potential, it’s another great release from the self-proclaimed musical deity.
Lorde slowly crept into the charts with ‘Royals,’ but solidified her place in pop music with ‘Pure Heroine.’ The New Zealand singer may only be a teenager, but the album lends insight well beyond her years. Laced with authenticity and well-crafted lyrics, ‘Pure Heroine’ celebrates bucking materialism in favor of embracing who she really is.
Disco, funk, and even classic rock elements are sprinkled throughout Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories.’ Recorded mostly with live instruments rather than computers, the album is so much more than the unstoppable Pharrell-assisted smash ‘Get Lucky.’ Not all of these songs are meant for the dance floor – in fact, three of the best tracks, ‘Touch,’ ‘Instant Crush’ and ‘Doin’ it Right,’ require a bit more patience. Leave it to the anonymous French robots to reinvent the EDM genre they helped popularize in the first place.
Our favorite record of the year is one that nobody even knew was coming — that is, until the day Justin Timberlake surprised the world with the announcement that his seven-year album drought was over. On ‘The 20/20 Experience,’ Timberlake innovates by looking back, making retro soul sounds the heart of tracks like ‘Pusher Love Girl’ and ‘Suit & Tie.’ The album sold nearly a million copies in its first week and stands alone as the top album of 2013 so far.