Now, every year I make a big fuss about how Billboard's year-end chart, which promises to take a look at every single song produced, period, completely ignores anything that came out of Asia. And every year when I go to make my own comprehensive chart, I remember why they ignore half the world... a lot of things happen that just don't seem important. I need to take about a week every year catching up on the music that slipped by my attention in the West while I was fixated on the East.
The obvious solution here is to make it so that there's one epic universal chart, but that's insanely impractical, for now. So, I'm compensating with my own version of the US Hot 100, keeping it pretty region-specific and going by release dates so I don't have to waste time making all of those tricky evaluative judgements. ^_~
Here are my Top 22 US Releases:
Starting with January, the year kicked off pretty spectacularly with Black Veil Brides releasing their studio album Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones. The whole album supports a clean playthrough, and I absolutely ADORE the transition between F.E.A.R Transmission 3 & In the End. The whole album is spectacular. Top Tracks: In The End, Devils's Choir, Resurrect the Sun, Overature, and Nobody's Hero.
February was a fun time for Euro-pop as Of Monsters and Men delivered their smashing album into international hands. The track headlining My Head is an Animal, their debut studio album, shot to stardom worldwide. For good reason, Little Talks is great fun, beautifully intricate, and plays with a quirky and fantastic mv.
April was just a fantastic month for music in the US because yet another fantastic album dropped, this time from Fall Out Boy. Their epic reunion piece Save Rock and Roll did exactly what it's title promises. I was not a huge fan of the Youngblood Chronicles . . . I loved getting an MV for every track, but the story was chaotic and messy and just not what I was hoping for, particularly as the action only very loosely suited the tracks. Ah well, the album was still incredible. It's hard to narrow down some faves, but for Top Tracks: Alone Together, The Mighty Fall, The Pheonix, Young Volcanoes, My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark, and Save Rock & Roll.
April had a special surprise for me, though honestly I didn't find it until like a few weeks ago, and boy does it rock. Bubblegum Bitch is a great song on its own, one of my favorites from 2012. Marina and the Diamonds did great with it. Of course, Panic! at the Disco's 2006 smash hit I Write Sins Not Tragedies is one of the best songs of my generation, so really there's no comparison. Until you put them together, which is exactly what MashFox did in April, blowing my socks off altogether.
Next up on my faves list is Avril Lavigne's Here's to Never Growing Up. It's from yet another epic track from April and pretty spectacular in it's own right, but I have to say I like the Dave Days cover of it even better. The cover came out in May and I've just been loving it ever since.
Jason Derulo has never been my favorite anything, but he's pumped out some club hits that pack some pretty heavy punch. The Other Side is just one such party track, one with a sweet story to boot. It didn't make any of my top 10's lists, but it's still a great track to have pumping through the speakers.
fun. first popped up on my radar because they played my school and I was working Sound Crew. Six months after they'd come and gone I was still humming this song, so I figured it must be pretty dang good. They're some of the sweetest guys ever, they're fantastic live, and Some Nights is a poignant and powerful track with a sweet melody and incredible harmonies. Carry On and We Are Young are great tracks too.
August saw the pre-release of an almost totally ignored track by Jessie J, off her September album Alive.Fortunately, Magnetic was picked up for the soundtrack of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which is how I found it. The track was only available on the deluxe edition of the album and never got so much as an official lyrics video, but it's one of my very favorite Jessie J tracks of all time.
Lady Gaga is not nearly as epic as she thinks she is, but she's incredible enough to make the inflated ego totally warranted. The chick has some serious skills. Her Art Pop headlining track Applause proves that much without even trying. Lyrically, it's all over the place, but the chorus is poignant and over all it's incredibly catchy. In my mind, this track is inexorably linked to the Hunger Games, though I seem to be among few who thinks so.
I'm not a huge fan of Eminem as a person, but he's one hell of a good rapper. His September track Berzerk keeps that rep well intact and it's a fantastically fun track for those days when all you want to do is throw your middle fingers up.
One of my all-time favorite rappers, in America or otherwise, is Flo Rida. His flow, his voice, the energy in all tracks he produces . . . I love it all. That's why it's hardly a surprise that I love his September release I Cry. It wasn't one that made any top 10's lists for me, but it's still great fun to listen and rock out to on any occasion.
The next track that really caught my fancy appeared in February. It was released by the 1975 and plays out nice and smoothe like the best of Brit Pop with a beautifully minimal black and white MV. Chocolate swept slowly though my social circle, with understated enthusiasm that fit nicely with the track's dual vibe of chill and charged. It came up on my radar and it's just never really left, it's still in my current listening playlist and I doubt it will be cycled out anytime soon. Also from their self-titled studio album, I love the City and Heart-Out.
Sleeping with Sirens had an impressive June album set for release when they dropped Low as a teaser single in early April. In some ways this was an unfortunate move for them, as Low is the easily the best track on the album, but at the same time it was the single best pre-release of the year. You have no idea how many of my friends I managed to turn into fans because of this track. They went out, bought the new album when FEEL was released and loved every second of it. The rest of the album is great after all, but Low is just incredible.
April kept right on rollin' with Daft Punk's release of Get Lucky. Honestly, I don't really like the original recording, Pharrell's got a nice enough voice and all, but the timings are just a titch too swing-smoothe. And the mix feels odd to me. I just don't like it. However, every single concert I've attended this year has had a cover of it performed and each rendition is better than the last, so there's totally something here that's pure magic.
April really went crazy, and the whole of the music world was blowing up speakers with hot new tracks. Hunter Hayes was no exception and the Country boy brought out a cute little love story called I Want Crazy. It's not my usual cup of tea, but it's super cute and ridiculously catchy, so it's made my list for 2013.
May didn't have quite the same number of epic tracks as April did, but held it's own pretty well. OneRepublic stands as a perfect example as their flirty, fun, and downright cathartic track Counting Stars shot up on the American radar. Melodically smoothe and sweet, lyrically meaningful, and rhythmically epic, it's harder not to love this one than it is to sing along. The MV is great fun as well.
For the most part, Sara Bareilles has felt too soft and simperingly sweet to ever really make an impact on me, but Brave subverted that notion entirely. The May release showed yet again that she has some incredible pipes; and that she, without a doubt, is as Brave as she was us all to be.
July rolled around with more hot music, Karmin dropped the crazy fun Acapella and the world fell in love. It's not my favorite track they've ever done, but it highlights their quirky style and their fabulously funny take-no-prisoners attitude. Amy is one epic rap chick, and I just love how she plays with her words.
AFI dropped another August track that was licked picked up for the tragically underrated movie City of Bones. The movie's OST used the LA Riots Remix of the track, but I think the original version of 17 Crimes is much more fun. The guitar plays around with its solo and the chord transitions are much bouncier in the original than in the remix, giving it a lighter feel over all. The MV is just plain adorable, while still being perfectly creepy.
Katy Perry is all kinds of crazy cool and her tracks are always great fun. Roar is also highly motivational, great for picking yourself up any day of the week. The melody is just plain fun and there's tons of great covers of it (including an acoustic one by Park HanByul of LED Apple). The track kicked off my September perfectly.
Lorde released Pure Heroine in September and Royals shot to stardom. The whole minimalist vibe is super cool and I'm right on the bandwagon here with love for her. However, my favorite track from her album is Glory and Gore. I feel it's just a bit more poignant, it moves a bit better, and I like the vibe it gives off just a bit more than the track that won America over. Still Sane, Team, and Tennis Court are also pretty great tracks.
One Direction is the Brit Pop group that brought boy bands back in style for the US, winning hearts over with little more than a smile and some musical magic. The hub about the boys has died down a lot this year, but they're still producing some high quality stuff. Best Song Ever was hilarious and fun, but not quite catching in the way their other work has been. Story of My Life, their November MV release from Midnight Memories was even more out there for them, but this one is a risk that has more than paid off. It's a great style expansion and a great track on it's own, with a fantastic feeling of scope and scale, and meaningfulness.
Stay tuned for another installment as recap of the year's most interesting musical developments!
Next on the to-do list is a discussion on the year's biggest let downs...