Friday, December 27, 2013

Hits, misses, and all that jazz

music mix

A look back at what the year 2013 took from and gave to the global music scene...

* Daft Punk got lucky when their single ‘Get Lucky’ became one of the biggest hits of the year. The duo’s new album Random Access Memories also met universal acclaim upon its release.
* Robin Thicke tried to make a career out of being sleazy, releasing a single with transparent commercial ambitions and lyrics that made you want to punch the song in the face.
* Miley Cyrus was on a mission to appal everyone she possibly could and even managed to offend the inventor of the foam finger, after she set out on a controversy-generating publicity blitz to promote her new album, Bangerz, which twerked its way to the top of the charts.
* Beyoncé, meanwhile, did the exact opposite and released a new album online with no prior publicity. The Internet promptly imploded. Her husband Jay Z’s new album Magna Carta Holy Grail, on the other hand, was given away as a free download to Samsung customers.
* Kanye West impressed with his new album Yeezus, but made more headlines for his personal life because of his continued relationship with suspected hobbit, Kim Kardashian. Kimye did prove that they have a sense of humour when they named their daughter North West, but practically begged for ridicule with the release of the video for ‘Bound 2’, a chance that James Franco and Seth Rogen promptly took advantage of. Can we stop making fun of Kimye now? No? Yeah ok, you’re totally right.
* When he wasn’t busy getting into trouble, Justin Bieber made some music and started his 10-week long ‘Music Mondays’ project wherein he released a new single every week. Then he gave us an early Christmas present by “officially retiring”. Here’s hoping he sticks to his word.
* Katy Perry unveiled another torrent of clichéd meanderings in the shape of a new album.
* Lady Gaga continued to be shackled by her own shlock.
* Rihanna posted way too many photos of herself online.
* Justin Timberlake subjected us to The 20/20 Experience ... twice. He also reunited ‘N Sync for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it performance at the MTV VMAs.
* Everyone finally decided to notice Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
* Laura Marling told us that she is a master hunter in one of the standout albums of the year.
* Lorde came to the world’s attention with ‘Royals’.
* Arcade Fire morphed into The Reflektors.
* Bon Jovi toured and made a lot of money. So did Madonna.
* Fall Out Boy got together again for some strange reason.
* The Jonas Brothers were as uninterested in making new songs as we were in listening to them. So they split up.
* Metallica performed in Antarctica, becoming the first band ever to play on all seven continents.
* Lostprophets disbanded after lead singer’s Ian Watkins’ shocking sexual offences case and subsequent imprisonment.
* My Chemical Romance joined the black parade. We’ll miss them more than we’d like to admit.
* Green Day achieved a triple whammy in mediocrity with the release of the last instalment of the ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! series. Then Billie Joe Armstrong somehow thought teaming up with Norah Jones to cover an Everly Brothers album would be a great idea. It was not. Now let’s just all sing ‘Basket Case’ together and forget this ever happened.
* Imagine Dragons rose to fame on the back of last year’s Night Visions.
* One Direction released another album, which was a good development for Simon Cowell’s bank balance.
* Taylor Swift fans battled One Direction fans following her breakup with Harry Styles, as he joined the list of exes she will keep making subtle references to in her music. And by subtle we mean not subtle at all.
* Paramour marched on without the Farro brothers, then took a page from Taylor Swift’s playbook and used their new album to diss the Farros.
* Lily Allen complained that it’s ‘Hard Out Here’ for a … respectable, pleasant, decent woman.
* Paris Hilton’s crimes against music continued as she released another single.
* Ylvis’ ‘The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)’ raised a question that no one particularly wanted an answer to. It would have been wonderful if as soon as the song had been made, someone had shoved its master copy into a rocket and then fired it into the sun.
* Ellie Goulding got the fire, fire, fire and let it burn, burn, burn, burn.
* Avril Lavigne released a new album after two years, making us wonder, has it really been a full two years since she released a new album? We should have appreciated her absence more. She also got married to Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger. Here’s hoping from now they exclusively sing to each other and leave the rest of us out of it.
* Psy went from being a one hit wonder to a two hit wonder when he released his new song ‘Gentleman’, which we probably would have liked if we sustained a massive concussion.
* Rap god Eminem returned to both form and prominence with The Marshall Mathers LP 2.
* Paul McCartney released a new album which featured new songs that he had newly written. It was called New.
* U2 recorded ‘Ordinary Love’ for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a movie about the extraordinary Nelson Mandela.
* David Bowie returned after a decade with a well-received new album.
* Pearl Jam hit us with a striking Lightning Bolt.
* Morrissey’s autobiography caused a stir.
* Kellie Pickler won Dancing with the Stars, and then said she was always gonna be a ‘Little Bit Gypsy’.
* Carrie Underwood made the mistake of thinking she can act and took on the role of Maria for The Sound of Music Live! Relentless bashing ensued.
* Glee, which has not only jumped the shark but also a couple of whales by now, continued to butcher pop songs. The show also faced a setback when Cory Monteith suddenly passed away at the age of 31.
* Lea Michele unleashed a ‘Cannonball’.
* Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It’ became too ubiquitous and overplayed for its own good. After the millionth time we had to listen to it, we didn’t care, and we definitely didn’t love it.
* The judging panel of singing shows continued to be a game of musical chairs. Singers including Jessie J, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland, and Paulina Rubio joined and/or exited the trend.
* Adam Levine was declared the sexiest man alive by People Magazine, prompting a campaign by the public to raise funds to purchase glasses for the magazine’s staff.
* Avicii breathed some life into EDM with a few inspired collaborations.
* New records by New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, and Boyzone took us on a nostalgia trip.
* James Arthur released an album, and then got into a spat after using slurs in a song that sounded like whatever the opposite of a hug is.
* The Lumineers generated many a weary groan.
* Agnetha Fältskog sang live on stage for the first time in 25 years at the BBC Children In Need Rocks concert, performing a duet with the event’s organiser Gary Barlow.
* Gary Barlow released his first full length solo album in over a decade, while Robbie Williams released a second swing album, 12 years after the first.
* After trying and failing to give his wife a music career with How to Destroy Angels, Trent Reznor refocused on Nine Inch Nails. Their comeback album, Hesitation Marks, impressed listeners.
* Dave Grohl’s Sound City documentary on the fabled Californian recording studio wowed critics.
* And The Strokes, Travis, Arctic Monkeys, Goo Goo Dolls, Biffy Clyro, Elton John, Tim McGraw, Celine Dion, Cher, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, M.I.A., Sara Bareilles, Tegan and Sara, Josh Groban, Brad Paisley, and Phoenix were among the artists who released albums that captured the interest of the record buying public. 

- By Sameen Amer

Instep Today, The News - 27th December, 2013 *

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