Tag Archives: 2013

2013 Year in WTF Music Review

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One of my favorite times of the year is December. Some might think that’s because of Christmas… but nay, my favorite holiday is my birthday because we all have some degree of narcissism. Some might think that’s because of the snow… but no, you try walking up UW-Madison’s Bascom Hill in over a foot of snow. Some even might think that it’s because of the holiday season in general… but no, I live in Chicago, IL and I hate tourists so add that with Michigan Avenue and you’ll find I pretty much stay in my house during the holiday season. The reason December is one of my favorite times of the year is because of all the “2013 Year in Review” posts that come out. Whenever I read one of these posts, my thoughts are either 1) “oh right that happened, I tried to forget,” 2) “No way! That totally happened in 1999, not 2013,” or 3) “LOL I should have read the news more often, when did this happen.”

Obviously, this is a music review website, so I should probably focus on 2013 Year in Review: Music, but I really do urge you to take a look at the more general news story versions of 2013 Year in Review posts because I guarantee you missed the dumbest things that happened this year. Here’s my review of 2013 Music though… enjoy…

1. Big artists released new albums.

Katy Perry’s Prism (October 22): First time to my site? I’m obsessed with Katy Perry. Although not the best album of the year (we’ll get to my opinions on the best later), it is hands down an awesome album. Prism doesn’t stray too far from the sounds of Teenage Dream, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for someone like Katy Perry. With hits like “Roar,” “Walking on Air,” “Dark Horse,” and “Unconditionally” already being constantly replayed on the radio after just one month, Katy Perry clearly doesn’t need to change her sound. Plus, she’s Katy Perry – just try not to love her.

Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience (March 19): JT came back. Technically, JT came back twice since The 20/20 Experience was released in two parts. The first part debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 968,000 copies in its first week. People were excited for JT to say the least.

Kanye West’s Yeezus (June 18): Guess what? I’ve never listened to this album. But hey, it came out and it was huge. I haven’t really given Kanye West the time of day since he named his child Blue Ivy. The album deserves some recognition though because Yeezus debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 327,000 copies in its first week. Plus, we’ve all seen that music video for “Bound 2” right?

OneRepublic’s Native (March 26): This album was actually meant for 2012 (circa August 27th, 2012 with “Feel Again”), but wasn’t ready in time, and was thus released in 2013. I have no problem with an artist publically announcing that their album is not ready in time – beautiful things take time, right? And oh my god, Native is beautiful. Native peaked at number four on the Billboard 200, but a solid number one in my heart (still not the best album in my mind, have patience).

Honorable mentions: 1) Beyonce, 4 (March 29); 2) Drake, Nothing Was the Same (September 24); 3) Jay Z, Magna Carta Holy Grail (July 9).

2. There were a lot of really, really bad reunions.

This year was like the reunion of the 90s. First there was Destiny’s Child at the 2013 SuperBowl Half-Time Show. It literally lasted like 20 seconds and I’m pretty sure they didn’t even turn on Kelly or Michelle’s microphones. Great attempt #1 though, Music Industry. The second reunion was NSYNC at the 2013 VMAs. It lasted a little longer, and at one point Justin Timberlake was actually in the background. In addition, the whole time, you’re like “oh their microphones aren’t on either” and then all of the sudden, JC decides to sing the most unnecessary “baby, baby, baby” just to prove he thinks he’s still memorable. The final reunion of 2013 was TLC at the American Music Awards. They sang “Waterfalls.” Like no, “Scrubs” or go home.

3. EDM made some great moves.

Daft Punk. Random Access Memories had to have been one of the most anticipated albums of 2013, or maybe I was just so anxious for it that I felt the rest of the world was too. We hadn’t heard new Daft Punk since Human After All dropped in 2005, so Random Access Memories was eight years overdue. The album is the duo’s most successful album overall, as it debuted at number one in over 20 countries worldwide and eventually reached number one on 23 different charts.

Avicii. True was Avicii’s debut studio album and it is amazing. The album first came to listeners’ ears in April 2013 when Avicii released a 60-minute mix on SoundCloud, and then it continued to reach ears when Avicii played over 40 total minutes of the album at Ultra Music Festival in his set. The three singles released from the album – “Wake Me Up,” “You Make Me,” and “Hey Brother” – have been quite successful, too. Although the album only peaked at number four on the Billboard 200, it’s no doubt that this was an exciting year for Avicii.

EDC. Electronic Daisy Carnival made a lot of moves this year. I don’t think we need to discuss that it happened, that it increased in size, that it spread to new locations, or that it was probably amazing (I obviously didn’t make it this year… or any year so far, but it is on my bucket list). What EDC really taught us this year was the true positive economic impact that festivals have despite what non-festival goers think and protest. If you still don’t believe that festivals are GREAT and POSITIVE, check out Insomniac Event’s Economic Analysis of EDC Chicago 2013.

Swedish House Mafia. Although the soundtrack for the One Last Tour came out in 2012, the tour started and ended in 2013. I had tickets, but school comes first (my mother told me that… trust me, I would have been there) so I didn’t make it. Over 1 million fans saw the end of the Swedish House Mafia era on their last tour – that doesn’t include the people, like myself, who tuned in to see their final performance together at Ultra Music Festival.  “We came, we raved, and we fucking love you.”

4. Miley Cyrus made her mark. It happened, it was necessary to include it in the review, but we don’t need to speak about it more.

5. Nielsen/Billboard released the mid-year Music Industry Report. The trends: vinyl sales up, streams up, digital track sales down. So what we really see here is an increase in hipsters listening to vinyls (just kidding, I have my own collection that I love), a lot of people listening to music on Spotify, and a lot less people purchasing music with a lot more people illegally downloading music. But really, the report is really interesting and I’m very interested to see the end-of-year report, too.

6. A lot of really great albums came out from new artists.

CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe (September 24). While CHVRCHES didn’t first come to the scene in 2013, they’re pretty new and The Bones of What You Believe was their first studio album that dropped this year. The album got some great recognition too: it was number 32 on Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2013 and received a score of 81/100 on Metacritic, indicating “universal acclaim.” In addition, it reached number one on the US Independent Albums chart.

Lorde, Pure Heroine (September 27). Lorde has to be one of the biggest new names in 2013. …Like “Royals” – I’ve heard that song every day for the past six months at least. She even just had her cover of the Tears for Fears song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” included on the Catching Fire soundtrack. Her album, Pure Heroine, peaked at number three on the Billboard 200. Lorde is seriously talented and her voice is seriously unique. The girl is 16 – ponder that for a bit.

HAIM, Days Are Gone (September 30). HAIM (anyone Jewish, please help) has actually been around for a while, but their first album, Days Are Gone, was just released in 2013, a few months ago. The album has some great new sounds (similar to Fleetwood Mac, I hear), but my favorite is definitely “Send Me Down.”

7. My personal opinion… The Number 1 Album of 2013: The Great Gatsby Soundtrack.

Do soundtracks count as albums when it comes to figuring out the best one of the year? They do in my mind. The Gatsby soundtrack was huge. If you didn’t like the Gatsby soundtrack, it’s safe to say you actually do not have a soul. Regardless of your feelings toward the movie (if you didn’t like it, you didn’t read the book, plain and simple), you have to love the soundtrack. There were huge names associated with this album: Jay Z, Beyoncé, Will.I.Am, Fergie, and Florence + the Machine. There were new artists on this album: Lana Del Rey, The xx, Gotye, Nero, and Sia (ok those aren’t new, but less known at the time). When the track list and first trailer for the movie including some of the songs came out, the album started becoming highly anticipated. The album blew away predicted sales and chart performance. Within its first week of release, it had sold over 137,000 copies and was at number two on the Billboard 200. The Gatsby soundtrack deserved all the recognition it got and more – my Twitter feed and my Facebook news feed were filled with Gatsby Soundtrack links for weeks after the release – it was everywhere and it deserved to be. Sure, it didn’t strike a number one, but sometimes we need to look at the content of the album rather than the sales and chart positions of the album.

8. Finally, the end of year mashups that were released YESTERDAY:

Here’s some of the “music” released recently.

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“Let’s Go (feat. Chris Brown)” by will.i.am

So, if you haven’t heard the controversy over this track, I’ll attempt to give my best amount of knowledgeable background. Mat Zo and Arty collaborated on a track titled “Rebound” on Anjunabeats. Then, Will.I.Am. and Chris Brown collaborate and commercialize “Let’s Go” … which is honestly the exact same song. They didn’t even remix the original… they just added lyrics. And the best part? They didn’t get permission and they didn’t give credit to the original producers.

“What do I know? I give it to legal I’m not no attourney. I did my piece. I gave credit to the person who did it, It’s not my fault he didn’t tell me about the other guy. So who’s to blame? I didn’t know, I wasn’t in the room when you made it. You shoulda told me you had a collaborator.” – Will.I.Am. in response.

You’ve got to be kidding me. Literally… I could have told you that Arty was a collaborator on the original track, “Rebound” by Mat Zo, just by typing “Rebound by Mat Zo” into Google… and guess what?! I’m not even an attorney! Silly how common sense works.

Then we have this great display of American intelligence:

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Holy mother of God. First of all, the grammar and spelling in this tweet is less developed than a 3-year-old toddler’s. Second, according to Chris Brown’s tweet and completely logical thought process, it really doesn’t matter if I ever disregard the law or engage in copyright infringement… as long as someone asked me to do it.

2.0 by 98 Degrees

I get that bands take hiatuses and then later release their “comeback” album, but this is one band that probably should have stuck to acting on reality shows, becoming members of Chippendales, and trying to run for mayor. Although, to be fair, they failed at their attempts to succeed at those careers too. They came back together so long after they broke up that they were surprised they blew up on Twitter and Facebook… welcome to the new media, grandpas. This album is terrible. Just listen to the first single, “Microphone,” which I can’t even figure out what genre to label it as – it’s a terrible mix between electronic, pop, and autotune. Side note: it’s also about oral sex. Sorry, but there’s something terribly wrong about 40 year olds singing songs about oral sex that target the pre-teen segment of the world. The best part is that when being questioned if they knew the song was about oral sex, they respond by saying they thought it was about singing in a microphone. Really… if the song was truly about microphones it would not contain the lyrics, “I’ll make you scream at the top of your lungs.” To entertain you, here’s some quotes from them in their interview with The Daily Beast:

“We made a conscious decision that we weren’t going to write on this record. We wrote 11 of the 13 on the last record.”

Thank god your so dedicated to be the best possible musicians you can be!

“New music from 98 Degrees was something that we were getting requests for so we wanted to do it for that.”

Can I please get a show of hands of people who were requesting new 98 Degrees music?

“You can’t decide to come out and release a pop record when music is in a rock phase. It won’t be as successful. You really have to wait and time it right, and everything lined up to make this the right time.”

They argued that they waited until pop music became the biggest genre to release their album… so wait – they waited until EDM was blowing up to release a pop album.

“When people asked how does it feel to be a boy band, even in 2000, we always said, “Well we’re more of a man band,” because even then we were 27, 25—we weren’t necessarily boys.”

‘Man band’?? Stop. That makes you sound even more childish than ‘boy band’.

David Guetta feat. Ne-Yo, Akon – “Play Hard”

David Guetta… I used to have so much faith in you. I’ve been trying to plan my summer festival season around seeing you and now I’ll stick to Spring Awakening and Lollapalooza. The beginning of this music video made me want to hurt someone: that whole ghetto/badass build up with all the cash and creepy looking people just to get a pair of the ugliest boots I’ve ever seen in my life made me want to puke all over my computer and then throw it across the room. Also, “Play Hard” samples (without credit might I add) Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone” – two important comments on this. First, is it impossible for artists to come up with their own beats these days? It’s honestly becoming pathetic. Second, THIS SONG DOES NOT SAMPLE WIZ KHALIFA’S “SAY YEAH.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? There’s a special place in hell for all of the people on YouTube commenting such things as…

“This song is stolen from Wiz KhalifaWork hard play hard ad say yeah. i think david Guetta is an ashole.”

1. No, it’s not. 2. Grammar: it’s your friend. 3. It’s spelled “asshole” not “ashole,” you idiot.

“Sounds like Wiz Khalifa’s “Say Yeah”…”

OMG You’re right!!! And you know what Wiz Khalifa’s “Say Yeah” sounds like? ALICE DEEJAY.

Grammys Review

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Disclaimer: So, it’s 1am and I’m attempting to write a review of the Grammys because my family asked me to multiple times. I only mention this because I want them to read this and recognize that I just spent approximately 10 hours doing homework today and if I become sleep deprived, I blame them. 

The Grammys… I think the best way to sum up the Grammys is to just go over a few highlights – both good and bad.

1. Taylor Swift

Here’s what was wrong with Taylor Swift at The Grammys: everything. First, her performance. When did Tim Burton sign on to direct her Grammy performance? Or was that some creepy take on Alice in Wonderland? Either way, no. And seriously, did I not say I never wanted to hear that god awful song again? I’ll be honest, I didn’t catch the supposed diss on Harry Styles because about 45 seconds into her performance, my twitter news feed of everyone wondering who in their right mind decided that Taylor Swift of all people should open the Grammys and wishing she would get off stage became much more entertaining. However, if the diss to the 19-year-old 1D singer did happen, can someone please remind T Swift that she’s 23 years old and just seems pathetic? Then we have to discuss her dancing during The Lumineers performance because that just made me want to barf and then throw my television out the window. 

I guess some actual comments regarding music could be made too… as in, Taylor Swift use to be original and she used to have talent, but in my opinion, she’s just as sold-out as the rest of the other musical artists nowadays. 

2. Ed Sheeran & Elton John

This truly made me die and go to Heaven for a bit. This is music in case anyone needed a refresher. It also put Taylor Swift to shame. As if Ed Sheeran’s voice wasn’t enough, the Grammys added Elton John, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with Elton John (at least, until Juanes covers “Your Song” and translates it into Spanglish).

3. Carly Rae Jepsen

…didn’t win an award so I still have faith in the Grammys. 

4. LL Cool J’s closing performance

So after watching Taylor Swift’s opening act, I’m sure you were all thinking the same thing as me: “Well this can’t get any worse.” Wrong. False. WTF. Because then LL Cool J announced that he needed to do his part in the Grammys. Wrong. False. WTF. Hosting was your contribution to the Grammys – you did not need to perform too. Even bringing Travis Barker and Co. on the stage didn’t help this performance. Then I’m sure you were all thinking the same thing as me again: “Oh this can’t be the way the Grammys ends! Surely something better will come along!” Except all that came along were the credits…

5. Elton John, Mavis Staples, Zac Brown, Alabama Shakes, Mumford and Sons, and T Bone Burnett performed “The Weight”

For full video check out TheDailyBeast.

Hands down the best moment of the Grammys. If you can argue that, then you don’t know what real music is. I’m so happy this was the group that did a tribute piece – I’m so sick and tired of seeing untalented musicians honoring some of the best music talent in history. Also, if I see one more social media post about people not knowing who Mavis Staples is, I’m going to cut them off from music because they’re clearly listening to absolute sh*t (sorry, Mom).

6. The Awards

Honestly, I think they did a great job awarding extremely talented musicians. By far and absolutely unarguably, Mumford & Sons’ Babel deserved Album of The Year more than any other nominee. The other nominees in that category were truly tremendous albums, but Babel was just so spectacular.

The award for Best New Artist was a little disappointing because in my opinion, I feel that The Lumineers are much more original than Fun., but regardless both bands have a certain degree of originality to them. However, real fans of Fun. would recognize that they are not a “new” artist since their first album came out in 2009 – catch up, Grammys.

Best Pop Vocal Album should have gone to Florence and the Machine’s Ceremonials and not because that is my favorite band but because I’ve listened to both Ceremonials and Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger and, while Stronger is great, Ceremonials is just heavenly and a true forward progression in the music industry.

Taylor Swift won a Grammy, but it was for a song that included The Civil Wars so I’ll allow it – not that anything I disapprove of really matters to anyone but me.

7. Carrie Underwood’s … Dress …

So at first, you’re like “oh Carrie Underwood’s wearing another big dress so she doesn’t have to actually move on the stage” and then quickly you’re like…. “wait, why is her dress a projection screen?” Seriously, I love Carrie Underwood’s voice and I think she’s truly talented despite my hate for country music, but the dress. I want whoever planned this performance fired. I couldn’t even pay attention to the song because I couldn’t figure out what was going on or why.

8. Ellen

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Until next year, Grammys. Try to get some better openers and closers though.

Songs I Never Want to Hear Again in 2013

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The popular music of today is absolutely terrible and while I do listen to it, I would also not miss most of it if was never played again. Also as a disclaimer, I fully admit to listening to all of these songs multiple times, alone and at the numerous college pregames, which without drunken college students, I’m pretty sure none of these songs would ever even make it to the public.

1. Toby Keith – “Red Solo Cup”

This song is literally about a red solo cup… a red plastic cup… Nothing else. No deeper meaning. No metaphor. Just a cup.

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2. Psy – “Gangnam Style”

This song is actually worse than Rebecca Black’s “Friday.” It’s not even in English, yet it’s also not even all in the same language; at least commit to one consistent language. Have you ever actually looked at the translation of the lyrics? No, probably not because that would take actual effort. The lyrics are literally, “A classy girl who knows how to enjoy the freedom of a cup of coffee.” That is almost worse than Justin Bieber telling every teenage girl that they would survive starvation as long as they love him.

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3. Taylor Swift – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

No one was ever trying to get back together with you, Tay, I promise. And no one likes it when you stop the general flow of the song to talk in the middle in an annoyed voice.

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4. Madonna ft Nicki Minaj – “Give Me All Your Luvin”

This was just another pathetic comeback for Madonna. It’s almost worse that Madonna was good music when music was still good. She was the queen of pop and then she comes back in 2012 with a song that only illustrates her inability to correctly spell the word love. Honestly, she paired with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. while chanting “L.U.V. Madonna” and thought it would be a good song? Never play it again.

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5. Flo Rida – “I Cry”

If you would like to hear this song, may I suggest listening to the original and better song by Bingo Players. Hint: the title of the song is “Cry” and Flo Rida will never actually give them any credit for it.

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6. Rihanna ft. Chris Brown – “Birthday Cake”

Here’s the first thing that’s wrong with this song: Rihanna featuring Chris Brown. If you really need an explanation on why that’s bothersome, type “Chris Brown beats Rihanna” into Google because that will sum it up in the most vulgar way. Then google “Jenny Johnson and Chris Brown” because that’s the best comedic summary of him as a person. I remember the first time I heard this song and thought about how terrible it was so I tried to look it up by the lyrics, but failed when I realized that the only lyric was “cake.”

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7. Drake – “The Motto”

Because “YOLO” should have never become a thing.

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8. Skylar Grey ft. Emimen – “C’mon Let Me Ride”

I had a lot of hope for Skylar Grey after the P. Diddy single “Coming Home” and her help on “Love the Way You Lie.” Then I heard “Invisible” and I had even more hope for her. The hope even continued growing after hearing the Kaskade remix of “Invsible” and the DJ R3hab remix of “Dance Without You.” And then I heard “C’Mon Let Me Ride” and I no longer have any hopes for her in the music industry. There is no aspect of this song that should ever be considered catchy or good.

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9. Flo Rida – “Whistle”

We just really did not need another song that when translated from radio-appropriate to its real meaning is simply telling every listener how to give proper oral sex. First 50 Cent tainted my 12-year-old mind by telling me that lollipops were simply magic sticks that needed to be sucked, and now today, young minds are tainted with Flo Rida telling them to put their lips around the whistle and start real slow.

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10. Nicki Minaj

There is no one song. Let’s just get rid of Nicki Minaj.

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However, you can play Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” every day.