While the year 2013 was swallowed by the controversial pop-monster that is Miley Cyrus and her party album, “Bangerz,” (even the Waltonian got in on the fun), 2013 saw that mainstream and independent music productions continued to excite audiences. Yes, our ears were assaulted by the over-played mega-duo, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis; but last year also gave us the rising star of the brooding 17-year-old Aussie, Lorde, with her charmingly poetic ode to youth, “Royals.” The year also saw Justin Timberlake’s triumphant return from Hollywood with 2013’s best-selling album, “The 20/20 Experience – 1 of 2.” While we hope Adele will drop some unexpected music in 2014 (Beyonce-style), here are three songs of 2013 from three fresh-new artists that will carry us into the new year.
1. “Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves
While pop-country still belongs to Taylor Swift, her 2012 hit album, “Red,” moved away from Swift’s early innocent diarist simplicity to being a reason to throw shade at ex-boyfriends on award show stages. Pop-country in 2013 tracked the rise of Kacey Musgraves, whose hit-single “Follow Your Arrow” sounds like early-Swift, but with more edge. “Follow Your Arrow” is a charming, folksy reminder that no matter what you do (whether prudish or scandalous), someone is going to judge you, but whether you just keep straight (or take a winding road), just keep going forward.
2. “Retrograde” by James Blake
The soul and electronic-pop combination in 2013 was dominated by Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke, but James Blake’s album “Overgrown,” and its best song, “Retrograde,” is electronic and alternative, blending Blake’s low-registered soulful crooning with the blare of a whining electric piano. “Retrograde” is brooding, mysterious, and unlike most of the pounding synthetic music of 2013. If you’re dying to hear more from the likes of electronic, indie folk artist Bon Iver, then Blake will fulfill your needs for 2014
3.“You Bring the Savage Out of Me” by Cecile McLorin Salvant
Twenty-three year old Salvant is a vocal original, and the music industry hasn’t seen much of that since 2005, with Amy Winehouse’s Grammy-winning, “Back to Black.” Salvant is a throw-back to jazz greats like Bessie Smith and Nina Simone. Classic ska and jazz tunes are not most millennials’ taste, but Salvant’s winding and expansive voice is beautiful, as she croons and skips through a remake of “You Bring the Savage Out of Me” by 1930s jazz star, Valaida Snow.
Sources: National Public Radio, The Pitchfork Review, SPIN.com, Grammy.com