Best Music of 2013

Best Party Song: “22” by Taylor Swift: Swift’s energetic single, describes partying with friends without bragging about excessively, high-risk behavior. Imagine that? Swift proved you can get the party started, without blaring on about decadence. 

Best Whimsical Album: “Quite Frankly” by Nina Baker: “Baker redolently captures the style of 90’s pop, with its spirited navigation of life’s central themes, by crafting a record that doesn’t stay complacent in its study of one particular element.” Read the full review here

Best Dreamy Love Ballad: “Let Her Go” by Passenger: "...a soliloquy of sweet melodic yearning with a folk edge that holds back on over-sentimentality." Read the full review here

Best Theatrical Rock Single: “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons: This was a breakout year for Imagine Dragons as they crossed the threshold into mainstream prominence with this nuclear jolt of expertly utilized dubstep and lyrical foreboding. 

Best Hauntingly Acoustic EP: “Fragments and Glimpses” by Matt Bednarsky: “Not a lot of artists can pull off the simplicity of using a single instrument to record an album. Bednarsky manages to do just that, using only a guitar and his voice to create Fragments and Glimpses.” Read the full review here 

Best Ambient Use of Instrumentation: “Tomorrow Might” by The Accord: “Filled with blossoming instrumentation, the rhythms are filled with the soft quality of ocean waves and the steady drive of self-reflection.” Read the full review here

Best Duet: “Stay” by Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko: A wrenching break-up/love song that allowed Rihanna to step back from the club mixes and show off her vocal capabilities. “Stay” is simple, never spilling into overwrought histrionics and Mikky Ekko’s accompanying performance is the perfect anchor to keep the piercing emotion from quivering out of orbit.

Best Spunk Refresher: “Royals” by Lorde: Another breakout artist, the 17 year-old New Zealander came out of nowhere with her debut single, “Royals” which stood out as a sonic reckoning that broke the mold with a unique sound, bucking the trend of recent pop music’s recurring overdose of similitude.

Best Countrified Soul Stirrer: “Compass” by Lady Antebellum: The enduring trio’s soaring “Compass” blazes a trail of uplifting proportions by encouraging listeners, to seize the moment and live for the day. Another year and another terrific song from the uber talented, hit makers.

Best Hypnotically Indulgent EP: “Seven Years” by Nina Yasmineh: “an ethereal journey into existential self-discovery. The 4 track EP emits a storm of emotion that is rich in artistry. Yasmineh displays a passionate verve with her vibrant lyricism and sentient vocals.” Read the full review here
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Best Otherworldly EP: “Themes” by The Bedroom Hour: “' enthrallingly wrapped in a brilliantly conducted blend of pop, rock and several other genres in between. They maintain all of these aspects by keeping the simplistic power of the human heart on full display.” Read the full review here

Best Powered-Up Love Song: “Next to Me” by Emeli Sande: One of the catchiest love songs of the year, Sande showed off resounding vocals, filled with an infectious determination. In a year that seemed to focus more on break-ups, Sande’s refreshing celebration of pride in her loyal beau, was just the ticket.

Best Funkadelic & Genre Splintering EP: “Look.See.Don’t.Trip” By Kismet Ryding: “They bring a rollicking energy and groove that are about to push rock music to another level. The guitar riffs are frenetic genius and the hooks sensational.” Read the full review here

Best Inspirational Ballad: “Roar” by Katy Perry: When Perry announced she was cutting off the supply of cotton candy to her sugar-coated albums, one might’ve been concerned that she was fixing what wasn’t broken. Thankfully, her tweaks weren’t so drastic that she’s alienated her audience. Perry has effectively stripped her music of its more distractively wrapped elements and pulled back the curtain to reveal, a plucky song, celebrating self-empowerment.

Best Dance Mix: “Wake Me Up!” by Avicii ft. Aloe Blacc: Stirring and life affirming, “Wake Me Up!” is a rare dance song that contains tangible soul. While Avicii’s spin on Blacc’s original track has been reaching the masses with its dance fueled synths, the success of the song solely lies with the supremely moving, original version that was the essential template for this smash hit.

Best Folk Rock EP: “Chasing Twisters” by Delta Rae: “After blazing onto the music scene with their debut album ‘Carry the Fire’, they show no signs of slowing down with their latest, exhilaratingly frenzied offer.” Read the full review here

Best Old School, Golden Era Rock Album: “Stand In Line” by The Cornerstones: “The Cornerstones successfully hearken to the touchstones of music’s most prolific moments; with “Stand In Line” you will find the philosophical aspects of the 60’s, the defiance of the 70’s, the bravado of the 80’s and the evolutionary reflection of the 90’s.” Read the full review here

Best California Sun EP: “Pretty Girls” by The Wild Young Hearts: “Their wild musicality, youth fueled brooding and heartfelt enthusiasm, comes through with breezy appeal, ‘Pretty Girls’ is pretty fabulous. “ Read the full review here

Best Meditative Americana Album: "Magpie and the Dandelions" by The Avett Brothers: "Something that you can always count on with The Avett’s is they’re straight shooters when it comes to lyrical insights, often giving listeners a peak into the stark and lonely nights on the tour bus that can haunt a soul." Read the full review

Best Tell It Like It Is, Declaration: “Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves: Musgraves hit the nail on the head with her wordy whistler, addressing important issues in a disarmingly spunky fashion that made listeners take notice. With this song she’s solidified herself as a songwriter. Her lyrics cleverly, calling out the disturbing truths about pleasing people. Putting words to the hypocrisy that permeates the world has never sounded better.

Best Progressively Futuristic EP: “Digital Throw-Up” by Grim:If you have wondered what the music of the future is going to sound like, this is a foreshadowing between two universes, an interstellar glimpse.” Read the full review here

Best Guilty Pleasure: “Applause” by Lady Gaga: As a fan of the more toned down Gaga featured in the songs, “Brown Eyes” and “Speechless”, “Applause” features the better known, hyper frenetic Gaga. Picking up where her previous hits left off, it has a catchy hook and while, it might feature strange lyrical content, its effective hook is so ear catching, it works to distract from it. If the goal of "Applause" was to entice dancing (it seems to be), it succeeded.

Best Wistfully Dreamy Single: “Spinning Globe” by Slaughter Beach: “Wrapped in the fervor of a melodic haze, “Spinning Globe” captures an emotional reticence that is raw and tenaciously palatable.” Read the full review here

Most Electrifying Anthem that Skyrocketed in 2013: “Sail” by Awolnation: Cutting deep with a repeating mantra “Blame it on my A.D.D. baby” and the singular “Sail!” the song’s lyrics play similar to a chant. Electrifyingly brilliant in its sonic, rise and fall, “Sail” is powerful and it knows it, a genre collective simmering with exorbitant range.

Transporting listeners to a soundscape that feels ultramodern and quaking with theatrical resonance. The surge felt from this single, is a high-octane flame, that ignites a fire within the soul that endures, long after its 4 minutes and 19 seconds, is up. (“Sail” was released in 2012 but re-entered the charts in mid-2013)

Best & Worst of 2013: Movies (click to read)
Best & Worst of 2013: Television (click to read)