Within my top 10, there's only one new artist. Inside my top 30, there's about 10.
Electronic music had a huge year with the return of Daft Punk, but also with new artist Disclosure, Jon Hopkins' career masterpiece "Immunity, and efforts from others like Boards of Canada, Juana Molina, Baths and Fuck Buttons.
You don't see a lot of rock in the top tiers of the Grammy nominations for 2014, and as loathe as I am to say it, I gotta say I feel almost (almost) the same way. I've loved the work that MBV, Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Portugal. The Man, Bill Callahan and left of center acts like Parquet Courts and Fidlar have done. Queens of the Stone Age and Red Fang are the most rock 'n' roll of these. Beyond that, I didn't feel like I heard enough, maybe, or we had brain space only for massive pop acts like Beyonce (loved), Lady Gaga (disliked), Britney Spears (promptly forgot) and Katy Perry (great singles, exhausting album).
I'm seeing a lot of outlets put "Yeezus" in their top spots, and while I agree its an aggressive, intoxicating album, I put it far lower on my list (than, say, my 2010 No. 1, "My Beautiful, Dark Twisted Fantasy) because it's almost challenging me to give extra points for being honest. Jason Isbell takes that prize, with raw and powerful "Southeastern." Nick Cave gets in there with his twisted, sexual sneering. Danny Brown (my 2011 N. 7) got weirder, at No. 4 this year with "Old."
I'm not a Drake girl, though I think that "Nothing Was the Same" was his best-contructed album. So long as we're talking new-era R&B, I could take Blood Orange dancing all night. Good year for the veteran ladies -- for Neko Case, India.Arie, Laura Marling, Tegan & Sara and new spins (for me, at least) out of Sarah Jarosz, Savages, Feathers and more.
Dancing, architecture. Let's listen to music, shall we?
Within my top 10, there's only one new artist. Inside my top 30, there's about 10.
At precisely midnight on Friday the 13th (of December 2013), Beyonce dropped her fifth studio album, self-titled, and it was a total surprise. The album is available exclusively through iTunes through Dec. 20, when it will then be available as individual tracks. Beyonce said that CD copies will be available by Christmas.
And that sound of your Twitter feed blowing up is because it's insane. And kind of a genius move. Below are my initial thoughts on why:
1. Beyonce's husband Jay Z imparted unto the world "Magna Carta Holy Grail" amid much hype this summer -- the noise was not because of the strength of the songs (seriously, not in the least), but because of his groundbreaking deal with Samsung, offering the set as a free download to Samsung users who downloaded its app. No doubt, Beyonce's hype cycle is undeniably, erm, shorter, but it's a huge get for Apple who is -- you guessed it -- a competitor to Samsung, in the mobile market. His album featured Beyonce, and hers features Hov. His app downloads couldn't be counted toward the Billboard 200. Hers will. Adorable. Maddening.
2. Sure, Grammy Awards, go ahead and have your enormously slow Friday night to post your nominations last week. Beyonce is using the slow late-night hours, but her name will be dominating headlines all of Friday. You know what else she'll be dominating? The Grammy Awards, come January. Just as Justin Timberlake had no real reason to overtake the 2013 Grammys ceremony except to promote his new set, Beyonce just got herself a ticket (even though we know Beyonce will never be in want for Grammys tickets, ever). Jay Z's "Part II (On the Run)" featuring his wife is also up for an award, maybe she'll drag him up for her performance for once?
3. Sony certainly is having a wild night: not only is Bey's label home drinking champagne on her behalf, but also decided that Thursday night is a good night to push some fresh, new Spider-Man spinoff news to the world. It's like while everyone else in the world is figuring out how to re-gift this summer's blockbusters on DVD, Sony's still playing Santa Claus. Eggnog for everyone.
4. Kanye West spent pre-album promotion talking all about his methodology of not pushing a radio single and still selling enough copies of "Yeezus" for the No. 1 spot. After he topped the Billboard 200, he then he spent the weeks that followed that mulling "Yeezus'" painful second-week slide and -- you guessed it -- pushing a radio single. Depending on the news cycle between now and the New Year, Beyonce's starpower and staying power may be the echo to West's rebel yell. And she may do it better.
5. I'll bet Rihanna's glad she didn't try to rush yet another in-time-for-Christmas album as she's done with the previous four. She'd have been trampled.
6. Yes, "Beyonce" qualifies for the charts. This b-bomb of news will certainly help in the three days left in the sales week, and could help her easily take the top next week since there are no new or old titles that will sell more than, say, 140,000 copies. The added bonus of 17 (17!) videos makes the $16 price tag look like a steal compared to this week's chart-topper, Garth Brooks' Walmart exclusive boxed set priced at $25-$30. Individual songs go up for sale on Dec. 20. Physical will be ready in time for stocking stuffers, but she's pissed off brick & mortar stores (including big boxes like Best Buy and Target) something awful. Beyonce could be looking at least three weeks at the top since One Direction, Britney Spears and various Christmas albums no longer seem like a threat, but she can't expect a big push from other retailers since her love affair is squarely with iTunes.
7. What's insane is that everyone involved kept mum. Literally every outlet I've heard from got one or two hours max heads up time on this release. Drake hasn't posted to Twitter in a couple of days. Beyonce's been on tour and you're like, Yeah, of course you're stone-cold. Nobody's talked to Frank Ocean lately because Frank's not talking. It feels almost like a betrayal. What fun.
8. No countdowns to a music video release, no video teasers, no behind-the-scenes prequels. Beyonce has her career partially on the strength of her videos, and she's released 17 all at once. It's a lot to behold, which may effect each visuals' staying power. But again, Beyonce is trying to challenge the status quo and the listening experience. Who knows if that Terry Richardson joint will get lost in the fray, but his last outing was with Miley Cyrus and we all know how that went. Video is Beyonce's painterly medium, and "Beyonce" is a "Visual Album." Just remember there's a "clean" version download for the faint of heart.
9. Tonight was Queen B's 100th concert on her Mrs. Carter Tour. Every show's special, right?
10. A few other big surprise albums come to mind from 2013: David Bowie's "The Next Day" and My Bloody Valentines' "m b v" were from fairly dormant artists but enjoyed their news and critical cycles. Sleigh Bells and Four Tet are much smaller scale and the surprise didn't seem to benefit them much. Jay Z and Kanye had their surprise announcement but still had some promo time. Radiohead is still the gold standard as far as surprise album drops go, and they're the same headlining, A-list scale as Beyonce -- different genres. Will fans take to it like Radiohead or Bowie fans did to those bands' experiments?
11. I pity the long leads. Many a critic have already made up their top 10 lists, many are posted, many are about to appear in print or other intricate, well-thought-out form of featured gray matter. Beyonce doesn't care about your top 10 list. Beyonce has 14 songs on her list and their all hers.
Bonus: Her rapping on "Drunk in Love" (feat. Jay Z) makes my head herrrt. "Haunted" is dope.
Here's the tracklist for" Beyoncé":
1. Pretty Hurts
3. Drunk In Love (feat. Jay Z)
5. No Angel
9. Mine (feat. Drake)
11. Flawless (feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche)
12. Superpower (feat. Frank Ocean)
14. Blue (feat. Blue Ivy)
Composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez together composed the music for 2011's "Winnie the Pooh" and the musical adaptation of "Finding Nemo," but just this morning nabbed their first Golden Globe nomination for a different Disney property. "Let It Go" from "Frozen," performed by Idina Menzel, is now up for a 2014 for Best Original Song.
Lopez and Anderson-Lopez have earned acclaim for their work on Broadway and in TV/Film -- in their own right for musicals like "In Transit" and "Book of Mormon" and together on projects like kids' TV show "Wonderpets"
Below, I talk to the couple about their nomination, females in the working music world and their next theater endeavor.
Taylor Swift is yet again in the running for a motion picture award, as her "Sweeter Than Fiction" joins other big-name acts like U2 and Coldplay in the 2014 Golden Globes category for Best Original Song. The single from the film "One Chance" was co-written by fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff, giving "Sweeter Than Fiction" an extra edge of star power (though Swift can typically hold that down on her own).
The country crossover star was up for a Golden Globe Award last year, too, for "Safe & Sound" with The Civil Wars, though Adele's "Skyfall" took home that music award because she's Adele and she takes home all of the awards.
U2 signaled a bout of action with their "Ordinary Love" for "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," their first new material since 2009's "No Line on the Horizon." The rock crew purportedly contributed at the behest of Harvey Weinstein; they've gone on to hint that a new album may arrive in Q2 of 2014, which is good timing should they make an appearance at the January Globes ceremony.
Music from actual musicals made their way into Best Original Song, as "Inside Llewyn Davis" and "Frozen" both get their nod. Idina Menzel sings on "Let It Go" from the latter film; it was composed by "Winnie the Pooh" collaborators and husband-and-wife duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (it is a decidedly safer song than Robert's "Book of Mormon" compositions). When you see "Inside Llewyn Davis" -- no "should" about it -- you may find the "Please Mr. Kennedy" nod particularly comedic, given the context of its novelty. Oscar Isaac has better performances and better tunes out of his titular role, but the Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver support certainly gave this a boost on the ballots.
What you don't see on here? Lana Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful" from "The Great Gatsby" which was, notably, one of the rare "new" movie musics representing on the woefully 2012-based 2014 Grammy nominations list.
The Best Original Score tally is just as competitive as Best Original song, with mainstays like Hans Zimmer ("12 Years a Slave") and John Williams ("The Book Thief") facing off against scores like Alex Ebert's pensive and isolating "All Is Lost." Ebert is perhaps better known as the eccentric frontman of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, making the sound and nomination reminiscent of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' get for "The Social Network.
Alex Heffes' "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" has a decent shot, too, given the eclectic winners over the last five years. Foreign-language and foreign lands featured prominently in recent winners "Life of Pi," "The Artist," and "Slumdog Millionaire." Another Brit, Steven Price, simply went out of this stratosphere for "Gravity" -- that's a story sort of similar to former honoree "Up," right?
Best Original Score
"All Is Lost" - Alex Ebert
"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" - Alex Heffes
"Gravity" - Steven Price
"The Book Thief" - John Williams
"12 Years A Slave" - Hans Zimmer
Best Original Song
"Atlas," Coldplay ("The Hunger Games: Catching Fire")
"Let It Go," Idina Menzel ("Frozen")
"Ordinary Love," U2 ("Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom")
"Please Mr. Kennedy," Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver ("Inside Llewyn Davis")
"Sweeter Than Fiction," Taylor Swift ("One Chance")
How cute are Fifth Harmony? So very cute. I caught up with "The X Factor" fivesome on the red carpet at the American Music Awards earlier this week, fresh off of singing "Better Together" in the AMAs pre-show.
Each took time out to say what their No. 1 jam of 2013 would be, with Justin Timberlake's "Mirrors," HAIM's "If I Could Change Your Mind," a Rihanna single and more.
Considering it was cold (at least for L.A.), I also asked if they'd be into ever recording a Christmas album. And just guess their answer.
Get your coffee ready, 'cause here's some sugar. Check out the vid. Fifth Harmony's EP "Better Together" was released in October.
The long-form music video/short film for Broken Bells' "After the Disco" wielded a lot of star power, including fun sci-fi work from Jacob Gentry, Kate Mara in a pink uniform and the gifted melancholy of Anton Yelchin.
If you spent the week singing the words "Sailors in your mouth" like I did, then you may be pleased to know there is a proper indie rock version of the new cult classic.
The "Bob's Burger's" newest Thanksgiving episode yielded another inspired Linda moment, as she and sister Gayle plunged deep into the topic of gravy for a new turkey day anthem. Brooklyn rockers The National showed back up for the holiday this year, in the animated form of your favorite pan-made condiment, for the "Bob's Buskers" series, only to slide down Bob's gullet.
Don't want you to count 'em, but just note: some artists think their own jam is the jam of 2013. And why shouldn't they?
HitFix caught up with a number of stars on the red carpet at the American Music Awards, including Akon, Fifth Harmony, Nelly, Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz, R. Kelly and Shemar Moore (?!) and asked, "What's your No. 1 song this year?"
Kells said "Do What You Want With My Body," his jam with Lady Gaga, Lamar went with his "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe." And Shemar Moore? He's a Drake man.
Watch our quick-hitting video from the AMAs above and answer for yourself: what's your 2013 jam?