Top 10 Albums of 2013: From Beyonce to Bowie
Each year, my colleague, Katie Hasty, and I trade off on producing a video piece on our favorite singles and albums. This year, she came up with a great list of albums for her video piece, while I did my top songs.
But I also wanted to spend a little time before the end of the year sharing a list of 10 albums that kept me smiling- or crying- through much of the year. Here are my top 10 albums of the year.
1. “Southeastern,” Jason Isbell: What a beauty of an album. Stripped down and lonely in all the right places, “Southeastern” features the former Drive-by Truckers singer sober and reflective. Some of the lines will tear your heart out if you let them and that’s a good thing.
2. “Spirit In the Room,” Tom Jones: The second in his trilogy with producer Ethan Johns, “Spirit in the Room” is Jones’ masterwork, right up there with Rick Rubin and Johnny Cash’s series of albums. He sinks his teeth into Tom Waits’ “Bad As Me” and Blind Willie Johnson’s “Soul Of A Man” with a relish that can only come from someone who has really lived the words. A revelation.
3. “The Next Day,” David Bowie: Many of his fans had feared he had retired, but how wonderful to be wrong. In his first new studio album in 10 years, Bowie brought us right back into his arty, weird, magical world...on his terms. And it was beautiful, from the questioning “Where Are We Now” to the lovely “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” and the dance-y, yet lamentable “Love Is Lost.” Plus, the videos were some of the most provocative of the year. There’s Bowie...and then there’s everyone else.
4. “The 20/20 Experience,” Justin Timberlake: No, it’s not perfect by any stretch and too much of the album feels unfinished, but when it hits its mark, as it did with “Mirrors,” “Pusher Love Girl,” and Prince homage, “Strawberry Bubblegum,” it was exhilarating.
5. “Beyonce,” Beyonce: The beauty of doing my list so late is that I get to add in Beyonce’s album that she dropped with no warning on Dec. 13. Sexy, potent, and powerful, the album’s 14 tracks show her breadth and why she is the Queen. Bow down and get drunk on Beyonce.
6. “Wake Up Ghost,” Elvis Costello and The Roots: On paper, this sounds like it shouldn’t work. In reality, the British singer/songwriter and the hip-hop collective created a work of funk, slightly sinister, groove-filled tunes that jump out of the stereo, from unrepentant “Refuse to Be Saved” to the beautifully gentle “Tripwire.”
7. “Same Trailer, Different Park,” Kacey Musgraves: One of country’s freshest new voices, Musgraves somehow managed to be both cynical on songs like “Blowin’ Smoke” and uplifting on “Follow Your Arrow” without ever sounding like she was contradicting herself. The perfect antidote to all the “bro country” out there right now.
8. “The Beast In Its Tracks,” Josh Ritter: Singer/songwriter Josh Ritter took the shards of his busted marriage and crafted them into songs of heartbreak and loss that were often breathtaking in their honesty. As he finds a new love, his despair gives way to forgiveness, but he hasn’t forgotten what it is like to feel shattered.
9. “The Electric Lady,” Janelle Monae: Yes, she’s a star, but why isn’t Monae a superstar? She has the talent, the vision, the ambition...and it was all displayed on this versatile set. You don’t have to buy into the concept—she’s playing android Cindi Mayweather— all you have to do is dance and groove and enjoy.
10. “Random Access Memories,” Daft Punk: If the album was only remixes of “Get Lucky” and “Instant Crush,” it would have still made my list, but it’s so much more. The French duo fearlessly combines their electronica with pop, disco and rock for a shape-shifting, often mind-bending musical exploration.
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
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