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2013 Album Playlist: Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions - Part 1

October 11th, 2013 9:15pm EDT

The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2 As I look over my 2013 playlist from my iPod, I realize I have listened to numerous albums this year.  In fact, the amount of music that my ears have consumed and my pen has analyzed is pretty scary…and I still missed lots of albums! SMH! Some were special, some made me cringe, and some fell somewhere in between the two extremes.  As difficult as it was, as of October 7, 2013, I have compiled a list housing my favorites, least favorites, and honorable mentions.  I’m almost certain I’ve slighted someone and I’m sure there will be continual revisions, but for now, here’s what you should’ve spun, what you should’ve avoided like the plague, and those that were strongly consideration for favorites. Enjoy!

Favorites…

Pop 
Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience 

Elton John, The Diving Board

My two favorite pop albums couldn’t be more different.  One’s a more singer/songwriter and rock-oriented effort (John) while the other balances urban and pop (Timberlake).  Two different extremes of the spectrum perhaps, both yield sound rewards.

Traditional Pop 
Michael Bublé, To Be Loved 

Bublé possesses one of the best voices in recent times by my estimations.

Electronic / Dance

Daft Punk, Random Access Memories

James Blake, Overgrown

Daft Punk’s effort was the commercial triumph of the two, delivering the ubiquitous, tastefully risqué “Get Lucky”.  Blake’s brilliant Overgrown shouldn’t be written off by any means, easily showing a huge amount of growth since his debut James Blake.

Rock
Queens of the Stone Age, …Like Clockwork

David Bowie, The Next Day

So we’ve got a legend who returns after a lengthy hiatus and an underrated band who somehow made their way to the number one spot on the Billboard Albums chart.  Awesome.  Both albums are among the year’s top regardless of genre.

Metal
Black Sabbath, 13

While atheism itself doesn’t personally appeal to me, Black Sabbath’s 13 is nothing short of brilliant, regardless of its numerous lyrical allusions to atheism and skepticism towards any religion.



Alternative
Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City 

The Flaming Lips, The Terror 

The alternative music category is always stacked with gems, perhaps because this represents the ‘future’ of music with more experimental, less commercialized ideas.  Both Vampire Weekend and The Flaming Lips outdo themselves on their respective albums, no questions asked.

R&B
Janelle Monáe, The Electric Lady

John Legend, Love in the Future

R&B may be suffering commercially, but critically, there are still some unquestionable triumphs.   Janelle Monáe epitomizes the future of the genre, mixing the best cues from the past and incredible creativity that clear thinks forward.  Legend on the other hand is more classic, but as impressive as the results are on Love in the Future, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Traditional R&B
Charles Bradley, Victim of Love

Mavis Staples, One True Vine

Haven’t heard these? Please take the time.  Soul at its best in 2013.



Rap
J. Cole, Born Sinner

Drake, Nothing Was The Same

No Kanye? He has an argument for both being here and not being here.  Honestly, choosing a favorite rap effort is a difficult choice this year as I felt the field has been wide open.  J. Cole definitely came up while Drake was a consistent and moody as ever.  Others could’ve easily landed here as well… the genre has had a good year.

Mixtape
Logic, Young Sinatra: Welcome To Forever

He’s got next, period.

Reggae
Cornell Campbell/Soothsayers, Nothing Can Stop Us 

The Courtney John Project, Future

Reggae is underrated, but it shouldn’t be at the hands of veteran Cornell Campbell or innovative collective The Courtney John Project.  Sure we’re going gaga over Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk, and Robin Thicke, but we should also be talking about both these exceptional albums.

Country
Alan Jackson,  Precious Memories II 

I’ll admit, I’ve indeed slept on country some in 2013.  Shame on me, I apologize.  But, I do think that it is strange that from among the few country albums I partook, my choice for the best was a sequel, just saying.  For me, I just couldn’t say that either Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, or The Band Perry had my favorite album… Can’t speak on Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Justin Moore, etc. I’ll do better next year.

Gospel
Shirley Caesar, Good God 

It is a gospel legend… that’s enough said…

Blues
Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Get Up!

Tedeschi Trucks Band, Made Up Mind

Talk about two underrated albums! Both are sensational and deciding between the two was incredibly difficult.  That’s why I “made up my mind” and selected both.



Jazz
José James, No Beginning, No End

Jaimeo Brown, Transcendence 

José James could’ve landed in the R&B category, but we all know that jazz is a huge part of his artistry, right? No Beginning, No End is a terrific album that I hope the Grammy voters don’t shun.  Jaimeo Brown offers quite a creative, modern-jazz album that is incredibly eclectic, including elements of Indian music and spirituals.

Make sure you check out part 2 (Least Favorites), coming soon!!!

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Filed under: Alternative, Christian & Gospel, contemporary R&B, Country, Electronic, Experimental, Hip-Hop/Rap, Jazz, Music, Playlist, Pop, Pop Culture, R&B/Soul, Reggae, retro-soul, Rock, Urban, Vocal/Easy Listening Tagged: Alan Jackson, Ben Harper, Black Sabbath, Charlie Musselwhite, Cornell Campbell, Daft Punk, David Bowie, Drake, Elton John, favorite albums from 2013, Flaming Lips, J. Cole, Jaimeo Brown, James Blake, Janelle Monáe, John Legend, José James, Justin Timberlake, Michael Bublé, Queens of the Stone Age, Soothsayers, Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Courtney John Project

Related: Alan Jackson, Ben Harper, Black Sabbath, Daft Punk, David Bowie, Drake, Electronic, Elton John, Flaming Lips, J. Cole, James Blake, Janelle Monae, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Michael Buble, Queens of the Stone Age, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Music

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