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A Few Words about Pop in 2013 That Was Ruled by Big Album Releases, Glorious Comebacks and Exciting Newcomers


While I'm feverishly working on compiling my lists of most favorite albums and tracks of 2013, it's now a good time to take a step back and look at the past year and review some of its key moments. If there's one thing that marked 2013, it was the barrage of major new album releases that captured the charts from beginning to end, including much-anticipated new records by Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, One Direction and Beyonce (Rihanna decided to sit this year's round out.).

The year started out on an immediate high-note with a cryptic message from Justin Timberlake telling fans he was "ready." It was part of a YouTube video that showed the pop superstar walking back into the studio to cut vocals. The video set Twitter and other social media on fire, and quickly there after, Timberlake revealed that he was about to release his new R&B tinged single "Suit & Tie" followed by the announcement that he'd put out the first half of a double LP in March. 

In an interview with The GRAMMY Foundation, Timberlake explained why it took him a few years to release new music. "I will not be the type of artist that puts out 10 to 15 albums, that's just not who I am," he said. "I write music all the time, but until you really feel that desperate need to shout from the rooftops and express yourself in that way I just kind of keep it to myself. I enjoy making music so much that if it doesn’t come out that's okay. It's really about making something that feels authentic."

Taking a page from Justin Timberlake's playbook of surprise, Beyonce had the world speechless (and in awe) when she unexpectedly released a brand-new LP plus a complete series of accompanying music videos right at the year's eleventh hour. Some critics even argued that the superstar's effort could easily be considered the best pop music release of the year with its innovative production stylings and the singer's flawless vocal delivery that doesn't cease to amaze (and that is unanimously respected by her peers including Madonna)

Miley Cyrus was long considered a dark horse by many industry insiders and the rising pop sensation most definitely lived up to expectations with her fantastic new album Bangerz.The record was introduced by the mildly controversial single "We Can't Stop" (produced by her pal Mike Will Made It) and the gut-wrenching Dr Luke concoction "Wrecking Ball" that delivered one of the year's most iconic pop images with Miley swaying naked on top of a wrecking ball.

But nothing compared to Cyrus' cheeky performance during this year's MTV Video Music Awards in Brooklyn that was deliberately planned to get her the attention she was seeking to promote the album. I did not take offence to the performance at all. In fact, I thought it was all in good fun and it gave the VMAs the pop culture relevance it thrives on.

Katy Perry returned a lot faster to the pop scene than people expected with her third album, Prism. In the spirit of "never change a winning team," Perry once again teamed up with long-time collaborators Dr Luke and Bonnie McKee to compile a robust album of high-grade pop. Prism can be considered Perry's spiritual album with songs about finding her inner voice following her divorce from Russel Brand and her new romance with John Mayer.

Millions of fans around the world had been sitting tightly for months after Lady Gaga's announced early that her new album would be titled Artpop to be released sometime in 2014. The pop star introduced her music and art project with the single "Applause" that was rushed to radio early after it leaked online. Gaga went on to share a few more tracks leading up to the album premiere including the brilliant "Do What U Want" featuring R Kelly that reminded us exactly why we fell in love with Gaga in the first place.

Britney Spears also returned to the scene this year with new album Britney Jean that was executive produced by will.i.am. The album serves as a soundtrack to the pop icon's Las Vegas residency at Planet Hollywood that will kick off next week. Spears collaborated with a group of some very talented people including Sia, Diplo and Katy Perry to create a record that showed off some very personal lyrics.

The guys from OneDirection continued to rule with her sold-out global arena tour, a number one movie and the release of Midnight Memories that once again broke records for the British four. 

Other big pop events worth taking note of include Natalia Kills' no-holds-barred pop opus Trouble, the emerging girl group pop of Neon Jungle, the rise of songbird Ariana Grande and Icona Pop's much-anticipated new album This Is... Icona Pop that counts as one of my personal favorites of the year.

December 19, 2013 | Permalink