Halestorm – Here’s to Us
In today’s rock industry, its rare to see a power ballad that brings us back to the glory of 80’s arena rock. Let alone, a ballad sung by vocalist as raw and powerful as Lizzy Hale. An absolutely glorious ode to drinking to both the good and bad time, Here’s to Us will have your lighter in the air for sure.
Young the Giant – It’s About Time
Young the Giant injected a bit more energy into their sound with It’s About Time, and….well, its about time! The grinding guitars and pounding drums add much energy into their music, without losing their indie rock foundation. This bolder, more aggressive sound definitely has me anticipating their upcoming 2014 album!
Casadee Pope – Wasting All These Tears
While The Voice may be killing the ratings and the iTunes charts, the show’s alumni have had a difficult time establishing the same type of fame that Idols like Carrie Underwood seemed to grasp with ease. Hell, the show hasn’t even produced a Kris Allen-like one hit wonder. And yet, all that changed with the lovely Miss Cassadee Pope! With a gorgeous voice and Country-meets-singer-song-writer-pop-artist style, this girl might as well be the second coming of Michelle Branch (god, I’ve missed you Michelle!). Needless to say, Wasting All These Tears was a fantastic debut, that finally earned The Voice their first legitimate, charting artist!
Paramore – Still Into You
Out of some harsh times came a much livelier Paramore. Still Into You was the group’s first real foray into the pop territory, but with Haley William’s wailing vocals and aggressive rock sound, I doubt that anyone really missed their dreary emo sounds of the past. Still Into You proved that true rock instrumentals still had a place in an increasingly electronic pop market.
Jessica Sutta – Again
Life hasn’t been good to the Pussycat Dolls post-break up…especially Pussycat Dolls that aren’t named Nichole Scherzinger. (Who am I kidding, Nichole has sucked at everything she’s done since leaving the group too!) And yet, this little Pussycat has found a home as one of EDM’s most luscious vocalists. Her powerful and alluring voice had us wondering why she was kept in Nichole’s shadow all these years, but it was mesmerizing European synths and uplifting chorus that made Again a bold new step for Jessica’s solo career.
J. Cole – Crooked Smile (ft. TLC)
First of all, this song features RnB legends TLC. That, in itself, earns it a world of praise. However, this song’s message is the one that I hope the Hip-Hop industry takes into 2014. The genre is full of lyrics about big booty hoes and explicit sexualization of women. However, J. Cole plays the role of the gentleman in this crooning hip-hop track. In it, he encourages women to embrace their inner beauty, and forget about the unrealistic standards. Finally, a dose of reality in hip-hop music.
OneRepublic – If I Lose Myself
If you can get around the awkward pseudo-EDM dance breaks, this song is actually one of the better songs on OneRepublic’s Native. Ryan Teddar’s beautiful vocals, the rapturous chorus, the twinkling synths and building percussion…it all comes together in one brilliantly produced package. Granted, it unravels a bit with that post chorus, but, well….Ryan Teddar.
Sevendust – Decay
Sevendust brings us what was easily one of the best metal tracks of the year. Decay begins with some ominous riffs before plummeting into a barrage of drums, snarling vocals and growling guitars. This hard hitting tune absolutely compels you to raise your fist and head bang along.
Justin Timberlake – Drink You Away
Justin Timberlake had one hell of a year. While Suit and Tie and Mirrors were legitimate contenders for this list, one listen to Drink You Away was all it took to blow those two out of the water. There’s plenty to love about this track; the bluesy arrangement, the country guitars, the soulful vocals, the running list of mentioned alcohols, or the fact that this is a perfect example of an artist stepping outside of his comfort zone and totally nailing it. Needless to say, this is definitely one to raise a glass to!
Disclosure – White Noise (ft. AlunaGeorge)
Not to be mistaken as the “bee boo boo bop” song from Sponge Bob, White Noise is easily one of the most relentlessly catchy electro-pop songs of 2013. The unique production styles of Disclosure give us some truly unforgettable, bubbling synths, but its the unmistakable vocals of Aluna Francis that gives this song a unique quirk. All together, this charming little track is an undeniable burst of pure synth bliss.
Best Reality Show Performance
Alex and Sierra – Gravity
I hate to admit my addiction to these god awful reality talent shows, but its performances like this that keep me coming back. This year, Idol, The Voice, The X-Factor and America’s Got Talent all went head to head for…well, the ratings. However, its the contestants that truly steal the show. This year, the best reality show performance undoubtedly came from X-Factor winners, Alex and Sierra.
Between Sierra’s unique, ethereal tone and Alex’s earthy grit, this duo used their brilliant vocal combination to breath some new life into Sara Bariellis’s powerful ballad. The result was a truly emotional spectacle from start to finish. Sierra absolutely nailed the song’s glory note, while Alex showed a vocal range that nobody even thought he had. It all came together brilliantly, and ultimately sealed the deal for their victory. Honestly, I haven’t been this excited for a reality show singer’s debut album since Chris Daughtry announced he was forming a band almost seven years ago.