It is so incredibly hard to pick 20 songs in the pop world. But to pick 20 songs from lesser known albums is even harder. This was a great year for a lot of indie acts, a few comebacks, and everything in between. I thought I’d share with you all some of my favorite songs from albums that were very great, but kind of overlooked. Why? I don’t know. They just slipped through the cracks. But take a gander at these. Next up: Top 25 Albums of the Year. I had to up it. There was no way I could just restrict it to 20. But for now, enjoy.
1. Janelle Monáe - Electric Lady (Feat. Solange)
This lady was everywhere this year, most notably as the recent Billboard Women in Music Awards this month in NY. Yet she’s not a household name – YET. She’s a Cover Girl, yet people still don’t know who she is. She’s fierce, she stays true to who she is, and she can rock it like the best of them. This title track is a standout.
2. Rudimental – Home
This song blew me away. The band Rudimental is definitely one to look out for in 2014. They’re a mix of drum and bass, electronic, and dance, but once you throw in a great vocalist all bets are off. Loved the words to this song as well. I think everyone can relate. Listen. And enjoy.
3. Aloe Blacc – Love is the Answer
I’ve been a fan of his for a few years. And while he’s probably known more for Don’t Wake Me Up, his song with Avicii, this song, in today’s age, is much more relevant. It almost makes me believe in love. Love is supposed to be powerful. So listen up and take heed.
4. Luscious Jackson – #1 Bum
As noted in my previous blog post, this is the year of Luscious. They return after many years with an album called Magic Hour, which brings to the forefront the sound Luscious was known for: dance, r&b, with a hip hop feel. Welcome back ladies. You’ve been missed.
5. Laura Mvula – That’s Alright
This self affirming track should be heard by women of all races and ages everywhere. She’s fine with not fitting the norm. She’s fine that she thinks outside the box. She’s alright with herself. And at the end of the day, the only one you have to please is yourself. More of society should realize this. The end.
6. Mayer Hawthorne – Where Does this Door Go?
Confusion, isolation, curiosity, loveless. All of these are on the mind of a man who wants to see what’s on the other side of life. He doesn’t want to feel lost and alone anymore. Mayer has come a long way over the years, but this song is a killer retro track that makes me wish I grew up in the 70s genre it was aiming for. Congrats Mayer.
7. Boy George – King of Everything
The soul is still there. The voice is a little battered, but still beautiful. Boy George returned this year with a very heartfelt song about his mark left in the world and will he be able to make it again despite the self destruction. It’s wonderful, just like Mr. O’Dowd.
8. Creep – Call Her (Feat. Tricky and Alejandra De La Deheza)
It’s haunting, hypnotic, sparse, and just plain eerie. Mama likey.
9. The Stepkids – The Lottery
I first saw these guys in 2001 in DC. They are truly a mix of old school 70s r&b, pop, and dance. I would love to see them tour with Luscious Jackson. It’s like if Prince made a song with DJ Premier and Chicago. THAT’S what you get with them.
10. Jhené Aiko – The Worst
This sounds like a throwback to the 90s, a decade, which I’ve always treasured :-). It’s a minimalist beat, and she delivers the song like it’s more of a conversation than an actual song. Got to love that. She sings like she’s trying to convince herself that the relationship is worth it (I don’t need you, I don’t mean to, but I love you repeated over and over again), but we all know, deep down, it’s not. Nice Jay-Z reference too.
11. Alice Smith – She
One of the loudest voices this year, Alice delivers. Strong. This song from her cd of the same name slaps you with a “you should know better” attitude in regards that she is the only one with the power. The power to do what? Anything she wants.
12. Claire and the Bangin’ Rackettes – Love Letter
Look me in my face and tell me this Australian band doesn’t deliver? A mix of 60s r&b with that snarl that no one can deny. If you dug Amy Winehouse or Mark Ronson’s work, you’ll love this. Also if you like the Alabama Shakes, Claire is right up your alley. It’s fantastic. Claire also thinks everything can be solved in a love letter. If love was just that easy…
13. Arctic Monkeys – One for the Road
This was on constant repeat. It sounds like a cross between The Black Keys meets Dr. Dre and Mike Elizondo. Truly perfect. Alex and the boys returned with one of the most intriguing albums this year because they managed to perfectly combine rock music with dance and rhythm without losing any edge whatsoever.
14. Boards of Canada – Sick Times
One of my favorite electronic albums of the year, BOC’s Sick Times is just stellar. It hits home and takes your mind away from whatever might be plaguing you. And it’s great headphone music.
15. Gold Fields – You’re Still Gone
This song definitely has an 80s flare that has been popping up in artists’ work over the past say ten years. Lyrically there really isn’t anything new – he pines for someone who is out of his life for good. But beatwise, it’s heaven. Sometimes that’s all you need.
16. Twenty One Pilots – Guns for Hands
A plea for people to put the guns down and work things out civilly. Imagine that. Stop resorting to violence. Our hands are the guns with the safety off just shooting at everything the MOMENT we disagree with someone. I love this song.
17. Laura Stevenson – Journey to the Center of the Earth
There is something about an acoustic guitar and a simple vocal that can go the distance. No over the top drum machines or mixing. Just a mic, a guitar and a voice.
18. The Civil Wars – The One that Got Away
Truly one of my favorites of 2013. Sit back, relax, and enjoy. You have to listen to truly appreciate it. Words don’t do it justice.
19. Destiny’s Child – Nuclear
Before Beyonce’ decided to drop an unannounced album, she, Michelle Williams, and Kelly Rowland collaborated on this new track for a greatest hits slow song record. The beat is stellar and works extremely well with the flow of their harmonies. Brilliant. And beautiful.
20. Green Velvet – Bigger Than Prince (Hot Since 82 Remix)
God bless Hot Since 82 for making this a true dance banger. Keeps the heart racing and puts a smile on my face. Nice way to wrap up 2013. And after all, how many of us really walk around like we’re bigger than Prince? Not Many. Shake it.
That’s it for now earbuddies. Of course there a lot of songs I omitted. I just kept the ones that got many plays on the pod. Stay tuned for more, if you know what’s good for you.
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