Last year may go down in history as the year of singles. Singles soared through the charts while albums stayed as neutral as they have in years past. There’s no doubting that everyone and their grandparents heard at least one of the Top 10 hottest singles of 2013 every time they turned on a radio.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis went straight to number one with their biggest hit – “Thrift Shop” followed closely by Robin Thicke’s controversial “Blurred Lines.” But neither of their albums (The Heist and Blurred Lines) came out in the charts nearly as high as their singles.
The most memorable single that came out of 2013, though, was Lorde’s “Royals,” which took home the Grammy for Song of the Year. The catchy tune could get stuck in anyone’s head for days; Slant Magazine even named it the number one best single of the year.
But that’s not to say that the albums weren’t bad – in fact, some of the most greatest lyrical masterpieces came out. One of the biggest (and maybe most surprising) albums that came out of 2013 was Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, which won Best Alternative Music Album at the Grammys this year. Rolling Stone went so far as to say “no other album mixed emotion weight with studio-rat craft and sheer stuck-in-your-head hummability like this one.”
Behind Vampire Weekend is a complete different kind of artist: Kayne West. His album, Yeezus, soared to number eight on the U.S. Top Rap Album chart and even hit number one on the US Billboard Top 200. His lyrics rage about racial politics and his sound is almost a mix between a “Jamaican dance hall” and synthesized dark waves.
Daft Punk, who won Album of the Year at the Grammys with Random Access Memories, are the pioneers of the electronic DJ sound and have been mastering it for fifteen years. But this year, pop-lovers fell in love with “Get Lucky” and Daft Punk’s classic disco style.
So, though many singles came from artists whose albums didn’t make it big on the charts, there are a good handful of albums that surpassed expectations and even surprised some people, including The National and Nine Inch Nails. Although 2013 may not have been the greatest of years for pop music in general (the highlight for me being Beyonce’s visual album), the indie, rock, and even folk genres proved that even artists who don’t have top singles can still have a pretty great year.