2013: A Year of Music Hard to Challenge So Far

arcade-fire-snl-2013

Originally published to The New University on September 24th, 2013

We have gone through an interesting whirlwind of music trends in the last few years. Local radio stations have had interesting phases, from KROQ strangely frequenting Owl City tunes to KIIS FM and its current EDM trend (a slight change from the R&B/hip hop that it played from 2005-2011). However, 2013 is proving to be, quite plainly, an amazing year for music of all genres. Artists from our childhood and adolescence are making unexpected comebacks, some fantastic and some that are not necessarily wanted, and with four months left in the year, artists are pummeling what they can into the rest of 2013. Here are a few notable releases from the year for reflection, and a few to expect soon.

When I think of the greatest comeback of the year musically, the first artist that comes to mind is Justin Timberlake. “Future Sex/Love Sounds,” his last album, was released in 2006… seven years ago. Does anybody else remember dancing to “Sexyback” at his or her high school dance? It was long enough ago that most of us were at completely different points in our lives.

However, as we saw Justin Timberlake venture into the world of movies (In Time, Friends With Benefits, The Social Network) some of us wondered if the music was ever coming back. To kick off 2013, Timberlake released a sneaky video for his single “Suit & Tie” (ft. Jay Z) in January. In it, he whimsically flashed a poster board with the words, “The 20/20 Experience coming soon!” only to quickly reveal the release date on the opposite side. From there, things only got better. Despite the general anxiety regarding whether an artist’s comeback will be successful or not, there was no doubt that Timberlake’s album would be a hit. “The 20/20 Experience” was number one on the Billboard Charts by the second week of its release, selling 968,000 copies in its first week. “Suit and Tie” became every high school’s prom song and “Mirrors,” the  second single, is a fantastic, emotional pop song reminiscent of an ‘NSYNC jam. (Sorry JT, you’ll never be able to escape it!) Timberlake then entered the “Five Timers Club” upon his fifth-time guest starring on Saturday Night Live and received the MTV Video Music Award for “Video Vanguard,” performing an epic 17 minute-long set. His performance also featured a hot 40 seconds of the ‘NSYNC members themselves. Needless to say, it has been a good year for Justin Timberlake.

“The 20/20 Experience” is a crisp, carefully produced masterpiece, consisting of 10 tracks, each lasting about four to eight minutes. I like to consider the album “sophisticated pop.” A majority of the songs hold small reprises in their second halves that, in a way, take a step back before proceeding onto the next track. Overall, this well-crafted album paves the way for an even better “part two” to be released at the end of September.

Now that I’ve raved about a great 2013 comeback, let’s review those strange “comebacks” that might not have been the greatest idea.

Despite the mainstream EDM stage in which our generation has been recently absorbed, Fall Out Boy decided to get back together and release an album, fittingly titled “Save Rock and Roll.” We were all 12 once. We enjoyed this. But fortunately, we are past this.

In July, the Backstreet Boys celebrated their 20th anniversary, releasing “In a World Like This.” It was a cool idea, but the band simply cannot get past its ’90s hits. During a free concert they gave at The Grove in LA this summer, I witnessed the audience clearly more enthused to hear “As Long As You Love Me” over “In a World Like This.” Yet the boys are still together, and that is what matters, right?

The Postal Service made a brief comeback with a short-lived reunion tour and a re-issuing of “Give Up” with two new tracks. They played their last set at Lollapalooza this summer, and quite frankly, the entire stage of “reunification” just reminded me of their existence and made me more unhappy that they really were gone.

2013 was definitely a strange blast from the past for several artists, and more are to follow. Lady Gaga fanatics are awaiting the release of “Artpop” while desperately clinging onto her current singles, “Applause” and the leaked “Burqa.” Arcade Fire is finally ready to release the follow up to 2010’s “The Suburbs” and Drake fans are jamming out to “Hold On We’re Coming Home” before “Nothing Was the Same” comes out this week (Sept. 24th). As overwhelmed as I am with all this new music, I am incredibly ecstatic to hear and dance to what the rest of 2013 has to offer.

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