Now that it’s officially December, we’re reaching that time of the year to look back and reflect on everything that’s happened in the past 12 months. For us in the music world, that includes remembering all of the amazing music that has graced our ears over the year. Earlier today, Rolling Stone released their list of 50 album favorites for 2013. Although the list consisted mainly of pop, rock, and country, the author surprised us with some EDM artists as well.
Coming in at #45 was Avicii with his album, “True.” The author explains how the superstar producer expertly mixes americana sounds with his high-energy house beats.
Hey, you got Mumford & Sons in my EDM! Swedish producer Avicii slyly celebrated electronic music’s stateside boom by combining vintage roots music and energetic house beats. It’s an exuberant cross-cultural good time, and thanks to anthems like “Wake Me Up,” it never lets up.
Indie synth-pop favorites Phoenix hit #22 with “Bankrupt!” According to the author, the group managed to reach out of their comfort zone while maintaining the signature sound that orchestrated their rise to fame.
The French indie-pop group didn’t come through with hits on par with “1901” or “Lisztomania.” Phoenix did something even cagier, rolling out sleek, savvy songs that took apart fame, fashion and coolness from the inside, without scrimping on their space-rock whoosh, surging melodies and wry New Wave pout.
Fool’s Gold’s Danny Brown reached #17 with “Old.” His unique brand of hip-hop mixes electronic-infused beats with raw lyrics to create something truly exceptional.
The year’s most gripping hip-hop street-life narratives came from a crazy-coiffed Detroit native with a gift for vivid introspection and a taste for wild beats, from the Detroit techno of “Dubstep” to the avant-trap of “Side B (Dope Song).” It doesn’t get much more disturbingly real than the raw-sex chronicle “Dope Fiend Rental.”
U.K duo Disclosure came in at #13 with “Settle,” which oozes a timeless musical sound despite their young ages.
This U.K. brother duo may still be too young to get into some of the clubs where their music is bumping. But they’re steeped in disco history (“White Noise” could be an old-school techno classic). Settle sounds like an anthology of great club singles, using guest vocalists and stylistic jumps to flow like an expertly curated party tape.
New to the music scene, 16-year-old Lorde hit #7 on the list with “Pure Heroine.” Check out some of our favorite remixes of “Royals” here.
“We don’t care/We aren’t caught up in your love affair,” declares 17-year-old New Zealand pop savant Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor on her hit “Royals,” a bitch-slap to status-driven music culture on behalf of every cash-strapped kid (and grown-up) exhausted by it. Lorde’s debut album ended up ruling the pop charts anyway, thanks to a sultry, swaggering, hip-hop-savvy, fully grown voice and stark synth jams as earworm-y as Miley’s or Katy’s splashiest hits. Set against the music’s minimal throb, Lorde’s languidly aphoristic lyrics balance rock-star swagger and torqued-up teenage angst, so lines like “We’re hollow like the bottles that we drain” or “We’re so happy, even when we’re smiling out of fear” have a rattle-nerve pathos and power like nothing else going in 2013.
Finally, the #3 spot was rewarded to Daft Punk for their groundbreaking “Random Access Memories,” which threw the dance music world for a loop with its unexpected minimalist sound.
Now that the pop world has caught up with what Daft Punk were doing 15 years ago, naturally the French electro pioneers decide to rip it up and start again. So they spend most of Random Access Memories doing lush Seventies-style studio funk fusion, not at all unreminiscent of Steely Dan or Average White Band. Is it a strange move at the height of the EDM era? Yes. (Any album that can fit in appearances by the Strokes‘ Julian Casablancas, German disco godfather Giorgio Moroder and Seventies shlock-pop king Paul Williams is working on its own terms.) Is it awesome? Mais oui. And for all the lovingly detailed live-band touches, Daft Punk prove they’re still pop fans at heart with “Get Lucky” — an instant disco classic where Pharrell and the great Nile Rodgers raise their cups to the stars.
Although we’re only reporting on the EDM-related selections here, be sure to check out the rest of the list over at Rolling Stone and let us know your thoughts on these album picks in the comments! Also, be on the lookout for Your EDM’s “Best of 2013” feature coming soon!