One of the absolute joys of heading up Idolator is getting to work with such a unique and gifted pool of talent, from the core staff of editors whose names you see on the site every day to our group of freelancers we turn to for extra support. On a weekly basis, the latter contribute everything from Voice and Glee recaps to album anniversary retrospectives to fun roundups like the 11 Best UK Boy Bands Of The Past 25 Years and the 5 Songs We Couldn’t Stop Dancing To This Past Summer. (Yes — actual, real lists that have happened!)
You may have already caught our editor and reader picks for 2013’s 10 Best Albums, but we decided to go a step further this year by also asking said freelancers to chime in with their own favorite albums from the past 12 months. Some of their choices mirrored our own (and our readers’), while others shined a light on records that, while maybe off the beaten path, were absolutely worthy of going back and giving a second listen to.
That’s the great thing about dealing with an eclectic group of music writers who are also music fans; everything is subjective, and multiple tastes almost always guarantee a solid variety.
Head below to see the albums some Idolator’s freelance contributors thought were worthy of being featured in this special year-end roundup.
Kanye West, Yeezus
Kanye West’s Yeezus
is a seething monster of artistic megalomania that made every other 2013 cookie-cutter hip-hop album with a rotating crew of shared producers seem quaint in comparison. West laid waste to the extravagant chipmunk soul and prog-hop of his back catalog with ruthlessly uncommercial musical influences from his home town — specifically Chicago house music and the city’s hip-hop drill scene — while ushering in a new generation of producers (Hudson Mohawke, Gesaffelstein, Arca, Travi$ Scott, among others) who pushed him in new, exciting directions. The firebreathing “New Slaves” probably gets best of show here, but “Blood On The Leaves,” with its seismic eruption of horns on the beat drop coupled with West’s most terrifying lyrics to date, leaves the deepest mark. — PATRICK BOWMAN
Laura Mvula, Sing to the Moon
Galloping arpeggio bells and toe-tapping handclaps kick off Laura Mvula’s upbeat single “Green Garden,” though if you listen closely, you’ll hear a bit of remorse and misgiving, too. The rest of Mvula’s debut album is just as dynamic, showcasing her chameleon-like vocals, switching from playful to matter-of-fact to gravelly to soaring with joy. Mvula’s lyrics hint at something a bit more stark than standard pop fare, which draws her comparisons with Nina Simone. With lines like “Our love is like the morning clouds / Like the morning dew / That goes away,” sung in devastatingly intense minor-key harmony, Mvula infuses today’s neo-soul movement with a remorse and heft that leaves you tasting joy and bittersweetness at the same time. — ALEXANDER CHO