It wasn’t a bad year for pop, after all was said and done: At the very least, 2013 was the year that Justin Timberlake returned to the charts with not one, but two albums (one of which was pretty great!), and the One Direction album proved those kids’ mettle as one of the most unexpectedly solid acts cranking out pop-rock tunes, and there were sleeper hits from artists like Lorde and Icona Pop that demonstrated great songs can always triumph on radio, even without a Pitbull radio remix or production from Dr. Luke. But the big divas I love most of all failed me this year with their expensive, hotly tipped albums: They didn’t deliver, plain and simple, and it’s clear to see I’m not alone in that take by how the albums sold and how the critics received them.
Consider four of the biggest pop divas who dropped records this year: Katy Perry, with her Michael Jackson-besting track record as a singles artist; Miley Cyrus, whose reinvention dominated headlines all year long; Lady Gaga, who had heralded ARTPOP as an epoch-defining release; and Britney Spears, who actually didn’t turn out to be up to much after all was said and done but who’s still, y’know, Britney Spears. More »
As many pop nerds predicted, Justin Bieber will be releasing his great #MusicMondays tracks as part of a compilation — but in a twist, it’ll also include five new songs. Everything from “Heartbreaker” to “All Bad” to “Confident” will appear on Journals, as well as new cuts featuring featuring Lil Wayne, Future and Big Sean (with production from Diplo on the latter, called “Memphis,” which we’re going to assume is a shot fired in the direction of that other Justin).
Journals will be available December 16 on iTunes, but after January 2, the bundle won’t be available and all tracks must be purchased individually.
Check out the tracklist below. More »
Justin Bieber wraps up #MusicMondays with “Confident,” the 10th and final track from his series. This one features Chicago’s Chance The Rapper, and it’s the springiest song yet from this project. While most of the preceding nine tracks found Bieber lamenting breakups and love lost, he has now worked through the pain and is back on the prowl. That means he brought the swagger back, and the confident crooner is eyeing up a confident “Mona Lisa masterpiece” over a beat that jumps and skips like prime Timbaland.
The percussion then drops out for a few seconds as Chance jumps in with his jittery delivery, offering up a verse just short enough to leave you wanting more. Good work, fellas!
Hear it below. More »
There’s no arguing that Cody Simpson has had a banner year — but while the Aussie teen sensation has been churning out tunes and setting tween girls’ hearts aflutter, what’s been burning up on his iTunes?
As it turns out, the pop heartthrob enjoys the sensitive stylings of another solo male crooner — John Mayer, whose latest LP Paradise Valley isn’t just one of Simpson’s favorite albums of the year — he says it’s one of his favorite albums of all time. More »
Did You Hear?
:: Carrie Underwood has responded to the criticism surrounding NBC’s The Sound of Music special, particularly her take on leading role Maria von Trapp. “Plain and simple: Mean people need Jesus. They will be in my prayers tonight,” she says. [E!]
:: Ellen DeGeneres has taken cues from Kanye West‘s “Bound 2” for her annual Christmas card, as she revealed during her daytime talk show. Who can blame her? Not Seth Rogen and James Franco. [EllenTV.com]
:: During the Detroit stop of his Magna Carta Holy Grail tour, Jay Z riffed off Nicki Minaj‘s “Beez in the Trap” to the tune of Coldplay‘s “Clocks,” then vibed to his band’s live cover of The White Stripes‘ “Seven Nation Army,” in a minute flat. Made in America, indeed. [YouTube]
:: Britney Spears confesses that her two children, ages eight and seven, may be more in touch with pop culture than she is. “I mean they listen to cooler stuff then I do sometimes,” she says. “They really know what’s in. They are like, ‘Mom, this is really hip,’ and I go in and listen to it on the computer.” [MTV]
After the jump, find out what music you can catch on TV today. More »
Kanye West plans to take producer Rick Rubin‘s earliest aesthetics, last heard in Yeezus, to a new level in his next album. “I think my next album is going to be eight songs,” he said at Miami’s Art Basel, during a Surface magazine talk with architect Jacques Herzog. “It’s just reducing down the amount of information that you need.”
West had turned to Rubin for help just weeks before he had to submit Yeezus to his label. West even recorded vocals for five songs just two days prior to his deadline. But as he would tell BBC Radio 1 host Zane Lowe, West had also asked for Rubin’s “Reduced By” aesthetic, as initially popularized by LL Cool J‘s debut album Radio. (“He’s not a producer, he’s a reducer,” West said.) More »