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The year in music: A Top 10 list and more

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bowie2013

David Bowie. (Courtesy photo)

David Bowie came out of a 10-year hiatus to release an album that nobody but his producer and a few collaborators knew was coming.

Beyoncé took it a step further: She announced and released an album on the same day exclusively via iTunes, selling more than 617,000 downloads in just three days. It was so secret, even one of her producers (Ryan Tedder) didn’t know when it was coming out until 90 minutes before it dropped.

Miley Cyrus twerked; Daft Punk and Robin Thicke created poppy diversions; radio listeners roared for Katy Perry but gave Lady Gaga only light “Applause"; Kanye West continued being his petulant self, and Justin Bieber still has a LOT of growing up to do.

We lost some familiar faces — Lou Reed, George Jones, Corey Monteith, Richie Havens, Ray Manzarek, JJ Cale, Van Cliburn, Bobby Blue Bland, Ray Price, and locally, Dan Toler.

That’s 2013 in a Ticket nutshell.

Here are 10 albums that dominated airplay on my many electronic devices. Just one writer’s opinion.

“The Next Day,” David Bowie — It’s not his greatest album, but even a pretty good Bowie album is better than 90 percent of any year’s releases. Welcome back, stay a while longer. Prime cuts: “Where Are We Now?,” “The Stars (Are Out Tonight).”

“The Electric Lady,” Janelle Monáe — A line from “Q.U.E.E.N.,” featuring Erykah Badu, says it all: “Categorize me, I defy every label.” She’s all over the musical map, and that’s a good thing. Prime cuts: “Q.U.E.E.N.,” “Dance Apocalyptic,” “Primetime.”

“Days Are Gone,” Haim — This sister trio is a throwback to ‘80s pop. But listen beyond the retro-ness; it’s polished pop-rock. Prime cuts: “The Wire,” “Forever.”

“Heartthrob,” Tegan and Sara — Who says the album is dead? This Canadian synth-pop sister duo churned out one with 10 solid, radio-friendly songs. Why aren’t they huge? Prime cuts: “Closer,” “I Was a Fool.”

“More Than Just a Dream,” Fitz and the Tantrums — Their funky pop is so infectious that even the deepest cuts on this album (the ones unlikely to get airplay) will grab your attention. Prime cuts: “Out of My League,” “The Walker.”

beyonce“Beyoncé,” Beyoncé — Loads of music critics are scrambling to rewrite their year-end lists to include the R&B diva’s gift-out-of-nowhere. It’s a game-changer. Prime cuts: “Drunk in Love,” “Blow,” “Heaven.”

“Pure Heroine,” Lorde — Lemme get this straight: She had one of the year’s best-selling songs (“Royals") and she didn’t even get a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist? What in the name of Starland Vocal Band is going on here? She’s more than deserving. Prime cuts: “Royals,” “Tennis Court,” “Team.”

“Random Access Memories,” Daft Punk — The French robots go beyond their electronic-music roots to create a dance-heavy gem. Anyone who puts Nile Rodgers back in the spotlight is doing something right. Prime cuts: “Get Lucky,” “Lose Yourself to Dance.”

“Reflektor,” Arcade Fire — Trent Reznor, Wayne Coyne and Noel Gallagher are just a few contemporaries who are trashing this grandiose album. Jealousy, perhaps? If it’s good enough for Bowie, who sang on the title track, it’s good enough for me. Prime cuts: “Reflektor,” “We Exist,” “Here Comes the Night Time.”

“The 20/20 Experience — 1 of 2,” Justin Timberlake — Speaking of the Grammys, JT was surprisingly snubbed for the major categories — Album, Song and Record of the Year. This 70-minute album, the year’s top-seller, is his tour de force. Prime cuts: “Suit & Tie,” “Mirrors,” “Strawberry Bubblegum.”

THE BEST OF THE REST — “Same Trailer Different Park,” Kacey Musgraves; “My Name Is My Name,” Pusha T; “Like a Rose,” Ashley Monroe; “Southeastern,” Jason Isbell; “Nothing Was the Same,” Drake; “The Civil Wars,” The Civil Wars; “See You There,” Glen Campbell; “Amelita,” Court Yard Hounds: “Yours Tuly,” Ariana Grande; “The Blessed Unrest,” Sara Bareilles; “The 1975,” The 1975; “Foreverly,” Billie Joe + Norah.

LISTEN — From A to Z (Arcade Fire to Young the Giant), get an earful of our 75 favorite songs of 2013 via our Spotify playlist — http://spoti.fi/1fs51aV.

Last modified: December 26, 2013
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