20 Songs of 2013

Just like last year, I decided to take a quick run down of the songs that I personally thought made a big impact on radio, charts and pop culture for the year 2013.

2013 made us say something beautiful and came in like a wrecking ball when things are in trouble, trouble, trouble.

Funny how diverse 2013 is with some interesting edgy reinvention from a once Disney kid, a new hope from Idol products, a showdown between original Mariah and modern day “Mariah” and an introduction of new and promising artists.

So without further adieu, here is a subjective list of the 20 Songs of 2013 in my personal notes.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: One Direction – Best Song Ever; Paramore – Still Into You; Sara Baraeilles – Brave; One Republic – Counting Stars; Zedd (ft. Foxes) – Clarity; Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child; Selena Gomez – Come & Get It

20. TONIGHT
Jessica Sanchez (ft. Ne-Yo)

– The people behind Jessica Sanchez tried to deviate her from the R&B and diva ballad we used to hear from her during her run in American Idol and the end product is a catchy, upbeat pop tune. With an assistance from Ne-Yo, Jessica showed how diverse she can be as a vocalist and deliver an infectious uptempo that is hard to resist.

19. WE CAN’T STOP
Miley Cyrus

– From songs like 7 Things, The Climb and When I Look at you, Miley Cyrus took a 360 degrees turn and showed her more edgy side. Not that she took a different route in terms of genre, she still stayed pop but the once Disney star created a whole new niche on her side and as a debut single for her new found “liberty”, she infuses her mantra of “I don’t give a *#c!” to some catchy pop tunes.

18. LET HER GO
Passenger

Let her go is a sad tune and with the lead vocalists undeniably longing kind of voice, it was able to translate what the song wants to give and more. In the end, Passenger’s Let her go is one of the saddest pop gem that rose dramatically in 2013.

17. THE WAY
Ariana Grande (ft. Mac Miller)

– Dubbed as the modern “Mariah Carey”, Ariana Grande isn’t just a copy cat. She has the voice that can whistle like Mariah and a tone that is flirty yet enthusiastic. Her biggest hit on 2013 is a collaboration with Mac Miller and the potential from this another Disney star alumna is skyrocketing high. 

16. I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE
Taylor Swift

I Knew You Were Trouble for me is Taylor’s transition phase from country to pop. With news around hinting on her big shift in terms of genre, the dubstep style on this pop tune is catchy, beat friendly and infectious. By the way, I never really consider Taylor country but what do I know.

15. #BEAUTIFUL
Mariah Carey (ft. Miguel)

– Mariah Carey dropped a bomb in this Miguel collboration of hers and end up having yet another hit on her belt. #Beautiful and yes with that hashtag in the title, is Mariah’s best hit since We belong together. It matches Miguel’s R&B thing and at the same time played well with her flirty, sultry vocal quality that made this song alluringly good.

14. RADIOACTIVE
Imagine Dragons

– How in the world Imagine Dragons can make a song light even if in hindsight it should be dark and heavy? Somehow, the boys have managed to tastefully embrace pop rock with so much ease and still creating a flavor that is identifiable in their terms. Radioactive plays with a percussion beat theme and breathing heavy vocal dynamics but once the song ended, you just have to press that repeat button once again because it was deliberately good.

13. SAY SOMETHING
A Great Big World (ft. Christina Aguilera)

– The combination of A Great Big World’s understated vocals and Christina Aguilera’s ability to showed restraint and power produced a solid lovely ballad. It was poignant, heartfelt and the piano-themed track is simple, honest and sublime.

12. THRIFT SHOP
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

– There’s something playful on this track by breakout artists, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. At first, I didn’t really find what is amusing with the track but after a couple more listens, it grew on me leaving a valuable radio jam. There’s an infectious hook, a fun quality and the song was just writtern with humor.

11. THE MONSTER
Eminem (ft. Rihanna)

– Much like their first collaboration, Love the way you lie, this is yet another hit on both Eminem and Rihanna’s belt. As soon as the song bust out its soaring chorus in the beginning with Rihanna’s recognizable tone demanding much needed attention, the song just exploded with enough gusto and then with Eminem relinquishing an impeccable speedfire rap verses, it’s done. The track is an instant ear treat!

10. GONE, GONE, GONE
Phillip Phillips

– A campy song with enough grit and texture from Phillip’s quality of tone is the perfect roadtrip tune. But that’s not all, Gone Gone Gone is easy, feel good and has a home feel that embraces you without even trying. Who knew something like this will be Phillip’s signature tune? But I am not complaining because this is such a radio friendly, catchy and lovely track.

9. WAKE ME UP
Avicii (ft. Aloe Blacc)

– When pop meets country meets folk meets dance genre, you will be treated with an eargasmic electro-dance pop music. It was even a popular genre this year. The hybrid of this song on paper should not work but with Avicii’s stellar remix and Aloe’s fantastic vocals, I am pleased and I guess everyone else too.

8. ROYALS
Lorde

– From the moment Lorde opened her mouth, the single just grabs you from the get go. Her smoky tone matches a certain coolness in this debut single of Lorde that is a winning combination. The chorus is catchy and beat is giving us such urgency of power yet breeze.

7. ROAR
Katy Perry

– This pop gem from Katy Perry is simple. From the memorable verses, clever lyrics play and a catchy hook-laiden chorus, you will just know it will be a hit. 

6. WRECKING BALL
Miley Cyrus

– There’s maturity behind every verses of the song. Miley successfully embrace the emotional attachment on the song and she was able to convey the needed pain and hurt that translates into a pop ballad with enough urgency and a hook loving chorus.

5. MIRRORS
Justin Timberlake

– Justin Timberlake is one of the few artists who was able to leave the shadows of their boyband days. He found his niche in the pop-R&B genre. While this was his sophomore single on his comeback album, I thought thus was his strongest single on that. With his slick vocals, fantastic phrasing, soothing falsettos and amazing dynamics? Justin Timberlake was able to carve a delicious piece of pop tune that is an absolute ear treat.

4. STAY
Rihanna (ft. Mikky Ekko)

– Often times, Rihanna has been nitpicked with her vocals but I digress. One of her shining vocal performance is heard in this wonderful collaboration with Mikky Ekko. There’s just enough emotional investment in this track and Rihanna’s voice is just soaring. Not to mention, Mikky held his own and that bridge is simply a cherry on top of the ice cream.

3. WHEN I WAS YOUR MAN
Bruno Mars

– Quietly intense. Bruno Mars has proven how reliable of a vocalist he is and how well he can maneuver his fantastic vocals around such emotional song. It was a wonderful storytelling on a piano themed retro pop ballad from Bruno!

2. BLURRED LINES
Robin Thicke (ft. Pharrell Williams & T.I)

– Let me get it straight: Blurred Lines is not lyrically a sensible song but I don’t mind. As the biggest summer track of 2013, Robin Thicke has managed to gloat his silky, sexy voice on his biggest hit to date. It was catchy in hooks. Playful in verses. Memorable in tempo. Sexy, summer fling in rhythm.

1. JUST GIVE ME A REASON
Pink (ft. Nate Ruess)

– On paper, you would think that the combination of Pink and Nate Ruess will not work but boy we are all wrong. The song begins in a quiet, simple build up that leads to a soaring chorus and a bombast vocal fusion from Pink’s solid vocal stylings and Nate Ruess’ recognizable tone. It’s a mash-up of two different style that you easily rejected but could end up surprising you. In the end, I ranked Just Give Me A Reason as the top track of 2013 for one simple reason: A gorgeous song that made everyone got hooked to it!

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The Voice US 5: 20 Best Performances (Wrap-Up)

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Cee-Lo’s awful song choices. Blake-Adam’s funny bromance. Christina’s boobs. Great set of artists. The fall of three front runners. A rise of underdog turned dark horse. Ridiculous Instant-Save twist. This is basically the juice of season 5 of the voice.

Sure, we saw some spectacular performances from the Blind Auditions until the Finale night but some minor flaws left me thinking whether the voice is really a platform of future recording stars or just a singing competition entertainment. Nonetheless, just like last season, here is my personal pick of 20 best performances for season 5.

Here you go.

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20. Shelbie Z
Last Name
Knockouts

– Woah. Where did this came from? Shelbie Z was oozing with confidence and impeccable swag on that stage while performing this Carrie Underwood hit. Her vocals were gorgeous and there is a remarkable stage presence that is undeniable.

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19. Holly Henry
The Scientist
Blind Auditions

– Hauntingly beautiful. Sure her voice cracks a bit in parts but the gorgeous tone and impeccable pitch made this audition compelling.

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18. Kat Robichaud
You Oughta Know

– Crazy good! Kat is a polarizing artist and I love her. Her take on this Alanis Morissette song is enough. Not much grit but there is an undeniable power and drama that created dynamics within.

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17. Brandon Chase
Wanted
Blind Auditions

– A guy playing the guitar backed up with a charismatic face and lovely tone? This is a perfect formula for a potential winner. Brandon is marketable and his delivery of Hunter Hayes’ Wanted is simply gorgeous. His phrasing is lovely and his pitch is spot on.

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16. Cole Vosbury
Let Her Go
Knockouts

– With enough grit and emotional connection with the song, Cole managed to pull a strong rendition of this song. There are dynamics in this performance that I simply adore.

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15. Matthew Schuler
Cough Syrup
Blind Auditions

– From the moment he opened his mouth, there’s an incredible pitch that bursts with color and confidence that I know the coaches heard that’s why for a matter of seconds they all turned around. Matthew has this lovely tone and it is very evident. His pitch is lovely and his enunciation is velvety!

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14. Caroline Pennell
The Way I Am
Knockouts

– Beautiful! Her vocals were divine. Her pitch is lovely. Her phrasing is fantastic: There is something incredibly soothing while listening to her that I personally adore. Loved this!

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13. Matthew Schuler
Cosmic Love
Knockouts

– He won the night against Will and I think it is because of his incredible display of dynamics. From the low notes to the soaring vocals, Matthew pulled this song like it was for written for him. His pitch was spot on as well!

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12. Will Champlin
When I Was Your Man
Knockouts

– For me, Will won this round like for a few points. I enjoyed this more than Matthew’s performance. Though there are parts where his vocals sounded shrill especially during the high notes, but his delivery is vulnerable and well conmected. His pitch wasn’t perfect but it gorgeously nuanced!

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11. Matthew Schuler & Jacob Poole
My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)
Battle Rounds

– Entertaining at its best. I was surprised no one stole Jacob. This was a vocal battle and I thought both won. Matthe has a lovely pitch while Jacob’s solid rock fest is undeniable. I really enjoy this battle. It was more like a “performance” than two people battle it out which I thought is a good thing because both were outshining each other while sharing the light to soar. Great!

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10. Jacquie Lee
Who’s Lovin’ You
Live Shows – Top 8

– I am not the biggest fan of Jacquie because I find her tone quite shrill. But this surprised me leaps and bounds. Her tone sounded clear and pitch perfect. Her phrasing is lovely and there is dynamics in here thag is impeccable!

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9. Tessanne Chin
Redemption Song
Live Shows – Top 6

– Her vocals were simply outstanding. The way she phrased the verses were beautiful. The clarity on her deliver is gorgeous and over all, it fits like a glove for Tessanne.

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8. Will Champlin
At Last
Live Shows – Top 8

– Who would have thought? And Will rose in the right time and in the right moment. Nobody expected this from Will but he pulled this off real nice. His nuance was impeccable. His delivery is spot on. His vocals is right on the money.

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7. Cole Vosbury
Adorn
Live Shows – Top 12

– And then this happened. Cole surprised everyone with a stunning rendition of Miguel’s Adorn. Stripped from his usual stylings, Cole pulled a gorgeous, spot on and compelling R&B performance. It was delightful and fantastic.

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6. Tessanne Chin
Underneath It All
Live Shows – Top 8

– Tessanne pulled a break from all those soaring vocals display and deliver a vibrant, pleasant performance that showcased more of her personality but still she managed to show her dynamics. It was a lovely performance with that breakdown keeping it more cool, entertaining and gorgeous.

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5. Matthew Schuler
Hallelujah
Live Shows – Top 12

– This performance solidifies Matthew’s run as the front runner of the competition. We’ve heard this song been covered million times before in these reality singing competition shows but his managed to completely ranked right up there maybe in the top 5. His delivery simply divine. The vocal choices were outstanding and even his palpable vulnerability showed strength and power. This is a stunning performance for the first live show.

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4. Will Champlin
Not Over You
Blind Auditions

– Probably the audition that was underrated both by the viewers and the coaches. Will displayed passion with power and dynamics backing up his gorgeous vocals. His phrasing possesed clarity and beautiful nuance and his performance is simply something you could listen on the radio. It was impressive and great!

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3. Ray Boudreaux
All Of Me
Live Shows – Top 12

– Underrated. That’s the story behind this gorgeous performance. Sure he cracked a little but that actually created magic and vulnerability with his delivery that is impeccable. His tone is lovely. His vocal choices were spot on. His falsetto is on point. His delivery made every girl swoon over him, not to mention hsi simple styling puts an emotional impact to it.

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2. Caroline Pennell & Anthony Paul
As Long As You Love Me
Battle Rounds

– To date, probably the best battles we’ve seen on this show. On paper, you would thought it won’t work but somehow Anthony and Caroline managed to make it work. The power yet simplistic soothing delivery of Caroline created dynamics in this battle while Anthony managed to keep the R&B essence in tact with his performance. It was match made actually and a stunning battle to be proud of.

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1. James Wolpert
A Case Of You
Live Play-Offs

– I fell in love with him from the dramatic spotlight to his styling to his delivery which is simple yet emotionally intact. The vocal cracks were beautiful as if it wasn’t intentionally inflected. But the truth is, this was probably that moment that created magic and vulnerabilty that made this performance not just compelling but outstanding.