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Please begin with an informative title:

I love lists. There's something so human about trying to file, index, and number things. There's an absurdity to it, but that's half the fun. They're either good lists that are interesting, or they're terrible lists which provoke argument over what people feel are either an unwarranted inclusion or errant omission. So win-win.

So let's throw these topics on the table for discussion:

  • Best and Worst Films in 2013?
  • Best and Worst Television Shows in 2013?
  • Best and Worst in Music for 2013?

Looking back at pop-culture in 2013, it's a hard year to categorize for having a prevailing trend that was significant across all genres. While there was a good amount of twerking, selfies, and hashtagging going on, some long-term trends in the various mediums continued. For example, in the music industry, the shift from retail sales to online digital downloads continued. However, overall sales of tracks and albums have been trending down, with some speculation that online streaming from music services like Pandora and Spotify may be responsible.

Similar long-term shifts and trends can also be seen in other entertainment industries. Last week Daily Kos' very own Susan Gardner (aka SusanG) recommended to me the book Viewing America: Twenty First-Century Television Drama by Christopher Bigsby, where one of the main themes is the shift of talent towards television as the entertainment medium to discuss serious issues through art. TV was once viewed as a "wasteland" where film actors, screenwriters, and directors would be taking a step down in their career to do a TV show. In fact, a lot of TV actors wanted to escape their television jobs to do "serious" work in movies. Fast forward to the present, and television is now seen as the place where stories can be given enough time to develop thoughtful analysis of characters, themes, and exhibit commentary on various societal and political issues. And the trend in movies since the 1980s is towards blockbusters that are largely either action films and/or family movies. Of the top 10 grossing films for 2013, 8 were either sequels or prequels, 6 could be categorized as action movies, and all of the top 5 were either animated, based on comic-book characters, or specifically intended for young adults/children.

Follow beneath the fold for more ....


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

So let's get all list-o-licious, and start with ...


If I had to choose a personal top 10:

  • Breaking Bad (AMC) - Going into its final season, Breaking Bad was already considered one of the greatest television dramas in the history of the medium. And it did not disappoint in its final run of shows, with the devastation of "Ozymandias" cited by many critics as one of the best episodes of television ever. The most notable thing to me about the conclusion to the series is the show's perception of morality. In Breaking Bad, there are real and demonstrable differences between what's right and what's wrong, not shades of gray, and morality is a personal choice continually made by the characters. Those choices define not only affects the characters, but affects the they live in and the people they care about. Walt (Bryan Cranston) was only able to move forward after realizing his faults. He's only able to settle his debts to some degree, and find some form of peace when he recognizes how tragic his choices were.
  • Game of Thrones (HBO) - The most notable and memorable event of the third season is "The Red Wedding," but there were many others that made this show one of the best of 2013. The Red Wedding is the death of hope. The Starks will not get vengeance for the murder of Eddard Stark (Sean Been), at least not through a "King in the North." One of the themes of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire is the inherent instability of feudalism. The main tension of the story comes from how the feudal society distorts and twists aristocratic families into perversity. And yet, in Game of Thrones, we start to sympathize for Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), even though he's responsible for crippling a child and enjoys fucking his sister.
  • Eastbound & Down (HBO) - I'm always impressed by any comedy that can switch from goofy to being dead serious and make it work. This show has always been about Kenny Powers' (Danny McBride) journey for redemption, with Kenny's goals being recapturing his fame and fortune, and having a life with April (Katy Mixon). The final season puts those goals into conflict. Eastbound & Down was about a screwed up person, with all their frailties & flaws, trying their best to make things right, and accomplish their dreams. Isn't that what all of us are trying to do?
  • The Good Wife (CBS) - I've already written about this show, but I think this is arguably the best political show on television and one of the most topical. And it has a main character in Alicia (Julianna Margulies) that can be interpreted in many different ways. The series began with Alicia being forced by circumstances to reenter the professional world, and this season has dealt with the culmination of that arc, and how her decisions affect the love-triangle between herself, Peter (Chris Noth) and Will (Josh Charles).
  • Orange Is The New Black (Netflix) - This was probably the best and most surprising new TV show of 2013. Unlike Netflix's House of Cards, this show was not heavily promoted or hyped before being released, and in the end it didn't need it. The word of mouth on this show was insane. I can't tell you the amount of people who asked me "Have you seen Orange Is the New Black?" At the beginning of the series, it seemed like a female version of HBO's Oz. Piper (Taylor Schilling) appears to be a female version of Beecher that's starved instead of raped for having no fucking clue as to how to handle herself inside a prison. However, over the course of the first season, almost all of the arcs involve shifting the audiences perception of the characters 180 degrees away from initial impressions. For example, at first you think correctional officer Healy (Michael J. Harney) might be the only decent person in this world. But little by little you realize that his actions aren't because he's being "fair" to Piper. Healy is coveting her like a nerd with an obsession for a cheerleader. So something like having Piper hold the dresses he's buying for his Russian mail order bride, which seems sweet initially, come off as extremely creepy in retrospect when you know everything. And those changing perceptions also extend to Piper too. Does the prison environment change her and cause her choices that affected her relationships? Or did it reveal who she truly was, and as Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) says that she is not a good person?
  • Justified (FX) - Even though I could quibble about some of the plot conveniences the writers used in season 4 to get where they took the story, I thought the result was pretty damn good.The final shot of Boyd (Walton Goggins) breaking into the dream home he probably will never have with Ava (Joelle Carter) was heartbreaking. This season also had one of the best scenes of the series where Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) & Boyd debate their natures. Underneath it all, is there a good person in Boyd who does horrible things to provide? Or is Boyd a horrible person who latches onto a "purpose" to justify his actions? Is Raylan a lawman who does what's necessary for the greater good? Or is Raylan a murderer that provokes criminals to justify his killings?
  • Mad Men (AMC) - We can only lie to ourselves for so long. Eventually, at the worst possible moment, reality comes a knockin' with the truth to slap us in the face. The truth this season was Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) discovering her father Don (Jon Hamm) with Sylvia (Linda Cardellini). Don Draper has always been a womanizer, and the affair with Sylvia was as superficial as all the rest of them. He doesn't really care about Sylvia. Don just likes the power that comes from the fact that he can fuck her if he wants to, and it's a reflection of his own personal insecurities. However, Don's relationship with Sally is one aspect of his life that has permanence that he cares about. So the sixth season of Mad Men sees the deconstruction of Don Draper, where he finally lets go of the facade and starts to confront his own flaws. So much so, that he takes exile from the business and brings his children to the whorehouse that "Dick Whitman" grew up in, with the possibility of it being the start of a new future.
  • Veep (HBO) - “This is a man’s world we live in. Because of the axis of dick.” Those words are spoken by Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Vice President Selina Meyer after she is felt up by the husband of the prime minister of Finland. Selina comes off as "What if Sarah Palin was a Democrat from Maryland?" But in the second season, they've also given her some good aspects where you can see how she got to this position in politics in the first place. Also, similar to the situation with Armando Iannucci's The Thick of It, there's a balance between Selina fucking things up, and Selina trying her best and having the media twist events to something beyond her control. Veep is at its best when the absurdity of the situations hit a little too close to home of the reality.
  • Masters Of Sex (Showtime) - This series is a period drama like Mad Men that contrasts the ideas ans norms of the late 1950s that surrounded the Masters & Johnson sexual studies to the current day. And "surprise!" a show that has sex in the title, about sex researchers has quite a lot of sex going on. But the series also has at its core the odd but true relationship between William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) that develops professionally and becomes something more. Sheen and Caplan's chemistry really works and anchors the series.
  • Enlightened (HBO) - This is probably the best show of the year that most people have probably never heard of and should give a chance. Created by Mike White & Laura Dern, Enlightened was a dramedy that tells the tale of Amy Jellicoe and the goings on at Abaddon Industries (with "Abaddon" being a Biblical reference to the physical manifestation of destruction mentioned in Job, Proverbs, Psalms and Revelation). As we're introduced to her in the pilot, Amy is suffering a breakdown after finding out her boss (whom she's been sleeping with) has transferred her out of the department. This leads Amy to therapy & treatment, and when she returns Amy wants to change & change everything around her for the better, including Abaddon. Needless to say, that's almost always easier said than done. The comedy in the show usually came from the uncomfortable moments (i.e. think the UK version of The Office). The series was critically acclaimed, but it had low ratings and was cancelled by HBO after its second season, with many nature of Amy's character as being a factor. Amy's quest was almost Quixotic in that she wants to be a better person, and make a stand for a better world, but she's horribly naive in the ways she goes about it. And some viewers found that annoying, while others find it charming & see her & the story as a David fighting the good fight against a corporate Goliath in the form of Abaddon. Moreover, the show touches on larger themes of whether people really can change, and the nature of what "change" is. Is it enough to do good for the world, if that good is driven by less than noble purposes, dysfunctions, and bitter resentments? In the cynicism of our time, a good many expect the worst from other people. But when people are trying their best to be good, sometimes that's just as difficult to comprehend for some.

Biggest Disappointment even though it's still getting decent ratings:
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC) - Given the hype behind this series, the amount of money Disney has spent on it, and the people involved with it, I've been surprised by how limited the scope of the show feels. It just seems so small compared to the story elements they have to play with from the Marvel Universe, and there seems to be no ambition to let it become more complicated. And that's surprising for a show where Joss Whedon is involved. For example, if you're going to do a S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show, why would you not make HYDRA or A.I.M. a part of it? I get the feeling that Marvel/Disney won't let them use certain characters and elements from Marvel Comics because they want to save them for the movies.

Biggest Surprise because it's one of the best series on television and the superhero show that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D should be:
Stephen Amell as Arrow
  • Arrow (The CW) - When I heard The CW was going to do a Green Arrow series, I did not have much interest and assumed it would be crappy. I could not have been more wrong. Unlike Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Arrow plays around with a lot of the characters from the comic-book universe it's based on, and has made the story arc of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) a realistic journey with stakes, mishaps, disappointments, and consequences. The Green Arrow is notable for being the liberal conscience of the DC Comics universe, and the series has a subtext of the affect the "1%" have on a community, and their duty to the people.

But what the hell do I know? So how do the "real" critics see it?

From the A.V. Club's "Best television of 2013":

10. Justified (FX)
9. The Good Wife (CBS)
7. (Tie) New Girl (FOX) and Girls (HBO)
6. Mad Men (AMC)
5. Game of Thrones (HBO)
4. Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
3. Bob's Burger (FOX)
2. Breaking Bad (AMC)
1. Enlightened (HBO)

From the A.V. Club's "The worst TV of 2013":

  • Worst new series: Dads (FOX)
  • Biggest waste of onscreen talent: Ironside (NBC)
  • Worst reality show: Big Brother (CBS)
  • Worst talk show hire: Jenny McCarthy, The View (ABC)
  • Worst suicide attempt: Maya Lewis, Scandal (ABC)
  • Worst reason to stay tuned after Breaking Bad: Low Winter Sun (AMC)
  • Worst returning lumberjack: Dexter, Dexter (Showtime)
Dexter set a new standard for final-season stupidity. Never again will defenders of Lost or Battlestar Galactica or The Sopranos have to endure the snipes of those who believe those endings to be terrible, because all they’ll have to say is, “At least it was better than Dexter, right?” and their detractors will have to agree. The worst final season of all time culminated in the worst series finale of all time, an episode that attempted to wedge in a grand conclusion it hadn’t remotely earned and concluded with the main character receiving nothing in the way of consequences for his actions—not even a light reprimand from those who knew his secret. Then it tried to provide the suggestion of consequences by having him feel guilty for the death of a loved one he didn’t really have anything to do with. Dexter sailed his boat into a hurricane and became a lumberjack, which is a sentence that didn’t exist before 2013. Thank you, Dexter.
The 10 Best TV Episodes of 2013 according to Entertainment Weekly:

10. Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central), ''Real Sext'' and The Mindy Project (FOX), ''You've Got Sext'' (TIE)
9. Scandal (ABC), ''White Hat's Back On''
8. Black Mirror (DirecTV), ''The Entire History of You''
7. The Americans (FX), ''Trust Me''
6. Orange Is the New Black (Netflix), ''WAC Pack''
5. Veep (HBO), ''Helsinki''
4. American Horror Story: Asylum (FX), ''Madness Ends''
3. The Good Wife (CBS), ''Hitting the Fan''
2. Game of Thrones (HBO), ''The Rains of Castamere''
1. Breaking Bad (AMC), ''Ozymandias''

The Top 10 shows in Hitfix.com's Television Critics Poll of 2013 television:

10. Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel)
9. Broadchurch (BBC America)
8. House of Cards (Netflix)
7. The Americans (FX)
6. Mad Men (AMC)
5. Masters of Sex (Showtime)
4. The Good Wife (CBS)
3. Game of Thrones (HBO)
2. Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
1. Breaking Bad (AMC)

The 10 worst shows according to TV critic Daniel Fienberg at Hitfix.com:

10. Community (NBC)
9. The X Factor (FOX)
8. Under the Dome (CBS)
7. Cult (The CW)
6. How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
5. Dexter (Showtime)
4. The Following (FOX)
3. Dracula (NBC)
2. 2 Broke Girls (CBS)
1. Dads (FOX)

In July at the Television Critics Association press tour, FOX Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly told reporters that most sitcoms don't arrive fully formed and that we should keep watching "Dads," even if the pilot was an astoundingly tone-deaf, racist, sexist piece of trash and even if FOX subsequently ran ad campaigns with "ordinary people" saying they didn't care what critics said anyway. So I watched additional episodes because they might get better, even if my opinion wouldn't be relevant even then, and I got to see how "Dads" steered away from the "racist" skid. Indeed, minus the occasional cheap punchline at the expense of Brenda Song's increasingly invisible character (and basically anything related to Tonita Castro's Edna), "Dads" hasn't been especially racist for a while. Kudos! "Dads" has, however, doubled down and sometimes tripled down on its sexism and misogyny, whether it was with the "Women aren't really funny" classic "Funny Girl," the "sexual harassment in the workplace is frivolous" epic "My Dad's Hotter Thank You Dad," the "Wives and Maids are basically the same" celebration "Clean on Me," the "It's weird when your wife has interests of her own" masterpiece "Foul Play" and the "Hot women farting is hilarious and disgusting" standout "Comic Book Issues." And when that wasn't happening, you had "Dads" treating Peter Riegert and Martin Mull like horrifying geriatrics, rather than two terrific actors who deserved more respect and better punchlines. With a reduced episode order and a spring schedule yank, it appears that FOX actually is giving up on "Dads" before I did, which seems totally unfair. Don't they know that sometimes it takes more than 11 episodes for awful comedies to become less awful?
The 5 worst TV shows of 2013 according to Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone:

5. Ironside (NBC)
4. True Blood (HBO)
3. Community (NBC)
2. The Oscars with Seth MacFarlane (ABC)
1. The Goldbergs (ABC)

The 10 Best TV moments of 2013 according to Rolling Stone:

10. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey Host the Golden Globes (NBC)
9. Kenny Powers' Jet-Pack Redemption, Eastbound & Down (HBO)
8. Miley at the VMAs (MTV)
7. Lena Dunham's Naked Ping-Pong, Girls (HBO)
6. Key and Peele's 'Obama Shutdown' (Comedy Central)
5. The 'Veep' Finale, Veep (HBO)
4. Lizzy Caplan Plays Doctor, Masters of Sex (Showtime)
3. Don Draper Hits Rock Bottom, Mad Men (AMC)
2. Walter White's Endgame, Breaking Bad (AMC)
1. The Red Wedding, Game of Thrones (HBO)

David Bianculli of NPR Top 10 TV Shows of 2013:

10. Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
9. Downton Abbey (PBS)
8. Masters of Sex (Showtime)
7. House of Cards (Netflix)
6. The Walking Dead (AMC)
5. The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
4. Justified (FX)
3. Mad Men (AMC)
2. The Good Wife (CBS)
1. Breaking Bad (AMC)

[It was] a good year if for no other reason than Netflix changed everything again by bringing in House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. It changed things not only for them and for the Emmys and for the competition, but everybody else started to say, "Hey, that's a new way to do stuff." So in 2014, we're going to have other people swinging for the fences and putting money behind quality shows that haven't been getting on the networks lately, and maybe the networks will finally wise up.
The 10 worst things TV did this year according to James Poniewozik of TIME magazine:
  • Dads (FOX)
  • The Dexter finale (Showtime)
  • The Following (FOX)
  • Hemlock Grove (Netflix)
  • Low Winter Sun (AMC), Ray Donovan (Showtime), and Antihero Overload
  • Ready for Love (NBC)
  • Splash (ABC)
  • The View and Katie’s vaccine fumbles
  • Zero Hour (ABC)
  • 60 Minutes’ Benghazi report (CBS)
The damage done by most of the shows on this list ended the moment you changed the channel. Lara Logan’s credulous interview with a fraudulent “witness” to the killings of Americans in Libya further polarized a political debate and injured the credibility of a TV news institution.


The 20 highest grossing films at the domestic box office (i.e. the United States and Canada) for all movies released in 2013, according to Box Office Mojo:

Rotten Tomatoes – Best Reviewed Movies of 2013 (minimum 20 reviews required)

1. Sound City (2013) - 100% with 38 reviews
2. Le Week-End (2013) - 100% with 36 reviews
3. The Square (2013) - 100% with 31 reviews
4. God Loves Uganda (2013) - 100% with 23 reviews
5. In Fear (2013) - 100% with 23 reviews
6. These Birds Walk (2013) -100% with 23 reviews
7. Metro Manila (2013) - 100% with 22 reviews
8. The Rocket (2013) - 100%    with 20 reviews
9. Wadjda (2013) - 99% with 90 reviews
10. 20 Feet From Stardom (2013) - 99% with 80 reviews
11. Before Midnight (2013) - 98% with 170 reviews
12. Mud (2013) - 98% with 160 reviews
13. Short Term 12 (2013) - 98% with 133 reviews
14. Blackfish (2013) - 98% with 106 reviews
15. Gravity (2013) - 97% with 289 reviews
16. Muscle Shoals (2013) - 97% with 75 reviews
17. Call Me Kuchu (2013) - 97% with 38 reviews
18. Autumn Spring (2013) - 97% with 37 reviews
19. Let The Fire Burn (2013) - 97% with 34 reviews
20. 12 Years a Slave (2013) - 97% with 205 reviews

Metacritic – Best Reviewed Movies of 2013

1. Voyage to Italy (re-release) - 100%
2. Best Kept Secret - 100%
3. 12 Years a Slave - 97%
4. Le Petit Soldat (re-release) - 97%
5. First Cousin Once Removed - 96%
6. Gravity - 96%
7. Before Midnight - 94%
8. Gideon's Army - 93%
9. Tristana (re-release) - 93%
10. Inside Llewyn Davis - 92%
11. The Girls in the Band - 92%
12. Out of the Clear Blue Sky - 92%
13. Stories We Tell - 91%
14. Her - 91%
15. Little Fugitive (re-release) - 91%
16. The Gatekeepers - 91%
17. American Hustle - 90%
18. The Act of Killing - 89%
19. Blue Is the Warmest Color - 88%
20. Portrait of Jason (re-release) - 87%
21. All Is Lost - 87%
22. Nebraska - 86%
23. Drug War - 86%
24. The Great Beauty - 86%
25. Let the Fire Burn - 86%

The 10 best films of 2013 according to Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times:

10. The Counselor
9. 12 Years a Slave
8. All Is Lost
7. Nebraska
6. Captain Phillips
5. The Spectacular Now
4. Gravity
3. Mud
2. Out of the Furnace
1. American Hustle

Easy choice. Halfway through “American Hustle,” I was already convinced I was watching the best movie of the year. Director David O. Russell and his “Silver Linings Playbook” stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence team up with Christian Bale (and what a year HE had), Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams and Louie CK in this pitch-perfect period piece. And oh yeah, Robert De Niro in the best 10 minutes of acting he’s done since I don’t know when. I loved every single scene in this film.
The 10 best films of 2013, according to Peter Travers of Rolling Stone:

10. Inside Llewyn Davis
9. Blue Jasmine
8. Nebraska
7. Captain Phillips
6. American Hustle
5. Her
4. Before Midnight
3. The Wolf of Wall Street
2. Gravity
1. 12 Years a Slave

The best movie ever made about slavery is also the best movie of the year. No prettified classroom study for director Steve McQueen, a visual artist and visceral provocateur of the first rank. He rubs our noses in the horrific true story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man living in New York in 1841 until he becomes enslaved in the Deep South. Ejiofor, his eyes pools of torment, is an acting giant. This is one for the time capsule.
The "Top Movies of 2013" according to A.O. Scott of the New York Times:

10. (Tie) The Great Gatsby, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Bling Ring, Spring Breakers, Pain and Gain, and American Hustle
9. Lee Daniels’ The Butler
8. Hannah Arendt
7. Frances Ha
6. All Is Lost
5. A Touch of Sin
4. Enough Said
3. Blue Is the Warmest Color
2. 12 Years a Slave
1. Inside Llewyn Davis

The musical performances — especially from Oscar Isaac, who plays the title character — are hauntingly lovely, and they anchor Joel and Ethan Coen’s exploration, at once mordant and melancholy, of the early-’60s New York folk scene. A ballad of bad luck and squandered talent that already seems, like the music it celebrates, to have been around forever.
The best films of 2013 according to 25,000 voters in the A.V. Club Readers’ Poll:

10. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
9. This Is The End
8. Pacific Rim
7. Spring Breakers
6. Frances Ha
5. Before Midnight
4. Upstream Color
3. The World’s End
2. 12 Years A Slave
1. Gravity

The worst films of 2013 according to the same 25,000 voters in the A.V. Club Readers’ Poll:

10. R.I.P.D.
9. Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor
8. The Lone Ranger
7. The Internship
6. The Hangover Part III
5. Planes
4. A Good Day To Die Hard
3. After Earth
2. Movie 43
1. Grown Ups 2

The worst movies of 2013 according to David Edelstein of Vulture:
  • Labor Day
  • Only God Forgives
  • Machete Kills
  • Salinger
  • Oz the Great and Powerful
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • Carrie
  • Elysium
  • Olympus Has Fallen
  • The Lone Ranger
It just has to be here. With the noblest intentions, Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski mix slapstick hijinks with the massacre of Native Americans and come up with Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: The Disney Ride.


The top 10 on Stereogum's list of the "Top 50 Albums of 2013":

10. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
9. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
8. HAIM - Days Are Gone
7. Danny Brown - Old
6. Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time
5. My Bloody Valentine - m b v
4. Disclosure - Settle
3. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires Of The City
2. Deafheaven - Sunbather
1. Kanye West - Yeezus

A few months before leaving this planet forever, in the final public act of his life, Lou Reed wrote some nice words about Kanye West's Yeezus: "He keeps unbalancing you. He'll pile on all this sound and then suddenly pull it away, all the way to complete silence, and then there's a scream or a beautiful melody, right there in your face. That's what I call a sucker punch." Reed knew more than most about sucker punches, and there's something cosmically appropriate about that final salute: One mercurial troublemaker saluting another on his way out the door.
The top 10 on Pitchfork's list of the "Top 50 Albums of 2013":

10. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
9. Savages - Silence Yourself
8. Majical Cloudz - Impersonator
7. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
6. Deafheaven - Sunbather
5. Danny Brown - Old
4. My Bloody Valentine - m b v
3. Disclosure - Settle
2. Kanye West - Yeezus
1. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires Of The City

"Ya Hey" is, like so much of Modern Vampires of the City, something at once tender and impossibly grand—a break-up song about God. "Oh, sweet thing," Ezra Koenig coos. "Babylon don't love you." Then comes an even more backhanded kiss-off: "But you love everything."

You love everything. The same could (and has) been said of Vampire Weekend, with and without the italicized sneer. Back in 2007, when their self-titled CD-R first started making its way beyond Columbia's campus, you'd have been hard-pressed to read something about them that didn't balk at their cultural omnivorousness—an Ivy League indie-pop band that name-checks Lil Jon and Peter Gabriel in the same sustained breath? Half a decade later, it is equally hard to imagine this same fact surprising anybody. As Modern Vampires showcases, a transformation has taken place within Vampire Weekend—they've grown into a mature, ambitious band whose music is now both airier and weightier than it used to be. But a broader cultural shift has occurred, too. The lines that used to separate different kinds of music are starting to look more and more old-fashioned, and the rigid identities by which people used to make musical taste a game of us-vs.-them are crumbling like old buildings. We are moving in the direction of a place where everybody is allowed to love everything.

The top 10 songs on Pitchfork's "Top 100 Tracks of 2013":

10. Autre Ne Veut - "Play by Play"
9. Deafheaven - "Dream House"
8. Daft Punk - "Get Lucky" [ft. Pharrell]
7. Disclosure - "Latch"
6. HAIM - "The Wire"
5. Ciara - "Body Party"
4. Arcade Fire - "Reflektor"
3. Vampire Weekend - "Hannah Hunt"
2. Kanye West - "New Slaves"
1. Drake - "Hold On, We're Going Home" [ft. Majid Jordan]

It’s had a rough century, but things were looking up for the institution of marriage this year. Six more states legalized same-sex unions and beyond that, wedding DJs got an infusion of surefire new material—“Blurred Lines”, “Suit & Tie”, “Get Lucky”, amongst others—ubiquitous, charming songs by well-groomed, well-meaning men whose subject matter and rhythms won’t put anyone on the spot. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” also cracked those playlists, but while your grandfather can sing along to it without embarrassing himself and the light-stepping groove allows people to move without necessarily “dancing,” Drake expresses the kind of personal, ceremonial vows you hear at the altar rather than the after-party.
The top 10 on Rolling Stone's "50 Best Albums of 2013" list:

10. John Fogerty - Wrote A Song For Everyone
9. Arctic Monkeys - AM
8. The National - Trouble Will Find Me
7. Lorde - Pure Heroine
6. Queens of the Stone Age - …Like Clockwork
5. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
4. Paul McCartney - New
3. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
2. Kanye West - Yeezus
1. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires Of The City

The first two Vampire Weekend albums showed off a sound unlike any other in rock: a precocious mix of indie pop, African guitar grooves and wry, boat-shoe-preppy lyrics that were sometimes too cute for their own good. But with Modern Vampires of the City, they went deeper, adding scope and ambition to all the sophistication. In 2013, no other record mixed emotional weight with studio-rat craft and sheer stuck-in-your-head hummability like this one. It's one of rock's great albums about staring down adulthood and trying not to blink — that moment where, as singer Ezra Koenig puts it, you realize "wisdom's a gift/But you'd trade it for youth."
The top 10 songs of 2013 according to Billboard's Critics' Picks:

10. Justin Timberlake - "Mirrors"
9. Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell - "Blurred Lines"
8. Disclosure feat. AlunaGeorge - "White Noise"
7. Drake - "Hold On, We're Going Home"
6. Kanye West - "Black Skinhead"
5. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell - "Get Lucky"
4. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert - "Same Love"
3. Lorde - "Royals"
2. Kacey Musgraves - "Follow Your Arrow"
1. Miley Cyrus - "We Can't Stop"

Maybe the history books will remember the twerking and tongue-unfurling of the music video, but "We Can't Stop" was one of the bolder musical choices in recent memory, and that risk paid off tremendously. From the moment that Mike WiLL Made-It's beat kicks in with a screwed-down call of "IT'S OUR PARTY, WE CAN DO WHAT WE WANT," Cyrus torched her Disney-approved image under the hottest flame of the year.
The top 10 songs on Rolling Stone's "100 Best Songs of 2013" list:

10. Arctic Monkeys - "Do I Wanna Know"
9. Drake - "Started From the Bottom"
8. James Blake - "Retrograde"
7. Justin Timberlake - "Mirrors"
6. Parquet Courts - "Stoned and Starving"
5. Disclosure - "When a Fire Starts to Burn"
4. Vampire Weekend - "Hannah Hunt"
3. Kanye West - "Black Skinhead"
2. Lorde - "Royals"
1. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell and Nile Rodgers - "Get Lucky"

What more could you possibly want in a summer jam? The French electro robots devise a stardust disco groove for the ages, getting a little space-oddity soul from Pharrell and a taste of le freak from Chic guitar god Nile Rodgers, who basically invented this music. "Get Lucky" sounds vintage and futuristic at the same time, yet it's full of twists. It was the kind of pop song the whole world could agree on. It topped song charts in 55 countries and went on to be covered by everyone from Florence Welch to Fall Out Boy to Wilco to a group of coaches on The Voice U.K. (including Tom Jones). Rodgers and Pharrell proved they're the Yoda and Obi-Wan of summer jams – between them, these guys must have scored 90 percent of them since the Nixon administration.
The best and worst song lyrics of 2013, according to Entertainment Weekly:
  • Best:
5. “In a French-ass restaurant / Hurry up with my damn croissants” -Kanye West, “I Am God”
4. “Sometimes these walls seem to cave in on me / When I look in your eyes, I feel alive / Some days we say words that don’t mean a thing / But when you holding me tight, I feel alive.” -Beyoncé featuring Blue Ivy, “Blue”
3. ”It’s our party we can do what we want to / it’s our house we can love who we want to / it’s our song we can sing if we want to / it’s my mouth I can say want to.” -Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”
2. “It’s a fake, it’s a con / The nature of the road you’re on / Lets me see your skeleton / Well before your life is done” -The Avett Brothers, “Another is Waiting”
1. “I’ve never seen a diamond in the flesh / I cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies / And I’m not proud of my address / In a torn-up town, no postcode envy” -Lorde, “Royals”
  • Worst:
5. “It’s going down / I’m yelling timber / you better move / you better dance” — Ke$ha & Pitbull, “Timber”
4.  “Might be a bullsh—er / But I ain’t no ass kisser / ‘Least I’ve never been one before / But if there’s anybody’s ass I’d kiss / I’d want it to be yours” -Justin Moore, “I’d Want it to be Yours”
3. ”This is truffle season / Tom Ford tuxedos for no reason/All Saints for my angel/Alexander Wang too” -Justin Timberlake feat. Jay-Z, “Suit and Tie”
2. “I’m proud of where I’m from / (If you don’t judge my gold chains)/ But not everything we’ve done/ (I’ll forget the iron chains)” -Brad Paisley/LL Cool J, “Accidental Racist”
1. ”You wanna hug me / Hey, hey, hey / What rhymes with hug me? / Hey, hey, hey” -Robin Thicke, “Blurred Lines”
The 10 worst songs of 2013, according to the staff at Complex magazine:
In 2013, hating on the obvious has become unhip. For the cool music in-crowd, hating on something as hateable as the well-made but terribly tacky and vacant music of Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber adds nothing to a personal brand. Mumford & Sons, Lorde, or Vampire Weekend are all better choices for someone putting together a list of least favorite songs, and ignoring or ironically embracing a couple horrible pop stars like Miley Cyrus is the move. But it's time to get back to basics.

"23" is terrible and it's proof that something is heartbreakingly wrong with the correlation between popularity and quality. It's the fast food of music. It is like walking into a burger joint but instead of finding a restaurant offering tasty food, it's just a giant pool of vomit. And millions of people are swimming in it while wearing shit-eating grins on their faces, gargling vomit in their mouths until the acidic fluids corrode their teeth into little nubs. And then instead of pointing out how terrible it is that we've all got nubs for teeth, we start pretending that nubs are attractive, and eventually we don't even realize we're pretending anymore, and suddenly it's like, "Hey, these nubs are awesome. Let's just keep gargling vomit for the rest of our lives!"

The five worst singles of 2013, according to Nick Catucci of Entertainment Weekly:

5. Austin Mahone - "Banga! Banga!"
4. Ray J - "I Hit It First"
3. Alison Gold - "Chinese Food"
2. The Wanted - “Walks Like Rihanna
1. Brad Paisley feat. LL Cool J - "Accidental Racist"

This schmaltzy loaf of country pop equates slavery’s “iron chains” with rap’s “gold chains,” and the Confederate flag with the “do-rag.” Smarmy gimmicks don’t come any stupider.
The top 10 selling albums on iTunes for 2013:

1. Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience
2. Beyoncé - Beyoncé
3. Imagine Dragons - Night Visions
4. Jay Z - Magna Carta… Holy Grail
5. Drake - Nothing Was the Same
6. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist
7. Various Artists - Pitch Perfect
8. Mumford & Sons - Babel
9. Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP2
10. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

The year's top selling album [is] Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience," with 2.4 million sold. It's the only album to move more than 2 million copies this year. (source)
The top selling singles on iTunes for 2013:

1. Ryan Lewis & Macklemore (feat. Wanz) - “Thrift Shop
2. Robin Thicke (feat. T.I. & Pharrell) - “Blurred Lines
3. Imagine Dragons - “Radioactive
4. Pink (feat. Nate Ruess) - “Just Give Me a Reason
5. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (feat. Ray Dalton) - “Can’t Hold Us
6. Bruno Mars - “When I Was Your Man
7. Rihanna (feat. Mikky Ekko) - “Stay
8. Katy Perry - “Roar
9. Lorde - “Royals
10. Justin Timberlake - “Mirrors

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to 医生的宫殿 on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 09:37 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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