2013’s Most Anticipated Albums
For me personally, pop music in 2012 was a pretty big let down. 188.6 million singles were sold in the UK, which is a pretty hefty number, but the biggest hits of the year were Gotye’s overplayed, xylophone-bothering Somebody I Used To Know and Carly Rae Jepsen’s catchy and world-uniting yet lyrically- abominable (“Before you came into my life, I missed you so bad”) Call Me Maybe, neither of which appealed to me.
In 2012 I didn’t purchase very many albums. There was Marina and the Diamonds’ Electra Heart in April, which she this week admitted was supposed to be a side project thing but her label wouldn’t allow it.
Despite being an excellent pop album and entering the charts at No.1, it was handled pretty badly by the label (who also messed up Marina and Little Boots’ first albums) and sunk without a trace due to the wrong choice of singles and Marina’s insistence to release a non-album single, which eventually got a video after months of faffing. I’m still fairly sure How to Be a Heartbreaker still hasn’t been released officially, but nobody cares anymore.
The month of May gave us Scissor Sisters’ Magic Hour, which was a bit of a step backwards from their career high of Night Work and featured only a handful of tracks worth revisiting. When the first track was released online on 2nd January yet had its release pushed back indefinitely, it was clear something was wrong (though it may have just been Azealia Banks messing everyone about again) and the group later announced they were going on hiatus later in the year.
The third and final album that I purchased in 2013, (aside from numerous Greatest Hits albums) all of these being digitally/online, much to my guilt, what with the closing down of reliable old HMV, was Amanda Palmer’s ambitious crowd-funded Theatre is Evil, which came out in September and was well worth the optional $1 price tag. More on that here.
Those were the only albums I forked out for in 2012, so 2013 doesn’t have to do much to eclipse that. Fortunately, a host of greats have got new albums due out this year, so there’s plenty to look forward to. Here are my top 5 most anticipated of the year:
5. Janelle Monáe – The Electric Lady
WARNING: Video contains audience call and response.
Estimated release date: When she feels like it
Following Janelle’s 2010 debut, The Archandroid, the lack of Suites in the new album’ title leads me to believe that she is taking a break from the Metropolis/Cindi Mayweather android concept, which may be advisable if she intends to tap into the mainstream market. Janelle featured on the third highest-selling single of 2012 in the UK, Fun’s We Are Young, but her part was so minor that it didn’t help her to become a household name, unfortunately. Hopefully it will at least give her a leg up onto some radio playlists.
When Janelle first came to my attention, thanks to the overwhelmingly positive reviews The Archandroid was receiving, she was a breath of fresh air for female pop. Appearing with her strange android love story concept album and wearing a tuxedo, she stood out from the rest of today’s pop sluts by promoting art rather than prostitution. As she sang on Sincerely, Jane, “When you take off your clothes, all your dreams go down the drain”, with much appreciated brass backing. The first track I heard from the Metropolis suites was Many Moons, with its video featuring funky footwork and the best middle-eight list of words since Vogue and We Didn’t Start The Fire. Suite II started off with an excellent handful of danceable tracks which eventually petered out and led to more orchestral numbers but this just showed off the variety of genres that Monáe meddled with: rock, pop, soul, rap, jazz, RnB etc and showcased Janelle’s excellent musical ability, while her appearances at music festivals throughout the last few summers have shown her to be an incredible live vocalist who knows how to treat an audience, making her performances unmissable.
What can we expect?
Performances of two songs that may be due to appear on the new album have appeared on Youtube, Electric Lady and Dorothy Dandridge Eyes, with the former, the title track and first single, featuring heavy amount of brass, making for a jazzy treat. I hope Janelle manages to cut down her tracklisting this time to a manageable 10-12 tracks, more in the vein of up-tempo tracks such as Cold War and Come Alive, yet with a few of her film score-like slower tracks. I would be rather pleased if she cut out all interludes, intermissions, backwards tracks and overtures and just stuck to some excellent tuens this time, but whatever happens, she can’t go wrong with a nice load of brass, in my book.
SPOILED MILK, STALE BREAD, WELFARE, BUBONIC PLAGUE, RECORD DEAL, LIGHT BULB
Still Janelle’s best song.
What artwork can we hope for?
The artwork for The Archandroid was pretty good, what with our Jane having a big city on her head, so for The Electric Lady I don’t think it’s too much to hope for a wind farm nestled into her big Swiss roll hairdo.
What is the worst thing Janelle can do now?
It would be sad to see Janelle start advertising herself as ‘that lass off the Fun song’, as her own songs are far superior. In addition, Janelle has been a very vocal supporter of the Obama campaign recently, but I hope none of that seeps into the new record. Pop and politics should stay separated. Nobody like poplitics. Finally, Janelle will be ok as long as she doesn’t take her clothes off and start marketing herself as a sex symbol, but I don’t suppose there’s much chance of that; the tux is probably staying on.
How good does the album need to be?
An 8 out of 10 would give Janelle the push she needs.