Ugh, best GIF of the year, hands down.
Lady Gaga, "Aura"
If Crystal Castles and M.I.A. had a musical child back in 2007 or 2008, this hyperactive, unhinged electronic banger would be the result. There seems to be some sort of spat between Gaga and Israeli psytrance duo Infected Mushroom (who are credited as producers on "Aura" along with Zedd) over the track. Anyway, I still need a proper music video for the song, not just the lyric video that was used to promote Machete Kills, in which Gaga makes her big-screen debut. Do you wanna see me naked, lover?
Ellie Goulding, "You My Everything"
Ellie is my everything. I wish I could stay up all night dancing to this song at some party. Bitch better release this as a single.
Let's face it, nothing on Matangi really rivals the timeless anthem "Bad Girls," although "Y.A.L.A." and "Double Bubble Trouble" do come close ("Sexodus"/"Exodus" is pretty awesome, too). The title stands for "You Always Live Again," and it's a much-needed response to the ridiculously overused "YOLO" motto. "If you only live once, why we keep doing the same shit?" Get 'em, gurl. But seriously, I wonder if there will ever be another song as brilliantly badass as "Bad Girls."
Sky Ferreira, "You're Not the One"
I've been obsessed with Sky for the past two years. Her music, her awesome clothes, her long platinum locks (which were cut into a retro bob this year). After numerous delays and title changes, the singer/model/actress finally released her debut album, Night Time, My Time, two months ago. Even though I was addicted to lead single "You're Not the One," I was kind of surprised to learn that most of her album was heavily rooted in rock music from the '80s and '90s (especially New Wave, grunge, and punk), a far cry from her previous electropop offerings. However, after a few listens, the album started to grow on me, and now I realize how amazing it is. I'd like to give an honorable mention to the hazy, bittersweet "24 Hours," which holds a special meaning for me.
Beyoncé dropping her self-titled visual album unexpectedly was... wow. It's been two weeks and I'm still at a loss for words. The whole thing is just amazing, and it's some of her best material in a while, both musically and visually. "Blow" is a fun, sassy, disco-tinged number that includes sexual innuendos in lines such as "Can you lick my Skittles? That's the sweetest in the middle" and "I want you to turn that cherry out." This unabashed sensuality is also present in the song's '80s-themed, neon-soaked video.
Annie, "Mixed Emotions"
Damn, I missed Annie. Four years after the flawless Don't Stop, she is finally back with The A&R EP, an all-killer, no-filler, '90s-inspired collaborative effort with one of my favorite producers, Richard X. The standout for me is "Mixed Emotions," a dreamy, wistful slice of synthpop on which a heartbroken Annie laments a long-distance relationship as she wonders if her lover still has feelings for her. That acid-influenced breakdown towards the end is what sweet dreams are made of. Every time I listen to this song, I picture a glorious pink sky at sunset.
Monarchy, "Disintegration" (featuring Dita Von Teese)
Burlesque diva, model, actress, and now a singer. Is there anything Dita Von Teese—aka the most flawless human being to ever walk the earth—can't do?? "Disintegration / Suffocation / My life is taken / Annihilation," the modern-day pin-up purrs seductively over Monarchy's thumping electro-disco. The music video is equally steamy.
Azealia Banks, "Yung Rapunxel"
Despite the endless Twitter beefs and the declining quality of Azealia's music (what the fuck was "ATM Jam"?), I'm still looking forward to her debut album, Broke with Expensive Taste, which is currently expected to be released next month. The lead single, "Yung Rapunxel," is a loud, boisterous, hard-edged combination of hip-hop, techno, industrial, and witch house. And it's pretty good. Let's just hope that her album is on a par with her awesome 2012 releases, the 1991 EP and the Fantasea mixtape.
CHVRCHES, "The Mother We Share"
One of my favorite newcomers this year. The Glasgow trio's infectious brand of synthpop is equal parts dark and shimmering, bolstered by singer Lauren Mayberry's youthful, sugary vocals. Not just another Depeche Mode or The Knife knockoff, huh?
Cut Copy, "We Are Explorers"
Although Free Your Mind isn't my favorite album from the band (that would be 2008's In Ghost Colours all the way), the track "We Are Explorers" is classic Cut Copy—rave-ready, neon-hued synthpop bliss spiked with euphoric acid house.
Empire of the Sun, "DNA"
The Aussie duo's second album, Ice on the Dune, is so, so great. It's so dancy and euphoric, but at the same time, there's also an underlying melancholy to the music. This is mostly the case with "DNA," which fuses acoustic guitar riffs and melodic synths. Someday, I want to listen to this song while riding my bike through Williamsburg in the summer.
Sleigh Bells, "Bitter Rivals"
Not their best or most exciting album, but it's Sleigh Bells after all. I'd still like to go all Bling Ring on Alexis Krauss. I'M COMING FOR YOUR CLOSET TONIGHT, SIS.
Ralph Myerz, "Take a Look at the World" (featuring Annie)
It's Annie, again! Here, her icy, ethereal vocals are juxtaposed against dreamy synthscapes, crisp techno flourishes, and wistful lyrics to create an irresistible sense of escapism. Sounds like the perfect feel-good song to listen to while travelling the world. Did I mention "Take a Look at the World" was co-produced by fellow Norwegians Röyksopp? Just when I thought this track couldn't get any better.
Disclosure, "Voices" (featuring Sasha Keable)
While most of the "EDM" (a cringeworthy term that gives solid electronic music a bad name) that came out in the past few years falls under disposable Eurodance/electro house crap, it's nice to see acts like Disclosure keeping it real and fresh. Plus, being a '90s bitch myself, I'm loving the recent '90s revival, especially when it comes to R&B and house music.
AlunaGeorge, "Attracting Flies"
AlunaGeorge's breezy, laid-back blend of synthpop, leftfield R&B, and UK garage makes for a delightful summer listen.
Daft Punk, "Instant Crush" (featuring Julian Casablancas)
It's funny, I sort of grew up listening to Daft Punk. I actually bought Discovery on CD shortly after seeing those anime-style music videos on TV (I was an otaku back then, don't judge me). "Get Lucky" is so overplayed by now, but the Julian Casablancas-assisted synth-rock jam "Instant Crush" is my highlight from Random Access Memories.
Washed Out, "It All Feels Right"
Washed Out's hazy, kaleidoscopic chillwave always gets me on a high. A musical high, that is.
The Portland-based band never fails to deliver moody, nocturnal Italo-synthpop gems that ooze effortless sensuality.
Charli XCX, "Take My Hand"
To most people, Charli XCX is perhaps best know for being featured on Icona Pop's summer hit "I Love It." I won't lie, I wasn't all that impressed when I discovered her in late 2011. It wasn't until I reheard "Nuclear Seasons" in an episode of the final season of Gossip Girl last year that I changed my mind about her music. Much like Sky Ferreira and Grimes, Charli is very popular among the '90s-loving Tumblr crowd. She is not the second coming of Jesus, but she has some pretty good songs.
And now some final observations:
• Sadly, I found the latest The Knife and Depeche Mode albums to be rather underwhelming
• God knows how much I waited for a second Little Boots album, but Nocturnes turned out to be just alright, nothing extraordinary. It has some pretty good cuts like "Confusion," "Shake," and "All for You," and I know this is probably the album she wanted to make all along, but Hands will forever be my favorite album. "Remedy" is still my shit
• I really wanted to like Goldfrapp's Tales of Us, but it's a bit too samey. "Thea" is great, though
• I NEED A NEW LA ROUX ALBUM IN MY LIFE
• Any news on a new Robyn album? All I know is that she is touring with Röyksopp next year (!!!)
• Róisín Murphy has been under the radar for quite a while as well
• Miley is a talentless hack, but this right here is awesome:
Happy Holidays, everyone!
XOXO, Gossip Girl