Luke James, “Make Love To Me” — This song actually came out at the very end of 2012 but it stayed with me well into 2013. Luke James just oozes raw and natural sex appeal, with loads of confidence and charisma to match. The video for this single makes the song experience ten times richer with cameos by Stacy Barthe, Kelly Rowland, Terry Ellis (En Vogue) and Omari Hardwick. James is the Marvin Gaye of our era, equal parts sexy and soulful.
Luke James, “I.O.U.” — This guy is so nice, I had to put him on my list twice! Seriously though, I love this song — there’s a grittiness about it that is very powerful. The honesty and vulnerability of the lyrics draw you in. He’s professing his love, but in a fresh and new way. I love the percussion in the song too, it’s like a heartbeat.
Bridget Kelly, “Street Dreamin’ (feat Kendrick Lamar) — I love Kendrick Lamar on this track! Take a trip with the narcoleptic — no lie, I had to look that up to make sure I knew what it meant, but it sounded dope! This was one of my on repeat summer jams, but I’ll take it any time of the year. I feel young, free, and alive when I listen to this song. The sample of Tupac’s “Got My Mind Made Up” is brilliant.
John Michael featuring Talib Kweli, “Sophisticated Lady” (Remix) — I liked this song when I first heard it, but I LOVED it once I heard the remix with Mr. “Upper Echelon” himself, Talib Kweli. John Michael got game on this record. I just close my eyes, listen to this song, and the hopeless romantic in me takes over, dreaming up scenarios of meeting my perfect guy and what he might say to me in those first few, priceless and impressionable moments. Sigh.
Nicki Minaj feat. Lil Wayne, “High School” — I still can’t decide what I like more, when Nicki sings or raps on this record. I love this lyric: “I know you want it, boy I see you tryin. Just keep on pushin’ I’ma let you slide in.” She’s such a tease LOL. And Lil Wayne is just as nasty as ever on this record, but I like it.
Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors” — I still don’t get that “pocket full of soap” piece… Weird, no? But there’s nothing strange about a guy admitting he’s made some mistakes and had some setbacks in love, but he’s ready now to claim his woman and build a life. Wonder how many folks used this at their wedding this year? “You are, you are, the love of my life…” LOVE that on the extended version — that makes the whole song for me.
Jessie Ware, “Devotion” — I ran to get this album after hearing this song. One of several great songs I actually discovered on a VH1 show. Great mood music, makes me feel like I’m having an outer-body experience with its new-age, techno vibe. I like to listen to this song at the end of a long day, preferably on my couch with a glass of wine. TMI?
Glenn Lewis, “All I See Is You” — Glenn Lewis is my husband. He just doesn’t know it. I could listen to this man sing the phone book. His voice just does it for me. And I’m thrilled he came back this year with a new album. Eleven years was too long for this true talent.
John Legend, “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)” — John Legend brought the soulful and sexy with this song. And I loved it.
Chrisette Michele, “Charades” (feat 2 Chainz) — She does some amazing things with her vocals and is a super-creative artist. Can’t wait to see what she does next.
Alicia Keys & Maxwell, “Fire We Make” — Some songs you grow to love over time, and then others you fall in love with at first listen. I love Alicia Keys and Maxwell, and I love this song.
BERNIE KAMINSKI, Executive Producer, VH1 Original Programming & Development (@berniekaminski)
1. Radiator Hospital, “Our Song”
2. Drake, “Hold On, We’re Going Home”
3. Speedy Ortiz, “No Below”
4. The Girls, “I’ve Got My Eyes On You”
5. Swearin’, “Dust in the Gold Sack”
6. Waxahatchee, “Swan Dive”
7. Kanye West, “Bound 2″
8. Parquet Courts, “The More It Works”
9. Potty Mouth, “The Spins”
10. Julianna Barwick, “Call”
Jake Kleinberg, Producer, VH1 Digital
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “Thrift Shop”
Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky”
Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise”
Phosphorescent, “Song for Zula ”
Ellie Goulding, “I Need Your Love”
Kings Of Leon, “Dancing On My Own (Robyn Cover)”
Arctic Monkeys, “Do I Wanna Know?”
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “Can’t Hold Us”
A Great Big World ft Christina Aguilera, “Say Something”
Capital Cities, “Safe and Sound”