Now that 2012 is firmly in the rearviewmirror, it’s time to look forward with hope and optimism as to what the year 2013 holds in store for music fans like us. Considering that we’re not even three weeks into January and we’ve already been blessed with two delightful surprises —A new Destiny’s Child song! A new Timberlake jam!— we feel confident that this is going to be another banner year filled with an abundance of both monster pop smashes and crossover gems.
With that in mind, the VH1 Tuner team has put together this list of 13 of our most anticipated albums for 2013, which includes a healthy mix of familiar faces (Beyoncé, Lady Gaga) and artists on the come-up (Big Sean, Diane Birch), brought to you in the order of when we expect them to release their new material.
Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob (Expected Release Date: January 29): Sisters Tegan and Sara Quin have long been staples at alternative radio, but the synth-driven Heartthrob appears like it might be the LP that finally breaks them into the mainstream consciousness. “We really look at this as an opportunity to stretch into a world that we’ve been just outside of for a long time,” Sara recently told our VH1 News crew, and one listen to the album’s lead single, “Closer,” seems to be indicative of the fact that they’ve reached their goal.—Mark Graham
Though these two writers took different tacts at getting there, each acknowledged that Foster The People’s bouncy anthem has officially crossed over from the “indie” world and into the mainstream. This is further evidenced by the video you see above, in which Vinny Guadagnino of Jersey Shore fame dances to “Pumped Up Kicks” with a coterie of adorable moppets in his living room. (We also noted that it was used to score a scene in the Fright Night remake that hit theaters last week, too.) We knew that when we selected the band as a You Oughta Know artist back in June that they were headed for big things, but we had no idea that they would get this big, this quick. At this point, only one question remains: Will the band be able to build on the success of this smash hit with a second single off this record, or will the band veer off into one-hit wonder status? Regardless of that outcome, there’s no denying that “Pumped Up Kicks” has captured the zeitgeist during the summer of 2011.
The first thing you need to know about Frank Ocean is that he’s a singer-songwriter, not an “R&B singer.” Seriously: he may be African-American, but please don’t genre-pigeonhole him; not only does he hate it, but his skills at penning intricate, category-less songs are far more expansive than what parameters of contemporary Urban radio will allow. That’s not a shot at R&B, though; we’re just stating a fact.
Raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, the 23-year-old music aficionado began writing for artists like Justin Bieber, Beyonc?, and John Legend when he moved to Los Angeles after Hurricane Katrina in 2009. Linking up with hip hop houligan collective OFWGKTA (aka Odd Future) around that time, Ocean (who was born Christopher, and formerly performed as Lonny Breaux) then secured a deal with Def Jam, but like many artists in the early phase of their careers, was put on the waiting shelf. Luckily for us, the talented songwriter turned insubordinate and rogue, releasing his now critically-acclaimed mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra via his Tumblr.
The mixtape may have been an unconventional move for most up-and-coming singers, but for Ocean, it created a compelling word of mouth domino effect. Taking songs like The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” MGMT’s “Electric Feel,” and Coldplay’s “Strawberry Swing” and making them very uniquely his own, Ocean was able to showcase his songwriting abilities and allow the audience that was hanging on his every word to get to know him, well. Back in May, when we were fearing for our lives during the Rapture, we suggested the MGMT re-worked cover “Nature Feels” as being a delightfully sexy Garden of Eden tune to “go out with a bang” to. But the tape possesses plenty more gems where that came from: a romance with a porn star dental student is illustrated beautifully on “Novacane,” an exorcism and disposal of broken hearts turns into an enchanting car ride to the ocean on “Swim Good,” and a snippet from Nicole Kidman’s character in Stanley Kubrick’sEyes Wide Shut anchors the end of fan favorite track, “Love Crimes.”
Non-Elvis Participant In The Kiss Identified
After 55 years and “at least a half a dozen” impostors, Barbara Gray (with the help of Vanity Fair in getting Alfred Wertheimer to overcome his pre-ordained skepticism) has identified herself as “Elvis‘s blonde” in the iconic tongue-touching photo The Kiss. The backstory is pretty interesting, too. [Vanity Fair]