Something unexpected happened this summer: Instead of buzzing about new artists, most of the attention was focused on established acts returning to the spotlight. Daft Punk kicked off a summer of nostalgia that included the original line up of Backstreet Boys, Ciara charting again, disco making a comeback and Nile Rodgers. Nile Rodgers, man! The first half of 2013 proved to be ripe for comebacks and these are our favorites from the past few months.
10. Backstreet Boys
Twenty years after A. J., Howie, Nick, Kevin and Brian formed the Backstreet Boys, the group returned in a big way. The entire lineup (including longtime hold out Kevin) got back together to produce a new album, In A World Like This, launch a world tour and reignite memories of dancing to their videos on TRL. It was the first time all five members toured together in seven years and their first new album in four years. The BSB joined a growing list of ’90s group reunions that includes ’N Sync (see: no. 6), Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child.
9. Mariah Carey
While American Idol certainly bolstered the public’s attention for the singer, it was the first single on her delayed 14th studio album that got people really talking. “#Beautiful” quickly became an early contender for song of the summer when it was released in May and got even more attention thanks to her revealing music video. Carey also returned to the big screen in Lee Daniel’s The Butler.
8. The Postal Service
As soon as it got started it ended. Earlier this year, Ben Gibbard and Jenny Lewis’ side project announced it was re-issuing its landmark album, Give Up, ten years after its initial release. They subsequently went on a world tour over the summer, reconnecting with fans who still listened to “Such Great Heights” on repeat. The group headlined Coachella, the Primavera Sound Festival, Sasquatch! and Lollapalooza, where they announced the group was officially over. The headlining performance on August 4th turned out to be their last.
7. Jay Z
In June, the rapper suddenly announced he was releasing Magna Carta Holy Grail, his first new album in four years. The news came as a bit of a surprise to many who had no idea he was working on new music. Also the announcement gave fans less than a month to purchase a Samsung device if they wanted to get a free copy of the album three days before the official release. Then Jay went on a Twitter spree, tweeting at fans and causing meltdowns for users that got a personal reply. The only thing that didn’t come back was the hyphen in Jay’s name.
6. ’N Sync
In August, the internet practically collapsed over rumors that the group was going to reunite at the MTV VMAs. MTV remained quiet and none of the singers would let the cat out of the bag. And then the group (finally) joined Twitter and confirmed the rumors with a single tweet. Even though the reunion turned out to be the shortest thing ever, it was one of the most exciting performances of the night.
The singer hasn’t had the best career following her breakthrough album, Goodies, which featured several chart-toppers. But following label changes and a new album that never materialized, Ciara finally made her way back onto the charts with “Body Party.” The song was a slow burner, eventually heating up the charts as the weather got warmer. It became her first Top 40 hit since 2009. Thanks to her sexy follow up single, “I’m Out,” and a number two debut on the album charts, Ciara might finally be back for good.
Thanks to radio hits from Bruno Mars, Daft Punk and Robin Thicke, the disco ball felt some love again. Okay, people weren’t suddenly catching Saturday Night Fever, but radio loved the retro-styled beats these artists produced. “Blurred Lines,” “Get Lucky,” and “Treasure” not only ruled the airwaves but also shared the same slick vibe.
3. Nile Rodgers
Almost out of nowhere, Rodgers re-emerged on the music scene thanks to his collaboration with Daft Punk on their new album, Random Access Memories, and his work on Avicii’s new album, True. “Get Lucky” turned out to be Rodgers’ first major radio hit since the mid-90s and his first significant collaboration since 2004 when he reunited with Duran Duran on their album, Astronaut.
2. Pharrell Williams
As a producer, Williams has never really gone away. The man is constantly producing new music for several artists each year. However, the last time his work has seriously dominated the radio was in 2004 when The Neptunes wrote “Hollaback Girl” (Gwen Stefani), “Milkshake” (Kelis) and “She Wants To Move” (N.E.R.D.). Over the summer, Williams was co-wrote and was featured on “Get Lucky” (see: no. 1) and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. The two songs dominated the Billboard Hot 100 making him the 12th artist in history to simultaneously hold the top two spots.
1. Daft Punk
Arguably the biggest comeback goes to Daft Punk. There was a lot of hype leading up to the release of the electronic duo’s first new album in eight years. Random Access Memories debuted at number one – a first for the group. The album also produced of the biggest songs of their career, “Get Lucky.” The song peaked at number two on Billboard’s Hot 100 and went on to dominate the summer. The group also caused a minor stir when a photographed of them sans helmets surfaced on the internet and, of course, there was the controversy surrounding their appearance at the MTV VMAs.