Branching out from the Films Of The Year post last year, I’m self-indulgently posting a short series on the entertainment that’s fed, stimulated and enhanced my 2013. I’m making this up as I go along, as it’s my game and my rules, so it may not all have been produced in 2013 – the point is that it’s been a big part of my year. Where possible, I’ll link to the media in question; click on a title to follow a link if I’ve found one suitable. First up, music.
No Church In The Wild – Jay Z & Kanye West Dark, addictive and hypnotic hip-hop, used to stunning effect in the soundtrack to The Great Gatsby movie. How can a song this catchy take in urban unrest, youth alienation, philosophy, hedonism, religion and some other stuff too? By ludicrous levels of talent, that’s how. A reminder that when he’s not believing his own hype, Kanye West is capable of matching Jay Z. (Note: the song contains explicit language).
Crazy In Love – Emeli Sandé & The Bryan Ferry Orchestra (Kid Koala Version) Also on The Great Gatsby soundtrack, this takes Beyoncé’s modern classic pop song, serves it with a side of 1920s dance hall music and in so-doing proves a great pop song is always a great pop song.
Gold Teeth – dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip and Flux Pavilion 3 albums in and yet to let me down, these authentically British-sounding hip-hop types remain among my favourite artists. Relentlessly creative, witty and intelligent, subverting a flesh-obsessed culture and posing serious questions, they represent everything that can be good in their genre. This track is stick-in-the-head brilliant, and as good a piece of rapping as you’ll hear. It’s explicit, but don’t let that deceive you. This is a poem calling us to a better way.
So much for individual songs, now for a handful of albums. Links on individual track names.
AM – Arctic Monkeys A band who promised so much early on in their career lost their way for a while, but found it again … and then some. It’s a more grown up sound, and all the better for it; they show every sign of maturing into a group around for the long haul. They still write great songs, so why not sample … Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High or Do I Wanna Know?
Random Access Memories – Daft Punk Sometimes an album does well because the publicity campaign is irresistible; sometimes because the music is good. It’s not perfect, of course, but this lived up to the hype, serving up an album of music you don’t so much listen to as inhabit. If you dismiss it as all done on computers … well, I’m sorry for you. Sample … Instant Crush or Lose Yourself To Dance or Get Lucky
Modern Vampires Of The City – Vampire Weekend It’s a long time since I fell head over heals in love with an album, and what a joy to do so again. It’s top of many end of year lists, and rightly so. Indie-pop that covers love, lust, theology, urban anonymity and much more with melodies to die for, stunning musicianship and rhythms, lyrics to linger in the memory. And some jokes too. I’ve laughed, cried, read, written sermons, been to the desert, celebrated and grieved to this. It’s just brilliant. Unquestionably my favourite album for years. Sample all of it, if you can. Or one of these … Step or Diane Young or Ya Hey or Unbelievers or Obvious Bicycle.