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 411mania » Music » Columns

The Top 50 Music Moments of 2013 (#30-#11)
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 01.28.2014

I appreciate that we're near the end of the first month of 2014 and there's been plenty of year-end features on 411 and everywhere else. But it is still awards season, and as far as I'm aware, this is the last year-end feature. I could be wrong, it wouldn't surprise me. Today is the second of three columns counting down the biggest, most talked about and most controversial moments in the music industry in 2013.Yesterday I began the list by counting down moment fifty through to thirty-one and today I continue with thirty, through to eleven. The list concludes with the top ten tomorrow.

If you missed the first part of our countdown, you should GO HERE!

When compiling the list the only criteria I used was simply what got people talking in 2013. How will people remember 2013? I think I've managed to compile a pretty comprehensive list that covers the full spectrum of genres so without further ado let's get straight to it.

30. Novelty Songs Make Baauer and Ylvis Superstars

Every year has its stand out tracks, its one hit wonders and its novelty songs. 2012 was all about Carly Rae Jepson's "Call Me Maybe," which is genuinely still a fantastic track, and Psy's "Gangnam Style." The less aid about the latter, the better. This year, it was all about Baauer and Ylvis, two utter nonsense novelty songs that stormed charts the world over. Baauer's "Harlem Shake" found success following its use in the meme Harlem Shake videos, short clips featuring peculiar dancing with a clip from the song playing over the top. The craze took America by storm, as I'm sure you all know, and the rest is history. The track went to number one worldwide, and it's one of those best left forgotten. "The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)" is an electronic track from Norwegian duo Ylvis, which was made and uploaded as a joke. Well the joke was on us, as it became the highest charting song by a Norwegion artist since the legendary "Take On Me" by a-ha. It's bizarre video has garnered some three-million views on YouTube, or something ridiculous. Such songs are usually quickly forgotten but they are a necessary evil. Additionally, such novelty tracks and their sudden popularity is just one of the many ways the internet is changing the music we listen to and the way we listen to it.

29. Fall Out Boy Return to Save Rock and Roll

On February 4th 2013, Fall Out Boy announced plans of a reunion tour and a brand new record following a four-year hiatus. The band had spent much of 2012 writing and recording in secret in tumultuous conditions that nearly lead to the comeback never occurring. Upon their return the band was dismissed as leaders of a genre whose time had come and gone, but to the shock of many their comeback album Save Rock and Roll was a massively commercial success, shifting 150,000 copies in its first week and going straight to number one on the Billboard 200. Their new live shows had a renewed sense of vigour about them as well as for the first time in a long, long time the band seemed to want to be playing together again. They toured the festival circuit all summer long whilst releasing videos for every track on the new record, and they impressed fans with their live chops. Save Rock and Roll saw the band take on a more pop-orientated direction; "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)" charted highly world wide in what Rolling Stone described as a "rather stunning renaissance." The record featured a number of collaborations, with artists including Courtney Love, Big Sean, Foxes and the legendary Elton John who guested on the album's title track "Save Rock and Roll." Back bigger, better and most importantly happier than ever, it would seem that this time Fall Out Boy is hear to say and on the basis of Save Rock and Roll, that is most definitely a good thing.

28. Slipknot and Joey Jordison Part Company, Amicably Or Otherwise

This was one came as quite a shock to many, Joey Jordison included it seems. Slipknot were on the cusp of what would surely be a monumental 2014, with the first album in six years reportedly on the way with rumours of it being a double album. The band made a triumphant return around Europe in 2013 culminating in an unbelievable headline set at Download Festival alongside Rammstein and Iron Maiden. On December 12, the band released a statement via their official website stating that Jordison had left the band citing personal reasons. This was a shock as Jordison had been an integral part of Slipknot for nearly two decades and there didn't seem to be any build up to this. Jordison is a well-liked and much-respected drummer in the metal community and many fans have argued that Slipknot won't be the same without him. Corey Taylor has confirmed Jordison will not appear on the new record because he didn't sit in on any of the writing sessions. Then came the twist, when Jordison claimed he was blindsided by the band; "To my fans, friends, and associates… I would like to start the New Year by addressing the recent rumours and speculation regarding my departure from Slipknot. I want to make it very clear that I DID NOT QUIT SLIPKNOT. This band has been my life for the last 18 years, and I would never abandon it, or my fans." Both sides of the argument have promised more information is forthcoming but as of today this issue is still up in the air and has left a lot of fans with a lot of questions about the future of the band.

27. Trent Reznor Reforms Nine Inch Nails

February must be the right month of the year for announcing returns because in addition to the comeback of Fall Out Boy, it was announced by Trent Reznor that 2013 would see the release of a new Nine Inch Nails album as well as an expansive touring schedule. Following a couple last-minute changes, the new Nine Inch Nails line up consisted of John Eustis, Alessandro Cortini, Iian Rubin and Robin Finck. The band released comeback singles "Come Back Haunted" and "Copy of A" to much critical acclaim whilst touring the festival circuit around the world all summer before the band eventually released Hesitation Marks worldwide on September 3rd. Hesitation Marks was released to almost universal critical acclaim, many even ranking it among the band's best work. The record topped numerous charts worldwide and peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 and at number two in the UK Albums Chart, the band's best charting position in that country to date. The live shows were well-received and that looks to continue into 2014 as the band plots further North American tour dates before continuing on with their epic world tour. Trent Reznor is typically a very busy man (he's got a new David Fincher film to score as well in 2014), but the music industry is undoubtedly a much better place when Reznor and Nine Inch Nails are an active force.

26. Kendrick Lamar Takes "Control"

"It wasn't pre-meditated, it just came to me when I was writing that bar," says Lamar. "The crazy part is, I didn't think it would ever go to where diss records were coming at me. I thought people would be like … he threw some challenges out there … that was dope." Kendrick Lamar was already on the fast track to superstardom but his stock roses tenfold following a guest appearance on the Big Sean track "Control," which premiered on US radio last summer. A shit-storm ensued. See, Kendrick Lamar took it upon himself to call out some of the biggest names in rap for resting on their laurels and not stepping up their game. And all of a sudden people took notice. It was the subject of much debate for a number of weeks, with every rapper and their mother having their say on the verse on social media. Twitter blew up. Many people praised Lamar for his daring verse and for having the balls to go out there and call out so many mammoth names of hip hop, including the guy who's track he was on, while others took exception to Lamar's words as you imagine many an egotistical hip hop star would. Apparently threatening to "murder" every up and coming rapper in the genre is a surefire way to ruffle feathers, as was proved by the countless comebacks and diss tracks aimed at Lamar in the days following "Control's" premiere. Of course, being the stalwart that he is, Lamar took it all in his stride, went on to be named GQ's Rapper of the Year, picked up a ton of awards and plans to spend the next few weeks and months recording a brand new studio album that will likely be yet another game-changer. Kendrick Lamar is making a habit of this.

25. "Molly" Deaths Lead to Festival Cancellation


Electric Zoo is an electronic festival held over the Labour Day weekend in New York. The 2013 version of the event was due to feature performances from some heavy-hitters such as Armin van Buuren, Avicii, Chase and Status, David Guetta, Knife Party, Sub Focus and countless others. However following the deaths of two attendees, later named as Jeffery Russ and Olivia Rotondo, the final day of the festival was called off with refunds being issued to those who had paid to attend the event on the Sunday. The two attendees had died during the first two days of the festival as a result of drug use, while a number of other attendees were also ill at the time the call was made to cancel the remainder of the festival. It was quickly confirmed by the medical examiner's office that the deaths were indeed directly linked to drug use, specifically MDMA, or "molly" to use its popular street term. This marked the low point of a current trend of deaths at music festivals, but worrying there does seem to be a correlation to the use of MDMA and the rise in the popularity of electronic music, particulary EDM. While this wasn't an isolated incident, there have been such occurances at festivals all over the world and unfortunately those incidents seem to be becoming more and more frequent.

24. Lily Allen Returns


I think on some level everyone has an appreciation for Lily Allen. When she burst onto the scene all those years ago, she was fresh, she was innovative and she was a much-needed shot in the arm of the pop music scene littered with disposable young starlets still using sex to sell music. Not unlike today then. 2013 really marked the beginning of the Lily Allen comeback that has been on the cards for a little while now. While we knew she was recording new material way back in the summer of 2012, it seemed at the time that there was no timeline for her eventual return at the the writing process was a slow one. We were tantalized by a guest verse on the Pink track "True Love" and that was about all we had to go on going into the year. Vague details of her return began to trickle through but it soon became clear we wouldn't be getting a new album until 2014. What we did get, however, was the wonderful cover of Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know," the official song of the now famous John Lewis Christmas advert. Allen herself apparently isn't too fond of it, but personally I think it's a stonking cover. Then there's the fresh new single "Hard Out Here" which sees Allen back to her best. On top of that we've also been blessed by the return of Allen slagging off the competition in interviews, which is always fun even if occasionally hypocritical. Azealia Banks, you have been warned. Nobody's perfect. Allen is also one of the first acts confirmed to be performing at the 2014 Glastonbury Festival.

23. Arcade Fire Become The Reflektors

Going into 2013, a new Arcade Fire was top of many people's most-wanted list when it came to new music in 2013 – it was certainly at the top of mine. From Funeral to Neon Bible to The Suburbs, Arcade Fire is a band with a flawless record and as such any material they come out with should be hotly-anticipated. Reflektor certainly had a unique marketing campaign in the weeks leading up to its release. Add in the fact that the legendary James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem fame was producing and you had a sure-fire success on your hands. Pitchfork quite rightly described the guerilla marketing campaign as "unusual, ambitious, vague, confounding, a little heavy-handed, and very successful." There were drawings sprayed onto walls in cities around the world, posters and billboards aplenty with cryptic message all leading to the announcement of the new record. Reflektor was eventually released on October 28th 2013 and as we've all come to expect from Arcade Fire, it was an absolute belter. I think moreso than previous albums this record had its detractors, but that's only because of the lofty expectations the band now has to meet upon every release. Truth be told Reflektor is another game-changing record from a band that specialises in such a thing. David Bowie even provided guest vocals on a track. The release of the album was supported by a number of shows the band played under the name The Reflektors, mostly intimate performances that asked fans to adhere to a dress code and the like. Arcade Fire continue to innovate, and when they headline the legendary Glastonbury festival next June, they'll become heroes once again.

22. The Stone Roses Headline Coachella, Nobody Notices

The announcement of OutKast as headliners at this year's Coachella has been met with much praise and acclaim and also underlines the fact that in recent years, Coachella has been the place to be for seeing newly reunited bands doing their thing. Last year, the Stone Roses made their only stop in North America as headliners at the 2013 Coachella event, co-headlining the two weekends along with fellow Brits Blur. The reaction to that announcement, tragically, was "who the fuck are the Stone Roses?" Unfortunately if you're not currently aware of the Stone Roses then there's little hope for you, but to summarise, Stone Roses are one of the most influential and important British bands of all time. Their self-titled debut is widely regarded as one of the very best albums ever recorded, and their reunion in 2012 was one of the most anticipated of all time, ever. The band hasn't played many shows as part of their comeback so you should think yourself lucky if you got the chance to see them in the last couple of years. I fully understand that not every band is going to have the same popularity in every country around the world, but the reaction to their headline status and Coachella and the lack of audience that gathered to see them was worrying, and a blight on the collective musical taste of America.

21. Zane Lowe's Radio 1 Interview with Kanye West

Kanye West saying stupid shit is hardly something new to 2013. We're used to it by now, the media expects it and the media appreciates because it gives them something to write about and Kanye West = hits. These are facts. But when Kanye West sat down with BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe this past summer, even those who were used to West's ramblings were left with mouths slightly open and eyebrows raised. For an hour Kanye frequently talked about his frustration at not being able to design his range of men's sneakers, the intricacies of the plot of Wreck-It Ralph, the public's perception of him, life as a celebrity and everything else. I could write a whole new Top 50 list with just quotes from the interview but I will present to you my favourite extract: "We got this new thing called classism. It's racism's cousin. This is what we do to hold people back. This is what we do. And we got this other thing that's also been working for a long time when you don't have to be racist anymore. It's called self-hate. It works on itself. It's like real estate of racism. Where just like that, when someone comes up and says something like, ‘I am a god,' everybody says, ‘Who does he think he is?' I just told you who I thought I was! A god! I just told you. That's who I think I am. Would it have been better if I had a song that said, ‘I am a n***a? Or if I had a song that said, ‘I am a gangster'? Or if I had a song that said, ‘I am a pimp'? All those colors and patinas fit better on a person like me, right? But to say you are a god, especially when you got shipped over to the country that you're in, and your last name is a slave owner's. How could you say that? How could you have that mentality?"

20. Hip Hop Dominates the Billboard 200

This one isn't so much a moment as it is an observation of the year's trends, particularly when it comes to the average music listener's buying patterns and the like. When it came to strong debuts this year, there was no stopping the stars of hip-hop from taking over in 2013. Jay Z had one of the fastest selling records of the year, shifting over half a million copies Magna Carter Holy Grail, while his old pal Kanye West wasn't too far behind with Yeezus clocking up sales of well over 300,000 thousand upon its first week of release. In between the two, Wale and J. Cole continued rap's dominance and helped make up the first time in history rap albums have debut atop the Billboard 200 for four consecutive weeks. There were also number one rap albums from Drake and A$AP Rocky, while Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP 2 racked up sales of almost three-quarters of a million to show rap's dominance. The album was second only to Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience Part I as fastest selling record of the year. The rock genre was alive and well in 2013, with debut number one albums for Pearl Jam, Quenns of the Stone Age, Bon Jovi, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Avenged Sevenfold and Black Sabbath. The Civil Wars and Mumford and Sons continued the folk revival in the states, while Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire did their bit for alternative and indie music. Elsewhere, tried and tested female pop divas underperformed with neither Katy Perry nor Lady Gaga hitting sales targets. Miley Cyrus' shameless self-promotion helped boost her own sales and score a victory for the girls. Comeback albums helped generate sales for the likes of Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk and Beyonce, as well as some of the unique marketing strategies we've discussed and will discuss further later in the list. One Direction racked up impressive sales for their new record, unsurprisingly. When it came to staying power, however, country artists stretched their growing muscles as Luke Bryan, Garth Brooks, Gary Allan, Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney were among the year's best-selling records by year's end.

19. Biffy Clyro Headlines Reading and Leeds Festivals

Biffy Clyro is a band that has done things that hard way, the good and honest way. For over a decade now the Scottish rockers has toured relentlessly in promotion of their albums, slowly but surely building up a reputation as a great live band. In addition to that, their studio material is heavily praised and with good reason. In 2007's Puzzle, the band got their mainstream breakthrough with powerhouse tracks such as "Who's Got a Match" and "Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies." Their appeal in the UK sky-rocketed with 2009 album Only Revolutions, which produced half a dozen big hit singles including the mammoth "The Captain" and the epic "Mountains." Biffy Clyro was one album away from headline status at major festivals across Europe. Following high profile slots at Download and Sonisphere in recent years (they headlined the latter, but it's not the same scale) the band release double album Opposites last January and were announced as headliners of the legendary Reading and Leeds Festivals alongside Green Day and Eminem. The show would mark the eight time the band had appeared at the festivals, having worked their way up from the bottom and performed on every stage they possibly could have. The band closed the Reading weekend and in some style, blistering through 90-minutes of a hit-packed set that set the festival on fire, opening with "Different People" and closing with the monstrous "Stingin' Belle." Years and years of touring frequently bought Biffy to Reading, so seeing them headline was a monumental homecoming for them, and thoroughly deserved. The set was voted Most Spectacular Show at the NME Festival Awards. You know it was good when they completely blew away the evening's sub-headliners, a very bemused and disgruntled Nine Inch Nails.

18. Jay Z and Kanye West Go Head to Head, Almost

Kanye West pops up on the list once again and this time he's there alongside his fellow Watch the Throne member Jay Z, who dropped the hyphen from his name this year, by the way. Kanye and Jay Z almost went head to head this summer when they released brand new studio albums within just a few weeks of one another, Jay Z releasing Magna Carter Holy Grail while Kanye dropped the polarizing Yeezus record. Hova won the sales race while Kanye received the bulk of the critical praise, but the two also went head to head in their unique marketing strategies for the two records. The first announcement of Magna Carta Holy Grail came during a commercial mid-way through the NBA Finals, with the announcement that the record would be available to download for free to the first one million users of a new Samsung Galaxy app. The album would get a physical release three days later. Then there was the reveal of the record's art work next to one of the record's namesakes in Salisbury Cathedral, England. The campaign was a success as the album registered over half a million sales as it debuted atop the Billboard 200. In contrast, West's Yeezus was introduced via video projection of the track "New Slaves" in various cities across the country and Twitter post confirming nothing but the release date. West performed two tracks on Saturday Night Live, but outside of that there was next to no promotion whatsoever. "With this album, we ain't drop no single to radio. We ain't got no NBA campaign, nothing like that. Shit, we ain't even got no cover. We just made some real music." - Kanye West. With Jay Z and Kanye West along with the likes of Daft Punk and Arcade Fire, My Bloody Valentine and Beyonce, 2013 has been the year of unique marketing strategies, and this is the type of promotion labels and artists need to be adopting to thrive in the digital era.

17. The Rolling Stones Make Glastonbury Festival Debut

The Rolling Stones, without question, are one of the most important recording artists of all time. They've been a top ten countdown of anyone's all-time greats, without doubt, and you can never underestimate what they've done for rock music and music as whole in their career that spans six decades. The band started out in 1962, and in the next two decades they accomplished anything and everything you could ever dram of as a band. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, twenty five years ago. They've had more reunion tours then you or I have had hot dinners and they're still going strong in 2014. Quite how they do it is remarkable. But up until 2013 there was thing that they'd never accomplished. Arguably the most important British band not named the Beatles, the Rolling Stones had never headline the UK and arguably the world's most famous music festival, the holy grail that is Glastonbury. The band headlined the legendary Pyramid Stage on the Saturday night of the festival, kicking off the show at 21.30 and playing right the way through til midnight with a twenty-track set that spanned their entire career. The sheer weight of the band's impressive back catalogue meant that the performance was always going to be a success, especially considering the band these days are consummate professionals, but I don't think anyone was expecting just how polished and crisp the band would sound. "They've finally got 'round to asking us," pondered Jagger after the opening couple of tracks. Organiser Michael Eavis has tried to book the Rolling Stones for Glastonbury every year since the beginning of time, and quite rightly, too.

16. Robin Thicke Blurs Lines of Good Taste

Robin Thicke's collaboration with T.I. and Pharrell Williams was officially the most successful song in the United States and the United Kingdom in 2013. You couldn't go anywhere without hearing this track. There wasn't a radio station you could put on to escape this track, love it or hate, this was the summer of "Blurred Lines." Critically speaking, some people loved hit and many people absolutely hated it; Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield labelled it "the worst song of this or any other year." But that didn't stop people buying it in their masses. The song was not without its controversy either due to its racy themes. The original version of the video was pulled from YouTube for violating its policies on nudity, but was later restored with a warning regarding its appropriateness. This should come as no surprise considering the director of the video was the same guy who worked with Pharrell on N.E.R.D's video for "Lapdance" over a decade ago. Certain groups heavily criticised the video and song for trivialising date rape culture and as being misogynistic. The song has been banned from a growing number of Universities and colleges in the United Kingdom amidst claims it "violates policies against rape culture and lad banter." Personally I think if you have policies when it comes to banter, you've missed the point. Later on there was a copyright infringement lawsuit between Thicke and the Marvin Gaye estate, the latter claiming the song the song copied "the feel" of Gaye's song "Got to Give It Up." "Look, technically it's not plagiarized. It's not the same chord progression. It's a feeling. Because there's a cowbell in it and a fender Rhodes as the main instrumentation — that still doesn't make it plagiarized. We all know it's derivative. That's how Pharrell works. Everything that Pharrell produces is derivative of another song — but it's an homage." - Questlove.

15. My Chemical Romance Announce Split

My Chemical Romance is a curious project and one that I wonder just how well they will be remembered. With 2006 album The Black Parade the band was propelled to the forefront of the emo scene and although the label "emo" was something that they rejected, it was undeniable that this was a band leading a scene that grew massively in a short space of time. While many other bands disbanded or faded into obscurity when the emo movement began to die down toward the end of the decade, My Chemical Romance did something that most others couldn't do; they shook off the label, they outgrew and in the eyes of many critics they became a credible rock band. Dangers Days had shaken off much of the emo stench the band had accrued while touring The Black Parade to become a band who had matured and succeed where nobody thought they would. All of a sudden they were a festival-headlining band that regularly sold out arena tours on a regular basis. But in 2013 it all came to an end when Gerard Way announced the band were disbanded in March of last year. Dedicated fans mourned the loss and speculated the reasons for the split, which Way stated was not because of personal conflicts within the band that had plagued them in the past. With the demise of My Chemical Romance, the final nail was put into the coffin of the emo scene that began to thrive a decade ago and tailed off in recent years. Fall Out Boy are so accepted in the pop world that they no longer classify as emo or even a scene band, and as such My Chemical Romance was the last of dying breed. There are of course other bands out there of a similar ilk, but no-one brought that scene the popularity that My Chemical Romance did, and no one could ever have done it so unashamedly. The band's greatest hits album May Death Never Stop You: The Greatest Hits 2001-2013 will be released in March, almost exactly a year from the day they split.

14. New Talent Emerges at an Alarming Rate

Any year can be summed up by the quality of its emerging artists and 2013 was a stellar year for sure. Lorde is the obvious go-to answer here but I will discuss her shortly. There were plenty of other artists who had remarkable breakthrough success. Imagine Dragons took the world by storm with single "Radioactive" and albums Night Visions. The alternative rock scene was given a shot in the arm by the girls as Haim and Chvrches, led by the enchanting Lauren Mayberry, put out groundbreaking debut releases worthy of all the hype. Both Haim's Days Are Gone and Chvrches' The Bones of What You Believe rank somewhere in my top ten albums of the year and I know I'm not the only one who rates them both. Passenger's "Let Her Go" made him a worldwide superstar, and Avicii took the charts by storm with a slew of smash hit singles. Ariana Grande isn't your typical kids TV star turned pop singer, as has been proved by her phenomenal vocal ability and well-received debut record. In the hip hop world, we've already established the dominance of the likes of Earl Sweatshirt and Kendrick Lamar, but let's not forget the strong debuts that J. Cole, A$AP Rocky, Chance the Rapper and others had this year. Then of course there's Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis, not your stereotypical rappers, but artists who managed to take the world by storm at the start of the year with "Thrift Shop" and then proved that they actually had something interesting to say with "Same Love." You might notice how many of these acts were rewarded or heavily featured on the Grammys just the other night and that is no coincidence. Outside of hip hop, you have to mention Disclosure who came from nowhere to dominate charts worldwide with "Latch" and "White Noise" among other singles, and a debut album in Settle that impressed just about everyone. I'm surely forgetting many but the point is that 2013 was a phenomenal year for new artists, across a vast range of genres mind you, to take the music world by storm and look for them to continue their dominance well into 2014.

13. Lou Reed Passes Away Age 71

Lou Reed passed away on October 27th 2013 at the age of 71 due to liver failure. The music world lost a legend, an icon and an innovator. "Everyone talks about punk, but to me he was the Johnny Cash of New York rock; he was always the man in black." - Mick Jagger on Lou Reed. Metallica worked with Reed on the polarizing record Lulu; the band's Lars Ulrich paid tribute to him - "Being around this guy, I pinched myself a lot. We did a lot of interviews together for Lulu. When the cameras were off and there was nobody else there, he was like the gentlest soul. Almost like a child." The Talking Heads' David Byrne paid tribute to the power and influence of the great man's music; "I just got an e-mail from a Chilean actress who wrote what it meant to be able to hear Lou's work during the period of dictatorship there. A breath of life, she called it. That gives you some idea of how widespread and deep his influence was." Beck attributed his career to Reed and Velvet Underground - "I've been playing Lou Reed's songs since I first picked up the guitar. They can be so simple and perfect, and they can just cut you to the bone, but he never reduced it to sentimentality or cliché. He had that conversational style that's really not easy to do. There was just nothing cooler than that to me. I never get tired of playing his songs; it always works." On october 27th 2013, the world lost an absolute genius. Lou Reed was one of the most influential songwriters of all time and will be sorely missed. He shall, however, live on forever through his countless classic records. RIP Lou Reed.

12. The Breakout of Lorde, and the Success of "Royals"

Of all the new artists that burst onto the scene in 2013, none were more successful than Lorde. The New Zealand-born singer-songwriter was just thirteen years of age when she signed with Universal, and just sixteen years of age when her song "Royals" took over the world. Lorde has touched the music-loving public in a way that most pop stars never could – she's genuine, and her music's her own. You didn't hear "Royals" on the radio all summer because it's what the record execs wanted you to hear, you heard it because the public latched on to it. They chose Lorde as their, for lack of a less pun-centric word, heroine and she's ran with it. The record topped the charts in New Zealand immediately upon its release there, and that led to a lot of hype generating around her as she prepared to take on the rest of the world. Lorde stands out among today's female pop stars as someone who doesn't use her sexuality to shift records or generate headlines and instead she allows her music to do her talking. Lorde released her debut album Pure Heroine in September to much critical acclaim. In the 411 Top 25 Albums of 2013 countdown, Pure Heroine ranked at number two, and I wrote; "What's great about this record is that you'd never know it was an artist's debut. The songwriting is of the highest quality and it makes you wonder just how much more there is to come from this teen hottie young, independent starlet. If she can avoid those pit falls and the average music fan proves themselves to not be as fickle as we think, Lorde certainly has a tremendous future ahead of her, without question." Lorde put the exclamation point on her excellent year by taking home two major Grammy Awards on Sunday night.

11. Pussy Riot Released

When members of Pussy Riot were jailed in Russia in the summer of 2012, many people in the West were outraged, though I'd argue we didn't really know why, we merely picked a side. In February 2013, five members of the group staged a performance on the soleas of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Their actions were stopped by church security officials. The performance produced a music video entitled "Punk Prayer - Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!" The women said their protest was directed at the Orthodox Church leader's support for Vladimir Putin during his election campaign. While some members of the group reportedly fled Russia, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested and sentenced to two years imprisonment charged with "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred." Yeah, I'm not typing those names out again. The opinion in Russia was certainly less sympathetic to the women's plight, but many notable figures in the West came out in support of the group and their actions. Everyone from Paul McCartney to Sting to Jarvis Cock, Peter Gabriel and more all questioned the fairness of the girls' trial and helped campaign for their release. Well in December 2013, the girls were finally released following an amnesty deal put through by Putin. Of course, the general consensus was that the amnesty was only a move designed to generate goodwill prior to the Winter Olympics held in the country later this year. Regardless, it was a small moral victory for Pussy Riot and a long-time coming in righting the wrong.

Make sure to return tomorrow for Part 3, and the conclusion of our list as I reveal the top ten! And until then...



And have you read 411's TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 2013?:


Top 5 Wanted Movie Re-Releases

A Walk Among the Tombstones Review

This Is Where I Leave You Review

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