Monday, December 02, 2013

Norman’s Rockwell Top 10 Lists for 2013


It’s time for my annual rundown of my favorites for the calendar year of 2013. Mind you, this is not for art’s sake, but the music that moved me most - although sometimes that happens. 

Top 10 Albums:

1. David Bowie - The Next Day
This album was heralded by the most amazing vacuum of hype ever. The single “Where Are We Now?” arrived in the wee hours of Bowie's 66th birthday in January with not a hint of warning. That the LP turned out to be his most completely compelling work since Scary Monsters was his greatest birthday gift to us his fans. Couple this with the absorbing David Bowie Is staged at the V&A this year and my hibernating Bowie fascination was reawakened to an extraordinary degree. If you get anywhere near this installation as it tours the globe, drop what you are doing and get tickets. On my flights to and from the UK for my tour I listened to The Next Day back-to-back-to-back. Highlights: “Valentine’s Day” (not a love song, mind you); “The Stars (Are Out Tonight);” “The Next Day;” “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die.” Aw shoot, the whole album is superlative. I will get tickets to the 2014 Grammy Awards hedging my bet that Bowie will be nominated in marquee categories and compelled to appear and perform. What an amazing year for listeners as a result of his renaissance. Cheers, Mr. Jones.

2. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
3. Local Natives - Hummingbird
4. Paul McCartney - New
5. Elton John - The Diving Board
6. Har Mar Superstar - Bye Bye 17
7. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
8. Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience
9. Franz Ferdinand - Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action
10. Arctic Monkeys - AM

Top 10 Singles:

1. Daft Punk - “Get Lucky”
This is how great singles should work and worm their way into your mind, heart and feet. Insinuating themselves into your soul. That one of my heroes, Nile Rodgers was involved was the icing; but the cake was delicious. Disco has never left the building as far as I am concerned. It was fun watching the young’uns get excited about a sound I used to roller skate to in 1979. I particularly enjoyed hearing the mashups and remixes and edits that DJs forged on YouTube with the TV spots forcing Daft Punk to release the official version early - the antithesis of the Bowie strategy; but equally effective. How could I not love “Get Lucky” when the real version was unleashed? So much so that I did a well-received acoustic cover during my May tour of the UK. I was due to perform another version of “Get Lucky” in August and it was the last band performance I rehearsed between my stroke and hospitalization. I certainly got lucky.

2. David Bowie - The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
3. Local Natives - Breakers
4. Flyte - Over And Out  
5. Yoko Ono - Bad Dancer
6. Boy George - King of Everything
7. Classixx - All You’re Waiting For (Feat. Nancy Whang)
8. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
9. Har Mar Superstar - Lady, You Shot Me
10. Paul McCartney - New 

If you haven’t heard some of these LPs or singles, I highly recommend all of them. This was certainly a singles-driven year. I could have listed another 5 or 10 “honorable mention” or “tied for 10th place” records in that category (including tracks by Hanson, Justin Timberlake, Haim, Tom Odell, Math & Science, Jake Bugg and CHVRCHES). A really good year for music... and I didn’t include my own releases. 

Let’s hope 2014 brings us plenty of presents, too.

Peace & Music!
Norman

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