Blurred lines as Pop goes 2013
Lily made a gaffe and Bieber’s charm waned. Robin acted Thicke and Miley was ’transformed’. From ’Get lucky’ to GaGa, Chloe Howl to Lorde, it was an electric year for pmusic writes Ailbhe Malone
If 2012 was the year of Dev Hynes, insouciance and shrugging shoulders, in effect of youth (We Are Young, Die Young), then 2013 was a year in retrograde. The biggest song of the year (what else, but Get Lucky) sounded like a Chic out-take (which, given its provenance, isn’t an inaccurate simile). The second-biggest, Blurred Lines, was retro in a less appealing way, for reasons which a thousand thinkpieces will explain. American import Ariana Grande dressed like a 1950s debutante and warbled like 1990s Mariah. Haim, the success story of the year, were a traditional success story. Theirs is a well-beaten path, one that was was easily followed in the 1970s as now. A trio of gigging sisters, plugging and plugging away, touring and gigging, playing their own music and finally getting where they wanted to be. A triumvirate of Stevie Nickses, wearing cut-offs and American Apparel.
It was a year that held its breath for the most part, waiting. A year that teased. Beyoncé nudged along tracks such as Grown Woman, and did the Pepsi campaign, and every few months, mentioned an album. And then dropped the album overnight, with no explanation. Britney promised her Ray Of Light, and her most personal album yet. Instead, we got Work Bitch – a glassy, game-face of a single – the opposite of a confessional chat in the loos. Gaga’s ARTPOP was tweaked endlessly, then leaked, then singles were released in a panic.
Meanwhile, labels teased fans with videos, and lyric videos, and, most ridiculously, previews to lyric videos. Some artists took this more seriously than others, and Katy Perry’s lyric video to Roar is indeed an emoji masterclass. The experience was drip-fed, with the intention of streamlined “content”, but the effect was one of overexposure – snippets on repeat, like ringtones on the back of the bus.
It was a year where moves that would once have worked, didn’t cut it, as Justin Timberlake found out, puzzled when The 20/20 Experience didn’t go down as well as it could have. Equally, Gaga was on the rocks with ARTPOP – a jumble of an album, more statement than songs. Lurking within though, were three bona-fide singles (two of which, Applause and Do What U Want have been released, the third, Sexxx Dreams, remains with its nose pressed against the glass). But as always, it was a year in which the big song won out – as Mirrors proved for JT, and Applause for Gaga.
Other big solo artists hammed it up in a manner that Cher would approve of, with Britney bagging herself a Vegas residency with the resplendent Work Bitch. Cher, incidentally, had a wonderful year, both career-wise and on Twitter. Coming back to emojis, Cher’s fave, reports the Guardian, is the cheeky ghost one. “That’s happy. That’s me dancing, when I put that on.”