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The VICE Albums of the Year 2013

It's finally here: the big list that's come along to define your year in music.

Image by Marta Parszeniew

As 2013 slams the brakes on, editors the breadth of the land put their feet up on the desk and serve you some reconstituted yesterdays: top-10-20-30-50-100 countdowns of stuff that happened over the past 12 months. But as you grind your way through one end of year music supplement harping on about Kanye's race politics and Giorgio Moroder's continuing influence after another, your eyes go oblong and there's a sense of intense, giddying deja vu. Haven't we seen it all before? In every other magazine/paper/webzine/cereal box? Like, every year? Forever?


Slice through the crap: This truly is The Only Top 50 Albums of the Year Countdown You'll Ever Need.

50: The theoretical position of the Bowie album if he'd released it five years after Reality, rather than ten—i.e. when the public’s indifference was tangible.

49: Act who would be several places higher had their heroic refusal to sell out to the Spotify bloodsuckers meant that practically no one got around to listening to their record.

48: My Bloody Valentine.

47: A$AP Rocky.

46: Band influenced by nothing but My Bloody Valentine whose members weren't born when Kevin Shields started making his "new" record. In other words, they have grown bones, developed kidneys, exited a birth canal, learned to walk, read, defecate independently, mastered their instruments, and figured out the philosophical mechanics of insouciant cool all in the time it has taken Kev to turn on his FX pedals.

45: The A$AP Ferg album strategically listed a few places higher than the A$AP Rocky record ('cus we know our shit).

44: Mixtape from a blog. Demonstrates staff have, at the very least, been on a blog and heard a mixtape, even if they then had to burn it onto a CD and put it in the office stereo.


42: Album by hyper-gormless indie spods whose mere existence in this list instantly invalidates everything else on it by suggesting its curator was a monkey flinging dung at a printout of the year's releases.


41: The theoretical position of the David Bowie album if he'd dropped it two years after Reality, rather than ten—i.e. back when everyone was kind of hoping he’d do something good again.

40: Something so worthy and dull not even James Blake can get through it.

39: Band who finally managed to get their video banned by YouTube on the third attempt.

38: A female artist who collaborated with Danny Brown and had to release a press release defending his lyrics after pop-feminist Twitter commentators tried to lynch her. Who knew that the resulting anti-pop-feminist Twitter backlash would catapult her into the critical consciousness and thus this top 50?

37: Something that would be derided as saccharine bullshit were it not from Scandinavia, but is therefore just "those kooky Swedes" being "kooky."

36: Band trying to be the band Arcade Fire was trying to be four years ago.

35: Band trying to be the band Arcade Fire was trying to be eight years ago.

34: Electronic band feted by the Quietus that Arcade Fire wish they were now that they’ve finally realized guitars haven’t been cool in six years.

33: Album recorded by classic alt-rock band in order to justify an international tour that was secretly designed to get the lead singer away from the miserable marriage he only really entered into in the hope it would stop him from taking drugs.

32: That meh Jay Z album, because we sorta panned the last one anyway and couldn't very well bash two in a row without risking never being granted another interview.


31: World music artist from troubled global hotspot who thankfully won’t have to go back to said shithole for precisely as long as broadsheet interviewers keep asking him about how it is over there.

30: First of the ominous coming wave of noughties acts who are already on the reunion trail.

29: Rapper who does things to girls that Robin Thicke wouldn't in a million years, yet has surfed the wave toward acclaim because all the nakedness in his videos is so haphazardly vulgar and genuinely worrying that no one could possibly cobble together a cogent and newspaper-friendly piece of thumbsuck op-ed about it.

28: Band that has a radical political agenda that is in no way undermined by their previous life in shameless chart-chasing landfill indie outfit.

27: Oh yeah. Them.

26: At least one person in the office is dating a minor-league pop player. This is her / his album.

25: Miley Cyrus. Clearly no one actually listened to this sludge, but the staff must pretend they’ve been devouring it to justify a) the large photo of Cyrus fingering herself with a hammer / foam finger and b) a thinkpiece boxout called "Was 2013 the Year Pop Went Punk?" or "The Return of the Spectacle" or some other such contrived horseshit.

24: Act who, 12 months ago, the publication declared “The Sound of 2013.”

23 - 20: Albums by known and respected acts that you didn't even know had been released because of the deluge of decent new records the modern world is constantly spewing out and the desperate thirst for novelty with which it burns through them before discarding them forever.


19: Oneohtrix Point Never.

18: Woman who can sing quite well. She’s successfully tilted for the on-trend nu-soul/future RnB market, and her success has largely been based on the fact that—so far—no one has spotted that deep down she's a classic Brit School jazz-hands archetype who's basically Jessie J. with Dev Hynes’ phone number.

17: Something featuring Kendrick Lamar.

16: Laurel Halo.

15: Dance-is-back flagship record that has inspired every over-30 reviewer in the land to slip in some little anecdote about how it was, popping ecstasy back in some sort of "day." Everyone must ignore the fact that dance music hasn’t been anything but consistently popular for the last two decades.

14: Band who began the year smugly laughing at their more commercial peers who’re now really wishing they could pay their rent with critical plaudits.

13: Bratty 18-year-old whose hyper-sexed Japanese-y style represents exactly what middle-aged hacks like to imagine modern teenage life is like.

12: You will see them in a minor tent at a festival next year and suddenly realize that you've probably read well over 2,000 words about them across five different publications, yet never actually gotten around to listening to a note of their music.

11: Ominous point in human history where people voting for Drake as a joke meets people voting for Drake because they are deadly serious. This is basically how the Nazis got power.


10: Kanye West [turn to page 30 for Kanye’s 10 most insane quotes of the year and a picture of him boning his wife on a motorbike].

9: Jon Hopkins or Daniel Avery.

8: John Grant or Pet Shop Boys.

7: The actual position of David Bowie album, owing to the fact that it was released so long after Reality that everyone kind of forgot everything since Let's Dance and curled up obsequiously at his feet.

6: The Daft Punk album because everyone knows it will finally start to be good if you just listen to it a few more times, and right now its continued mediocrity is simply your fault for not listening hard enough.

Numbers 5 - 2: Records that were OK: No one was crazy about them, but no one disliked them much either, so they swam through the middle course, whereas intense records that some people were truly passionate about but others really hated all ultimately failed to make the cut.

NUMBER 1: Arcade Fire (Q), Arctic Monkeys (NME), Sven Vath (Mixmag), Neil Young (Uncut), Neil Young (Mojo), Neil Young (Classic Rock), Neil Young (Home & Garden), some guy humming transcendentally over distorted tape loops of concrete being laid (The Wire).

Follow Gavin Haynes on Twitter: @hurtgavinhaynes

Header collage comprised of fragments taken from here, here and here.

Previously in this series:

The VICE Albums of the Year 2012

The VICE Albums of the Year 2011

The VICE Albums of the Year 2010

The VICE Albums of the Year 2009

The VICE Albums of the Year 2008