The Shakerite Recaps Music in 2013

Students rank albums and songs of the year


Alex Rich — senior, Music Editor, The Shakerite; music fan

Walker Edwards — junior, Sankofa Rap co-leader, rap connoisseur

Jack Crowley — senior, Senior Music Lover primarily interested in alternative rock; bassist for Lack of Focus

Chris Gillooly — sophomore, The producer behind Three’s Company

Nick Adamson — senior, I’m Nick Adamson

Ben Goodman — senior, Shaker senior music enthusiast, specializing in hip-hop and rap.

Jack Canaday — junior, music fan

Rachel Elson — junior, music fan

Shane McKeon — senior, musician with TECHN!COLOR and Whale Songs

Top 10 Albums

1. “Yeezus” — Kanye West | From the moment his face appeared on 66 buildings in cities across the world, to the moment he went on SNL, to the moment his abrasive, challenging masterpiece hit No. 1 on the charts, we knew Kanye West had, once again, had taken over the pop music world and created the album of the year.

Key moments:

– “New Slaves” | Kanye fumes about modern racism, attacking the prison-industrial complex and, more generally, rich, white America.

– “Black Skinhead” | Kanye premiered this angry banger on Saturday Night Live, where he continued to rap about modern racism. Referring to his relationship with Kim Kardashian, “They see a black man with a white woman at the top floor, they gonna come to kill King Kong.”

– “Blood on the Leaves” | The album’s climax, blending Nina Simone’s cover of “Strange Fruit” with huge horns and trap hi-hats, Kanye delivers a challenging, auto-tune soaked story of a troubled relationship.

– “Bound 2” | Kanye revisits his old, soul-sampling style on this album-closing happy ending. Singing to his love (Kim), Kanye closes an otherwise troubling, angry album with a love song that would fit in on “College Dropout.” Also, note the incredibly-catchy Charlie Wilson interlude. The music video has elevated the song to new heights, spawning a parody by James Franco and Seth Rogan.

2. “Modern Vampires of the City” — Vampire Weekend | The four Columbia University graduates depart from their “Graceland”-inspired discography to create an album of the American experience, contemplating God, death and road trips.

Key moments:

– “Step” | A beautiful, Canon-in-D-inspired reflection on growing up. Departing from their more worldly discography, “Step” walks you through the United States with swagger. “While home in New York was champagne and disco / Tapes from L.A. slash San Francisco / But actually Oakland and not Alameda / Your girl was in Berkeley with her Communist reader.”

– “Hannah Hunt” | Another truly American song, singer Ezra Koenig describes a road trip, “as we made our way from Providence to Phoenix.” On Koenig also delivers the album’s most cathartic moment; at the band swings into high gear, he screams the chill-inducing refrain, “If I can’t trust you then damn it, Hannah / There’s no future, there’s no answer.”

– “Diane Young” | The album’s most popular song, a thinly veiled reflection on dying young (Diane Young, dyin’ young, get it?). While the song is a musical departure, Vampire Weekend do channel a bit of their Ivy League affluence, singing, “Irish and proud, baby, naturally / But you got the luck of a Kennedy.”

3. “Reflektor” — Arcade Fire | With three epic albums under their belt, these indie rock giants created an overall lighter album. With the help of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy helping with production, “Reflektor” is dancier, catchier and more fun than their previous works, but it maintains the attention-to-detail and lyricism we’ve come to expect and respect from Arcade Fire.

Key moments:

– “Reflektor” | The 7-minute-34-second dance epic features vocals from David Bowie. The first song on the album, the song sets the tone. Musically, Arcade Fire has become more precise, incorporating subtle synths and Haitian drumming. Singer Win Butler remains one of the great lyricists today, singing, “We fell in love when I was nineteen and now we’re staring at a screen.”

– “Afterlife” | The strongest song on “Reflektor,” this song explores religion, death and the concept of heaven. Just as on “Night Time,” when Butler sings about “heaven” in the gated communities, “Afterlife” explores that same concept in a different light: how life and death interact with love. Butler and the band frantically ask, “Can we work it out? / Can we scream and shout, ’till we work it out?” and “When love is gone where does it go?”

– “Here Comes The Night Time” | The song starts with a swell of fast, double-time drums and screeching guitars before slowing down to a bouncy Caribbean jam. The band visited Haiti during Carnival, and, inspired, Butler paints a story of rich and poor. He describes “heaven,” gated communities in Haiti — “When they hear the beat, coming from the street, they lock the door” — and eventually concludes that he’d rather out be celebrating in the streets, singing, “If you’re looking for Hell, just try looking inside.”

– “Normal Person” | Arcade Fire channel one of their biggest inspirations, The Talking Heads, on this epic about being “normal.” “Waiting after school for you / They want to know if you / If you’re normal too. / Well, are you?”

4. “Random Access Memories” — Daft Punk | An album built around the song of the summer, Daft Punk presents 13 tracks just as strong as “Get Lucky,” mixing their signature style with their old-school influences: Giorgio Moroder and disco.

Key moments:

– “Get Lucky” | The song of the summer. This disco-reviving earworm introduced Daft Punk to a new group of listeners.

– “Within” | “RAM,” populated with catchy dance tracks, takes a break for this ballad.

– “Lose Yourself to Dance” | Using the same formula as “Get Lucky,” Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams deliver another dancey, catchy pop song.

5. “AM” — Arctic Monkeys | Arctic Monkeys has evolved on this album, maturing into a more soulful, laid-back version of their fast, paranoid alt-punk.

Key moments:

– “Do I Wanna Know?” | Arctic Monkeys’ best song to date. From the huge guitar riff to the swooning vocals in the chorus, “Do I Wanna Know?” is a classic.

– “R U Mine?” | The most classic-Arctic Monkeys of the bunch. Fast, loud and not without its rhetorical questions.

– “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” | More rhetorical questions! Arctic Monkeys is at its most laid-back and self-deprecating on this track.

6.  “Matangi” — M.I.A.

7. “Acid Rap” — Chance the Rapper

8. “Pure Heroine” — Lorde

9. “mbv” — My Bloody Valentine

10. “Settle” — Disclosure

Top 10 Songs

1. “Hannah Hunt” — Vampire Weekend

2. “Do I Wanna Know?” — Arctic Monkeys

3. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” — Drake

4. “New Slaves” — Kanye West

5. “Royals” — Lorde

6. “Retrograde” — James Blake

7. “Control” — Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica

8. Reflektor” — Arcade Fire

9. “Get Lucky” — Daft Punk

10. “Mirrors” — Justin Timberlake

Student Lists

Top 5 Debut Albums of 2013

1. “Pure Heroine” – Lorde

2. “Days Are Gone” – HAIM

3. “The Bones of What You Believe” – CHVRCHES

4. “Twin Peaks” – Sunken

5. “Acid Rap” – Chance the Rapper

-Alex Rich


Top 5 Unexpected Collaborations

1. Billie Joe Armstrong & Norah Jones – “Foreverly” [Album]

2. Elvis Costello & The Roots – “Wise Up Ghost and Other Songs” [Album]

3. Robert Glasper featuring Common & Patrick Stump – “Persevere” [Song]

4. The Black Keys & RZA – “The Baddest Man Alive” [Song]

5. Atoms For Peace (Thom Yorke, Flea, Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker, Mauro Refosco) – “AMOK” [Album]

-Chris Gilooly


Top 5 Cleveland Venues to check out in 2014

1) The House of Blues

2) Quicken Loans Arena

3) Severance Hall

4) The Grog Shop

5) Blossom Music Center

-Jack Crowley


Top 5 Beats of the Year:

1. “Black Skinhead” –  produced by Kanye West

2. “Panera Bread” – produced by Lunis

3. “Goldie” – produced by Hit-Boy

4. “Tom Ford” – produced by Timbaland

5. “Shabba” – produced by Snugsworth

-Nick Adamson


Top 5 Mixtapes:

1) “Blue Chips 2” – Action Bronson

2) “Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out” – Tree

3) “Summer Knights” – Joey Bada$$

4) “Indigoism” – The Underachievers

5) “Cavalcade” – Milo

-Ben Goodman

Top 5 Car Sing-a-long Moments

1. Impersonating the pterodactyl-like shrieks of Yeezy’s “Black Skinhead”

2. Screaming the end of Vampire Weekend’s “Hannah Hunt”

3. Doing the “La-dee-da-da-dee // we like to party // dancing with Miley(?) // doing whatever we want” part from Miley’s “We Can’t Stop.” Probably the catchiest four bars of the year.

4. Making random Chance the Rapper noises.

5. Reciting Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse.

-Shane McKeon


Top 5 Ezra Koenig (lead singer of Vampire Weekend) Tweets

1. “selfie was my word of the year…in 2012. In 2013, it’s selfy.”

2. “when drivin home w the fellas, we blast ‘The Boys Are Back in Town.’ when returning solo, I enter my flat &whisper ‘the boy is back in town'”

3. “’do you want to be the richest man in the graveyard??’ ‘why yes, that sounds so elegant and spooky’”


5. “on halloween, u should call everyone u frightened, spooked or startled in the previous year & ask for their forgiveness”

-Rachel Elson


Top 5 One Direction Songs

1. “What Makes You Beautiful”

2. “Strong”

3. “Story of My Life”

4. “More Than This”

5. “Nobody Compares”

-Jack Canaday

Read individual contributors lists and comments here.

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