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We're just over halfway through the year, and, so far, 2013 has proven to be an exciting year in music. There have been huge releases from some of the biggest names in music, like Justin Timberlake, Kanye West and Daft Punk. We've also seen some surprising resurrections from musicians like Fall Out Boy and David Bowie, whose careers were assumed to be fixtures of the past. While the past few years have shown the music industry heading into a downward spiral, it's reassuring to see artists that are still out there willing to create exciting, new music. While there's still plenty of sure-to-be big releases scheduled for the latter half of the year--look out for new material from Robin Thicke, John Mayer, MGMT and Kings of Leon--now is the perfect time to take a look back at all the great albums and musical events 2013 has given us so far.
10. David Bowie - The Next Day
Two months before the album's release, the legendary David Bowie took to his website to announce he would be releasing his first studio album in 10 years. The sudden announcement, along with the release of the album's first single "Where Are We Now?", shocked the music industry and Bowie's fans, who believed the singer had retired. The surprise announcement paid off for the eccentric singer - the album currently holds an 81 "universal acclaim" score on aggregate review site
Since Frank Ocean's surprise success in 2012, the members of Odd Future have received a sudden burst of attention. Group leader Tyler, the Creator took this opportunity to release the most ambitious record of his career. Wolf features a more amped-up production value and sees Tyler tackling more complex issues, like consumerism and the struggles of fame. Featuring guest appearances from Odd Future members, including Earl Sweatshirt and Mike G, the album debuted at number three on Billboard and received generally favorable reviews.
8. A$AP Rocky - Long. Live. A$AP.
It seemed like the hype around Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky was building forever. With hit songs "Goldie" and "Problems" under his belt, the young MC was poised to take the hip hop world by storm. After being pushed back from its September 2012 release date, his debut album Long. Live. A$AP. was finally released. Featuring some high profile collaborators worthy of a seasoned veteran (2 Chainz, Drake and Florence Welch, just to name a few), the album debuted at number one. A$AP is taking his highly popular act on the road on a national tour with fellow rappers Schoolboy Q and Danny Brown.
7. Justin Bieber - Believe Acoustic
Admittedly, it's not hard to believe that teen sensation Justin Bieber would have a number one album. What's really impressive about this release is that Bieber can release essentially the same album all over again, and it still performs as well as its predecessor. The acoustic album became Bieber's fifth number one album to date and proved that 'Bieber Fever' is an epidemic that is clearly here to stay.
6. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
One of the biggest indie rock bands in the nation came back in full force this year with the release of Modern Vampires of the City. The band took their time with this album, setting no release date and spending nearly three years on and off writing and recording. The result - a unique, modern sound completely separate from the band's previous releases, and the band's second number one album. Critics echoed the album's commercial success, with some even comparing the record to the Beatles' iconic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
5. Fall Out Boy - Save Rock and Roll
2013 started to sound a lot like 2005 when emo rock band Fall Out Boy announced they were reuniting to release their new album in nearly five years. Following the band's high profile split and failed solo attempts from some of its members, fans wondered if the group could reclaim the success from its golden years. By taking more of a pop direction and collaborating with a wide variety of artists (how many records have Courtney Love and Elton John on it?), Fall Out Boy proved all the doubters wrong. The album debuted at number one, and single "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)" went platinum and became a worldwide hit.
4. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Dubstep kings ain't got nothin' on Daft Punk. The original hit makers of electronic music released their fourth studio album under one of the most stylized promotional campaigns of the year, which included billboard ads and an original web series. The duo cut back on electronic instruments in favor of a live sound and recruited collaborators like The Strokes' Julian Casablancas and Pharrell Williams (who worked on that minor hit "Get Lucky" - perhaps you've heard it?). The album is the group's biggest hit to date, reaching number one in over twenty countries.
3. Kanye West - Yeezus
With all the media attention surrounding his roller-coaster romance with Kim Kardashian, you might have forgotten the Kanye West is one of the greatest rappers of his generation. Self-indulgent New York Times articles and reality TV show appearances aside, West continued the darker, experimental trend he started with My Deautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Yeezus features a more primal sound and was recorded primarily in France, where West and producer Rick Rubin were still working on it days before its release. West also took a more unconventional approach to promoting the record, ominously tweeting details of the album's release and displaying video projections on the side of buildings. The tactics worked, as Yeezus debuted at number one.
2. Jay-Z - Magna Carta...Holy Grail
Announcing the new album in a Samsung ad, Jay-Z takes the cake for the most unique announcement of the year. After his turn as executive producer for The Great Gatsby soundtrack, Jay-Z got back to his roots on his twelfth studio album, featuring the big name guests you'd expect out of one of the biggest rappers on the planet (Justin Timberlake, wife Beyonce Knowles and Frank Ocean just to name a few). HOVA released the album for free digital download on July 4 for Samsung users, but that didn't stop people from paying full price for the disc. After its official debut on July 8 it was already certified platinum by the RIAA.
1. Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience
Justin Timberlake ruled the airwaves in 2006 after the release of his mega-hit album FutureSex/LoveSounds. Rather than bank on his music success right away, Justin took a seven year hiatus to conquer film and fashion and basically everything he attempted. Just when we were starting to forget he used to make music, Justin decided to remind us why he's responsible for some of the biggest pop hits of the last decade. Behind one of the most expertly constructed promotional campaigns in recent memory, Justin seemed to be everywhere leading up to the album's release, performing on the Grammys and during the Super Bowl and partnering with some huge sponsors, including Target and Bud Light. Industry executives predicted a huge response, and they were right. The 20/20 Experience received overall positive reviews, sold nearly one million copies in its first week, and spawned two of the biggest hits of 2013 so far, "Suit & Tie" and "Mirrors." If that wasn't enough, Justin announced a follow-up to the hit album can be expected before the end of the year, so it seems the Timberlake domination experienced seven years ago is making a comeback.