The first of my two end of year countdowns, here are my 40 favourite albums of 2013:
40. Hurts - Exile
39. Haim - Days Are Gone
38. Céline Dion - Loved Me Back To Life
37. will.i.am - #willpower
36. Rudimental - Home
35. Cascada - Acoustic Sessions
34. Kelly Clarkson - Wrapped In Red
33. Leona Lewis - Christmas, With Love
32. Krista Siegfrids - Ding Dong!
31. Bastille - Other People's Heartache Pt. 1 & 2
30. Taylor Swift - Red
29. Nádine - Eindeloos
28. Imagine Dragons - Night Visions
27. Britney Spears - Britney Jean
26. London Grammar - If You Wait
25. Little Mix - Salute
24. Boyzone - BZ20
23. Gary Barlow - Since I Saw You Last
22. Icona Pop - This Is...Icona Pop
21. Beyoncé - BEYONCÉ
20. Pet Shop Boys - Electric
19. Agnetha Fältskog - A
18. Emmelie De Forest - Only Teardrops
17. Gabrielle Aplin - English Rain
16. The Saturdays - Living For The Weekend
15. Calvin Harris - 18 Months
14. Lorde - Pure Heroine
13. Katy Perry - Prism
12. Caro Emerald - The Shocking Miss Emerald
11. Army Of Lovers - Big Battle Of Egos
10. Delta Goodrem - Innocent Eyes (Ten Year Anniversary Acoustic Edition)
Highlights: In My Own Time, This Is Not Me, Will You Fall For Me, Innocent Eyes
9. Tom Odell - Long Way Down
Highlights: Can't Pretend, Grow Old With Me, Another Love, I Know
8. Zedd - Clarity
Highlights: Follow You Down, Clarity, Spectrum, Stache
7. Bastille - Bad Blood
Highlights: Pompeii, Flaws, Oblivion, Things We Lost In The Fire, Icarus (and Of The Night and The Draw from All This Bad Blood)
6. Lady Gaga - ARTPOP
Highlights: Applause, Gypsy, Do What U Want, Aura, Artpop, Dope
5. Disclosure - Settle
Highlights: F For You, Latch, Help Me Lose My Mind, White Noise, When A Fire Starts To Burn, Voices, You & Me, Confess To Me
4. Ellie Goulding - Halcyon Days
Highlights: Figure 8, How Long Will I Love You, Anything Could Happen, My Blood, Burn, Under Control, You My Everything
3. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Highlights: Get Lucky, Giorgio By Moroder, Instant Crush, Give Life Back To Music, Touch, Contact
2. Sara Bareilles - The Blessed Unrest
Highlights: Chasing The Sun, Brave, Manhattan, Hercules, Little Black Dress, Satellite Call, Cassiopeia, Eden
1. Avicii - True
Highlights: Wake Me Up, Hey Brother, You Make Me, Always On The Run, Dear Boy, Addicted To You, Liar Liar, Lay Me Down, Edom
A solid year for albums, the bottom half of the top 40 sees solid second albums from Hurts and Little Mix, unexpectedly good comebacks from Céline Dion, Gary Barlow and Beyoncé, charming festive albums from Kelly Clarkson and Leona Lewis and fantastic debuts from Icona Pop, Krista Siegfrids, London Grammar, Rudimental, Haim and Imagine Dragons. Veterans like Britney Spears, Boyzone and Cascada also put out strong collections to varying levels of success. will.i.am's #willpower, Bastille's mixtapes, South African singer Nádine and Taylor Swift's 2012 album Red also appear here.
Into the top 20 and some solid returns from veterans Pet Shop Boys and unexpectedly, ABBA singer Agnetha Fältskog. Eurovision winner Emmelie De Forest's lovely ethno-folk debut, Gabrielle Aplin's pleasant first LP and the latest album by The Saturdays also make it into this section. Calvin Harris kicks off the top 15 with his 2012 album 18 Months, just behind New Zealander Lorde's excellent debut Pure Heroine. New albums by Katy Perry and Caro Emerald and a comeback greatest hits collection from Swedish pop legends Army Of Lovers just miss the top ten.
Delta Goodrem finishes in the end of year top ten once again, this time with the recently reviewed Ten Year Anniversary Acoustic Edition of my all time favourite album, Innocent Eyes. Fantastic debuts from rising British stars Tom Odell and Bastille, and German producer Zedd all finish top ten alongside the long anticipated ARTPOP, the third (or fourth if you class The Fame Monster as an album) album from Lady Gaga.
Combining a 90s garage sound with contemporary house production, young Surrey fraternal duo Disclosure finish in fifth place with Settle just behind Ellie Goulding's Halcyon Days at No.4, the re-release of her successful second album Halcyon, adding a bonus commercial sounding disc of pop which includes the hits Burn and How Long Will I Love You. French dance duo Daft Punk had a brilliant comeback with the monster smash hit Get Lucky which features on the highly recommended Random Access Memories, a real return to disco form after their disappointing 2005 album Human After All.
Finishing second in my 2008 end of year chart with Little Voice, Californian singer Sara Bareilles is right back on form this year with new album The Blessed Unrest, which has been nominated alongside Daft Punk for Album of the Year at the Grammy's no less! Perhaps the most surprisingly good album of the year, power-pop anthems like Brave and Little Black Dress are instantly infectious, there's the mid-tempo brilliance of Chasing The Sun, Hercules and Eden and then the gorgeous piano balladry of Manhattan (up there with City and Gravity) and the haunting Satellite Call. It's a fantastic album from Sara and it's criminal that she continues to be written off as a one hit wonder here when Brave is practically screaming to be a UK hit.
And at No.1, in an incredible year for dance music, it's only fair that a dance album tops my end of year chart. And when you consider his existing hits that are missing from the debut studio album of Sweden's super producer Avicii - I Could Be The One, Levels, Fade Into Darkness/Collide, Silhouettes, My Feelings For You - it's astonishing that True still manages to be this good. After years of lowest common denominator chart dance from David Guetta (although he's had a couple of incredible tracks natually), it's good to see a commercial dance force who manages to put out thoughtful and innovative dance music, whilst using vocals from lesser known acts such as Dan Tyminski, Aloe Blacc, Salem Al Fakir and Audra Mae on this album. True is one of those joyful albums that packs in smash after smash - the huge techno-country hits Wake Me Up and Hey Brother, the oddball excellence of You Make Me and Dear Boy, the euphoria of Edom and the beauty of bonus track Always On The Run. It's one of the best dance albums I've heard in many years and Avicii truly deserves all of his success. Had he included his aformentioned missing hits on it too, it could have comfortably become one of my favourite albums of all time.