It is a truth universally acknowledged that in event of a nuclear holocaust two things will persist: cockroaches and pop music. In our monthly Pop for Skeptics column, Rohin Guha explains how the latter need not be a terrifying thing to navigate, nuclear holocaust or not.
No pop fan really knows what to do with himself in January. It’s a special time of year when new fads are still being cooked up and otherwise unremarkable artists — nice to see you again, Nicole Scherzinger! — stand a fair shot at selling more than just a couple records. Some enterprising pop oracles might consult science, the stars, and mathematical trends to make all kinds of predictions about what is set to become “the next big thing.” Others, like me, will wait until some stuff has happened to do that. Sure, with January finally over and done with, it’s probably a bit too late to be making prognostications about what we should look forward to in pop this year, but to borrow a phrase from last year: YOLO. Below, then, are precisely 50 reasons to look forward to pop music in 2013.
3. Burlesque queen Dita von Teese’s toe-dip into electro-pop, with assistance by broody duo Monarchy.
4. The comeback of another broody duo: HURTS.
5. The Destiny’s Child reunion — albeit without founding members Letoya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson.
6 & 7. Pop music is sorely lacking a DJ with an appreciation for video game scores — and it could always use more spirited vocalists. So it’s a good thing Zedd, who’s currently producing Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP album but is also known for his Legend of Zelda reswizzle, and Foxes have joined forces to deliver a soaring bit of rave-pop that evokes the similar pulsating desperation of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own.”
8. Nine-piece Korean girl band Girls’ Generation reinterpret Duffy’s 2008 hit “Mercy” in the confusingly-titled “Dancing Queen” — no relation to ABBA’s anthem of the same name.
9. More Le1f.
10. Somewhere on the Internet, critics are trying to hype girl band HAIM as the next coming of Fleetwood Mac or The Rolling Stones — and I don’t know what would possess such mean-spirited folks to set up a promising act like HAIM for such failure! “Don’t Save Me” is a treasure, and while there is a certain Kelly Clarkson-esque je ne sais quoi to the song, their sound is purely their own.
11, 12, 13, 14, and 15. The continued domination of pop by One Direction — you know, all five members of it.
16. This video for “You (Ha Ha Ha)” by Charli XCX.
17. Purists might cringe, but Tegan and Sara have been able to cross over to the world of electro-pop with aplomb; “I Was a Fool” demonstrates just how at home they seem with their latest sound.
18. But Tegan and Sara aren’t the only pop duo promising brilliance this year. Icona Pop ruled 2012 with the breakout hit “I Love It,” and if their trippy, Lesley Gore-sampling “My Party” is any indication, they’ll dazzle with their debut album soon enough.
19. The impending comeback of Ginger Spice. Seriously.
20 & 21. Beyoncé featuring Lady Gaga, part two.
22. The next round of Marina and the Diamonds’ American tour.
23. More The Knife.
24. The extraordinary genius of 17-year-old pop siren Chloë Howl.
25. Despite its startling resemblance to lineups of the past three years, Coachella 2013 looks like it might not be the worst place to be if you’re a person with ears who enjoys good music.
26 & 27. A last-ditch attempt by Cher Lloyd’s people to turn her into more than a one-hit wonder after following up her hit “Want U Back” with the unfortunate non-starter “Oath”: a redo of “With Ur Love” that finds her teaming up with the unlikeliest of collaborators — Three 6 Mafia’s Juicy J.
28 & 29. Whispers that Jake Shears — taking a break from music along with the rest of the Scissor Sisters — appears to be hard at work on a top-secret project with Queens of the Stone Age.
30. Noir-pop shenanigans from quintessential French starlet Alizée.
31. The long-awaited comeback of Selena Gomez & the Scene.
32. While details are scant, there’s also the promise of a full-length album from Sky Ferreira.
33. The eventual roll-out of Eurovision 2013 contenders, including such luminaries as Cascada, of “Evacuate the Dancefloor” fame.
34. Yep, I’m going to say it, Lisa Loeb’s “No Fairytale”:
35. J-pop divas Koda Kumi’s absurdly big-budgeted videos, like this one for “LAST ANGEL,” a track that is apparently the theme to the film Resident Evil 3: Extinction.
36. She & Him have a new one on the way.
37, 38 & 39. Angel Haze and Iggy Azalea have a few things in common: They’ve both fought with Azealia Banks, perpetuating the myth that the pop ecosystem can’t contain more than one lady emcee at a time. But when they’re not picking fights, all three are actually pretty good at making music, too. This year will see a wealth of gems from this holy trinity of hip hop’s newest wave.
40. Courtney Stodden’s pop career — and before you cringe, do recall that even Paris Hilton’s transient musical romp resulted in this sparkling gem.
41. The undeniable genius of Betty Who’s single “Somebody Loves You”:
42. This East-meets-West slice of trance fusion. It was a close call, though, after the shit-tacular misfire that was Bollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra’s RedOne/will.i.am-assisted “In My City” threatened to prematurely end her forays into pop.
43. AlunaGeorge — but then, you didn’t need us to tell you about that, since everybody’s already obsessed with this stellar pop duo.
44. In case you haven’t picked up on it, pop duos seem to be 2013’s flavor — which makes news of another Sleigh Bells album, right on the heels of last year’s spectacular Reign of Terror, a welcome treat.
47. Amid all this palaver about comebacks, let’s not forget the biggest one of the year: Fleetwood Mac.
48 & 49. Six words: Jewel featuring Kelly Clarkson: “Foolish Games.”
50. And of course — of course! — Beyoncé at the Super Bowl.