What a great year. For music, at least. Below you’ll find the music we couldn’t stop listening to during 2013. Here’s why we loved these artists and why you need to make them a part of your 2013 soundtrack. Hurry up, there’s still time.
Why: For crying out loud, the woman snuck into the courtesan section of Mumbai to perfect the tone on her latest world-class album. You know it has to be good.
Best to listen: When you’re sneaking into the courtesan section of Mumbai/whenever you feel it’s necessary and it’s always necessary.
Why: Because as our contributing editor Rohin Guha put it, it’s “a psychedelic and trippy new single which will make you dance.” Done.
Best to listen: When someone asks you if you like curry/ your coworker asks if you know a Khan/your friend asks you to do a math problem.
Why: Because whether you love her or hate her, you can’t help but listen to her.
Best to listen: When you’re rage-tweeting/overthrowing the establishment/otherwise as needed.
Album: “Holding it Down: The Veterans’ Dream Project”
Why: Because as MacArthur genius Iyer told us, the wars of America need to be “addressed and acknowledged.” And who better to tell us the story than veterans?
Best to listen: Non-stop on a loop during the wee hours of the night.
Song: “Hold On, We’re Going Home/ Tuhje Dekha To”
Why: Because Sri Lankan-born Arjun is Britain’s verion of Jay Sean. Oh wait, Jay Sean was Britain’s version of Jay Sean. Well, Arjun’s taking over with his own adorable Hinglish mixes.
Best to listen: When your family comes over for the holidays and you need music that will keep everyone swaying — from the tweens to the uncles.
Song: “Winter Mind”
Why: You can hear his distinctive style from the first measure — gospel+blues.
Best to listen: When you’re snuggling up on the couch and whiling away the winter blues with your loved ones.
Song: “The Border Line”
Why: Because their 2013 album was called Aerogramme?
Best to listen: When you need a dance-in-your underpants on your mattress party/Whenever your miss your mum.
Song: “Beirut (Nantes) Cover”
Why: Because each line she sings has an emotional maturity that belies her young age.
Best time to listen: Breakups/general heartache/whenever you’re feeling emo.
Song: Soup Boys
Why: To borrow from author Teju Cole, it’s an important addition to the soundtrack of the Global War on Terror. Plus anything that samples “Kolaveri Di” = win.
Best to listen: When you watch too much FOX News/you’re vibing Nabeela Rehman.
Song: “Mother Tongue”
Why: Deep, mellifluous vocals + a ukelele-playing sari-clad rocker? Bonus — this song has Hindi, English and Bangla.
Best to listen: When you’re wearing a sari and rocking out on a ukelele. Oh, and when you’re trying to learn a second language, or forget a first.
Album: The Beautiful, Rowdy Prisoners
Why: Because we all know that America’s mass incarceration system poses a huge problem, and Malabar’s album increases awareness by bringing to life “a series of characters drawn from his years working with incarcerated youth and their families.”
Best to listen: When you’re feeling sympathy fatigue and need to jump-start that all-important well of righteous indignation.
Honorable mentions: Umer Piracha’s cover of “Aeroplane Over the Sea,” Mathai’s “Once Again,” Penn Masala’s “Fix You/Ishq Bina,” Anousha Shankar’s duet with half-sister Norah Jones, “Traces of You,” and Jai Matt’s Christmas compilation because TABLAS! Also Shilpa Ray’s “Mother Is a Misanthrope” and Brighu Sahni’s fun-loving ditty “So I Got a Beer.”
Dishonorable mention: Lady Gaga’s “Burqa” and Selena Gomez’s “Come and Get It.” Go appropriate someone else, ladies. Also, Jay Sean’s 2013 release “Neon.” Wait, wait. And Raghav’s single “Woohoo,” featuring a rather bizarre sperm video. (WHAT’S GOING ON, RAGHAV?)
Loved a song or album that we missed? Tweet us at @TheAerogram.
Kishwer Vikaas is a co-founder and editor of The Aerogram. Follow her on Twitter at @phillygrrl or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.