Serena Ryder is a Canadian folk-rocker whose "Stompa" has gone viral after it was featured on Grey's Anatomy, that great incubator of the modern-day coffee shop folk genre. She just won a Juno for Adult Alternative album of the year, and probably gets mistaken for Feist a lot.
Best YouTube Comment: "I thought this was the james bond song by adele, turns out its just awesome" —yaimthatguy
Since I usually grade the charts in different countries and genres, “World Music" might seem redundant, but this week's list comes from Billboard's "World Music" chart, which measures the international albums being bought in the highest volume by Americans. Celtic Thunder are an Irish boy band, not quite a man band. They're a lad band, masterminded by producer Sharon Browne, whose PBS specials feature them performing a variety of Irish and non-Irish songs. "Their live shows are known for ... a stage set resembling an ancient stone pathway suggestive of those referenced in Celtic lore." Sounds pretty Spinal Tap. The "World Music" genre doesn't only mean actual music from around the world, but also a specific sort of New Age-y folk music, as exemplified here by Celtic Thunder.
Best YouTube Comment: "Incredible performance of this song. Best I've heard. Of course, I love Celtic Thunder." — LornaMason
1. Avicii & Nicky Romero, "I Could Be The One (Dank USA Remix")
I have already endorsed this generic summer choon in two previous installments of Grading the Charts based mostly on its video about an office worker gone wild on a tropical dream vacation. Dank is a DJ who runs his own label called Funky Element Records. This makes me feel like a sketchy teenager, but for something so bass-heavy it weighs almost nothing.
Best YouTube Comment: "I could be rawwwwwwwrrrrrrr wieueueeueue pfrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ksssshhhhhhhhhh" — JanGraaf
Calibre 50 are a regional Mexican quartet from Sinaloa. The 19th-century immigration of German settlers to Mazatlán introduced elements of polka into the local music, which is why this sounds like oom-pah music. Lead singer/accordionist Eden Muñoz has a beautiful voice. "Aqui Estoy" put me in a perfect summery mood.
Best YouTube Comment: "buena rolaaa!!!" — felipeavalos
Afrojack, as your friend I must warn you: Chris Brown is not really your friend. He's just here to drag Drake, break some windows, and lay the pipe.
Best YouTube Comment: "wow…I am in total awe at how cringe-worthy this is. I thought it was a fucking parody…seriously…trenchcoats and eagles? singing goldfish? Game of Thrones meets Strip Club? WHAT THE FUCK? worst video…ever." — SimonDuPlaya
I bet all you Timberhaters who predicted Justin would flop after "Suit & Tie" feel dumb now that you heard the album! Unless you don't like grown and sexy music to make babies to, in which case I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. There was a worldwide collective sigh of relief after Justin dropped his second single from The 20/20 Experience. "Mirrors" is considered a safer bet than "Suit & Tie" even though it's more than eight minutes long. Maybe it's telling that Justin's big love song about his ideal partner compares her to a mirror by which he may better look at himself, but look, I choose to interpret it as a sweet "I'll Be Your Mirror"–type thing. As for all the people who thought Justin should bench Timbaland because his beats are tired, do you still like those Aaliyah songs? Because Timbaland is still the guy who made them, so sit down. Sure, it's a little embarrassing to hear Justin sing so earnestly about love and know it's about Jessica Biel, but it's exactly what we all love about Justin: He commits! And then he gives 100 percent. If your heart doesn't crack when Timberlake's voice does at 4:35, I can't help you. No one can. Grade: A Best YouTube Comment: "Move over Bieber, Daddys Home." —Drew Carrey
From the intro I thought this was going to be a Lynyrd Skynyrd–type Southern-rock barn burner. Instead it settles down into a slow-paced last dance at last call underneath a star cluster of disco balls. Grade: B- Best YouTube Comment: "I don't understand how ppl can hate country music. All it takes is giving it a chance dang it!" —HelenJaguey
Hande Yener is a Turkish pop diva who has sold 17 million albums in her 13-year career. Yener started out as a backup singer for "Queen of Turkish Pop" Sezen Aksu, which allowed her to eventually release a solo project. Yener is known for her fusion of Turkish musical traditions with modern Euro-pop sounds. "Hasta" is the lead single from her 2012 album of the same name. The video shows Hande serving up some Madonna "Hung Up"-era lilac feathered realness from a horizontal dance floor.
1. The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, "Slave to Love" (The Jazz Age)
Do you love the songs of Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music? Do you ever wish you could hear them played in the style of 1920s jazz? For example, why not strip "Slave to Love" of its minimalist high-tech production and transform it from one of the sexiest songs ever recorded into a jaunty little rag that could play over Woody Allen credits? The Jazz Age is Ferry's experiment in doing just that, and also the lowest-charting album of his career. Ferry couldn't care less, as he made it to amuse himself. He told a magazine that he'd "gone back to the music I liked listening to when I was a young lad, nine or 10 years old. I was really fairly precocious for that time." Precocious child is usually code for pretentious child (I was too, Bryan). As much as I love these Ferry songs, forgive me if I'd rather hear the man himself cover some Jazz Age classics than run through these oddly passionless instrumental remakes. I want to hear Ferry sing "Basin Street Blues" or "How Come You Do Me Like You Do?"
Best YouTube Comment: "This is fun stuff. It's all done tongue in cheek! Need to marry this music up with vintage Fleischer and Messmer animation!" — MsGeek703
1. Kidz Bop Kids, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (Kidz Bop 23)
They did it! They made it more annoying! Congratulations to the Kidz Bop team of scientists for their tireless efforts at making the hardest possible things to listen to. They shouldn't play Metallica at Guantanamo Bay. They should play this. (Just kidding, they shouldn't torture people!) Not annoying enough for you? There's always the chipmunk version for super extreme masochists.
Best YouTube Comment: "Sounds better than taylor swift. Sorry swifties." — balayamegalaya
1. The Barden Bellas ft. The Treblemakers, "Riff Off: Mickey/Like A Virgin/Hit Me With Your Best Shot/S&M/Let's Talk About Sex/I'll Make Love To You/Feels Like The First Time/No Diggity" (Pitch Perfect)
Pitch Perfect, Kay Cannon's comedy about college a cappella groups, has quickly established itself as a cult hit worthy of sitting alongside slumber party classics like Bring It On, Empire Records, and Grease. Personally, even the best a capella rendition of a song just makes me want to listen to the actual song. Of the various medleys and covers in Pitch Perfect, the sex song medley from the "Riff Off" sequence is the clear standout. And let's all just agree to put Rebel Wilson in everything from now on, OK?
Best YouTube Comment: "idk about anyone, but I got really excited when Ester Dean (Cynthia Rose) sang S&M…considering it's her song that she wrote for Rihanna" — Kaylaa1DAllstar
Wande Coal interpolates Ini Kamoze's "Here Comes the Hotstepper" on a beat by Don Jazzy to dicuss booty calls. Coal made the move from Mo'Hits records to Don Jazzy's new label Mavin Records when Jazzy and his former business partner D'banj split up. I like the horror movie theme chimes, sneaky bass line, and the kick itself, but there is so much pitch-shifted gravy on the vocals.