Best Of iTunes 2013 Lists
December 17, 2013

Candy Crush Saga, JT And Beyoncé Nab Top Spots On 2013 Best Of iTunes Lists

Bryan P. Carpender for - Your Universe Online

By definition, a crush is an infatuation that typically doesn't last very long, but there's one crush this year that has proven more than temporary. The notoriously addictive game Candy Crush Saga nabbed the top spot on Apple’s Best of iTunes list, capturing top rankings as the No. 1 most downloaded free app for both the iPhone and the iPad.

Although plenty of people are sweet on Candy Crush Saga, they aren’t necessarily willing to pay for it. The candy confection game was only able to capture top honors in the free app categories, while the honors of top paid app for both iPhone and iPad go to Minecraft – Pocket Edition.

When it comes to games, the flame of fascination tends to burn with heat and intensity for a short period of time before dying down as players move on to the next big thing. Examples of this fleeting fame include Words with Friends, Angry Birds and FarmVille. They’ve all been the hot new game, only to lose their throne to the next game in waiting. However, each continues to enjoy long-term popularity, sometimes by keeping things fresh with new incarnations - like the Angry Birds Star Wars series.

Apps-olutely Focused On Communication

Other top free titles for the iOS App Store include favorites like Netflix, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. It would seem we have a predilection toward games, communication and social media apps to fill those activity gaps and keep us feeling connected in our lives.

Apple named Duolingo as its pick for the free iPhone App of the Year for 2013. The app, designed to help you learn languages (six languages are currently featured), is still free and has no plans to start charging, which no doubt caused a few furrowed brows over at Rosetta Stone. Duolingo uses pictures, video clips and your smartphone’s microphone to help you learn words by reciting them aloud and writing them out, blazing a trail in mobile language education.

In addition to tracking the year’s top apps, the Best of 2013 lists include top rankings for music, movies, TV shows, books and podcasts.

Top TV shows included Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead in the top 3 spots, with other favorites like Game of Thrones, Mad Men, and Dexter were peppered throughout the top sellers list. Top selling movies included the latest James Bond adventure Skyfall, animated hit Wreck-It Ralph and Oscar-winner Argo on the medal stand.

You can check out Apple’s Best of 2013 lists in their entirety and see how it compares with your own personal lists.

Music’s For The People: Top Sellers Reflect Wide Range Of Tastes

The apps, TV and movies lists are cool, but the most eagerly discussed category is easily iTunes’ music. 2013’s top music sellers are an eclectic group, representing a full range of musical styles and tastes. Albums from popular country star Luke Bryan, electronic music stalwarts Daft Punk, neo-soul crooner Bruno Mars and alternative rock act Imagine Dragons all made the list. Two film soundtracks also ranked among the top sellers with music from Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and the a capella mashups from 2012’s Pitch Perfect proving popular with listeners.

However, everyone is talking about the top two spots on the albums list – specifically the runner up, which we’ll get to in a moment. (You’ll see why the No. 2 is really the winner.)

Justin Timberlake – everyone’s favorite former Mouseketeer – scores the top spot with “The 20/20 Experience – 1 of 2.” After being absent from the music world for several years, JT made a triumphant return, releasing the two-part album and playing to sold-out crowds on his tour with Jay Z. But the runner-up finisher is what everyone is talking about.

What makes the year’s second biggest selling album so special is the fact it was released only five days ago. Beyoncé released her eponymous “visual album” in a brilliant swoop-down sneak attack, effectively turning the music world upside down.

This new media marketing coup started when Queen B announced her new album release via Instagram late Thursday night with a quick InstaVid accompanied by the succinct caption, “Surprise!”

Social media exploded overnight as people scrambled to find out what was going on. Eager fans were shocked to find not a new single, but an entire album with 14 new songs – AND individual music videos for each new track, representing Beyoncé’s visual representation of each new song.

From a technology standpoint, this release merits discussion because it challenges conventional wisdom about how to launch an album. With no advance warning, no radio single to drum up anticipation, and no huge promotional blitz, this album is a high-tech milestone.

For starters, Beyoncé made it available exclusively through iTunes for the first week; this was a daring move, as fans had to purchase the album in its entirety. (This proved to be an easy sell, thanks to the accompanying music videos.) This approach was a gamble that paid off – big time.

She effectively crashed the iTunes servers for a short time in the wee hours of Friday morning, as people frantically downloaded the unexpected new audio/video treasure. The new album went on to shatter iTunes sales records, selling 617,000 units in the first three days in the US, and nearly 830,000 units worldwide.

By giving fans a multimedia experience for her new album and ensuring that it finds its way onto their mobile devices so they can take it with them and immerse themselves in it, Beyoncé is keenly aware of the reach of digital technology. In fact, no physical copies of the album will be available until December 20th.

It will be interesting to see how this paradigm shift affects how other artists launch their new albums, connecting directly with fans and consumers. Critics, industry executives and fans alike will all be keeping an eye on this trend. And you can bet that other artists are revisiting their game plans, as well.