Favorite Singles / Songs 2013
I probably missed some (I always do), but this is a list of the songs that kept my ears tuned in throughout the year. As years go, this was not a bad one (save for that horrible hillbilly dance music trend and the return of Jay Z).
The Stars (Are Out Tonight) / Where Are We Now? – David Bowie
Cryptic musings from a reinvigorated space alien. ‘Stars’ coasts by with a speed and lushness that only Bowie can bring to the table. ‘Where’ aches with age, experience, and a well-trod heart.
Clarity – Zedd feat. Foxes
2013’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’. In other words, a well-written song with a fresh point of view performed flawlessly. Ear candy for the emotional part of our brains.
Suit & Tie – Justin Timberlake / Jay Z
Best single of the year. Even Jay Z’s grinding everything to a halt can’t diminish the impact of Timberlake’s dead-on retro soul hooks.
Say Something – A Great Big World
I prefer the version sans Xtina; she is so unnecessary (why is she there?). Sparse, crisp, yearning… brilliant. This song saved my life.
Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
Miley grows up. This is her first near-decent song. And that rasp in her voice is growing on me. Her tendency to careen up to a note? Not so much.
Perfume – Britney Spears
Britney moves onto adult contemporary fare with this one. The story is tad confusing, but then most three-way relationships are. Vocal-wise? The girl sounds almost real.
Counting Stars – OneRepublic
This one took forever to climb up the charts, but now it is snuggly ensconced in the top ten. Filled with irresistible hooks and a buoyant sound, it’s hard not to smile when you hear it.
Come To Me – Goo Goo Dolls
Love this song; a tale of romantic love and redemption. Its story really hit home with yours truly.
Best Day of My Life – American Authors
Technically was around in the latter part of 2013, so I have included it on this list. Again, a very uplifting song; go on, try to not smile as you listen to it while driving in your car.
Royals – Lorde
Weird, gloomy and spooky, Lorde strikes me as that teen age nightmare that lives in the room at the end of the hall. She sure is opinionated. And talented. Undeniably talented. But she would make for a horrible roommate.
Hold On, We're Going Home - Drake Featuring Majid Jordan
My favorite song of the year. Love it. It skates on the most wonderful, subtle groove. Drake? All is forgiven.
Kisses Down Low – Kelly Rowland
Others preferred ‘Dirty Laundry’, but Ms. Rowland had me with this one. A perfect boudoir jam for getting your sexy on - no matter where you or on what you are planting your lips on!
My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark – Fall Out Boy
Furious, serious surging pop. Throwing in everything they could grab, including a sweet KISS tribute (I’m on fire!), FOB managed to manipulate their way back onto the charts and into the ears of America. Sure, it feels a tad desperate, but I will take this kind of pop smarts over the savvy marketing fare of Maroon 5 any day.
2013 - Primal Scream
Scathing and propulsive. Makes me feel like my ears have been acid washed. Something about this group’s music gets inside my brain and tickles my dark side.
Trying To Be Cool / Entertainment – Phoenix
Trying? These dudes definitely succeeded. These songs should have been much bigger than they were. Stupid radio.
Sweater Weather – Neighbourhood
Not surprising that this hit in the year of (our) Lorde. It strikes the same chord, but with less pretension. Proof that moody and dark can be fun and intriguing.
Without You / Free Life – Natalie Maines
Love both of these. Both should have been hits, but, alas, radio had no idea where she fit. There used to be a format for music this good. Stupid radio.
Love Illumination – Franz Ferdinand
This ‘Cars meets The Kinks’ ode is a slice of pure power pop. I adore every snarly, sparkly, retro-seventies moment. Makes me bop like I was seventeen again.
Get Lucky – Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams
Daft Punk takes 1970’s disco and turns it on its polyester head. As inventive as it is retro, this had everybody’s ears perking up.
Same Love – Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert
Social activism has never been more smart or sweet. A landmark single from unexpected quarters. I originally wrote these guys off as a one-hit-novelty artist. I was so wrong.
Scream & Shout – Will.I.Am feat. Britney Spears
This one was a howl from beat one. Britney’s faux British / German(?) accent delivering dead pan VIP observations immediately brought to mind Madonna during her Marlene Dietrich phase, but if it works (and it does)? Who cares?
I Love It – Icona Pop feat Charli X
Snarly, sassy, and infectious. A great slice of pop drama. Would love to see this play out in real life.
Applause – Lady Gaga
Can’t help myself. Makes me want to clap along. Yeah, I know, it’s utter nonsense, but then doesn’t that describe all the best pop?
Lady Gaga – “Do What You Want” featuring R. Kelly
Sounding like Christina Aguilera, Lady G (with the help of R. Kelly) brings home a nice hot grind. A sonic lap dance and proof that the dame’s got great pipes. Musically, I suspect this woman has only scratched the surface.
Mirrors – Justin Timberlake
Chunky pop fun. Chugs along on a deep groove, supporting one of the sweetest melodies of the year. Mr. Timberlake could do no wrong in 2013.
Reflektor – Arcade Fire
Saw them perform this on SNL. Now, I’m hooked on the video. Oddest collection of musical ideas, but somehow it all works. All that falsetto is chilling. That chick is freaky weird, too.
Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
The rest of their stuff feels a tad too ‘Corporate/Arena Rock’ for my taste, but this song sounds and feels deeper. Not sure where they plan on placing themselves in the hemisphere; they remain a tad too faceless to have any staying power. However, their talent and power is something to be reckoned with.
Next To Me – Emeli Sande
Filling in the retro soul slot for the year (in Adele’s absence), Emeli provided one of the sweetest pop gems of 2013. Whether she is anything more than a one hit wonder remains to be seen, but something tells me this song will be getting a lot of reoccurring plays over the next few years. It’s tasty.
Burn – Ellie Goulding
From the reissue of her 2012 ‘Halcyon’ CD (‘Halcyon Days’), this one lives up to its title. Her voice remains as waifish as ever, while her sense of craft remains unerring. Very stirring.
Don’t You Worry Child – Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin
Every generation needs an ode to the yearning for patriarchal approval. This one supplies the balm and meets that criterion with style to spare. As swan songs go, this was a great way for SHM to go out.
Special Note: The Little Single that Could
Sail - AWOLNATION
On the charts for over a year, it took forever for this one to break into the top 40 (and when it did, it only went as high as #17). It continues to get plenty of airplay and has taken up residence in the lower half of the top 40 (where it still remains) for the past 20 weeks. I guess good things come to those who wait.
As songs go, it is an odd number – super heavy, pitched somewhere between prog rock and Muse/Imagine Dragons territory. It’s the stealth dinosaur that invaded the top 100 in 2013.
Up Next: Worst Music of 2013