In my opinion, 2013 was a great year for music. We got the return of some rock heavyweights (The Strokes, Pearl Jam and Avenged Sevenfold), the continued presence of some of rock’s biggest acts (Vampire Weekend and Arctic Monkeys), the return of some icons (David Bowie and Paul McCartney), the biggest pop songs of the year (Thicke, Katy Perry), long-awaited debut LP releases (Earl Sweatshirt and Pusha T) and of course, Kanye West.
We even got to see the emergence of a new pop star, Lorde who the masses took to better than formerly hyped singer Lana Del Rey.
With that being said, I took what I thought were the best songs of 2013. These aren’t necessarily my favorites. But from what I believe are the best songs of the year that was. Give it a listen, I’ll figure out how to embed the Spotify playlist.
I know this isn’t the perfect list but I tried to merge all the genres together to make it as even as possible.
Reputante might be one of my favorite discoveries of 2013. The group, signed to Julian Casablancas’s Cult Records, harkens a mixture of Joy Division and the Strokes. Cool new band that I hope makes bigger moves in 2014.
Ke$ha’s chorus is the sole reason that this song is even listed. Pitbull’s verse are the usual Pitbull verses, that is to say catchy but pretty awful, however the old-Western inspired beat with Ke$ha’s strong chorus (showcasing her knack for a hook) gives this late hit of 2013 a place in our countdown.
A top hit of the year deserves a spot. This is one of Perry’s weaker singles in my opinion and seems like a song that Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson both laughed at before Perry took it. Ridiculously catchy chorus though.
The song of the summer/year deserves inclusion as even though its video and subject matter is controversial (aka rape-y) but the fact is, it was so catchy and had such an impact on pop culture this year that it feels impossible to NOT list this.
I’m not a Pearl Jam fan. Far from it actually. Not a hater at all, but I never got into their music. However, MYM is one of the few exceptions and I think its an exceptional song. Its short, quick, got elements of punk rock in it and Eddie Vedder totally dominates this song.
One of the most anticipated albums of the year was the return of Earl Sweatshirt from his stay in Samoa. Earl, whose debut album is the stuff legends are made of, thankfully dropped the rape fantasies and dropped a tight track with help from Odd Future bud Frank Ocean. Earl’s lackadaisical flow mixed with Ocean’s smooth rap concerning his fight with Chris Brown; is one of his Doris’s highlights.
Yeah, yeah I’m biased. Anyway, no one really has any idea what the future of the band is and they have released two albums in seven years (in 2011 and 2013) with about a handful of appearances. Tap Out is one of the best songs on the album and with the guitargasm in the beginning mixed with Casablancas’s newly found falsetto and trademark drone; its one of the best Strokes releases since Room on Fire.
I’m not big into Paul McCartney, as I despise Wings, but Save Us reminds me of a garage-rock version of the Beatles. Its a purely awesome track and the album is actually really great. Considering I had zero expectations for it, I was pleasantly surprised.
42)-Team – Lorde
Lorde is the fun thing to like and hate at the same time but Pure Heroine was one of the better albums of 2013. Given her youth, her presence and her hyper awareness; she might be the coolest thing in music right now. Back off music purists who groan “about music these days”, this is a star you should be excited about.
I’m still a huge Killers fan but their last release Battle Born left a lot to be desired besides singles Runaways, Miss Atomic Bomb and album track the Way It Was. Shot at the Night, worked on with M83, and Just Another Girl were both released on their Greatest Hits album and both rank as some of the better songs of the year. But Shot At The Night sounds like how Day & Age should’ve sounded like, a mixture of 80s synth and heartland rock. This has me excited for frontman Brandon Flowers next solo album.
Artpop was one of the more anticipated releases and while we can assume that Lady Gaga has lost her place on the throne in top-40, she still can put out memorable earworms. Gypsy is a more complete Marry the Night with a slower beginning and an awesome, sing-a-long chorus. Should be a single.
Josh Homme, short of Dave Grohl, might be the hardest working musician in rock music today. QOTSA’s most recent album …Like Clockwork was a gem and one of the band’s better releases. I Sat By The Ocean was one of the album highlights this year and as always QOTSA continues to be one of the elite bands in the rock world.
Daft Punk came back to relevance this summer with its infectious single Get Lucky with Pharrell (you might see that one again) but one of its album highlights is their song with the Strokes frontman. Instant Crush features the falsetto layered upon the familiar drone with a nice little guitar solo provided by Casablancas at the end. This could be a big hit come next year so get ready.
As shameless as Miley Cyrus tries to be, Wrecking Ball is actually a pretty good power ballad. Take away the theatrics. Take away the public image and the overplaying this song has gotten. Its actually a pretty good effort and a good song. Kudos to you Miley.
Thankfully this song was free on Google Play as its one of my favorite tracks (obviously) of the year. Pusha T raps over a clanky beat and really excited all of us for the release of his long-awaited debut LP.
A hard-hitting feminist anthem that slams Robin Thicke, Blurred Lines, “twerking” and the sexualization of commercialism; welcome back, Lily! Oh and somehow this became one of the catchiest songs of the last two months.
Just give my man some croissants.
Picasso Baby is more known for its performance that Jay-Z did in anticipation for the release of Magna Carta… but it is one of the few highlights on the album.
R. Kelly is one of the biggest dirtbags in music but Lady Gaga carries this track. She’s raw, intense and gives some of her best singing of all the tracks she has released in her career. I also like to edit the “with my body” line to “with Joe Biden” because that actually makes me laugh.
AM is one of the best albums of the year, if not the best. Arabella is part of that reason. Not as immediate as Do I Wanna Know? but Alex Turner has written a great song that reminds me more of T.Rex with an ode to glam rock over a thundering beat.
Avenged Sevenfold has been through a lot the past few years and that is to not be understated. The hard rockers lead single off Hail to the King is a return to past form and from someone who only knows of them from Bat Country, this is a welcome addition to my iTunes.
JT thought he was Michael Jackson in his 20/20 Experience and every song on the album (sans Suit & Tie) lasted about three minutes too long. No one can hear 2003 beats by Timbaland for that long. But Mirrors is an exception, yes the song is too long, but its an excellent pop tune and probably some of JT’s best music period. It might be a preview for future projects which is exciting.
With Blurred Lines and Get Lucky bringing the old disco vibe back, Bruno Mars’s Treasure got lost in the groovin’. However, a nice pop song that did a good job with that vintage sound that so many critics like.
I’m out of my Odd Future phase and while I’ve grown to like Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean as artists in their own right; I kind of stayed away from the rest of the group. Tyler the Creator’s WOLF was in my opinion stronger than Goblin and that’s part of the Hodgy Beats featured Jamba.
EDM mixed with Mumford type folk music are literally two genres I could care less about. But Aloe Blacc’s singing on this track might be some of the best work of the year. The crooner deserves your respect by the way.
Who would’ve thought that the best Strokes moment of the year would be Albert Hammond, Jr.’s solo EP AHJ? St. Justice is probably the highest charting track you never heard of but I want you to change that when you can.
24)-Tom Ford – Jay-Z
“Old-school” is a phrase I have loved to loathe but how else would you describe Jay-Z’s flow here? This is the best Hov has sound in quite a while.
If it impacts popular culture, it deserves a slot. Song kinda sucks.
I’m not too big into EDM but Disclosure did a helluva job with an excellent use of sampling.
Miley took a career risk, even if it was contrived, and the top party anthem of the year is the end result. We Can’t Stop isn’t ground-breaking but it really introduced a new Miley, and considering the artist herself hadn’t had a big hit since Party in the USA, it was a great risk.
If I Had A Tail is proof that QOTSA deserves more even though they closely have it all. This haunting track makes Homme sound like he’s in an asylum (that’s what I get from it) and I can’t help but get “Personal Jesus” vibes from it. No one does creepy as good as Joshua Homme.
Again, no one knows the future of the band. But All The Time sounds like a classic “Strokes” song and it has that feel of the Room on Fire era. One of the greatest bands of the new millennium that changed rock deserves two spots on this list and the song that seems more like a summary of their career gets a spot due to nostalgia purposes of the writer.
Another great track off of New, Paul McCartney sounds his most Beatles like with this one. A welcome addition to any playlist and if you know someone that likes just the Beatles and nothing “newer”; this will change them.
Just listen to the damn song because the heaviest song on Yeezus doesn’t deserve my explanation to why its great.
I don’t see this song on too many countdowns which is a shame, maybe because it reminds me a tad of Suck It And See which is my favorite Monkeys album. Snap Out Of It is catchy and a great listen.
This is a perfected Foster the People track, (note: no idea if this is true) but Step was one of the highlights off one of the best albums of the year. Ezra Koenig is one of the better storytellers to come out within the past decade and its trite to compare him to Paul Simon but sometimes…..
Yeezus was ANGRY. But Bound 2 shows a softer side of ‘Ye that hasn’t been seen in quite some time. Its a beautiful song and while the samples sound poorly edited, I think that is what adds to its beauty.
Lana Del Rey has been hyped forever but now she has a hit to match the hype. This song made me “get” all of the promotion though, Lana’s haunting lyrics (the song is about a suicide)
12)-All Me – Drake
Drake might be the Coldplay of the rap world, but every now and then I hear a track by him and I have to acknowledge his talent. All Me, with the aid of 2 Chainz and Big Sean, might be one of the best songs the Canadian rapper has ever put out. Great job, this might be some of his best verses since ever. Well beats “Last Name Ever, First Name Greatest”.
I was spoiled this year with both David Bowie and the Strokes releasing new CDs (plus Killers Greatest Hits) and while I’m more of a Ziggy Stardust fan; The Stars (Are Out Tonight) is the best CD off one of the better albums of the year. Its such a great song that I’m surprised it didn’t crossover to radio.
I’m a closeted Vampire Weekend fan but I have no problem announcing my love for Diane Young. Vampire Weekend gets some disdain in my friend groups for sounding too similar and not changing but its hard to believe this is the same band that bought you A-Punk and Cousins.
I find Eminem to be a disappointment musically but Rap God is a tight track from one of rap’s living icons. Marshall Mathers returns and this is one of the songs that you must listen to. Plus I love the Max Headroom reference in the video.
I’m not big into the Arcade Fire either but it almost feels like I HAVE to put this song up here. A 7 minute plus jam with some EDM influence intertwined with rock? Not too bad of a showing by the band.
7)-XO – Beyonce
Now that we can sit back and listen to Beyonce’s secret album, we can critique it. XO is the highlight of the album, and I know I’m supposed to like it because Beyonce did something awesome and unique; but I need to be sold more on it.
This is the angriest Kanye has sound. Everything from the music to the screams to the music video, its like Kanye just had all this pent up rage and had an outlet for it. Of course there’s still some left however.
Disco is back! Well that’s what everyone is saying with the surprising (by Daft Punk standards) poppy hit that would’ve been the song of the year if it weren’t for Robin Thicke. Still Get Lucky is a far superior song with a cameo by Nile Rodgers and Pharrell’s delivery. Everyone knew this song, everyone seemed to enjoy it and really; I think it might be one of those pop classics you hear on the radio years from now.
Oh wait, Big Sean is on this song? Can a verse make an album track into a great one? Yes. Kendrick Lamar had the verse of the year, nearly throwing every rapper under the bus and then backing it up a few times; while Jay Electronica by comparison has the most underrated verse of 2013. Big Sean had a hand in two of the best songs of the year but he was merely a footnote in them.
Sometimes a song comes at the right time and Royals’s popularity came perfectly. After Miley Cyrus annihilated her previous self-image with her poseur “ratchet” self, a song decrying upper class materialism in a song relating to middle class listeners apathy about becoming successful; Lorde’s song is an instant classic. Top pop song of the year.
The Arctic Monkeys have a few spots on this list but their lead single off of AM ranks as one of their best. Do I Wanna Know is a blues/rock influenced track with a heavy bass that is reminiscent of The Black Keys. The video is a masterpiece within itself and there’s a reason why this is really the band’s biggest American hit; even eclipsing “I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor” which is kind of a travesty that America hasn’t accepted them all too much. Hopefully that changes in the new year, but this is a song you should definitely have.
This is the best track of 2013. I was a big fan of Yeezus, obviously, but this is Kanye in a nutshell. He’s angry, not at you or at those who don’t like Kim, but at how the world treats him. But not just him either, you get a song about class (Hampton spouses), prison reform (the CCA), materialism and how Kanye feels about racial strife. He even acknowledges that he can be a “dick” but he’d rather be than than…well, just listen to the track if you haven’t already. This is the track that you should have, regardless of your taste in music or the Kardashians.