Top 50 Songs of 2013
It’s finally 2014, which means it’s time for us to reflect on our favorite tunes over the last twelve months. With so much great music released this year, it was nearly impossible for us to narrow the list to just fifty songs. Regardless, we had fun revisiting the tracks that made us dance, think, and cry, and we hope you enjoy this list half as much as we enjoyed creating it.
1. Foxygen – “No Destruction”
Right off the bat, this track races you back to Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground’s early years. The impressionistic lyrics evoke an upbeat but weary vibe that Foxygen has mastered so well.
2. Arcade Fire – “Normal Person”
This is the most Rock & Roll-inspired track on Reflektor. ‘Is anyone as cruel as a normal person?’ asks Win Butler.
3. King Krule – “Easy Easy”
Much like King Krule himself, this track seemingly emerged out of nowhere. The singer appears unassuming at first, but as soon as he opens his mouth, it’s as though Joe Strummer has been reincarnated in the form of a red-haired 19 year old. “Easy Easy” is one of the most raw and powerful statements of 2013.
4. Lorde – “Royals”
Perhaps the biggest pop song of the year, and for good reason. The sparse, low-key, and downtempo track draws comparisons to the likes of Lana Del Rey and the late Amy Winehouse.
5. Danny Brown – “Dip”
It’s official: the MDMA-fueled rave culture has infiltrated hip-hop. With this in mind, consider Danny Brown a founding father. His genre-fusing sound is best exemplified on the floor-filling anthem “Dip.” From the tripped-out beat to the pounding chorus, it’s hard not to feel the endorphins rushing through your veins, even without any help from Molly herself.
6. Phosphorescent – “Song For Zula”
One of most pleasant surprises of the past year was the work of Matthew Houck on his 6th album as Phosphorescent. The folk singer struck gold with one of the most honest and inspiring songs about love of the past decade. “Song For Zula” combines strings and electronic elements with Houck’s defiant lyrics to create an experience as much as a piece of music.
7. Darkside – “Paper Trails”
This effortlessly sinister song is filled with sexual energy, jazzy basslines, and scattered but seamless guitar riffs. On Paper Trails, Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington offer their own echoey take on the Delta blues.
8. Vampire Weekend – “Hannah Hunt”
Our favorite track off Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires of the City”. This one starts with a delicate, calming air, and builds gradually with Koenig and Batmangli harmonizing the beautiful lyrics, “Though we live on the US dollar, you and me, we got our own sense of time.”
9. Jagwar Ma – “Uncertainty”
Uncertainty is a funky dance party from the get-go. Over the track’s bubbly synth, Winterfield chants: ‘How can you look so gloomy. When you’re gloomy, howlin’ looks so good to me.”
10. Paul McCartney – “Early Days”
This list wouldn’t be complete without Sir Paul himself. This aptly titled track off “New” reminisces the early years when McCartney and Lennon were just a couple of kids from Liverpool.
11. Kanye West – “Black Skinhead”
2013 was the year Kanye West became “Yeezus.” With this transformation came a slew of less immediate and more haunting new material, yet West still showed his gifted instincts with “Black Skinhead.” The driving rhythm and wild snarls are a punch in the gut. Black Skinhead is a wake-up call for other rappers to try to keep up with the trailblazing West.
12. Arctic Monkeys – “Do I Wanna Know”
If you don’t know this one, then you must have been living in a bubble this year. Even though it was played about a thousand times it’s still one of our favorites. They say if you play a song 1,001 times it will bring you good luck. Don’t believe me? Hit play and see what happens!
13. Phantogram – “Celebrating Nothing”
Celebrating Nothing features the stuttering beats and tension build-up that make Phantogram’s material so enjoyable. This track splits the difference between Beach House and Dom.
14. Haim – “Don’t Save Me”
On Don’t Save Me, the Haim sisters embrace the ‘70s pop/rock comparisons they’ve been hit with since becoming indie pop’s darlings. With a Stevie Nicks-like chorus, R&B-inspired verses, and the best use of handclaps in the game, this song screams best of 2013.
15. Rhye – “Open”
So many songs try to describe the subtleties of love and attraction, but not many succeed as beautifully as Rhye. The singer’s falsetto floats amid one of the most mysteriously striking releases this year. “Open” will sneak into your mind and stay there.
16. Cass McCombs – “Name Written In Water”
A Dylan-esque lament that questions how people will remember Cass when he’s dead and gone. If this song is any indication of his legacy, we think he’ll be just fine.
17. Pusha T – “Nosetalgia”
Pusha T has finally established himself as a solo artist outside of the legendary Clipse, and “Nosetalgia” was the icing on the cake. The track features Kendrick Lamar in arguably his best guest spot of a very busy year. It’s a tour de force of rap music.
18. CHVRCHES – “The Mother We Share”
If this list focused solely on the most “repeat friendly” tracks, this one just might take top honors. Though the blueprint for CHVRCHES (an electro-pop act with a female vocalist) was replicated endlessly this year, no one can touch the contagious effect that “The Mother We Share” inspires.
19. Disclosure – “When A Fire Starts to Burn”
Before Disclosure’s explosion onto the U.S. scene this year, this song lit the fuse. The brilliant looping sample was initially planned to be a verse by a prominent rapper, but the high-profile connection never took place. Thankfully, the end-result took on a life of it’s own, and once the beat drops, it’s clear this group is ready to redefine America’s budding dance music scene.
20. Devendra Banhart – “Won’t You Come Over”
A gentle and hopeful love letter that never falls short of honesty. Basically, it’s a beautiful, heart-wrenching song about longing for another: “Won’t you come over and love me, won’t you come over again”.
21. Kurt Vile – “Walking On A Pretty Day”
Walking On A Pretty Day marks a definitive shift for Vile, as he blurs the line between electric and acoustic tones – all while maintaining the lazy voice and thoughtful lyrics that made us fall in love with him in the first place.
22. Drake – “The Language”
Though other songs from Drake’s fabulous 2013 album got more airplay, no other track can keep up with “The Language.” The thumping bass is enough to completely drown out any of Drake’s detractors who whine about his affinity for “softer” music; as it happens, the rapper is not only capable of making better R&B than these naysayers, but better rap music too.
23. Parquet Courts – “Stoned and Starving”
One of the best bands from Brooklyn brilliantly combines traces of Pavement and Guided By Voices in this hilarious track about finding something to eat while stoned: “I was walking through Ridgewood, Queens. I was flipping through magazines. I was so stoned and starving.”
24. Toro Y Moi – “So Many Details”
An uptempo, seductive track that highlights Bundick’s silky smooth R&B-tinged vocals: “This ain’t appropriate now/ Push my hand off your side/ There’s no one else around/ I just wanna tease your eyes.”
25. Rose Windows – “The Sun Dogs II: Coda”
You may recall, we introduced Rose Windows on August 14th as our Artist to Watch. “The Sun Dogs II: Coda” may be the last song on the album but it certainly deserves a spot on our Top 50. It’s uncanny how similar Rabia Shaheen Qazi’s vocals are to Grace Slick’s.
26. Courtney Barnett – “Avant Gardner”
The relatively unknown Melbourne songsmith, Courtney Barnett, brings us back to the mid-60s with a blend of folk, country, and psychedelia. The song reads like a story, as Barnett describes an underemployed girl who takes a crack at gardening and has a panic attack.
27. The National – “Graceless”
A drum-driven, somber song with a theme of death and drugs. This is The National at their most personal.
28. Jim James – “A New Life”
With this year’s solo release, Jim James showed a softer side apart from his work with My Morning Jacket. “A New Life” is a moving track that steadily builds, perfect for contemplating the possibilities that the new year will bring.
29. Nathaniel Rateliff – “Still Trying”
If you’re a folk rock fan, drop everything you’re doing and hit play now. If you’re already a Nathaniel fan then you know what we’re talking about and if you’re not….well you can thank us later!
30. Volcano Choir – “Byegone”
At times it can be hard to keep track of Justin Vernon’s many projects; Bon Iver, Volcano Choir, and most recently announced The Staves, to name a few. If you can figure out where he is at any given point in time then you just might find a tune worthy of a Top 50 list. Ladies and gentlemen we present to you, “Byegone.”
31. TV on the Radio – “Mercy”
The true TV on the Radio fans may know “Mercy” as a song they often played at their concerts but after their recent hiatus they decided to give the fans a treat and release the studio version. Not much more to say other than, “it’s good!”
32. A$AP Rocky – “1 Train”
A$AP Rocky displayed considerable prowess with fantastic mixtape releases, but no one could have predicted just how prominent the rapper would become after the release of his debut LP. “1 Train” is the perfect hip-hop victory lap, and proof that the cliche “too many cooks spoil the broth” doesn’t always apply.
33. Houndmouth – “On the Road”
34. Autre Ne Veut – “Play by Play”
R&B experienced quite a resurgence on the indie scene this year. Autre Ne Veut, in particular, took a new approach to the genre, and released the hands-down best song to blast in your car this year with “Play by Play.”
35. Portugal. The Man – “Modern Jesus”
Portugal. The Man continue to rise, as they add some mature contemplation to their tight formula of indie rock. “Modern Jesus” is the centerpiece to this year’s Evil Friends—yet another solid record in a catalog that’s starting to get some well-deserved recognition. Be sure to catch their live show.
36. Deerhunter – “Pensacola”
A raunchy piece of punk and country that describes the open road as a place to escape and grow.
37. Sky Ferreira – “You’re Not The One”
Sky is one of our favorite “pop” artists of 2013. You’re Not The One manages to be grunge while maintaining the catchy hooks that keep pop music in the mainstream
38. Foals – “Inhaler”
If you’re looking for something a little more aggressive, look no further, “Inhaler” is your song. This one has it all, funky guitar riff, unique vocals, and a strategically replaced scream or two.
39. Blitzen Trapper – “Faces of You”
The Portland based alt-country/folk rock band, Blitzen Trapper, released their 7th studio album this year, ironically titled VII. It was chock full of great tunes, but we picked our favorite and now present to you “Face of You.”
40. Flaamingos – “Walk A Wire”
Here’s a tune form an LA band you probably haven’t heard of yet, but if Flaamingo’s keep pumping out catchy tunes like “Walk a Wire,” they may soon become a household name.
41. Cate Le Bon – “Duke”
Duke is backed by a “Vicious” bass grove, circa Lou Reed’s Transformer. Her strong Welsh accent and monotone delivery invites comparisons to Reed’s counterpart, Nico.
42. James Blake ft. Chance The Rapper – “Life Round Here”
It was only a matter of time before James Blake’s icy electronic sound became married to hip-hop. In one of the most improbably awesome collaborations of this year, Chance The Rapper took a great song and made it even better. “Life Round Here” is a sign of things to come, it seems, as Kanye West has already dropped James Blake’s name when listing producers he’d like to work with. Remember that name, hip-hop fans.
43. J Roddy Walston And The Business – “Hard Times”
J Roddy Walston & The Business is probably the best rock band on this list to see live. They may have released their 6th studio album this year but you can still catch them in the smaller more intimate venues. “Hard Times” is our favorite of the new LP. Check it out, we think you’ll enjoy it.
44. Moby – “The Last Day”
Call me crazy, but somehow Skylar Grey always seems to get herself involved with great projects and songs; “The Last Day” is certainly no exception to the rule.
45. Junip – “Line of Fire”
Another classic tune from the Swedish folk rock band. “Line of Fire” is the lead single off their second self titled LP. Some of you may remember this song from a recent Breaking Bad episode.
46. Temples – “Shelter Song”
A seemingly vintage track that recreates Beatles-esque riffs and the kaleidoscope feeling of psychedelia.
47. Washed Out – “All I Know”
The “good vibes” of Washed Out’s Paracosm make you feel as though you’ve stumbled into a sprawling garden in Springtime. “All I Know” is one of those songs that completely engulfs you in this dream-like haze.
48. SKATERS – “Deadbolt”
The next trend in indie rock: slacker punk. SKATERS do it as well as anyone, adding an eerie cog to a growing machine. Stay tuned for their debut LP within the next few months. It’s sure to make some noise.
49. Avicii – “Addicted to You”
Let’s face it, Avicii owns the American EDM movement. All he really needs to do is press play, and thousands will flock to see him perform. The Swedish producer recognizes this power, and through sampling and remixing, he’s gone to great lengths to expose his fans to genres and artists they’d have never heard before. If 2013 was any indication, nothing seems to be slowing down this EDM powerhouse.
50. Wheeler Brothers – “My Time”
A folky take from Austin’s Wheeler Brothers rounds-out our list for this year. The quintet wear stars and stripes proudly with the Americana of “My Time.”
Bonus: Daft Punk – “Get Lucky”
This one is a given at this point. You’ve heard the song. You probably could even recite it by memory. But you can’t blame Daft Punk for it’s ubiquity, however. All they did was make an absolute jam. “Get Lucky” will still be played 10 years from now, and though you may be experiencing some fatigue at the moment, when that time does come, it’ll take some serious self-control to avoid turning the volume up and reminiscing about the bygone memories of 2013.