2013 was actually full of really spectacular pop songs, including songs I really like from former stars of Family Channel shows I remember watching with my kids and promptly hating myself for getting sucked into like this girl and this girl.
But my 2013 list didn’t need them, as it is chockfull of dancey, pop tracks that sound like 1984. I know people hated the 1980s. That’s because those people are horrible and deserve to be firebombed.
The list under the cut!
20.” Blurred Lines” Robin Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell Williams
Every bone in my feminist body is screaming at me. The battle of whether this single perpetuates rape culture will go on for all eternity (It does, by the way). The pre-emptive suing of the Marvin Gaye estate for what is frankly a blatant rip off of Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” was assholish even in the realm of assholism (are these even terms? Assholish and assholism? If not, dibs on trademarking). The video was soft core porn-y and oh, so very icky.
I don’t care. I’m dancing too much to be bothered. From the first “Whoo!”, I am a goner. Damn you, dance training.
19. ” Retrograde” James Blake
The Mercury award-winning Blake has had a breakthrough year, and this jazzy, dark, morose little song captures the essence of Blake’s work with mentors Kanye West and Justin Vernon. It’s EDM with a reflective bent, more soul than beats, but is slinky sexy in its movements.
18. ” Can’t Hold Us” Macklemore F. Ryan Lewis
While “Thrift Shop” has that adorable novelty record quality we all love, “Can’t Hold Us” is all spitfire raps and dance party chorus. Of the two, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s masterpiece of EDM hip hop love holds up better, even months later. Bonus points for Ray Dalton and Susannah Wetzel’s singing on the chorus.
17. ” Wakin on a Pretty Day” Kurt Vile
Indie stalwart Vile has had a breakthrough year, and this epic nine-and-a-half minute track is the peak of it. The twang of the guitar and the slow canter of a melody gently move the sad lyrics along, and Vile’s unique voice cuts through to make your soul break.
16. ” Do I Wanna Know Arctic Monkeys
Don’t let that greaser pompadour fool you- the Arctic Monkeys are still as ferociously forward thinking as ever. From the opening kick drum- hand claps to Alex Turner’s trademark wordy and unique vocal phrasing, the Arctic Monkeys remain vital and kick ass awesome.
15. ” Black Skinhead” Kanye West
Kanye is Kanye, and I admire his talent even as his ego out expands the whole of the universe. He doesn’t hold back. Ever. Staccato gunfire snares and glam rock touches punctuate the Daft Punk production. And there is Kanye, alone, trying to teach the world a lesson.
14. ” Wake Me Up” Avicii
Dutch purveyors of EDM have had a banner year, but none more amazing than Avicii. In the wake of the end of the beloved Swedish House Mafia (they were certainly beloved by me), there is an opening for the go-to EDM soundtrack, and Avicii came bouncing on to the scene with great songs like “Levels” and “Silhouette”. But this lovely, hopeful track gets under your skin and eases your soul, and considering the fact EDM is more about party and less about feeling, it’s a notable song on that point alone.
13. ” Sea of Love” The National
Matt Berninger’s rich baritone is one of the underrated voices in music. The best song on the album is this non-single (!) is a rumination of love, friendship, chugging guitars, and “If I stay here, trouble will find me”. Whoever Joe is, the boys from Cincinnati wrote you a lovely little song.
12. ” Walk Us Uptown” Elvis Costello and the Roots
While Elvis and the Roots are two of my favourite acts in music, the overall collaboration of the album Wise Up Ghost disappointed. But seeing that it is Elvis and the Roots, there is still a gem in the rough, and this bleak, ragged song is it.
11. ” Q.U.E.E.N.” Janelle Monae f. Erykah Badu
Forget all the people out there lamenting this chameleon’s latest work as sub par when compared to her astonishing début a few years ago. “Q.U.E.E.N.” has swagger, and it has attitude, and it has soul. She cannot be classified, nor should we try.
10. ” Woman” Rhye
If you are going to ape Sade, you better make it all sexy. Frontman (yes, man) Milosh’s voice oozes “fuck me” over soulful 80s inspired beats. It’s enough to make me go out and seduce the first guy I see.
9. ” Recover” Chvrches
Out of the U.K., these indie new kids take the sprightly female voice of Lauren Mayberry and puts it over EDM keyboards and 80s drums. From an amazing début record full of similar 80s inspired synth pop, they are a band to look out for. And Mayberry’s voice is lovely. Simply lovely.
8. ” In Another Way” My Blood Valentine
Nine strong songs to choose from. My iPod seems to love this more than all others, as do I. From the last third of their long-awaited return, the song echoes the past without necessarily aping it. The highlight of a much-loved album.
7. ” Get Lucky” Daft Punk
So. Damn. Catchy.
6. ” Hannah Hunt” Vampire Weekend
The twee-ness is beginning to go away as the band matures. So is the blatant ripping off of Peter Gabriel. The boys return and give us the a sweetly sad break up song, with tinkly pianos and one very worked up vocal belt.
5. ” The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” David Bowie
Somehow David Bowie neglected to tell the world he was working on new music, and the sudden drop of his 2013 album stunned everyone. I thought it was a stroke of genius as the denizens failed to get worked up by expectation before hand and simply enjoyed the amazing music. The vocal melody is strong even if Bowie’s voice itself strains a bit. A catchy little chorus shines.
4. ” Closer” Tegan and Sara
If you are going to make 80s shiny pop, make the melody good, and Calgary natives Tegan and Sara nailed it. This fun, bouncy song is full of sonic goodies, and it has a good beat that you can dance to.
3. ” Reflektor” Arcade Fire
Baroque 80s inspired dance pop as only Arcade Fire can do it. The little big band that could is the biggest band in the world now, and the title track of their latest album is seven minutes of sheer disco brilliance. Bonus- David Bowie vocal cameo.
2. ” Royals” Lorde
Talented teens rarely get taken seriously. The Kiwi lass with big hair and too dark lipstick and a penchant for hip hop scored the biggest début of the year, and her rap-like cadence over the verses is astonishing. But the vocal hook- “And we’ll never be roy-als”- haunts long after the last notes die out.
1. ” Radioactive” Imagine Dragons
Rich percussion, heavy beats, grungy atmosphere, and apocalyptic imagery makes for one very memorable single. It’s like hip hop and indie rock finally made a baby and he is oh! so amazing. Imagine Dragons gave me my 2013 anthem early, and it is easily the most played track on my iPod this year. Welcome to the new age indeed.