The Top 50 Songs Of 2013
By Trevor Ziegler
50. The Drones – Why Write a Letter That You’ll Never Send
This nihilistic slow-burner is best listened-to in the dark, alone, and drinking a whiskey after a long day at work. Trust me.
49. Tyler the Creator – IFHY
When I heard Tyler finally got the chance to collaborate with his idol Pharrell Williams, I hoped for the best but expected the worst. Luckily, it exceeded every one of my expectations with its airy synths, huge drums, angsty lyrics, and obligatory falsetto breakdown by Williams.
48. Queens of the Stone Age – Fairweather Friends
For a song that features Dave Grohl, Elton John, and Trent Reznor, it doesn’t sound very Dave Grohl, Elton John, and Trent Reznor-y. But that’s okay because it’s a fantastic song. The desperation in the breakdown where Josh Homme sings “one day when we’re far away, from everything that hurts” absolutely crushes me with every listen.
47. San Fermin – Daedalus (What We Have)
“Daedalus” is a fantastically orchestral-yet-poppy piece from 24-year-old Brooklyn composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone. I can’t help but get a nostalgic feeling whenever I listen to this song. Especially once it explodes into the final chorus.
46. Freddie Gibbs – Paper (feat YB)
Killa Gibbs quietly had a huge year with the release of his studio debut. This song was one of the many highlights of “ESGN” as Freddie spits that truth with his razor-sharp delivery over bombastic horns and heavy bass.
45. Eleanor Friedberger – When I Knew
Eleanor Friedberger writes some of the best lyrics in the game right now, and this playful tale about the evolution of two BFFs showcases just that. It’s just a really fun, jaunty pop song about the power of friendship. Hooray, friendship!
44. Denzel Curry – Parents
“Ya momma ain’t shit, ya daddy ain’t shit” Curry barks over a brooding (almost horrorcore) beat. This is a song about what happens when kids grow up with no support system. It’s a dark, heavy, truthful depiction of the kind of stuff 19 year-old Denzel Curry saw everyday growing up in South Florida (Curry also went to the same high school as Trayvon Martin).
43. Dawes – Someone Will
A song for the hopeless romantic in all of us. It’s a bouncy Americana tune about a young dude trying to find the way to profess his undying love for his best friend. In the end, the protagonist sings “if you don’t want me after tonight, someone will”. The song ends on sort of a hopeless note but I found myself rooting for the guy because at one point or another, we’ve all been there.
42. Blood Orange – You’re Not Good Enough
When I first heard this track, I listened to it about 10 times in a row. It’s an infectious take on 80s pop/R&B that would probably make Prince grin that creepy little grin he does whenever he’s “happy”.
41. Ariana Grande – Honeymoon Avenue
I LOVE THIS SONG. It sounds like Ariana’s take on the new Justin Timberlake record what with all the doo-woppy “oooh’s and ahh’s” and bouncy percussion. The production on this song is fantastic with enough strings and keys to rival any of 20/20s best instrumentals. Oh and those heartbreaking lyrics. Sing it, girl!
40. Mac Miller – Matches (feat Ab-Soul)
Mac Miller had something of a coming out party with his latest release; ditching his Easy Mac (with the cheesy raps) persona for a more mature, blunted out version of himself. On “Matches” Mac not only shows his growth on the mic but also behind the production board with a near-flawless soundscape. It doesn’t hurt that Ab-Soul smashes his verse as well.
39. Flaming Lips – Turning Violent
I mean…it’s a Flaming Lips song called “Turning Violent. It’s weird and heavy and loud at times. But it’s also really good.
38. Death Grips – Birds
“Birds” scared the absolute crap out of me when I first heard it. To be honest, it still kind of frightens me. The instrumental switches between chaos to what almost sounds like the theme to a low-budget children’s show. Plus, MC Ride’s vocals are as terrifying and cryptic as ever.
37. Annie – Mixed Emotions
Annie has silently been one of the MVPs of all pop music over the past decade or so. This track further substantiates that claim. All hail the Norwegian Queen of dance pop.
36. Waxahatchee – Swan Dive
A 90s indie throwback about young love that, no matter how hard you try, just wasn’t meant to be. This stripped-down confessional totally slays me with every listen.
35. A$AP Ferg – Hood Pope
I’m such a sucker for that Bone Thugz-esque sing-songy rap vocal. This is definitely the type of song I would hang-glide over the Grand Canyon to.
34. Valerie June – Somebody to Love
Do not listen to this song alone unless you enjoy sobbing quietly to yourself. It cuts you deep and then just sort of stays in there. You have been warned.
33. Danny Brown – Dope Song
Danny Brown has made some great party records. Danny Brown has also made some great straightforward hip hop records. This song is a perfect marriage of the two. A hybrid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hybrid_(album)), if you will.
32. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – From the Sun
Channeling their inner Beatles, UMO crafted a pop gem with their introspective take on loneliness over a sunny, guitar-driven instrumental.
31. Run the Jewels – Banana Clipper (feat Big Boi)
“Producer gave me a tape, said ‘it’s the beat of the year’, I said, ‘El-P didn’t do it, so get the fuck out of here.” Yeah, that line just about sums it up. Oh and did I mention Big Boi spits fire at the end?
30. DJ Rashad – I Don’t Give A Fuck
If you don’t know Chicago Footwork music yet, let this be an introduction. DJ Rashad crafts a bass-heavy beat set to some Tupac samples from the movie Juice that will have you dancing like you don’t give a fuck.
29. Yuksek – Last of Our Kinds (feat Oh Land)
This song is like that Fruit Stripe bubble gum you used to chew as a kid except it tastes better, lasts longer, and doesn’t have that stupid giraffe on the wrapper.
28. Major Lazer - Watch Out For This (Bumaye)
I remember very early in the year there was a 30 second snippet of this song that was released and I probably listened to it 30 times a day for about a month. Then, the full song came out and I still listened to it 30 times a day for about a month. Those horns.
27. CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share
Listening to this song is like eating a fresh stack of homemade flapjacks, topped with butter and warm Vermont Maple Syrup. That’s it, that’s all I got.
26. James Blake – Retrograde
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver passed on the “indie sadboy” torch to James Blake and boy is he doing a fantastic job. Haunting.
25. White Denim – New Blue Feeling
Makes me wanna slap on my freshest pair of khaki shorts and have a barbecue in the backyard. True dad music at its finest!
24. Chance the Rapper – Juice
I had a friend we nicknamed “Juice” (before the song came out) and when this song came out we would constantly play it and scream this name at her during the chorus. I’m sure this got annoying, but we didn’t care. Oh, it’s a great song, too.
23. Janelle Monae – Q.U.E.E.N. (feat. Erykah Badu)
“The booty don’t lie.” It sure doesn’t, Janelle. It sure doesn’t.
22. Youth Lagoon – Mute
“Mute” is like the soundtrack to a lucid dream. With the atmosphere it creates, it’s an incredibly easy song to get lost in.
21. Justin Timberlake – Mirrors
Even at a whopping 8 minutes, I don’t think there was a song I listened to more than “Mirrors”. Timberlake takes every defining characteristic of the ballads he’s released in the past and amplifies them about 100 times. In theory, this shouldn’t work. But dammit, does it ever.
- Mikal Cronin – Weight
You won’t find much better power pop than the stuff Mikal Cronin was churning out in 2013. It’s really catchy, vulnerable stuff and “Weight” was some of the catchiest and most vulnerable of it all.
19. Vampire Weekend – Diane Young
There were about 7 songs on the new Vampire Weekend album that could’ve made this list but this song was the most fun. It sounds like Elvis’ take on a James Blake record and the world is a better place for it.
18. Smith Westerns – Varsity
It seems like I was the only person in the world that really liked the new Smith Westerns album. I guess I’m just a sucker for fuzzed-out, synthy pop music. This song is the perfect lonely fall-time soundtrack. Plus it’s catchy as hell.
17. HAERTS – Wings
In my humble opinion, this single beats anything Haim has released this past year. It’s that same 80s-influenced pop sound but…better.
16. CLASSIXX – All You’re Waiting For (feat. Nancy Whang)
It’s 4+ minutes of electro pop bliss graced with Nancy Whang’s distinctive voice, some fantastic tongue-in-cheek lyrics, and a chorus that sticks to you like glue.
15. Earl Sweatshirt – Whoa (feat. Tyler the Creator)
Just a portrait of a talented young rapper who is finally starting to find his voice paired with a producer that somehow knows exactly how to showcase said rapper’s talent. I would put a quote in this but pretty much the entire song is a quotable. I’m honestly scared to see what happens when Earl is finally at the top of his game.
14. Washed Out – It All Feels Right
I imagine reenacting the “A Whole New World” scene from Alaadin whenever I listen to this song. It just creates this really dreamy, euphoric atmosphere with every listen.
13. Pusha T – Numbers on the Boards
Hands-down, the hardest-hitting beat of the year. It’s just a whirlwind of bleeps, bloops and bass. Plus, King Push spits the type of lyrics that make even Kendrick Lamar think twice before he raps his rap-claims about which rapper can rap the best raps.
12. Phosphorescent – Song For Zula
Another song that creates a landscape that makes it easy to get lost in. The track is a beautiful portrayal of heartbreak and the eventual redemption that follows. Backed by some captivating strings and Matthew Houck’s whispery vocals; this track does a lot things very right.
11. Autre Ne Veut – Counting
“Counting” is the official 2013 Boner Jam of the Year. Atkin’s signature breathy falsetto and a bombardment of cascading synths make this song smoother than a slice of red velvet cake.
10. Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop
“Forget the haters, cuz somebody loves ya.” You nailed it, Miley. I don’t care what anybody says, Mike Will Made Miley a bonafide jam. It’s the perfect song to listen to at the party after the party.
9. Kanye West – Bound 2
“Bound 2” was like Kanye’s middle finger to all of his fans that still harp about missing the College Dropout days. I think every phase of Kanye’s illustrious career is represented in this one track; the sped-up soul samples of College Dropout, the live instrumentation of Late Registration, the pop sensibilities of Graduation, the heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics of 808s, and the grandiose attitude of Beautiful Fantasy.
8. Savages – Shut Up
The dizzying guitars and that pounding bass combined with commanding vocals make “Shut Up” a superb record. This song makes me super uncomfortable and anxious when I listen to it sometimes which I think is a good thing.
7. Drake – Hold On, We’re Going Home
Even if you’re not in love, this song has the ability to make you feel like you’re in love, which is quite a feat for a heartless bastard like me. “Hold On” is a beautiful pop record made to call-out the romantic in us all.
6. Foxygen – San Francisco
It seems like this song is about a love that was doomed from the beginning and that mutual realization that it’s quickly coming to an end. A somewhat sad premise set to a carefree, bouncy pop tune.
5. Rhye – Open
“Open” is a song that you listen to in bed with a significant other, hungover on a Sunday afternoon. It’s a beautiful arrangement from the moment those initial strings hit and the lyrics paint a picture of two people who couldn’t possibly dream of being anywhere but in that moment together.
4. A$AP Rocky – 1 Train (feat. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Big K.R.I.T.)
It’s pretty unfair that the best posse cut of the year came out about two weeks into 2013. The stacked lineup speaks for itself.
3. Daft Punk – Get Lucky
At first I loved this song. Then, I eventually heard it so much on the radio that I started to hate it. Then, I listened to the extended album version and fell in love again. It’s good, we all know this.
2. Deafheaven – Dream House
The first time I listened to this album it didn’t do much for me for some reason. I sat on it for a couple of weeks and give it another listen. With my second go at “Dream House” I was instantly hooked. This is one of the most emotionally-draining songs I have ever heard.
1. Disclosure – When A Fire Starts To Burn
I was recommended the Disclosure by friend. I had no idea who the hell they were. When I first heard this song I damn near did backflips out of my office chair at work. It’s just a huge, smart dance tune with a killer vocal sample and some funky bass. RIGHT!?