A Countdown of the Top 10 Songs of 2013
It's been a wild year for pop music, with eagerly anticipated releases from huge names like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus. We've also seen the welcome return of such musical acts as Daft Punk, the Knife, and musician turned actor Justin Timberlake - to name a few. Additionally, 2013 sparkled with brilliant debuts by some truly promising up-and-coming artists we hope to be following for years to come. And although you probably won't hear some of these songs on this year's New Year's Rockin' Eve, we thought we'd do our own countdown with what we feel are the best pop, dance and indie singles of 2013.
10. Daft Punk - "Get Lucky" [ft. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers]
Like a musical advertisement for great things to come, Daft Punk teased that sweet guitar riff for months leading up to the release of "Get Lucky." It was the French house duo’s comeback single, and it ended up being one of the hottest songs of the summer, thanks to Pharrell’s silky-smooth vocals and Nile Rodgers’s funky guitar work. "Get Lucky" has a relentless groove that’s dipped in a chrome finish, a timeless song destined to become a dance floor classic that will go down as one of the Robots’ best songs.
09. Drake - "Hold On, We’re Going Home" [ft. Majid Jordan]
With an intro reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s classic "Sexual Healing," "Hold On" ends up being Drake’s grandest pop effort with a hook that proves he’s at his best when channeling his R&B side. The incredibly intimate jam ("I want your hot love and emotion, endlessly") finds strength in its fluid melody that cuts right through you, as Drake coos the unforgettable lines: "Cause you’re a good girl and you know it / You act so different around me ... / I know exactly who you could be."
08. Hayden James - "Permission to Love"
Australian Hayden James’s nu disco slammer "Permission to Love" is a platinum dance song that works in the shining elements of deep house, funk and disco. James’s looped and pitched down vocals glide over warm synths, hypnotic effects and what could be a guitar riff filtered through an original Game Boy. A debut single for James, "Permission to Love" sounds like it was made in a galaxy far, far away (one that loves to dance) and is one of the most addictive songs released this year.
07. Mutya Keisha Siobhan - "Flatline"
The founding members of the late ’90s British girl group the Sugarbabes are giving it another go as MKS. Though they’ve been working on their debut for a while, they finally let go a first taste of new material this summer. Producer du jour Blood Orange, aka Dev Hynes, worked on "Flatline," giving it a shimmery exterior with his signature plinking guitars and powerful drums. The trio’s vocals, however, steal the show as they command and work in perfect harmony during the song’s brilliant chorus. It’s been over a decade since we heard the women sing together, and it was worth the wait - they glow throughout "Flatline," especially during the song’s epic marching-band climax that puts the track over the edge.
06. Miley Cyrus - "We Can’t Stop"
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Miley Cyrus was never supposed to top the epic "Party in the U.S.A.," but the 20-year-old pop sensation beat the odds. With the release of "We Can’t Stop" Miley told the world she’s no longer the starry-eyed girl at LAX with her cardigan, and she’s not Disney’s Hannah Montana. On the cough syrup-fueled jam, Miley laminates who she is halfway through the hit, and she has no reservations: "Remember only God can judge ya / Forget the haters because somebody loves ya." From the get-go, she’s made it clear she’s setting out to do what she wants - and the world better watch out: "It’s our party, we can do what we want to ... / It’s my mouth, I can say what I want to."
05. Mariah Carey - "#Beautiful" (feat. Miguel)
Mariah Carey’s "#Beautiful" snuck up on us this year, only adding to why this song is so special. Its production is minimal: There are no tricks to lure you in, only R&B crooner Miguel’s vocals for the first half of the song while Mariah giggles and coos in the back. But when Mimi finally bursts in, it feels like time stops and goose bumps sprout up all over your arms. The straightforward love song’s lyrics ("You’re beautiful and I can’t pretend that doesn’t mean a thing to me") dance around the simple guitar riff and rolling drums. Miguel and Mariah are a perfect pairing and are pure magic together. "#Beautiful" was designed to withstand compulsive listens, and it’s proved to hold its own over the past six months.
04. Vampire Weekend - "Diane Young"
Over the last five years or so, Vampire Weekend has put out an impressive stream of catchy tunes - any band would be lucky to have just one of their songs packed into a discography. The hits didn’t stop on their third LP, "Modern Vampires of the City," and it was proven right off the bat with lead single "Diane Young." Though the song clocks in at under the three-minute mark, the band fills the track with enough energy to fuel a rocket ship. It’s a powerhouse with guitar pops, voice modification and a hook that buries deep into your brain, stepping outside of Vampire Weekend’s Afropop realm, but still holding on to their classic sound.
03. Sky Ferreira - "You’re Not the One"
Sky Ferreira has made her struggle with her record label very public, and although she’s hit some major bumps in her career, she’s bounced back - hard. Last year she put out the stellar "Ghost" EP, gaining traction with her single "Everything Is Embarrassing." The 20-year-old singer somehow managed to eclipse her hazy Madonna ode with "You’re Not the One" - a gritty guitar song that sounds like the result of Britney Spears teaming up with the Ramones. This sugary pop song is stripped of its sweetness and is replaced with a shackled veneer of relatable up-front lyrics, with a hook only Sky can deliver.
02. The Knife - "Full of Fire"
"Full of Fire" is everything a comeback single should be. It’s been about five years since the electronic Swedish brother-and-sister duo have put out any official original material. But their absence from music is all but erased with "Full of Fire." The track is a relentless force of hard drumbeats, smattering synths and incredible production. Karin Dreijer Andersson’s vocals are creepy and phenomenal, only adding to the track’s overall feeling of claustrophobia and chaotic sense of urgency. "Full of Fire" is just over nine minutes and packs a sonic wall of sound, in addition to some lyrics that find the Knife at their most political, treading new ground and touching on political theory, queer theory and classism.
01. Haim - "Falling"
"Falling" is the first song I heard by the sister trio Haim; and the first time I heard that track, I said to myself: "I think this is the best song I’ve ever heard in my life." "Falling" is a prime example of why Haim appeals to both mainstream audiences and indie kids: the song blends spectacularly executed accessible hooks with enough quirks to appeal to both masses, but it still contains a layer of tangible weirdness. The harmonies and rhythms conjure up sounds of TLC while the vocals and songwriting sound reminiscent of an updated Fleetwood Mac. Haim’s impressive debut single crosses boundaries and expectations, proving that Haim is one of the most interesting and appealing acts in modern music.
LOOKING FORWARD TO 2014
While 2013 has been an impressive year, 2014 is shaping up to be equally outstanding, with releases by some of the biggest and buzziest artist in the industry. On the horizon, legendary alt rocker Beck is scheduled to drop his 12th album, "Morning Phase," in February. And controversial rapper Azealia Banks promises that her highly publicized delayed debut, "Broke With Expensive Taste," will materialize sometime next year, Twitter fights notwithstanding.
We can also expect releases from British songstress Lily Allen and singer-songwriter Sia Furler. British dubstep singer-songwriter Katy B and R&B diva Solange are both expect to drop LPs in the coming months. Though there’s no solid evidence, rumor has it that Adele may follow up her multiplatinum "21" in 2014.
Back on this side of the pond, Mariah Carey is eyeing a February release for her long-awaited record "The Art of Letting Go," and Justin Bieber should have something in store for 2014 to follow up his interesting 10-singles-in-10-weeks Music Mondays series. It’s also rumored that Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Fergie, Keri Hilson and Ricky Martin are all currently working on new albums, which could result in another epic battle of the pop stars.