After a year filled with numerous albums and even more songs, choosing 100 of the best is an incredibly difficult task. Like with the best albums of 2013, there will be surprises as well as snubs. Sometimes the snubs are oversights while at other items there are just so many notable songs that some just get lost in the mix. Regardless, here are 100 songs I found to be notable in 2013.
“Started From The Bottom”
From album: Nothing Was The Same
Once more, the hook sums it up best: “Started from the bottom now we’re here / started from the bottom now my whole team f**kin’ here…”
From album: Modern Vampires of the City
‘Dying young’ in it self is a drag, man, but “Diane Young” and its bubbly sound, quick tempo, and sharp-as-a-tack wordplay is a blast! “Baby, baby, baby, baby, right on time!”
Janelle Monáe featuring Erykah Badu
From album: The Electric Lady
Catchy, ‘real talk’, soulful, contemporary, and laden with swagger, “Q.U.E.E.N.” proves to be one of the best songs of 2013, regardless of genre. “Am I a freak for dancing around?” Of course not! Monáe even throws some rhymes in there, further showing her incredible artistic versatility and restlessness. Dance on Janelle – dance on!
“Who Do We Think We Are?”
John Legend featuring Rick Ross
From album: Love In the Future
Legend impresses lyrically on the soulful, throwback “Who Do We Think We Are?” Filled with widely interpretable lyrics including “We love, we love, we love the stars / we could fall so hard…”, Legend seems to reference any number of things including stardom, living up life, and/or literally getting high. Rick Ross balls hard on his assist: “She gets Chanel / Ski trips to Vail / only the highest grade like trees that I inhale”.
From album: Jake Bugg
From Jake Bugg’s perspective, life hasn’t been easy – Clifton (England) had its issues, though he’s getting moving forward from a rough past. On this brilliantly penned, retro singer/songwriter cut, Bugg has to “…drink to remember, I smoke to forget…”, and eventually “…hold(s) two fingers up to yesterday / light a cigarette smoke it all away / I got out, I got out, I’m alive, but I’m here to stay.”
A$AP Rocky featuring 2 Chainz, Drake & Kendrick Lamar
From album: Long. Live. A$AP
Basically, even though adding an f-bomb technically intensifies problems rather than solving them, the relief of letting the obscenity slip psychologically makes things feel both calmer and better… something like that! LOL! The f-bombs are here for the taking.
From album: Bangerz
Thank goodness there was more to “Wrecking Ball” than the atrocious video where Miley Cyrus rides the wrecking ball in the nude. Miley’s shock value seems to be part of her ‘new Miley’ thing, but “Wrecking Ball” it self stands tall without any extra attention-seeking gimmicks. The refrain alone is shimmering pop at its best.
From Album: Yeezus
“Black Skinhead” was one of the most unapologetic tracks of the year – no questions asked. Among my favorite lyrics: I’m aware I’m a wolf, soon as the moon hit / I’m aware I’m a king, back out the tomb b***h!” There it is!
J. Cole featuring Miguel
From album: Born Sinner
All about love or a play on double meanings – you decide on the year’s smoothest rap track that’s got Cole “up all night, all I’m singing is love songs…” Face it – you can’t go wrong when you got Miguel on the track! He’s a beast…a sensual one at least.
from album: The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Eminem confirms whom the real “Rap God” is as he ‘wipes his butt’ with the competition (not as frankly as he might put it, but I’m trying to ‘be good’ here). No one is exempt – well maybe except for Kendrick Lamar.
From album: The 20/20 Experience
On standout track “Mirrors”, Timberlake graces his audience with an eight-minute juggernaut that straddles the lines between pop and urban music. His falsetto is sweet as syrup, the vocal harmonies superb, with the strings of The Benjamin Wright Orchestra providing the ‘cherry on top.’ The chorus is among the very best moments: “Cause I don’t wanna lose you now / I’m lookin’ right at the other half of me / the vacancy that sat in my heart / is a space that now you hold …”
“We Can’t Stop”
From album: Bangerz
You know, the sad thing is that when Ms. Cyrus told us she “won’t stop,” well, she told the absolute truth. Who would’ve thought that referencing twerking and popping mollies would only be the beginning? “It’s our party we can do what we want!” Indeed Miley, indeed.
BTW, what about a little parody fun?
From album: Reflektor
“Reflektor” definitely didn’t represent the expected direction many thought that Grammy-winning collective Arcade Fire would take, given its percussive, danceable groove. The cut dances tastefully though, eschewing today’s EDM cues in favor of a mix of neo-disco and traditional Arcade Fire characteristics. The songwriting is accessible, with the chorus being irresistibly catchy and simple.
From album: Modern Vampires of the City
“Obvious Bicycle” is arguably the most beautiful song from Vampire Weekend’s discography at this point. Highlights of the mysterious opener include Ezra Koenig’s effortless falsetto, which is ripe as ever on the chorus. “Obvious Bicycle” is nothing short of warm and hypnotizing.
“A Couple of Forevers”
From album: Better
Chrisette Michele returns the ‘passion’ and ‘romance’ to R&B with this breathtaking, thoughtful ballad. “Just a couple of forevers / a couple of forevers / I’m the only one, you’re the only one / together ‘til never…” I’ll be your ‘forever’ CM.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert
From album: The Heist
This hip-hop anthem embracing tolerance and equality for same-sex relationships was quite a risky, courageous move. More than just merely breaking barriers, “Same Love” is a brilliant song.
“Blood On The Leaves”
From album: Yeezus
“Blood On The Leaves” is the crowning achievement from Yeezus. Constructed around a Nina Simone sample (“Strange Fruit”), thoughtful piano, and some awesome biting brass, “Blood On the Leaves” shines like a beacon.
“If I Had A Tail”
Queens of the Stone Age
From album: …Like Clockwork
Characterized by a killer driving groove, a classic rock-worthy anthemic chorus, and standout songwriting, “If I Had A Tail” yet another gift that keeps on giving. “If I had a tail / I’d own the night / if I had a tail / I’d swat the flies.”
“We Can’t End This Way”
Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite
From album: Get Up!
Soulful, gritty, and organic, this blues-gospel number is truly a gem. The backing gospel choir truly puts the cherry on top. After all, “we can’t end this way!”
“Do What U Want”
Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly
From album: ARTPOP
Taken at its most literal (aka sexually), “Do What U Want” is a good song. When examined figuratively (empowerment, non-shallow things), it’s just plain awesome. If there was ever a question of Lady Gaga’s vocal abilities, she squashes them deader than a doornail here.
From album: PRISM
The lyrics say it all: “I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter / dancing through the fire / cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar…” You better “roar” Katy!!!
“God Is Dead?”
From Album: 13
Atheists and Christians alike can appreciate this hard-rocking joint… well to an extent (at least the question mark is in place). To Ozzy’s credit, later on in the track he states, “I don’t believe that God is dead…” Still, the communion (sacrament) seems compromised when Ozzy states “The blood runs free / the rain turns red / give me the wine / you keep the bread…” Oh well.
Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams
From Album: Blurred Lines
Even after multiple controversies surrounding “Blurred Lines” (misogyny and potential ‘artistic theft’), Robin Thicke’s career is thankful for the gift that just kept on giving. You can’t deny how catchy it is, or how slick ole boy’s falsetto is.
From album: Pure Heroine
Now this teen has real swag… Justin Bieber, take notes! “And we’ll never be royals / it don’t run in our blood / that kind of lux just ain’t for us / we crave a different kind of buzz…”
Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
From album: Random Access Memories
The groovy, sexy “Get Lucky” only makes the act of ‘making love’ even more enticing. Pharrell sings it best on the golden hook: “She’s up all night to the sun / I’m up all night to get some / she’s up all night for good fun / I’m up all night to get lucky…” Yeah boy!