I’ve already shown you the best new artists and remixes of 2013, but now it is time to start the rollout of the 100 greatest songs of the past twelve months. A lot of extremely difficult decisions had to be made in editing this list down to the final 100, but these are the 100 songs that you need to know the most.
Over the next four days, I will unveil 25 songs each day, with the top 25 songs of the year being revealed on Monday, 16 December 2013.
/// FUCK BUTTONS The Red Wing
/// DAFT PUNK (FEAT. PANDA BEAR) Doin’ It Right
The French self-described robots have never been electronica’s lyrical equivalent to Bob Dylan, but that is hardly the point of their music. Random Access Memories did its part in bringing life back to music, and “Doin’ It Right,” their highly anticipated collaboration with Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, while lacking lyrical profundity, made up for it with pure, unadulterated bliss that feels just as euphoric now as during first listen.
/// TODD TERJE Strandbar (disko)
/// MARIAH CAREY (FEAT. MIGUEL) #Beautiful
While Mariah Carey’s comeback LP remains in purgatory, Mimi has been granting us access to her new material, and the product has been promising. Her spring release, the Miguel-featuring “#Beautiful,” has been the best of the bunch, with its effortlessly retro and cool production allowing Carey the most breathing room she’s had on a track since her emancipation.
/// YOUTH LAGOON Dropla
/// KURT VILE Wakin’ On A Pretty Day
/// GROUPER Vital
Liz Harris’s Grouper project has been responsible for only two musical releases since its inception in 2007, but those two have been two of the most compelling and refreshing releases of their time. On “Vital,” Harris’s vocals don’t move much further from a whisper, all the while she assuredly coos, “I’m vital.” It’s so understated that it is hard to refute her argument; by simply being comfortable with being, Harris proved she’s as essential to today’s musical landscape as anyone else.
/// CASSIE (FEAT. WIZ KHALIFA) Paradise
Cassie took a long road to get from “Me and You” to “Paradise,” her fantastic 2013 single featuring Wiz Khalifa, and off her stellar mixtape RockaByeBaby. After that unforgettable introductory single, Cassie had a difficult time finding her place in an ever-shifting R&B field, yet in 2013 Cassie’s talents matched up to the popular sounds of the genre. “Paradise” is the runaway hit from the collection, with its progressive R&B production and Cassie’s most seductive vocal performance combining to hypnotic results.
/// POSTILJONEN Supreme
/// DJ KOZE (FEAT. MILOSH) Amygdala
/// INC. The Place
2013 was a great year to be siblings making music, as Disclosure and Haim could surely attest. The lesser known inc. features brothers Andrew and Daniel Aged, and the two’s chemistry offers immediate dividends to the listener. “The Place” is the highlight from the duo’s 2013 LP No World, with each breath taken leading closer to a place we already know, yet seldom visit.
/// HETEROTIC Bliss
/// LORDE Tennis Court
Lorde was one of 2013’s most refreshing new artists, as the New Zealand-born star made no apologies for her unabashedly pop productions and her penchant for telling things as they are. Some of her comments have gotten her into hot water (more on that topic later), yet what is lost in those conversations is Ella Yelich-O’Connor’s desire to elevate the pop music narrative to better fit an empowered society.
/// AUTRE NE VEUT Ego Free, Sex Free
As it relates to his stunning 2013 album Anxiety, I’ve always found it difficult to see how “Ego Free, Sex Free” fits into the album’s overall theme of anxiety, and the many ways it manifests itself throughout our lives. At first listen, “Sex Free” appears to be much less of a signifier of those manifestations as much as it is a respite from the growing knot in Arther Ashin’s stomach. But now when I listen to the song, I hear it as an idealistic goal of complete freedom; it may be difficult to achieve, especially with anxiety and depression being only a few steps behind, but when you can reach that state of being, there’s nothing nearly as beautiful.
/// TINASHE 1 For Me
Tinashe’s breezy, Ryan Hemsworth-produced single “1 For Me” is one of the best R&B tracks of the year, as it perfectly mixes contemporary R&B sounds with one of the most affecting vocal performances from a female vocalist this year.
/// SOHN Bloodflows
“Bloodflows” is one of the most devastating tracks of the year, with Sohn painfully and repeatedly singing, “My love don’t love me.” At first a slow trickle of blood, it soon turns into a full-on geyser, with Sohn resigned to accepting his fate.
/// DAVID BOWIE Where Are We Now?
There were a lot of unexpected musical comebacks in 2013; My Bloody Valentine. The Knife. Daft Punk. Justin Timberlake. Beyoncé. I would argue that David Bowie’s return with The Next Day marks the year’s most shocking, what with the complete lack of knowledge from anyone outside of the recording process as to its existence before the release of the excellent “Where Are We Now?” The song acted as a poignant statement of reintroduction for Bowie, finding the enigmatic singer contemplating the extent of progress being made not only in societal terms, but internally as well. At his age, with his history, Bowie could be forgiven for ignoring a question such as Where are we now? As he knows, perhaps better than anyone, it’s a lot more interesting when people defy your expectations for them. And no one defied expectations quite like Bowie.
/// UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA So Good At Being In Trouble
/// COURTNEY BARNETT Avant Gardener
There’s a playfulness to Courtney Barnett’s charming “Avant Gardener” that catapults the song into its placement on this list. Barnett’s storytelling technique does a wonderful job of pushing her message while making her highly personable.
/// JESSIE WARE Imagine It Was Us
/// WAXAHATCHEE lips and limbs
/// FOREST SWORDS The Weight Of Gold
/// BATHS No Eyes
Will Wiesenfeld records as Baths, and his music is a rare, raw and unfiltered look at life as a twenty-something homosexual male in 21st century America. “No Eyes” is the crowning achievement of his fantastic 2013 release Obsidian, as it skirts along with a delicacy that is juxtaposed by Wiesenfeld’s explicit lyrics, as he sings “It’s not a matter of / If you mean it / It’s only a matter of / Come and fuck me.”
/// MAJICAL CLOUDZ Childhood’s End
/// BEN KHAN Eden
Ben Khan’s debut single was a big statement for the little-known artist. Taking cues from Jai Paul, Khan crafted a futuristic, rhythmic, and utterly gripping track with “Eden.” Its production hints at big things to come from the singer, and its painfully short runtime offers us just enough of a taste of his talents while certainly not showing us his full hand.