For songs 100-76, click here.
For songs 75-51, click here.
/// LOCAL NATIVES Columbia
/// JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE Mirrors
So what if the song can be construed as highly egotistical? “Mirrors” was Justin Timberlake’s crowning achievement in a year full of them. And honestly, who wouldn’t want to hear that they look like a reflection of JT? Well, besides Jessica Biel.
/// DEERHUNTER Monomania
It wouldn’t have been an overreaction if someone were to call 911 during Deerhunter’s debut performance of “Monomania” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, as lead singer Bradford Cox appeared on stage with a bandaged and bloodied middle finger, along with looking completely disheveled. Thankfully, he was just taking performance art to mutilated places so far unseen by man, and the title-track from the band’s 2013 release channeled all the manic hysteria raging inside of Cox’s head.
/// ARCADE FIRE Afterlife
/// THUNDERCAT Heartbreaks + Setbacks
Thundercat and Flying Lotus teamed up for the Thundercat’s stunning 2013 album Apocalypse, and that album’s highlight comes in the form of “Heartbreaks + Setbacks.” The musician born Stephen Bruner treats those emotional failings as an opportunity, not only to grow as an artist, but to set his priorities in life.
/// SHLOHMO & JEREMIH Bo Peep (Do U Right)
Jeremih has flirted with mainstream success off the strength of singles such as “Birthday Sex” and the 50 Cent-featuring “Down On Me.” It’s his 2013 collaboration with producer Shlohmo, though, that signals the biggest growth for the R&B singer. It’s minimalist production fits in perfectly with 2013’s predominate sound, but there is plenty of improvisations on the parts of the two collaborators to highlight their precise strengths, making a name for themselves in a cluttered field.
/// MUTUAL BENEFIT Advanced Falconry
Seemingly from another time period, the stunning, ethereal “Advanced Falconry” from artist Mutual Benefit does not have a worry in the world. Its ability to find comfort in observing its surroundings, basking in the glow of love, is something we should all aspire to.
/// CIARA Body Party
/// FKA TWIGS Water Me
/// MOUNT KIMBIE Made To Stray
/// DOC DANEEKA (FEAT. RATCATCHER) Walk On In
This thumping house number does its job extremely well. Its incessant beat creates a Pavlovian-esque response from the listener, and the thrilling vocal sample carries the load the rest of the way.
/// PHOENIX Trying To Be Cool
/// FOXYGEN No Destruction
/// BIG BLACK DELTA Side Of The Road
Mellowdrone vocalist Jonathan Bates’ solo project as Big Black Delta is responsible for one of 2013’s best electro-pop tracks in the form of “Side Of The Road.” The song hits a lot of great notes, with its electronica drone recalling the masterful work of Chromatics, and its overall aesthetic is similar to one crafted by Anthony Gonzalez and his M83 project.
/// KEVIN GATES Paper Chasers
Baton Rouge rapper Kevin Gates had his best year yet professionally, as his two releases, The Luca Brasi Story and Stranger Than Fiction captivated large audiences across the country. If I were to pinpoint an individual moment to highlight his fantastic 2013, it would be hard to not acknowledge “Paper Chasers” as one of hip-hop’s best singles this year. He is able to come across as both a hardened product of his environment and as a person overcoming his difficult surroundings to achieve greatness. It’s a difficult line to toe, but Gates does so with remarkable stability.
/// HAIM Falling
/// YEAH YEAH YEAHS Sacrilege
Yeah Yeah Yeahs decidedly uneven fourth album Mosquito wasn’t entirely a failure. It has its moments of brilliance, with prerelease single “Sacrilege” standing out as one of the year’s best singles. The song is a welcome return to the guitar rock that made them so famous out the gate, albeit wholly different than any of their past recordings. For one thing, there’s a freaking choir that makes “Like a Prayer” seem like a quite folk tune. But it is one of the most thrilling, exhilarating musical moments of 2013. I still remember where I was when I first heard that choir come in for the first time, with Karen O leading the charge, and thinking, “It doesn’t get much better than this.”
/// RUN THE JEWELS Sea Legs
/// ARCTIC MONKEYS Do I Wanna Know?
Any discussion of Arctic Monkeys’ “Do I Wanna Know?” must begin with that incredible guitar riff that opens the track, by far the best riff in rock ‘n roll this year. For a band that many thought should have peaked years ago, “Do I Wanna Know?” is a surprisingly vital and inspired track, one of the best in their canon.
/// RHYE 3 Days
/// CHVRCHES Recover
/// THESE NEW PURITANS Fragment Two
That repetitive piano riff which shapes These New Puritans’ fantastic 2013 track “Fragment Two” sounds so brilliant it seems impossible no one has used it before. But while you stay for the incredible foundation, the entire song acts not unlike a liquid, filling in each space with its flowing musicality. It’s not in-your-face with its intentions, preferring to take a circuitous path to eliciting a response from its audience.
/// JANELLE MONÁE What An Experience
/// BIG SEAN, KENDRICK LAMAR, & JAY ELECTRONICA Control (HOF)
There’s only one reason for “Control (HOF)” ending up in a year-end best of list. And that reason is obviously Kendrick Lamar, who delivered the greatest, most intimidating verse of the year with his takedown of every rapper this side of Kanye West. After the phenomenal and very much deserved success of good kid, m.A.A.d. city, Lamar has every right to boast of being “Machiavelli’s offspring / the king of New York.” If that bothers you, you haven’t been listening.
/// A$AP ROCKY Suddenly
“I swear this famous shit just happened overnight,” begins “Suddenly,” the closing track on A$AP Rocky’s major label debut Long.Live.A$AP. It’s hard to blame him for thinking such a thing, as his ascendence from hip-hop outlier with a phenomenal, highly influential mixtape to touring the world with Rihanna and performing with Big Boi and Skrillex was done with a lightning quickness. What makes “Suddenly” stand out as the best moment from his debut, then, comes from a couple of factors. Firstly, Rocky himself produced the cut, and it’s haunting production is one of the most compelling on his record. Secondly, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard Rocky rap in such an introspective manner. Those two factors combine to create a fascinating whole, and the rapper’s vocal dexterity shines through, as he’s able to flow naturally thanks to the wonderful construction of his own creation.