Best Music of 2013CoS Exclusive FeaturesStaff Lists

Top 50 Songs of 2013

on December 06, 2013, 5:56pm
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songs Top 50 Songs of 2013

It’s Friday, which means the first week in our 2013 Annual Report has wrapped up. But, what better way to start the weekend than with our Top 50 Songs of 2013? For this list, we zeroed in on the tracks that waved ears around in 2013, pieces of work that grasped the growth of each respective artist, engaging their mind, genre, and sound. No need to reach for Enya or Moby, the spiritualism ends there.

Feel free to let us know what you think, including some tracks you’ll take into 2014 with you. Also, stay tuned as our 2013 Annual Report continues next week with our picks for Live Acts of the Year, Artist of the Year, Band of the Year, Music Festival of the Year, and Top 50 Albums of the Year.

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Deap Vally Sistrionix50. Deap Vally – “Lies”

Sistrionix

That the Californian blues rock combo of Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards shares a love of knitwear may be less than apparent at first glance. Having met up at a crochet class, the duo has gone on to beat a familiar denim ‘n’ leather path with a big splash of hot pants ‘n’ fishnets glamour and good looks to counter the masculinity typically associated with these sounds. “Lies”, from debut album Sistrionix, channels vitriol at male mistreatment into positively giving the woman the upper hand through sheer, raucous, raging energy. “These legs are closed to you,” screams Troy. And you better believe it. –Tony Hardy

Listen: Spotify | Rdio

Buy: Amazon

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cage the elephant come a little closer49. Cage the Elephant – “Come a Little Closer”

Melophobia

Kentucky quintet Cage the Elephant used this fall’s Melophobia as a means of separating themselves from previous releases. And this dirty jewel of a track — which roared to the top of the Billboard Alternative Charts — proves their efforts were not in vain. Lead singer and guitarist Matthew Schultz was inspired to write “Come a Little Closer” after waking up in a São Paulo hotel. He noticed the favelas across the way looked like anthills packed with people who each went about their own isolated lives while internally clutching an anonymous bounty of thoughts and desires. This stunning realization rings clear in Schultz’s vocals, which beg us to come together and bridge our emotional distance before it’s too late. The empowering chorus is also one of the year’s most inviting sing-alongs, so much so that it even roused David Letterman to greet Cage the Elephant with this ovation: “I mean, my God, really, that’s it, no more calls, we have a winner! What do you want? This is all you need! For God’s sake, come on you guys! Let’s go out there and do something! Let’s go get in fights or something!” –Dan Pfleegor

Listen: Spotify | Rdio

Buy: Amazon

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Chamakay++Single+Chamakay+cover48. Blood Orange – “Chamakay”

Cupid Deluxe

Soaked in tropical vibes, Blood Orange’s “Chamakay” transports you to the island environment in which Dev Hynes shot the song’s video. Joining him is Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek, whose gentle background vocals swell and swirl along with the lush, rhythmic drumming and very, very light synth use. It’s the vocals from the two that dominate the summery track, proving that both artists are due for their time in the spotlight after years of stacking up indie credibility. As well as being the lead single from Blood Orange’s Cupid Deluxe, “Chamakay” is by far the strongest track on the album, showcasing the soulful singer’s effortless ability to make some of the sexiest songs of this century. –Pat Levy

Listen: Spotify | Rdio

Buy: Amazon

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disclosure featuring london grammar help me lose my mind paul woolford remix Top 50 Songs of 201347. Disclosure – “Help Me Lose My Mind” (feat. London Grammar)

Settle

Settle worked so well as a debut not only because it showcased Howard and Guy Lawrence’s songwriting and production skills, but also because it featured tons of spectacular UK-centric guest vocals. Though Sam Smith and AlunaGeorge get the airplay for singing on hit singles “Latch” and “White Noise” respectively, London Grammar’s Hannah Reid co-wrote and dazzles on closer “Help Me Lose My Mind”. Her unearthly, soothing alto is punctuated by a throbbing retro dance beat, making for a mesmerizing ending to the masterful debut. Though “Help Me Lose My Mind” didn’t take off commercially like the other singles on Settle, Reid’s voice soaring in the chorus is one of the best moments on the album. –Josh Terry

Listen: Spotify | Rdio

Buy: Amazon

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asapfergshabba_COVER_THUNB46. ASAP Ferg feat. ASAP Rocky –  “Shabba”

Trap Lord

What’s amusing about “Shabba” is how it takes everything the ASAP Mob is criticized for and contorts it into hedonistic, trunk-rattling goodness. Southern influences a little too on-the-sleeve? Well, what about reaching even farther down south — as in Jamaica. Rhyming isn’t technical enough? Well, here’s ASAP Ferg rapping out of beat, switching flows, and slipping in ad-libs while making time to sneak in a Batman reference. All the parts should clash, but they manage to work together to teach a lesson: a banger is a banger. “Work” established ASAP Ferg as the next potential star in the ASAP camp, but it was “Shabba” that solidified him as one of rap’s most entertaining up-and-coming personalities. –Brian Josephs

Listen: SoundCloud

Buy: Amazon

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Drake - Hold On, We're Going Home45. Drake – “Hold On, We’re Going Home”

Nothing Was the Same

Drake’s career has centered on maintaining a dichotomy between hardened MC and romantic crooner. Thus far, he’s had plenty of success, but nothing quite like “Hold On, We’re Going Home”. By momentarily abandoning his pursuit of street cred, Drake frees himself to truly indulge his sentimental side, crafting a synth-heavy slice of ’80s R&B that sounds as progressive as it does a straight Phil Collins homage. More than that, though, he helped further legitimize his own career path by proving that even after the testosterone-fueled “Started from the Bottom”, you can still offer something emotionally visceral. While subsequent singles continued the search for that balance, “Hold On, We’re Going Home” raised all sorts of questions about just which half of Drake is the most intriguing and viable. –Chris Coplan

Listen: Spotify | Rdio

Buy: Amazon

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Yung-Lean44. Yung Lean – “Ginseng Strip 2002″

Lavender EP

Sometimes there are songs or artists that defy classification, emerging from some dark corner of the Internet and immediately deserving their own sub-sub-genre. Yung Lean is such an artist, and “Ginseng Strip 2002” is such a song. Before anyone knew who the 16-year-old Swede and his Sad Boys clique were, the spacey single dropped on YouTube and helped to spawn the sadwave movement that continues to move through the recesses of the Internet thanks to cosigns from artists like Earl Sweatshirt and websites like Vice. Each and every bar is quotable, from “Poppin’ pills like zits/ While someone vomits on your mosquito tits” to “Fuck fat hoes like Adele/ Get my dick stuck inside a lamp shell,” and paints a vivid picture of what goes on inside the mind of an emotional Swedish kid who spends his time smoking weed with his two friends/producers and playing Super Smash Bros. and Pokemon Stadium on N64. –Pat Levy

Listen: Spotify | Rdio

Buy: Amazon

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big sean hall of fame electronica kendrick43. Big Sean – “Control (HOF)” (feat. Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica)

The moment Kendrick Lamar finished his vivid, verbose, voracious, visceral bomb, Big Sean knew that “Control” was never going to make his album. Rappers have been loath to be shown up on their own songs at least since Nas told Jay Z that “Eminem murdered you on your own shit.” Kendrick, then — with his Jeopardy-level references, his “King of New York” braggadocio, his assassination of every rapper on his footing, including rappers on the same song — doomed “Control” to non-album status. Which is a shame, and not just because of that verse. It’s a shame because of legendary producer No I.D.’s warped and woozy organs, his layers of laser beam gospel vocals, his channel-swapping snares. It’s a shame because, while a technically competent verse from Jay was to be expected, Big Sean’s verse on “Control” is his best moment as a rapper. Basically, Kendrick’s impressive verse was just a microcosm of how everyone involved in “Control” came correct. –Chris Bosman

Listen: SoundCloud

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Jamie Lidell 201342. Jamie Lidell – “why_ya_why”

Jamie Lidell

Compared to Jamie Lidell’s romantic past, “why_ya_why” is a haunted nightmare that twists the typical R&B track into a wonderland fit for experimental legends like Tom Waits. It’s an odd product considering his goal, really. Many genres have experimented with adapting EDM/house electronic influences, but Lidell makes sharp, jagged rhythms and vocals pounded through a megaphone sound jarring. His torn-up croons shed addicting melodies that bring the likes Cee Lo Green and Andre 3000 to life, but with a freakier shock factor. R&B becomes as dance-y as ever on Jamie Lidell, and “why_ya_why” forcefully throws this new experimentation into nasty overdrive. –Sam Willett

Listen: Spotify | Rdio

Buy: Amazon

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deerhunter monomania41. Deerhunter – “Monomania”

Monomania

Bradford Cox has always been transparent about his insecurities, aurally and sonically transforming them into something old, something new, something cathartic, but, mostly, something true. The title track of Deerhunter’s 2013 release is a meditative reflection on the concept of monomania, a pathological obsession with a singular idea that Cox himself identifies with. By making the track “Monomania” the primary conceptual focus of the record — a work already laden with many scuzzy avant-punk gems — Cox sharply critiques, in his self-depreciating own way, the pathologizing nature of our society. The abrasive swells of “mono-mono mania” become much more than a mantra here. “Monomania” is at once a demonic hymn, a self-reflexive exercise that forces the listener to reflect on the importance of ideas, a sign of the times and, most of all, a unifying concept. –Paula Mejia

Listen: Spotify | Rdio

Buy: Amazon

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