And here’s the Top 10 of the Best Songs of 2013! If you want to check out everything in one place, go visit the Spotify Playlist with all these songs. Thanks again for reading and listening along!
10. I Should Live in Salt by The National – I’ve found that The National are an all-or-nothing experience for many people, and the crux of the argument (for either side) is the baritone voice of Matt Berninger (it’s either a loaded powerhouse or brutally boring). The band isn’t especially flashy, so it’s all about the details. A typical album is full of slow-burn songs that have wrecked emotional cores built around curious lyrical observations and haunting instrumentation. In the context of The National, “Salt” is a showstopper, dripping with regret and held up by dark drum tones. If you aren’t a fan of the band, there’s probably no convincing you at this point. If you’re without opinion, give this one a try and hold on for the first instance of the refrain. It’s brutally beautiful.
09. White Noise by Disclosure – This is the best Daft Punk song of the year. “Get Lucky” and the other disco revival fare is catchy, sure. Meanwhile, Settle has everything I was hoping for in a true Discovery successor. Relentless beats makes “White Noise” pitch-perfect dancing music and the electronic winner of the year. I’m sure you’ve seen praise for “When a Fire Starts to Burn,” the bare-bones sibling of “White Noise.” This track makes my list for being more fleshed out, a bigger statement with better (and more memorable) singing.
08. Sacrilege by Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege” manages to be the best YYYs song in some time because their singer is allowed to inhabit her entire spectrum. The greatest Karen O performances are captivating, terrifying, and pull your sympathy (often all at once). Here’s she’s quietly cooing one verse before screaming the next, a wonderful display of range. Of course, the YYYs aren’t a one trick band, and a memorable melody keeps the song in your mind hours after the sub-four minute playtime. Led by a wandering guitar line and a gospel choir, “Sacrilege” is miraculously on-point and avoids bloat despite all the ingredients in play.
07. Awkward by San Cisco – I am a damn sucker for perfect power pop (so much so that you’ll find another entry from this genre in the top 3). Jangling guitars, medium-fast temp, boy-girl singing blend, unintrusive-but-essential drumming below the fray. Yep, check all those boxes. It’s catchy, charming pop and that’s already a good start. “Awkward” is elevated further by its personality, as the chemistry of the aforementioned singers drives them away and together. The content is reasonably simple, but it plays perfectly.
06. Stay (originally performed by Rihanna) by Low – Grab a box of tissues, maybe a pint of ice cream (or a drink to cry into?), curl up on the cough. It’s sad-times you guys, but also haunting grace. “Stay” is the sound of two voices sharing a desperate cry for each other. “I want you to stay” doesn’t seem overtly touching when read in text form. Mimi Parker sells it completely, laying her soul bare with every strained line. I’ll admit ignorance of the original version before hearing Low’s “Stay” on the radio, but I now believe that the indie band cover is the definitive take.