For me, 2013 was a great year for music. We had some major releases by big artists, I managed to do a chart every month of the year (I’ve only done it in 2010 as well), and I got really into music from the year 1968 for a while. This isn’t a “best of” or “most important” releases list. It’s a list of my favorite songs from the last year. Sure, it has “Get Lucky” like nearly every other list, but it also has Annie’s “Tube Stops and Lonely Hearts” which I haven’t seen anywhere else. Instead of embedding the SoundCloud links (since SoundCloud embeds take a long time to load and sometimes disappear), I made a YouTube playlist of my favorite songs. Enjoy! And post comments and let me know what I missed…
- Daft Punk – Random Access Memories. If for no other reason, this album belongs in #1 because of all the hype and the fever-pitch excitement that turned this album into an “experience.” When snippets of “Get Lucky” were released via commercials during Saturday Night Live last spring (check out those early SNL ads!), fans pieces and tried to assemble what they thought the song (which became “Get Lucky”) would sound like — and they were pretty close!. Then there was the awesome The Collaborators project which entailed interviews from musicians involved with the album. And finally, there was the ironic aspect that, to quote Todd Edwards, “It took robots to bring soul back to music.”
- Arcade Fire – Reflektor. If musicians are lucky, they get to a point where they release an album that sort of catapults them to the next level. Recent examples for me are Ladytron’s The Witching Hour, Cut Copy’s In Ghost Colors, and Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds. The album transcends everything done before and gives you a totally new perspective of them as artists. Sure, we all knew Arcade Fire was a great band (when they performed their song “Rebellion (Lies)” at Coachella in 2005 I think we all knew they were amazing), but Reflektor really upped the ante for me. James Murphy’s disco-y production added both fun and darkness to the album. I love it.
- Lady Gaga – Artpop. I wasn’t a huge fan of Lady Gaga’s previous effort, Born This Way. Sure, the message was great and Röyksopp did an amazing remix of “Judas,” but it just didn’t pull me in. Artpop, on the other hand, I love. The title song “ARTPOP” reminds me my first favorite Lady Gaga song “Bad Romance.” She combines the weird with poppy like nobody else recently. I also love to imagine that somehow hanging out with modern artists like Jeff Koons and Marina Abramovic somehow influenced the album. (Check out Lady Gaga gushing about Abramovic’s limitless!)
- The Weeknd – Kiss Land. I love this new style of slowed-down, supper trippy hip-hop/R&B. This is an album that’s so dark and smokey it’s perfect for night time. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Weeknd’s previous mixtapes so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved the album.
- Kanye West – Yeezus. I can’t explain what I love about this album so I won’t even try. Kanye West is so weird and interesting — I love it. He’s got amazing production skills (remember, he started out as one of Jay-Z’s producers), and it shines again on Yeezus. Bonus: Check out art critic Jerry Saltz’s take on Kanye’s video for “Bound 2” and Saltz’s concept of “The New Uncanny.”
- Telonius – Inter Face. “Wait, who is this Telonius you have here and why haven’t I heard of it before?” you may be asking yourself. Well, Telonius is German, on the Gomma record label (based in Germany), and songs of his were on a third of my charts for 2013 (“Hit Me” from July, “I Make You Man” from October, “Last Night (Faced Version)” from November, and [spoiler alert] a remix of “I Make You Man” will be in my December chart). The album is dark and sexy and I’ve loved it all year. It wasn’t as splashy or popular as my other picks, but it was a solid album I kept listening to.
- The Knife – Shaking the Habitual. Okay I won’t say much about this album because it’s sort of difficult and abstract — it’s really an album-as-a-work-of-art sort of situation. You have to experience it as an album. Supposedly it has strong leftist themes (about equality, sexism, gender, etc.) and The Knife were influenced by people like Judith Butler (who wrote a book called Gender Trouble that is still one of the most difficult books I’ve ever read). Sure, this album isn’t as accessible or awesome as Silent Shout, but it’s great.
- Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience. Let’s not forget that before the second part came out, the first album was great. Sure, it wasn’t as poppy and accessible as FutureSex/LoveSounds, but I loved the spacey/funky feeling the album had. And any album with a song like “Mirrors” has to be one best.
Other albums I loved from 2013: Dynamics by Holy Ghost!, Tomorrow’s Harvest by Boards of Canada, mbv by My Bloody Valentine, Mantangi by M.I.A., Nocturnes by Little Boots, The Bones of What You Believe by CHVRCHES, Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend, Settle by Disclosure, Psychic by Darkside, and Different Sides of the Sun by Hot Natured. Also: Even though Flume’s self-titled album came out in 2012, I really experienced it in 2013 (and the deluxe edition came out in 2013). If I were to “cheat” and include it this year, it’d definitely be in my top 10.
- “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. It was a tough choice between “Get Lucky” and “Reflektor” for my favorite song of the year. Ultimately it went to Daft Punk because, as I mentioned above, the album and really the song itself became an event. The hype on music blogs was off the charts. The song introduced a whole new generation (including me) to the awesomeness of Nile Rodgers which culminated in downloading tons of 80s music I never knew I loved. The other day I realized that my phone’s ring tone was still “Get Lucky” despite it coming out in April — that fact I hadn’t changed it and still loved hearing it when my phone rang convinced me that this is my favorite of the year.
- “Reflektor” by Arcade Fire. As mentioned above, this song really propelled Arcade Fire to a whole new level for me. I love James Murphy’s DFA-inspired production. You can totally dance to this song — in a club, no less! The lyrics were minimal, the video was slightly insane, and it’s a close second favorite song of the year for me.
- “Tube Stops and Lonely Hearts” by Annie. I’ve been a fan of Annie (a Norwegian electronic musician) for a while now. Back in 2004, Pitchfork put her track “Heartbeat” as their #1 song of the year but after that she sort of faded from “mainstream” music coverage. I continued to follow her, though, and through it loved songs she did like “Anthonio” and “Songs Remind Me of You.” She always had this sort of dark and sad perspective on romance that I could identify with (her music even inspired a mix I did called “Did You Ever Really Care?” that I made to deal with a breakup…). But then this summer I was walking to the grocery store and “Tube Stops and Lonely Hearts” came on and I literally had to stop, go sit down, and listen to the song. Everything about it speaks to me emotionally, intellectually, etc. — she feels/understands the world the same as I do. Also be sure to check out the strange and surreal video. In a world where I wasn’t surrounded by more mainstream music, this would’ve been my #1. Bonus: Check out the FNM remix of the song, too — it extends the song and makes it more dancey.
- “ARTPOP” by Lady Gaga. This is my favorite Lady Gaga song since “Bad Romance.” It’s a little alien and very weird. I like to think it’s a manifesto of sorts for some new type of art movement: “Brushes of darkness won’t help you create your destiny of super / ARTPOP could mean anything… anything! / I tried to sell myself but I am really laughing.”
- “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake. Like “My Love,” there is something epic and beautiful about this song and I feel like he really poured his heart out into it. If the stories are true, the song is about how him and Jessica Biel broke up and during that separation he realized how much he loved her and eventually they got back together and were married (awww a happy ending!). Bonus: There aren’t many songs about getting back together. I once listened to an episode of This American Life about getting-back-together songs, and it starts off mentioning the lack.
Other songs I really loved this year:
- “Afterlife” by Arcade Fire
- “Invisible” by Annie
- “Bridge and Tunnel” by Holy Ghost!
- “Last Night (Faced Version)” by Telonius
- “Let the Groove Get In” by Justin Timberlake
- “Bound 2” by Kanye West
- “Broken Record” by Little Boots
- “Exodus” and “Sexodus” (feat. The Weeknd) by M.I.A.
- “Wanderlust” by The Weeknd
- “Doin’ It Right” (feat. Panda Bear) by Daft Punk
- “Nickels and Dimes” by Jay-Z
- “The Rise” by Pelussje
- “The Town” by The Weeknd
- “Dark Star” by Jaymes Young
- “Instant Crush” (feat. Julian Cassablancas) by Daft Punk
- “Tell U” by Jerome LOL
- “Woman” by Munk
- “You Already Know” by Arcade Fire
- “Hopeless Place” by Austra
- “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus
- “I’m Waiting Here” (feat. Lykke Li) by David Lynch
- “It Must Be the Weather” by Holy Ghost!
- “You Are My Destiny” by The Juan MacLean
- “Mint” by Villa
- “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)” by Arcade Fire
- “Recover” by CHVRCHES
- “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus
- “Hold On, We’re Going Home” (Feat. Majid Jordan) by Drake
- “Do What U Want” (feat. R. Kelly) by Lady Gaga
- “White Noise” (Feat. AlunaGeorge) by Disclosure
- “A Rose By Any Other Name” (feat. Beth Ditto) by Blondie
- “Blurred Lines” (feat. T.I. and Pharrell Williams) by Robin Thick (the song was too ubiquitous and too catchy to not include…!)
Check out my handy YouTube playlist of my favorite songs from 2013!
My Favorite Remixes:
- “Tube Stops and Lonely Hearts” (FNM remix) by Annie
- “Baumhaus” (Jörg Burger remix Feat. Sidonie) by Michael Mayer
- “Grand Cru” (Pachanga Boys Glam Drive) by Saschienne
- “Satellite” (Lindstrøm remix) by Little Boots
- “You & Me” (Flume remix) by Disclosure
- “Working The Midnight Shift” (Holy Ghost! Remix) by Donna Summer
- “Kiss Kiss” (Canblaster remix) by Cashmere Cat
- “Sexy Socialite” (Boys Noize Remix) by Chromeo
Songs I loved in 2013 from Other Years:
- “Deep Is the Breath” (feat. Jacob Bellens & Emma Acs) by Kasper Bjørke
- “Beat and the Pulse” by Austra
- “Fuzzy Dream” (Junior Claristidge rework) by Black Devil Disco Club
- “One Step Further” by Jenna Drey
- “Can’t Hold Us” (Feat. Ray Dalton) by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
- “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars
- “Disco Clown” by Munk
- “Power” by Pompeya
- “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” by Stevie Wonder
- “Crosseyed and Painless” by The Talking Heads
- “Let’s Live for Today” by The Grass Roots
This year I really loved stuff from:
And there it is: 2013 in music in my world!