The Best Songs of 2013: Sean’s List
There was so much great music in 2013, that the thought of portioning out my picks for the best of the year sent me into an emotional tailspin. I was distraught. I lost hope. I didn’t think a list like this — one that I’ve completed every year since the aughts decade ended — could be done. And that is why we are now an entire half-month into 2014 before I show you my picks from the previous year in tuneage. So I hope you enjoy these songs, and the even-longer playlist that accompanies them. I survived a lengthy music hangover to bring you this collection. Thank you for reading, and for listening.
30. RY X – “Berlin”
Because: Its simplicity, its beauty, its power. That voice.
29. Caitlin Rose – “Everywhere I Go”
Because: I’m a sucker for most songs about the unshakeable presence of the one you love, even when they’re physically absent. Particularly when they’re as straightforward and lovely as this one.
28. Indians – “Cakelakers”
Because: Strum, strum, strum the guitar. Let those strings swell, swell, swell in the background.
27. Iggy Azalea – “Work”
Because: I like this track’s attitude and Azalea’s talent. And because it’s a little outside my comfort zone.
26. Drop City Yacht Club feat. Jeremih – “Crickets”
Because: As the song itself says, this might be a little corny. But it’s also undeniably catchy.
25. Tegan and Sara – “Closer”
Because: A slice of pop goodness about being near someone in *ahem* every way possible.
24. Lucius – “Until We Get There”
Because: Its heartbeat drew me in, its whisper brought me closer, and its woo hoo hoooos kept me singing.
23. Waxahatchee – “You’re Damaged”
Because: Katie Crutchfield’s voice and guitar a laid bare as she sings about accepting one’s faults and fears.
22. The Men – “Half Angel Half Light”
Because: All kinds of fuzz-rock guitars help construct an irresistible melody.
21. The National – “Don’t Swallow The Cap”
Because: Matt Berninger and co. are so consistent that I think people take it for granted. This song is a beautiful example of why that shouldn’t ever happen.
20. Phosphorescent – “Song For Zula”
Because: The quiver in Matthew Houck’s voice conveys passion and vulnerability. The echoing guitars, drums and strings blend together in harmony.
19. Yo La Tengo – “I’ll Be Around”
Because: The guitar work alone is enough to sell me. Add in the understated devotion it preaches, and I’ll keep repeating this one over and over.
18. Daughter – “Human”
Because: This might be the closest thing to a rock song on If You Leave, and it’s about breaking free of what prevents us from being our most authentic selves.
17. Earl Sweatshirt feat. Frank Ocean – “Sunday”
Because: The casual honesty and intelligence that permeates Earl Sweatshirt’s flow is refreshing, and Frank Ocean’s surprisingly stellar verse elevated this song onto this list for me.
16. Lorde – “Team”
Because: When I cranked this song in my car, the moment the beat drops in was super epic. And this song is only one of many that kept the now-17-year-old Kiwi from being a one-hit wonder, but it’s my favorite of the bunch.
15. Chvrches – “Lungs”
Because: There are plenty of terrific songs on The Bones Of What You Believe that I could’ve placed on this list, but I repeated this one more than any other on the album.
14. Young Man – “Being Alone”
Because: Such a beautifully whimsical take on striking out on your own. Becoming an adult never sounded so graceful.
13. Haim – “Let Me Go”
Because: Those exceptional drums, the pulse kept by that bass guitar, and the girl-girl-girl-guitar harmony.
12. Chance The Rapper – “Chain Smoker”
Because: “This part right here, right now, right here, this part my shit. I play this so loud in the car, I forget to park my whip.”
11. Man Man – “Head On [Hold On To Your Heart]”
Because: It’s a wonderful call to arms against letting just anyone into your heart. Simple and memorable.
10. Radical Face – “The Mute”
Because: If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you’re aware I’m a sucker for Ben Cooper’s inventive storytelling style. This one is a doozy.
9. Run The Jewels – “Sea Legs”
Because: Combining the skills of El-P and Killer Mike yielded some of 2013’s most intelligent, rapid-fire, aggressive rap music. Their self-titled album was a tour de force, and this is my favorite of many gems.
8. Tristen – “No One’s Gonna Know”
Because: Those pipes.
7. Laura Marling – “Master Hunter”
Because: Laura Marling is a badass who shouldn’t be trifled with. But if you dare trifle, this song is a good start.
6. Snakadaktal – “Fall Underneath”
Because: To me, this song is absolutely perfect. The guitar harmony, the steady beat, the breathy female vocals. All flawlessly executed.
5. Lady Lamb The Beekeeper – “Rooftop”
Because: It was so hard for me to choose one song from Ripley Pine for this list, but the peaks and valleys of this song really got me.
4. Son Lux – “Lost It To Trying”
Because: Ryan Lott continues to combine dissimilar musical elements better than most, and this is his best effort yet.
3. Kanye West – “Blood On The Leaves”
Because: I know the horns are coming every time, and yet I’m still taken with them. Every time. This song is kinda fascinating.
2. Vampire Weekend – “Ya Hey”
Because: I love this song as much for its perfect melody as I do its religious overtones. It marches with a steady pace from start to finish, and delivers in almost every way.
1. HAERTS – “Wings”
Because: When you make multiple friends listen to a particular song, and make them be quiet during your “favorite part,” it might be time to accept that beast has tamed your heart. “Wings” creates this gorgeous atmosphere from the very beginning, and it delivers beauty and pain throughout. I recently listened to this song for probably the thousandth time, and for some reason it made me well up a bit. When a song I’ve repeated ad nauseum can still inspire such a visceral reaction even when I know all its moves by heart, I have no choice but to make it my pick for the best song of the year.
Thanks again for reading!