At last, I managed to finally put together my personal top 40 songs of 2013 and I’ve even written a blog entry about it.
I’ve always been a huge fan of music charts as a kid, avidly watching such 80s TV programmes such as “Ronny’s Pop Show” or “Formel Eins” or taping my favorite songs on the weekly charts of my local radio stations – which back in the days were pretty decent in their choice of music or at least they matched my current taste in music back then. But back to topic.
Since a few years, i gather my favorite releases of each year carefully in Spotify playlists. This year, I decided to talk a bit more about why I selected each of the different songs into my “Best of this Year” playlist, so i’m putting up this blog. Enjoy the music. Hope there’s something to discover for y’all too.
40. Tim Kasher – Truly Freaking Out
I really loved Tim Kasher’s early works with Cursive, all above “The Ugly Organ” which is still one of my all time favorite records. His solo album which came out this year makes for a good listening and so he opens up the Top 40 with “Truly Freaking Out”.
39. Bastille – Bad Blood
Bastille’s Debut “Bad Blood” is quite a nice album, little bit of indierock, little bit of synthpop. The title track was the catchiest tune for me which made me put it to the start of this 2013 hitlist – if you like it, i recommend you check out the whole record.
38. Me.man.machine – Make it Rain
Support your local music scene. This swiss band is one to check out. Their melancholic pop music really stands out from a lot of their colleagues. Introducing the great Siro Müller of Karaoke from Hell Fame on Drums.
37. AlunaGeorge – Attracting Flies
It was hard to select a winning track from London based Duo AlunaGeorge’s quite nice record “Body Music” – this one finally made it due to its being first discovered by me in early 2013, but give the other tracks a spin too. The album makes for an interesting mix of Electro, Pop and R&B, actually kind of a perfect office music. I wonder why it’s never been such a hit on RARE FM.
36. Sia feat. The Weeknd & Diplo
This release comes from the Soundtrack of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which was my personal movie highlight of the year.
35. Jimmy Eat World – Lean
Although this long time favourite band of mine didn’t deliver one of the top albums this year, i quite liked how it reminded me a bit more of their earlier works such as “Clarity” which is one masterpiece of a record. Compared with their last release, the 2013 “Damage” album is a huge step in the right direction. I’d still love to see them again some time, they never disappointed me live so far.
34. Eminem – Bad Guy
Eminem is finally back as lively as ever with “Marshall Mathers LP 2” – the whole album is a great piece, so check it out. While “Bad Guy” was the song that stuck first and stuck most, there’s other tracks worthy to check out. “Rap God” for example takes its title literally, as it’s got one of the craziest flow i ever heard in Rap Music.
33. Foals – My Number
Once you play this track you just can’t to seem to get this catchy dancy synth riff out of your head.
32. Charli XCX – Take my Hand
A perfectly feel good pop song – while Charli XCX release this year had a few noteworthy tracks on it, this one ultimately made my charts, a great car driving tune too and a slight 80s element going on there, which usually does the trick for me.
31. Panic! at the Disco! – Nicotine
While their 2005 debut “A Fever You Can’t Sweat out” was a groundbreaking record for me personally and musically back then, their subsequent albums were quite disappointing in style and intensity. This year’s release “Too Weird to Live, too Rare to Die!” manages to please, it’s not quite there but has a few good songs on it.
30. Aceyalone – I’m no Casanova
“This is for the 30 and up.” – while the whole album “Leanin’ on Slick” is a solidly “grown up” hip hop record, this track turned out as one of my year’s grooviest tunes, i discovered it randomly while running – it subsequently became stuck on my personal heavy rotation for quite a while.
29. Chromeo – Over Your Shoulder
Can’t wait for the new album out in 2014, “Over Your Shoulder” makes for a nice “Sneak Preview” – I just loved everything this funky Canadian Duo released so far (the Promo pic below being one of the most awesome pics ever to be found on the internet).
Also, they’re a fantastic live band. Go and see them if you ever get the chance.
28. JAY Z – Nickles and Dimes
While I’m still sort of trying getting down with rap music – JAY Z is one of the artists that i can really agree with, well at least musically. God Complex or not, this particular song was played a lot on our internal Office Radio Station at Racerfish and thus also managed to make my personal top 40 this year.
27. Kvelertak – Kvelertak
While i can’t understand a word they sing, because they sing in their native tongue which is norwegian, i really fell for this self-titled Kick Ass Rock and Roll Tune. The video below is quite awesome too – it really gets the live show vibe across well.
26. Dave Hause – The Great Depression
Sad to have missed his Zurich Show this year, his latest album was great. I have seen him first as part of the “Revival Tour” with Chuck Ragan, Dan Andriano and Brian Fallon where he really made an impression on me. Only discovered his other band “The Loved Ones” a little too late.
25. The Arcade Fire – Reflektor
While their album hasn’t completele managed to blow my mind yet (it was probably one of the biggest music hypes this year), their pre-release Reflektor is a solid piece of music featuring David Bowie on Backing Vocals (guess who’s next on the list).
24. David Bowie – (You will) Set the World on Fire
One of my all time favourite artists, the man who constantly reinvented himself put out his first record after 10 years on his birthday in 2013. While the album did not manage to live up to my hopes i had it definitely exceeded my expectations after reading first critiques. Here’s my favourite song off it.
23. Johnny Marr – Generate! Generate!
While I always liked Johnny Marr’s presence on Twitter – his musical effort never really got to me since The Smiths disbanding, neither his “sort of” solo projects nor his brief carreer at Modest Mouse really managed to knock my socks off. His first proper solo album “The Messenger” is very refreshing though. Lots of nice guitar parts that bring back memories of old Smiths songs and a well round-up britpop appeal throughout the record.
22. Holy Ghost! – It Must Be The Weather
While Holy Ghost! released one of my all time favorite indiepop songs with “Hold my Breath” – their 2013 release Dynamics took a while to set in with me and finally made it’s way to this year’s darlings with this nice and laid back eighties influenced track right here (did i mention that 80s influence really does something to me?).
21. Twin Shadow – Old Love / New Love
Already last year’s Twin Shadow Album “Confess” was great – this track in particular got a hold on me cause of its prominent featuring on the official sound track of my Video Game of the Year which was Grand Theft Auto V – which also once more really manages to shine with its selection of musical pearls in a video game.
20. Daft Punk – Get Lucky
While this “Real World” Smash Hit sort of has gone into the Category “I heard this song way too much on TV to put it in my Best of 2013” – i still included it here in the end, cause let’s face it: it is one hell of a Pop Song, so much disco going on here.
19. Phoenix – Trying to be cool
This song is not trying to be cool, it actually is very much so. The French band’s album “Bankrupt!” took a while to unfold to me and enable me to pry out its best track, but it ultimately had to be this one. Hear for yourselves:
18. Frank Turner – Recovery
The likeable Frank Turner released a great album this year. It’s perfect for road trips and I’m still sad to have missed his show last year, which marked one of the very last evenings of the time-honoured Zurich Rock Club Abart that sadly is no more.
17. Bruno Mars – Locked out of Heaven
I never could stand Bruno Mars or his music, it just never got to me and i always shrug it off as music for kids and people that just listen to boring Top 40 focused Radio Stations – though ironically this is a Top 40 of sorts as well.
Anyhow, Bruno Mars rehabilitated himself for me with this very song, which is so great and catchy and groovy and reminds me of some kind of Mashup between The Police and Michael Jackson that it jumped quite far on my personal list of Guilty Pleasures this year.
16. Bosnian Rainbows – Torn Maps
Omar Rodriguez Lopez of At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta fame released quite an album this year with his latest project Bosnian Rainbows. Lots of different influences, there is still the “prog” influences that was to be expected but it’s also got quite some pop appeal, mixing bits of 80s wave with punkish and electronish influences at some point. While it was difficult to pick out one song in particular, this was the one that stuck out most.
15. Placebo – Scene of The Crime
Being one of my all time favorite Bands, Placebo managed to disappoint a bit with their latest album “Loud Like Love” at first – especially with Brian Molko’s imminent lack of inspiration with the lyrics on some songs. But time proved otherwise and in the end i mus say, It’s a very decent album and there’s a good “progress vs. well-tried” ratio to be heard out. And the Band is good as ever live.
14. CHVRCHES – Lies
The Scottish Synth-Pop band released one of the best albums i heard this year with “The Bones of What You Believe”. Finally a band that manages to mix the right doses of electronica and pop – as lots of bands in the genre lately overdid it on either one side.
13. AFI – The Conductor
Also one of the Bands i hold in highest regard, their album this year was received to quite some expectations. While already their last album “Crash Love” strayed a lot from their Hardcore-Punk origins it managed to delight me quite a bit with its pop overload. With this year’s release “Burials” they managed to widen their bandwidth of styles again, making it harder to get into the album, but much more rewarding once you’re there. It was also hard to pick out a particular song, there’s quite some good ones on there and as usual, one to skip, but I won’t tell which one.
12. Off With Their Heads – Nightlife
Not much need to add much here. Solid Punkrock in the Year 2013 and one of the few bands that still manage to “keep the spirit” and attitude of the sound I loved back in my late Teen Years, when the Likes of NOFX, Lagwagon, Hot Water Music and Good Riddance rocked my world.
11. Pearl Jam – Infalliable
While their Album “Lightning Bolt” sparked quite some controversy among the fans, i was part of those that liked it for reminding me a lot of their earlier years and albums like “Ten” or “Vs.” – the song i liked most is probably one that’s not the most accessible song for everyone, but somehow instantly got a hold on me. If this one’s not for you, make sure to also check out the more up-tempo numbers on the record, such as “Mind your Manners” or “Getaway”.
10. Lady Gaga – Dope
I don’t make much of a secret out of the fact that i’m a huge Lady Gaga fan. I even once recorded a cover of “Paparazzi” with a good friend of mine – notably at about 4 AM and not quite sober, but i still think it came out pretty ok.
Her latest album “Artpop” which was greatly anticipated all year did not make my favourite albums this year. I guess the expectations were just too high. Still, there’s some awesome tracks on it and i also think she managed to mix Art and Pop well as there’s quite a mix of styles to be heard throughout the record.
My favorite to date is one of the more quite and simple tracks, Dope, and here’s a nice live version of it. She’s really really good at these solo piano performances, i think it brings out the fact that she’s quite the artist after all, not just some sort of weird and crazy marketing fueled pop diva (though of course I can see that side of the game too).
Welcome to the Top 10.
9. Capital Cities – Farrah Fawcett Hair
OK, I almost can’t stand to hear their Smash Hit “Safe and Sound” anymore – it started with being used as a Spotify Ad and stopped for me when i heard the song being played at half time break in the FC Aarau Football Stadium.
The Album is still one of the best this year and their song “Farrah Fawcett Hair” is one of the craziest song discoveries this year, sort of an hommage to the 80s (you see a pattern there?) or whatever else is and was “Good Shit” – featuring Andre 3000 of Outkast fame on one of the verses.
8. Pure Love – Beach of Diamonds
I admit this is a pretty cheesy kind of stadium rocking power pop song but it really stuck on my heavy rotation all year long. I don’t really know what it was that made it so catchily sticking but i just couldn’t get it out of my head all year. The lyrics are not so out of this world and the structure is pretty standard “verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus” stuff but maybe it’s just that, because often that is exactly what can make a good pop song. Give it a try:
7. Everything Everything – Kemosabe
The experimental alternative pop band from England already managed to dominate my last years top tracks with their absolute smash hit single “Cough Cough”, which later was released on this year’s album “Arc” – it’s undisputedly one of the best releases this year and has much more to offer, but “Kemosabe” here is my #1 pick in songs that are not “Cough Cough”.
6. Justin Timberlake – Tunnel Vision
While probably the first and only artist that besides doing well in his musical career also did well so far in his career as an actor, i also still think that he’s the only legitimate potential successor to the crown of the late and great Michael Jackson as the King of Pop so far. Also he’s another proof of the fact that average 90s boy bands can actually spawn very much above average solo artists, the other being, of course, Robbie Williams.
JT’s two albums this year were spectacular (though the songs all ran pretty long, but that was in some way refreshing too) and I can’t wait to see him live next year.
5. Alkaline Trio – One Last Dance
Also one of the bands that influenced me most, if you count the last ten years. While their releases got a bit disappointing after “Crimson”, their 2013 album sporting the title “My Shame is True” is quite a gleam of hope concerning their musical development.
The Album totally makes my Top 10 this year and also managed to please people that didn’t like the band much before – it’s a well rounded record with little to none lows and mostly hits on it, which made it hard to pick out one “Best Song” but i chose “One Last Dance” because it’s got most of the elements that i always seem to find in my favorite trio songs.
4. Lorde – Buzzcut Season
I’m glad i don’t listen to the “Radio” (as in private local radio stations in Zurich that play the same songs over and over again all day and have lots of nerve wrecking advertising which i know they need to survive but still) much or at all these days. That’s probably why i’m far from sick of Lorde’s album “Pure Heroine” yet.
I know she’s probably THE hype of 2013 but i never cared much about that and while i think her Smash Hit “Royals” – which must have reportedly been huge on aforementioned radio stations – is a cute little pop song, the strongest numbers are not the ones that have been released as singles.
“Buzzcut Season” is by far my favorite. Her voice is just so intriguing and the lyrics are very strange but in a very comforting way, it’s hard to explain but ultimately i’ve really grown very fond of this song.
3. Arctic Monkeys – Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
With the Arctic Monkeys, it’s the same situation as with “Everything Everything” – they released one of the Top 10 Albums this year for sure but also, its best track was already released last year as a single and already made last year’s yearly charts, so no cigar for “R U Mine”.
There are lots of other brillant songs on the album too though, this one most affirmatively being one of them. The video’s also quite entertaining, considering we all been there at some point.
2. My Chemical Romance – Burn Bright
Just before they announced their disbanding in early 2013, they released a sort of half hearted “Collection” of songs from material recorded prior to their last album in 2009 called “Conventional Weapons”. The Album felt really put together with little coherence, though i liked it better than their last official release. There were lots of rumours about their disbanding, about issues with the label, internal problems, the usual rumours, i could care less.
“Burn Bright” is one of the two songs (“Surrender The Night” being the other one) on the album that managed to really impress me and how i wished their whole last album had sounded like. It was on my Top 40 almost all year long and so it is rightfully ranked second here.
1. The Bronx – Style Over Everything
Boom! Here’s this Year’s Winner: The Bronx. I never got into their sound yet, though i listened over a few of their albums. But this year’s fourth self title album blew my mind. It balances just the right amount of punkrock, hard rock and plain kickass in your face rock music that i like. Also, lead singer Matt Caughthran’s vocals manage to combine a powerful mixture of screaming and singing that i envy and he rounds everything off with catchy melody lines and awesome harmonies during the choruses.
Really every single song on the album is a bit of a hit of itself, but “Style over Everything” managed to top my personal heavy rotation and “The Best of Right Now” throughout the year, so, hold your horses, here’s my personal #1 song of 2013.
The Playlist and the ones that got away
There’s probably a few songs you might miss on this list. New Order, Biffy Clyro, White Lies and The Editors didn’t make the cut this year. Though their complete albums were very decent, i just couldn’t pick a song that stuck out so much it hit my Top 40 songs.
Either way, here’s the playlist for all you spotify users out there. Please share to your liking, i’d be pleased about any comments and inputs about which songs you think are missing there!