Wednesday, December 11, 2013

20 Best Singles of 2013

It's that time of year again; bloggers are now scrambling to get in last-minute views and wrap on their thoughts on the past year, and I'm no different. I thought I would start off my spree of end-of-the-year blogging with a list of the best singles of 2013. This started as a list of just seven, then ten, and finally grew twenty; there were just so many great songs that I couldn't possible ignore them all! In this list, I gave myself a rule: One single per artist. So, chances are one artist could have appeared on this list multiple times, but I wanted this list to be really varied. So, enjoy!


20. Yung Rapunxel | Azealia Banks
Azealia Banks has had a rough year but at least she was able to pop one good song out this year. "Yung Rapunxel" was meant to be the lead single for Banks' still-upcoming debut, Broke With Expensive Taste, but ended up seeming like a random digital single from her. The song is insane, starting with "Danger, danger, danger" and spiraling into a verse that is composed entirely of screams and muddled noises, but Banks still finds time to show that she still knows how to rap like nobody else, which is why I'm still holding out for her album.


19. Wake Me Up | Avicii feat. Aloe Blacc
"Wake Me Up" is one of the more innovative songs of the year, and it thoroughly impressed me upon my first listen, however it rated so low on my list because it really hasn't aged well. It was great and dandy when I first heard it, but it quickly grew old each time I heard it... Truly amazing songs don't grow old that fast. Aloe Blacc's voice is amazingly smooth in the song, though, which I feel is important to note. I'm sure that new solo work from him would not be ignored.


18. American Girl | Bonnie McKee
Bonnie McKee has played behind-the-scenes work for pop singers like Katy Perry and Britney Spears for years, helping co-write their songs, but now she has taken her songwriting skills and used them for her own advantage. "American Girl" is just a simple, fun pop song; nothing more and nothing less. However, the style that McKee has gone for is so quirky that it's almost impossible to love her. She's got just the right amount of spunk to gain a following and isn't just following the trend of all of the pop stars she has written for.


17. Problem | Natalia Kills
Here's a great song that didn't get any attention for some reason. "Problem" is the perfect opener for the Trouble era: It reveals the bad-girl past of Kills and sets the scene for the rest of the album. The running theme runs throughout the song that makes it quite clear that Kills is a "God-damn problem" and it just sounds like an overall bad-ass song, to be honest. The production style of the song is also repetitively unique, as well, although it is close to some of Lana Del Rey and The Neighbourhood's work. Well, actually, The Neighbourhood's work sounds like Kills' album because Trouble pre-dates their album.


16. Crazy Kids | Ke$ha
Poor Ke$ha was not shown any mercy this year in her solo career, even when she was actually pumping out quality content. "Crazy Kids" was one of my favorites from Warrior since day one, and when I heard it was going to be sent to radios as a new single, I was so sure it was going to be a hit... But apparently I was wrong. The song has everything a pop song needs to be somewhat popular: a catchy chorus, seductive lyrics... It even had Dr. Luke backing its production. Of course, that dreadful will.i.am chorus probably didn't help it, though... (Please note that I'm rating the song based on the clearly superior solo version, not that version with will.is.annoying.)


15. 22 | Taylor Swift
Okay, listen... If you don't love this song, you're obviously just in denial. It's Taylor Swift! How could anybody not like it? It's a great feel-good song that is actually a happy-medium between the genres of Swift's latest album, Red. Songs like "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "I Knew You Were Trouble" makes it seem like Swift was moving completely over to pop music, but "Begin Again" and "The Lucky One" pushed her back into the country scene. "22" is a nice meeting of country and pop that nods back to songs like "Mean" and "You Belong With Me."


14. I Love It | Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX
This song was originally released as a single in mid-2012, but didn't reach it's peak in the middle of 2013. It technically shouldn't be included in this list because of it's early release date, but you know what? "I DON'T CARE. I LOVE IT." Icona Pop tried to replicate the song's success with a similarly-formulated song called "All Night," but it just isn't the same; "I Love It" is just the crowning jewel on the Icona Pop crown. Seriously, this song makes me what to scream and yell and it usually distracts me from driving while in the car, but that's okay. One day, I'll "crash my car into the bridge" while listening to it, but... "I DON'T CARE. I LOVE IT." 


13. Mirrors | Justin Timberlake
I think we can all agree that 2013 has been overfilled with Justin Timberlake and his return. I've listened to both volumes of The 20/20 Experience and Timberlake's new-found style is definitely a breath of fresh air. Like everybody else on the face of Earth, I was listening to "Mirrors" on repeat this summer, but like Avicii's "Wake Me Up," it did not age well with me, but that could partially be due to me overplaying it. Regardless, Timberlake's voice is still admirable in the song and the lyrics are still beautiful.


12. Here's To Never Growing Up | Avril Lavigne
When I first reviewed "Here's To Never Growing Up," I only had a lukewarm feeling about the song, but I've come to like it a bit more. It's a fun-loving song that is great for listening to in the summer (just like many of the other songs on Avril Lavigne), and although it's not Lavigne's best work, it's sufficient enough. Her sound is improving since the downfall that was The Best Damn Thing, and "Here's to Never Growing Up" starts to show that fact. 


11. Heart Attack | Demi Lovato
I never was a fan of Demi Lovato until last year when "Give Your Heart A Break" became a radio hit, but "Heart Attack" was even better. Although it's probably one of only three highlights from DEMI, it definitely gave Lovato some rep points in my book. The runs of "You make me glow / But I cover up, won't let it show" and "If I ever did that, I think I'd have a heart attack" show Lovato's vocal strength and truly draw me in to listen.


10. Unconditionally | Katy Perry
Katy, Katy, Katy... Her comeback single, "Roar," was a complete let-down considering it was clearly just a knock-off of Sara Bareilles' "Brave" and had lyrics simply composed of simple clich├ęs ("I went from zero to my own hero" and "I've got the eye of the tiger"), but the follow-up to "Roar" is much, much better. The song is struggling to keep itself in the top twenty of the Billboard Hot 100 and its video only has a measly eighteen million views, but it truly is a great power ballad. I must say, when sang correctly, the belt of "unconditional, unconditionally" does sound amazing.


9. This Is What It Feels Like | Banks
"This Is What It Feels Like" is the only single on the list not to chart somewhere on the Billboard Hot 100, but it definitely deserves its spot here. Taken from Banks' debut extended play, London, the song caught my ear the very first time I heard it. From the chilled instrumental to the haunting vocals, the song is impressive from beginning to end. Personally, I love to blast the song through my car stereo while driving at nighttime; for some reason, I always associate "This Is What It Feels Like" with darkness. 


8. Clarity | Zedd feat. Foxes
Zedd is another new artist that makes my list this year, as well as Foxes, who helps make up the beauty of "Clarity." This song parallels "I Need Your Love," a Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding collaboration, as they both feature a beautiful soprano voice and an electronic breakdown, but Zedd's production style is a bit more explosive and heavy than that of Harris. I heard the song before the radio even picked it up and generally liked ever since I heard it, to be honest. It's just a fun dance song.

7. Summertime Sadness (Cedric Gervais Remix) | Lana Del Rey
It's been a semi-bumpy year for Lana Del Rey. She threatened to quit music, made a song for the soundtrack of The Great Gatsby, threatened to quit music again, released a short film entitled Tropico, and announced her new album, Ultraviolence. Meanwhile, Interscope Records had a different plan: to market Del Rey to an electronic dance audience with a remix of "Summertime Sadness." This remix is definitely far inferior to the original version of "Summertime Sadness," but it's not the worst thing I've ever heard. Plus, it's been nice to finally see Del Rey getting the credit she deserves from the general public that control radio plays. I guess, if anything, the song still features Del Rey's soothing vocals.

6. Elastic Heart | Sia feat. The Weeknd and Diplo
Okay, so I could go on forever about Sia and her heavenly voice, but I'm going to try and keep it to a short paragraph. I have loved "Elastic Heart" since the first day I heard in on SoundCloud, and was my main motive behind purchasing the soundtrack to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I'm not even a fan of the franchise, but I own the soundtrack because of this song (as well as Ellie Goulding's "Mirror.") I have a small fan-boy attack whenever Sia rips into the chorus with "Well, I've got thick skin and an elastic heart / But your blade, it might be too sharp." And don't even get me started with that immaculate blend between Sia and The Weeknd. Oh my goodness it's amazing.

5. Burn | Ellie Goulding
Ellie Goulding is beginning to pick back up in terms of popularity in the United States while still keeping an extremely high quality sound with "Burn." Although I love Halcyon, it and its accompanying singles never really took off here, but Goulding has made a re-bound with Halcyon Days and "Burn," which has peaked at #21 so far on the Billboard Hot 100. The video has also peaked at almost 120,000,000 views on YouTube, which is rarely done by artists, especially indie-pop artists like Goulding. To put that number into perspective, her biggest hit thus far in the United States, "Lights," only has a total YouTube view count of nearly 60,000,000. The song holds a British synthpop vibe, while Goulding's voice is just as strong as ever. It, with the rest of her discography, has solidified Goulding's position as one of my favorite artists ever.

4. Applause | Lady Gaga
I have been anxiously awaiting the return of Lady Gaga ever since the Born This Way Ball date I was suppose to attend was cancelled back in March of this year, and she definitely delivered with "Applause." The song is an explosive piece of electropop heaven that is hard to ignore and truly celebrates her return to the stage. I don't think any other song from ARTPOP could have been more perfect for this comeback single spot. Although I do love the song, there are a few other singles that were a bit more deserving of the top spot.

3. Royals | Lorde
Lorde has been quite a fascinating artist this year. This girl came out of no where and was able to quickly ignite across radio stations with a simple drum beat and her voice. That's not something that you hear of very often. Even Lana Del Rey, who highly inspired Lorde's style, needed an electronic remix to boost her popularity among radio listeners. The song's lyrics ("And I'm not proud of my address / In a torn-up town, no postcode envy" and "And we'll never be royals / It don't run in our blood / That kind of luxe just ain't for us / We crave a different kind of buzz") are so relevant from a teenager's standpoint, which may be contribute to why the song has been so popular.

2. Wrecking Ball | Miley Cyrus
Although her album, Bangerz, was somewhat underwhelming and she has gone kind of crazy, Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" caught my ear since the first time I heard it. Take away all of the twerking, teddy bears, hammer-licking, and bleached eyebrows, and you can still find a quality pop song. It's a seemingly heartfelt ballad that hits you... well, like a wrecking ball. The song has become a giant cultural phenomenon, which usually only happens to one-hit-wonders like PSY and Baauer, but Cyrus was able to make it happen. Everybody, including myself, only seem to like Cyrus as person now only because we can make fun of her, but I can actually admit that the music isn't really that bad, though.

1. Come & Get It | Selena Gomez
The first and middle portions of this year were plagued with terrible music. Macklemore started to get big, P!nk's lackluster "Just Give Me a Reason" lyrics were plastered over every girl's Facebook page, and "Blurred Lines" existed. The struggle was real for two-thirds of this year. However, Selena Gomez's "Come & Get It" came to the rescue and hit it big across the United States. The song's experimental Indian vibes are what really interest me, plus it's just a fun song to listen to! It's definitely something completely different from every other pop song on the radio, which made me appreciate it more. The choreography used in the live performances of the song is pretty cool, as well.

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