Yesterday, we successfully brought you the VH1 staff’s favorite albums of 2013 without any bloodshed, and we’re happy to report that no one’s brain exploded while trying to narrow down the amazing albums of 2013 into a concise list. However, now it’s time to talk about how most people listen to music these days: By the song.
Interest in the album, as a format, has been on the decline since the ’90s, but it can be argued that the power of the single has never been stronger. Radio, of course, has known this for darn near 50 years now, but thanks to the rise of iTunes and on-demand streaming services like Spotify, consumers are now free to create their own custom playlists on a song-by-song basis. And that’s exactly what we have done for you here with this list, VH1’s Best Songs Of 2013.
We asked our staffers to send along a list of their favorite tracks of the year, all 171 songs of which we turned into a Spotify playlist (see below), one that runs the gamut from pop to hip-hop to R&B to country to indie rock (and then back again). To summarize, though, here were the tracks that got the most shine from our panel of music experts:
- Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams’ “Get Lucky” and Lorde’s “Royals” (each appeared on 9 ballots)
- Drake feat. Majid Jordan’s “Hold On We’re Going Home” and Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell Williams & T.I.’s “Blurred Lines”(8 ballots)
- HAIM’s “The Wire”, Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” and Kanye West feat. Charlie Wilson’s “Bound2” (5 ballots)
- James Blake’s “Retrograde”, Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop”, and Vampire Weekend’s “Diane Young”
Here’s the entire Spotify playlist for you. Our suggestion? Just hit shuffle and enjoy the ride!
Now, on with the show!
Tame Impala, “Mind Mischief”
James Blake, “Retrograde”
Kanye West, “Bound 2”
Prince, “Breakfast Can Wait”
Kendrick Lamar, “Backseat Freestyle”
Pusha T, “Numbers On The Boards”
Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky”
Atoms For Peace, “Before Your Very Eyes…”
The Stepkids, “The Lottery”
Janelle Monae, “Dance Apocalyptic”
1. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky”
2. Robin Thicke, “Blurred Lines”
3. Avicii Feat. Aloe Blacc, “Wake Me Up”
4. John Newman, “Love Me Again”
5. The 1975, “Chocolate”
6. Drake Feat. Majid Jordan, “Hold On, We’re Going Home”
7. Vampire Weekend, “Diane Young”
8. Lorde, “Royals” & “Team” (tie)
9. Major Lazer, “Get Free (What So Not Remix)”
10. Naughty Boy Feat. Sam Smith,”La La La”
11. James Bay, “When We Were On Fire”
12. Hozier, “Take Me To Church”
13. Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”
ANTHONY BELTEMPO, Producer, VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown
My Top Two
1. Goo Goo Dolls, “Come To Me”
2. Travie McCoy, “Rough Water”
1. Kanye West, “Blood on the Leaves”
2. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky”
3. Lorde, “Royals”
4. Vampire Weekend, “Diane Young”
5. Drake, “Hold On, We’re Going Home”
6. Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
7. Pusha T, “Numbers on the Boards”
8. Ariana Grande feat. Mac Miller, “The Way”
9. The Dream, “Michael”
10. Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”
1. Tove Lo, “Habits” – this is the best song you didn’t know you needed to know. So go ahead, know it.
2. Bruno Mars, “Gorilla” – Bruno Mars is out of this world. Get it? That’s an outer space joke about his last name. Anyways, this song is totally wild. I love it. And yeah, that was a “wild” gorilla joke.
3. Femme, “Heartbeat” – this song has a sweet bass-heavy techno rhythm. It’s catchy and weird and catchy. Did I mention catchy?
4. Passenger, “Let Her Go” – This song transports me to another place. It’s enchanting, beautiful and will make your heart get all mushy.
5. OneRepublic, “Counting Stars” – This song has hit the top of the charts for a reason. It’s got a great flavor. Don’t know what I mean? Then you haven’t tasted it.
6. BOY, “This Is The Beginning” – Want a new quirky favorite? Voila.
7. Mr. Little Jeans, “Oh, Sailor” – this dreamy little song is trippy & bizarre. It has a Lana Del Rey feel to it. Best of all, there’s a chorus of children singing in the background which is fantabulous.
9. John Legend, “All Of Me” – All I can say is, Chrissy Teigen you are a lucky lady.
10. Pitbull ft. Ke$ha, “Timber” – admittedly, I had mixed feelings when I heard about this song. But then I heard the song and it’s everything I never knew I wanted. Country grooves meet amazeballs dance party? Well golly gee, fetch me my stiletto cowboy boots.
1. Arctic Monkeys, “Do I Wanna Know?” – Have you got the goods?
2. Vampire Weekend, “Hannah Hunt” – Though we live on the U.S. dollar, you and me we got our own sense of time.
3. Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell Williams & T.I., “Blurred Lines” – What rhymes with hug me?
4. Arcade Fire, “Afterlife” – After all the hangers-on are done hanging on in the dead light of the afterglow, I’ve got to know … can we work it out?
5. Vampire Weekend, “Diane Young” – You’ve got the luck of a Kennedy.
6. Lady Gaga, “Gypsy” – Maybe we could see the world together?
7. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams feat. Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky” – Like the legend of the phoenix…
8. Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko, “Stay” – Around and around we go.
9. Kanye West, “Hold My Liquor” – P*ssy got me floatin’, feelin’ like Deepak Chopra.
10. Frightened Rabbit, “Holy” – Why you actin’ so holy when you know I’m full of holes?
In no particular order these are my top six songs that I still have not gotten sick of:
Kanye West, “Black Skinhead” – Say what you will about Kanye West, the man creates incredible tracks. Not only are the lyrics an extremely intelligent criticism of how racism is [unfortunately] still embedded into American society, but the beat on its own is incredible. I heard this song for the first time during his SNL performance and saw him perform it live at Governor’s Ball 2013 and it quickly became a staple on my playlist. The energy of this song is so strong, I even get pumped up when I hear it in one of the many commercials it graces with its audio.
Miley Cyrus feat. French Montana, “FU” – I’m sure many of my colleagues selected “We Can’t Stop” or “Wrecking Ball” for Miley’s mention. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy those as well, but they quickly got played out after hearing them literally everywhere, every second in every context. I like to think outside the box so I selected another track from Bangerz that I really enjoy. How many songs can use the phrase “SMH” and get away with it? Not many. The song is silly and fun, but it also highlights Miley’s vocal prowess. I’ve been a fan of Miley since her Hannah Montana days (yes I was in my 20s and in college…) and I see no sign of my fandom slowly down anytime soon. Here’s me and Miley dancing to “Party in the USA” at VH1 Divas in 2009 to prove it!
Lana Del Rey, “Young And Beautiful” – Truth be told, I wasn’t on Team Lana when her perfect bone structure first broke out onto the scene, but I’m obsessed with the hauntingly beautiful sounds of “Young And Beautiful.” I haven’t heard any of the rest of The Great Gatsby soundtrack, but I’m too busy listening to this song on repeat to give the rest a chance. The lyrics are beautiful. And while we’re being honest, I really want this song to be playing as I walk down the aisle at my wedding. All I have to do is get my boyfriend on board…and get engaged. But seriously, how can you listen to this song without feeling romantic, beautiful and haunted all at once? You can’t.
HAIM, “The Wire” – Thank you VH1 You Oughta Know for bringing HAIM into my life. I don’t think it is possible to listen to this song without bobbing your head and feeling a lot cooler than you probably are (re: talking about myself here). The ladies of HAIM all have such unique and beautiful voices. Not only does this song sound awesome, but I really like the message I took away from the lyrics: giving in to desire despite understanding how deeply your actions will hurt the other person. I think we’ve all been on at least one side of that equation. After watching them on YOK In Concert, I saw them perform on SNL and fell even more in love. I can’t wait to see more from these three young and extremely talented sisters!
American Authors, “Believer” – If you don’t know about American Authors, its time to get on board. I’m positive you’ve heard their single Best Day Of My Life in the promos on MLB Network, or maybe on Vince Vaughn’s new movie, Delivery Man. This song is a total feel good anthem. I can’t listen to it without smiling. The band’s self titled album is full of super catchy, feel good tracks that you won’t be able to stop listening to. Any bad mood will disappear quickly after listening to Believer so if you’re in a bad mood, or if you want to be in a better mood I’d highly recommend you check them out!
Luke James, “Make Love To Me” — This song actually came out at the very end of 2012 but it stayed with me well into 2013. Luke James just oozes raw and natural sex appeal, with loads of confidence and charisma to match. The video for this single makes the song experience ten times richer with cameos by Stacy Barthe, Kelly Rowland, Terry Ellis (En Vogue) and Omari Hardwick. James is the Marvin Gaye of our era, equal parts sexy and soulful.
Luke James, “I.O.U.” — This guy is so nice, I had to put him on my list twice! Seriously though, I love this song — there’s a grittiness about it that is very powerful. The honesty and vulnerability of the lyrics draw you in. He’s professing his love, but in a fresh and new way. I love the percussion in the song too, it’s like a heartbeat.
Bridget Kelly, “Street Dreamin’ (feat Kendrick Lamar) — I love Kendrick Lamar on this track! Take a trip with the narcoleptic — no lie, I had to look that up to make sure I knew what it meant, but it sounded dope! This was one of my on repeat summer jams, but I’ll take it any time of the year. I feel young, free, and alive when I listen to this song. The sample of Tupac’s “Got My Mind Made Up” is brilliant.
John Michael featuring Talib Kweli, “Sophisticated Lady” (Remix) — I liked this song when I first heard it, but I LOVED it once I heard the remix with Mr. “Upper Echelon” himself, Talib Kweli. John Michael got game on this record. I just close my eyes, listen to this song, and the hopeless romantic in me takes over, dreaming up scenarios of meeting my perfect guy and what he might say to me in those first few, priceless and impressionable moments. Sigh.
Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors” — I still don’t get that “pocket full of soap” piece… Weird, no? But there’s nothing strange about a guy admitting he’s made some mistakes and had some setbacks in love, but he’s ready now to claim his woman and build a life. Wonder how many folks used this at their wedding this year? “You are, you are, the love of my life…” LOVE that on the extended version — that makes the whole song for me.
Jessie Ware, “Devotion” — I ran to get this album after hearing this song. One of several great songs I actually discovered on a VH1 show. Great mood music, makes me feel like I’m having an outer-body experience with its new-age, techno vibe. I like to listen to this song at the end of a long day, preferably on my couch with a glass of wine. TMI?
Glenn Lewis, “All I See Is You” — Glenn Lewis is my husband. He just doesn’t know it. I could listen to this man sing the phone book. His voice just does it for me. And I’m thrilled he came back this year with a new album. Eleven years was too long for this true talent.
John Legend, “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)” — John Legend brought the soulful and sexy with this song. And I loved it.
Chrisette Michele, “Charades” (feat 2 Chainz) — She does some amazing things with her vocals and is a super-creative artist. Can’t wait to see what she does next.
Alicia Keys & Maxwell, “Fire We Make” — Some songs you grow to love over time, and then others you fall in love with at first listen. I love Alicia Keys and Maxwell, and I love this song.
1. Radiator Hospital, “Our Song”
2. Drake, “Hold On, We’re Going Home”
3. Speedy Ortiz, “No Below”
4. The Girls, “I’ve Got My Eyes On You”
5. Swearin’, “Dust in the Gold Sack”
6. Waxahatchee, “Swan Dive”
7. Kanye West, “Bound 2”
8. Parquet Courts, “The More It Works”
9. Potty Mouth, “The Spins”
10. Julianna Barwick, “Call”
Jake Kleinberg, Producer, VH1 Digital
Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky”
Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise”
Phosphorescent, “Song for Zula ”
Ellie Goulding, “I Need Your Love”
Kings Of Leon, “Dancing On My Own (Robyn Cover)”
Arctic Monkeys, “Do I Wanna Know?”
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “Can’t Hold Us”
A Great Big World ft Christina Aguilera, “Say Something”
Capital Cities, “Safe and Sound”
Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko, “Stay”
Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky”
Drake, “Hold On We’re Going Home”
The Lumineers, “This Must Be The Place”
Robin Thicke, “Blurred Lines”
Sia, The Weeknd and Diplo, “Elastic Heart”
Lady Gaga and R. Kelly, “Do What You Want”
Janelle Monae and Miguel, “Primetime”
Snoop Lion and Miley Cyrus, “Ashtrays and Heartbreaks”
10. Angel Haze, “No Bueno”
9. Katy Perry, “Dark Horse”
8. Kate Boy, “The Way We Are”
7. Foals, “My Number”
6. Oh Honey, “Lonely Neighbor (What am I to you?)” — Just recently discovered this duo from New York. I LOVE THEM. Plus they do an UH-mazing cover of No Diggity/Thrift Shop.
5. Tove Lo, “Habits” — Yes, just yes. Everyone needs more Tove Lo in their lives.
4. Jinx, “Alive” — Great new artist. Imagine The Lumineers having a lovechild with a rapper. He’s definitely an artist to look out for in 2014.
3. St. Lucia, “Elevate” — Everything this band does is so fun.
2. John Mayer + Katy Perry, “Who You Love”
1. MS MR, “Hurricane” — This band is UNREAL live. I have never heard a voice like Lizzy’s before live/recorded.
1. The Civil Wars, “The One That Got Away”
2. The Lone Bellow, “You Never Need Nobody”
3. JOHNNYSWIM, “Heart Beats”
4. Lennon & Maisy Stella, “Ho Hey” (Nashville version)
5. Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, “In Your Room Tonight”
6. Vance Joy, “Riptide”
7. Mapei, “Don’t Wait”
8. Rosi Golan, “Got What We Wanted”
9. Ivan & Alyosha, “Running For Cover”
10. Ellie Goulding, “Burn”
11. Kacey Musgraves, “Merry Go Round”
12. Moon Taxi, “Running Wild”
13. The Wild Feathers, “The Ceiling”
Vampire Weekend, “Hannah Hunt”
David Bowie, “Love is Lost” (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy for the DFA)
James Blake, “Retrograde”
Arcade Fire, “Here Comes The Night Time”
Blood Orange, “Chosen”
Washed Out, “It All Feels Right”
Disclosure, “White Noise”
Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, “Instant Crush”
2 Chainz, “Feds Watching”
1. Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell Williams & T.I., “Blurred Lines” — Without a doubt, “Blurred Lines” can be considered one of the hottest Songs of the Summer. The song’s melody/tune are so catchy, along with the hook, no matter how many times I hear this song, I cannot help but sing along and want to get up and dance. No matter what the implied message of the song is (or isn’t), whenever I hear this song, I am put into a better move, “Blurred Lines” is such a feel-good song!
2. Pitbull feat. Ke$ha, “Timber” — The main reason why I love this song is the catchy hook. Whether or not you like this song, Ke$ha’s hook gets stuck in your head. Surprisingly, the sounds of Ke$ha and Pitbull blended together really well, making this another hit dance song for Mr. Worldwide. This is another song that whenever I hear it I want to get up and dance, just like Ke$ha suggests.
3. Lorde, “Royals” — This song has a bit of an a capella feel to it. The opening verse is somewhat spooky with Lorde’s sultry soulful voice and a simple beat behind her. I also really like the harmonies of this song. The lyrics of “Royals” really draws you in and the message of the song is a feeling that everyone can relate to. I love that the sound of this song is really simple but also really complicated at the same time.
4. OneRepublic, “Counting Stars” — First, I love how “Counting Stars” starts off slow with just Ryan Tedder singing the hook. The song begins very simple and then suddenly kicks into high gear with a pounding drum and fun melody. The theme of this song is the other thing that I absolutely love about it. In this day and age, everyone is obsessed with making money, buying expensive things, and wanting to live a life of luxury and “Counting Stars” reminds us to forget the materialistic things and focus on what’s more important. Lastly, I
absolutely love the breakdown near the end of the song; it is really catchy and the harmonies just sound really awesome.
6. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky” — What I love about this song is that it doesn’t sound like it came from this decade. The retro opening and smooth voice of Pharrell is a refreshingly different sound. The tune and simple hook lyrics make this song really catchy. This is another song that whenever I hear it I want to sing along and dance. “Get Lucky” is definitely a great feel-good song.
7. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz, “Thrift Shop” — The topic of this song is absolutely hilarious. Macklemore raps about buying clothing at a thrift shop and how spending $50 for a t-shirt is simply ridiculous. The rich, deep, soulful voice of Wanz is such a drastic contrast to Macklemore’s voice (but it totally works in the context of this song). The lyrics of this song are so perfectly fitted together in a verse and I love the sound of the trumpets in the background. I was so impressed with the lyrics that I took it upon myself to memorize the verses so that I could rap along with Macklemore whenever I heard the song. The breakdown near the end sounds so cool and fits in perfectly. “Thrift Shop” is such a fun and silly song that I could hear over and over again and never get sick of. Plus, the little kid at the beginning and end of the song is priceless and just makes the song even more awesome.
Lorde, “Royals” — There’s a reason why this song and this artist became a global phenomenon: it’s just damn good.
Banks, “Waiting Game” — Banks should be at the top of everyone’s list to look out for in the next year. She’s currently opening for the Weeknd and her sound is a seductive mix of Lana Del Rey and Lorde.
Bastille, “Laura Palmer” — “Laura Palmer” is a song that somehow manages to combine vast amounts of tension with a soaring feeling of enormous scope.
Oscar Isaac & Marcus Mumford, “Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)” — Sure, it’s a cover of an old folk song for a Coen Brothers film, but the recording seems to musically entwine the nufolk sound that Marcus Mumford has made ubiquitous in recent years with the earnest sorrow of the original folk recordings of the early 1960s.
HAIM, “The Wire” — Of all the singles on this list, this one snuck up on me the most. It’s a complex and yet straight-forwardly honest account of how love goes wrong. Not to mention, and I know it’s been said before, it evokes some of Christine McVie’s greatest Fleetwood Mac ballads.
Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky” — This song pretty much made everyone happy this year. [Insert corny joke about how we got lucky getting it this year here.]
Taylor Swift & Ed Sheeran, “Everything Has Changed” — Taylor Swift sometimes gets slack for making country music more pop, but at its core, country music is just an evolution of folk music, which is the original pop music. That’s important because this song is a pitch perfect singer-songwriter duet that can fit into the country, folk or pop categories–and it could have come out in any decade. It’s just a perfectly written love song.
The Neighbourhood, “Sweater Weather” — The Neighbourhood’s catchy, dreamy debut single was technically released in 2012, but it made its big climb on the charts (and to most people’s ears) in 2013.
Little Mix, “Move” — Okay, so technically this song hasn’t been released in the US yet, but it’s quite possibly the most ambitious pop song recorded this year. You can tell where Katy Perry found her inspiration for “Roar,” but you can’t tell how this sassy multi-layered dance song came together. You just know it did.
1. Bastille, “Pompeii”
2. Lorde, “Royals”
3. Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”
4. Local Natives, “Heavy Feet”
5. The National, “I Should Live In Salt”
10. Frank Ocean feat. Earl Sweatshirt, “Super Rich Kids” — Frank’s funked up “Bennie and the Jets” beat added extra oomph to the closing credits of this summer’s The Bling Ring.
9. Ariana Grande feat. Big Sean, “Right There” — Mariah Carey better watch her back! 20-year-old Broadway trained actress is packing some serious pipes. This is the stuff pop-dreams are made of.
8. Mayer Hawthorne, “Her Favorite Song” — This was the summer of yacht rock; slick, stylized, over-produced pop with jazz harmonies (think Steely Dan, Hall and Oats, Toto). “Get Lucky” was good, but this single from Detroit’s favorite throwback is better.
7. CHVRCHES, “The Mother We Share” — This trio from Scotland served us up a delicious slice of synth pop with this cut. The glorious crystalline-vocals are provided courtesy of the talented and totally crushable Lauren Mayberry.
5. Beyonce, “Partition” — The Queen caught us off guard with her surprise album just in time for the holidays. There are many jewels in her crown, but this ode to getting it on in the backseat of a vintage limo is definitely a favorite.
4. Lorde, “Royals” — We’re probably the millionth person to put this song on their 2013 Top-Ten list, but we couldn’t get enough of the 17-year-old’s deep-beyond-her years weaving her dark lyrics like a spell…or the world’s most sinister jump-roping chant.
3. Zedd (featuring Foxes), “Clarity”— We’re admittedly newbs to the EDM scene, but this life-afferming anthem makes us wish we were in the middle of a leaping crowd of glow-stick-wearing festival-goers.
2. Robin Thicke (featuring T.I., Pharrell), “Blurred Lines” — It was inescapable for a reason. Sure the lyrics are suspect, and the beat might be ripping off a Marvin Gaye song. But we don’t care. This song ruled the summer, and it just plain rules in general.
1. Kanye West, “Bound 2” — Don’t let the completely bonkers video ruin it for you, this track adds proof to Yeezy’s claim that he is (one of) the most influential artists today. Fun Fact: The “Uh-huh, honey” is Brenda Lee, best known for singing “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.”
Best Single of 2013 –>
Mutya Keisha Siobahn, “Flatline” — The original Sugababes are back! Their first single together in 12 years (from an album whose release seems destined to be botched when it eventually sees the light of day) is a collaboration with Blood Orange / Dev Hynes. And it could not be more infectious. The song crescendoes to an ecstatic and heart-breaking final chorus that, when it ends, begs you to start the whole thing over again. And again. And again.
Betty Who, “Somebody Loves You”
Bruno Mars, “Gorilla”
Drake, “Hold On, We’re Going Home”
Lana Del Rey, “Summertime Sadness (Lana Del Rey vs. Cedric Gervais)”
Lorde, “Royals / Team / Tennis Court” (I can’t pick)
Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”
Studio Killers, “Ode to the Bouncer”
The Preatures, “Is This How You Feel?”
Best Song that Wasn’t a Single: Disclosure, “January”
Best Cover: Capital Cities, “Nothing Compares 2 U”
Best Remix: HAIM, “Forever, Giorgio Moroder Remix”
1. Mariah Carey, “Almost Home” – The music video is better than the movie in every possible way #DUH
2. Mariah Carey, “The Art Of Letting Go”, “Go to MIMI on your contacts, press delete.” #DUH
3. Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop” – #FuckingBangerz #WhereMikeWillAt #ShesJustBeingMiley
4. Katy Perry, “Roar” – Pure Pop Magic
5. Lorde, “Royals” – Genius
6. Mariah Carey feat. Miguel, “#BEAUTIFUL” – #BEAUTIFUL
7. OneRepublic, “Counting Stars”- Damn catchy pop rock
8. A Great Big World, “Say Something” – The power of letting go
9. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, “Same Love” #DUH
10. Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines” – #Juggernaut
I’ve skipped the most obvious three choices here because I think we can all agree that Get Lucky, Wrecking Ball and Royals absolutely slayed this year. Not to say the rest of my list is full of unknowns, but I feel like I need to look past the songs that dominated, they already got their shine on plenty of other lists. This turned out to be more pop then I thought it would but I can’t help what dominated my Spotify this year!
Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors” — Oh Jessica Biel, you lucky lady. Justin’s biggest and most straightforward love song is unabashedly huge and sentimental. It builds and grows, hand claps and beat box backed as he croons on and on about his love being his mirror. A sonic wonder and one of the best of Justin’s entire career. I can’t stop listening to it – it always delivers.
James Blake, “Retrograde” — It starts off with a melodic, sullen hum with minimal production and one of the most powerful electro ballads I’ve heard in years. James’ haunting vocals lurk over dark synths and will send shivers right up your spine. Suddenly we’re hit, indeed.
Arctic Monkeys, “Do I Wanna Know?” — This mid-tempo grinder is both sexy and surly with Alex Turner telling us to ‘simmer down and pucker up.’ The percussion hits are like old hip-hop beats and the guitars are moody and distorted – it sounds like it was made for stripping or stumbling around to, drunk and lustful.
Beyonce, “XO” — Picking one song of Beyonce was no easy task but the most obvious pop hit was immediately “XO.” It’s a warm, joyful love song that I think will be one of the summer songs of 2014 – complete with requisite X and O dance moves as seen in the video.
Ariana Grande, “Honeymoon Avenue” — Arianna’s entire album was Mariah and doo-wop influenced pop perfection but this song and it’s incredibly sweet vocals and staccato delivery after the bridge really blew me away.
Vampire Weekend, “Don’t Lie” — It was a shake-up between this “Diane Young.” But this shimmering, harpsichord laden song really hit me right in the gut with Ezra Koenig’s signature mix of falsetto and low vocals.
Drake, “Hold On We’re Going Home” — He started at Degrassi and now he’s here!
HAIM, “The Wire” — These sisters really dominated the second half of the year with their fun, funky, 80’s girl band jams and this track stands out as the best example of that. A natural to clap, stomp and sing along to.
Ciara, “Body Party” — I resisted this one for a while and then I couldn’t stop listening to the simmering, sexy soft vocals over that ‘My Boo’ sample. I think we would all like to have a body party with Ciara after hearing this – it reads.
Sky Ferreira, “Everything Is Embarrassing” — This sounds like it should play over an 80’s prom scene in a movie. Full of young ennui and Skye’s needy, airy vocals it delivers the synth sensation of the season.
Honorable Mentions: Kanye West “Black Skinhead”, CHVRCHES, “Recover”, Lana Del Rey, “Young & Beautiful”, Katy Perry “Birthday”, Rhye “Open”, Lady Gaga feat R Kelly “Do What U Want”, Daft Punk feat. Julian Casablancas “Instant Crush”, Iggy Azalia “Work”, Bastille “Pompeii”, Jake Bugg “What Doesn’t Kill You”, Beyonce “Grown Woman”, Arctic Monkeys “Knee Socks”, Vampire Weekend “Diane Young”, Justin Timberlake “Pusher Love Girl”
1. Drake feat. Majid Jordan, “Hold On We’re Going Home”
2. HAIM, “The Wire”
3. Imagine Dragons, “Demons”
4. Jay Z feat. Justin Timberlake “Holy Grail”
5. John Newman, “Love Me Again”
6. Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
7. Labrinth feat. Emeli Sande, “Beneath Your Beautiful”
8. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, “Can’t Hold Us”
9. Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell, “Blurred Lines”
10. Zedd feat. Foxes, “Clarity”
1. Drake, “Started From The Bottom”
2. Tamar Braxton, “Love and War”
3. Kendrick Lamar, “Poetic Justice ”
4. James Blake, “Retrograde”
5. Lorde, “Royals”
6. Miguel, “How Many Drinks”
7. Bruno Mars, “Treasure”
8. Jay Z, “Tom Ford”
9. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky”
10. Kanye West, “Bound 2”
1. Bent Shapes, “Panel of Experts”
2. Iggy Azalea, “Work”
3. Hanson, “Get the Girl Back”
4. M.I.A., “Come Walk With Me”
5. Paramore, “Still Into You”
6. Pond, “Xanman”
7. Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
8. Cass McCombs, “Untitled Spain Song”
9. Kanye West, “Bound 2”
10. One Direction, “Best Song Ever”
Britney Spears, “Work Bitch”
Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding, “I NEED YOUR LOVE”
Capital Cities, “SAFE & SOUND”
Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell Williams & T.I., “BLURRED LINES”
Drake, “STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM”
Drake, “HOLD ON WE’RE GOING HOME”
Miley Cyrus, “WE CAN’T STOP”
Rihanna, “DIAMONDS” (I think that was about a year ago?!)
The Lumineers, “STUBBORN LOVE”
Avicii feat. Aloe Blacc, “WAKE ME UP”