Best Songs of 2013
True to this regular feature's name, I spend a good amount of time listening to as many songs as possible every week. So naturally, some stick with me for a minute, and not in that annoying, "get out of my head -- now!" kind of way. Here are the five tunes from the past year that I'm still humming, and probably will be for a while.
If I was backed into a corner by a sledgehammer-wielding Miley Cyrus and forced to choose the one artist who most defined 2013's musical landscape, I'd have to go with Pharrell Williams. The mega-producer had a hand in practically every "big" pop culture moment with a beat over the past 12 months, most audibly in the forefront of this Daft Punk single--funny how in a year rife with foam-fingering and half-naked ladies, it took a couple of robots to bring sexy back.
This sister act had its big breakout this past year, but if someone had handed me Days Are Gone and said the melodic pop-rock inside was the work of some lost, forgotten contemporary of The Go-Go's or The Bangles, I would not question it. In a year of line blurring and '80s borrowing, though, "The Wire" felt nothing but right.
This song off last year's Unapologetic was powerful enough on its own, a quietly insistent piano ballad about feeling nearly deflated, a reflection on the final gasp of a struggling relationship, a beautifully weak plea for emotional mercy. But when the video showed up in January, showing a red-eyed, barefaced Rihanna alternating between singing and not singing in a bathtub, "Stay" somehow managed to become even more heartbreaking.
Surely the irony of a hit song about not having much is not lost on the 123 million-plus viewers of Lorde's video for "Royals," the record-breaking single off the now-17-year-old New Zealand singer-songwriter's debut full-length studio album. I'm guessing she's had to fend off more than a few diamond-studded-timepiece-wielding suitors by this point, and I can't wait to hear the song she writes about that.
It's a good thing this song is fantastic, because I could watch its cameo-rich video all day long. I spy Sky Ferreira! Oh, hey, Santigold and Chromeo! When it comes to picking a favorite character, though, it's hard to top VW bassist, Chris Baio, who spends half the song making out with an espresso machine and the other half trying to keep an insalata caprese eye mask from falling off of his face.