The 30 Best Songs of 2013 — So Far

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Top 30 Songs of 2013, So far

July is looming just over the horizon, a cruel reminder that our time is rapidly vaporizing before us, and all we can do is take inventory of all the music we’ve listened to this year. Since that’s how we chose to spend our time, we might as well go the extra mile and share with everyone what songs made us feel things in our hearts and our hips, and occasionally in organs not driven purely by impulse or survival instincts. There’s no doubt about it — 2013 is shaping up to be a phenomenal year for music. We say that kind of thing all the time, but we’ve got 30 rock solid jams here, and we could have made this feature much longer. On to the songs!

AlunaGeorge - Attracting FliesAlunaGeorge – “Attracting Flies”
From Body Music

The first taste of new music from AlunaGeorge’s upcoming debut full-length, Body Music, “Attracting Flies” is both wonky and lush, textural and immediate. It’s a song of contrasts, sweet and soulful, but bearing a bilious touch of anger as well. This is the sound of a group that just keeps getting interesting with every new jam. – JT

ASAP Rocky - GoldieA$AP Rocky – “Goldie”
From LongLiveA$AP
(Polo Grounds/RCA)

Up until recently, 2013 was a pretty slow year for rap music. The biggest thus far, A$AP Rocky’s LONG.LIVE.A$AP, wasn’t perfect, but it did deliver one of the best rap songs of the year in “Goldie,” a Hit-Boy production with a deceptively catchy hook and some of A$AP’s best rapping to date. Nowhere else on the album does Rocky’s obsessive pitch manipulation work as effectively, and coupled with the minimalistic, yet ethereal backing, it serves as a highlight on an otherwise decent album – CB

Autre Ne Veut - Play By PlayAutre Ne Veut – “Play by Play”
From Anxiety
(Software/Mexican Summer)

In the opening minute of Autre Ne Veut’s “Play By Play,” the song could seemingly take any number of directions — experimental ambient, house, dubstep, dance-pop — but what it turns into is the undeniable R&B anthem of Spring 2013, only to remain unstoppably fresh for the summer months as well. And yet it’s structured so strangely, half of it a tense and sexy build up to a release that just keeps on going and going and going. If only it never stopped. – JT

James Blake - OvergrownJames Blake – “Overgrown”
From Overgrown

James Blake answered the hype this year with Overgrown, a slightly polarizing but very intriguing collection of balladry and artful electronic composition. Never one to start off weakly, he opens with the title track, “Overgrown,” which has legitimate claim to the crown of “song of the year.” With a subtle combination of symphonic treatment and an understated beat, Blake manages to expand his sonic palette while addressing existential anxieties – the song was inspired by a meeting with Joni Mitchell and references a Dickinson poem – about the permanence of art in a highly evocative way. Don’t worry, James, I think this song will endure just fine. – CB

David Bowie - The Next DayDavid Bowie – “Where Are We Now?”
From The Next Day

Given how often David Bowie changes his approach, persona or sound, he’s never seemed particularly nostalgic. Yet the melancholy “Where Are We Now?” finds him looking back at his time spent in Berlin, over lush, slow-moving piano chords and one of the prettiest tunes he’s ever written. – JT

California X - California XCalifornia X – “Sucker”
From California X
(Don Giovanni)

Everybody likes to compare California X to the most famous band from their Amherst home town — Dinosaur Jr. But the band admitted to being bigger fans of Smashing Pumpkins; you can hear that on “Sucker,” a six-minute alt-rock giant that takes “Cherub Rock” and scuzzes it up real nice. – JT

Charli XCX - True RomanceCharli XCX – “Lock You Up”
From True Romance

It’s a little surprising that Charli XCX hasn’t released “Lock You Up” as a single yet, but I might be jumping the gun a little — it is the last song on the album, after all. It’s also one of the strongest, an alternate reality John Hughes film credit roll that hits all the right emotional notes. – JT

Chvrches - RecoverChvrches – “Recover”
From Recover EP

Changing Us to Vs might be the new removing vowels, but it’s worth looking the other way for Glasgow’s Chvrches, whose soaring synth-pop sounds are just too wonderful for one to get hung up on something so trivial. Like “Recover,” for instance, which finds the trio aiming for a massive sound and pulling it off without any struggle whatsoever. It’s electronics accompanied by heartstrings, and in the right hands — like it is here — that’s a pairing worth savoring. – JT

Mikal Cronin - MCIIMikal Cronin – “Weight”

Mikal Cronin expresses the usual insecurities of a young man on “Weight” — he’s getting older but not more assured — but it seems ironic when held against the glorious pop melody backing his uncertainty. Whether he acknowledges it or not, this power pop gem is the work of an artist right where he should be. – JT

Daft Punk - Get LuckyDaft Punk – “Get Lucky” [feat. Pharrell] From Random Access Memories

Like Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” OutKast’s “Hey Ya!,” fun.’s “We Are Young,” a song that will be inseparable from its time, and will serve as a memento of 2013 for all the right reasons. – PP

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