Matt on Music: Top 10 songs of 2013

For a huge part of 2013, HAIM’s “The Wire” was my favorite song of the year. Then, in December, I discovered a gem from earlier in the year that took its spot. Unlike last year, where “Call Me Maybe” was my favorite song throughout the entire year, this year surprised me at the last minute. So, here are my top 10 songs of the year.

1. CL: “The Baddest Female” (YG Entertainment) Everything that American hip-hop was missing in 2013, put into one K-pop song. Along with the fantastic beat and CL’s performance, which is both impressive and hilarious, I’m pretty sure the song has about five choruses, all of which get stuck in my head.

2. HAIM: “The Wire” (Polydor) Is it unrealistic to hope for HAIM to have chart success in 2014? Probably, but I don’t care. After a couple years of dull bands like fun. and Imagine Dragons being the alternative groups relevant to the pop charts, a song like “The Wire” pulling a Gotye would make me incredibly happy.

3. Mariah Carey (feat. Miguel): “#Beautiful” (Island) Not nearly enough people have brought up how shallow this song is – “Your mind is beautiful” is a mere afterthought – but that is one of its many strengths. It’s a sex song masquerading as a love song, with equal shallowness on both ends. Still, isn’t it amazing how romantic wanting to f—k someone sounds when the voices behind it are this pretty?

4. Brandy Clark: “Stripes” (Slate Creek) The single that best sums up how impressive the year was for women in country, “Stripes” brings the angry woman song to another level by giving her a motivation for not killing her partner. The fact that her motivation is related to fashion probably hurts as much as that bullet would have.

5. Vampire Weekend: “Ya Hey” (XL) Their masterpiece, with epic production, a gorgeous gospel choir and Ezra Koenig’s delicate vocal performance, all of which bring “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (which, coincidentally, is The Rolling Stones’ masterpiece) to mind.

6. Yelle: “L’Amour Parfait” (Recreation Centre) When will Americans learn to mix club beats and lush vocals this effectively?

7. The Dismemberment Plan: “Lookin’” (Partisan) Hailing from the year’s most underrated comeback album, “Lookin’” represents everything other critics hated about “Uncanney Valley” and everything I adore about it. Maybe The Dismemberment Plan wasn’t a band that needed to mature, but what came from that maturity is the year’s finest love song (no, Mariah and Miguel don’t count – I’m talking about real love). “Just as a painter returns to his muse/With his hands more slow and sure/Once he wanted to paint her naked/Now he only wants to paint her” may lack subtlety, but it’s also honest, vivid and lovely, and I for one am proud to live at a time where I can describe a
Dismemberment Plan song with those adjectives.

8. Kanye West: “New Slaves” (Def Jam) From Kanye’s most overrated album comes one of his greatest songs. The lyrics alone are enough to make me wonder how he managed to create something as bad as “Blood on the Leaves” in the same year, but it’s the production – which fits the huge structure of “Runaway” into just four minutes – that makes this one of my favorite Kanye songs ever.

9. Sharaya J: “Smash Up the Place” (The Goldmind, Inc.) I’m more anxious to hear an album from her than Azealia Banks, probably because this song is more interesting than anything Banks has done since “212.”

10. Justin Timberlake: “That Girl” (RCA) The one great song he released this year, “That Girl” is a short burst of Memphis soul that is wholly unpretentious, especially compared to the rest of “The 20/20 Experience.” It makes me wonder if the song excels because of its shorter length or if the short length just compliments an already brilliant song. It’s likely a mixture of both, since even “My Love” would probably suck if it went on long enough.

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