Alright, I’m a couple of days late. I’ll catch up before the end of the year. I’m a day ahead of when I started last year, so I’ve got that going for me.
This is the seventh year of this list. If you care to take a look at the previous entries, you can here:
The rules are very simple:
- The song came out on an album in 2013
- I can only pick one song per artist
I occasionally, but rarely, break those rules.
This was an odd year for me, musically. With Spotify and iTunes Radio and satellite radio and whatever else-radio, I heard a lot of music. So much, in fact, that I did a really poor job of carving out what I liked. Unless something really caught my ear, or was from an artist I already liked, it usually ended up on a random playlist or starred on Spotify, hoping to see the light of day.
In putting together the list, I also seemingly fell into a couple of trends this year—as often seems to be the case—with many songs on this list falling into one or two categories.
Right out of the gates, you’ll note the first trend: female vocalists. The first female vocalist is featured in a group who’ve made my top 10 before, with their debut album.
Cults - “I Can Hardly Make You Mine”
This song is very Cults, but after a whole bunch of caffeine. Still sounding a bit lo-fi, “I Can Hardly Make You Mine” is a super shiny 60s pop song that does what a good song does: makes you want to listen to it again. Ask me again in a week, and this may have hit the top 10.
Sylvan Esso - “Hey Mami”
Until a few hours ago, this was in my top 10. It only slipped out because I realized how mesmerized I had been by hearing and seeing it live. Opening for Minor Alps, I had never heard of Sylvan Esso. Then two folks walk out, a woman with a mic and a guy behind a couple of Moogs. And then she starts singing, laying down the backing vocals, then breaking out into the chorus while slowly dancing. As the beat starts to pick up, she dances a bit more actively. In any other situation, this might come off forced or fake. It wasn’t. It was so genuine as to be incredibly infectious and quickly won the crowd over.
The woman is Amelia Meath, who has a tremendous voice, and it just doesn’t need much instrumentation behind it at all. But, I think the instrumentation might be just a bit too sparse to be a complete earworm. (Check out the beat on “Play It Right” which I think works better.)
Night Beds - “Ramona”
Here’s a very straight forward alt-country(ish) song lifted into the stratosphere by Winston Yellen’s phenomenal voice. In the hands (or voice … ) of almost any other band, this is just a catchy, but not overly noteworthy song. But in the last verse, when he breaks into his falsetto, the song just sort of takes on a new life.
Phoenix - “Entertainment”
This is such an incredibly great, poppy song. It easily slides into Phoenix’s pantheon of amazing pop songs (like “1901”, “Lisztomania”, and “Long Distance Call”). But it’s not a genre-shaking pop song. That’s a really high bar to set, but Phoenix set it for themselves. Seriously, both “1901” and “Lisztomania” were songs that completely redefined power/indie pop (and the album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is the album that launched a million remixes).
It’s a great song, in a band with a long history of great songs. And I think that’s why it doesn’t stand out as much.