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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

The top 10 songs of 2013

Posted: 26 Dec 2013 08:00 AM PST

From Paramore's Still Into You to Daft Punk's Get Lucky, here are the songs that critics just loved.

THE writers at PopMatters, an international magazine on arts and culture, compiled their favourite songs of 2013.

Check out the playlist on Star2's YouTube channel

10. Chvrches: The Mother We Share 

Electroshock therapy wouldn't get this thing out of your head. From the opening samples to the anticipatory handclaps and all the way to the cutest use of the word ***k in 2013, Chvrches' The Mother We Share is the most complete pop song of the year.

Rarely does a song sound so retro while encompassing all that's new, but Lauren Mayberry and her crew crafted what amounts to the most inescapable hook any music fan has heard in a long, long time. If the accented synths through the verses won't get you, the desperation of the chorus will.

It's true: Everything old is new again and in this case, everything new is better than it's ever been. — Colin McGuire

9. Paramore: Still Into You

Hayley Williams and her man live in eternity, and each spiky power pop beat does not shorten, but lengthens their eternity. Kierkegaard said that. Ambushed by joy, Williams opts for the more sensible, "I should be over all the BUTTERFLIIIIIIES!!!" Endless love is nothing new – in fact, it's one of the most hackneyed and cloying sentiments available to songs, so cheers to these good-hearted brats for barreling through it. Every moment offers new pleasures. Williams spits her words because her love is not croony.

If she can make love work, so can you. If you haven't looked someone in the face today and hollered, "Baby not a day goes by that I'm NAWWWWWWT... EHHHHHHHHNTO YOWWWWWWWW!!!," well, what are you waiting for? Life's short! (OR IS IT...) — Josh Langhoff

8. Janelle Monae: Dance Apocalyptic

When Dance Apocalyptic first hit the airwaves a couple of months before Monae's Electric Lady album came out, certain circles derided the song for not sounding tougher. After all, shouldn't a song called Dance Apocalyptic have something of a hard edge to it?

But a closer listen to the lyrics demonstrates that the song is about celebration in the face of disaster. But I really really wanna thank you / For dancing 'til the end, goes the refrain. So a soul-pop confection seems just about right. In her relatively short career, Monae has already proven herself adept at any number of styles, but this track is one of those rare moments of pop perfection.

From the simple, catchy beat to Monae's impassioned vocals to the chant-along background vocals (Smash smash / Bang bang / Don't stop / Chalangalangalang), Dance Apocalyptic deserves a place in the 21st century song canon alongside fellow retro-pop luminaries Hey Ya and ***k You. — Chris Conaton

7. Haim: The Wire

Haim are a melting pot of various influences, veering from synth-pop to throwback guitar rock throughout their debut album Days Are Gone. The Wire serves as a synthesis of all of their styles and influences in one infectious four-minute helping. At times, the song feels like a throwback, recalling everything from Prince to Tom Petty.

However, the trio's vocals – all of which are refreshing in a pop landscape filled with diva moments and faux-sexy cooing – elevate the song from being merely satisfying to transcendent. By the time the band break the down the song in a sea of handclaps and synths, it's just the icing on top of a slice of pop perfection. — Kevin Korber

6. Vampire Weekend: Step

A little too often, Vampire Weekend gets crowned as kings of the melting pot. The Ivy League, multi-culturally cognisant band is unafraid to dump everything from Auto-Tune, M.I.A. samples, harpsichord, in a brew for the sake of a poignant hipster anthem.

Their influences are patched squarely on their sleeves, perhaps more than ever on Step. Culling a sample from both YZ and Bread, Koenig and company name drop Modest Mouse and Angkor Wat in the same tune and still manage to distill it all down to a perfect pop bliss-out.

Step shows that when Vampire Weekend turn it down and subscribe to a minimalist philosophy, they might be worth all the accolades. — Scott Elingburg

5. Neko Case: Man

On a largely staid and pensive album, Man is where Neko Case is able to just let loose. Thrust forward by drums that gallop like a mustang herd and M. Ward's caffeine-jittering guitar licks, Case projects a character fuelled by righteous ire and a declaration of self that bursts from being stifled for so long.

Whether the narrator is a transgender woman or a male who doesn't live up to macho stereotypes is up to the listener, but either way, in the vehicle of Case's inimitable voice and scathing lyrics, the figure is a confrontational badass, shedding his or her identity crisis amid this middle-finger waving anthem. — Cole Waterman

4. Kanye West: Black Skinhead

The opening 20 seconds of Black Skinhead – the wolves-are-coming riff, drums and Marilyn Manson quote – might be the aural representation of Yeezus' ethos. The sounds are indelible, but Kanye West's breathless, unhinged, slightly deranged rhymes steal their thunder.


Emulating and commenting on the idea of black man, and black superstar, and West the egoist, as "menace," he's "getting his scream on," as he puts it, but also introducing the God / King / Demon persona that drives the album. (Even in this setting he can't keep from throwing in bad puns / jokes, keeping alive the idea of West as stand-up comedian.)

Musically, the song well represents the build-up / rip down approach he took to the album. There are nearly 20 names credited with writing or producing the song, but there's just one name on the marquee, and he likes it that way. — Dave Heaton

3. Bastille: Pompei

Call me the chest-beating, hair-rending, existential angst-ridden type, but news headlines can bring me to tears. Tales of suffering, past and present, creep up to my bed in shadowy form at 2.30am and sit heavily beside me.

Surely such tales haunt Bastille's Dan Smith, as well. Eros and Thanatos, libido and mortido serve as the sonic flames and shadows in Pompeii, the moving song that has propelled this talented band to fame.

Indeed, with its gorgeous, primal chorus, Pompeii could be an anthem for the regenerative spirit of humankind, albeit an anthem sung amidst the rubble of our sins. In a mere three and a half minutes, Pompeii gives us much-needed, heart-pumping optimism. — Karen Zarker

2. John Newman: Love Me Again

On an album full of stadium-sized stunners, Love Me Again was the song that broke massive in Britain and also the tune that says "John Newman" better than any other. Full of passion, wicked beats and sublime vocals, it's the best dance and R&B song of the year. Imploring his former girlfriend to Love Me Again, Newman draws deep from his inner Otis Redding to illustrate his heartbreak.

It draws from classic Stax-style southern soul married to contemporary British dance music. The story is timeless, everyone can relate, and you dance yourself up to a full sweat in the four-minute run-time. If you doubt that British dance / R&B is the greatest flowering of new music in 2013, then Love Me Again will convince you otherwise. — Sarah Zupko

1. Daft Punk: Get Lucky

It became one of the most indelible images of 2013: four silhouettes backed by a blazing sunrise. The corresponding soundtrack, however, is what set the music universe on fire. 

A hybrid of classic and contemporary dance music sensibilities, Get Lucky kept the world "up all night" for the better part of 2013. The question wasn't "who's heard the new Daft Punk single" but "who hasn't?"

In the second decade of the 21st century, only a few songs reach the level of ubiquity that Get Lucky achieved this year. The reason for that is more than luck. It's the individuals behind those four shadows: Daft Punk members Thomas Bangalter (guitar) and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (drums), Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers. 

Pharrell might ask "What is this I'm feeling?" but we all know. It's the most infectious groove of the year. — Christian John Wikane – PopMatters/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services


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