Adventures In 2013: Top 30 Songs [#30 -11]

Monday, December 30, 2013

Every year, I feel and even say that it gets tougher to compile an all-around portrait of what are my favorite songs of the year are. This year is no exception, but I have to say that 2013 was the roughest. As I looked back at the year-long list I made (I'm only organized when doing something of this caliber...) I came away with over 100 songs that I liked this year. Yeppers. 100. It's gotta be a new record or something. So yes, a part of me didn't want to make this list, as I didn't want to leave anything out as in some way shape or form those 100 songs were with me throughout the year. So I thought should I make this list 50? 40? 35? Settling with the old stand-by of 30 (because ain't nobody got time to read through 50+ of my favorite songs...) and to make a long story short, these are the 30 I feel most represent what I loved aurally about 2013 and will continue to play as the new year rolls on in.

30. Flatline - MKS: After a will-they-won't-they rumor trade, the former ladies of the first incarnation of Sugababes have reunited. Under a new namesake, they were smart to recruit wonder boy producer, Dev Hynes as he gives them a song that is technically pop, but has a unique feel to it as the additives of potent tribal drums, chants, and plucky guitars mesh well with a chorus that is croon-worthy and hails back to the girls' beginnings.

29. Shine - Lalah Hathaway (feat. DivaGeek): If this is any indication of why the DivaGeek and Lalah Hathaway collaboration should have happened a long ago, then the uplifting "Shine" states its case well as it's smooth, plucky, and joins the vocal forces of Hathaway and Vula Malinga with perfection. Consider me all for this union when their joint EP, Connections, makes an appearance next year.

28. Goodnight - Phillip Owusu: The word "sublime" is considered overused but there is no getting around that "Goodnight" is just that. A real sublime creation that tightly clasps elements of jazz and neo-soul together. It's a song that takes you places, with multi-layers and a build-up that hints at a mystery of where the song is going to go. Just when I feel that the techniques of a well-crafted song are gone, this one hits me.

27. FACes - Tawiah: As abstract and variant as Tawiah has proven time and time again to be, her voice resting on a bed of jangling guitars and her zoning in on a melodic soul search for "FACes" proves to be the best thing she's done.

26. Favorite Song - Mayer Hawthorne (feat. Jessie Ware): Wonderfully layered. The elements of an booming electric bass-line, Ware's coos, and middle eight excellence for days come together and keep the head bobbing.

25. You're Not The One - Sky Ferreira: So it's not "Everything Is Embarrassing", but "You're Not The One" gives off a good thrashing of power pop that plays well with Ferreira's grunge riot gurrl persona, as well as shows off those pipes of hers. As disappointing as Night Time, My Time was for me, this grinding number was a smart single choice.

24. Warm Water - Banks: Yearning and almost innocent, Banks' atmospheric first impression cuddles and soothes like a long-deserved embrace. Love songs should always feel this way.

23. Green Garden - Laura Mvula: A whimsical soul number that is layered with jazz vocalese, neo-soul harmonies, and '50s swing time elements. It's hard to categorize and is unique in every sense of the word, but if you're not clapping and stomping your feet while this is on, you're the walking dead. [Listen + Watch]

22. Get Lucky - Daft Punk (feat. Pharrell & Nile Rodgers): Inescapable ear candy that reunited the robotic forces of Daft Punk, proved once again Pharrell's producing power, and most importantly gave Nile Rodgers a comeback that was long overdue. It plays like a long-forgotten greatest hit of Chic thanks to Rodgers iconic guitar work, but also recalls those carefree days of pina colada-sipping and yacht-cruising soft rock --- and I can't sit here and deny that I wish life (and music) would be that way again.

21. Subtle - Active Child (feat. Mikky Ekko): Active Child achieves the the epic synth roams of '80s Peter Gabriel and Depeche Mode, but adds in some unexpected funk spunk as Mikky Ekko dives in with some Michael Jackson-esque diction and make for one of the most interesting duets to come out in this century.

20. In The Meantime - KING: Nobody does feather-lite soulfulness like the ladies of KING and after a two-year quiet spell, they return with their most lovey-dovey contribution.

19. Ooo La La - Robin Thicke: Thicke being decked out in douche is the disappointment of the year as is the lazy and skeevy "Blurred Lines" being THE song of 2013. Yet, what ticks me off even more is that the Blurred Lines album track, "Ooo La La", is superior in every way shape and form as it's a carefully constructed disco-funk number that would've made "Get Lucky" run for the hills. Missed opportunity.

18. Hand On Heart - Moko: Harking back to a '90s state of mind, Moko gives me Adeva and Ultra Nate vibes with her taunt vocalizing and her ability to apply it to all the zig and zag of rhythms going on.

17. Keep It Moving - Jessy Lanza: A dizzying frenzy of a track with an in-the-pocket groove that meshes with Lanza's breathy tone with fine experiment. This one hit me late in the year, but I'm glad it slapped me just in time to make it one of my favorites of this year.

16. Imagine It Was Us - Jessie Ware: As if her 2012 debut album Devotion wasn't enough class, Ware (alongside her producing co-hort Julian Bashmore) decides to let her hair down and goes forth with the classiest dance numbers of the 21st Century. Ware morphing into a statuesque disco diva? I can dig that.

15. Let The Groove Get In - Justin Timberlake: There were things I liked about the entertaining mess that was Timberlake's 20/20 Experience comeback (and I've stated it to exhaustion...), and one of the things was this 7-minute Afrobeat-inspired sound swirl. If a Sao Palo carnival was splattered with aural ribbons of Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something", then this is the song --- and it is awesome. [Listen]

14. Sweetest Thing - Lulu James: An atmospheric and honest love letter that coasts on the soulful tone of newcomer James, and affectionate word play. It's such a simple song, yet it goes right to the heart of the matter.

13. High Society - Betty Who: An unabashed celebration of '80s synth that is non-stop fun. It even bests her breakout single, "Somebody Loves You" as it just pops till it drops, while still managing to have all of its brain cells intact by song's end. I lift a glass of Chardonnay to this.

12. Big Love - Jamie Liddell: BIG indeed. Jamie Liddel would be one to make one of the 1980s best songs in 2013.

11. Favorite Star - Quadron: "Hey Love" while good and a 'safe' introductory track to introduce the Danish duo to the US, it doesn't hold a candlestick to "Favorite Star". Quadron's step out of their plush lazy afternoon zone for an uptempo number that churns out bass-lined and horn peppered funk crackles and brings the levity. Add to the awesome, M-Rock's re-fix takes it to flashier disco dancefloor shores to show off its versatility.

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