It’s countdown season, so followers of this blog should have seen this one coming… it’s time to start counting down my top 50 songs of the year. It’s been a strange year, there were plenty of good songs, as there always are, but picking my favourite was really hard. More because there wasn’t really a crazy standout this time. So there might be a few surprises along the way…. oh, and a fair whack of Eurovision, but you knew that already right?
50. Lissie – Further Away (Romance Police)
From Back to Forever
I was a little late to the Lissie party, only recently re-discovering how amazing “When I’m Alone” is. It was good timing too, Lissie had a new album out, and while I haven’t investigated that far yet, I enjoyed the lead single a lot. Great 80s influences in there, some shades of Fleetwood Mack mixed in with a modern blend of synths and guitars. Smooth and catchy, with lovely depths in the choruses with those backing vocals.
49. Mariah Carey – #Beautiful (ft Miguel)
From The Art of Letting Go
After my lengthy trip though Mariah’s back catalogue (look at the “Music” index at the top to find links to my reviews), I’ve spent the last few years a little worn out by Mariah. I think it’s just a genre clash for me, it’s only when she does the more mainstream stuff that she makes music I’d be in the habit of listening to. I’m sure she does what she does well, I’ve just never been much of an RnB guy, and not for the want of trying.
But 2013 saw some buzz singles ahead of her perpetually delayed new album, and this was by far the best. Smooth summer jam with some sexy bass guitar and a bit of a 60s vibe. Great stuff.
48. Agnetha Fältskog – The One Who Loves You Now
A lot of comebacks on this list, with this one coming as possibly the biggest surprise. The former ABBA member finally emerged from a near decade of musical hiatus, fuelling rumours of a Malmö reunion of one of the world’s biggest ever bands. It wasn’t to be, but we got a new album “A” from Agnetha so we should count our blessings.
The album itself might have had as many misses as hits, but this was my favourite of the singles. Gentle and full of love and optimism, I’m so pleased that something this good came from the album. I’m disappointed at how botched the campaign for this album was despite the abundance of opportunities, but c’est la vie.
47. Lady Gaga – Applause
I was in two minds at whether to include this, but come on, it’s a Gaga comeback! The truth is that it’s so low down here because I’ve just worn it out. I loved it more than “Roar” at the time, and I thought it was a great single. But having listened to the gambles that paid off on “ARTPOP“, this ends up tacked on the end of the album, and even a bit too safe. I still really love it though, but maybe I’ll retire it for a while.
46. Pet Shop Boys – Love Is A Bourgeois Construct
Summer saw a new album “Electric” from veteran UK duo the Pet Shop Boys, the first I’d really given a good listen to. It ended up as a great soundtrack to my brief period of cycling, and while some of it didn’t make a massive impact on me, this supposed single was the crowning glory of the album.
Their trademark modern synth-led and sardonic sound, with the added flair of that awesome classical sample with disco strings and a choir. How this wasn’t a huge hit I really don’t know, I love it.
45. Robin Thicke – Give It 2 U (ft Kendrick Lamar)
From Blurred Lines
I’m worried again about accusations of being a contrary Mary here, but despite Robin getting possibly the biggest hit of the year by the catchy but otherwise vile “Blurred Lines”, his forgotten follow-up single did the business for me this year.
It’s a total man-slut anthem, with Robin & Kendrick pulling their best moves to get some pussy over a grubby electro bassline. I don’t know why I’m so fond of this misogynistic sub-genre of the RnB & EDM collision, I just am. Even if it’s Robin Thicke, who somehow made me feel a bit giddy even when he was dressed as Beetlejuice and bumming Miley.
44. Iggy Azalea – Bounce
From The New Classic
Girls can do slut anthems too, and the indescribably Iggy Azalea just trumped Robin with this Bollywood-themed floorfiller and her preposterous accent. I have no idea what she’s singing about most of the time, I’m just going to imagine it’s about sex, that seems a fair guess.
I haven’t really latched on to any of Iggy’s other 2013 songs but I’ll be keeping an ear out. She’s like Ke$ha’s mean older sister isn’t she?
43. PSY – Gentleman
After what can only really be described as a global phenomenon with “Gangnam Style” that asserted the power of the internet over worldwide pop charts to anyone who may have had any doubts, PSY had the nigh-on impossible task of trying to follow it up.
Considering everything, I think he did a great job, still managing to rack up over 600 million views. I’d hate to think of anyone thinking that’s an underperformer, with “Gangnam Style” within striking distance from the 2 billion mark. It’s got a lot more of an edge this time, a fair bit of English thrown in too, with another great video and a catchy as hell electro hook.
42. Union J – Carry You
From Union J
Aww I always loved Union J, who managed to progress quite a lot during 2012’s series of X-Factor and ultimately came fourth. I wonder if I like them more as a reaction to the totally OTT popularity of One Direction, who don’t seem to have improved their vocals since day 1 on X-Factor a few years before.
Union J released their first material as a bit of an underdog act. Sure, the most successful XF acts often came 2nd or 3rd, but 4th placers are pushing their luck a little. But “Carry you” is a simple but really catchy pop song in the simplest since, with a likeable group of guys. I just want to like them so much, even though it feels a bit doomed. That middle-eight is terrible though, “yeah yeah yeah x 12”. WTF.
41. Katy Perry – Roar
One more big comeback, and this is the first moment I’ve realised that I ranked “Roar” about “Applause”, the big question for a time amongst hyped-up internet gays. It wasn’t always like this though, I thought it was ploddy and jam-packed with rubbish cliches trotted out as some sort of empowerment anthem.
While I still think of Katy Perry as a bit of a blank canvas that her label throw money at (and the scattergun approach to album “Prism” added weight to that), “Roar” eventually clicked with me when I needed a bit of empowerment, and it really did psych me up. Far be it from me to point to Katy in what could be a decisive moment in my entire life, but it does sound a bit like that doesn’t it?