2013 was an up-and-down year of both great and less than stellar music. To narrow it down to the best singles of the year is tough. The list is based on critical reception, personal preference and even popularity, as long as their was a solid (or addictingly controversial) enough reason for that popularity. Dance-music made waves, a modern pop-icon made a comeback, a 16-year-old took us all by surprise, and more. These are the best singles of the year.
15. Jay-Z feat. Rick Ross “Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit” Producers Vinylz, Boi-1da, and Timbland all lend a helping hand to this track, perfecting a hypnotic beat that Jay and Rick Ross both wanted on their albums. It ended up on Hov’s “Magna Carta” but don’t fuck with either of them.
14. The Lonely Island feat. Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar “YOLO” An SNL digital short from the boys of Lonely Island, it twists the “battle cry of a generation” into n anthem for sheltering yourself from the dangers of the world. Hilarious, witty, and satirical in the best way.
13. Martin Garrix “Animals” It was the year of dance music. Daft Punk, Disclosure, Krewella, and more bombarded dance clubs all over, and “Animals” is no different. It’s a song that cherishes the art of dropping the beat.
12. Big Sean feat. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica “Control” While it’s Big Sean’s song (it was meant to appear on his “Hall of Fame” album but ended up being released as a promotional single instead), it’s Kendrick Lamar that truly kills it with one of the best rap verses of the year.
11. Disclosure “When A Fire Starts to Burn” As far as dance music go, it can’t get much simpler, and that’s the magic of this track off Disclosure’s debut “Settle.” What makes it even better is it’s hilariously fun music video.
10. Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball” Miley was the most talked about artist of the year. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up for you to decide. But once you get past the ridiculous twerking and other antics, Miley can actually sing. It’s only the absurdity of her music videos that overshadow that.
9. Eminem “Rap God” No one was really doubting Eminem’s rapping abilities, but now it’s hard to contest that he’s a rap god. Eminem takes the full 6 minutes of the song to cement that.
8. Drake feat. Majid Jordan “Hold On, We’re Going Home” It would have been easy to include Drake’s first single off “Nothing was the Same, “Started From the Bottom,” but “Hold On, We’re Going Home” is both expected and unexpected from the artist that Rolling Stone called “the people’s rapper.” It’s hard to argue with that listening to this 80s styled jam.
7. Lady Gaga feat. R. Kelly “Do What U Want” Gaga’s “Artpop” album may not have been received well by critics, but the stand out track, “Do What U Want,” is a standout single thanks to an assist from R. Kelly.
6. Arctic Monkeys “Do I Wanna Know” The lyrics and instrumental are mesmerizing. Just listen to it.
5. Lorde “Team” The hit single “Royals” shot 17 year old Lorde to super stardom this year, but it’s on “Team” that I felt her youthful (not quite) innocence. With lyrics like “I’m kinda over getting told to throw my hands up in the air” it’s hard to believe she’s so young. It’s even harder when you take into account how talented she is.
4. Arcade Fire “Afterlife” The best track off of Arcade Fire’s epic “Reflektor” is also one of their most powerful songs. “Afterlife”…it’s such an “awful word.” But it’s a fantastic song.
3. Kanye West “Blood on the Leaves” Only Kanye would be able to sample “Strange Fruit” so impressively.
2. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell & Nile Rodgers “Get Lucky” “Blurred Lines?” Forget that. This was the definite song of the summer, a groovy pop/dance-jam.
1. Justin Timberlake “Mirrors” JT made a comeback this year with “The 20/20 Experience” and the best song on those combined albums is absolutely “Mirrors.” And it’s best song of the year. Say what you want about JT’s “Experience” it’s hard to deny how good this song is, an epic pop love song that Timbaland’s production surprisingly heightens rather than burdens.