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20(13) songs to remember

John Darr | Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Music is something that is easy to take for granted. It’s all around us, almost always available through our technology or voices. But just thinking back a year ago, there was so much music we didn’t have! Here’s a list of twenty tunes you’ll be glad 2013 offered us, as well as a short description of each song.


“Hold On, We’re Going Home” – Drake

So there’s this loving, rich, famous guy singing to you as he takes you home. And he’s even polite and romantic instead of predatory and sexual. Subdued, sexy, thick production and silky harmonies too? Ladies…


“Humiliation” – The National

This song is like floating down a lazy river at midnight with the stars shining off the water, and as time passes the river goes faster and faster until you fly out of the water and become immersed in the sky.


“Dropla” – Youth Lagoon

Youth Lagoon is riding on a unicorn through fields of flowery synthesizers and he wants you to come along to save the kingdom!


“James” – Ex Cops

The powerful guitar, driving drums and irresistible harmonies on this summery pop song make for a tune that is impossible not to like. Yes, that is a challenge.


“I Kill Giants” – The Naked and Famous

This song is THE song to kill giants to. A huge, thundering bass drum riff, a soaring chorus, and champion-level rhythm guitars make this song the shout-along anthem of the year. 


“Help Me Lose My Mind” – Disclosure

You’re a classy, sunglass-wearing model in a commercial for a high-end clothing commercial. And you are the coolest person around. That’s this song, essentially.


“One Half” – Julianna Barwick

You know that really beautiful girl you looked at from across the room who seemed like she belonged to another world? This is her in song form: angelic, beautiful and mystical.


“Mirrors” – Justin Timberlake

If I could be another person for just one day, I would be Justin Timberlake so I could sing this song to my girlfriend. And so I could look at my beautiful face in the mirror and sing it to myself.


“Lips and Limbs” – Waxahatchee

Another indie acoustic song? You’re probably like, GO BACK TO URBAN OUTFITTERS! But I’m like, this thing has a strumming, tambourine heart that will love your ears, forever. And, of course, your friends will “never have heard of them.”


“Open” – Rhye

Best trumpet line of 2013. Best snaps of 2013. And honestly, this woman’s voice is so richly textured that it sometimes sounds like she’s singing harmonies when in fact she’s only singing one line. The smoothest, most entrancing love song of the year, and the best produced.


“Retrograde” – James Blake

The immaculate vocal hook will have you singing along in your embarrassingly bad falsetto in twenty seconds or less. 


“Play by Play” – Autre ne Veut

The play by play: ambient waves of psychedelic synth evolve into a dramatic, swooning verse, which swelter and build through a tension-filled bridge that changes sound every four measures. The massive chorus drops with circling vocal lines and gorgeous harmonies. It’s R&B at its most catchy and adventurous.


“Shuggie” – Foxygen

The sonic equivalent of strolling around, looking like Elvis, and having all the ladies fall at your feet, but because you’re so cool, you don’t even look their way. Because you’re the funkiest guy in town who don’t need no woman.


“Step” – Vampire Weekend

Best pop song of 2013. No contest. Seriously, where does Vampire Weekend find all these melodies and witty, heart-touching lyrics?


“Song for Zula” – Phosphorescent

You know those “golden notes” in songs that make your heart sing for a half-second? Phosphorescent invited about fifty of those to a party and you’re invited. 



This song is a party. There’s all these vocal samples jumping in and out amidst flashing light synthesizers and a bass that bounces and dances all over the place. Indie-pop song of the year.


“Touch” – Daft Punk

I would explain Touch, but there’s so many amazing twists and turns that just shouldn’t be ruined for a first-timer. It’s essentially like a ridiculously awesome action movie: when you think it can’t get more awesome, suddenly they all have light-sabers. And then flying warrior llamas. And then, after you’re done watching, someone shows up with free donuts.


“Wings” – Haerts 

If Red Bull was a song and tasted good, it would be this song: epic, soaring vocals over thundering drums and catchy-as-heck melodies. If you’re about to do something awesome, this song will naturally start playing in the background, movie-style.


“Wild for the Night” – A$AP Rocky

Let’s see-dubstep and rap. The two kinds of party music actually synthesized well. Go home, other party songs. You lose.

Contact John Darr at jdarr@nd.edu