Top Songs of 2013

This blog was written before the Beyonce album came out.  I expect she would have featured below in the top 20.  Oh well.  Enjoy…
Well I’m counting down from Number One this year to hell with protocol. This is Song Of The Year, even though it came out last year, it was all over everything this year and is one of the best hip hop songs ever produced. The sky is the limit. Love is everything.
#1 Same Love – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
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Got a lot to fit in – it’s a top 50 songs of the year, gawd knows what to do with the LPs but we’ll find a way. This was ALMOST the greatest song of the year. Electro-punk glam-rock hip hop this song absolutely shakes the tree. Made by a millionaire who isn’t happy and who continues to be musically restless.
#2 Black Skinhead – Kanye West
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Dropped on his birthday with no build-up we all feared he’d never make another record but this was old-school special, haunting, wistful, sad and true. It makes water in my eye every time I hear it. Why ? probably for myself. I grew up with David.
#3 Where Are We Now – David Bowie
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I’m extremely happy to present two fine fellas from Brighton who have created one of the finest records of the year – their LP “Idiots” was a real favourite and this track for me represents perfect pop writing and producing. Who does it remind you of ? Tom Petty ? Teenage Fanclub ? Big Star ? It’s fucking brilliant is what it is.
#4 Summertime In My Heart – Electric Soft Parade
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One of my big discoveries this year was Kacey Musgraves and her album Same Trailer Different Park. It’s old-school country, sad sharp songs about trapped lives, addiction, compromise and small-town hypocrisy, and she is a great songwriter. So many to choose from, I recommend the whole album.
#5 Blowin’ Smoke – Kacey Musgraves
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Track One of the 20/20 Experience was the best for me, better than Mirrors or Suit and Tie, I still can’t put my finger on what it is – those cluster harmonies, the simple three-note hook, the swing of the beat. Born of Prince, perfected by Timbaland and JT.
#6 Pusher Love Girl – Justin Timberlake
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First song about salmon spawning ? Certainly about evolution, the very long view and another totally original piece of work from the superb Everything Everything.  My selection from their stunning sophomore album “Arc”. Wait for the whale release 2 minutes in
#7 Choice Mountain – Everything Everything
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Todd always confuses everyone, and the swerve into electronica this year was a beauty. There is something in my mouth. What on earth is he on about ? Irrestible pop from the middle-aged boy wonder.
#8 In My Mouth – Todd Rundgren
no youtube link – try grooveshark !
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Here is where the Blurred Lines backlash backlash starts. Robin Thicke may well be a knob – he is certainly being sued, banned by student unions and sneered at by music journalists and other cognoscenti, but he and Pharrell have crafted – with the acknowledged inspiration of Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give IT Up” – the year’s best dance record. Eat your heart out Daft Punk. TBH it was close, and they’re both pants-itchingly irresistible on the dance floor. Got to give it up for this tune is a tune
#9 Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke, Pharrell, T.I.
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Something out of the blue in February – an amazing new LP by british singer Laura Mvula called Sing To The Moon appeared fully formed and drenched in bliss. Loved this opening song.
#10 Like The Morning Dew – Laura Mvula
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So this should have been number one because it’s one of the greatest displays of rapping there has been since the genre was invented, but you try making a music chart it’s impossible. The album is awesome. The tune is ridiculous. 
#11 Rap God – Eminem
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Didn’t think they could top Contra and when I first heard Vampires Of The Modern City I thought it was dull. Not for the first time I was wrong. It grew and grew. They’re a great band, musically and lyrically, the 21st century Talking Heads. Love everything they’ve done. This is ace.
#12 Step – Vampire Weekend
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I heard this on the radio and loved it immediately. Deceptively simple but the middle eight gives away the musicality of the writing. She’s a great songwriter and has a lovely direct tone. Young, talented and English. Don’t think she was on X-factor or BGT or the cover of Vogue. Just good.
#13 Please Don’t Say You Love Me – Gabrielle Aplin
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Should have put this higher too, having seen my boy Thomas Michael Jules on stage with Rudimental on numerous occasions this year but just couldn’t choose me fave track on the record. Thought it was Angel Haze all year, but this really takes the biscuit dunnit ? Come on.
#14 Waiting All Night – Rudimental
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Nile Rodgers turns a pretty song into a dance-filler with his 70s disco shuffle, this was ubiquitous across the year and got tiresome eventually. But it’s so hooky it could not fail. Album was well over-hyped while being good, but not ground-breaking like they used to be.
#15 Get Lucky – Daft Punk
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I notice that the standard of videos has skyrocketed – they’re like mini-movies now rather than promos. None better than this one in 2013 by uber-producer Naughty Boy with Sam Smith on the falsetto chorus. Loved it’s irritating ear worm and hook.
#16 La La La – Naughty Boy ft Sam Smith
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What we need are more old-skool slow jams. And parties ! Ah remember those parties. Some folk are still out there giving it the R’n’B thanks partly to Ciara who dropped her 5th LP in June. Expect a few children were conceived to this. 
#17 Body Party – Ciara
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no – no – what we need are more black people doing country music. Yeah baby. Darius used to be lead singer of Hootie and The Blowfish who never really did it for me, but he signed to Capitol Nashville as a country singer in 2008, and has at least four #1 hit singles since then. Rewrite those stereotypes and hats off for Wagon Wheel.
#18 Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker
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Been a long time cooking this one up, Paul Steel and Murray MacLeod have created sonic palette to marvel at with Sparklehorse as the jumping off point, but there’s a bit of everything in here. Tremendously weird video too. Great band.
#19 The Ghost That Burned Your House Down – Cold Crows Dead
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I had trouble with this album – for some reason – but usually that means I haven’t been listening properly because she is amazing. I’ve loved everything she’s done so far, but this is the only song that jumped off Once I Was An Eagle. Still listening. Like an angry Joni Mitchell.
#20 Saved These Words – Laura Marling
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The one thing I’ve noticed doing this Song Of The Year postage is how wrong I can be. It’s quite alarming, but kind of refreshing to realise that after judging an artist harshly for reasons of sartorial error, thin production, overexposure to groovers, or not immediate catchiness, that some months later I can suddenly get it. There’s no wrong or right here but just gentle appreciation of someone else’s talent.
#21 Electric Lady – Janelle Monae
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He’s collaborated with King Creosote but this is something else, thank Eno. Electronic music has really started to diversify and this is one of many albums this year which seems to breathe and move. Hypnotic and addictive, from the LP Immunity by Jon Hopkins.

 #22 We Disappear – Jon Hopkins

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqhCDbagWh8

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A monster year for hip hop, so many great albums and tunes, or maybe my enthusiasm for it was just re-awoken again. We go in phases don’t we. J Cole is a talent and his 2nd album is excellent, including this collab with TLC and a sad but true story in the video which is very upsetting.

#23 Crooked Smile – J. Cole ft TLC

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzzMOMkjm8A

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I have no words, and too many words for Paul. He was always there. He is still there. He won’t always be. We share a birthday, and a restless spirit. He’s never happy with his work, although My Favourite Quote of his is about The Beatles “Y’know, looking back, most of our songs were about love”
I heart Paul McCartney

#24 New – Paul McCartney

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkbbP0ozyMs

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Last one today is a welcome blast of intelligent witty anger from the South Coast of England, just when you wondered where all the punk poets had gone and who was going to point out what is glaringly obvious to all in the UK: that it’s not a recession – it’s a robbery. Brilliant lyrics.

 #25 The Bear – Chris TT & The Hoodrats

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QbQ5TCstIw

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Don’t know where this came from or where it’s going but I suspect it’s english music circa 2013. Could be James Blake or Deptford Goth singing or the man Ben Khan himself. Is the elephant playing guitar ? Love this

#26 Eden – Ben Khan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzfLnaZ6FY0

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This was played all year, simple arrangement, beautiful song, I could call it Rihanna goes Adele, but Mikky Ekko, who sings the second verse is certainly one to watch – check out his song Kidz which may not quite make my top 50. this did, easily.

 #27 Stay – Rihanna ft Mikky Ekko

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JF8BRvqGCNs

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Brooklyn-based Autre Ne Veut (trans: I Want No Other) are by far the best of the new-wave electro-soul movement (SZA, Kilo Kish, Kelela, Phlo Finister, Le1f, FKA Twigs, Shlomo et al) which flooded the groove-tastic airwaves and online forums this year. Arthur Ashin has a proper soul voice which takes due prominence over the experimental electronica of his sounds. Mates with Daniel Lopatin (coming up next) and going to be big. I reckon.
#28 Play By Play – Autre Ne Veut

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFiupWwIZMY

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Hard to choose a track off his brilliant album R Plus Seven which is a real grower, Daniel Lopatin’s 4th under the moniker OneOhTrix Point Never. Not squelchy furry breathing electronica (Jon Hopkins, Daniel Avery, Tim Hecker), but sharp, shapely and often actually human. Fantastic sounds within. I think he’s very good indeed, but you may file under “pretentious” if you wish.
 #29 Zebra – OneOhTrix Point Never
sorry no link
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My favourite house track in a year where 80s Chicago Jackmaster groove was a massive influence (once again) on people as diverse as Kany West and Disclosure. This is outta New York, breakthrough artist, his first single, and I don’t know who is singing. And it’s a fan video I think. But : TUNE
#30 So Good To Me – Chris Malinchak
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been a good year for hip hop, best I can remember. Maybe that’s just me waking up again. But I suspect Eminem and Kanye will both feature in the top 3 albums of the year overall. Loads of others too – ASAP Rocky, J Cole, Pusha T, Earl Sweatshirt, Chance The Rapper, all guys, where are the women ? Anyways this was proper old skool rap music by Killer Mike and EL-P otherwise known as Run The Jewels. No – no idea what it means.
 #31 Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels
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This album slipped out without me noticing, if you miss a Jools there’s really little other TV exposure for new music which is weird I think. I find most stuff online. Where I found this – Her first album was amazing, I think this may be the best thing since Felt Mountain. From Tales Of Us, Goldfrapp 
#32 Drew – Goldfrapp
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They’re growing on me is all I can say. I have spent all year rejecting this band only to place them in my top 50 songs come December. But there you go, music is a fickle mistress. This song is good, if full of the irritating slightly strident and rhythmically odd quirks that make Haim so totally overwhelmingly successful. They don’t sound like Fleetwood Mac to me. 
#33 Don’t Save Me – Haim
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Never mind the hype she still didn’t sell that many albums, and neither did Bowie, Elton or Daft Punk – because no one is buying anymore. So hype away and we’ll just check out the songs and download if we like ’em. We like this one – classic rock pop rock and a video that caused even more hype from Sinead O Connor and others who felt that Miley was a victim of the industry. I’d like to think that she makes her own decisions. Like we all do right ? 
#34 Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
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English singer-songwriter with guitar alert. Passionate and anthemic. No it’s not Jake Bugg or Mumford and Sons. But this young man will be just as big as them if there’s any justice. He made the BBC Sound of 2014 List though, so it’s not just me liking. But there ain’t no justice. Just this.
#35 Nothing Stays The Same – Luke Sital Singh
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Thundercat is an LA-based experimental electronic groover and top bass player who works a lot with Flying Lotus and makes ace videos – sadly there isn’t one for this song, but have a search for the rest, they’re fun, weird and witty. This is my favourite cut from Apocalypse his sprawling restless debut because I’m a sucker for vocal harmony and we need more of it.
#36 Tron Song – Thundercat
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Original, funny, musical, story-telling, confessional. As a follow-up to Queen Of Denmark this album wandered away from folk straight into electronic synths. Like a mountain man Pet Shop Boy John Grant lit up 2014 and shone a light for all who had lost a relationship and felt angry and alone. Oh and – middle eight of the year ? : “I should have practised my scales, I should not be attracted to males, but you said that I should learn to love myself, make up your mind Dr Frankenstein.” Brilliant stuff. 
#37 GMF – John Grant
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There’s something raggy and wild and chaotic about Danny Brown, which puts him in a league of his own. I have’t enjoyed a rapper this much since Busta Rhymes years ago. Great album, this has a verse from ASAP Rocky who also dropped a great album of his own, but there isn’t space for everyone ! Can I squeeze Earl Sweatshirt and Pusha T into the list ? 
#38 Kush Coma – Danny Brown ft A$AP Rocky
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Meanwhile on this side of the Atlantic Kano had a huge year of his own, Mercedes commercial (what ?) Top Boy, guesting with Wiley, Skepta and Lethal Bizzle. And this. Benga, who in 2012 announced that he was stopping calling his music dubstep – a move which infuriated fans – dropped his third solo album in 7 years (confusingly called Chapter Two) from whence this song comes. This is the sound of East London, thrilling, dark and uncompromised. I’m a Grime Forefather. “chandeliers in council flats” 
#39 Forefather – Benga ft Kano
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Everyone fell in love with these brothers from Surrey this year. After remixing Jessie Ware’s Running last year, and having a smash with Latch, their album arrived in the spring to huge huge acclaim. It was 90s house music for the kids, those of us old enough could be reminded of Craig David all over your *.
This is a weird cut, Eliza Doolittle sings the vocal and a fella called Flume does a very daring remix. Check it out.
#40 You & Me – Disclosure ft Eliza Doolittle (Flume Remix)
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nearly done. 2013 saw the release of Elton John’s 30th solo album, produced by T-Bone Burnett with just piano bass and drums and none of his usual band members. It’s the best thing he’s done for years, back to his classic 70s sound. This is the title track
#41 The Diving Board – Elton John
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Best young hip hopper of the year was Chance The Rapper whose debut Acid Rain was full of unusual imagery and words. ‘Back when Mike Jackson was still Jesus’. Original shit.
#42 Acid Rain – Chance The Rapper
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Saw this fella at The Greys in Brighton, he’d come all the way from Los Angeles and was punting his new album The Owl and The Full Moon. One song stood out for me for original lyrics alone, I offer it below.
#43 No One’s Gonna Hear This Song – Adam Marsland
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Is this breakthrough artist of 2013 ? Didn’t like his name, didn’t check him out. Heard a song on Radio 1 on the way to ASDA, thought it was ace. Something inside me went “I bet that’s Jake Bugg”. And it was. Cah ! 
#44 Slumville Sunrise – Jake Bugg
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Rizzle Kicks are slowly conquering the world. Did anyone see them on Buzzcocks ? They’ll be Ant and Dec if they’re not careful. Meanwhile Abum number two dropped and had this hit single. Shades of The Specials. Not John Terry or Jeremy Kyle’s best friends. Good lads. 
#45 Lost Generation – Rizzle Kicks
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last few. I’ve loved absolutely everything John Legend has done. He is ace. Old-school soul man, doing it properly. Bought his new album Love In The Future on the day it came out and gave it to Jen, who loves him more than I do. Why was this song so low ? 
#46 Made To Love – John Legend
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Love the Africa Express project which is a bunch of western musicians travelling to africa to create with local musicians. Brianchild of one Damon Albarn. Good doc here – oh – if I post a link here it becomes a bloody great file, so I’ll leave it to the curious to seek out ‘The Story So Far’. It’s really good stuff. Song below is from the latest project which has only been out a week or so. Can’t say I’m not up to date !
#47 Rapou Kanou – Tal B Halala
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No apologies for including a child of Bob Marley preaching rastafari and love. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. This is Kymani Marley. 
#48 Greet You With Love – Kymani Marley
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Parental advisory : this song is not to be played to children. I think we all know how K.Michelle feels when she sings “I just wanna fuck, and not fall in love, that don’t make me no slut, I have my needs, so don’t you go catching feelings, for tonight I want sex that doesn’t mean a thing.” Been waiting for the next Millie Jackson.
#49 I Just Wanna – K Michelle
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didn’t think I was gonna let a top 50 go by without Queens Of The Stone Age didja ? New album was great, back to their (almost) best. So that completes my seasonal list. Thanks for listening, and commenting. 
#50  My God Is The Sun – Queens Of The Stone Age
Thanks for reading, please add your comments below, like and rate, much appreciated
RB Dec 2013