This year I digested the entire world and tried to regurgitate it in an assortment of fucked ways. I’m sated and sick and exhausted but what I did, at least professionally, was worth it. Next year I will get drunk on glitter, broken things, and unwanted emotions again. Here are the 2013 tracks that fired me into the sun and had me fragment onto car bonnets like a sad firework.
Get Free – Major Lazer ft Amber of Dirty Projectors
In February I went to Paris and everywhere I went there this song was playing. There’s a really delicious bitterness to this song, it tastes like Campari in the mouth, like biting into an orange that is off in the middle. It takes you gently up and down through clouds of weird upset wails, beautiful melodies of discontent.
22 – Taylor Swift
There’s a certain feeling you get, when the last piece of work that summer evening is finished, you can see the pale sun over the top of your laptop, and then the grass outside beckons. This song is elderflower cordial and it makes me smile every time I hear it. It’s miserable and magical. Forget about the heartbreaks. This is a song about what it is like to be in your twenties.
While I’m Alive – STRFKR
This is disco pop swagger, and nothing else. It’s for that funky walking dance you always liked to do on the dancefloor.
Lies – CHVRCHES
This was the year of CHVRCHES. This is the best of their album, this song. I still like Gun, but Lies is the height of elated pop, it has a heavy stomp, and soars into the chorus, taking huge bites into its own electronic fucking sugarpop. Lauren’s voice is this beauteous innocent Glasgow clip, and the line I can sell you lies, you can’t get enough often reminds me of how I regard writing fiction: as a sort of weaving of the truth via lies, intended to sell as a drug. I don’t give much of a shit if people think CHVRCHES have been talked about too much. Eat it up. They’re good and fuck you.
Bitter Rivals – Sleigh Bells
Point a gun at the mirror. Be not afraid. Be not afraid. Sleigh Bells always had this high school cheerleader gone kohl-black-eyed drug addict going for them, and this song off their new album of the same name is more of the Doc Martens stomp on gymnasium floor that you got from Infinity Guitars, except even more chorus addiction, even more jumping and clapping, punishment of your fists in the air. Oh god I want to be Alexis. She’s my hero. She’s a god.
Bring the Noize – M.I.A.
Not as good as Paper Planes but you know, it’s got a real smash beat and energy and honestly, I’m just glad this track exists.
I Am A God – Kanye West
It would be extraordinary to end a tracks of the year without Kanye on it. The ludicrous hubris, the ugly, obvious arrogance of the lyrics of this song are in the end stunningly beautiful, if only because no one has ever, ever made a pop track so ambitious, and so musically interesting, and actually hit it like this. The dull thud behind the track, the screams of existentialism whilst talking about stacking millions and where are his stupid croissants. It’s musically amazing, and weirdly, like The Smiths used to do, sets that against some lyrics that almost bring the whole party down, but somehow, it stays up, and it’s the tension of the whole thing collapsing that I feel makes it. Kanye is a god. I believe it in the 3.52 mins duration. It takes exactly that amount of time for a musical orgasm to happen.
Protovision – Kavinsky
In the winter when traffic lights seem like signals to Daft Punk to open the party, and the night time florescence blur in the wind and rain, this track is like witnessing a T-800 ride out of nowhere and offer you a ride into some cursed future. I will always live in the 80s. So will Kavinsky. This track goes back to the future. I want to live there.
City’s Full – Savages
All-woman Johnny Marresque bassline-based Savages are the fucking coolest thing I discovered this year (largely because of man of games Steve Gaynor). Sulky and brilliant and moody as fuck, they are rock and roll in the old school, with distortions, grunge, like Siouxsie reincarnated in a The Smiths mould or something. Urgh. It’s disgustingly good, this whole album. I love the stretchmarks on your thighs, I love the wrinkles around your eyes are the most human lyrics I’ve ever heard. You can be a beautiful person inside, as well as being cool as fuck.
Think Of You – MS MR
Being the oblivious woman I am I only became aware of MS MR via my friends Si Wharton and Alice O’Hanlon, but this track is outrageously elated, triumphant, declarative. A quiet start with decisive piano notes, a snare drum kicks in to You got high off my devotion, which is a fucking stonker of an opening on that stark alto voice. I still think of you and everything you put me through, and I know you were wrong, is such a tale of non-regret, it’s hard not to be on board. It’s got this poppy undertone of Fuck You. And it’s such a payoff. I know you were wrong. You only picked me up to bring me down. Yes.
You – Ha Ha Ha – Charli XCX
Charli XCX as a pop artist is as amazing as her selfies are. Her stuff is all dramatically striking and deep into the electric beat. You, you lied, HAHAHAHA I was right is so deliciously wicked and so unapologetic, that when you get to the you fucked it uuuup off the chorus it feels perfect. It’s the song of no regret. It is the song of being quite, quite sure who you are, just like Marina And The Diamonds’ Oh No! was last year.
Brainfreeze – Fuck Buttons
I am now drunk as ever on Christmas Prosecco, and this track was so close to being my track of the year. Fuck Buttons have always been good, but this is the only track of theirs that has ever made me want to make a game. I am currently half way through a game where you play as the Queen of the Damned, a blackened, burned demon woman woken from a thousand year slumber who is walking through the streets demolishing, crushing and setting things on fire out of pure hatred pyrotechnics. This song makes me want to crush everything. This song makes me feel like I am powerful. This song makes me think hatred is a a liquor and I am drunk on it. I start it over again.
My Song 5 – Haim
Okay, so we’re on this Haim album. This is one of the greatest albums to come out of this year, besides Beyonce, Savages and Kanye’s wonderful offerings. But I couldn’t keep this song, My Song 5, a syncopated beauty off this list. It’s just got this super low jazzy bit in it that inspires glee and gives me a grin. Ah, it’s lovely and quirky. Honey I’m not your honeypot.
Drunk In Love – Beyonce and Jay Z
Beyonce will always, always be an inspiration to pretty much everyone. This surprise album’s real delight, I feel, comes from the unapologetic way Beyonce is broadcasting her life, and the way in which she is visually innovating as an artist, exemplified through her laments on Michael Jackson’s Thriller and its special televisual airing in the prelude on her website. The way Beyonce thinks about her videos and how to convey her music through images is one of the most exciting things about her. This song is not the most extraordinary on the album, but the video is notable: it features Beyonce on her own on the beach, until she has her husband appear. She then summarily goes back to hogging the camera all herself. Of course the whole song is about how she sexually desires him: Beyonce’s feminism is my favourite sort of feminism. Libido-based. Anyway, Drunk In Love is great and who wouldn’t fuck upside an Andy Warhol, Mr Z?
I Got You – Summer Camp
It was a fight between this and Fresh, but I Got You won out because it has a marching drumbeat in the back with a supergreat warbling run of a melody, and then Elizabeth kicks into the beautiful birdlike vocals. It’s sugary, adoring, and almost has an echo of Japan in it for me: the stark note choice is almost from that side of the world. It’s very pretty. (Also Jeremy said he liked my writing.) (I like his music.)
Last Year – Best Coast
So I know this isn’t really a 2013 song and they had a really good EP called Fade Away out this year, but this song came to my attention this year and goddamn it I’m going to write about it. I love Bethany Cosentino’s silvery voice, and this particular song has more of a lament than her usual ROCK *makes horns*. The harmonising on the vocals is heartbreaking, and, oh, I used to wake up in the morning / and reach for that bottle of glass / but I don’t do that any more. Oh. Oh.
What a year this day has been, what a day this year has been. Yes, Bethany. Yes.
I Love It – Icona Pop
Fucking crash your car into the bridge, stop caring. DANCE. This is a message I salute. I listen to this song when I have stopped caring about the game I am reviewing at 3am and need to inject some PURE UNCUT ENTHUSIASM into my veins.
You want me down on earth, but I’m up in space. DUH.
Falling – Haim
This is my track of the year. It’s got this quiet, retiring beginning, with a shuddering heartbeat. It breaks into a little eighties beat, and you think it’s going to go right into a swooping chorus – and it settles again, into a little bassline. If it gets rough, it’s time to get rough. And then again. And then, then at 1.43, late I say, late –
THEN IT PUTS ITS HANDS INTO YOUR BODY, PULLS OUT YOUR HEART, AND BLASTS THE WARM MESS INTO THE SKY TO EXPLODE LIKE A PRETTY FIREWORK.
I can feel the heat, but I’m not burning is my lyric of the year. Always feel the heat, and never burn.
(Being on fire would be uncomfortable.)
I have made a convenient Spotify playlist of these tracks here if you care:
And the lovely Han and her coworkers at This Is My Jam have helpfully handed us the tools to make a cute journey through all the various tracks we posted on their site this year. Here is my Odyssey.