Opinion

By James Pavel

 

20. Chances- The Strokes

 The fragile, sputtering sounds of an 1980’s synth helicopter make “Chances” a heavenly slice of angel cake off their most underrated album and in reality their third greatest accomplishment, Comedown machine.

 

19. Pumpin’ Blood – NONONO

 Blood is an essential ingredient for survival, and this track was an indispensable element to the diversity of the 2013 life stream. It made simultaneous whistling and dancing the must-do multi-task of the year and left an unmistakable euphoric feeling in the air.

18. Shot at the Night – The Killers

 “Shot at the Night” is a reflection piece dedicated to the years the band would pawn off their Cure and Joy Division records for the promise of ubiquity. The Killers literally existed in the shadow of fame from growing up in Vegas, so dreaming of appearing on billboards and filling theatres was akin to greeting the milk man and grabbing the morning newspaper to suburban folk.

17. Out of My League – Fitz and the Tantrums

 It was 2013’s rendition of Foster the People’s “Pumped up Kicks,” but with no secret references to school-shooting rampages and entirely about girls that most guys have no business talking to.

16. Alive – Empire of the Sun

 Some bands produce fire, but Empire of the Sun manufacture inferno. Their music has the combined energy of children trick-or-treating on Halloween and middle-aged women reactions at a Barry Manilow concert. “Alive” is a bombastic celebration, a grandiose thank-you for the ability to breathe in and out with no complications.

15. Closer – Tegan and Sara

They act as a megaphone for the sexually diverse across the globe, so before you dismiss the track as the twins selling out, can’t we agree that nobody shakes it better than your raging-queen brother on the d-floor? The Calgarian ladies refuse to settle for mediocrity and ensure that even if they are surrendering to popularity, they still do it with a feather in their hat.

14. Beautiful War- Kings of Leon

Drunken debauchery leading to a spirited break up was only the precursor for the best musical make-up sex a KOL fan could ask for. The four Southern hooligans can shred a guitar with the best, but are increasingly becoming a group that knows how to make a woman’s ticker skip two steps. Caleb Followill has the painful roar of a scorned lion, a man who we pray keeps screwing up just so we can hear him make amends on records like “Beautiful War.”

13. The Wire – Haim

 Who isn’t a sucker for an impromptu “hey!” in the peak of a chorus? Haim are three chicks that are all too easy to relate to. Although they dress like they raided their father’s wardrobe, they’re after your love and not your loot.

12. Roar – Katy Perry

She could have turned out like Britney Spears post K-Fed after her split from Russell Brand. She could have fallen off the face of the earth with a small fortune after “Kissed a Girl” finally exhausted international airwaves. But she has flown back like a preying eagle time and time again. “Roar” is girl power times a million, a woman’s dedication to redemption after a marriage gone awry. She hasn’t pranced around stage like a prostitute like Miley Cyrus. She hasn’t taken back her deadbeat boyfriend and increasingly veered towards gangster rap in favour of radio pop like Rihanna. Perry has churned out pop-purist perfection and 2013 will be known as the year that this tiger finally showed her royal stripes.

11. Trying to be Cool – Phoenix

 Never has being perceived as “cool” mattered so much in society. It took a group of outsiders from France to finally point out that there doesn’t seem to be any loftier objective than to be compared to sub-zero temperatures. There are enough synth keyboards on this track to sink David Bowie’s yacht, which is either as cool as a frost-bite or as lame as two-word acceptance speeches. Phoenix aren’t calling their group cool, only proclaiming to be involuntary subscribers to the obsession.

 10. Ribs – Lorde

 She is basically a child in an X-rated adult world who manages to make organic and natural ideas like “laughing til’ our ribs get sore” sound almost overwhelmingly comfortable. She captures alienation and loneliness in the simplest offerings and reminds us why we all wish we could go back to the innocent thoughts of our youth.

9. Valentine’s Day – David Bowie

 Who knew Ziggy had any gas left in the spaceship? Bowie has discovered his own version of normalcy over the years, but that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t regularly fantasize aloud about space or about mass murders. Valentine’s Day is not about you think it is, but I will allow you to determine exactly what Davey Boy is getting at. Bowie is an alien that has made a home on Earth and is arguably one of the top five legends that still resides above ground.

8. Get Lucky – Daft Punk

 Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” is average on its best day, no matter how many Pitchfork writers argue differently. It is only the resurrection of Pharrell Williams that gives reason to celebrate this disco-funk/dance fusion ensemble. Williams carved out the two singles of the summer that had women swingin’ their hips like cocaine was still poppin’ and sideburns were still sexy (I’m talking “Get Lucky” & “Blurred Lines”) and did it with a previous unknown level of class. They could have called the song “baby-making music” or “orgy orchestra” but no, they opted for the subtle and swanky, “Get Lucky.”

7. Afterlife – Arcade Fire

 If the soundtrack of “Drive” was allowed a song from the future, “Afterlife” is an almost guaranteed selection. Only the morbid Goths of Arcade Fire would sound jovial singing about a topic as unpredictably frightening as the afterlife. Arcade Fire have become celebrated engineers when it comes to inserting background vocals and extra chords, and never upsetting the balance they’ve managed to construct between perfection and nirvana.

6. Mirrors – Justin Timberlake

 Audiences have listened for decades about what he desired, what he craved and what he lusted over. Mirrors is a parade dedicated to solely to Jessica Biel with Justin playing news anchor and clinking his glass to make his grandest toast to his most precious feat. Audiences have listened intently to what Justin Timberlake has wanted in a woman for over a generation and “Mirrors” is the celebration of him finally discovering his treasure. This track is a Timberland-assisted swoon fest all in the name of Jessica Biel. The chorus is less a poppy hook and more modern-day wedding vowels, which would be a tiring ordeal for fans if it wasn’t anybody besides JT. Timberlake is simply one of the likable entertainers in history. He can act, he can dance, he can obviously sing and he can marry women that look like Jessica Biel.

5. Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke

 If JT brought sexy back, Robin Thicke stripped it naked and made it pole dance. It was obscenely about sex and yet Grandma and Grandpa could hum along to “Blurred Lines” and be none the wiser. People complain about the song being sexist, and for those individuals, welcome to a planet stuffed with sexist barn animals. Sexism will exist until strippers have Daddies to hug, so until Papa bear comes home every night, let’s celebrate those blurred lines. “I feel so lucky, you wanna hug me? What rhymes with hug me?” was a ridiculously brilliant line because it again demonstrated that it is often what is not seen or heard that keeps the mind racing with explicit ideas for days.

4. Black Skinhead – Kanye West

He’s the heavy-weight champion of pop and nobody is more aware than Kanye himself. Rap is bragging, chest pounding and showboating and nobody “likes” their own selfies more than Yeezy. Eminem dropped “Rap God” five years too late, but Kanye’s “ I am a God” is right on queue proving that no rapper is more prepared for an ascent to heaven than Jesus’ long-lost brother, Yeezus. Of course the only place he is “bound” for is hell, but while blessing us with his presence on Earth, he is definitely our Lord Savior. It’s yet another remarkable hip-hop album from the genre’s reigning king, with a single called “Black Skinhead” that sounds like the entrance music for a lion king entering the African jungle. It’s a provocative banger with mass appeal and one of Kanye’s most timeless-sounding masterpieces.

3. Worship You – Vampire Weekend

The Vampires are all grown up and adulthood has delivered spectacular material. “Worship You” is a return to Graceland for those who never got over Paul Simon, but also for those too young to recognized the frizzy-haired legend. They are unapologetic hipsters that rode the wave of hype they were baptized on and now lead the charge of new-wave rock to wherever they deem fit.

2. Hold on, We’re Going Home – Drake

 Drake isn’t a rapper nor is he an RnB singer, just like how this track isn’t pop or hip-hop. To take it a step further, Drake isn’t completely black nor is he completely white. We live in a generation of blurred lines, where nothing is a 100 per cent anything anymore. Drake is one of the most relatable characters in entertainment because like an enormous group of young listeners, he is a little bit of everything. What is actually important is that “Hold on, we’re going home” is one of the most sincere yet sophisticated pop songs of the past ten years. Drake isn’t just chasing the throne of Kanye West; he’s actively seeking a seamstress for measurements.

1. Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys

Rock music hasn’t shifted Earth’s tectonic plates this drastically since The White Stripes’ “Icky Thump.” The music world is bashful and timid when it comes to admitting present greatness, but not the case with the Arctic Monkeys. They are effortlessly more rebellious than the Beatles, exude a consistent brilliance that Oasis has wet dreams over and have balls that Coldplay would have to order online to compare to.

 “Do I wanna Know?” is the dark intersections of the mind that partly wishes to know the unedited truth of a volatile relationship and yet debates whether this will help the pain subside or only shift it to overdrive. The song is loaded with the diary entries of a love-mad genius, and the vulnerability of a man all too familiar with the fragility of a woman’s feelings. Love is a drug that Turner has blissfully subscribed to and is now only attempting to conquer the ravishing side effects that include: second-guessing, excessive drinking, diminishing ego, regretful late-night phone calls etc. “Too busy being lost to find somebody new, do you ever think of calling after you’ve had a few?” is sufficient lyrical evidence to demonstrate why a rock n’ roll track reigns supreme in 2013.

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