The Nondefinitive Music List of 2013
By Will Beaud
The only thing worst than “best of” music lists are think-pieces about how awful said lists are. Radical Proposition: perhaps we should just have a little fun and embrace nonjudgmental subjectivity. It’s not like anyone is going to read them anyway, dudes.
That’s my intent here. Not to necessarily write something anyone will read (no promises there, though) but rather to embrace the pure, baseless joy of opinions. I don’t know anything about music other than the facts that I both like and listen to it, quite a bit. What follows are simply fifty-some tracks that I really liked, organized into some sort of vague order. Don’t read too much into it.
51. Temples – “Shelter Song”
Technically, I’m cheating here—Temples’ debut single was released in late-2012. That being said, “Shelter Song” is better than all but a handful tracks on this list, and Temples’ first album is coming out this February, so it should probably be on here somewhere.
50. N.A.S.A. – “Hide (Tropkillaz Remix)”
If you’re the type of person that considers trap, moombahton, or any other Diplo-esque bullshit as anything more than a guilty pleasure, then I’m deeply suspicious of you as a human being.
49. YACHT – “Party at the NSA”
Hear that, PRISM? I’M COMING FOR YOU—AND YOU’RE PRECIOUS OBUNGLER, TOO! #BengahziMoms4Justice #TCOT #TeamFollowBack
48. Mac Demarco – “Lonely Shredder”
Basically “Sunday Morning: The Song.” Also, it’s always nice to be reminded how great of a track “Ode to Viceroy” was.
47. The Beets – “Psychedelic Bee”
46. Woodkid, Angel Haze – “I Love You”
45. Beyonce – “Superpower (feat. Frank Ocean)”
Honestly, I’m not even sure what my favorite song off this album is yet. This one has Frank Ocean, though— and that counts for something.
44. Wampire – “Giants”
43. Bleached – “Dead in Your Head”
42. Colleen Green – “Heavy Shit”
I really, really, really, really, (really) wanted to buy this.
41. Arcade Fire – “Here Comes the Night Time”
40. FIDLAR –“No Waves”
39. FIDLAR – “Wake Bake Skate”
When I look back at 2013, I will fondly remember remember FIDLAR’s “Wake Bake Skate” as the song I was listening to when was laid off.
38. Daft Punk, Panda Bear – “Doin’ it Right”
37. Pusha T – “King Push”
36. Jackson Scott – “That Awful Sound”
35. Major Lazer – “Jessica [feat. Ezra Koenig]”
If you recall the fiftieth entry on this list, consider this an admission that I am indeed a deeply suspicious human being. This song is interesting, though—it features two artists often accused of appropriating the music of non-white cultures: Major Lazer’s Wesley Pentz (Diplo) and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. I’ve always viewed the two as dichotomies, of sorts—Koenig, an artist paying a respectful homage to Afrobeat, whereas Pentz was a colonialist DJ, exploiting, repackaging, and sanitizing the music of Brazilian favelas and Jamaican slums for a predominately white audience. This probably isn’t fair, though—they’re both white men who, at the end of the day, are committing the exact same crime. And as a white male who listens to, and enjoys both artists, I have very little room to condescend—I’m in on the heist as well.
34. MGMT – “Alien Days”
They’re making good music again! (Everyone hated this album, though.)
34. Mikal Cronin –“Shout It Out”
I listened to a lot of slacker/stoner/”I’m-still-laughing-that-I-was-laid-off-as-I-was-listening-to-FIDLAR” rock this year.
32. Widowspeak –“Calico”
31. Shannon and the Clams –“Rip Van Winkle”
30. Waxahatchee, Swearin’ – “Oblivion (Grimes Cover)”
29. Mac Demarco – “Undone—The Sweater Song (Weezer Cover)”
A) If I were a teenage girl, I would read Rookie religiously.
B) No one has more fun, and is more wonderfully bizarre, than Mac Demarco.
C) Mac Demarco probably reads Rookie religiously.
28. Charli XCX – “What I Like”
Years from now we’ll look back on Icona Pop, realize they were trash, and rightfully recognize Charlotte Aitchison as the artist who penned the three best pure pop songs of 2013. (I have very strong opinions on this subject.)
27. M.I.A. – “Warriors”
26. Motion Cntrl –“It Feels Right”
The second best “Woman Spots Man From Across The Bar Song” of 2013 (see: six). If it were possible to pick a song that would begin to play as soon as I walked into a room, it would be this. I would then promptly be so embarrassed that I would leave said room as fast as humanly possible.
25. HAIM – “The Wire”
24. Savages – “Husbands”
The first thirty seconds of the song is a pitch perfect homage to The Dead Kennedy’s “Holiday in Cambodia,” which, generally, is a pretty-fucking-good way to win me over.
23. Kanye West – “Blood On The Leaves”
22. Chelsea Wolf – “The Wave Has Come”
If you have enough time to read a “Best of 2013” list, you have the time to listen to a nine minute song.
21. Torres – “Honey”
20. Parquet Courts – “Careers in Combat”
19. Parquet Courts – “Stoned and Starving”
18. Parquet Courts – “Master Of My Craft”
17. Parquet Courts – “Borrowed Time”
16. Parquet Courts – “N Dakota”
If you judge music purely on play counts, Parquet Courts was my favorite band of the year. That being said, Light Up Gold—in its entirety—kinda-sorta blurs together. Not that individual tracks aren’t distinct from one another per se, but it’s an album that’s seemingly (pretty obviously?) meant to be enjoyed from start to finish. That’s not a knock—it’s just a “more than the sum of its parts” situation. The fact that I’m even articulating this speaks volumes about how the culture of singles/iTunes has affected anyone under the age of 35. Hmm. Now that I think about it, this truly is problematic. Someone should write a strongly worded think-piece about millennials. I’ve never read one of those. Bet it would be a dope read, though.
15. Waxahatchee – “Brother Bryan”
14. Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler, The Creator – “Whoa”
13. King Tuff – “Sun Medallion”
Originally released ten years ago, “Sun Medallion” was reissued along with the rest of Was Dead in 2013, so, again, I’m cheating again by slipping it in here. But it’s awesome, and I have a very distinct memory of listening to this song while driving from DC to Baltimore whilst hungover.
12. Blouse – “No Shelter”
11. Deerhunter – “Monomania”
A couple months ago I was talking to an ex, and she mentioned that she had been to a “really bro-y Deerhunter show” which, when you think about it, is quite the oxymoron.
10. Arcade Fire – “Here Comes the Night Time II”
James Murphy is the best thing that ever could have happened to Arcade Fire—but I would like them to stop making music now.
9. Kevin Gates – “Paper Chasers”
I don’t really know what to say about Kevin Gates beyond that fact he’d be the best live show of anyone else on this list.
8. Drake, Majid Jordan – “Hold On, We’re Going Home”
I sincerely enjoy how often I hear the first 15 seconds of this song blasting from passing cars as I walk down any given Baltimore street post-10 p.m. Not to sound like a broken Pitchfork, but this is the most “Twenty-aught-thirteen” song of 2013. Thirty years from now, I’ll hear Drake’s crooning and think, “Ah yes, 2013! What a year! A great year! The best year! The year I drank a lot of High Life! Let us never speak of it again.”
7. Ty Segall – “Sleeper”
Ty Segall made a quiet album and, as someone who loves how fucking loud he usually is, I’m unnerved as to how good Sleeper is. Simply, it’s subdued. Obviously much of this has to due with the tragic inspiration for this album—the much too soon death of this father—but (and I don’t say this flippantly) regardless of creative circumstance, perhaps this is the new Segall. From a purely (very) selfish perspective, I’ve never been so conflicted about the fact that an artist that I adore may have just created their greatest work.
6. Sky Ferriera – “Boys”
The best “Woman Spots Man From Across The Bar Songs” of 2013 (see: 26 on this list). Everything about this track is fantastic—from the mumbled “I knew it was love/I knew” to the earnest proclamation that boys “never take the blame.” I have no right to relate to it, but somehow…I do???
5. Foxygen – “On Blue Mountain”
A good friend of mine was in town from Chicago this past Thanksgiving and we drank a bunch of shitty beer then listened to newest Foxygen album. When this song came on, I gesticulated a lot and tried to draw the lyrics in the air with the smoke of a Marlboro Light.
4. Vampire Weekend – “Hannah Hunt”
Combined with my own personal experiences, this song reaffirmed my belief that one should never go to the beach in the death throes of a relationship.
3. Speedy Ortiz – “No Below”
A song for people who really dug the Ramones when they were 14 and still secretly wish they were angsty teens.
2. White Fence – “Only Man Alive”
I used to live in Chicago and rarely went to sleep before 4 a.m. More often than not, I wouldn’t be doing anything “FUN!” or “EXCITING!” No. I would walk up and down Balbo and South Michigan Avenue chain-smoking cigarettes, looking into the windows of parked cars and dining rooms of darkened restaurants. Chicago is special in the sense that it’s one of the few major cities I’ve been in that feels empty at night—New York can’t claim that. That’s what this song reminds me of. It was freezing and horrible and I loved it.
1B. Rhye – “Open”
I love ragging on J.Crew. I adore it, actually. Random guy walks into the bar wearing a Henley shirt? I will relentlessly mock him. That being said, I own a lot of chambray shirts. I currently have a J.Crew catalog (*ahem* STYLE GUIDE) sprawled open on my coffee table. I’m currently wearing a floral print shirt. The number 484 holds special significance to me. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I feel really guilty and conflicted that I like this music video as much as I do.
1A. Colleen Green – “Sock it to Me”
It’s so fucking rude and wrong to ridicule someone based on what kind of music they listen to. Unfortunately it’s also verrry easy and fun
— Colleen Green (@colleengreen420) February 20, 2013
Read more from Will Beaud here.