There are number ones included in this list - maybe not your Gaga's Beyonce's and Perry's, but still, out Top 50 Singles of 2013 does contain highly charted singles in the Western World, and further afar. Critics tend to sweeten over the reader by the one expression which kills brain cells: 'this has been a fantastic year for music'. The truth is, 2013 wasn't that great for music. Sure, it started off well and we finally had that My Bloody Valentine album, but so many album and single releases this year have been sub-par. I think back to 2012 and hear some pretty great albums - to name a few, Kendrick Lamar, Spiritualized, Jessie Ware, Death Grips, GY!BE, and Django Django. But, we've narrowed down literally hundreds of albums for our Top 50 Albums list (coming soon), and have done the same for this specific Top 50 Singles of 2013 list. These are our selections that have stood out among the sub-par singles this year - the best 50 singles 2013 has to offer.
50. Raffertie - Rain
Of the numerous fresh faces entering music backlogs this year, producer Benjamin Stefanski a.k.a. Raffertie had the most going for him, and subsequently the highest grace to potentially fall from given his full-length debut followed an intriguing series of EPs. "Rain" found Raffertie withdrawing from the trend of sub-bass and glitch-triggered rhythms - instead offering a soothingly minimal trickle of guitar throbs and mumbling beats that sacrificed little to offer a lot. Combined with the producer's soulful baritone, Rain stands as a welcome introduction and a fine grace of emotion to lead this year's countdown of 2013's finest singles.
49. Blood Orange - Chamakay
In a year chocked full of RnB revivalism, Devonté Hynes' sophomore as Blood Orange had its work cut out if it were to emerge both dedicated and fulfilling. Fortunately, not only did the UK fellow rise out, the striking desperation of emotion on the jazz-leaning "Chamakay" gave the album's arching connotations of love as anything but pleasant, a rightly-deserving pedestal to speak out from. And tied in with a vibrant contrast of percussion and harmonics, Cupid Deluxe’s first act would become the perfect intro to a deservedly grander but convincing retelling of RnB for the modern age.
48. Nils Frahm - Says
The piano-led compositions of German-born Nils Frahm are a steady and patient kind; slowly uncurling, revealing little, yet managing to uphold the importance of delicateness a lot of classically-trained musicians instinctively head for. Says was one of many longer-length tracks on 2013's Spaces. Yet despite the ten minute stretch, the piece was no less enticing. Combining the sumptuous beauty of Frahm’s recognizable past work, with the fluid deliveries of old Berlin School masters a la the late 70's/early 80's, Nils Frahm too delivered unto us a looping composite that was patient, prolonging, but rewardingly profound.
47. Mala - Changes (Harmonimix Remix)
James Blake’s sophomore album Overgrown wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Jordan’s review focussed on the instrumentation, well lack thereof – leaving Blake in a corner of repetition. However, Blake’s Harmonimix remix of Mala’s “Changes” is on the next level. Instead of dissecting Mala’s truly dubtastic original, Blake plays to his strengths and uses synthesizers and additional bass and percussion cymbals to turn Mala’s “Changes” in to something of a build-up. It’s a build-up to what? Perhaps a Harmonimix album? Well Blake sure has his remix career well and truly under way with this one.
46. Primal Scream - Invisible City
Not since XTRMNTR have acid-soaked rock rejuvenators Primal Scream delivered a record as energetic and as bold as their return to star-studded form earlier this year. "Invisible City" uniquely stands as both a welcome passage for newcomers, but more crucially a fond reminder for old timers as to Gillespie and co's party-homing exertion for guitar-led instrumentation mixed with gospel-like vocal passion. With it, Primal Scream's long-lost conviction for music that was exciting as it was hypnotic came back with an almighty bang -the flourishing colour accompanying the album's cover sleeve a just reflection.
Daniel Lopatin's studded-if-sprawling choice of sounds was, if not enthralling, a definitive feature to the likes of "Problem Areas" on Oneohtrix Point Never's latest showcase. And cleverly delivered here, the sonic manifesto continued delivering its semi-conscious stimulus to test the listener as it did engage with us. Fitting into a three-minute compression of polynomial synth pads, the track cleverly encapsulated the fine line between natural control and abstracted disorder without losing sight of its goal. And as Lopatin upped the stakes with further instrumental additions, not once did OPN slip into submission for a track muddled with affliction, but conclusively effective because of it.
44. Billy Bragg - Handyman Blues
Billy Bragg is the young man’s idol, and the old man’s idol. His songs about love, pretty much just outweigh his politically charged songs – which is why “Handyman Blues” makes it on this list. Bragg has always had a knack for writing a great song, and this single stands out on Tooth & Nail for its frail middle aged man syndrome of lyricism – replicated in the video featuring Johnny Vegas and other hilarious male comedians. Bragg acknowledges is artistry and career, and how it plays in to being a failure at D.I.Y: “Don't be expecting me to put up shelves or build the garden shed, but I can write a song that tells the world how much I love you instead.”
43. Little Boots - Every Night I Say A Prayer
Victoria Hesketh (code name: Little Boots) made it in the pop music industry through her social media, and YouTube recordings. Having diminished alternative pop on her debut album Hands, Hesketh set out to record an older, mature record that you would expect from a Madonna or a Minogue. Nocturnes is softer, sweeter, better, and older than Madonna’s recent laughable effort. “Every Night I Say A Prayer” is the highlight and the centrepiece. It’s nu-disco at its best, with Hesketh not willing to forget her roots.
42. Bonobo - Cirrus
Percussion is more than just interjection for rhythm; percussion can be, in itself, the track's defining attribute and charm. These were the bold statements set out by downtempo maestro Simon Green and his Bonobo moniker on lead single "Cirrus". Thanks to the track's accompanying mix of drumbeats and percussive instrumentation atop a lumpy groove of bass and nostalgic flicker, Bonobo's doctrine not only sounded logical, the added aesthetics from out the track's dusty, grainy timbres gave the overall production a kind of familiarity about its nostalgic flair.
41. !!! - One Girl/One Boy
The swirl and dabble of !!!'s art pop flavours remains one of the US collective's crowning attractors. "One Girl/One Boy" wasn't so much an excelling surf-leaning pop-rock delivery because of its decisiveness to carry through to the listener. More !!!'s 2013 ideals brimmed with a kind of sunny-day, careless uplift that its confidence and emotional interplay gave the band's lavish guitar hooks, trumping bass and male/female vocals a greater impact on a track successfully laundering excitement, without sounding pompous or overly blinding.