In the first of a series of posts looking back at the music of 2013, The Bubble’s Music Section brings you our top 10 songs of 2013. The final list was compiled from lists provided by the Music Editors and our regular contributors and represents what we think is a great selection of songs from the last twelve months.
10. The Knife – ‘Full of Fire’
‘Full of Fire’ is unrelenting. Over a violently percussive backdrop, The Knife deliver mantra-like lyrics which deal with queer and feminist theory, a major inspiration behind their recent album, Shaking the Habitual. If that all sounds a bit academic though rest assured, ‘Full of Fire’ is first and foremost an absolute banger .
9. Vampire Weekend – ‘Hannah Hunt’
‘Hannah Hunt’ begins slowly enough with lead singer Ezra Koenig sketching a melancholy picture of time spent with the eponymous girl. Then he unleashes the words: ‘If I can’t trust you then damn it Hannah/There’s no future, there’s no answer’ in an almost tortuously high register. Neither song or listener ever really recovers, leaving ‘Hannah Hunt’ as the most immediate moment in Vampire Weekend’s entire catalogue.
8. Phosphorescent – ‘Song for Zula’
In ‘Song for Zula’, Phosphorescent uses a familiar Johnny Cash quote as the starting point for a devastating account of being burned by love. His words glide along on a beautiful string heavy arrangement which only heightens the intense sadness of lines like: ‘I will not open myself up like this again’.
7. Sigur Rós – ‘Brennisteinn’
Sigur Rós are known for some of the most ethereal, pretty music in recent memory, however ‘Brennisteinn’ sweeps this all away. The song is loud, dark and huge. It’s also the most exciting things Sigur Rós have released in years.
6. Drake – ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’
‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’ is probably the most ‘pop’ song Drake has ever written. It’s also one of the best pop songs of the year. The melody is the finest Drake has ever come up with and the breakdown is absolutely gorgeous. It’s so good that it almost feels out of place amongst the posturing on his most recent album, Nothing Was The Same.
5. Bastille – ‘Pompeii’
Since its release in February ‘Pompeii’ has been a radio fixture, but we haven’t got tired of it. Boasting some great harmonies, a rousing chorus and a great drum break ‘Pompeii’ is the song which really established Bastille as one of the breakthrough synthpop acts of 2013.
4. Justin Timberlake – ‘Suit & Tie’
Possibly the coolest comeback single ever, Justin Timberlake’s ‘Suit & Tie’ announced his arrival back onto the music scene after a 6-year hiatus with understated style. And Jay-Z’s rap is even starting to grow on me (just a little bit).
3. Arcade Fire – ‘Reflektor’
Another auspicious return, ‘Reflektor’ was initially credited to fictional band, The Reflektors, during the mysterious build-up to Arcade Fire’s fourth album. Taking Arcade Fire’s sound in a more electronic, dance-rock inspired direction (probably in part thanks to the production work of James Murphy), ‘Reflektor’ builds over it’s seven-plus minutes running time into something truly brilliant. It also features David Bowie on backing vocals which is very cool.
2. Justin Timberlake – ‘Mirrors’
There are a few criticisms you could level at ‘Mirrors’: it’s cheesy, a bit narcissistic and definitely too long. However, it’s almost impossible not to be caught up in Timbaland’s characteristic handclap and synth production. Also try stopping yourself singing along to the chorus, especially when the instruments drop out.
1. James Blake – ‘Retrograde’
No it’s not ‘Get Lucky’, The Bubble’s top song of 2013 isn’t something your dad (or anyone really) can comfortably dance to. Built on an improvisatory vocal loop, ‘Retrograde’ woozes along until James Blake exclaims ‘Suddenly I’m hit’ and unleashes a wall of synths, providing one of the most cathartic pieces of music in recent memory. Undoubtedly the centrepiece of his Mercury prize winning album, Overgrown, ‘Retrograde’ just gets better with repeated listens and represents a maturation of James Blake’s obvious musical talent.
Here’s a Spotify playlist of our top 10: The Bubble Top 10 Songs of 2013