Here we are. 50 songs can seem overwhelming laid out all on one page, but when sifting through each new Bandcamp upload, lyric video and SoundCloud stream that crosses your path is your day job, that number is just a drop in the grand, unfiltered deluge of new music. There’s everything here from dancefloor-transforming footwork to transcendent black metal to patriarchy-destroying industrial-pop, but let it wash over you and it’ll all make sense… or at least it’ll take you into the oversaturated mindspace that we inhabited over the course of the year. We’re sorry or you’re welcome.
Here are Chart Attack’s best songs of 2013. We’ve shared a brief refle(k)tion about each song, but the best way to absorb it is just to wade in, hit play and see where it takes you.
A$AP Rocky feat. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson and Big Krit, “1train”
Some of year’s hottest rappers (and Yelawolf, as he almost admits) take time to reflect with dynamite bars. A redeeming moment from the bloated LONG.LIVE. A$AP.
The Copenhagen punks sing with lungs filled with infection to a disco beat.
The Knife, “Full of Fire”
Yanks the pen from the white guy who writes the history books with stunning, apocalyptic force.
Factory Floor, “Turn It Up”
The “industrial-techno” band shredded away at human signifiers in terrifying and compulsive ways.
Tirzah, “I’m Not Dancing”
You will be. Struggle pop primed for the discotheque.
Jagwar Ma, “The Throw”
Winning the baggy revival by a nose, Jagwar Ma captured us with their peaks and valleys. More blissful heads prevailed.
Empress Of, “Hat Trick”
“Infectious” is too mean a word to describe Orly Rodriguez’s backmasked crystal beach banger, and yet…
James Blake, “Retrograde”
Topping his biggest hit with an original song seemed improbable, but once again British electronic music’s ardent student floored us with his soul.
Pat Jordache, “Fields Laid Fallow”
While a lot of “weirdo pop” was anything but, the Montreal act splattered the canvas and stretched the limits of what the 4/4 beat can contain.
Pharmakon, “Crawling On Bruised Knees”
Red skies and grinding war machine gears dominate this breakout single of noise and rage.
Majical Cloudz, “Bugs Don’t Buzz”
Devon Welsh and Matthew Otto stripped their sound down to the bone to reveal the rawest nerves yet. A courageous moment within a courageous album.
Savages, “She Will”
As the internet gabbed about “women in punk” during a year that saw their profile raised by the internet, incredible bands like Savages had the opportunity to show us, with their unyielding ferocity, how much further we have to go.
Thundercat, “Heartbreaks + Setbacks”
“Heartbreaks + Setbacks” isn’t fed up with pain of life, just that period of languishing before you can turn it into something beautiful, like Thundercat’s heavenly funk single.
Mozart’s Sister, “Mozart’s Sister”
Playing second fiddle inspires a first-rate, ecstatic song.
Ciara, “Body Party”
The perennially underrated singer gave us one of sexiest slow jams in recent memory, and rap’s dominating producer Mike Will Made It proved his productions could turn down just as compellingly.
The title track from one of the albums of the year takes its time reconfiguring metal and post-rock into some borderless new thing, defending the new territory like a cornered animal all the way through.
These New Puritans, “Fragment 2”
The remarkable transitions of These New Puritans continued on Field of Reeds and “Fragment 2,” which offered a labyrinth of baroque sounds steeped in a thick and churning fog.
No Sonic Youth member bore the weight of their former band’s legacy better than Kim Gordon, who channelled a painful year into a fresh sonic hell.
’80s mall pop for that full-length Jetsons movie that never got made.
Young Galaxy, “Pretty Boy”
Boundless love gets an equally sprawling pop soundtrack.
Absolutely Free, “On The Beach”
The trance of krautrock has not yet broken, but it’s definitely mutated several psychedelic limbs, and it’s eager to explore.
Toro Y Moi, “Campo”
Post Anything In Return, Chaz Bundick became the smoothest psychotherapist ever on a track of bustling tropical funk, which bobbed us about ever so gently.
A$AP Ferg feat. Shabba Ranks, Migos, and Busta Rhymes, “Shabba (remix)”
Replacing a weak A$AP Rocky verse with the song’s namesake, a veteran and some upstarts gave the song – and its rapper – a final boost of energy when it was already approaching 10.
ScHoolboy Q, “Man Of THe Year”
The best festival rap banger of the year that didn’t submit to the EDM craze.
Colin Stetson, “To See More Light”
Colin and His Giant Talking Sax would be a good children’s movie, but it’s better in reality, as the field recordings of some otherworldly herd’s haunting moonsong.
Ellery James Roberts, “Kerou’s Lament”
Wu Lyf is born again, grander, more epic and focused on all our collective triumphs.
Oneohtrix Point Never, “Chrome Country”
Daniel Lopatin gave us the eye of R Plus Seven‘s storm at the climax, placing us safely in the centre as his digi-liturgical opus roars from the periphery.
FKA twigs, “Papi Pacify”
twigs reaches with her voice to the upper levels of passion across a lumbering beat, all a stealth trip-hop symphony, never losing control.
M.I.A., “Bring The Noize”
The world would like nothing more than for M.I.A. to be more polite, but under pressure she forms some of the loudest diamonds of her career, the kind that don’t fit into many traditional rappers’ chains.
Seth, “Fish Oil”
Behind Seth’s seemingly impenetrable genre pastiche is a very real heart, and on “Fish Oil,” it’s broken.
Autre Ne Veut, “Ego Free Sex Free”
The pleading “Counting,” the stream of conscious rapture of “Play By Play”… after an album of Anxiety, Autre Ne Veut finally has fun on “Ego Free Sex Free.” Top 10 guitar solo of the year as well, for sure.
Daft Punk, “Doin’ It Right” (feat. Panda Bear)
An album of unparalleled grandiosity came to earth for a brief and beautiful moment, and urged us keep on with its childish phrases and space pop mastery.
Kanye West, “New Slaves”
Yeezus compresses years of frustration – with the fashion industry, with institutional racism – and volleys shell after shell at their structures.
My Bloody Valentine, “Who Sees You”
Every triumphant comeback deserves a roar. Here the pioneers didn’t just prove they hadn’t lost their edge, but that the edge was all theirs.
Disclosure feat. Sam Smith, “Latch”
The freshest pop of year, both for its revamped UK house and the fashion shows it no doubt soundtracks.
David Bowie, “Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix By James Murphy)”
One of modern culture’s maestros had the importance of his return and legacy furthered by James Murphy’s deferentially funky remix.
Kevin Gates, “4:30 AM”
Brutal honesty born in a trap house and unafraid to express vulnerability, anxieties and betrayals that come with a life on the street. Drake’s gotta be sweating.
A song about a wrestler makes us question our own mortality, formed somewhere in the lands between country and indie rock, and as authoritative as a sheriff’s duster.
Dirty Beaches, “Casino Lisboa”
An ambitious project takes a deeply personal turn. Filthy nails dig deeper into a compelling character. Danger is promised by despairing loops.
Animal Collective, “New Town Burnout (Shabazz Palaces remix)”
Beloved hip-hop experiments focus on the third word of the title for this Animal Collective remix. As the machine grinds its gears down to nubs, its sinister atmosphere only grows.
You might not be able to pronounce the name of the band that won pop this year, but the infectiousness of “Falling” transcends language.
Burial, “Come Down To Us”
On his closing track from the Rival Dealer EP, Burial put every scrap of his talent into articulating “an angel’s spell,” promises of a better world through all the cruelty. There’s no human that can say he hasn’t succeeded.
Phosphorescent, “Song for Zula”
Terrorizing, enamoured, soaring and forever grounded. A love song with clarity.
Sky Ferreira, “You’re Not The One”
Ferreira made the move from blog darling to viable pop sensation flawlessly, thanks to this stunning and chic single.
DJ Rashad, “I Don’t Give A Fuck”
Clear the dancefloor of existing sounds. Footwork’s here and it’s out to scuff your Nikes.
Julianna Barwick, “One Half”
While many vocalists cower behind veils of reverb, in Barwick’s hands the translucence becomes cleansing, and urges a deep spiritual catharsis like sunlight to a blossom.
Waxahatchee, “Coast To Coast”
A rocking road trip basher with a post-Breeders bump.
Swearin’, “Dust In The Gold Sack”
No impurities to be found in this fearsome, friendly song about being young and weird that reads like a good graphic novel.
Jai Paul, “Track 2”
A new vision of pirate radio. You’ll feel its ecstasy all the way up your spine. JP, give us a proper release so we can pay you.
Speedy Ortiz, “Cash Cab”
“I wanna be with someone just like me, someone who laughs at a crashed car rental/someone who hurts in an accident/someone who’s scared of abandonment.” With honesty simultaneously sideways and direct, the punk band forces us to stare at the self-magnified flaws of their personalities. That’s it’s occasionally as bad as they make it sound only makes it more fearless and compelling.