Rocks Off's 25 Favorite Songs of 2013
"All That Matters," Justin Bieber No R&B or pop singer decided to reinvent himself musically and be taken seriously as the Biebs has in the past month or so. So sue me. Biebervelli might get tatted across my belly. BRANDO
"Berzerk," Eminem All the old-school song samplings layered with Eminem's otherworldly rap style make "Berzerk" better than anything else out right now. It's nice to see Slim Shady, anti-radio-ready as ever, in the midst of the current Drake-olypse of generic 2013 tunes. ANGELICA LEICHT
When Rick Rubin put this one in my new bin and had me asking, "Rick Rubin, where the hell have you been?" he had me straight moving like I was Captain Stubing. Em, better known as Slim, also known as Marshall Mathers, got us all gathered to show and prove that Marshall still matters. I really missed Rick, the Beasties, Slim Shady and even Billy Squier. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
"Blue Ocean Floor," Justin Timberlake Justin Timberlake put out a bunch of bombastic pop tunes this year, but to me the most interesting track from the entire 20/20 Experience is buried at the end of Part 1. It's a bizarre hybrid of post-rock and R&B with Timberlake crooning against a beautiful background of reversed samples. I'm not sure most pop stars could pull off such a track; it's not experimental, but it's just off the grid enough to feel like a laid-back adventure. CORY GARCIA
"Breakfast Can Wait," Prince Prince re-emerged a changed man this year. He embraced the Internet, trolled us with a Dave Chappelle cover and pancakes, and performed at SXSW. He also gave us this sexy little number. BRANDO
"Burn," Ellie Goulding If you aren't already fangirling (or boying) for Goulding's magical tunes, you really should climb aboard her train covered in fire, Skrillex and everything that's been missing from mainstream dance-pop since Britney's good years. "Burn" is Elie at her best. ANGELICA LEICHT
"Get Lucky," Daft Punk A song doesn't become one of the best tracks of the year by sheer happenstance, and "Get Lucky" had everything going for it in 2013: Daft Punk, the magic of Pharrell, subtly sexy lyrics and an appropriate vibe for any situation. "Get Lucky" is not just a flash-in-the-pan hot track of the year, but closer to a timeless classic. SELENA DIERINGER
"Gravity, Metaphorically," Touche Amore Starting with some manic screaming and one of the heaviest beats of the L.A. post-hardcore crew's career, "Gravity" cuts out halfway through and turns into a crushingly melancholy melodic ballad. A stunning mission statement from an exceptional band. COREY DEITERMAN
"Happy," Pharrell Whether eight or 80, nobody is going to deny how fun "Happy" is. It's the most harmless song in the world, and the least annoying song Pharrell crafted this year. Most annoying? Effin' "Blurred Lines." BRANDO
List continues on the next page.
Man Man at Fitzgerald's in September
Photo by Marc Brubaker
"Head On (Hold On to Your Heart)," Man Man Something about "Head On" tugs at my heartstrings every time I play it, an anthem for anyone whose heart has been sent through an industrial-strength paper shredder. Maybe the lyrics are a bit cynical and selfish, but damned if it's not endearing as hell. ALYSSA DUPREE
"Holy Grail," Jay Z This hit collaboration with Justin Timberlake epitomizes the summer action blockbuster in musical form, and is perhaps the greatest summation yet of what Hov offers. It's flashy, huge, explosive, and absolutely awesome in the true Bill and Ted sense of that word. COREY DEITERMAN
"Home School," Sad Scouts Technically this song is from December 2012 and the Gainesville, Florida, "low-fi ghost pop"duo is now defunct. But in the world of D.I.Y. music, most of us didn't get a listen until June, when "Home School" surfaced on YouTube. In a time when kids shoot up schools and bully others into suicide, this song glances back at some questionable home environments. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
"I Couldn't Be Your Friend," Tegan and Sara On newest album Heartthrob, Tegan and Sara took a step away from indie-rock to write one of the year's best pop albums. Though it's a hit start to finish, I found myself skipping forward to "I Couldn't Be Your Friend" over and over. It's the kind of song that breaks your heart and makes you want to dance all at once, a sort of feet-shuffling sob fest. ALYSSA DUPREE
"Infinite Daps," Baauer & RL Grime There may not be two better, more consistent producers in the realm of Trap and Bass music than Baauer and RL Grime, who on "Infinite Daps" prove that together they can put out monsters. It grabs your attention without any corny samples, and changes things up enough to never get boring. CORY GARCIA
"My House," Kacey Musgraves There's not a bad song on Kacey Musgraves's brilliant Same Trailer, Different Park, but smiles are hard to come by. Amid wage-slave bitterness ("Blowin' Smoke") and emotionless hookups ("It Is What It Is"), "My House" finds a rare flash of humor in her bleak East Texas tableau: "Come on hitch your wagon / To the livin' room I'm draggin'." CHRIS GRAY
"A New Life," Jim James Backed by The Roots on Jimmy Fallon, Jim James of My Morning Jacket blew me away with this tune. The next day, upon the release of his solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God, I ran over to Cactus to pick up a copy. The whole album turned out to be great, but "A New Life" has stuck with me. JIM BRICKER
"Parachutes," Balance and Composure Balance and Composure basically put out tracks that are all heart, whether they're gazing at their shoes or screaming their lungs out. "Parachutes" is almost off-putting at first, with its tonal shifts between screaming and softness, but once it clicks you immediately want more. CORY GARCIA
List continues on the next page.
"Royals," Lorde Here we have a club-ready beat, lyrics that are anything but and a voice that says it's never seen a diamond but sounds like the place they're from -- the deep, rich soil of a world all teenagers like Lorde are just beginning to contemplate. Here's hoping she lives her fantasy for a while. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
"Sick & Tired," Chatterbox and the Latter-Day Satanists Remember "I'm So Tired," the Beatles' perfect musical expression of fatigue? This tune by a band of riot-folkers from Boulder, Colorado, nails down what it's like being tired. An urgent voice in your head -- like Chatterbox vocalist Micah Butler's -- reminds you to keep plugging along and you just keep moving, as frenetic as the tempo. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
"Sister Cities," Hop Along Thanks to debut full-length Get Disowned, Hop Along was the breakout band of 2012 for me. "Sister Cities" features more indie folk-rock goodness including singer Francis Quinlan, one of the most captivating female voices I've heard in years. ALYSSA DUPREE
"Skeleton," the Front Bottoms "Skeleton" is my most-played song of 2013 according to my play count, and I'm not surprised. It's as well written as it is infectious, and I was instantly hooked.. ALYSSA DUPREE
"Started From the Bottom," Drake Every year is defined by a hot rap track, and this year that song belongs to Drake over Kanye or Jay Z or Eminem. Grittier, dirtier and more lowdown than 2013's alternatives, "Started From the Bottom" just makes you feel like a badass when you listen to it. SELENA DIERINGER
"Step," Vampire Weekend Truthfully, any song from the impeccable Modern Vampires of the City could have made this list; "Step" just happens to be one of my favorites. With haunting harpsichord and chilly lyrics that address both literal and hypothetical mortality, it just feels like winter. SELENA DIERINGER
"Strictly Reserved For You," Charles Bradley Charles Bradley's LP Victim of Love is jam-packed with so much soulful goodness I was hard-pressed to narrow it down to one song. I chose the opener because it's the song that made me fall in love with Bradley when I first saw him live at UtopiaFest in the pouring rain last fall. JIM BRICKER
"Tennis Court," Lorde Much has been written this year about Lorde's lyrical content, but people are really sleeping on the genius of Pure Heroine's production: more stripped-down than pop's average backing track, though not quite minimal, leading to songs like "Tennis Court" that don't need drops to be exciting. And fine, the lyrics are pretty great; "Don't you think that it's boring how people talk?" is my vote for the best opening line of the year. CORY GARCIA
"Tom Ford," Jay Z The beat is addictive as hell and he references H-town in the hook. Jay Z's rags-to-riches story has now become just riches, and "Tom Ford" is solid proof. While rappers keep hamming on about popping molly and getting turnt up, Jigga gets his high off of the high-end. An anthem for ballers everywhere. JIM BRICKER
"Wrecking Ball," Miley Cyrus I was as surprised as anyone else when the former Hannah Montana released one of the best breakup songs of all time. Tapping into territory that similar tracks simply don't, "Wrecking Ball" provided some of the best "screaming in your car" catharsis of 2013. SELENA DIERINGER
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.