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100 Best Songs of 2013

Daft Punk went disco, Kendrick Lamar murdered the competition, and a 16-year-old New Zealander dissed bling and made the whole world sing

French robots owning the radio with super-smooth Seventies disco, a 16-year-old wunderkind repping the mean streets of New Zealand, an angry hip-hop genius going off on corporate racism, Canadian rock redeemers making epic art-disco, HAIM, Drake, Miley, Justin – music in 2013 was a hot mess of innovation and blurred genre lines. Anarchy on the hip-hop and pop charts and thrilling new energy in the EDM and indie-rock underground meant picking the best 100 songs amidst all this wasn't easy. But it was fun.

Contributors: Jon Dolan, Will Hermes, Christian Hoard, David Marchese, Rob Sheffield and Simon Vozick-Levinson

 

Avicii

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

26

Avicii, “Wake Me Up”

A Swedish EDM producer, a California soul singer and a guy from Incubus on Mumford-y acoustic guitar. Instant global chart success, right? Actually, yeah. The whooshing beat pushes singer Aloe Blacc to a spiritual awakening most mortals can only dream of.

Washed Out

Rick Kern/Getty Images

25

Washed Out, “All I Know”

What U2 might sound like if they were reborn as pixels on an HD image of a waterfall. Home-studio guy Ernest Greene makes electronic pop with a grand rock sweep, complete with a woozed-out nature-film ambience. Is this what it feels like to actually be a Joshua tree?

The Julie Ruin

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24

The Julie Ruin, “Oh Come On”

The return of riot grrrl O.G. Kathleen Hanna, who hasn't sounded so unhinged since her days with Le Tigre and Bikini Kill. She carries this primal garage-punk stomp with her unmistakable voice, snarling through the distortion to turn the title into a battle cry.

Elvis Costello

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23

Elvis Costello and the Roots, “Walk Us Uptown”

The signature song of this unlikely collaboration sounds like a New Wave "Take the 'A' Train" Costello revisiting the sneering reggae-rock of his early jams but with deeper blues. And, needless to say, a murderous Questlove groove.

Ciara

Jerod Harris/WireImage

22

Ciara, “Body Party”

When the Atlanta R&B goddess commands, "Baby, put your phone down," that phone is getting turned offor tossed out the window. Riding a vintage Isley Brothers quiet-storm groove, she makes it clear: No guests are invited to this party except her body and yours.

Jake Bugg

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21

Jake Bugg, “Broken”

This ballad from the British roots rocker's debut album is a reverb-wrapped heartbreaker that splits the difference between the Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison. "I'm broken/Down in the valley where the church bells cry," Bugg sings, already sounding like a legend at age 19.

Kanye West

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20

Kanye West, “Blood on the Leaves”

Sampling Nina Simone's near sacred "Strange Fruit" – about lynching in the South – to underscore a celebrity-relationship-train-wreck narrative takes ginormous balls. But beneath references to money, molly and abortion is 'Ye wringing startling heart out of his Auto-Tuned self-obsession.