100 Best Songs of 2013 – Rolling Stone
Home Music Music Lists

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


Justin Timberlake

Christie Goodwin/Redferns via Getty Images


Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”

The standout hit from JT's comeback LP, "Mirrors" more than earns its eight minutes, taking Seventies falsetto soul on a Seventies prog journey. Timbaland's percolating grooves end up being the perfect backing for pop's greatest voice as it stretches to the stratosphere.

Parquet Courts

David Wolff - Patrick/Redferns via Getty Images


Parquet Courts, “Stoned and Starving”

Fast, funny, outrageously catchy, coursing with New York punk-rock guitar heat – in short, indie-rock heaven. Brooklyn's best new band takes us on a potted-out bodega tour of Queens while pondering the big existential questions: "I was reading ingredients/I was asking myself, 'Should I eat this?'"


Joseph Okpako/Redferns via Getty Images


Disclosure, “When a Fire Starts to Burn”

The best song to bubble up from the EDM underground in 2013 was a tech-house blast that kicks your ass in the club at night, and kicks your ass out of bed the next morning. And that titular hook – a fragment of motivational speaker Eric Thomas – was pure sampling genius.

Vampire Weekend

Rick Kern/WireImage


Vampire Weekend, “Hannah Hunt”

Maybe Vampire Weekend's best song ever, with a searching Dylanesque melody, a beautiful Ezra Koenig vocal and vivid lyrics about an ambivalent couple on a cross-country road trip from Providence to Phoenix. At heart, it's a song about getting older when all you've got is tested faith and shaky trust.

Kanye West

13thWitness/Getty Images for Samsung


Kanye West, “Black Skinhead”

The anthem that announced the Yeezus LP was full-bent on wrecking shit is a collab with Daft Punk'Ye rapping rabid over an industrial glitter-rock stomp pumped with heavy breathing and Tarzan screams. Next time someone says America is post-race, play 'em this, and watch their head explode.


Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images


Lorde, “Royals”

It didn't sound like the kind of song that owns the pop charts – just a cool singer, a softly swag beat and sisterly backup singers. But "Royals" touched a nerve by being both irresistible and radical: the sound of a teenager in love with hip-hop (but not its materialism) deciding to be queen of her own scene.

Daft Punk

Marc Grimwade/WireImage


Daft Punk feat. Pharrell and Nile Rodgers, “Get Lucky”

What more could you possibly want in a summer jam? The French electro robots devise a stardust disco groove for the ages, getting a little space-oddity soul from Pharrell and a taste of le freak from Chic guitar god Nile Rodgers, who basically invented this music. "Get Lucky" sounds vintage and futuristic at the same time, yet it's full of twists. It was the kind of pop song the whole world could agree on. It topped song charts in 55 countries and went on to be covered by everyone from Florence Welch to Fall Out Boy to Wilco to a group of coaches on The Voice U.K. (including Tom Jones). Rodgers and Pharrell proved they're the Yoda and Obi-Wan of summer jams – between them, these guys must have scored 90 percent of them since the Nixon administration. They're both used to supporting roles, but sound energized by the spotlight here. And Daft Punk, the guys behind the robot masks, nail the all-too-human pop emotion they've been chasing for 15 years: It's a song about staying true to yourself, and a love letter to that lucky feeling you get when the mirror ball starts to spin.

Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.