Favorite Songs of 2013: Part 1

Over the holidays my twitter feed was blowing up with end of the year lists.  Best of this, worst of that… most overrated/underrated…  you were dumb if you didn’t know…  you get the point.


Most of the lists play to whatever the general pop conscious was this year with a couple selections no one has heard of to prove that the writers are still way cooler than we are.  If you are interested in what other outlets thought this year, here are lists from Paste, Pitchfork, NPR, Guardian, Stereogum and Rolling Stone.


When I sat down to come up with my favorite songs of the year, I decided to separate them into two groups: The songs I loved listening to and the songs that moved my spiritual consciousness.  Here is part 1.


5 songs I loved listening to this year:

CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share


This year had a ton of 80’s inspired synth pop but none was better than the debut from this Scottish trio.  The tone of lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s voice is a clean and innocent sounding compliment to the vibrant synth tones put out by the other two members, Ian Cook and Martin Doherty.  Its a simple and incredibly singable chorus that makes this one of my favorites.  Even though the sound CHVRCHES puts out is sugary ear candy, the content of this song brings with it some ominous moments of isolation and desperation.


Justin Timberlake – Mirrors


The sound of this song is huge; the massive horn and guitar intro, the slick Timberland and J-Roc produced beat and the best hook of the year make this track a pop anthem.  Inspired by his wife and the marriage of his grandparents, JT pens the love song of the year that will be blasted at high school proms this Spring.  My favorite part of this song is when we come out the bridge, expecting the crescendo of the song and are instead left with only a chorus of voices and hand claps.  A moment of minimalist beauty, letting the melody speak for itself.  The radio edit leaves off the stripped down, 3 minute R&B outro that nicely blends Justin’s falsetto with the chanting of “you are the love of my life.”  Pop music doesn’t get better than this one in 2013.


David Bowie – Love is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix) NSFW video


Bowie surprised everyone when he released his 24th studio album “The Next Day” in March.  James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) takes Bowie’s mid-tempo rock and puts it in a minimalist bed of hand claps and staccato synth tracks.  Inspired by the style of composer Steve Reich and driven by great syncopation, Love is Lost balances a dance track with the somber tones and lyrics of Bowie. After a brief moment with just piano and vocals, Murphy brings the groove back in full force, combining the best of his world with hints of late 80’s Bowie.


Earl Sweatshirt – Chum


“Get up off the pavement brush the dirt up off my psyche.”  This is a beautifully honest song about the loss of a father and the hurt that is too often swallowed in favor of the facade of strength. He tumbles his way through issues of identity over an under produced piano and drum loop.  The simplicity of the track and Earl Sweatshirt’s mellow delivery drive home the introspective depth of an artist digging through the depths.


Elvis Costello and the Roots – TRIPWIRE


This song is delicate on so many levels.  The music is soft and fluid, softly swaying like a music box playing a lullaby. Elvis Costello  gracefully points out many of the ways that fear and misinformation enter our lives and the damage they cause when trying to seek understanding.   Every turn is a relational tripwire that will cause destruction.  The palpable tension between the soothing music and the unnerving words  continues to capture my attention.


I’m not saying these are the best songs of the year, just the ones I can’t stop listening to.  I’ll be back with the 5 songs that had an impact on my spirituality, in the mean time; what were your favorite songs to listen to this year?