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year in culture 2013

Jody Rosen’s Top 100 Songs of 2013

For a music critic, year-end best-of lists are irresistible agony. They’re agony because one can’t help feeling, in one’s more puffed-up moments, that to quantify musical preferences is to debase them, to strip them of nuance and romance — to reduce ideas and feelings about the most powerfully ineffable of the arts to box-score tabulations. Lists are irresistible, though, because of course music criticism is a nerd’s game, and the arc of nerdiness bends inexorably towards quantification, taxonomization, Sabermetrics.

This tally of favorite songs is the longest year-ender I’ve ever compiled, and I can report that the agony is not diminished by all those extra slots: Many cherished tracks got cut in the winnowing process, and, reader, I grieved for them. I deliberated for a while about my No. 1, but kept coming back to a song that captivated me from the first time I heard it, a song that definitively caught the zeitgeist and incited Twittersphere Sturm und Drang. I love Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop,” though, for its timelessness, not timeliness: for a sound that’s as beautifully boomy and doomy as, for instance, “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” a song that would probably have topped my 1936 Best Songs list, had I been around back then.

I was tempted to compile a separate rundown of favorite songs featuring 2 Chainz, the rap clown-prince who is one of my 2013 MVPs. But that list might have required more than 100 slots, and the madness has to stop somewhere.

1. Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop

2. Young Dro, “Strong

3. Kacey Musgraves, “Follow Your Arrow

4. Lady Lykez: "Eurgh!"

5. M.I.A., “Bring the Noize

6. Eli Young Band, “Drunk Last Night

7. Rich Homie Quan, “Type of Way

8. Jupiter & Okwess International, “Margarita

9. Backstreet Boys, “In a World Like This

10. Luke James ft. Hit Boy, “Oh God

11. Rokia Traoré, “Lalla

12. FIDLAR, “Cheap Beer

13. Brandy Clark, “Hold My Hand

14. Stein, “Body Nuh Dead

15. Blake Shelton, “Mine Would Be You

16. Haim, “The Wire

17. Bruno Mars, “Treasure

18. Pusha T, “Numbers on the Boards

19. Valerie June, “Workin’ Woman Blues

20. Migos, “Versace

21. JB and the Moonshine Band, “The Only Drug

22. Taylor Swift, “22

23. Laura Mvula, “Green Garden

24. Roberto Junior Y Su Bandeño, “El Coco No

25. Vampire Weekend, “Step

26. Omar Souleyman, “Wenu Wenu

27. Kelly Rowland, “Dirty Laundry

28. A$AP Ferg ft. A$AP Rocky, “Shabba

29. Selena Gomez, “Come & Get It

30. Ashley Monroe, “Two Weeks Late

31. 2 Chainz ft. Pharrell, “Feds Watching

32. Katy Perry, “Roar

33. Kacey Musgraves, “Blowin’ Smoke

34. Brad Paisley, “Beat This Summer

35. Lulu James, “Sweetest Thing

36. A$AP Rocky feat. 2 Chainz, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, “Fuckin’ Problems

37. Ciara, “Body Party

38. The Mavericks, “Born to Be Blue

39. Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky

40. Tegan and Sara, “Closer

41. Chrisette Michelle, “A Couple of Forevers

42. Bonnie McKee, “American Girl

43. Phosphorescent, “Ride On/Right On

44. Alice Russell, “Heartbreaker

45. Aidonia, “Fi Di Jockey

46. Kali Mutsa, “El Jardin

47. Kevin Gates, “4:30 AM

48. Tirzah & Micachu, “I’m Not Dancing

49. Danny Brown, “Side B (Dope Song)

50. Coco Carbomb, “Reel Alligata

51. Charly Black & J Capri, “Whine & Kotch

52. Los Primos MX, “Sólo Tú

53. Ariana Grande, “Honeymoon Avenue

54. Chance the Rapper, “Juice

55. Draco Rosa, “Más Y Más (Versión Oculta)

56. R. Kelly, “Marry the Pussy

57. Parquet Courts, “You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now

58. A$AP Rocky ft. Skrillex and Baby Nam Nam, “Wild for the Night

59. Natalia Lafourcade, “Mujer Divina

60. Justin Bieber, “All That Matters

61. Bill Callahan, “Small Plane

62. Eminem, “Rap God

63. Major Lazer ft. Busy Signal, the Flexican, and FS Green, “Watch Out for This (Bumaye)

64. Jake Owen, “Anywhere With You

65. Lil Bibby, “For the Low

66. Drake ft. Majid Jordan, “Hold On, We’re Going Home

67. Paramore, “Still Into You

68. Robin Thicke, “Go Stupid for U

69. Lee Brice, “Parking Lot Party

70. Willy Moon, “Get Up (What You Need)

71. RDX, “The Bruk Out Song

72. Cage the Elephant, “Come a Little Closer

73. Pink ft. Nate Ruess, “Just Give Me A Reason

74. Queens of the Stone Age, “I Sat By the Ocean

75. Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart

76. Charlie Wilson, “My Love Is All I Have

77. Romeo Santos, “Propuesta Indecente

78. Fantasia ft. Big K.R.I.T., “Supernatural Love

79. Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors

80. Savages, “Shut Up

81. EXO, “Wolf

82. Jay Z ft. Nas, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, & Timbaland, “BBC

83. The-Dream ft. Fabolous, “Slow It Down

84. Roberto Tapia, “Me Enamore

85. Ninjaman, “Ninja Mi Ninja

86. Stromae, “Papoutai

87. Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band, “Bad Dancer

88. Mr. Vegas, “Twerk It

89. Vick Allen, “I’m Tired of Being Grown

90. Cassie ft. Rick Ross, “Numb

91. Riff Raff, “Dolce & Gabbana

92. Sophie, “BIPP

93. Disclosure ft. Eliza Doolita, “You and Me

94. Janelle Monáe ft. Miguel, “Primetime

95. James Blake, “Retrograde

96. Gerardo Ortiz, “Dámaso

97. ScHoolboy Q, “Man of the Year

98. Devendra Banhart, “Für Hildegard von Bingen

99. Ca$h Out featuring Future, “Another Country

100. Will.i.am ft. Britney Spears, “Scream & Shout