December 26, 2013 / Leave a Comment
Welcome music lovers to MusicTrajectory’s Top 20 Songs of 2013. No year-end list can be truly objective, but trust me I tried! I follow these genres of music closely – keeping an eye on the charts, radio airplay, Youtube video views, what the word is around the web, etc. I compiled and ranked these songs with the intent of publishing the best year-end list for rock, alternative and indie music genres anywhere on the web. Thanks for viewing and please feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section. Critique this list, provide your own top 20, express your love for individual songs: go for it!
Let’s get to the specifics. Any track that was released in 2013 or had its greatest impact in the U.S. this year was eligible. This whole site of course only showcases the genres mentioned above but I do showcase some of the crossover hits from time to time. In other words, ‘pop music’ usually does not see the light of day here on the site but there are always a few songs each year that just seem to bridge the gap between genres and get everyone interested. Read more about this concept in the individual commentaries for each song below. Chances are if you like alternative music, you heard and liked some of the alternative/pop crossover hit songs that made this list. After all, the intent of this list is to present the top songs of the year.
There is no doubt in my mind that “Sweater Weather” by the Neighbourhood is the top (and best) song of 2013. What is truly remarkable is that the band came out of no where and even if you were into the song before it truly went huge, there wasn’t a lot of info on the band. It was almost like they new they had a huge hit on their hands and wanted to slowly ride the wave to the top. This song was everywhere this year and could be heard on just about every radio station across the country and topped several Billboard charts including the #1 spot on Billboard’s Alternative songs chart for several weeks. Look around the web for similar year-end lists and if this song isn’t #1, it will surely be in the top 5. This song was featured here on the site as Song of the Week way back on the week of March 11 and was subsequently crowned the Best Song in the World on July 14, 2013. “Sweater Weather” is MusicTrajectory’s undisputed top song of the year.
2. “Royals” (Lorde)
Genre: Indie, Art Pop, Minimal, Electronic
Similar to The Neighbourhood, Lorde first tested the waters with an EP in late 2012 which featured this monster hit “Royals”. The song can also be found on her debut album as well, of course. It is hard to exactly classify what kind of music Lorde creates but that is because she does an excellent job spanning several different genres, hence the crossover appeal. If “Sweater Weather” was too rock/indie, “Royals” was the song that perhaps bridged the gap between rock and pop best in 2013. A close runner up to the #1 spot this year. If I may inject some personal opinion for a sec, “Royals” isn’t even Lorde’s best song of the year. In my opinion, “Team” is the way better song. Just sayin’. Regardless, “Royals” charted in over 30 countries world-wide, reaching #1 in 11 of them and reached #1 on 5 different US Billboard charts.
3. “Radioactive” (Imagine Dragons)
Genre: Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Alternative
Imagine Dragons employed the same strategy as The Neighbourhood and Lorde (as seen above) by first debuting with EPs then later releasing a full length album to huge success. “Radioactive” was the song that put this band on the map and subsequent singles “It’s Time” and “Demons” has solidified the band as one of the most popular alternative rock bands going. “Radioactive” is another crossover hit, as are the other singles the band has released from their debut album, Night Visions. The song was featured as Song of the Week way back on January 28th and also deemed Best Song in the World on the same week, dethroning Alex Clare’s 2012 smash hit “Too Close” which took the #1 spot in my Top 20 Songs of 2012 list. The song charted in over 20 countries world-wide including #1 on Billboard’s Rock and Alternative song charts.
4. “Wake Me Up” (Avicii)
Genre: Electronic, Folk Rock, Dance, Pop, Soul
This Avicii track was another huge crossover hit of 2013. Employing American soul singer Aloe Blacc and featuring acoustic guitar from Incubus‘ Mike Einziger this track was adored by pop, country and indie fans alike. Uplifting lyrics, a pump-you-up beat and a super catchy chorus got Avicii a monster hit, charting in over 35 countries world-wide and reaching #1 in 34 countries!
5. “Safe and Sound” (Capital Cities)
Genre: Indie, House, Synthpop, Electronic
Capital Cities took a similar route to success, first releasing an EP in 2012 and then a full length debut album in 2013. While the band has had minor success with subsequent singles, “Safe and Sound” remains the only huge hit and what a huge hit it was! Infectiously catchy, this song charted on rock, alternative and pop charts. It was the high energy live shows and appearances that really fueled the success of this single. “Safe and Sound” was featured as the Song of the Week back on 3/4/2013. The song charted in over 20 countries world-wide, including #1 on Billboard’s Alternative Rock chart.
6. “Come A Little Closer” (Cage the Elephant)
Genre: Alternative Rock, Indie Rock
So far this top 20 list has been dominated by alternative/pop crossover hits. Here enter the best true alternative rock song of the year: “Come A Little Closer” by Cage the Elephant. After two successful albums, 2008’s Cage the Elephant and 2011’s Thank You, Happy Birthday which featured several successful singles, the band returned in 2013 with Melophobia, their most mature sounding album yet and arguably their strongest single to date. Instantly good but will grow great on you. As of this writing, “Come A Little Closer” is the reigning Best Song in the World. The song reached #1 on Billboard’s Alternative Rock chart.
7. “Ways To Go” (Grouplove)
Genre: Indie rock, Synthpop, Alternative, Indie Dance
One of the few alternative bands going that just about everyone loves, Grouplove returned in 2013 with another fantastic album with the strong lead single “Ways To Go”. If I would have made a list of the best videos of the year, this video would have been right up there. When doesn’t Grouplove release a good video for their awesome singles? “Ways To Go” was featured as Song of the Week back on 6/24/2013 and is a former Best Song in the World here on the site.
8. “Entertainment” (Phoenix)
Genre: Alternative Rock, Dance Rock, Indie
The beloved indie band Phoenix returned in 2013 with the fantastic Bankrupt! album after nearly 4 years away. Perhaps the band was trying to figure out how the heck they were going to top their previous release, 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, one of the best albums of this decade and one of my personal favorite albums of all time. That album spawned the hugely popular singles “1901” and “Lisztomania”. Their return single in 2013, “Entertainment” helped solidify Phoenix’s triumphant and successful return to the forefront of indie rock music. “Entertainment” is a former Best Song in the World, crowned so on April 19, 2013, dethroning “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons.
9. “Out Of My League” (Fitz and The Tantrums)
Genre: Indie Pop, Neo-Soul
Fitz and the Tantrums have relied on critical acclaim, solid album releases, and extensive world-wide touring to get where they are at. Also helping is the smash 2013 hit “Out of My League”, the first single off of the band’s 2nd studio album More Than Just a Dream. The song was featured as Song of the Week back on 5/27/2013. Chart-wise, the song reached #1 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart.
10. “Get Lucky” (Daft Punk)
Genre: Disco, Funk, Electronic, Dance, House
The incomparable Daft Punk returned in 2013 with the critical acclaimed and now Grammy-nominated album Random Access Memories. “Get Lucky” was the first single off the album and sling-shot the group back to the top of the pop charts with help of Pharrell Williams on vocals. The song was featured as Song of the Week back on 4/29/2013. The song charted in over 35 countries world-wide, reaching #1 in 23 of them.
11. “Diane Young” (Vampire Weekend)
Genre: Indie rock, Alternative
12. “Still Into You” (Paramore)
Genre: Power Pop, Pop Rock, New Wave
13. “Hurricane” (MS MR)
Genre: Indie Pop, Alternative Rock, Electronic
14. “Supersoaker” (Kings of Leon)
Genre: Rock, Alternative Rock
15. “Do I Wanna Know?” (Arctic Monkeys)
Genre: Psychedelic rock,garage rock, indie rock, stoner rock
16. “Breezeblocks” (alt-J)
Genre: Indie rock, Art Rock, Experimental Rock, Alternative
17. “Up In The Air” (30 Seconds To Mars)
Genre: Electronic Rock, Alternative Rock
18. “Closer” (Tegan and Sara)
Genre: Indie Pop, Synthpop
19. “Elephant” (Tame Impala)
Genre: Alternative, Psychedelic Rock, Space Rock
20. “17 Crimes” (AFI)
Genre: Rock, Alternative Rock, Punk Rock
Other Best of 2013 Lists Around the Web: