In conjunction with my annual year end list (coming in December,) not only will I be counting down the best songs of 2013, but also the best songs of 2013 FROM 2012! (See last year’s list HERE.) Sometimes it takes a while for a song to properly pick up or get noticed, and sometimes a track is released right at the tail end of the year meaning it will make its mark on the calendar year after the one it was released in. Sometimes these tracks get recognized in time, but there are bound to be several that will inevitably slip through the cracks. Normally, I would wait until December to release this, but I figured there was no sense in waiting. Seeing as we were comfortably in the second half of the year, pretty much any song from 2012 that was going to show up would have already. So here we have it: the 10 best songs of 2013…from 2012. Enjoy!
10. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz “Thrift Shop”
It pains me how popular and contrived this track got, but from an objective standpoint, it’s pretty noteworthy (if you don’t take it too seriously, of course.) “Thrift Shop” isn’t a One Hit Wonder for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, but it certainly has a momentous feel to it that will inevitably send it into history feeling like one. The track caught on in 2012 but skyrocketed in ’13, going on to become one of the year’s biggest hits. “Thrift Shop” will be a party staple for a long time.
09. Zedd featuring Foxes “Clarity”
Producer Zedd put on his “lead artist pants” with his breakout hit “Clarity,” featuring British singer-songwriter Foxes on vocal duty. While the song was released as a single early on in ’13, it was included as the title track to his 2012 debut album. The electronic dance track grew into a big hit this year both on radio and in clubs, and considering how contrived popular dance music has become, it was certainly an audible diamond in a cringeworthy rough.
08. Labrinth featuring Emeli Sandé “Beneath Your Beautiful”
British singer-songwriter-producer Labrinth managed to take several classic sounds and elevate them to a modern and relevant level with his Emeli Sandé-assisted hit “Beneath Your Beautiful.” The track isn’t simply your standard R&B ballad; there are big strings, delicate piano parts, and a hip hop-lite beat that brings it all together. There aren’t many proper vocal duets like this out there today, and luckily for us, this one is of a higher caliber.
07. Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX “I Love It”
Swedish duo Icona Pop caught the attention of critics and enthusiasts with the Charli XCX-penned smash hit “I Love It” in 2012, but it wasn’t until the following year that the public caught on. The track is an undisputed pop masterpiece that rips and roars from start to finish. The striking lack of harmony or solo vocal lines is such a simple concept, but it allows “I Love It” to pack an incredibly powerful punch. This song will be an iconic fixture of the 2010s.
06. Capital Cities “Safe and Sound” (From 2011)
Capital Cities’ debut single “Safe and Sound” was actually released in 2011, but it wasn’t until 2 calendar years later that it made a proper impact. The indie pop band made a splash with critics back when the song was released, and managed to carry that enthusiasm with them all the into 2013 when they finally released their debut album. “Safe and Sound” is just perfection from start to finish. It’s got a powerful structure that is aided by a killer melody, blaring horns, and dazzling synths.
05. Foals “My Number”
British alt rockers Foals are one of the most exciting bands on the face of the earth at the moment. Their breakthrough hit, “My Number” was released right at the end of 2012, leaving much of its impact to strike on the other side of the calendar. The track has a guiltless bounce to it, perfect for a drive on summer day, but has a real aching quality tucked in there reminiscent of quiet autumn day. “My Number” really is one of the more perfect alternative songs of the last decade.
04. Jake Bugg “Lightning Bolt”
His debut album went all the way to #1 in the UK, and even began to approach the upper reaches of the singles chart with “Lightning Bolt” last year, but his international acknowledgement didn’t come until 2013. The track was featured in commercials and even started making its way onto the radio and gave this amazing artist a platform to show off his stuff outside of his often-sung-about home country. “Lightning Bolt” still doesn’t even feel like it’s struck yet.
03. Rhye “Open”
Canadian/Danish duo Rhye released their debut single “Open” last year, but it managed to muster up a second wind in this one. The pair’s debut album, Woman was met with huge acclaim for its alternative soul vibe (reminiscent of Sade… a huge compliment,) and with it, the song found the attention it deserved. The track is gut-wrenchingly simple and beautiful with bedazzled finger snaps holding the beat for an atmospheric landscape of crisp instrumentation and vocals. It’s perfect.
02. Sky Ferreira “Everything Is Embarrassing”
Now, at the end of 2012, I think it would have been a safe bet to say that “Everything Is Embarrassing” hit its peak, but somehow it managed to grow into something even more important. It’s not as though it was a commercial success, but Sky Ferreira is now one of the most lauded acts in alternative pop, largely in part to this track. It’s simple in structure, but it comes out being a beautiful and affecting piece that was just a little more special in 2013 than it was in ’12.
01. Tegan & Sara “Closer”
Tegan & Sara are one of the best duos in pop music (pretty much ever) and while their hit “Closer” was indeed released back in 2012, it became and bonafide musical landmark this year. While the pair has managed to maintain their “alternative” appeal, this track has the explosive quality that feels like it can kick that door down and bowl over the competition. “Closer” is really just a perfect song in every way imaginable, and you really can’t help but think “better late than never” when hearing it.