Radio.com’s Best Songs of 2013

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2013 was the year of the unlikely hero, where time-tested superstars like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears faltered on the charts, and the biggest hits came courtesy of disco robots, the son of an ’80s sitcom star and a preternatural teenager from New Zealand boldly challenging the status quo.

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Pop music slowed down to embrace big ballads and alt – instead of EDM – sensibilities. Mainstream hip-hop was all over the place in 2013, from Drake’s ‘80s pop leanings to the progressive and primal scream of black rage that was Kanye West’s Yeezus. Rock’s 2012 banjo trend gave way to more variety, including Vampire Weekend and co. wowing fans and critics alike with brainy lit-rock. Country continued to integrate more mainstream aesthetics, from the usual pop to classic rock and oddly enough, rap. We’ve got a bit of all that represented here in our top songs of the year, as determined by votes from not only Radio.com staff and contributors, but CBS Radio programmers and DJs across all formats as well. Full list of voters below.– Scott Sterling

radiostationbar Radio.coms Best Songs of 2013

circlekatynew Radio.coms Best Songs of 2013“Roar” – Katy Perry

Katy Perry swore she was done with confectionery couture and the sugary sweet pop that goes with it. She was ready to embrace her goth side and get real about her divorce. Luckily, what we got instead was “Roar,” a stuttering pop anthem with ties to Rocky that encourages the meek to finally speak up and inherit the earth. – Shannon Carlin

circletimberlake2 Radio.coms Best Songs of 2013“Mirrors” – Justin Timberlake

Amidst his double album overload, Justin Timberlake brought monogamy back with this eight-minute ode to his new wife. Over a signature Timbaland beat that combines synths, beatboxing and cheesy power ballad guitar licks, JT croons lines like, “You reflect me, I love that about you/ And if I could, I would look at us all the time.” Narcissistic? Maybe. Sweet? Definitely. Be prepared to hear this at every wedding you attend from now until eternity. – Shannon Carlin

circleezra Radio.coms Best Songs of 2013“Ya Hey” – Vampire Weekend

It’s difficult to pin down what exactly Vampire Weekend’s worldly album Modern Vampires of the City is about. But “Ya Hey” stands as one of its tent-poles — a song about all kinds of diasporas, identity, and that feeling of being just a little different. Not that Ezra Koenig seems like a big Twilight fan, but being a vampire just extends to being an outcast. Just like Diane Young is a cheeky pun, so too does “Ya Hey” slide into Yahweh like a cry to God for help through the heart and flames. As a preeminent lyricist of our time, Koenig can bend his words the verse and still write a hook that’s almost as catchy as “Hey Ya.” Plus, it’s fun trying to get your voice to do the pitch-shifty thing when you’re singing along. – Jeremy D. Larson

circletaylor Radio.coms Best Songs of 2013“22” – Taylor Swift

Every once in a while there comes a hit that neatly captures what it’s really like to be impossibly young. With “22,” country’s current crossover queen spoke to the masses not just through the usual shiny production and catchy hooks. Sure, the music couldn’t muster a care if it tried, but no matter how old you are, it’s easy to find solace in the line, “We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time/It’s miserable and magical.” This year, you found yourself singing along to Taylor’s “random” (ain’t that what millennials call it?) lyrics about love and life whether you liked it or not. – Jillian Mapes

circlehaim1 Radio.coms Best Songs of 2013“The Wire” – Haim

“This is a perfect song.” Write that on my tombstone, and tell my friends and family I loved them but only if they feel the same way. It’s a pop song that all those mega-chain pop star divas can’t touch because: a) it’s so far ahead of them, they don’t even make poles that long; b) even if the Haim sisters offered them free VIP passes to come take a peek at their perfect chorus, they wouldn’t be able to touch it because it is actually on fire. The bluesy, curled-lip verses that pour out of Alana and Danielle (while Este just holds it down on the bass) sound so classic ’70s, but it’s a timeless song about getting cold feet when it comes down to the real thing. ­– Jeremy D. Larson

circlekanye Radio.coms Best Songs of 2013“Black Skinhead” – Kanye West

We all left disappointed that that “Black Skinhead” didn’t actually sample Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People,” but we still took away that same goth rock energy. And glancing past Kanye’s dicey grasp on ancient history (if you “keep it 3 hunna,” that would be the Spartans, not the Romans), the song feels like that 4:00 a.m. amped on power and politics vibe. If you still have the energy going at that point in the evening, your most radical political ideas become lucid, even if they are difficult or impossible to execute. That, in phrase, is Kanye. – Jeremy Larson

circlelorde1 Radio.coms Best Songs of 2013“Royals” – Lorde

Pop’s long been a young woman’s game, but in 2013, Lorde took it one step further, proving that weird teens shall indeed inherit the earth. We’re not saying the second coming of alternative in Top 40 started with Lorde, but with “Royals,” she escalated the current trend to a level that can’t be ignored – and we expect will continue well into 2014. The 17-year-old broke all the rules of what a pop hit should sound like, but the contradictions – from its lush sparseness to its queen-of-the-paupers message – worked. – Jillian Mapes

circledrake Radio.coms Best Songs of 2013Hold On, We’re Going Home” – Drake

If there is such a thing as ubiquity, this song was it. On my street in Bed Stuy, this song would speed past my window two or three times a night at its peak popularity, the doppler effect pitch-shifting Drake’s lounge-singer act as he drove by. It’s that beat, just a “Drum 1” setting on Casio keyboard that’s as simple as Champagne Papi’s message: ‘Girl, I got you — let’s get warm somewhere else.’ – Jeremy D. Larson

circlerobynthicke Radio.coms Best Songs of 2013“Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke

Before the lawsuits and widespread accusations of misogyny, America loved “Blurred Lines.” Despite the controversy and the fact that it was truly difficult to go anywhere this year without hearing that “hey hey hey” creeping somewhere in the background, history will forever remember “Blurred Lines” as the Song of the Summer 2013. And that’s clearly what Robin Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. were going for when they made this earworm; between That Groove and That Cowbell, I dare you to listen to “Blurred Lines” – yes, for the millionth time – and not tap your foot. It’s about as difficult as sneezing with your eyes open. – Jillian Mapes

circledaft Radio.coms Best Songs of 2013“Get Lucky” – Daft Punk

Armed with a falsetto vocal line that gives JT a run for his money and deceptively simple disco guitar licks from Nile Rodgers, “Get Lucky” stood robot helmet and shoulders above everything in 2013. The unlikeliness of the whole thing made it even cooler: the fact that French robots on a comeback, a disco legend and a hit producer could craft a timeless, Bee Gees-level groove that America embraced full shimmy… now that’s lucky. File next to Chic’s “Good Times” as one of the greatest dance songs of all time. – Scott Sterling

Voters in this poll include: Scott Alexander (Star Pittsburgh), Jon Blistein (Radio.com contributor), Erik Bradley (B96 Chicago), Jonathan L. Campbell (Mix 94.1 Las Vegas),  Shannon Carlin  (Radio.com staff), Jamieson Cox (Radio.com contributor), Nina Cruz (Live 101.5 Phoenix), Paul de Revere (Radio.com contributor), Sarah Grant (Radio.com contributor), Ron L. Harrell (103.7 KVIL/KLUV/Jack FM Dallas), Dr. Gary Heller (CBS Radio Research), Brian Ives  (Radio.com staff), Janet Jack (V-103 Atlanta), Jeremy Larson  (Radio.com staff), John Loscalzo  (Radio.com staff), Jillian Mapes  (Radio.com staff), Chris Patyk (Energy 103.7 San Diego), Annie Reuter  (Radio.com staff), Chad Rufer (Now 100.5 Sacramento), Matthew Ruiz (Radio.com contributor), Kevin Rutherford (Radio.com contributor), Dave Shakes (Live 101.5 and 94.5 KOOL FM Phoenix), Courtney Smith (Radio.com staff), Scott Sterling (Radio.com staff), Jason T. Thomas (WXRT Chicago), Jay Tilles (Radio.com staff), Byron Ward (Radio.com staff), Kurt Wolff (Radio.com staff)