The Top 50 Tracks of 2013
By Jason Lamphier
10. Daft Punk (feat. Paul Williams) - “Touch”
Leave it to those jokers Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo to craft both the year’s catchiest song (more on that one later) and its most divisive. “Touch” had some DP fans crying foul: “Why the hell was the dude who wrote a ballad for Kermit the Frog singing a track produced by techno and house royalty?” “Did that slinky disco guitar need to be soooo vintage-porn literal?” “A choir? Of little brats?! Telling us, ‘If love is the answer, you’re home’?!!!” So yeah, you get the point. “Touch” is an eight-minute, bursting-at-the-seams, sci-fi-meets-showtune cheesefest that’s excessive, self-indulgent, and cloying. It’s also the boldest, most unexpected, most strangely moving song of 2013.
9. Local Natives – “You & I”
The opening track from the young Los Angeles quintet’s excellent second album, Hummingbird, is the perfect distillation of what they do best. A blend of adept guitar work, gorgeously aching vocals, and metronome drum beats, it unfolds with a haunting, slow-burn intensity, capturing solitary yearning without ever veering into the maudlin. As singer Kelcey Ayer asks—practically wails—"When did your love grow cold?” you feel his confusion and desperation reach down and freeze the bottom of your guts. You wish you had the answer to this heartbreaking question, but you never will, so you just tumble down that lonely, frigid abyss with him.
8. Julia Holter – “Hello Stranger”
In the best remake of the year, experimental songwriter Julia Holter takes a classic 1963 Barbara Lewis hit about a surprise reunion and strips it down to its soulful core. Gone are the original’s jaunty organs and spry shoo-bop-shoo-bops, replaced here by the anodyne sounds of crashing waves, seagulls, swelling strings, and cymbals that trickle in like raindrops on a canvas. In this graceful, ethereal rendition, you wonder when—or if—the couple’s encounter even happened. Is it a distant memory? A reverie? A ghostly homecoming on some faraway shore? Regardless of Holter’s intent, “Hello Stranger” is that rare find: a song of singular, subtle beauty that you slowly fall in love with, maybe lose touch with, and then rediscover years later.