Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Discopop Directory: Top 10 Singles of 2013

Right then: The best singles of the year. And what a year it's been. The singles chart was as vibrant and exciting as the albums one was disappointing and lacklustre. There was a lot of "mid-tempo" and a lot of twerking, but you won't see any of that here. As usual, the top 10 is compiled from my iTunes playcount because, otherwise, I simply can’t be trusted to tell the truth. So, here we go in reverse order:

10) Vampire Weekend – Diane Young
In which Ezra Koenig - a man whose name represents the worst Scrabble rack of all time - does his best Buddy Holly impression over a frenetic surf guitar line. With a vocoder. Fast, thrilling, and utterly, utterly undanceable, it is nonetheless a great song.

Koenig claimed the real Diane Young was "about 5 foot 10" and "fairly attractive". But she's really just a homonym for "dying young", which was the song's original title until the band decided it was too gloomy.

9) Demi Lovato – Heart Attack
It takes a brave composer to write lyrics in 72-point bold type capitals; and it takes an even braver singer to perform them that way. But Demi "Tomato" Lovato pulls it off – conveying a sense of frailty at the same time as she bellows out the chorus with the sort of force that could capsize a battleship.

Yes, it might be pop by numbers - but the maths is flawless.

8) Justin Timberlake – Mirrors
Great song, but I still don’t understand what he's doing with a pocket full of soap.

7) Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?
Sleazier than Robin Thicke frantically rubbing himself through an overcoat, Alex Turner's ode to obsession marked a stunning return to form for the Arctics. Built around a swampy guitar riff Do I Wanna Know was lascivious, sordid and constantly on the cusp of... well, you get the picture.

6) Katy Perry – Roar
With a chorus two times bigger than an elephant (and thrice as nimble) Perry was the leopard-print victor of the year's biggest pop battle (turns out that obedient Applause is no match for a feral Roar). It's just a shame the rest of Katy's album was such a dreary therapy-speak borefest.

5) Little Mix – Move
All great pop songs should pull the rug out from under your feet and, on Move, Little Mix sent carpets flying like Aladdin [please stop – tortured metaphor ed].

It's all there: The stomach drop when the first bridge fails to resolve into a chorus; the "iknowthatyouwannastaycoolinthecorner" mid-section, the bum-rattling bass. A clever, brave single by a manufactured pop band that, for once, are in complete control of what they’re doing.

4) Haim – The Wire
Danielle Haim sings like she's got the hiccups and it's glorious. But on The Wire all three Haim sisters got the chance to shine. Each of them admits they bottled it when some guy told them "I love you". Poor some guy.

3) Zedd ft Foxes – Clarity
A tidal wave. A supernova. A bloody great pop song. Yeah, so the lyrics are mostly nonsense ("A clock ticks 'til it breaks your glass and I drown in you again??") but, oh my God, that chorus is a force of nature.

2) Lorde – Royals
They say a genius is just the first person who dares to say something everyone else is thinking. By that token, Lorde's decision to write a lyric that said: "Hold on, every single bloody recording artist on the planet, I've suddenly realised I don't care about how many diamond chains you own, ok bye" made her the biggest pop genius in 2013.

1) Duke Dumont ft A*M*E - Need U (100%)
It sounded like a classic the first time I heard it, and it still sounds like a classic now. An snappy, irresistible nugget of handbag house it was arguably responsible for a major 1990s revival in 2013, so we can hold Duke Dumont responsible for next year's inevitable Whigfield comeback. Until then, I defy you not to dance to this.

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