15 Fantastic and Awesome Songs from 2013

((Author’s Note: Please be advised that some content below, due to the artists’ individual styles, may be NSFW.))

MusicMusic rules my life. I can tie almost every memory I have with a specific song or certain set of songs. Sometimes numerous events can be tied to one song because they all have certain similarities between them. To look into my memories is to also listen to a running soundtrack that accompanies every one of them.

My first kiss is tied into “This Magic Moment” by Ben E. King and the Drifters. My first home run is tied into “The Touch” by Stan Bush. The first time I had my heart broken is tied into “Slip Slide Melting” by For Love Not Lisa. When I met my wife for the first time is tied into “The Reason” by Hoobastank. When my kids were born, their days are all linked to “Baby Mine” by Betty Noyes from Disney’s Dumbo. The deaths of my grandparents are linked to “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails, and later by Johnny Cash. Every time I won a fight in school I thought of the “Victory Fanfare” piece from the Final Fantasy series. My first long-distance road trip reminds me of “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers. The first time I kissed my wife reminds me of “Kiss Kara Hajimaru Miracle” from the anime series Steel Angel Kurumi. My first day working at Disney, oddly enough, always brings up “Part of Your World” by Jodi Benson from Disney’s The Little Mermaid

Everything worth remembering for me is tied to a song that perfectly captures how I am feeling at the time. So it is no surprise that music really moves me in ways other media cannot. As much as I love video game and movies, without the accompanying scores and soundtracks to those films, they would nearly be as memorable as they are. Can you imagine seeing Aerith die in Final Fantasy VII without Nobuo Uematsu’s “Aerith’s Theme” playing in the background? Or how about viewing Top Gun without either Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” or Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” playing through the film? Oh man, imagine Ghost without “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers and its variations playing through it? What about games like Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog or Castlevania without their respective scores? And yes, some of my memories are tied to video game and movie scores as well.

Music makes things remembered all the more memorable. But not every song is worth remembering… at least in my mind. For every song that I love there are three or four that I could just as easily do without. For every “Hanging On” by Ellie Goulding you have “You Da One” by Rihanna, “Die Young” by Ke$ha and “Don’t Wake Me Up” by Chris Brown. You might disagree with me on that point, but that’s fine; that is your taste, and I have my own. And that statement brings me to the point of this article here. (I know; we kind of took a detour somewhere back there, didn’t we?) The point I am trying to make is that for whatever reasons, we each have our own favorite songs that we hear year after year… and 2013 was no different.

In 2013, I really opened my ears to new types of music. Mainly, I am a rock/metal type fan. And I am really talking about older bands like Metallica, Pantera, Slayer, Megadeth, Nine Inch Nails, Fear Factory, Napalm Death, Rollins Band… you know, stuff like that. Maybe even some newer bands like Full Devil Jacket, Korn, some Linkin Park, Hatebreed, Slipknot and the sorts… But this year in music really surprised me. Even last year, thinking about my favorite songs of 2012, I had a lot more rock songs on the list than any other kind of music genre. This year however, for varying reasons such as the rock scene kind of being a bit stale in 2013 to my daughter and sons now having a very vocal say as to what songs get repeated play in the household, I have only TWO rock songs that made the list while the pop genre, which I normally try to avoid, has FIVE songs on my list.

FIVE POP SONGS! ON MY LIST!!! How did that happen!? Don’t get me wrong, over the years I have liked the pop genre, I just try not to get sucked into it that much. But I don’t think I can recall a year when I liked more pop songs than rock songs on my list – at least not since I wrote my first list for this kind of stuff on the old GameTrailers user blogs back in 2004/2005. But this is what we have this year. And this is an honest list to. I sat there, thought of the 15 songs this year that really moved me, impressed me this year, and wrote them down. And this is what it amounted to. You may not agree with my list, but it is what it is; my subjective view on the music scene of 2013. So take it at face value and do try to enjoy.

15. “Avenge World”

-by Konomi Suzuki

Apart from the visuals to the opening of Freezing Vibration, the anime in which “Avenge World” appears in, I love the meaning of the words. And there is no better line in the song that can perfectly describe the emotion and meaning better than one that appears near the beginning of it: “To protect someone is to know hate for someone.” It is a powerful statement brought to life by the powerful and beautiful vocals of Konomi Suzuki. It is a wonderful piece of music that starts off one of the better anime series of the year… and more on that later.

14. “Open”

-by Rhye

The clean, crisp and soulful sound found in “Open” really reminds me of Sade and the sheer magic that her music brings to my mind. There is so much love and depth of emotion in this song that I couldn’t help falling in love with it the first time that I heard it. It just reminds me of pure passion and the kind of bliss it brings to the soul. It has just the right beat and tone to make it a true lover’s song and the vocals that the duo that make up Rhye really make this song stick to my soul life few other songs this year have.

13. “Love & Meth”

-by Korn

I have been a longtime fan of Korn, since the bands early days playing in California. But their latest album, Paradigm Shift, really hasn’t stuck with me the way their other albums have. But there is one song from the album that really has struck me as being reminiscent of their former glory days – “Love & Meth.” That song definitely sounds like the Korn of old – the unbridled vocal power of Jonathan Davis and the jumping beat by the band really jump from the lines to your brain like the older songs that band was known for used to.

12. “Brave”

-by Sara Bareilles

Speak up! “Brave” sends a powerful message that cannot be repeated enough. “Say what you wanna say and let the words fall out.” Sara Bareilles may have put the message into a very sappy and pop song, but the message is just as clear and loud as ever and it deserves to be recognized for that. And despite its sappiness, I have actually enjoyed listening to it along with my daughter and sons – who I hope NEVER have problems speaking up about anything in their lives. If not with their mother or myself, at least with someone.

11. “Hail to the King”

-by Avenged Sevenfold

I am honestly not that big a fan of Avenged Sevenfold. I find that their music seems to lack a certain authentic feel. Don’t ask me why I feel that way about the band’s music, I just do. I just don’t feel it. But this year the band released the song “Hail to the King” and I found a little bit more respect for them for it. It has a very classic, early-Metallica feel to it that really reminds me of the glory days of rock and I find myself head-banging every time the songs comes up on my playlist. I would actually like to see the WWE use this as a PPV theme one day. Maybe for the King of the Ring

10. “The Fox”

-by Ylvis

For as much as I really, REALLY want to hate this song, I just can’t. When I first heard this electronica song by the comedy duo Ylvis I was so against it that I would leave the room every time it would come on. But then my wife, Dezi, and my kids kept listening to it… and singing it… and dancing/performing it, and I found myself quickly liking the song – mainly for the catchy dance beats, but then eventually for the quirky and stupid lyrics. Now I can sing the song along with them, and even find myself doing a little dance to it when it comes on.

9. “Get Lucky”

-by Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams

Daft Punk. Pharrell Williams. I could just leave it at that when it comes to me explaining why I love “Get Lucky” so much, but there is more to it than that. The song has a nice and clear rhythm to it and a nice line for dancing that it really does catch you. It is an intoxicating and catchy song that has a bit more pop than it should have but makes it work for the song it ways that only Daft Punk can make it happen.

8. “Applause”

-by Lady Gaga

I have heard it said that vocally, Lady Gaga’s “Applause” is in between the range of Annie Lennox and David Bowie… two very powerful and distinguished voices in music. And I would agree that it is as well; but what I most like about the song is Lady Gaga’s honesty in stating that she is almost pining for her fans adoration. That she thrives on it and needs it to succeed. It is a sobering look into her thoughts, her honest thoughts that resonates with anyone looking for the approval of others to be a star in any industry.

7. “Wrecking Ball”

-by Miley Cyrus

Say what you want to say about Miley Cyrus, but the simple truth is that the girl can sing. She may not have the smooth vocals other female pop singers have, but her voice and songs have a passion and strength all their own. And none have been ever more evident than in her emotionally driven “Wrecking Ball” seemingly about the break up between her and ex-fiancé Liam Hemsworth. Forget the controversy surrounding the video, which I actually really happen to love for more than the obvious reasons – this song has a heart and soul that touches anyone who has ever been in her position.

6. “Roar”

-by Katy Perry

“Roar” is another strong pop song that carries with it a very powerful positive message – this one about stepping out and believing in yourself. Katy Perry delivers some of the best vocals of her career and begins to show a bit of maturity in the lyrics and style of her song – even if they may be a bit cliché. Still, the song has a wonderful rhythm to it that is easily accessible to almost any music fan listening to it. Add to everything about the song that my kids just love singing this song out loud, and it is hard for me not to have fallen for this song.

5. “Wicked Game”

-by Emika

No cover will ever beat Chris Isaak’s original version of “Wicked Game” as far as I am concerned, but this cover by Emika certainly comes in at a close second. It has a very haunting and melodic tone to it that almost gives the song a new sense of life. I first heard this song on an episode of The Blacklist and I immediately fell for it. Emika certainly has a style all her own, but when combined with the message that the song carries it elevates her vocals to a whole new level in my opinion.

4. “Vindicate”

-by Datsik and Excision

Of all the things that I remember most about the video game Saints Row IV, the second theme for the Dubstep Gun, “Vindicate,” is the one that keeps popping in the most. Produced by dubstep DJ Datsik while partnering with fellow DJ Excision, this funky and catchy electronic mix really had me from the first time the bass drops. It may not be much to someone who doesn’t get, like or understand dubstep and/or electronic music, but this song has all the right beats to get me up and moving or even gets me to just chill and bop my head a few times. Even better, it gets my kids all worked up and dancing because they really like the beat.

3. “Survival”

-by Eminem

Possibly one of my favorite artists of all time, Eminem has rarely let me down when it comes to strong and powerful lyrical compositions – and this track that was released to coincide and promote the video game Call of Duty: Ghost lives up to all of his previous successes. Unapologetic, gritty and explosive; “Survival” may not be his most original song, as it lyrically sounds like his earlier works, but the thrash guitar, heavy drum beats and amazing backup vocals by Liz Rodrigues make this song the edgy and honest kind of track I would expect from this seasoned rapper. Don’t like the song, I don’t care, it is one that I thing is reflective of his style. As the song says, “This is survival of the fittest. This is do or die. This is winner takes it all so take it all.” And in the music business, that is what goes.

2. “Let It Go”

-by Idina Menzel

I am not kidding when I say that Disney’s Frozen is my favorite Disney animated film since Disney’s The Little Mermaid: it is that bloody good. It had a great story, great characters and one of the best scores/soundtracks for any Disney or Pixar film in years. That being said, one song in particular really moved me like few other Disney songs have – “Let It Go” performed by Idina Menzel. The song itself has amazing lyrics and a great story all its own, but add in Menzel’s amazing, graceful and impressive vocals and you have yourself one hell of a striking song. I wasn’t too keen on Demi Lovato’s pop version of the song (she can’t hold a candle to Menzel’s powerful voice), but the movie version of the song is pure magic – the kind of magic that only Disney can bring to a song.

1. “Blurred Lines”

-by Robin Thicke ft. T.I. & Pharrell Williams

Personally, of all the songs to be released this year, none of them had the appeal and impact that Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” had on the music world. Whether it be from the catchy rhythm, somewhat controversial (really?) (Editor’s note: Yes, really. -T) lyrics, and controversial and shocking live performances (and for the record, I didn’t mind Miley “twerking” on him like that. I could actually see it again and again); this song was everywhere – and with good reason. The song just resonates with people. It has an incredible beat, it has catchy lyrics, it is great for the dance floor (and the bedroom), and the vocals by Thicke, T.I. and Williams just blend so perfectly with each other that it just makes the song all that more enjoyable to listen to. I’ve been a fan of Robin Thicke for a while; I’ve been a fan of Pharrell Williams even longer; T.I., not so much – but they certainly had a magical song here and that is why I think that it is my favorite single of the year.

So what is your take on my list? Did you like some of my selections? Did you think they should be in a different order? Do you disagree with the list all together? Let us know in the comments below. Music is definitely selective, and there really are no bad choices in the world, despite what we all may personally feel. I’d definitely be interested in reading what you all have to say about this year in music. Maybe you may even turn me on to something new that I may not have listened to before.

Richard Cardenas

Created in a lab in Tijuana, Mexico, or cloned in a test tube in Torrance, CA, depending on which story you think is a better origin story, Richard is, if such a thing exist, a second generation nerd. The son of a man who loved sci-fi, comic books and horror, and a woman who loved making costumes, reading sci-fi novels and watching cartoons, Richard was exposed to all this and more since a very young age.

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