So, 2013 has been an incredible year for music. We recently showcased some of the brightest bands and artists through our Apopcalypse, and now I’m bringing you my personal top 10 singles (which I’m sure people will debate, but we have a comment section). I’d also like to say a quick thanks to anyone reading these articles, I’ve had a fantastic year working as music editor, from covering festivals to championing new bands and tracks with a top quality team supporting me throughout. I’m hoping 2014 will be equally, if not more exciting.
10. Chvrches – ‘The Mother We Share’
A 90s revival came from Scottish three piece Chvrches who effortlessly blend stadium size synth with growling guitar and innocent, child like vocals. ‘The Mother We Share’ is expertly crafted with it’s memorable hook and new wave vibes.
9. Arctic Monkeys – ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’
2013 beckoned a new chapter for the Sheffield lads as they matured from experimental indie rockers and found their sound in the form of effortless funk rock. This witty single became their first top ten hit since 2007 as the mixture of intelligent lyrics and dance potential matches perfectly.
8. The 1975 – ‘Sex’
The Mancunican band hit their big break this year after ten hard years of work as their debut LP placed atop the UK charts. ‘Sex’ encapsulates the band perfectly, relatable lyrics taken from harsh experience blended with shattering guitar and pulsating drums and those now familiar vocals provided by Matt Healy that prove the band have solid substance as well as undeniable style.
7. Bat For Lashes – ‘A Wall’
My album of 2012 was ‘The Haunted Man’ and this electro inspired track was always a high point. Natasha Khan remastered it to emphasise the gritty synth and accompanied this with an intelligent video that sees the return of alter ego Pearl. Bat For Lashes is an incredibly underrated artist who is able to span genres with complete ease, a dance inspired fourth album is not out of grasp.
6. James Blake – ‘Retrograde’
Many were surprised as Blake scooped this year’s Mercury Prize award for second album ‘Overgrown’. It could be argued that these critics do not understand or appreciate the subtle power of the LP and the lead single ‘Retrograde’ shines like a magnificent beacon proving whole heartedly that Blake is one of the most exciting and intriguing British artists working in the UK currently.
5. M.I.A – ‘Bring The Noize’
‘Matangi’ did not perform commercially as many had hoped, but critically it is Mathangi Arulpragasam’s most complete piece of work since ‘Arular’. With a depth of cultural awareness and a command of her genre, M.I.A talks about returning with power, if you take ‘Bring The Noize’ as example she has returned with an entire army at her disposal. The frantic verses and pulsing snare drums recalls back to the days of 2004 when the rapper was all about the sound coupled with political activism and socially poignant lyrics. The ‘XXXO’ era is truly dead.
4. Laura Marling – ‘Master Hunter’
Laura is truly a singer/songwriter of a generation. At only 22, it’s incredible to think that the songstress has already achieved three Mercury Prize nominations due to her insightful and mature outlook on the world. Her fourth LP ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ revolves around the theme of independence and is evident on the visceral ‘Master Hunter’ where Marling croons ‘wrestling the rope from darkness is no fucking life that I would choose’.
3. Lulu James – ‘Step By Step’
A name that is surely to be on the lips of many critics in 2014 is Lulu James. Having been lucky enough to view the powerhouse perform at two festivals this year, it is clear that Lulu has the capabilities to support the hype surrounding her soul/electro/R & B hybrid stylings. Her strongest release of the year came in 80’s inspired funk jam ‘Step By Step’. Reminiscent satin vocals of Sister Sledge paired with the edge of Daft Punk, a formidable combination creates one of the best alternative club anthems of 2013.
2. Bastille – ‘Of The Night’
Appearing on a mix tape late last year, the London quartet’s ingenious merging of ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’ and ‘Rhythm of a Night’. It is 90s electro tinged with Dan Smith’s gruff vocal which evolved this rough tape offering into a summer anthem due to Bastille’s appearance at almost every UK festival and an official single release which saw the track reach #2 in the charts, ending what has been an incredible 2013 for the boys done good.
1. Daughter – ‘Youth’
A track as delicate as it is devastating, Daughter encapsulate the struggles and turmoil of adolescence and the daunting prospect of adulthood in one perfect single. ‘Youth’ tackles the subjects of alcohol abuse, negligence and heartbreak in one incredibly neat 4.13 package. With a remastering for their debut ‘If You Leave’, this becomes the trio’s torch song and turns their breathy indie gloom folk into earth shattering, relatable poetry soundtracked by the simple pluck of a fragile guitar string.