I tell you a story. Then I tell it again. And again. And again. Never mind that it wasn’t a very exciting story to begin with. Now I’ve told it twelve times, and you’re getting sick of it.
I’m not just talking about my lackluster social skills. This is the story of country radio in 2014. Entertainment Weekly reporter Grady Smith documented as much in his convincing supercut of mainstream country’s laziest clichés, and Vulture critic Jody Rosen illuminated the phenomenon in two pieces questioning the relative obscurity of female voices on country radio.
This isn’t the only story of modern country music. But it’s become the dominant one.
It’s easy to look back at the year in music and only see images of Miley Cyrus twerking, Robin Thicke skeeving and Pharrell dominating. With this list, I’m shining a spotlight on the best that pop music had to offer this year, whether it involved blurred lines or diamonds in the rough. I combed over every Billboard Hot 100 chart from this year and picked my favorite songs that cracked the Top 40.
You’ll notice there are 12 songs on this list. Why not? Ten is just as arbitrary. These are 12 songs I really like. I hope you’ll find something worth celebrating here. No use cutting corners. (To make my life easier, I did my best to exclude songs that made bigger splashes in 2012 than they did in 2013, including Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank).”)
You’ll also notice that these songs are in alphabetical order by the artist’s first name. Why? Because it’s too difficult for me to decide which of these songs is better than the others. They’re good for different reasons, and I don’t see any value in fussing with which reasons matter more.
(The playlist isn’t in alphabetical order – in fact, it’s not in any order at all, except my vague attempt to create a pleasurable listening experience.)
Without further ado, my favorite Top 40 songs of 2013.