Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" is certainly song of the year, and it leads off this playlist of 22 standout tunes from 2013. Rather than a ranking of first to worst, it's organized as a mix that ranges from pop to country to hip-hop to rock and is meant to reflect the year in music, as well as to be listened to and enjoyed.
You can do that on the Spotify playlist found on my blog at inquirer.com/inthemix. Sorry, Robin Thicke, you didn't make the cut: I can't bear to hear "Blurred Lines" one more time.
1. "Get Lucky," Daft Punk. Perfect pop-funk single from helmet-headed French electronic duo of Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo, with vocal from Pharrell Williams.
2. "Entertainment," Phoenix. Lead single from French fab four's underrated Bankrupt! rides a spiky keyboard riff that leads front man Thomas Mars to conclude: "I'd rather be alone."
3. "We Can't Stop," Miley Cyrus. She can't stop, she won't stop, and if you can somehow erase your mental image of her twerking on Robin Thicke, you might realize you don't really want her to stop.
4. "Royals," Lorde. Everybody's impressed that 17-year-old New Zealander Ella Yelich-O'Connor puts materialist pop stars in their place on her Grammy-nominated hit. Imagine that! A teenager who talks down to morally inferior adults. Good news: Along with above-it-all attitude, Lorde has superior songwriting skills.
5. "White Noise," Disclosure, featuring AlunaGeorge. Best song from Brit dance bros Guy and Howard Lawrence's standout Settle, thanks to singer Aluna Francis of similarly rising Brit duo AlunaGeorge.
6. "Mirrors," Justin Timberlake. "It's like you're my mirror staring back at me." There's no love like self-love on the sharpest single from Timberlake's top-selling The 20/20 Experience twofer.
7. "Black Skinhead," Kanye West. Pounding beat, primal rage. Look out, Kanye's mad! The most visceral track on Yeezus.
8. "25 Bucks," Danny Brown, featuring Purity Ring. Gifted Detroit rapper shows his appreciation for mother's sacrifices. Canadian electronic duo help out.
9. "Started From the Bottom," Drake. Canadian rapper congratulates self for transitioning from teen soap-opera actor to arena headlining hip-hop star.
10. "Love is a Bourgeoise Construct," Pet Shop Boys. From excellent return-to-form CD Electric. Neil Tennant takes Karl Marx to the dance floor, with lyric inspired by novelist David Lodge.
11. "Primetime," Janelle Monáe, featuring Miguel. Lovely ballad offers an oasis of calm on the often-frenetic and also excellent Electric Lady.
12. "Open," Rhye. Luxurious R&B sung by Sade-soundalike male vocalist Milosh, the dude many thought was a lady until pictures surfaced of the singer on the seductive CD Woman.
13. "The Wire," Haim. Southern California sisters put over '70s soft rock with modern dance-pop proficiency. Pretty much impossible not to like, even though I can't help hearing the Eagles' "I Can't Tell You Why" every time this song comes on.
14. "The Weight," Mikal Cronin. Not a cover of the Band. Rather, a glistening power-pop gem from this San Francisco garage rocker.
15. "I'd Rather Be High," David Bowie. Finely sculpted pop tune on The Next Day, the Thin White Duke's heartening return after nearly a decade.
16. "Me & You & Jackie Mittoo," Superchunk. "I hate music, what is it worth?/ Can't bring anyone back to this Earth." Power-pop blast inspired by death of a friend name-drops the Skatalites singer, blasts through grief in less than two minutes.
17. "Man," Neko Case. Torch singer rocks out in style, declares herself "the man."
18. "Don't Apply Compression Gently," Courtney Barnett. "I may not be 100% happy but at least I'm not with you." Aussie songwriter asserts herself on the subtly stunning CD The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas.
19. "Down by the Deep River," Okkervil River. Majestic centerpiece of Austin songwriter Will Sheff's The Silver Gymnasium turns on a sobering thought: "It's not all right/ It's not even close to all right."
20. "Like a Rose," Ashley Monroe. Terrific title cut about rising above hard luck, from solo album by Pistol Annies singer that beats out tough-gal supergroup's 2013 release.
21. "Merry Go Round," Kacey Musgraves. 'Twas the year of rising female country songwriters with no taste for sugarcoating. Musgraves' family photo finds "Mama's hooked on Mary Kay/ Brother's hooked on Mary Jane/ Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down."
22. "My Favorite Picture of You," Guy Clark. Texas songsmith cherishes a snapshot of his late wife, Susanna. Terribly sad.