I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I didn't really listen to a whole lot of new music in 2013. When I wasn't listening to podcasts, I was usually tuned into a local Top 40 radio station I particularly enjoyed (i.e. had the least annoying DJs). Once said radio station switched to a country format (WTF?!?), I abandoned the radio pretty much altogether. The only 2013 album I purchased was Bangerz by Miley Cyrus, and, I mean, it's a fine album, it's actually better than it has any right to be, but I'm a stocky, balding man in his mid-30's. I'm going to write a end-of-the-year, Miley Cyrus-centric music wrap-up? Not bloody likely.
There were some pop tunes I enjoyed this year (Zedd's "Clarity"; Krewella's "Live for the Night"; a handful of songs from the aforementioned Miley album), but for the most part, I don't know what the fuck went on in the world of music in 2013. Kanye West put out a new record, yes? Something about how he's the reincarnation of Jesus Christ or something? Oh, there was that Jay Z song I hated. Eminem is back apparently.
Thankfully, Entertainment Weekly put out their best of 2013 issue last week. Now I know officially what I was supposed to like. Even more thankfully, they included their picks for the year's best singles. So, rather than doing my own research, I've decided to listen to each one of singles EW chose, and decide for myself if said choice was good or bad. Keep in mind, EW included World War Z in its list of the 10 best films of 2013. I haven't seen World War Z, so I don't know if my reminder means anything, but I thought it was important to share.
10 "When A Fire Starts To Burn" (Disclosure)
What EW says: "It's all so deliriously simple, it just might be genius."
Or, you know, it's so simple that it's, I don't know, amateurish? Look, this is the only Disclosure song I've ever heard, but as the old expression goes, 'You only get one chance at a first impression, so make sure it isn't just a recording of a sermon over a drum machine.' Based on this outing, I'm not sure I need/want any more Disclosure. Full disclosure (heh heh heh), this reminds me of when my friend Will and I would create a beat on the old Mtv Music Generator program and then record ourselves saying silly stuff over it. We'd listen to the finished product and giggle like idiots, maybe we'd play it for some other like-minded friends, but never anyone else. I think I did play one of our silly tracks for my dad once. He had the most confused expression on his face the entire time. When it ended he asked, "What instruments were you guys playing?" "We weren't," I beamed. "It's a computer program." "Oh," he said in a tone that actually said, "Why is my college-aged son still such a goof, Lord?"
One of the year's best?: No. I can't think of anything less essential than "When A Fire Starts To Burn."
9. "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" (David Bowie)
What EW says: "With a crunching guitar riff and four-on-the-floor drums, the music takes its cues from the best of his Berlin Trilogy and Scary Monsters output."
I don't have enough David Bowie knowledge to speak to this unfortunately. I enjoy the music of David Bowie. I like the 'best of' CD I own (I know, I know, 'best ofs' are for housewives and little girls. Whatever.). My heart is open to David Bowie. There is a place in my musical life for him.
I don't think there is anything to hold onto in this song unfortunately. Sure, that 'crunching guitar' is pretty bad-ass, but there's no hook, or not enough of one to keep me interested.
One of the year's best?: Not for me.
8. "Cruise (Remix)" (Florida Georgia Line w/ Nelly)
What EW says: "If love means never having to say you're sorry, then yeah, I'm not sorry. I love it."
Didn't I shit on this earlier in the year? I'm almost sure I did. Listen, if you like this kind of thing (toothless hip hop mixed with grating country pop filtered through auto tune and readymade for truck commercials) you're in luck. This is probably the best song ever. If you enjoy music and non-suicidal thoughts, you probably hate this song. I'd rather listen to an extended version of "Must Be The Honey," Nelly's recent song-mercial for Honey Nut Cheerios, then hear "Cruise" ever again.
One of the year's best?: For people who love shit, sure.
7. "Stay" (Rihanna w/ Mikky Ekko)
What EW says: "Vulnerable and disarmingly honest..."
This is a song I like (It's not the only one on EW's list, by the way. This won't be a complete pummeling.). Sure, it was overplayed, but the first few times I heard it, the emotional gut punch it delivered was a real, painful treat.
One of the year's best?: It may have been if radio hadn't played the shit out of it. It's still pretty good though.
Stay tune for Part 2 later this week.