What do a former boy bander, an emotional rapper in touch with his feminine side, a 17-year-old from New Zealand, and Beyonce’s younger sister have in common? They’re all contenders to hold the title for the Best Song of the year. Check out the tracks we were loving in 2013.
While many artists struggle throughout their career for a number one hit, newcomer Lorde had no problem finding one right off of the bat. The New Zealand singer released the song “Royals” as a response to other pop songs on the radio. Although some criticized the song for lyrics that could be considered racist, the song still managed to live atop the Billboard charts for nine consecutive weeks. The single is on Lorde’s debut The Love Child EP, which has garnered much attention and critical acclaim.
Proving that he is part rapper and part poet, Wale got in touch with his softer side with the single “Bad.” Enlisting the help of songstress Tiara Thomas, the D.C. native rapped about a scorned woman who would rather eff them and leave them rather than risk having her heartbroken by really loving a man. For the remix, Wale recruited the ultimate bad girl Rihanna. “Bad” can be found on Wale’s third album The Gifted and marks the second Wale song that made it into Billboard’s top 40 chart.
Drake’s “Started From The Bottom”
You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing someone rap, “Started from the bottom, now I’m here.” Even though his idea of starting from the bottom was borrowing his uncle’s Acura so he could travel to and from the set of “Degrassi,” Drake’s ubiquitous song was everywhere. The single served as the first single off of the Canadian rapper’s third album, Nothing Was The Same and has gone platinum since its summer release.
Tamar Braxton’s “Love & War”
Tamar Braxton stepped out from behind her older sisters’ shadows over a decade ago for a solo career. Though it failed to take off then, things are different the second time around. Tamar scored her very first hit single with the ballad “Love & War.” The lead single off of the album of the same name shot to number one on iTunes after her friend Lady Gaga promoted the single to her more than 31 million Twitter followers.
Solange’s “Lovers In The Parking Lot”
Although her big sister Beyonce is one of the biggest pop/R&B singers on the planet, Solange is a talented artist in her own right. She proves that once again with this year’s “Lovers in the Parking Lot.” Off of her True EP, which was released late last year, Solange directed and released the video in September. “Lovers in the Parking,” one of the strongest songs on the EP, helped solidify Solange’s image as the answer to anti-pop.
Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors”
More than a decade ago, boy bander Justin Timberlake left his N’Sync group behind to go at it alone. After being absent from the music scene for more than five years, Timberlake returned with a brand new album. Earlier this year he dropped The 20/20 Experience which contained the chart-topping song “Mirrors.” Inspired by his new bride Jessica Biel and his grandparents, the song was considered the wedding reception song of the year.
J. Cole ‘s “Power Trip”
Fayetteville rapper J. Cole’s first mixtape helped him get noticed by Jay Z and he was soon signed to Roc Nation. Although his first album wasn’t received as warmly as his previous projects, J. Cole found his mark with this year’s Born Sinner. Teaming up with Miguel once again, the Roc Nation signee released “Power Trip” and struck gold. More like platinum. A continuation of the song “Dreams,” J. Cole rapped about his borderline obsession over a crush. The song went platinum and is considered by many as one of the best songs of the year.
Ciara’s “Body Party”
Ciara emerged on the music scene with “1, 2 Step,” wowing fans over with her dance moves. Since then she’s become more famous for things other than music but the Atlanta singer marked her return to music with the ultra sexy “Body Party.” Working closely with her boyfriend-turned-fiance/producer/singer/songwriter Future, Ciara’s “Body Party” received even more play after the NSFW video premiered. Ciara recently vented on Instagram after “Body Party” was snubbed by the Grammys.
Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home”
Drake is certainly not the average rapper. He’s never been afraid to get in touch with his feminine side to win the ladies over and in “Hold On We’re Going Home,” Drake sings just as much as he raps. Partnering with his longtime producer Noah “40” Shebib” Drake likened the feel of the song to something along the lines of a Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson collaboration. The song has gone platinum in several countries, including here in the U.S.
Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”
It took Robin Thicke six albums before he landed his first number one song with “Blurred Lines.” Featuring Atlanta rapper T.I. and producer Pharrell, the song was released earlier this year and has dominated the airwaves since then. The song helped Thicke become a household name and a very rich man. Proving that sex certainly sells, the NSFW video featuring topless models was initially pulled from YouTube. “Blurred Lines” was nominated for two Grammys and is considered a shoe-in for Record of the Year.
Jay Z’s “Tom Ford”
Jay Z just can’t stay away from a microphone for long. Out of nowhere the Brooklyn rapper released his 12th solo album this year, partnering with Samsung with a historic deal that will no doubt change the game again. Over the summer, Hov released “Tom Ford,” his ode to the iconic designer and the finer things in life. While others have been obsessed with Molly popping, the married father of one rapped about “getting high” on fashion. “Tom Ford” has since gone gold since its October release.
Janelle Monae’s “PrimeTime”
Janelle Monae has always danced to the beat of a different drummer. After releasing her critically acclaimed debut album, the Bad Boy artist followed that up with The Electric Lady. Serving as the fourth and fifth installment of her Metropolis concept series, the album contains the hit single “PrimeTime,” featuring fellow singer Miguel. Monae’s second album moved over 40,000 units in the first week, making it her highest debut selling album thus far.
Miguel’s “How Many Drinks”
Singer Miguel was first introduced to the world with the 2010 smash hit “All I Want Is You” with rapper J. Cole. Although his debut album was a sleeper hit, no one slept on the singer three years later. Releasing his second album Kaleidoscope Dream to critical acclaim, the album featured the popular song “How Many Drinks.” Not wanting to waste his time, or his money, the R&B singer inquires exactly how many drinks does it take for a woman to go home with him. Rapper Kendrick Lamar was featured on the remix. “How Many Drinks” earned a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance.
Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”
What do you get when you have two French dudes in helmets team up with Pharrell Williams and legendary writer Nile Rogers? Only one of the biggest songs of the year. You couldn’t walk down the street or go anywhere without hearing about being “up all night to get some.” While most people probably think “Get Lucky” is about getting laid, Williams said the song is really about being fortunate enough to connect with someone. The song has been nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and the coveted Record of the Year.
Big Sean’s “Control”
It’s hard to believe one of the best rap songs of the year has no official home. Big Sean released “Control,” which features Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica, to generate some buzz for his album and that it surely did. In his verse, Cali native Lamar called out his fellow rappers and crowded himself the King of New York, ruffling many feathers in the process. Although the song didn’t make it on to Big Sean’s Hall of Fame album due to sample clearance issues, it did become a trending topic and helped Big Sean move over 70,000 copies of his album in the first week.