remembering 2013 // top pop songs

I can't believe it's already the time of year when people are counting down their favorites of the last 360~ days. When it comes to music lists, lots of bloggers recount their favorite albums of the year, usually filled with obscure artists and songs. There's nothing wrong with this, of course, but it's not so much my style. What do I like? Pop music. So, without further adieu, check my top ten pop songs of 2013.

10 Burn // Ellie Goulding
Ellie is an angel and a hit-maker. Her Pandora station got me through all the tedious assignments that came with the end of college, and the single "Anything Could Happen" got me through a bunch of networking events and interviews earlier this year. With "Burn," I just want to dance; the purest of wants. I'm so excited that this song came out when it did to motivate me to write my list!

09 Heart Attack // Demi Lovato
Demi is one of my biggest idols. I so admire her openness about her struggles with mental health, and her absolute dedication to promoting self-love. I've been so impressed with how honest she is about the little things like being 21 and not being able to just go to a club or bar with her friends on their birthdays, because she knows it isn't a healthy or safe choice for her. She sets an incredible example for any age, and I appreciate her being in the biz. "Heart Attack" is a great track where she brings that same openness to her experience with dating that I think a lot of women can relate to. I really hope I can catch her Neon Lights tour this coming year!

08 Miss Movin' On // Fifth Harmony
I watched the US version of the X Factor last year and voted every single week for my five harmonizing ladies. It's true, I'm a fan girl. In this super fun first single, Fifth Harmony sings about doing your own thing after someone does you wrong. Way to bring girl groups back into the game! Cannot wait to see what they drop next, and I'm so excited that they're touring with Demi Lovato.

07 Q.U.E.E.N. // Janelle Monae ft. Erykah Badu
Janelle is a Q.U.E.E.N. and a feminist and a star. I'm so glad she had a hit this year, and I'm even more glad it was this one. The way Janelle writes about gender and womanhood is so important, and she makes an incredible statement about how women are perceived and the boxes we're meant to fit in to be just so. Janelle helps make room for all of us.

06 Still Into You // Paramore
Paramore has long been a favorite of mine. Hayley writes the soundtrack to my relationships, and "Still Into You" is such a nice "we've been together a while and I wanna keep doing this for a long time because I'm still as into you as I was way back when" song. It doesn't hurt that her hair is both orange and pink.

05 Royals // Lorde
In another universe, this song would be my number one song of the year. I wanted to just make this a list of my top ten favorite Lorde songs, but didn't think that would be fair to the other great pop music released this year. Lorde was on everyone's lips and "Royals" was on everyone's radio stations. The song so perfectly encapsulates the time in which we're living, and will go down as a classic.

04 Do What U Want // Lady Gaga ft. R. Kelly
I unabashedly love this song. It's incredibly catchy and almost made it to the top of the list, but didn't because of the featured artist. Regardless of him, I love Gaga's message here. You have to look deeper than the lyrics to get it, otherwise you'll misunderstand it as a song about giving your body away to someone who doesn't value or respect it, which is not the point nor something I promote. As you can see at the end of this AMA's performance, Gaga is telling the media that they can do what they want with her body, as they have and will continue to do, but that what they write doesn't change that they will never stop her voice or own her life. It's a powerful way to cap off her year of Body Revolution.

03 Wrecking Ball // Miley Cyrus
This is another song that would have topped my list if there weren't so many amazing pop singles this year. 2013 was the year of Miley. You may not have been able to escape "We Can't Stop," but "Wrecking Ball" was the song that made you respect Miley as a voice and an artist. She feels, she hurts, and she sings. This is one of the greatest break up tracks ever written, and even though I'm extremely happy and committed in my relationship, I still find myself weeping to Miley in my car sometimes because her pain is palpable.

02 Team // Lorde
Until a teensy-tiny album dropped a couple of weeks ago, I had nailed down this track as my favorite song of 2013. As I said before, I wanted to just make a whole list of Lorde songs here, so I ended up including two of her hits. "Royals" may have been the bigger song, but "Team" is my favorite. The chorus stands as a contrast for the fortunes she sings about in "Royals," describing her own reality as "not very pretty" and a city "you'll never see on screen." This song takes you into the mind of the seventeen year old songbird's personal experience that makes her the star we relate to when we drive through our home towns.

01 Pretty Hurts // Beyoncé
Like I said above, I had it all figured out, and then a little self-titled album showed up on iTunes. Beyoncé changes the way the industry operates with her new album in more than one way. Yes, we're all talking about an album with no promotion and one that, initially, could only be obtained in one place. But we're also talking about a powerhouse who brought feminist ideology to the forefront of conversation as we end our year. What is a woman's value? What is she supposed to value? What can she do to become more valuable? These are all questions Beyoncé aims to answer in her 14 songs and 17 videos. My personal favorite, and the one that shot immediately to number one of my top pop songs list, is "Pretty Hurts." For me, it takes all the other media we consumed this year--all the photoshop, all the unrealistic expectations, all the sexualization, all the standardization of beauty--and smashes it with hindsight and self-awareness. If that's not an empowering message to take into 2014, I don't know what is.

What's on your list this year?


  1. To me, any positive message that Lady Gaga song is sending out is lost 1) in the fact that the lyrics do make it easy to misinterpret, and generally you aren't suppose to have to work hard to understand pop music, and more importantly, 2) the fact that R. Kelly is featured on a song which, message or no, says you can do what you want with my body, and he did with at least 25 young girls, and I'm sure many more, and got away with it, was never even brought to court on rape charges, only child pornography for videotaping what he was doing with the girls. As if that weren't atrocious enough, he just had his own album drop which explicitly references things that aren't just theoretical, but that he actually did/does and got away with, and people are getting devilish kicks off of listening to that album. I do think that Gaga song is catchy, and I would never say that you shouldn't like it or listen to it. If it makes you feel good and you're able to take away the positive aspects of the song, that's great! For me it's inexcusable for Gaga to have this body revolution and partner with someone who cares so little for not only the sanctity of a woman's body and her right to say no, but for that of little girls, and little girls who were ignored or paid off when they filed suits with the court.

    On a happier note, I'm glad you went with a pop list. Have you seen the pop music mashups for the year? They're pretty good!


    1. Wow, I feel like your response it so much more thoughtful and better composed than the Lady Gaga song you reference. I don't think your body, mind, and heart should function without each other and to parcel them out separately reflects on a weakness not a strength I do like Lady Gaga and her music but her message is sliding into the non-empowered side in an effort to be more evocative. That being said her Thanksgiving Music Special was terrible. It tried to appeal to the masses with the inclusion of the Muppets and just came off turgid and uninspired.

    2. I completely agree with Jen's comment. I'm actually quite offended that you included Lady Gaga on this list, given the inherent fucked-up-ness of that song and the collaboration with R. Kelly. That's like saying, "Look how cool and feminist this movie directed by Roman Polanski is!" No. It doesn't work like that--life is much more complicated. Not to even mention the racist bullshit that Lady Gaga has pulled. And wait, that goes for Miley Cyrus too, and (to a lesser extent) Lorde. How can you include Janelle Monae and Beyonce on this list?!

    3. To be clear, I don't think that you should not like problematic artists. After all, I like Lana Del Rey and Azealia Banks. I *do* think that you have to vocally, emphatically acknowledge the awful stuff they're done.

    4. Ooh, I feel like I may have hijacked Nicole's comments for this post with my comment. Sorry Nicole! I didn't mean to start something here, and I think you can pick a beef with just about any celebrity because they live so publicly, so of course they're going to make a decision here or there that people see and don't agree with! Lady Gaga's persona is really problematic for me in general and I don't understand her choice for that song, and there was the Miley thing with her backup dancers and plenty of other scandal I'm sure, but these are all really fun song pics and I'm glad you shared your list with us!


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