Flavorwire Staffers’ Favorite Songs of 2013

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With the end of every calendar year comes the customary influx of “Best Of” lists, definitively ranking the créme de la cultural créme of the last 365 days. But sometimes “best” doesn’t accurately describe the things that stick with us most, or that we irrationally love out of personal preference. So to cap off 2013, Flavorwire staffers listed their favorite cultural items of the year — the books, movies, and experiences we’ll be taking into 2014. Click through for Flavorwire’s favorite songs of 2013.

“This Is Magic” — Majical Cloudz

It’s between this, Kanye’s “New Slaves,” and Kirin J Callinan’s “Embracism” — three very different songs, addressing three very different subjects. But there’s something really compelling about “This Is Magic” — it’s clearly an intensely personal song for Devon Welsh, one that deals with love and death and what it means to be alive. But it’s also, in its own curious way, an uplifting song: “If this is all that I have/ If this song is the last thing I do I feel so good/ That I sang it.” —Tom Hawking, Music Editor

“Girls Like Us” — The Julie Ruin

My heart filled with warmth all summer long as I eagerly waited for the first release from The Julie Ruin, the rock group fronted by Bikini Kill founder Kathleen Hanna (a five-member version of her 1997 solo project, Julie Ruin). And seeing the band perform their first headlining gig at Williamsburg’s Union Pool was an amazing experience; there was something so moving and powerful about watching Hanna jump around on stage again in between screaming into her microphone. As for the album itself, I love all of it, but it’s “Girls Like Us” that really excites me — not because it’s a contemporary feminist anthem full of empowering non sequiturs, but because it’s an inclusive experience, one that isn’t limited to the girls who listen to Hanna’s music, or girls at all. It’s about everyone who enjoys this similar experience of having fun while at the same time putting some thought into consideration of the cultural elements they are experiencing. —Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

“Self-Portrait” — Xo Xinh

Electroacoustic composer Xo Xinh created a soundtrack for a short film he created, “Self-Portrait,” that I really enjoyed this year. He’s been performing a series, Contagion, which pairs glass with metal percussion, manipulated with live electronics. I’d like to check it out this year if he tours the East Coast. —Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

“The Wire” — Haim

I am a bit of a musical rube, but I really listened to Haim’s “The Wire” a lot while striding around New York this fall. —Michelle Dean, Editor-at-Large

“Wake Me Up” — Elvis Costello & The Roots

Elvis Costello and the Roots are such an odd pairing that it was hard to envision Wise Up Ghost working at all, but neither of these acts are to be underestimated. The entire album beautifully fuses Costello’s evocative lyrics — searching, accusatory, ultimately triumphant — with Quest and the crew’s distinctive hip-hop instrumentation, resulting in a blissfully successful collaboration that brings out the best in both parties. “Wake Me Up” was the track that kept getting re-queued on both my iPod and turntable, a wandering slab of neo-funk that somehow sounds like both the past and the future. —Jason Bailey, Film Editor

“Feds Watching” — 2Chainz

“I’m so fly I jump out the air wearing Gucci”? That’s good shit. A latecomer was this song Kanye West did in Chicago about how the Bulls really fucked over the greatest basketball player ever. I honestly think it might be my favorite thing I’ve ever heard from Kanye. —Jason Diamond, Literary Editor

“Push the Sky Away” — Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Although I’ve been a Nick Cave fan for over a decade, I approached his latest album with impatience. Especially after Grinderman, the weird lyrics about Miley Cyrus and videos starring prostitutes and johns just seemed to confirm that Cave had grown hopelessly out of touch in his late middle age. But I kept listening, and what stuck with me about Push the Sky Away was its final, title track, an unadorned lullaby that doubles as an anthem for creative persistence at a time when the noise of daily life is deafening. —Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

“You’re Not the One” — Sky Ferreira

I couldn’t quite tell you why the lead single off Night Time, My Time is a perfect piece of pop (say that five times fast). But the hours I’ve spent dancing to it on repeat speak for themselves. There’s also something vindicating about Sky’s latest effort being worth the long, long wait after her uneven EP. It’s not “Everything Is Embarrassing,” but “You’re Not the One” is louder, more energetic, and in my humble opinion, better. —Alison Herman, Editorial Assistant

“Tube Stops and Lonely Hearts” — Annie

Why don’t more people care that Annie came back this year?! After a four-year hiatus, the Norwegian pop goddess and critical darling returned with a bunch of new songs in 2013, her most prominent release being this summer’s A&R EP. My favorite thing she did this year was “Tube Stops and Lonely Hearts,” a paranoid, ecstatic tribute to the European club scene of the early ‘90s. It’s frenetic, a bit hard to dance to, and sounds like it belongs in the violent comedown scenes of Trainspotting, yet I’m unable to resist. I’ve doubtlessly listened to this song more than any other from this year, and I have yet to tire of it. —Sarah Fonder, Editorial Apprentice

“Help Me Lose My Mind” — Disclosure

A moody mélange of house, pop, and soul that satisfyingly straddles genres and that provided the perfect peaks and valleys for my final drive home from college. The wunderkind brothers’ soul-infused club music may be UK-born, but it sounds just as good, or better, blasting down an American highway. —Kevin Pires, Editorial Apprentice