This is not a Best Of list.
Plenty of other people will be doing that in the coming weeks. Those lists will feature Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar and Daft Punk among others.
Giddy Up America’s list only includes two of those people.
Giddy Up America’s list is slightly different.
Giddy Up America’s list can be summed up in only two words…
As in, you’re listening to the radio or to Spotify, Pandora, LastFm, Rdio and a song comes on. And that song is good. That song is fresh. That song is just…
Hey Oh that’s a flippin’ great song!
This a list of those songs. It’s a list of the 30 best Hey Oh! songs of 2013. It’s a list of songs that made me pay a little more attention to the radio, songs that made me do some dancing in my car, and songs that got stuck in my head for hours on end. Songs that simply put, just made me say Hey Oh! when I heard them.
So here is a list of the 30 best Hey Oh! songs of 2013.
But before I get started…
These songs will be broken up into five different categories.
Old Standbys Showing That They Still Got It
Songs in this category are off of new albums by some of the heavy hitters that are out there- people like Jay Z and Pearl Jam. They are songs that showed that these big guns still know a thing or two about a thing or two.
Let’s See What You’ve Got a Second Time Around
Second albums seem like the hardest ones to make, especially if the first one was your break out album. These are songs from sophomore releases from bands’ who got my attention with their last album, which may not have technically been their first album, but was the first album of theirs I got into.
And Who Might You Be?
Everyone loves discovering new bands. Giddy Up America is no exception. These songs are by bands and/or artists I had never heard before, but was happy when I did.
Enough People Talk, I Listen
People at work, people on the Internet, people on the radio, people on the Twitter- at one point or another they were talking about one of these songs. They talked either enough about these songs or talked about them in such glowing ways that I was inclined to check them out.
Discovered During Sports Radio Commercial Breaks
There’s lots of commercials on sports radio and when there are, I scan the dial for something to listen to until the commercial break is over. I found these songs while scanning.
All right. Let’s do this.
Giddy Up America’s 30 Best Hey Oh! Songs of 2013
Old Standbys Showing That They Still Got It
“Mirrors” Justin Timberlake
“Suit and Tie” was exciting because it was Timberlake’s first new song since 2006 and featured Jay Z. And while it’s a good song, it was “Mirrors” that made me realize JT was back.
“Mind Your Manners” Pearl Jam
There was a part of me that was worried when I heard Pearl Jam was releasing a new album– worried because their past two albums, Pearl Jam and Backspacer, had been so good and had ushered in such a refreshing new chapter for the band that maybe they were pushing their luck by releasing a new album. But then I heard “Mind Your Manners,” a flat out tomahawk chop of a rock song, and just like that, any concerns I had washed away faster than…well…like something that washes away super quickly. Like, something that is the opposite of a grass stain.
“Tom Ford” Jay Z
“Tom Ford” : “Mirrors” :: “Holy Grail” : “Suit and Tie” – because just because they release a song first, doesn’t make it the best song off the album. Actually, I kind of feel Jay Z’s best song of the year wasn’t even on Magna Carta Holy Grail. It was “Open Letter,” which he released after his weekend jaunt to Cuba and move to the cut throat world of athlete representation. That song was realer than anything on his album.
“Super Soaker” Kings of Leon
Hey, the boys are back! Some time off and less booze were apparently just what the Kings of Leon needed to get back to what they do best- playing splintering Southern garage rock.
“Step” Vampire Weekend
“Diane Young” is cool and all, but I just liked “Step” better. “Diane Young” just made me wish I was listening to “Cousins,” where as “Step” sounded totally fresh and new. It’s ended up being my favorite song off of Modern Vampires of the City.
“Black Skinhead” Kanye West
In my opinion, it’s the most listener-friendly song on Yeezus. That is all I’ll say about Mr. West.
“Mercy” TV on the Radio
Part of the draw of a TV on the Radio is that you just never know what to expect from them. 2011’s Nine Types of Light seemed to suggest that the band was chilling out a bit, but then came “Mercy,” a song that oozes with sonic boom goodness. No album, no news of an album, no live shows. Just this song. I’ll take it.
“College” Rogue Wave
The future of Rogue Wave seemed in doubt after lead singer Zach Rogue took some time off and did the solo thing. But their new album, Nightengale Floors, their first since 2009’s Permalight, which was somewhat of a departure for the band sound-wise, sounded like the same old Rogue Wave, which is always a good thing. Rogue Wave is one of those rare bands in that they are perfect for any season, any setting, any situation. I fear that the band is currently on borrowed time, but I could be wrong. I hope I am.
“Another is Waiting” The Avett Brothers
The Avett Brothers waited less than a year to release the follow up to last year’s The Carpenter. I heard this song and waited less than a minute to get the album, Magpie and the Dandelion. They’re quickly becoming one of my favorite bands out there and near the top of the Bands I Most Want to See Live list.
Let’s See What You’ve Got a Second Time Around
“Heavy Feet” Local Natives
There’s not many bands out there that sound like Local Natives and the band expertly toes a very difficult line. Their songs are both whimsically delicate and intricately percussive at the same time. Are they wizards? I’m not sure. They might only play wizards on television. Or at parties. Weird hipster role-playing parties.
“Reflektor” Arcade Fire
You can be cooler than me and can lay claim to being hip to Arcade Fire prior to The Suburbs and I’ll applaud you endlessly. I will. I will because, while yes, I loved “Keep the Car Running,” off of 2007’s Neon Bible prior to the release of The Suburbs, I definitely wasn’t a fan of the band until I heard their 2010 Grammy -winning album. So in the World of Ryan, Reflektor was the band’s sophomore album, and like most of the country, I was extremely interested in what it would sound like. Now? Well a few weeks have passed and my opinion hasn’t changed- I like Reflektor, just not as much as The Suburbs. But that still doesn’t dilute the joyous initial reaction I had to the title song. I might be sick of it now, but I was digging it like my sister’s sweet potatoes when I first heard it.
“Dance Apocalyptic” Janelle Monae
This chick is crazy. This song is crazy. Even the title of the song is kind of crazy. One of these days she’s going to release a strong and cohesive album and it’s going to collectively rock all of our socks off. She hasn’t yet, but I would bet cash money she will eventually.
“Trying to be Cool” Phoenix
Their new album Bankrupt didn’t really incur any kind of legitimate reaction from me the first time I heard it. If anything, I was kind of bummed it didn’t bring with it the pop & crackle of their last album, 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. It wasn’t until I heard this song that my love for Phoenix was rekindled. And I waver on the exact proper usage of irony, but isn’t it at least a little bit ironic that a song called “Trying to be Cool” sounds so effin’ cool?
“6AM” Fitz and the Tantrums
I still listen to “MoneyGrabber” at least three to four times a week (oddly enough, I’m listening to it right now while I write this…and this…and this.) The rest of the band’s 2010 album never really grew on me, but “MoneyGrabber” was enough for me to give anything new they were to put out a chance. Their new album, More Than Just a Dream, hit me in the exact same way as the last album- eehhh. I liked it, I just didn’t love it. I’m not sure I even liked it enough to listen to enough times to possibly love it. But “6AM” is the one song I’ve heard that elicited a reaction comparable to the one “MoneyGrabber” did. I am a fan of Fitz and the Tantrums in the most non-committal way ever.
And Who Might You Be?
“Heavy Bells” J Roddy Walston & the Business
This might be my favorite song of the year. It’s definitely in the top 5. And because I’ve already written a post about Mr. Walston and his Business, I’d suggest taking a quick break from reading and watch their performance on The Late Show with David Letterman. It’s rock ‘n roll, man. Plain and simple.
“Thrift Shop” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Double take>turn volume up>start seat dancing>turn volume up more>handful of loud hey ohs>Shazam, tell me who this is!>more seat dancing
That right there, that was exactly what happened the first time I heard “Thrift Shop” on the radio.
“Trojans” Atlas Genius
The beat of this song is what initially hooked me and without fail, for the hour or so after hearing it, I’d be humming the chorus. I’ve gone on to like more songs by Atlas Genius, but none as much as this little ditty. It has such a cool groove- so easy and smooth with such a vibrant bounce to it. It’s like pop music from space. And I like it. I like it a lot.
Yes, now…now…now it’s hard to think back to a time when we didn’t know who Lorde was. Trying to think back to hearing “Royals” for the first time is like trying to think back to when you first saw Anchorman. That freshness seems unbelievable now because of how familiar you’ve become with it. But yes, yes there was a time not so long ago that “Royals” was new, and upon hearing it, it sounded so pure and appealing. It’s something to think about now when it comes on the radio and I immediately change the channel because frankly, I just can’t bear to hear the song anymore- or the 5,000 remixes that it’s spawned.
Oh, and Hip Hop Community, let’s ease off a bit when it comes to reacting to what Lorde says. She’s a 16 year old from New Zealand. If she’s not saying something dumb, then she’d just be talking about being an extra on Lord of the Rings. She’ll most likely be a footnote by this time next year. Let’s move on.
“Thunder Clatter” Wild Cub
This song is happy. I like happy songs. Plus it’s a sweet song. I like sweet songs, too. I bet this song would be a lot of fun to hear live. And I don’t even know who Wild Cub are or is or was. Might have to crank the Investigative Journalism engine and find out. Stay tuned.
“Pretty Green” White Denim
Another great, honest to God rock song from a band I know absolutely nothing about. I love the bounce of this song, how the music rambles along like a truck cruising down the highway. I mean, if this song isn’t tailor-made for some good ol’ truck driving, I’m not sure what song is. Well, besides this song of course.
Enough People Talking, I’m Listening
“Wild for the Night” A$AP Rocky, Skrillex
Initially, this song did not get a hey oh reaction for me. The intro is kind of weird. But then the beat drops and there you have it, hey oh! This song makes me want to party in a creepy, dank basement or warehouse and make bounce gestures with my hand in the whitest, white boy way possible. Effin’ love this song. I got good news once while I was driving, this song came on and life was effin’ perfect for the next three minutes. What more can you ask from music?
“Get Lucky” Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams
I’ve decided that I’m never going to get sick of this song. Never. The argument about which song was the song of the summer for 2013 will most likely always go back and forth between “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines” and in the end, “Blurred Lines” might win. But when it comes to staying power, “Get Lucky” wins. This song is so appealing and so easy to like. It’s a head bobber, shoulder popper and foot tapper. It’s as close to perfect as a pop song can get. Which makes sense. Because it was constructed by robots. Yes, Daft Punk are robots. I don’t care what Google comes back with.
“Shabba” A$AP Ferg, A$AP Rocky
Ladies and gentlemen…the award for Song That Gets Stuck in My Head the Easiest and Stays for the Longest Amount of Time goes too…
This song. I’ll be singing Shabba, shabba, ranks to myself for the next five hours and there is literally nothing I can do about it.
“Sweater Weather” The Neighbourhood
One of the strongest arguments that can be made against living a life of complete isolation, away from everyone, is that if you did, then you wouldn’t get music recommendations from friends. Music recommendations from friends are one of the best things in the world. A buddy recommended the Neighbourhood to me, I checked them out and fell in love with this song.
One question though- what’s up with the funky spelling of the neighborhood? And I’m going to try and limit myself from going off on a rant here, but this seems to be growing epidemic- Wavves, Chvrches, Wooden Sjhips, Neighbourhood, of bands taking ridiculous liberties with totally common words that we all know how they are spelt. It’s gotten out of hand. You don’t see Pearl Jam spelling their name Peerl Jaam or Vampire Weekend calling themselves Vahmpyre Weknd. Stop trying to be cute. Spell your band name correctly and let’s all move on.
“Get Free” Major Lazer with Amber of the Dirty Projectors
The first example of a song I heard performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon that I immediately became obsessed with. I was familiar with Major Lazer because I knew about Diplo, but this was the first song of theirs I started listening to on a regular basis. I love how sparse and atmospheric it is and the ethereal vocals of this Amber gal. It was a Giddy Up America candidate for Summer Jam of 2013 and one of those songs I think I can always go back to and enjoy.
“KV Crimes” Kurt Vile
When I lived in Philly, I’d hear a lot about Kurt Vile, but never enough to make me listen to Kurt Vile. The closest I got was checking out the War on Drugs, homies of Viles. When his latest album, Wakin on a Pretty Daze came out and got stellar reviews from all corners of the Internet, I figured it was time. Kurt Vile quickly became something like Breaking Bad for me- something that had been around for a couple years that I had neglected to get into sooner. I’m usually not a fan of anything “lo-fi,” but I dig Vile, especially “KV Crimes.”
“A New Life” Jim James
This is the second song I got turned on to thanks to Fallon’s show, although it was more like a reassuring nudge, as I was already of fan of James because My Morning Jacket is one of my favorite bands out there. His performance of “A New Life,” off of his solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God, on Fallon is just simply the cats pajamas and made the song that much more likeable and fun. I love the staging of the performance and how instruments and sounds are introduced. James is a mad scientist and I effin’ love that about him.
“Walk Us Uptown” Elvis Costello & the Roots
I don’t think the whole album is as strong as this song, which sounds cooler than almost every other song on this list. It’s just a testament to the Roots, who now firmly hold the title of Coolest Music Makers Out There, since the Beastie Boys retired.
Discovered During Sports Radio Commercial Breaks
“Treasure” Bruno Mars
I had heard of Bruno Mars. Of course I had. I don’t live under a rock or in Iraq. But before hearing “Treasure,” my musical reference point for Mr. Mars was his Police rip off “Locked Out of Heaven.” That was a good song, but it was a song that made me want to listen to something else- mainly the Police. Not really a good thing. But “Treasure”…this song is a totally different story. It’s light and funky, groove-heavy and catchy as sumbitch. It makes me want to do back up singer dances and do karaoke. Normally my go to karaoke song is “Ice, Ice Baby,” but that song might have been pushed to the side. “Treasure” might not be the best song of 2013, but it could easily be one of the most fun songs of 2013.
“Hold On We’re Going Home” Drake
“Started from the Bottom” never really did it for me and God knows I tried. God knows Hot 97 tried for me. A lot. They still are actually. I can get down with “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” though. Like I can really get down with this song. Oddly enough, I cannot get down with the video. How the video for this song doesn’t feature a wind machine, a beach and clothes made out of white linen is completely beyond me. And speaking of mysteries surrounding this song- how about the fact that if we want to really nitpick here, it’s not really a song. Last I checked, a song features a verse, a chorus, another verse, another chorus, a bridge, etc. I’m pretty sure “Hold On, We’re Going Home” consists of only a pre-chorus and a chorus. That’s it. Think about that the next time you listen to it. Drake is singing the same thing over and over again. It’s like they forgot to add the part where he raps, they just released the hook. I mean, I’m sure Canadians are a little behind us savvy Americans when it comes to something like rapping, but that’s textbook man. Especially for a rapper…which Drake is. Either way, great kind of song. Possibly the best kind of song of the year.
And now, some brief notes on omissions…
Where’s “Blurred Lines?”
If I had done this list before this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, “Blurred Lines” would totally be on this list. Why is that you ask? Because I don’t appreciate the way Robin Thicke handled the aftermath of his performance with Miley Cyrus. That dude totally left her out to dry and that’s a dick move in my opinion. It takes two to tango and it takes two to grind, which is what they did. Yes, they…as in they both did. He was as much to blame for everything as Miley was, yet somehow he escaped unscathed. Made me dislike him, his song and in a small way, his dad and Family Ties.
“Berzerk” just missed this list. It came in at number 31.
Well, who else just missed?
“Roar” by Katy Perry
“We Can’t Stop” by Miley
“Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities
“Power Trip” by J.Cole
“Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” Arctic Monkeys
“Sirens” Pearl Jam
“Made Up Mind” Tedeschi Trucks Band
Because I like you, here’s this list in Spotify Playlist form…
Top Photo: Larry McAllister