Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best 25 Songs of 2013: #2 and #1

While I sit here by the fire with the snow blowing outside, I have to say - I'm a little excited for 2013 to hit the road, and 2014 to ring on in. This year was one filled with a whole lot of magic, but, it's time to begin what I think just might be the best. year. ever. And, what better way to send off 2013 than with two songs that made a gigantic impact. One album-less single, featuring the golden boy from hip-hop, stopped the rap game dead in its tracks - scratching their head about where this bloodthirsty voice came from. Our number one, a standout symbol of maturity off one of this year's best albums, had all the fixings of a classic - coined sounds from the band's past, mixed in with every bit of evidence that their ready for their prime.
Have a wonderful end to 2013, a special New Year's eve, and cheers to the many good things to come tomorrow. Happy New Year!

#2. Control - Big Sean featuring Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica
You see, the last thing Kendrick Lamar wanted was anyone thinking he peaked during his 2012 debut. Big Sean asked K-dot and Jay Electronica to cameo on "Control (HOF)" for his new album, before the single got scrapped from the listing due to clearance issues. Nonetheless, the single was released and within hours of the track dropping, the internet erupted in response to the groundbreaking second verse. Don't get me wrong, Big Sean and Jay show up on this track - but Kendrick's uncharacteristic declarations of supremacy and growling attacks on just about every other MC (including his pals) sent everyone into either a knee-slapping or wall-punching fit. While his whiny peers attempted rebuttals in their own right, nothing topped the brilliant shock of hearing Compton's "good kid" explode onto a verse in a way he hadn't previously with his concept storytelling debut. It's safe to say we saw a mind-blowing, and welcome, side of K-dot when he barked:"...And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Wale, Pusha-T, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky, Drake, Big Sean, Jay Electron', Tyler, Mac Miller/ I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you n***as/ Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you n***as/ They don't wanna hear one more noun or verb from you n***as." That's what we're talking about.

#1. Hannah Hunt - Vampire Weekend:
From one of the best albums of this year, Modern Vampires of the City, "Hannah Hunt" embodies everything that I love about music. For one, this song really symbolizes how Vampire Weekend - a band I was never thrilled about before this release - have grown to become seasoned, purposeful musicians with an understanding of thoughtful songwriting and melodies. But, more importantly - everything about this song feels right. These dazzling four minutes, like so many others from the rich collection, timelessly grabs your undivided attention with its dainty Paul Simon-style introduction and Ezra Koenig's precious pronunciation - talking about growing up - before rising and crashing all around you. A musical crash like this one washes you over. And then, more than ever, do we totally listen to and understand the searching and transformation Vampire Weekend's talking about. This whole album, about religion, relationships and just trying to actually grow up, is so utterly believable because of songs like this. Their vulnerability - often painted through honest admissions and Ezra's sweet coo - is fine by them, because they challenge it right back with big, enchanting moments like the one that ends "Hannah Hunt." Even if their lyrics modestly claim they're still figuring "it all" out, along with characters like Hannah, expansive revelations like this one really convince us they're closer to getting there than they think.

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