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Unless you were cut off from all media for the last year there was absolutely no avoiding the Holy Trinity of 2013: Daft Punk’s discotastic latest release, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ hipster thrift shop anthem and of course: Robin Thicke’s ubiquitous blurred lines. My guess is there are goat herders on Peruvian mountain tops humming “Hey hey hey!” to themselves. Although their initial sparkle has dulled somewhat through extreme overexposure, you will still find these three staples in the brokenbranches picks for best songs of 2013. They have served me well as dance floor seductors throughout the year and have earned their spot.

If you are wondering what other songs have delighted and wooed me this year: look no further! My annual top 50 has been painstakingly put together, with the top 25 available in youtube clips for your eager ears and eyes. Of course you can check out the entire top 50 in my Spotify playlist too, or even my ridiculously large ‘2013 long list‘ for my fellow insatiable list nerds. I would love to hear your favourites, so drop them in the comments!

25.   Wild Belle – Keep You

Laid back reggae flavoured debut single from Chicago based brother & sister duo Wild Belle, which manages to incorporate a baritone solo and not be annoying.

24.   Snakehips – On & On

Another song perfect for kicking back in the sunshine (or warming up your winter), with George Maple’s soulful sweet vocals trickling over this London duo’s production.

23.   Blende – Rikki

Enough snoozing in the sun, time for some disco! London dj Blende obviously has a knack for super catchy dance tunes, this has been stuck in my head for weeks. You’d better run right back Rikki Rikki.

22.   MS MR – Hurricane

Slowly addictive track from New York duo MS MR with a very peculiar video. Anyone else think that smurfette singer Lizzy Plapinger looks like Gillian Anderson a.k.a. Skully?

21.   Stromae – Papaoutai

First male vocalist in this list is Belgian-Rwandan rapper Stromae with his massive hit Papaoutai, lamenting a fatherless childhood over a contrastively upbeat dance track. Unafraid to deal with more serious topics than your average chart-topping dance act while still remaining extremely radio friendly, I think Stromae will be an interesting character to follow.

20.   De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig – Bewuste Sabotage

De Jeugd are no strangers to my best-of-lists and they made it again this year. This nasty song features the boys doing what they do best: sabotaging any situation they get into.

19.   Charli XCX – You – Ha Ha Ha

Bubblegum pop princess here today gone tomorrow or savvy up and coming pop artist? Don’t be fooled, UK riot grrrl Charli XCX has a good head on her shoulders and already has the art of writing edgy pop gems down to a tee. Did you know she penned Icona Pop’s  2013 stomper I Love It?

18.   Daughter – Human

Understated indie-folk song of heartbreak and woe from London band Daughter’s debut album. A quiet moment of contemplation as we move up this top 25.

(unofficial video)

17.   Great Minds – Doag

Cream of the crop of Dutch hiphop in 2013: three rappers (Jiggy Dje, Winne en Sticks) who joined forces in ‘supergroup’ Great Minds.

16.   Haim – Don’t Save Me

The hair-swooping Haim sisters with their indielicious mix of R&B and Fleetwood Macness. I was lucky enough to see them live twice this year, they rock.

15.   Disclosure – Latch

Sam Smith delivers the perfect vocals for this seductive Disclosure track, cleverly accompanied by a fitting video full of beautiful people falling in love. Smith’s acoustic rendition is worthwhile too.

14.   Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop (feat. Wanz)

No for real, ask your granddad, can I have his hand-me-downs?

13.   Half Moon Run – Full Circle

Montreal’s Half Moon Run sooth the soul with their layered vocal harmonies, but having seen them live a couple of times I know they are equally well able to turn up the amps for some Rawk!

12.   Bombino – Azamane Tiliade

Hypnotic North African nomad rock from local hero Bombino, who fled Niger to avoid persecution for simply playing guitar. That dedication and love for music was clearly visible for anyone who saw him play at Lowlands this year, quite something. No wonder The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach was eager to produce the record.

11.   The Child of Lov – Fly

In a strange turn of events I found out the mysterious Child of Lov I had been obsessively listening too for the last few months was actually a Dutch spoken word poet in the same week he unexpectedly died at the age of 26. Oh and gents, pay attention, I’m sure you will appreciate this video.

10.   Mount Kimbie – You Took Your Time (feat. King Krule)

Kicking off the top 10 is this intoxicating tune with King Krule’s languid lyrics and Mount Kimbie’s tripped out production. Also easily the best video in this top 50, a short film of suburban teenage boredom and tension boiling just below the surface.

9.   Kavinsky – Odd Look (feat. The Weeknd)

If I’m completely honest, Odd Look basically made the top 10 because it is an excellent make out song. I encourage you to try for yourselves.

8.   Foals – My Number

This is the eighties inspired party anthem from Foals’ third album and it definitely does the trick for a festival crowd. Although a little less arty-weird and more stadium-ready these days, they’ve managed to keep their energetic Foals feel in the process.

7.   Arcade Fire – Here Comes The Night Time

2013 also saw the release of the new Arcade Fire! This is the Afro-Caribbean flavoured festive number, which is my current favourite on the James Murphy produced album (although it still changes all the time). Here is the cameo-packed extra long ‘salsateque’ video that combines Here Comes The Night Time, We Exist and Normal Person:

6.   Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools (Drank)

This song really blew me away when I first heard it and it stuck with me throughout the rest of the year. Cocky and vulnerable at the same time, with a subtle but mesmerising track to back up the clever lyrics. It will be interesting to see how Lamar will continue after this hype-year.

5.   Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?

Honestly I lost interest in Arctic Monkeys soon after Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, but when I saw them do the closing set at Best Kept Secret festival this years I realised I was missing out on the cool stylings of their latest album AM. Alex Turner grabbed my attention, his laddishness now replaced by the persona of a confident band leader. Do I Wanna Know is the sexiest song on the album as far as I’m concerned, eloquently appealing to feelings we’ve all had at one time or another.

4.   Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines (feat. T.I. & Pharrell)

Hey hey hey! What can I say. This funky cow bell ditty hits all the marks and it’s no wonder you can switch between 5 radio stations and hear Blurred Lines on every single one of them at any given time. Also: there is a scantily clad girl holding a sheep.

3.   Daft Punk – Instant Crush

Yes, Get Lucky would have been the obvious choice (oh look, it’s Pharrell again!). And in fairness: it’s a great song that could have just as easily ended up on top of this list. But Julian Casablancas’ melancholy autotuned lyrics and the old school Daft Punk synths made Instant Crush my instant favourite.

2.   Major Lazer – Watch Out For This [Bumaye] (feat. Busy Signal, The Flexican & FS Green)

It would be simply embarrassing to divulge how often my friends and I have attempted to grind, twerk, bounce, dagger, dutty wine and slutdrop to this monster dance floor stomper… Suffice to say it has been our number one go-to Friday night anthem the entire year, and rightfully so. If you are equally inclined to join in with the insane dance moves in the video, I would be particularly interested to see anyone who is able to do this one. We haven’t quite managed yet.

1.   James Blake – Retrograde

In a complete mood change to Major Lazer’s Jamaican mayhem, I present you 2013’s number one brokenbranches pick: James Blake’s Retrograde. It is just a thing of sheer beauty. It hit me full force when I was at Lowlands this year. I was by myself and wandered into the warm Bravo tent feeling fairly hungover and sleep deprived. I stood there with the waves of Blake’s compositions rolling over me in my mild zombie-state, and when Retrograde started it  just felt like the perfect place to be at that moment.

For those who have made it this far down the blog, I give you songs 26-50 in alphabetical order (or head straight to the Spotify playlist):

Cashmere Cat – Mirror Maru

CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share

The Don’t Touch My Croque Monsieurs TDTMCM – Helikopter

Everything Everything – Cough Cough

Ghostpoet – Meltdown

Iamamiwhoami – t

James Vincent McMorrow – Cavalier

Janelle Monáe – We Were Rock & Roll

Kate Boy – Northern Lights

Laura Marling – Master Hunter

Local Natives – Heavy Feet

Lorde – Royals

MØ – XXX 88

Phoenix – Bourgeois

Phosphorescent – Song For Zula

Satellite Stories – Kids Aren’t Safe In The Metro

Talib Kweli – Come Here – feat. Miguel

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Swim and Sleep [Like a Shark]

Vampire Weekend – Unbelievers

Villagers – Nothing Arrived

Volcano Choir – Byegone

WE ARE TWIN – The Way We Touch

The Weeknd – Wanderlust

Woodkid – I Love You

Youth Lagoon – Dropla

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