Some Of 2013's Best Songs, As Chosen By NPR's Music Team

We've been talking all this week with writers from NPR Music about their picks for the best albums of 2013. Audie Cornish hears from NPR Music writer and editor Otis Hart about their list of 100 favorite songs of 2013.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We've been talking all this week with writers from NPR Music about their picks for the best albums of 2013 and we've heard a lot.

FRANNIE KELLEY: The images that come to your mind are unencumbered, the energy is palpable.

STEPHEN THOMPSON: You know, there are band that make love songs and there are bands that make sex songs. These are intimacy songs.

ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS: And you might think it sounds like better in concept than in execution or that it's just too woo-woo for words.

CORNISH: If the 50 favorite albums were too woo-woo for you or if they weren't enough to peruse, NPR Music also collected their 100 favorite songs of 2013. Writer and editor Otis Hart joined us to talk about a few like "Recover" from the band Churches.

OTIS HART, BYLINE: They're from Scotland. They're a synth rock band because there's no guitars. It's, you know, synthesizers and laptop computers and a really powerful female vocalist named Lauren Mayberry. It's just one of those anthems that you can't get enough of. You just want to play it over and over and over again.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LAUREN MAYBERRY: (Singing) And if I recover will you be my comfort / or it can be over or we can just leave it here.

HART: The chorus of that song is so powerful. It really would sound great with any sort of instrumentation, but what makes it sound like 2013 is that super crisp, audacious production.

CORNISH: And, you know, you talked about having a laptop, right, not needing guitars anymore. Another group we could talk about then is Disclosure and their song which features AlunaGeorge, another kind of dance/pop group and the song's called "White Noise"

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, 'WHITE NOISE')

DISCLOSURE: (Singing) Just noise, white noise.

HART: Disclosure is a really interesting story, actually. They're very young. It's two brothers, Guy and Howard Lawrence, and both of them are in their early 20s, which kind of blows your mind because I'm 36 and I'm just, like, how do these kids do it? Like, this is, like, it's so inventive and they did it themselves.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, 'WHITE NOISE')

DISCLOSURE: (Singing) I'm hearing static, you're like an automatic, You just wanna keep me on repeat, And hear me crying. Only you can...

HART: It sounds like someone might have been able to play that on a super awesome futuristic synthesizer, but really, what they're doing is layering three, four, five different machines at the same time so it sounds like one note, but it's a note that is impossible to play by itself. It's like ear candy when you got it on headphones.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, 'WHITE NOISE')

DISCLOSURE: (Singing) If you want to play tough, then let's play rough.

CORNISH: All right. We've talked about a lot of new artists here, but there were some familiar names on this favorite songs list, like Linda Thompson.

HART: Yeah, she was one of the premier names of the British folk revival in the '70s and she actually went 17 years without recording an album, partially due to this condition she has called spasmodic dysphonia, which means she can't perform in front of a crowd, which is not a good thing if you're a musician. But that didn't stop her from making a great album and one of the songs we dearly love from that is called "Love's For Babies and Fools."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, 'LOVE'S FOR BABIES AND FOOLS')

LINDA THOMPSON: (Singing) I will never try to please you or abide by your rules. I care only for myself, love's for babies and fools.

CORNISH: Lastly, Otis, I know the debate up there gets pretty fiery. Right up until taping this interview, songs were being knocked off the list so I got to know what's the song that you love this year that made it?

HART: Well, Audie, I went through a huge Soca phase this year. Soca is the dance music of Trinidad and Tobago. It's a combination between Caribbean rhythms and reggae rhythms and there's a whole festival in Trinidad and Tobago that celebrates this music each year. This song has sort of dominated that festival. It's called "Differentology" by the artist Bunji Garlin.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, 'DIFFERENTOLOGY')

BUNJI GARLIN: Look at the sun now raising up and the crowd now waking up / the atmosphere have vibes and nothing can break it up...

CORNISH: Otis, I am picturing you dancing to this. Is that fair?

HART: Oh, I mean if jumping up and down and nodding your head is dancing, then yes.

CORNISH: Perfect music to warm us up in this cold weather. Otis Hart, he writes for NPR Music and he spoke to us about NPR Music's favorite songs of 2013. Otis, thanks so much.

HART: Thanks, Audie.

CORNISH: You can see the entire list at NPRMusic.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, 'DIFFERENTOLOGY')

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