(All songs on this list were released as singles in 2013 [or late 2012?])

1. Daft Punk ft. Pharrell and Nile Rodgers – “Get Lucky” – I have heard “Get Lucky” described multiple times as a future wedding song staple. If this forecast is to be, then that must mean its appeal cuts across generations. I am inclined to believe that, from ages 9 to 99, the only sensible reaction to “Get Lucky” is delight. It took 35 years, but now disco isn’t just mainstream – it’s also cool. That opening synth riff is a secret smile-making recipe, while the voices of Pharrell and robots are equally sexy.
2. Miley Cyrus – “We Can’t Stop” – I was talking with a friend who was saying she would respect Miley Cyrus more if she sang about weightier subjects. I understood her point, and I certainly wouldn’t be against Miley trying out such material. But fun anthem bangers like “We Can’t Stop” have their place, and that place shouldn’t be discounted or looked down upon. The world’s a pretty heavy place, both for personal and social reasons, so it is kind of awesome if you can manage to keep it kicking amidst all that. After all, why would we bother fighting to right the world’s wrongs if it weren’t for the sake of ensuring fun?
3. Avicii ft. Aloe Blacc – “Wake Me Up!” – The best bluegrass EDM soul song of the year, and, of course, of all time. As we go through life, it is useful to have the pace set by that opening galloping riff and an internal voice that sounds like Aloe Blacc’s. When you believe that things are going to turn around and truly become better, it is time to bust out this buoyant blast of optimism.
4. Lorde – “Royals” – Lorde’s hit has made her a star and has kept getting airplay for nearly a year because it is not so easily defined. Not only is Lorde an electo-rocker with heavy hip-hop and R&B influences, she is also a hard-to-pin-down mix of irony and earnestness. She’s kind of fed up with the platinum lifestyle promoted by the songs she’s been listening to, but those are the songs she and her friends party to. She’s not ashamed to admit it; she just wants something more. It’s that message of “we’re not bad, but we can be better” that really clicks.
5. Zedd ft. Foxes – “Clarity” – “Clarity” captures the thrilling, scary nature of any sort of love. Good love, bad love, promising love, suspicious love – this song ponders committing to love, and it is frightening, but potentially awesome. The crescendo into the chorus is like a heart becoming filled to bursting, and the booming percussion sounds like things crashing into each other, which is ideal for dancing.
6. Kanye West – “Black Skinhead” – Kanye’s most guttural burst from his most guttural album.
7. Haim – “Falling” – Haim pull off the trick of capturing the heaviness of life and creating a sublime respite that exists outside the constraints of time and space.
8. Janelle Monáe ft. Erykah Badu – “Q.U.E.E.N.” – Ms. Monáe breaks out her manifesto: all social proscriptions of identity are cast right out.
9. Sky Ferreira – “You’re Not the One” – Sky Ferreira perfects her sound (one of many sounds): a synthy gloss on the nighttime and the power of waiting for something better.
10. Haim – “The Wire” – These SoCal ladies are fierce, but they’re not insensitive; you may not want them to break up with you, but you’ll be happy to sing along with their harmonies and rock out with their percussive guitar-playing as they do so.
11. Justin Timberlake – “Mirrors” – A deeply felt ode to love lasting decades and decades – it’s excruciatingly awesome how the melding of two souls can be so satisfying.
12. Tegan and Sara – “Closer” – This is what a crush sounds like. Love doesn’t have to be existentially terrifying – it might make you anxious, but it can still be FUN.
13. Arctic Monkeys – “Do I Wanna Know” – A garage rock stomper of raw heartburn – gotta love alternating between the falsetto and the tempo on the bridge.
14. David Bowie – “The Next Day” – It’s not only veterans like Bowie who don’t want to die before their time is up. Here’s the anthem for whenever you declare that you shan’t be counted out.
15. Chvrches – “The Mother We Share” – These are some heavy interpersonal issues, but they’re not hard to deal when accompanied with synchronized “oh, oh, oh oh oh, oh oh’s.”
16. Lady GaGa ft. R. Kelly – “Do What U Want” – An unabashedly sleazy club stomper that will make you totally unashamed to explore your lover.
17. Kanye West ft. Charlie Wilson – “Bound 2” – A true oddity, even by Kanye’s standards, but it apparently came from a place of love, and it shows.
18. Britney Spears – “Work Bitch” – It’s time to admit that we all love Britney – she certainly won’t accept any other answer. She’s too focused to care, anyway.
19. Pharrell – “Happy” – It’s all there in the title.
20. Robin Thicke ft. 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar – “Give it 2 U” – Pure R&B has always been this baldly sexual. It’s the language of love. We’re human beings; if you’re feeling it, go for it.
21. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege” – The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are at their best when they really get under your skin, that riff just tingles up your arm, and Karen O really explores your ears as she gets into every sound of the title word.
22. Janelle Monáe – “Dance Apocalyptic” – I don’t think I’ve ever heard any truer words spoken than “smash smash, bang bang, don’t stop, cha-lang-a-lang-a-lang.”
23. Major Lazer ft. Bruno Mars, 2 Chainz, Tyga, and Mystic – “Bubble Butt” – The hypnotic hit of the year.
24. David Bowie – “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” – The Thin White Duke has been around for a while, and he knows from stars, as he hums along through this spacy jam.
25. Vampire Weekend – “Diane Young” – I’m mostly interested in that manipulated “baby, baby, baby” breakdown.

Honorable Mention/Reminder That Rihanna Keeps Tirelessly Releasing New Music: Rihanna ft. David Guetta – “Right Now”

The Best Son-Single of the Year: Queens of the Stone Age – “If I Had a Tail” – Josh Homme’s idiosyncratic brand of poetry is still as “gitchy gitchy, ooh la la” as ever.

Best Album Openers:
1. David Bowie – “The Next Day”
2. Kanye West – “On Sight”
3. Daft Punk – “Give Music Back to Life”

The Best Songs of 2012 I Didn’t Hear Until 2013:
-Tame Impala – “Elephant” – Psychedelic rock takes a huge step forward after taking a few decades off.
-Major Lazer ft. Amber Coffman – “Get Free” – Big dreams and big hopes come to life in this five-minute slice of heaven.