Call this season the Summer of Soul: the summer of 2013 produced some clear-cut, all-out jams that will be remembered years from now, and several of them have a soulful bent to them.
It’s very telling that Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” featuring T.I. And Pharrell Williams lived and thrived under the threat of a lawsuit from the Marvin Gaye estate: the throwback vibe of that cowbell and the singer’s grooving falsetto rang some, erm, bells. (Thicke, if you’ll remember, preemptively sued the Gaye estate to bar the action. So maybe “Blurred Lines” keeps its Grammy chances…)
Daft Punk’s return with album “Random Access Memories” was marked by its retro action, and mega-single “Get Lucky” with Pharrell (and chops from Chic’s Nile Rodgers) was the essence of the soul behind their robot masks. Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” would be nothing without Aloe Blacc’s stellar pipes on top of that stomp-clap. Mary Lambert’s chorus on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” still sends sparkles up the spine, despite the song having been around for more than a year.
Justin Timberlake… oh, Justin, who is having such a big year with his “20/20 Experience.” No songs from that album made our solstice review, but his meandering turn on Jay-Z’s “Holy Grail” has a “preach” to it. And just blinking at Bruno Mars’ “Treasure,” it looks like it was culled straight out of “Soul Train.”
Breaking up the old-school boogie were a few of bursts of dance-pop, coincidentally (or not!) from two former child actress. Selena Gomez’s “Come & Get It” and Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” were both invitations to what promised to be a pair of slightly sleazy parties. Ellie Goulding’s melody on Calvin Harris’ “I Need Your Love” provided a pristine combo from the EDM sector.
Like the MTV VMAs, rock wasn’t repping very hard during the hottest months: tracks like Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” started roaring months beforehand. The closest our top 10 lists got to rockin’ out were to country act Florida Georgia Line’s ode to ogling “Cruise,” Capital Cities’ Passion Pit-esque “Safe and Sound” and that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” rip in “Holy Grail.” (One Direction’s “Best Song Ever” made a stab at the top tier, but aside from excitement from Directioners, limped toward the end of the end of its tenure in our memories.)
Below, HitFixers Melinda Newman, Dave Lewis, Chris Eggertsen and myself explain away our top 10 jams of 2013’s Songs of the Summer, and ranked which ones were most representative. What made the songs work? Did we get burned out on them? Will we remember them in 10 years? Who is our No. 1 Song of the Summer?