1. T.Rone - "Hello Love"
I feel like at this point the lines have blurred to the point that when guys like this or Ty$ come out I'm not really sure if he's a singin' rapper or a rappin' singer. In any event, I really dig this record, a real uniquely sparse beat that always sticks out on radio, has been kind of up and down on the charts without totally breaking through, hope now that he's signed to Cash Money they keep pushing this song instead of moving on to another. As usual you can check all these songs on my running Spotify playlist
of favorite 2013 singles.
2. Daft Punk f/ Pharrell Williams - "Get Lucky"
I like Daft Punk fine, the kind of massive cultural zeitgeist that has accumulated around them over the past decade is a little funny but I don't mind it, they're talented guys. The idea of capitalizing on all the love for what they do with a collaboration-heavy album seems to be kind of missing the point, but I guess if that's what they want to do to make an event album, whatever. I rolled my eyes when I heard that Pharrell would be involved, but in a way it's a good match in that he's someone else who can dine out for the rest of his life on how awesome he was in 2001. This song is good, though, obviously largely for the Nile Rodgers riff (and I'm still appalled about that interview where Pharrell calls him "Niles" twice), but really the whole thing falls together well. I hope it takes off on U.S. radio somewhere besides alt-rock formats, it sounds really weird hearing this fade into Pearl Jam's "Better Man."
3. J. Cole f/ Miguel - "Power Trip"
This song is good, but I feel a little like it's cashing in on the props people should've been giving last year to "Nobody's Perfect," which was better. Also, Miguel's part is kind of laughably small, seems like almost a waste of his talent, but he makes the most of it by singing that little 2-line hook differently each time it comes around.
4. Wale f/ Tiara Thomas - "Bad"
If J. Cole is the mildly acceptable new face of soft batch R&B rap hits, Wale is the completely unacceptable one. Most of his singles feature dope singers and would be better without his verses on them, though, and in this case there actually is a Tiara Thomas solo version of this and it's great. I'm hoping the popularity of this song at least kicks in the door for her to have some other stuff on the radio.
5. Mindless Behavior - "Keep Her On The Low"
The whole 21st century procession of black boy bands from B2K to Pretty Ricky to these guys is kind of fascinating, like they just keep getting more swagged-out and weird-looking each time, and this song is just kind of awkward as fuck but still good, and has some hilarious self-aware lines about "ballin' like Menudo."
6. Ariana Grande f/ Mac Miller - "That Way"
I feel like I shouldn't dig this because it's a Disney starlet and fucking Mac Miller messing with the "Still Not A Player" pianos, but this song is really pretty killer. Harmony Samuels, who did pretty much all of the great new Fantasia album and about a half dozen singles I've loved lately, takes an interesting tack in putting that sample over modern drums without being obnoxious about it, and the vocal is pretty impressive.
7. Iggy Azalea - "Work"
Iggy Azalea is one of these earnest XXL Freshmen white rappers who I feel like I should probably kneejerk hate as much as I do Mac Miller or Macklemore or MGK, but I kinda don't mind her for some reason. And this song is pretty decent, great production from one of the FKi guys who did all the great Travis Porter singles.
8. Lil Wayne f/ Future and Drake - "Love Me"
Another Future feature where I'm annoyed that he didn't get his own verse on the shit, don't understand why dude is letting the game T-Pain him. But honestly the Wayne verses, even though they have some usual gross Wayne circa 2013 type lines, at least sound good in a singsong way and fit the song.
9. Eric Benet - "News For You"
It was the unexpected 2 Chainz remix
that really made me pay attention to this song, but the original is also some really solid grown R&B shit.
10. Chris Brown - "Fine China"
This isn't the first time I've put a Chris Brown song in this space in the past 4 years, but I still feel guilty about it everytime, while also kind of committed to separating the music from the person. He makes it pretty difficult with all the on-the-nose shit in this song where he literally says "I'm not dangerous" and compares a woman to beautiful breakable dishware, but what really keeps this extraordinarily well produced song from being great instead of merely good is that his falsetto is really bad and strangled-sounding.
Worst Single of the Month: Imagine Dragons - "Radioactive"
I actually stuck up for these guys a fair amount for "It's Time," that song is cheesy as hell but it works, dammit. This song, however, I cannot abide by, and I'm actually kind of bitter that this charted higher on the Hot 100 than "It's Time."